Study Guide

Colonial Virginia Timeline

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May 1, 1676 - Oct 26, 1676

Bacon's Rebellion

Virginia planter Nathaniel Bacon leads a group of small tobacco farmers into the interior to attack Indians that have been threatening their farms. Governor William Berkeley, who previously refused Bacon's request for a commission to lead the raid, Berkeley condemns Bacon's unauthorized attack on the Susquehannock and Occaneechee Indians, leading Bacon to attack the colonial capital at Jamestown. Following Bacon's sudden death from dysentery on October 26th, Berkeley regains control over the settlement and the rebellion ends.

Aug 1, 1677

Royals Trim Virginia's Power

The Royal Commission sent to Virginia to investigate the cause of Bacon's Rebellion returns to England with a report emphasizing the need to trim the power of the House of Burgesses and the Governor's Council. This report will trigger a series of reform proposals from the Crown, leading to a century of conflict between the royally appointed governors and the other branches of the colonial government, the House of Burgesses and the Governor's Council, which are both dominated by Virginia's wealthy planters.

Dec 19, 1684

Propertyholders May Vote

The Virginia Assembly grants free men holding lifetime leases the right to vote. This enables adult men who do not own property but do have a lease-for-life on the land they work to participate in the election of the House of Burgesses.

Dec 19, 1685

Blair Assumes Duties as Rector

James Blair arrives in Virginia to assume his duties as a parish rector in Henrico County.

Jun 2, 1687

Blair's Aristocracy

James Blair marries Sarah Harrison, the daughter of one of Virginia's wealthiest tobacco growers, solidifying his position within the colony's planter aristocracy.

Dec 19, 1689

Blair Named Commissary

James Blair is named Commissary to Virginia for the Bishop of London. As Commissary, Blair becomes the highest ranked Anglican clergyman in Virginia, with supervisory authority over the other clergy in the colony.

Apr 16, 1691

Racial Barriers

The Virginia Assembly passes a law aimed at strengthening racial barriers. Interracial marriages are forbidden, the penalties imposed on white women bearing mulatto children are increased, and illegitimate mulatto children are ordered to serve indenture until the age of 31.

Feb 8, 1693

William & Mary College Chartered

Virginia's first college, William & Mary, is chartered by the King of England, largely through the efforts of James Blair, Virginia's most influential Anglican clergyman.

Dec 19, 1694

Blair Appointed to Governor Council

Anglican clergyman James Blair uses his church connections to secure an appointment to the Governor's Council. From this position he will oppose all attempts on the part of colonial governors to reduce the powers of the Governor's Council and the House of Burgesses.

May 1, 1698

James Blair Accuses Governor Edmund Andros

Sir Edmund Andros is recalled from his position as governor of the colony of Virginia after James Blair accuses the governor of exercising his authority in an arbitrary and tyrannical manner.

Oct 20, 1698

Capital Moves from Jamestown to Williamsburg

A fire destroys the colonial state house in Jamestown, forcing the relocation of the capital in 1699 to Middle Plantation, renamed Williamsburg.

Dec 19, 1699

Women Denied the Vote

The Virginia Assembly passes a law expressly denying women the right vote.

Dec 19, 1699

No Gifts for Votes Law is Passed

The Virginia Assembly passes a law forbidding a gift of "money, meat, drink or order to procure the vote or votes of such person or persons."

Dec 19, 2019

Elite Militia Proposal

Virginia Governor Francis Nicholson proposes the formation of an elite militia corps drawn from the ranks of the county militia and commanded by democratically elected officers. Wealthy gentry oppose the proposal, arguing that this elite militia could be used to undermine the liberties of Virginians.

Dec 19, 2019

Governor Removed

Francis Nicholson is removed from his position as governor of Virginia after he is accused by James Blair and other gentry critics of conspiring to destroy the House of Burgesses and eliminate representative government in Virginia.

Oct 1, 1705

Slavery in Virginia

The Virginia Assembly passes a series of laws codifying slavery in the colony. These laws specify that all non-Christians, meaning Africans, imported into the colony will serve as slaves, they define a mulatto as a child with a Black parent, grand parent, or great-grand parent. They also list the punishments that the colony will employ to regulate slave behavior.

Dec 19, 2019

Murder of Illegitimate Children Becomes a Crime

The Virginia Governor's Council proposes that a law be passed specifically criminalizing the murder of illegitimate children.

Dec 12, 1713

Tobacco Inspection Act Passed

The Virginia Assembly passes the Tobacco Inspection Act, requiring the inspection of all tobacco intended for export. Tobacco not meeting government standards will be destroyed. Forty tobacco inspectors will be hired at the lucrative salary of £250 annually.

Apr 3, 1722

Lt. Governor Removed

Virginia Lt. Governor Alexander Spotswood is forced from office after clashing repeatedly with the gentry-dominated Council and House of Burgesses. Anglican clergyman James Blair again leads the opposition to the governor and travels to London to lobby for Spotswood's removal.

May 1, 1723

Voting Is Limited By Law

The Virginia Assembly passes a law denying free Blacks, mulattos, and Indians the right to vote.

Dec 19, 2019

Davies Arrives

New Light Presbyterian minister Samuel Davies arrives in Virginia. He criticizes slaveholders for not delivering the Christian message to their slaves; his own evangelical efforts will include extensive outreach to slave communities.

Nov 1, 1753

Washington Departs

21-year-old Major George Washington departs Williamsburg, Virginia for the Ohio Valley. Virginia's governor Robert Dinwiddie has sent Washington to order the French to abandon the string of forts they are building between Lake Erie and the Forks of the Ohio River, forts which threaten the interests of Virginia land speculators.

Dec 19, 2019

First New Light Separate Baptist Church

The First New Light Separate Baptist Church in the South is established at Sandy Creek, North Carolina. The denomination will soon spread into Virginia; by 1774 there will be 54 Baptist churches in Virginia.

May 28, 1754

French and Indian War Begins

Lt. Colonel George Washington, having returned to the Ohio Valley with a regiment of Virginia provincial troops, defeats a French force near the Great Meadows. After the battle, Washington's Indian allies, led by the Seneca chief Tanaghrisson, attack the French captives, killing the French commander and scalping the wounded. The incident instigates the the French and Indian War.

Jul 3, 1754

Fort Necessity

A French force of 700 attacks George Washington and his 400 troops at Fort Necessity in retaliation for the massacre of the French at the Great Meadows. Washington is forced to surrender and leave the Ohio Valley.

Jul 9, 1755 - Feb 10, 1763

French and Indian War

British General Edward Braddock is defeated at the Battle of the Wilderness after marching an army of 2,400 men to the Forks of the Ohio River in an attempt to drive out the French and secure the valley for Pennsylvania traders and Virginia land speculators. Despite Braddock's crushing defeat, the British will eventually win the French and Indian War, forcing France to surrender all of the disputed territory in the Ohio Valley to the British. But Virginia land speculators will be disappointed by the King's Proclamation of 1763, which forbids British-American settlement west of the Appalachian Mountains.

Jul 28, 1758

Washington Elected to Virginia House

Colonel George Washington is elected to the House of Burgesses.

Dec 19, 1760

Methodists Settle

Roger Strawbridge, an Irish Methodist preacher, settles in Sam's Creek, Maryland. From there Methodism, a reform movement within the Anglican Church, will spread rapidly throughout the South. Its growth will be most dramatic in Virginia. By 1775, more than half of all American Methodists will live in Virginia.

Jul 4, 1776

Virginia Declares Independence

Virginia joins the other British colonies in declaring independence from Great Britain.

Christmas Conference

The "Christmas Conference," the first General Conference of the United Methodists of America, convenes in Baltimore, Maryland. The gathering of Methodist preachers condemns slavery and pledges to excommunicate all slaveholders that fail to free their slaves within two years.

Jun 1, 1785

Methodists Promote Education Against Slavery

At a second conference in Baltimore, the United Methodists suspend their proclamation requiring the excommunication of slaveholders. Instead, the church encourages the use of education and moral suasion to end slavery.

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