The Commonwealth: A History of the Government and Politics of Virginia

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More About This Textbook


The Commonwealth: A History of the Government and Politics of Virginia offers a broad historical examination of the history, government, and politics of the Commonwealth of Virginia. Intended as the primary text for a course in Virginia government and politics, it provides a broad picture of the state and local system of government in Virginia in the context of the dual federalism that has been the model for American democracy since its founding.

Author Catherine Banks, a professor at Virginia’s Old Dominion University, has created a text intended to stimulate in students a desire to understand, explore, and apply contemporary world and national politics to their local political environments. It is well-suited to students majoring in political science, international studies, and history, but business majors and instructors may also find it useful as a study of the economic side of the Commonwealth’s political structure.

The book discusses the history of Virginia’s government and politics in a chronological and methodical format. The text is divided into four parts:

  • Part One, “Virginia: Leader of the New World,” discusses early American history with an emphasis on the role of the Virginia colonies.
  • Part Two, “Institutions of Government,”introduces the history, composition, and function of the General Assembly, the governorship, and the judiciary.
  • Part Three, “Local Governments, Inter- and Intra-Governmental Relations, and Budgeting,” discusses the structure of the various local governments; the relationships between (a) the state and federal governments and (b) state and local governments; and budgets and funds transfers at the state-local level and the federal-state level.
  • Part Four, “The Commonwealth and the American Experience,” looks at the political machine in the Commonwealth, ending with the challenges and opportunities facing Virginia in the 21st century.

The Commonwealth chronicles the gradual progress and evolution of Virginia, challenging the reader along the way to consider how the state’s past is shaping current and future debates over policy and governance.


  • chapter plates and appendices of collected data, including:
  • political figures of the Commonwealth
  • maps displaying Virginia’s population density and its cities and counties
  • government documents such as the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union, the federal and state constitutions, and charters from all levels of local government
  • “Important Dates” list in each chapter
  • key terms highlighted and defined in context or as a special note
  • charts, documents, and tables incorporated throughout the text
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780536322647
  • Publisher: Pearson Learning Solutions
  • Publication date: 12/28/2006
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.89 (h) x 1.18 (d)

Table of Contents


Foreword by Larry J. Sabato

PART ONE. Virginia: Leader of the New World

Chapter 1. From Jamestown to Yorktown

Jamestown 1607

Second Continental Congress 1775

Yorktown 1781

Chapter 2. Federation of the States

History of American Federalism

Models of Government

The Constitution of the United States of America

Federal and State Relations

Cooperation between the State and Federal Governments

Chapter 3. The Progression of the State Constitution

The Colonial History of State Constitutions

Model Constitutions

Virginia’s Constitutions

PART TWO. Institutions of Government: The General Assembly, The Governorship, The Judiciary

Chapter 4. The General Assembly


Selection Processes, Functions, and Powers

Lobbyists and Interest Groups

Chapter 5. The Governor


Selection Processes, Functions, and Powers

The Bureaucracy

Independent Agencies

Chapter 6. The Judiciary


Selection Processes, Functions, and Powers

Recent Supreme Court of Virginia Opinions

PART THREE. Local Governments, Intra- and Inter-Governmental Relations, and Budgeting

Chapter 7. The Structure of Local Governments



Towns and Townships

School Districts and Special Districts

Annexation and Consolidation of Local Units of Government

Chapter 8. Intra- and Inter-Governmental Relations

The Governor and the Local Government

The Governor and the Federal Government

Chapter 9. Budgeting

State and Local Government Revenue Transfer

Federal and State Government Revenue Transfer

PART FOUR. The Commonwealth and the American Experience

Chapter 10. Elections, Campaigns, and Voting in the Commonwealth

Political Ethics and Reform

Chapter 11. The Commonwealth in the 19th and 20th Centuries

War of 1812, the Civil War, and the Reconstruction

World War I, World War II, and the Korean War

Civil Rights and the Vietnam War

The Post—Cold War

Chapter 12. Facing the Challenges of the 21st Century

Economic Development


Healthcare and Social Welfare

Criminal Justice

Environmental Policy


Homeland Security: Commonwealth Preparedness


Appendix 1. A Summary View of the Rights of British America

Appendix 2. The Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union

Appendix 3. Constitution of the United States

Appendix 4. Constitution of Virginia

Appendix 5. County Charter–James City County

Appendix 6. City Charter–Newport News

Appendix 7. Township Charter–Vienna

Appendix 8. Map of Virginia’s Cities and Counties

Appendix 9. Map of Virginia’s Population Density

Appendix 10. Virginia Congressional Districts

Appendix 11. Virginia General Assembly Senate and House of Delegates Districts

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