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Vandalia Colony


Vandalia Colony was an unsuccessful idea proposed by high-placed Englishmen and prominent British Americans in 1768. England had recently won the French and Indian War, leaving it in control of North America. Settlement was proceeding rapidly in the west, including Western Virginia, in lands previously contested by the French.

A group led by Benjamin Franklin created the Great Ohio Company (known also as the Vandalia Company and not to be confused with the earlier Ohio Company) to acquire lands and organize settlement in the west. The company proposed a 14th colony, dubbing it Vandalia to curry favor with King George III through flattery of Queen Charlotte, who claimed ancestry through the ancient Vandal tribe. The proposed colony would have included almost all of West Virginia, with its capital at Point Pleasant.

Vandalia Colony might have succeeded if not for the increasingly turbulent political relations between England and its colonies. As unrest boiled over into the physical violence of the American Revolution, the new colony scheme was lost among larger events. America’s birth was the death knell for Vandalia Colony, its intended lands later becoming parts of the states of Kentucky and West Virginia. Vandalia Colony is now the namesake for Vandalia Gathering, a popular folklife festival hosted in Charleston each spring by the West Virginia Department of Arts, Culture and History in celebration of the state’s cultural heritage.

Written by Lori Henshey

Sources

  1. Sullivan, Ken. Vandalia at 20: What's in the Name?. Goldenseal, (Spring 1996).