According to history, the British Colony of Virginia first settled in Jamestown (what is known as Northern Virginia today) in 1607. This area was a part of an even larger area as defined by a grant issued by England’s king, Charles II in 1649. This happened when the area’s monarch was in exile in France following the English Civil War. Thomas Culpeper was among his eight loyal supporters who were named.
In 1673, Culpeper got a new charter and from 1677 to 1683. When the county was incorporated in 1749, it was renamed for him. He was not exactly a great colonial governor, and he seemed more interested in managing his land in the ‘Northern Neck of Virginia’ than in governing. In as much as he got elected in 1677, he did not step foot in Virginia until some 2 years later. Even so, he went back to England, until 1982 when riots broke out in Virginia, forcing him to come back. However, by the time he arrived, everything was back to normal.
His alleged misappropriation of funds from the colony’s treasury led to his dismissal. His cousin Nicholas Spenser succeeded him to become the acting governor. After Culpeper’s departure, the property was managed by his descendants. Thomas Fairfax, Culpeper’s grandson established a legal claim to the family land.
In 1736, a survey that was authorized by governor William Gooch this land, together with Northern Virginia, was defined as the area between Potomac and Rappahannock Rivers and they officially became known as the ‘Northern Neck’. In 1746, another survey was conducted, redefining Northern Virginia to include Fairfax, Stafford, Prince William, King George, and so many other counties.
After the American Revolutionary War, a Virginian and war hero, George Washington was chosen as the first ever president of the United States. Under his guidance, a new federal city was laid out (what is the District of Colombia today). There was a part of the Potomac River that was straddled and later ceded to the federal government by Virginia and Maryland states. Alexandria was located towards the edge of the river, it was the furthest outskirt. As Alexandria wasn’t really part of the functional federal city, the residents felt left out; their voice wasn’t heard even during voting.
Slavery was also another issue that arose, causing the rift between the north and south to widen even further. Maryland, despite being a slave state remained in support of the Union, while Virginia joined the relatively newer Confederate State of America.
The modern-day economic spur in Northern Virginia happened in the early 20th century when the Department of Defense happened to rely on the area’s IT companies during the cold war. Even after the war, Northern Virginia continued to thrive, growing in reputation as the ‘Silicon Valley’. It is in Northern Virginia where the internet was first commercialized.