Capital and seaport of Virginia, on the James River, 336 km/209 mi from its mouth on the Atlantic, 160 km/100 mi south of Washington, DC; population (2000 est) 197,800. It is a major tobacco market and a distribution, commercial, and financial centre for the surrounding region. Industries include the manufacture of tobacco products, processed foods, chemicals, metalware, paper and print, and textiles. It was incorporated in 1737 and became the state capital in 1779.
The English colonist John Smith explored the area in 1607, and the first colonial settlement was established by the falls of the James River in 1637. Fort Charles was built in 1644 to protect the community, which initially developed as a trading centre. The city was laid out in 1737, and named after Richmond, England. In 1775 the politician Patrick Henry supported the arming of the Virginia militia with a speech at the city's St John's Episcopal Church, in which he declared, ‘Give me liberty or give me death’. As capital of the Confederate States of America in 1861, it was attacked repeatedly during the Civil War, and finally taken in April 1865 by the Union general Ulysses S Grant; the inhabitants fled in the face of his advance, leaving much of the city in flames. Richmond National Battlefield Park, one of Richmond's entries on the national register of historic places, commemorates the battles fought nearby. The cigarette-rolling machine was invented in Richmond in the 1870s.
Educational and cultural facilities
Institutions for higher education include the University of Richmond (1830), Virginia Commonwealth University (1838), Union Theological Seminary (1812), and Virginia Union University (1865). The Museum of the Confederacy, the Museum of Fine Arts, the Edgar Allan Poe Museum, and the Tredegar Iron Works museum are here. The performing arts are represented by a theatre, ballet company, and symphony orchestra.
Sites of interest include the former homes of the politician and jurist John Marshall and the Confederate general Robert E Lee, and the graves of US presidents James Madison, James Monroe, and John Tyler. Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederate states in 1861-65, is also buried in the city. Capitol Square contains the Washington Monument (1858) and a bronze statue to the Confederate general ‘Stonewall’ Jackson; the Capitol (1788), designed by US president Thomas Jefferson in the style of his favourite building, the Roman Maison Carré temple in Nîmes, France, has statues of Robert E Lee and US president George Washington.
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