Cradle of America

A History of Virginia

Second Edition, Revised

Peter Wallenstein

As the site of the first permanent English settlement in North America, the birthplace of a presidential dynasty, and the gateway to western growth in the nations early years, Virginia can rightfully be called the cradle of America. Peter Wallenstein traces major themes across four centuries in a brisk narrative that recalls the people and events that have shaped the Old Dominion. The second edition is updated with new material throughout, including a new chapter on Virginia and world affairs from the Korean War through 9/11 and beyond, and, an expanded bibliography.

Historical accounts of Virginia have often emphasized harmony and tradition, but Wallenstein focuses on the impact of conflict and change. From the beginning, Virginians have debated and challenged each other’s visions of Virginia, and Wallenstein shows how these differences have influenced its sometimes turbulent development. Casting an eye on blacks as well as whites, and on people from both east and west of the Blue Ridge Mountains, he traces such key themes as political power, racial identity, and education.

“This book serves as a valuable reminder of the degree to which Virginia’s history is America’s history.”

Journal of Southern History

“A major contribution is Wallenstein’s emphasis on the history of Virginia from the late 19th into the 21st century. Another is his discussion of issues much larger than Virginia, which dramatically affected, if not changed, the course of its history.”

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Bringing to bear his long experience teaching Virginia history, Wallenstein takes readers back, even before Jamestown, to the Elizabethan settlers at Roanoke Island and the inhabitants they encountered, as well as to Virginias leaders of the American Revolution. He chronicles the states dramatic journey through the Civil War era, a time that revealed how the nations evolution sometimes took shape in opposition to the vision of many leading Virginians. He also examines the impact of the civil rights movement and considers controversies that accompany Virginia into its fifth century.

The text is copiously illustrated to depict not only such iconic figures as Pocahontas, George Washington, and Robert E. Lee, but also such other prominent native Virginians as Carter G. Woodson, Patsy Cline, and L. Douglas Wilder. Sidebars throughout the book offer further insight, while maps and appendixes of reference data make the volume a complete resource on Virginias history.

About the Author

Peter Wallenstein is professor of history at Virginia Tech. His books include Blue Laws and Black Codes: Conflict, Courts, and Change in Twentieth-Century Virginiaa.