VIRGINIA IN 1860—HER SEVEN GRAND DIVISIONS—GEOLOGICAL CHARACTERISTICS, CLIMATE AND AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTS—HER POPULATION—POLITICAL AND HISTORICAL IMPORTANCE.
VIRGINIA was, in 1860, in nearly all the particulars of area, resources, productions and population, one of the leading States of the Union, just as she had been from colonial and revolutionary times. Her influence in the councils of the nation was very great, if not even paramount, and she was looked up to, not only as "the mother of States and of statesmen," but as the ardent defender of the Union, in the formation of which she had taken the leading part. One-sixteenth of the native population of the United States, in 1860, claimed her soil as their birthplace; and it was said that a majority of the members of Congress, at that time, were either natives of Virginia, or the sons or grandsons of those who had been born within her borders.
The geographical position and general relations of Virginia gave her a commanding position. Classed as one of the Middle Atlantic States, situated midway between Maine on the northeast and Florida on the southeast, she was, in reality, the representative mid-coast State of the Union; having, in consequence of her position and variety of land relief, many of the characteristics of the States lying both to the north and south of her. Because of her great extension, of over 500 miles, from the Atlantic across the Atlantic highlands to the Ohio, she had many of the features and adaptations of the States lying to the west as well as of those on the northwest and southwest. She was also the eastern one of the central belt of States, as the latitude of the entrance to Chesapeake bay very nearly corresponds to that of the Golden Gate of California.
In extent of surface Virginia was one of the greatest of the States east of the Mississippi river, her area then