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The conflicts of the 18th century


Governor Alexander Spotswood
Governor Alexander Spotswood

In 1700 Virginia’s capital was moved from Jamestown to Williamsburg. During the 18th century the tobacco industry flourished, based on the use of black slaves. By 1700 Virginia was the largest English colony, with a population of about 58,000.

Tobacco exhausts the soil after several crops, and the constant need for new land to replace exhausted soil encouraged a slow movement westward. This movement was quickened by the arrival of new immigrants from Europe and by the exodus from the Tidewater region of small farmers, who could not compete with the large tobacco plantations and their slave labor.

In 1716 Governor Alexander Spotswood led an expedition over the Blue Ridge Mountains into the Shenandoah Valley. Glowing reports of the valley spread, and settlers moved in, many of them from Pennsylvania. Tidewater planters formed the first Ohio Company in 1747 to promote Virginia’s expansion. Settlers moved farther west, over the Allegheny Mountains toward the Ohio River, where they came into conflict with the French. Virginians took an active part in the French and Indian War (1754-1763) between France and Great Britain, and George Washington rose to prominence as commander of the Virginia forces. The Treaty of Paris in 1763 ended French influence in the area, but in that year Britain aimed at avoiding Native American trouble by barring white settlement beyond the Appalachian Mountains. The prohibition was generally ignored, even by Virginia’s governor, John Murray, earl of Dunmore. He started a retaliatory action, called Lord Dunmore’s War, against Native Americans who were raiding settlers in the prohibited area. The war ended October 10, 1774, with a victory over the Shawnee people at Point Pleasant (now in West Virginia). The battle assured peace along Virginia’s western frontier during most of the American Revolution. "Virginia" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia.

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