Yesterday’s post inquiring into the greatest Virginians of the last four centuries has resulted in quite an interesting list. And to think that I was anticipating the typical ahistorical nonsense of Lee, Jackson, and Stuart as somehow embodying all that is good in the universe. I should never have questioned the sophistication of my readers (LOL). Here are the suggestions, but feel free to contribute to the discussion.
George C. Marshall, Nat Turner, Douglas Southall Freeman, Glenn McMullen (invented jump shot), the Carter Family, Thomas Jefferson, John Smith, John Rolfe, Nathaniel Bacon, Emanuel Driggus, Woodrow Wilson
I love Rebecca Goetz’s suggestions, which include Netoaka, Wahunsonacock, Opechancanough, and Sir William Berkeley. Rebecca has posted some thoughts over at Cliopatria where additional thoughts from readers are no doubt forthcoming. My survey class in American history is beginning the year with the book Love and Hate in Jamestown by David A. Price. One of the reasons I like the book is that it gives full agency to Virginia’s Native Americans. In fact, it is is impossible to understand the actions taken by John Smith and the rest of the gang without understanding the motivations and initiative taken by Powhatan and others during those early years.
One of my readers asked if I was planning to nominate William Mahone. Is there anyone more important to postwar Virginia? Mahone’s disappearance from Virginia’s political and racial history is evidence enough of his importance.