Richmond was founded in 1737 by Colonel William Byrd, II, making it one of the oldest U.S. cities. The now Virginia State Capitol is located just 120 miles outside of Washington, D.C. It’s a city rooted in rich American history, independence, and innovation with strong ties to both the Revolutionary and Civil War eras.
Richmond played a significant role during the Revolutionary War after Patrick Henry delivered his famous “Give me liberty or give me death” speech, setting the course for revolution and independence. In 1780, Richmond was recognized as the State capital of Virginia, from the colonial capital of Williamsburg since the former capital had come under an increasing number of British attacks.
In the following year, under the command of Benedict Arnold, Richmond was destroyed by British troops. The destruction forced Governor Thomas Jefferson, who had refused to hand over Richmond’s tobacco and military supplies, to flee as the Virginia militia defended the city.
Following this devastating event in 1782, Richmond recovered and was incorporated as a city. The Thomas Jefferson-designed, Virginia State Capitol building remains among the chief historical attractions to this day. Historical accounts about Richmond also recognize it as a strategic location that was instrumental in developing such a diversified economy, allowing Richmond to become a hub for land transportation.
In 1786, the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom was passed in Richmond, paving the way to develop freedom of religion in the United States.
Between 1800 and 1865 saw an estimated 300,000 to 350,000 slaves being processed through the slave auction blocks at Shockoe Bottom in Richmond. This has made the Black experience in America central to Richmond’s identity.
In 1861, the state legislature voted to secede from the United States and join the newly organized Confederate States of America. Richmond had the dubious distinction of serving as the Capital of the Confederacy during the American Civil War. The city played a huge role in executing the Confederacy’s war effort, as seen with the manufacturing of artillery and armaments and fielding hospitals for the injured during the war.
The 1960s saw steady development in downtown Richmond. The city continued to expand to incorporate Chesterfield County in 1970 and the business-orientated River District. Today, Richmond is a thriving Southern city with a vast array of parks, vibrant culture, history, nightlife, nature, and distinctive neighborhoods. A majority of the Confederate statues have come down, and violence is at an all-time low. The population is steadily growing, and more companies are setting foot into the city.