“What’s in a name? That which we call a flower by any other name would still smell as sweet.”
Although the Bard was poetically correct in his statement, Shakespeare wasn’t politically cognizant when he gave that answer. Turns out there is a lot in a name!
Names can pay honor to history, tradition and culture. In fact, that’s why Virginia is called the “Old Domination State.”
History – Just What is an Old Dominion State Anyway?
Dominion is a term referring to the territory of a ruling class or party. A dominion state then is a new state ruled by an existing class. In the history of Virginia, the ruling class was England. Under the power of Queen Elizabeth, it was established as the first colony on the new continent.
In fact, the name “Virginia” was chosen to honor the “virgin Queen.” Likewise, the term Old Dominion came about to honor the fact that Virginia held its allegiance to the commonwealth of England in the beginnings of the Revolution.
The term “old” was added to “dominion” to express fondness, much like the phrase “good ‘ol dog” has the connotation of an enduring, long standing companionship.
Tradition – Why is Virginia The Old Dominion State?
There is a long-standing tradition that is not proven, but told through stories that the enduring companionship of Virginia and the mother country were long standing.
It is said that when King Charles II was restored to throne, he referred to it as his “old dominion state” and even wore a silk robe that was given as a gift from the colony.
In writing the Assembly referred to the colony as, “his majesties ancient colony and dominion.” This term was signed and written in correspondence over the years and as such became part of popular use.
Then, long after Virginia broke its allegiance to England because of the Revolutionary War, the term remained. Out of tradition, rather than a meaningful recognition, Virginal was still referred to as the “Old Dominion State.”
Culture – How is Virginia The Old Dominion State?
Virginia embraces its rich history and culture as one of the first colonies still today. It is recognized as the birthplace of the historical South. Fairs, museums, and cuisine within the state all hold a semblance to the historical background of its foundation. It is a great destination for traditional American culture and valuable historical artifacts.
The well-known college, Old Dominion University, offers a high-quality education to thousands of students. The historical culture is as much a part of the state of Virginia as the popular nickname suggests.
And that, ol’ friends, is why Virginia is called the Old Dominion State. Now go learn why Virginia (and other states) are considered Commonwealths and you will be all up on your Virginia knowledge.
Want to learn more state facts? Click here to read more!
Derek Pharr is Vice President of Products at Sporcle and an occasional writer of random topics and bad jokes. He also has an odd addiction to Taylor Swift songs and hates white foods.