Section Information for Summer 2012By the middle of the seventeenth century, certain Virginia families had established themselves so firmly that their political, social, and economic supremacy went unchallenged for 125 years. Whether they had fled the regicide of Cromwell’s England, or had merely sought economic opportunity, these people transplanted an English gentry society around Jamestown that spread throughout the Tidewater region, that extended westward along the mighty rivers and eventually into the Piedmont. The American Revolution had a significant impact upon the leading families of Virginia. Outwardly, these families continued to dominate politically and socially after the war, but fundamental changes had occurred that altered their personal prospects for economic advancement, that changed the relationships within their families, and that threatened their status as members of the planter elite. The focus of this course will be upon the Page families of Gloucester, York, Spotsylvania, and Hanover counties. They had been politically and socially prominent since the seventeenth century and are still respected civic leaders today. Two other families, the Nelsons and the Tuckers, were closely connected to the Pages and provide a richer context from which to evaluate the Pages. The issues to be addressed include the way these families attained their status, their views toward politics and society, their economic and financial challenges, and generally how they coped with the experiment in republican government.
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