Virginia / West Virginia

Virginia is named for Queen Elizabeth I, the “Virgin Queen.” (Which is almost certainly not an accurate appellation. She never married, but it’s generally accepted that she had many lovers.)

The name Virginia was originally applied to all the English claims in the Americas, beginning with the failed colony or Roanoke in 1584 in what is now North Carolina. Like Louisiana, the current state but a small part of what was once encompassed by the territory of that name. The state of West Virginia was formed during the Civil War. The western counties of Virginia had relatively few slaves and did not agree with the rest of the state’s secession from the union during the Civil War. These counties seceded from Virginia instead, remained in the union during the war, and were granted statehood in 1863.1


1Webster’s Third New International Dictionary, edited by Philip Babcock Gove (Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster, 1993), 2555;
Illustrated Dictionary of Place Names, edited by Kelsie B. Harder (New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold Company, 1976), 577.

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