A host of patriots and presidents have lived and worked in the heart of the Old Dominion, an area that takes in Richmond, Fredericksburg, Petersburg, and the Northern Neck.
Virginia is often called "The Mother of Presidents," since eight of America's leaders, including George Washington, were born here. The birthplaces, boyhood homes, or graves of notable figures such as George Washington, James Monroe, John Tyler, William Henry Harrison, and Robert E. Lee can be found here, and the area has many associations with other leaders, including Patrick Henry and Thomas Jefferson. William Byrd II named the city Richmond in 1737 because the bend in the James River reminded him of the Thames in Richmond, England. George Washington designed the nation's first canal system here, the Kanawha, and Richmond has been home to many other "firsts," including the first African-American governor in the country, the first hospital, and the South's first television station.
Richmond's renovated State Capitol was originally designed by Jefferson, and its rotunda features portraits and statues of Virginia's presidents, including the famous Houdoun marble sculpture of George Washington. At St. John's Church, in one of the city's oldest neighborhoods, Patrick Henry gave his incendiary "Give me liberty or give me death" speech that helped ignite the American Revolution.