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- : A state of the eastern United States on Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. It was admitted as one of the original Thirteen Colonies in 1788. Early colonizing attempts (1584-1587) by Sir Walter Raleigh failed, but in 1607 colonists dispatched by the London Company established the first permanent settlement at Jamestown (May 13). Virginia was a prime force in the move for independence and was the site of Lord Cornwallis's surrender in 1781. Virginia seceded in April 1861 and was the scene of many major battles during the Civil War, including the final campaigns that led to the surrender of Gen. Robert E. Lee. Richmond is the capital and Virginia Beach the largest city. Population: 7,710,000.