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SITUATION, BOUNDARIES, AND EXTENT.
Virginia was one of the original thirteen, and is now one of the twenty four United States of North America; it lies between 36° 31', and 40° 39' north latitude; and 6° 35' west, and 1° 48' east longitude from Washington city: it is bounded on the north and northeast by Pennsylvania and Maryland, east by the Atlantic ocean, south by North Carolina and Tennessee, and west by Kentucky and Ohio; its mean length from east to west is 355 miles, its mean breadth 185 miles, and its horizontal area 65,624 square miles. The Atlantic bounds Virginia, from the extreme south-eastern angle of Maryland, to the extreme north-eastern angle of North Carolina, a distance of 112 miles; North Carolina bounds it on the south, from the Allantic west to the Iron Mountains, 340 miles; from this point the boundary runs along the Iron Mountains in a north-easterly direction, to the northeast angle of Tennessee, four miles; Tennessee then forms a border to the Cumberland mountains 110 miles; then Kentucky, along the Cumberland mountains to the Tug Fork of Sandy river, 110 miles; thence the boundary runs down this stream to the Ohio 70 miles. The boundary follows the Ohio from the mouth of Tug Fork of Sandy, to the point at which it emerges from Pennsylvania, 355 miles; from this it runs south in common with the western border of Pennsylvania, 64 miles, thence east along its southern border to the north-western angle of Maryland, 58 miles; from this, south to the head of the north branch of the Potomac 36 miles; and down the Potomac to its mouth, 320 miles ; it then crosses the Chesapeake Bay, and runs east, along the southern boundary of Maryland to the Atlantic, 60 miles-presenting an entire outline of 1,635 miles.
Face of The Country-Natural and Political Sections.— Virginia exceeds all of her sister States in territorial extent, and is perhaps the most strongly marked in her physical features. Like Maryland and North Carolina, she has her sea and alluvial section, below the head of tide-water; her middle and hilly section; and her central or mountainous section; but in Virginia a fourth section must be added, which may be called the western or Ohio section, its waters emptying into that stream.
'These four sections are so distinctly marked in their features as to be recognized in the fundamental law of the State, and must ever have important political and moral effects. Adopting the limits indicated in the new constitution, these four sections contain as follows, viz. First—The section from the sea coast to the head of tide-water, thirty-six counties, and three towns, to wit: Accomac, Caroline, Chesterfield, Charles City, Essex, Elizabeth City, Fairfax, Greensville, Gloucester, Hanover, Henrico, Isle of Wight, James City, King and Queen, King William, King George, Lancaster, Mathews, Middlesex, Nansemond, New Kent, Northumberland, Northampton, Norfolk, Princess Anne, Prince George, Prince William, Richmond, Southampton, Spottsylvania, Stafford, Surry, Sussex, Warwick, Westmoreland, York, and the city of Richmond, borough of Norfolk, and town of Petersburg; which are all together entitled to 36 Representatives in the House of Delegates. Second.—The territory stretching from the head of tide-water to the Blue Ridge, contains 30 counties, to wit: Albemarle, Amelia, Amherst, Bedford, Buckingham, Brunswick, Campbell, Charlotte, Cumberland, Culpeper, Dinwiddie, Fauquier, Fluvanna, Franklin, Goochland, Henry, Halifax, Loudon, Louisa, Lunenburg, Madison, Mecklenburg, Nelson, Nottoway, Orange, Patrick, Pittsylvania, Powhatan, Prince Edward, and Rappa hannock, which together have 42 Representatives in the House of Delegates. Third–The Valley section contains 15 counties, to wit: Augusta, Alleghany, Bath, Berkley, Bottetourt, Frederick, Hampshire, Hardy, Jefferson, Morgan, Page, Pendleton, Rockingham, Rockbridge, and Shenandoah; which together eleet 25 members of the House of Delegates. Fourth—The Trans-Alleghany, or western section, contains 30 counties, to wit: Brooke, Cabell, Fayette, Floyd, Grayson, Greenbrier, Giles, Harrison, Jackson, Montgomery, Monongalia, Kanawha, Lee, Lewis, Logan, Mason, Monroe, Nicholas, Ohio, Pocahontas, Preston, Randolph, Russell, Scott, Smyth, Tazewell, Tyler, Washington, Wood, and Wythe; which together elect 31 delegates to the House of Delegates.
Section First.— There is little of Virginia actually level, this term being strictly applicable only to the counties of Accomac and Northampton, on the eastern side of the Chesapeake, and to Princess Anne, Norfolk, and Nansemond on the west; containing an aggregate area of only about 2200 square miles, or less than the thirty-first part of the State.
The shores of the peninsula east of the Chesapeake, which constitute the two counties of Accomac and Northampton, are low and flat, about 60 miles long, and from 10 to 15 wide, and bounded towards the sea by a string of low sandy islets. The waters of the Chesapeake enter the sea between cape Charles and cape Henry, forming a straight of fifteen miles in width. Norfolk, one of the principle ports of Virginia, has a good harbour in the southern part of the bay, near the mouth of James River. The embouchre of the James forms a speaeious haven, called Hampton Roads, in which all the navies in the world might ride; this haven was formerly open, but the strong fortifications, castle Calhoun, and fortress Monroe,on the opposite sides of the entrance would now probably render it impracticable for an adverse fleet to enter.—[See Old Point Comfort-Elizabeth city county)
Except in depth, extent, and position the Chesapeake does not differ essentially from Pamlico and Albemarle sounds on the sonth, or Delaware bay on the north. Virginia and Maryland occupy the centre of a physical section, remarkable for its deep and wide rivers; and the tributaries of the Chesapeake seem in this respect to imitate their great reservoir. The Pocomoke, Nantikoke, Choptank, and Chester on the east; and the James, York, Rappa hannock, Potomac, Patuxent, and Patapsco on the west, all widen into expansive bays before their final discharge. These minor bays gradually become less deep and wide, as they approach the head of tide water, but they retain the distinctive character of bays as far as the tide penetrates.
West of the Chesapeake, the country gradually rises into hill and dale, though much marshy and flat land skirts the wide mouths of the rivers, and the minor bays which they form. The soil of the section under review is strictly alluvial, for though the face of the country, on approaching the primitive ledge which terminates the tides, is diversified by waving hills, yet its structure is of the character styled by geologists ancient alluvial. The greater part of the substrata are composed of sand and pebbles; large masses of rock in their original position are rare, except at great depths.
Section Second.— The Blue Ridge traverses Virginia for 260 miles, in a direction from S. W. to N. E. and except where passed by the James and Roanoke rivers it is a continuous range. It constitutes a county limit throughout its progress in this state. Falling from this finely delineated chain, is an inclined plain, containing 15,386 square miles, terminated by the head of the Atlantic tides. This beautiful section, if we merely regard the fall of water, has a declivity of about 300 to 500 feet; but the fall of water gives a very inadequate idea of the slope in the arable soil, which towards the Blue Ridge rises in many places, to at least 1000 feet, in the spaces between the rivers. The face of nature though exhibiting little of grandeur, is extremely rich and pleasing in the endless variety of hill, valley and river scenery. In the higher part, besides the magnificent back ground of the Blue Ridge, the more distinct ranges of the Alleghany may be seen towering above it, from the detached ranges in its neighborhood; all of which tells that the solid structure of the section is Appalachian, and that the outer ridges of that system influence the course of the waters, as may be seen in the Roanoke, James, Rappahannock and Potomac rivers.
This section is as healthy as any portion of the world, the water is excellent and plentiful throughout; the lands fertile, producing in abundance all the staples of the state; easily recovered when exhausted, and always susceptible of high improvement by judicious management; the farms are smaller than in the tide water district; the people are industrious and intelligent, and from James river to the Potomac perhaps are the best farmers in the state. Mr. Jefferson pronounced that portion of this section which lies under the south west range of mountains, to be the garden spot of America; and General Washington, when written to by Sir John Sinclair to recommend to him some spot for a residence in America, after passing in review the whole union, pronounced a residence some where on the eastern side of the Blue Ridge, between the Potomac and the James, to combine most advantages, and be the most desirable.
Section Third.—The great valley section is in some respects the most remarkable in Virginia; it extends from the Iron mountains, at the N. E. angle of Tennessee, to the northern bend of the Potomac, at Hancockstown; its mean length is near 300 miles; the mean distance between the Blue Ridge and Alleghany about 43. This is a continuation of the Kittatinny valley of Pennsylvania, and is a true table-land or mountain plateau. The rise to this plateau is abrupt, the difference of the mean elevation on the east, and west sides of the Blue Ridge being from 200 to 300 feet. The elevation of Lynchburg is only 500 feet, whilst that of Staunton, near the sources of the Shenandoah is 1,152 feet; Lexington, in Rockbridge county, 902 feet; Salem, on the Roanoke, in Botetourt county, 1,200 feet; and the Warm Springs, in Bath county, 1,782 feet; and the mean elevation of the farms throughout the section in all probability exceeds 1000 feet. A stratum of limestone of varying breadth, runs nearly parallel with the Blue Ridge, on its western side, which continues to accompany it in its course through Maryland, Pennsylvania, and New Jer.
sey. The surface of the great valley of Virginia is much broken and diversified, but every where contains zones of highly productive soil; it abounds, with few exceptions, with the purest and best water, and is so rich in scenery, as to afford an endless variety of beautiful landscape. With regard to declivity, the Valley presents some curious phenomena. The northern and nearly one half of the whole surface declines to the N. E., towards the Potomac, and is drained by the Shenandoah, Cacapon, and south branch of Potomac.
South of the sources of the Potomac and Shenandoah, is a middle valley; which inclines to the east, and is drained by the James and Roanoke: the extreme southern part of the valley inclines to the north west;, and is drained by New river, and the great Kenawha. We thus perceive that this table land is partly inclined towards the Atlantic, and partly towards the Ohio; and that the inflected line which separates the sources of the James and Roanoke, which flow into the former, from those of the great Kenawha, flowing into the latter, -crosses the valley obliquely from the Blue Ridge to the Alleghany
Section Fourth.—The extreme length of the Ohio section of Virginia, from the northern boundary of Tenessee, to the northern angle of Brooke county, is nearly 300 miles. The greatest breadth is nearly along the general course of the great Kenawha, about 135 miles; but both extremes are narrow; the mean width is about 94 miles. The area 28,337 square miles. The surface is for the most part mountainous, and nearly every where broken. The chains of the Appalachian system stretch over it
, in a course nearly parallel to that part of the Ohio which bounds Virginia. The soil is even more variable in quality than the surface is in elevation, every grade of sterility and fertility may be found. As the elevation of the water, at the junction of the Ohio and great Kenawha is 533 feet, and that point is only about 40 miles from the mouth of the great Sandy, the lowest point in western Virginia, we may regard all the surface of the Ohio section as rising above 500 feet. The elevation of Wheeling above the Ocean is 634 feet; and the Ohio, the base of this great inclined plane, and the recipient of the waters of western Virginia, rises upwards of 560 feet, nearly to a level with lake Erie. The dividing ridge of the waters of the Ohio and Atlantic, is the apex of the plain before us, and has its highest elevation in the mountains, from which the sources of the James and Roanoke rise on one side, and those of the great Kanawha on the other. Under the heads of Giles, Pocahontas, and Monroe counties, which occupy the highest part of the plain we are surveying, it may be seen, that the mean elevation of the arable soil exceeds 1,600 feet. A similar, if not a higher, mean height might be assigned to the sources of the great Kanawha, from those of the Greenbrier to those of New river. From these elevated vallies the sources of the Ohio flow, like radii from a common centre. The different branches of the Monongahela rise in Lewis and Randolph counties, and flowing north, through Harrison,, Monongalia, and Preston counties, enter Pennsylvania; and uniting their waters, continue north, to meet those of the Alleghany, and form the Ohio, at Pittsburg. The Ohio from Pittsburg sweeps a curve first north-westward, then westward for nearly 100 miles, in a course nearly parallel with the Monongahela, the two streams flowing in opposite directions. From the large curve of the Ohio below Pittsburg, to the influx of the little Kenawha, there is only a narrow inclined plane of about 30 miles width, between the Ohio, and the sources of creeks which