We are almost done with the original thirteen colony states! Virginia marks the tenth state to be added into the Union. Becoming a state on June 25, 1788, Virginia was named after Queen Elizabeth I, The Virgin Queen. The state is bordered by two bodies of water, Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean while being surrounded by five other states (Kentucky, Maryland, Tennessee, North Carolina, and West Virginia). It is also near Washington DC.
Virginia’s state flag is bright blue with a white circle in the center. Inside the center are the words Virginia on top along with the words “Sic Semper Tyrannis,” which means “Thus always to tyrants” in Latin. Also inside the circle are two people. One is the goddess Virtue, who is holding a sword and a spear. Her foot is on a man, who turns out to be the tyrant that she defeated. He has a chain and a whip in his hand while his crown lies fallen nearby.
Virginia has more presidents born in this state than any other. Eight presidents-George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, William Henry Harrison (who sadly had a very short presidency of 32 days and was the first U.S. president to die in office), John Tyler, Zachary Taylor, and Woodrow Wilson (in beautiful Staunton, to which I have had the honor of visiting a few years back. They have a brilliant Shakespeare house). George Washington’s birthplace in Westmoreland County, Virginia (in Colonial Beach) is marked as a National Monument. There is so much presidential history in this state that it would take a while to get through it all!
Food Fact! Virginia is also known for its delicious Virginia Peanuts. They are longer than the standard peanut you find in the grocery store.
The Flag of the Commonwealth of Virginia was adopted on January 31, 1861 at the beginning of the United States Civil War. The flag is rectangular with a blue background. In the center of the flag is the seal of Virginia enclosed in a white circle. Virginia’s seal was designed by George Mason, known as the “Father of the Bill of Rights” and George Wythe, whose signature appears on the United States Declaration of Independence.
The seal depicted on the flag of Virginia features a woman, personifying Virtus, or virtue in ancient Roman times. Virtus is a symbol of peace, and she stands with her sword in its sheath resting her weight on a long spear, indicating a victorious battle. Her bare foot rests on Tyrannis, or tyranny, represented by a man in a purple robe and sandals with a fallen crown. The scene symbolizes the Virginia’s—and the United States’—defeat of the British government during the American Revolution. The broken chain in Tyranny’s left hand further emphasizes Great Britain’s defeat by the American Colonies. Virginia is the only state besides New York to include a crown in its flag.
The word “Virginia” appears on top of the seal, and the Latin phrase, Sic semper tyrannis, appears at the bottom. The motto literally means “Thus Always to Tyrants,” and describes the scene depicted on the seal. The phrase’s origins, like the image, date back to Roman times whe Marcus Junius Brutus assassinated the tyrant Julius Caesar. The phrase has been used to ill effect as well during notable U.S. assassinations. John Wilkes Booth shouted, Sic semper tyrannis, when he assassinated Abraham Lincoln at Ford’s Theatre on April 14, 1865. Timothy McVeigh wore a T-shirt with the phrase and a picture of President Lincoln when he was arrested after the Oklahom City bombing in April 1995. In Virginia, however, saying Sic semper tyrannis, is a common joke dating back to the Civil War and means “get your foot off my neck.”