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Now a sprawling metropolitan area flanking the James River in the center of the state, Richmond has been Virginia's capital since 1780 and has been the stage for much history. It was in Richmond's St. John's Church that Patrick Henry concluded his address to the second Virginia Convention with the stirring words "Give me liberty, or give me death!" During the Revolution, turncoat Gen. Benedict Arnold led British troops down what is now Main Street in 1781 and set fire to many buildings, including tobacco warehouses -- in those days, the equivalent of banks. Cornwallis briefly occupied the town, and Lafayette came to the rescue.
Richmond is an essential stop for every Civil War enthusiast, for it was as capital of the Confederate States of America that the city left an indelible mark on American history. Jefferson Davis lived in the Confederate White House here while presiding over the rebel government, and it was in the mansion that Robert E. Lee accepted command of the Army of Northern Virginia. For 4 years, the Union army tried unsuccessfully to capture the city. Troops often battled on its outskirts; its tobacco warehouses overflowed with prisoners of war, its hospitals with the wounded, and its cemeteries with the dead. Richmond didn't fall into Union hands until Lee abandoned Petersburg -- an easy excursion to the south -- a week before surrendering at Appomattox.
Since it fell to Grant's army in 1865, Richmond has changed in many ways, not the least in its demographics. Many descendants of the white Confederate soldiers have fled to the sprawling suburbs, leaving the African-American descendants of the slaves those soldiers fought to keep in bondage to make up a majority of the municipality's population -- and the city council.
Racial tensions ran high for many years. For example, the city council created a stir by voting to place a statue of the late Arthur Ashe -- the great African-American tennis star and Richmond native -- among those of Civil War heroes lining Monument Avenue.
But local residents have come together lately to launch a rebirth of Richmond's downtown area, including construction of a sparkling performing arts center and the conversion of an abandoned department store into a fine new hotel.
In addition to its Civil War battlefields and museums, Richmond has splendid historic homes, an excellent fine arts museum, a hands-on science museum with state-of-the-art planetarium, and a charming botanical garden.
American Airlines flights to Richmond make it simple to explore the role Virginia's capital played in United States history -- and enjoy the city's modern attractions. From strolling down cobblestone streets and visiting museums to appreciate fine art or going whitewater rafting, there are things to do in Richmond that will appeal to everyone.
Thanks to its multiple historical sites, some of the most popular things to do in Richmond focus on taking you back in time. The Richmond region boasts such must-see sites as Henricus Historical Park, the second-oldest settlement in the Colonies. The settlement was named in honor of Prince Henry, the son of England's King James I, and not Patrick Henry, who famously said "Give me liberty or give me death" during his speech at St. John's Church, which is also in Richmond and a National Historic Landmark certainly worth seeing. You'll also want to visit the Virginia capitol, which was designed by Thomas Jefferson. An extensive renovation was recently completed that restored the building to its early glory, and guided tours are available every day of the week. There are also many preserved historic homes in Richmond. Don't miss the White House of the Confederacy, a neoclassical National Historic Landmark. Richmond was the capital of the Confederacy, and this was the official home of Jefferson Davis during his Confederate presidency. The Federal-style John Marshall House was home to the third chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, and it still features many of the family's original belongings. The Georgian-style Eppington Plantation, built by Thomas Jefferson's brother-in-law Francis Eppes VI, and the 15th-century Tudor-style Agecroft Hall are also not to be missed.
Visiting the many Civil War battlefields in the area is another one of the historical activities in Richmond to add to your list. Start at the Richmond National Battlefield Civil War Visitor Center, where you can pick up detailed maps and get a good overview of which sites are nearby. It also houses exhibits and videos that will give a nice sense of perspective before you start exploring. You'll also want to make time to visit the American Civil War Museum in Richmond's historic Tredegar, which presents artifacts and exhibits from Union, Confederate and African American points of view. And before you wrap up your historical tour, you must visit the Library of Virginia, which houses an original copy of the Bill of Rights, and the Edgar Allan Poe Museum.
While it's true that Richmond has extensive historical attractions, it also has many modern attractions as well. A few of our favorite things to do in Richmond include visiting the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden (with over 40 acres to explore) and the Metro Richmond Zoo (with more than 600 animals). If you'd like to get your adrenaline pumping, head to the James River, where you can go whitewater rafting in Class II and IV rapids.
With such rich American history as well as modern attractions, there's every reason to visit. Fly to Richmond with American Airlines and embark on a journey of discovery! Just use the tools here to start planning your trip today.
|The Richmond Vegetarian Festival||Jun 2013 (annual)||Bryan Park|
|NASCAR at Richmond International Raceway||Sep 2013 (annual)||Richmond International Raceway|
|State Fair of Virginia||Sep - Oct 2013 (annual)||The Meadow Event Park|
|2nd Street Festival||Oct 2013 (annual)||2nd Street|
|Richmond Folk Festival||Oct 2013 (annual)||Richmond|
|VCU French Film Festival||Mar 2014 (annual)||Byrd Theatre|
|Annual Church Hill Irish Festival||Mar 2014 (annual)||Richmond|
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