Today I was asked to take part in a survey by the Library of Virginia and Richmond Times-Dispatch of the most famous Virginians of the last 400 years. Here are the guidelines:
For each century – the 17th, 18th, 19th, 20th – we would like you to name and write a short explanatory paragraph (about 200 words) for (1) a most influential Virginian and (2) a greatest Virginian. Please do not name the same person twice, and do not feel that the most influential Virginian necessarily left a 100-percent positive legacy. Fill in names only for the centuries your knowledge and comfort-level support. If you choose to focus on only one or two centuries, please feel free to do so – we expect it.
And if you would like to include a name and paragraph for a most important Virginian the public doesn’t know about, or a Virginian with the most destructive legacy, please feel free to do that as well. Be creative. The Times-Dispatch likely will publish a number of these, and we look forward to reading what our jury has to say.
The survey defines a Virginian as "someone who is identified with the commonwealth because of birth, residency, or circumstance." I have a few ideas for the 19th century, but haven’t thought much beyond that.
So, what do you think?