Richmond (crs)

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Before 1607, the Powhatan tribe had lived in the region with one of their capitals there, known as Powhatan, Shocquohocan, or Shockoe.  In 1606, James I granted a royal charter to the Virginia Company of London to settle colonists in North America.  After the first permanent English-speaking settlement was established in April 1607, at Jamestown, Captain Christopher Newport led explorers northwest up the James River, and on May 24, 1607, erected a cross on one of the small islands in the middle of the part of the river that runs through today's downtown area.  Two attempts at English settlement were subsequently made (in 1609 and 1610), but each was abandoned, as the native inhabitants were not willing to give up their capital without a fight.  In the 1610s, colonist John Rolfe began to grow a sweeter variety of tobacco at Henricus, and it became a lucrative commodity in the tidewater region, driving further expansion.  In 1645, Fort Charles was erected at the falls of the James – the highest navigable point of the James River – as a frontier defense.  New settlers moved in, and the community grew into a bustling trading post for furs, hides, and tobacco.  In 1737, planter William Byrd II commissioned Major William Mayo to lay out the original town grid.  Byrd named the city "Richmond" after the English town of Richmond near London, because the view of the James River was strikingly similar to the view of the River Thames from Richmond Hill in England, where he had spent time during his youth.  The settlement was laid out in April 1737, and was incorporated as a town in 1742.  Early trade grew rapidly, primarily in the agriculture sector, but also in the slave trade.  People were imported from Africa to Richmond's Manchester docks, and were bought and sold as slaves at the same market.  In 1775, Patrick Henry delivered his famous, "Give me Liberty or Give me Death", speech in St. John's Church in Richmond, crucial for deciding Virginia's participation in the First Continental Congress and setting the course for revolution and independence.  On April 18, 1780, the state capital was moved from the colonial capital of Williamsburg to Richmond, to provide a more centralized location for Virginia's increasing westerly population, as well as to isolate the capital from British attack.  The latter motive proved to be in vain, and in 1781, under the command of Benedict Arnold, Richmond was burned by British troops, causing Governor Thomas Jefferson to flee as the Virginia militia, led by Sampson Mathews, defended the city.  Richmond recovered quickly from the war, and by 1782 was once again a thriving city.  In 1786, the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom (drafted by Thomas Jefferson) was passed at the temporary capitol in Richmond, providing the basis for the separation of church and state, a key element in the development of the freedom of religion in the United States.  A permanent home for the new government, the Virginia State Capitol building, was designed by Thomas Jefferson with the assistance of Charles-Louis Clérisseau, and was completed in 1788.  After the American Revolutionary War, Richmond emerged an important industrial center.  To facilitate the transfer of cargo from the flat-bottomed bateaux above the fall line to the ocean-faring ships below, George Washington helped design the James River and Kanawha Canal in the 18th century to bypass Richmond's rapids, with the intent of providing a water route across the Appalachians to the Kanawha River.  The legacy of the canal boatmen is represented by the figure in the center of the city flag.  As a result of this and ample access to hydropower due to the falls, Richmond became home to some of the largest manufacturing facilities in the country, including iron works and flour mills, the largest facilities of their kind in the South.  The resistance to the slave trade was growing by the mid-nineteenth century; in one famous case in 1848, Henry "Box" Brown made history by having himself nailed into a small box and shipped from Richmond to abolitionists in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, escaping slavery.  Following the attack on Fort Sumter on April 12, 1861, on April 17, Virginia voted to secede from the United States and joined the Confederate States and soon thereafter the Confederate government moved its capital from Montgomery, Alabama to Richmond.  The strategic location of the Tredegar Iron Works was one of the primary factors in the decision to make Richmond the Capital of the Confederacy.  From this arsenal came the 723 tons of armor plating that covered the CSS Virginia, the world's first ironclad used in war, as well as much of the Confederates' heavy ordnance machinery.  The Confederate Congress shared quarters with the Virginia General Assembly in the Virginia State Capitol, with the Confederacy's executive mansion, the "White House of the Confederacy", located two blocks away.  The Seven Days Battles followed in late June and early July 1862, during which Union General McClellan threatened to take Richmond but ultimately failed.  Three years later, on April 2, 1865, the Union Army under Ulysses S. Grant captured Richmond.  About 25% of the city's buildings were destroyed in a fire set by retreating Confederate soldiers, with Union soldiers putting out the fires as they entered the city.  Richmond emerged from the smoldering rubble of the Civil War as an economic powerhouse, with iron front buildings and massive brick factories.  Canal traffic peaked in the 1860s and slowly gave way to railroads, allowing Richmond to become a major railroad crossroads, eventually including the site of the world's first triple railroad crossing.  Tobacco warehousing and processing continued to play a role, boosted by the world's first cigarette-rolling machine, invented by James Albert Bonsack of Roanoke in 1880/81. Contributing to Richmond's resurgence was the first successful electrically powered trolley system in the United States, the Richmond Union Passenger Railway.  Designed by electric power pioneer Frank J. Sprague, the trolley system opened its first line in 1888, and electric streetcar lines rapidly spread to other cities across the country.  Sprague's system used an overhead wire and trolley pole to collect current, with electric motors on the car's trucks.  By the beginning of the 20th century, the city's population had reached 85,050 in 5 square miles (13 km2), making it the most densely populated city in the Southern United States.  In 1900, the Census Bureau reported Richmond's population as 62.1% white and 37.9% black.[26] Freed slaves and their descendants created a thriving African-American business community, and the city's historic Jackson Ward became known as the "Wall Street of Black America." In 1903, African-American businesswoman and financier Maggie L. Walker chartered St. Luke Penny Savings Bank, and served as its first president, as well as the first female bank president in the United States.  Today, the bank is called the Consolidated Bank and Trust Company, and it is the oldest surviving African-American bank in the U.S.  Other figures from this time included John Mitchell, Jr. In 1910, the former city of Manchester was consolidated with the city of Richmond, and in 1914, the city annexed Barton Heights, Ginter Park, and Highland Park areas of Henrico County.

Reference/s: Wikipedia

Identifier: 641, Last Accessed: 2017-07-25 11:26:49

 

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Last Modified: Fri Jul 29 2016 09:10:20.

 

 



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