Virginia 4th District
The clash of arms resounds through much of the history of Tidewater Virginia. The region was the scene of the final victory of the Revolutionary War and saw bitter fighting more than 80 years later in the Civil War, as Union troops invested the battlements of the small industrial city of Petersburg, 25 miles south of Richmond. The Blackwater River was a prominent dividing line between Union and Confederate troops. Today, the Tidewater boasts one of the densest concentrations of military power in the world. The Hampton Roads area has the nation’s largest accumulation of Navy bases, while Fort Lee, the big Army base near Petersburg, will more than double in size by 2011, employing more than 14,000.
2008 Presidential Vote
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The 4th Congressional District of Virginia includes much of the Tidewater south of the James River. The district covers some of Richmond’s suburbs but about half its people are in the Hampton Roads area, mostly in the fast-growing suburbs of Chesapeake and Suffolk. Money magazine named Chesapeake one of the best places to live in the country, with its quality schools, open local government and ample green space; it has attracted international investment and is close to passing Norfolk as the state’s second largest city. Suffolk was the original home of the Planters Nut and Chocolate Company and the eastern edge of Virginia’s Peanut Belt, though production has dropped markedly. Growth in Suffolk has centered on high-tech defense contracting firms. The district also takes in the flat lands of Southside Virginia fanning south from the James River. These were tobacco lands after the English first settled them in the 17th century. Today, they also produce Smithfield hams in an area that calls itself the “Ham Capital of the World.” The Great Dismal Swamp, which crosses into North Carolina, is a breathtaking national wildlife preserve that features long hikes into marshy woodland and the shallow Lake Drummond; it was a sanctuary for runaway slaves. The district includes all of Petersburg and Hopewell, with its Honeywell plant and 18th century plantations.