The problems seemed insurmountable.rnThe state debt soared toward $50rnmillion, and there was no money to payrnit. hi marched the occupation troops andrnthe carpetbaggers. Billy Mahone, a formerrnConfederate general, mastermindedrna Readjuster-Repnblican Parry, ralliedrnnative blacks, Orccnbackers, KnowrnNothings, and Readjuster Democrats tornhis side, won a seat in the U.S. Senate,rnbroke a tie by voting with the Republicans,rnswept the 1881 elechon when thernYankee troops left, and got Virginia’s debtrnreduced to about $23 million. But hisrnvictory was short-lived.rnBy removing Democrats from officesrnand filling them with his new allies (includingrnblacks), Mahone sparked a counterrevolution.rnAn inflammatory speechrnagainst whites by Republican WilliamrnSimms in Danville caused a riot in whichrnboth whites and blacks were killed. Nowrnthe Democrats had a winning issue:rnWhites must regaiir political control.rnRace became the central issue in thern1885 election. When the votes werernfinally counted, the Democrats hadrn145,0(30 to 127,000 for the Readjuster-rnRepublicans. Democrats took over thernstate government and obtained federalrnbacking and patronage, which theyrnwould hold until the end of the 20th century.rnOn December 8,1893, the Democratsrnnominated Thomas Martin for the U.S.rnSenate, and he defeated Gen. FitzhughrnLee in the elccfion. Confederates werernenraged. A man hardly known beyondrnthe sound of his mother’s cowbells hadrnbeaten a Lee. Martin stayed in the Senatern24 years. Beholden to corporationsrnand railroads. Democrats stjuelched thernRepublicans and turned back the Populists.rnMartin’s use of jobs, patronage,rnand an uncanny abilitv’ to influence votersrnmade him the state’s political czar untilrnhis death in 1919.rnIn the new century, the state’s twornchief spokesmen were Senators CarterrnGlass (1858-1946) and Harr’ Flood Byrdrn(1887-1966). The tone was set by thernstate constitution of 1902, whose stringentrnpoll tax c|uickly shrank the numberrnof qualified black voters from 147,000 torn21,000. Even those who could pay therntax had to pass the “intelligence test” —rnwhich gave the power of rejection to therntest-giver. Most poor people (white andrnblack) could not vote in a state that oncernled the revolt for liberty.rnIt was the Age of the Pinched Penny:rnNo state department of health existed unfilrn1908, when a miseriy $40,000 was earmarkedrnto fund it. For years, there wasrnno state sanitarium for the state’s fourthworstrnkiller, tuberculosis. F’inally, onernwas opened in Catawba—wifli a 30-bedrncapacity. By 1936, 40 percent of Virginiansrnwere living off an average annual incomernof $183. In flic half-centur)’ beforernthe Great LOcpression, Virginia’s naturalrnincrease in population —the excess ofrnbirths over deaths—fell by more than arnthird.rnFor most of the 20th century, the realrnpower was in the hands of Governorrn(then Senator) Harr- Byrd. I lis Democraticrnmachine, known as the “Organization,”rnran the state and defied the federalrngovernment.rnByrd — with one of Virginia’s finestrnaristocratic names, going back tornWilliam Byrd of Westover —and hisrntightfisted, pay-as-you-go philosophyrnmade sense during the Great Depression.rnIn a state almost destroyed b^ debtrnafter Reconstruction, he solved the debtrnproblem with a simple philosophy: Don’trnspend. Then came the World War IIrnboom, which pomed money into Virginiarn(especially flic naval base at Norfolk)rnand provided opportunities not evenrndreamed of a few years earlier. The “Organization”rnmoved into the postwar yearsrnfirmly in control — until an event thatrnwould change Virginia forever.rnOn May 17, 1954, the U.S. SupremernCourt ruled unanimously that “separaternbut equal” was unconstitutional and thatrnsegrcgafion must end. Byrd fought back.rnWith Virginia Governor Stanley, hernmandated “massive resistance,” defiedrnthe Supreme Court, and shut downrnmany public schools (including fliose inrnNorfolk and Charlottesville). Some remainedrnclosed for years. But time andrnpublic sentiment were against Byrd. Hernhad signed his own death warrant.rnNot only were the schools reopened,rnbut the opposing Republicans startedrnwinning gubernatorial elections —inrn1969, 1973, and 1977. Even more momentously,rnin January 1990, DouglasrnWilder, a black man, became flic governorrnof Virginia, 371 years after the firstrnblacks arrived at Jamestown in 1619.rnThe real end of the old Democraficrnregime came ten years later, when thernRepublicans took over the governor’srnmansion and legislature. Gov. JamesrnGilmore promised liberal policies onrnrace, educafion, chfld welfare, and publicrnservices, which would have been unthinkablernwhen the Byrd Democratsrnheld sway. Northern Virginia was poweringrnthe greatest boom in Are state’s histor’.rnHalf flie internet messages of the nationrnwere originating in Virginia, andrnthousands of high-paying jobs were vet tornbe filled. The new day was at hand.rnBut if many old problems had beenrnsolved —or at least mitigated —othersrnwould soon appear. The new powerrnbase —a triangle linking Washington,rnD.C., Richmond, and Norfolk—left muchrnof Virginia far behind. Devastation inrnthe tobacco market left Southside Virginiarnin a new depression, and problemsrnwith coal did the same to SouthwestrnVirginia.rnAnyone traveling around the Old Dominionrncan see the proof Whole sectionsrnof rmal Virginia are becomingrnjunkyards, full of abandoned cars, fastfoodrnlitter, and permanenfly parked trailers.rnOutside every cih’, a crazy quilt ofrnpell-mell development and erosion stripsrnthe land of great natural beaut}’. In his inauguralrnaddress. Governor Ciilmorcrnpromised to put history and beauty at therntop of his list. Is it too late? What can herndo?rnThe specter of development is marchingrnlike Grant’s troops on Richmond.rnMost Virginians are not fighting to preserverntheir unique heritage and beaut)’.rnThey are looking forward to being SiliconrnValley Fast, and McDonaldizingrnevery nook and cranny. Virginia is on fliernverge of becoming Anywhere and Even,-rnwhere, U.S.A.rn”The earth belongs to the living,”rnwrote Thomas Jefferson, who also believedrnthat the family farm was the backbonernof American democracy. Today,rnflie earflr belongs to the corporate giants,rnwho merge and mangle anything andrneveryfliing in their pafli. As for the familyrnfarm, it is disappearing from the scenernat an alarming rate.rnThe Republicans face huge problems.rnThey might find solutions by taking arncloser look at Virginia’s past and heedingrnthe wisdom of the Pounding F’athers,rnwho made the Commonwealth of Virginiarnpossible. They knew that history,rnpolitics, economics, and tradition mustrnliberate, not enslave. This is the messagern—and hope —of Millennium Virginia.rnMarshall Fishwick teaches at VirginiarnTech.rnA?^rn(lA5d6cKsrn44/CHRONICLESrnrnrn