Author: The Hornbook of Virginia History

a publication of the Library of Virginia
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Governors of Virginia

The following list includes all governors, lieutenant governors, presidents of the Council, and other officials who are known to have served as chief executive of Virginia, whether by appointment, by election, or as temporary substitutes for the regularly chosen executives. The list includes those who held the royal commission as governor but did not go to Virginia, as well as those who, under a variety of titles, actually discharged the governor’s duties in Virginia. Gaps in the records make it impossible to give an exact date for the beginning and end of every administration. Where there is any uncertainty, an approximate date is given. Beginning with the administration of Governor Henry Lee in 1791, party affiliations are included at the end of the service date to reflect the governor’s party affiliation at the time of election. In addition, life dates and place of residence at the time of election are also included. If the area of residence is now an independent city but was not at the time of election, the county is also included (for example: Winchester, Frederick County).

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Cities of Virginia

Virginia’s thirty-eight incorporated cities are politically and administratively independent of the counties with which they share borders, just as counties are politically and administratively independent of each other. This separation of counties and independent cities evolved slowly beginning with the incorporation of the first city, Williamsburg, in 1722 and has no statewide parallel anywhere else in the United States. Virginia’s towns exercise some functions of self-government but in many respects are political subdivisions of the counties in which they are located. The General Assembly first passed an act in 1680 to establish towns for commercial centers in Virginia. When few towns resulted under the act, the assembly tried again in 1691 and in 1705 with the same result. Much of the colony was too sparsely populated and insufficiently productive to generate many thriving towns. Each time the assembly repealed the recent town act and after 1710 gave up the attempt to establish towns en masse altogether. Thereafter, when groups of individuals petitioned the assembly to establish a town, the legislature authorized trustees to lay out the town and sell lots. After establishment, towns that petitioned the General Assembly were incorporated under acts that gave them town charters and some self-government.

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Members of the United States Senate from Virginia

Members of the United States Senate representing Virginia are listed here in alphabetical order. Each entry includes life dates if known, a member’s area of residence when first elected, period of service, and party affiliation when known. Before 1795 and again from the 1810s into the 1830s there were no well-organized political parties or parties were in flux, and for those time periods no affiliation is listed. Between 1795 and the 1810s most members are identified as Federalists or as Democratic-Republicans.

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Members of the United States House of Representatives from Virginia

Members of the United States House of Representatives are listed here in alphabetical order. Each entry includes life dates if known, a member’s area of residence when first elected, period of service, and party affiliation when known. Before 1795 and again from the 1810s into the 1830s there were no well-organized political parties or parties were in flux, and for those time periods no affiliation is listed. Between 1795 and the 1810s most members are identified as Federalists or as Democratic-Republicans. The eight men who were elected to the House of Representatives in 1865 but not seated are also included in this list. John Mercer Langston, elected in 1890, was the first African American elected to Congress from Virginia. Leslie Larkin Byrne, elected in 1992, was the first woman elected to Congress from Virginia.

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Members of the Virginia State Corporation Commission

The Virginia State Corporation Commission was created by the Constitution of 1902. Its responsibilities include issuing charters of incorporation, policing financial industries such as banking and insurance, regulating rates that common carriers charge for freight and passengers, and enforcing the laws that govern rates charged by such public utilities as electric and telephone companies. Because the commission promulgates regulations, operates regulatory agencies, and hears appeals on some kinds of administrative matters, it exercises legislative, executive, and judicial functions and has sometimes been referred to as the fourth branch of state government. The commission consists of three members who serve six-year terms, one term expiring every second year. The governor appointed members from to 1903 to 1919; voters elected members from 1919 to 1928; and the General Assembly named members after 1928. If a vacancy occurs when the assembly is not in session, the governor appoints a new member. The first commissioners took office on March 1, 1903.

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Virginia Delegates to the Constitutional Convention of 1787

The Constitutional Convention met in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, from May 14 to September 17, 1787. The following delegates represented Virginia.

  • John Blair (1731–1800), from Williamsburg.
  • James Madison (1751–1836), from Orange County.
  • George Mason (1725–1792), from Fairfax County.
  • James McClurg (ca. 1747–1825), from Williamsburg.
  • Edmund Randolph (1753–1813), from Richmond.
  • George Washington (1732–1799), from Fairfax County (president of the convention).
  • George Wythe (ca. 1726–1806), from Williamsburg.

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