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A COLLECTION OF THE MOST INTERESTING FACTS, TRADITIONS,
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES, ANECDOTES, &c.
ITS HISTORY AND ANTIQUITIES,
GEOGRAPHICAL AND STATISTICAL DESCRIPTIONS.
TO WHICH IS APPENDED,
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA.
VIEWS OF THE PRINCIPAL TOWNS,-SEATS OF EMINENT MEN,-
LOCALITIES, NATURAL SCENERY, ETC., ETC.
BY BABCOCK & CO.,
The primary object of the following pages is to narrate the most prominent events in the history of Virginia, and to give a geographical and statistical view of her present condition. Similar volumes* have appeared on Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey. The favorable reception of these in their respective states, has led to the opinion that one upon Virginia -the mother of states and statesmen, the “Old Dominion," so rich in historic lore—would meet not only the approval of Virginians, but be favorably received by others.
Early in the year 1843 we commenced travelling over the state, collecting materials and taking sketches for illustrations. Every section of the commonwealth was visited. The better to effect our purpose, we occasionally journeyed hundreds of miles on foot, often sharing alike the hospitality of the planter and the mountaineer, and cheered onward by pleasant interviews with some of her most intelligent citizens. Much valuable information has been thus obtained, by observation and inquiry, and interesting but scattered details of her history and antiquities collected in a form to ensure their preservation. Written communications, moreover, have been received, embodying facts enhancing the value of this publication, and placing us under lasting obligation to their authors.
This work has three departments. The first-an outline, or general history, comprises an abstract of leading events from the first settlement of Virginia to the present time; the first five chapters of which are from the admirably written historical sketch in Martin's Gazetteer,t and the last by a gentleman personally familiar with most of the events related. The second consists of miscellanies, intended to throw light upon the past and present condition of the commonwealth. The third and principal department, is arranged in counties, in alphabetical order, where each is successively described. In this are the descriptions of towns, literary institutions, historic localities, seats and memoirs of eminent Virginians, antique structures, natural scenery, anecdotes, local history, and events but glanced at in the outline sketch, fully detailed.
* The first-on Connecticut-was published in 1836; the one on Massachusetts, 1838 ; New York, 1841 ; Pennsylvania, 1843, and New Jersey, 1844. Connecticut and Massachusetts were prepared by John W. Barber—the pioneer in works on this plan; New York and New Jersey by John W. Barber and Henry Howe; and Pennsylvania by Sherman Day.
1 This work, published in 1836, was the first issued descriptive of Virginia, since the celebrated notes of Mr. Jefferson. Our publishers having purchased the copyright, we have availed ourselves of it in preparing this volume.
Thus the volume comprehends a history and a gazetteer. Its advantages over formal histories are, that the events and their localities are given together, serving more strongly to impress the memory; the past and present are in juxtaposition, and many events given which regular history, in her stately march, does not step aside to notice-events usually considered of minor importance, but forming the undercurrent of history, and useful in illustrating the advancement and condition of society.
Written history forms but a small part of occurrences. The vicissitudes of war have been considered more worthy of narration, than those things promoting the wellbeing of man. Says an eminent essayist : “ The perfect historian considers no anecdote, no peculiarity of manner, no familiar saying, as too insignificant for his notice, which is not too insignificant to illustrate the operation of laws, of religion, and of education, and to mark the progress of the human mind.”
The great variety of subjects presented, and the almost impossibility of producing such a publication without errors and imperfections, has created a degree of diffidence in submitting it to the public. It will doubtless come before many possesing better means of information, and more knowledge on some subjects introduced, than could reasonably be expected in us.
Besides drawing largely from a great variety of publications, we are enabled to present much not previously published, as well as that inaccessible to the mass of readers. We do not, however, consider ourselves responsible for every sentiment introduced in these pages. In order to form a correct judgment, it is useful to hear the opinions of those who differ from us in their religious or political sentiments.
The drawings for the numerous engravings were, with a few exceptions only, taken by us on the spot. We trust they have an honest look, and faithfully represent their originals. Some biographical sketches are doubtless omitted, not less important than many inserted, while others have not due prominence. In some few cases we have supposed the reader to be familiar with them, while in others it arises from the extreme difficulty of obtaining the desired information.
The history of Virginia is of deep interest; but one imperfectly chronicled. Much is left to the investigation of the antiquarian, and many a thrilling episode is lost in the lapse of generations. Yet enough remains to stimulate to the loftiest patriotism ; while the memory of her illustrious sons is cherished with just pride by our common country.