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Virginia: Old Dominion

CAPITAL: Richmond
JOINED UNION: June 25, 1788
STATE BIRD: Cardinal
MEANING OF STATE NAME: Named for England's "Virgin Queen," Elizabeth I
1992 POPULATION: 6,377,141
LAND AREA: 39,598 square miles
ECONOMY: Tobacco, peanuts, sweet potatoes, turkeys, hams, coal mining, tourism, textiles, government
HISTORY: Home to Powhatan Indians, in 1607 Virginia received the first permanent English settlement in America: Jamestown. It is also the state where slavery was first introduced to America in 1619. Early American presidents, Thomas Jefferson and George Washington, had estates in Virginia, which draw tourists today.

The British Are Coming! February 7, 1964


Immigrants had been pouring into New York City for 200 years when thousands of screaming teenagers waited at New York's Kennedy Airport for the Beatles, the newest and most influential British to come to America in some time. They played to a national audience on the Ed Sullivan television show. In the 1960s, rock bands from England dominated and influenced the most American of art forms: rock 'n' roll music. Some say they conquered America. Well, their ancestors made room for them here many years prior.

In 1607, 100 British colonists settled in Jamestown, Virginia. Today, their descendants form the largest ethnic group in America and their language, English, is America's official language.  In 1620, the Pilgrims arrived on the Mayflower at Plymouth, Massachusetts; they fled religious oppression in England for freedom of worship in America. In the 1600s, many people left England for America in search of religious freedom and business opportunities. They called their American
home New England and, until the American Revolution, these immigrants were considered subjects of the British throne and paid taxes to the king of England.

While they fought their home country twice, in the American Revolution and the War of 1812, British immigrants eventually came to be on good terms with England. Today, rock band competition aside, England and America are strong allies.

Pigging Out In Virginia 1608


In 1607, the English founded the colony of Jamestown in Virginia. Soon after, their stomachs growled for food. Responding to this sound, local Native Americans showed the colonists how to cure hams. The new Virginians learned these cooking lessons well. They brought some of their cured hams back to England, where they became very popular. Queen Victoria is said to have enjoyed Smithfield hams and apparently ordered six of them a week. Since then, Virginians have
been curing, eating, and shipping cured hams around the world.

Today, the town of Smithfield, Virginia is famous for its Smithfield hams. Just south of Jamestown on the Chesapeake Bay, four companies make official Smithfield hams; the name refers to the method of curing the hams. A fresh ham is packed in salt for about 35 days. Then the salt is washed from the hams and they are peppered and hung from the rafters in a smokehouse for one or two days. Next, the hams are slowly smoked over a smoldering fire, a process that goes on
periodically through the winter and spring. Finally the hams are sold.

Today, more than three million pigs are butchered each year in Virginia; that makes for over six million hams. Smithfield hams are expensive because they take so long to cure, unlike cheaper quick-smoke hams. A true Smithfield ham has a long shank, thick skin, and the meat has a deep red color. It also has a very salty taste that not everyone likes.


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