Mills Edwin Godwin Jr. was an American politician, the 60th and 62nd Governor of Virginia for two non-consecutive terms, from 1966 to 1970 and from 1974 to 1978. In his first term, he was a member of the Democratic Party, was the last Virginia governor elected as a part of the Byrd Organization, the conservative Democratic establishment that dominated the state's politics for over three decades, he was succeeded by A. Linwood Holton Jr. the first non-Democratic governor in over 80 years. By 1973, when he ran for a second term, Godwin had switched to the Republican Party, as the dominance of the Democrats in Virginia politics receded and the Byrd political machine had disintegrated, he was the first governor in the history of the United States to be elected as both a Democrat and a Republican. Godwin was born in the town of Chuckatuck in Nansemond County and educated at Old Dominion University and received an LL. B. degree at the University of Virginia. He married Katherine Thomas Beale of Holland in Nansemond County.
They adopted Becky Godwin. In August 1968, while Governor Godwin was attending the Democratic National Convention in Chicago, Illinois and her mother were vacationing at the Oceanfront area of Virginia Beach when Becky was killed in a freak lightning accident; the family resided in Godwin's hometown of Chuckatuck. In 1972, Nansemond County, including Chuckatuck, became the independent city of Nansemond. Only two years in 1974, Nansemond merged with neighboring Suffolk to form the modern city of Suffolk, it was the last of the cities of Hampton Roads to take their current form during a wave of political consolidations which began in 1952. His boyhood home, the Godwin-Knight House, was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1985. Godwin served in the Virginia state senate between 1952 and 1962 and was the lieutenant governor between 1962 and 1966. In the state senate, Godwin was one of the leaders of the segregationist policy of "massive resistance," which aimed to prevent the implementation of federal court decisions under Brown vs. Board of Education requiring that black students be admitted to white schools.
However, during Virginia's cultural transition in the 1960s, he was one of many Byrd Democrats who distanced themselves from the extreme positions of Senator Harry F. Byrd Sr. and concluded that obstinate resistance to integration could not continue. With an eye to the 1965 gubernatorial race, Godwin reached out to African American voters during the 1964 presidential campaign by campaigning for President Lyndon B. Johnson, who had led the movement for enactment of the Civil Rights Act of that year. In 1965, Godwin took the Democratic nomination without a primary election, his support of President Johnson the previous year, lost him the support of the most die-hard segregationists, who bolted from the Democratic party to support William J. Story Jr. the candidate of the short-lived Virginia Conservative Party. Godwin's bid for governor in 1965 was endorsed by the local affiliates of both the NAACP and the AFL-CIO. Despite the third-party challenge, Godwin defeated Republican Linwood Holton by a 48%-36% margin, with Story winning 13 percent of the vote.
After his first term ended in 1970, Godwin began to separate himself from the Democratic Party. He managed the U. S. Senate campaign of Harry F. Byrd Jr., running as an independent candidate. Godwin was denied a seat at the Democratic state convention in 1972, he was a member in the Texas organization of "Democrats for Nixon," supporting Republican Richard Nixon over the Democratic presidential nominee, George McGovern. Lieutenant Governor Henry Howell had been elected to his office as an independent in a 1971 special election, against Democratic and Republican opposition. Howell was a self-styled "populist," but many conservatives saw him as a liberal whose push to the governor's office they believed had to be stopped. Former governor Godwin was persuaded to run again by conservative Republicans who saw him as the most candidate to beat Howell. Although Godwin sought and won the Republican nomination, he did not declare that he had switched his party affiliation until his speech to the Republican convention in which he accepted his nomination "as one of you."
Godwin narrowly defeated Howell by a margin of 15,000 votes, a 50.7% to 49.3% margin, to win his second term. Virginia law prohibits incumbent governors for running for consecutive reelection. In another historic note, Godwin became the last governor of Virginia for 40 years whose party held the Presidency at the time of election, a distinction that ended with the election of Democrat Terry McAuliffe as governor in 2013; as governor, Godwin abandoned the state's "pay as you go" fiscal policy, which Virginia had followed since Harry F. Byrd's governorship, by having the state issue bonds to pay for capital projects. On December 17, 1975 Governor Godwin ordered the James River and its tributaries closed to fishing from Richmond to the Chesapeake Bay; this order was the result of the improper handling and dumping of kepone into the James. Kepone is a chemical pesticide, produced by Allied Signal Company in Hopewell and caused a nationwide pollution controversy. In 1976, Governor Godwin supported the bid of President Gerald R. Ford Jr. for the Republican presidential nomination, against challenger R
English Civil War
The English Civil War was a series of armed conflicts and political machinations between Parliamentarians and Royalists over, the manner of England's governance. The first and second wars pitted the supporters of King Charles I against the supporters of the Long Parliament, while the third saw fighting between supporters of King Charles II and supporters of the Rump Parliament; the war ended with the Parliamentarian victory at the Battle of Worcester on 3 September 1651. The overall outcome of the war was threefold: the trial and execution of Charles I. In England, the monopoly of the Church of England on Christian worship was ended, while in Ireland the victors consolidated the established Protestant Ascendancy. Constitutionally, the wars established the precedent that an English monarch cannot govern without Parliament's consent, although the idea of Parliament as the ruling power of England was only established as part of the Glorious Revolution in 1688; the term "English Civil War" appears most in the singular form, although historians divide the conflict into two or three separate wars.
These wars were not restricted to England as Wales was a part of the Kingdom of England and was affected accordingly, the conflicts involved wars with, civil wars within, both Scotland and Ireland. The war in all these countries is known as the Wars of the Three Kingdoms. In the early 19th century, Sir Walter Scott referred to it as "the Great Civil War". Unlike other civil wars in England, which focused on who should rule, this war was more concerned with the manner in which the kingdoms of England and Ireland were governed; the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica called the series of conflicts the "Great Rebellion", while some historians – Marxists such as Christopher Hill – have long favoured the term "English Revolution". The two sides had their geographical strongholds, such that minority elements were fled; the strongholds of the royalty included the countryside, the shires, the less economically developed areas of northern and western England. On the other hand, all the cathedral cities sided with Parliament.
All the industrial centers, the ports, the economically advanced regions of southern and eastern England were parliamentary strongholds. Lacey Baldwin Smith says, "the words populous and rebellious seemed to go hand in hand". Many of the officers and veteran soldiers of the English Civil War studied and implemented war strategies, learned and perfected in other wars across Europe, namely by the Spanish and the Dutch during the Dutch war for independence which began in 1568; the main battle tactic came to be known as pike and shot infantry, in which the two sides would line up, facing each other, with infantry brigades of musketeers in the centre, carrying matchlock muskets. The brigades would arrange themselves in lines of musketeers, three deep, where the first row would kneel, the second would crouch, the third would stand, allowing all three to fire a volley simultaneously. At times there would be two groups of three lines allowing one group to reload while the other group arranged themselves and fired.
Mixed in among the musketeers were pikemen carrying pikes that were between 12 feet and 18 feet long, whose primary purpose was to protect the musketeers from cavalry charges. Positioned on each side of the infantry were the cavalry, with a right-wing led by the lieutenant-general, a left-wing by the commissary general; the Royalist cavaliers' skill and speed on horseback led to many early victories. Prince Rupert, the leader of the king's cavalry, learned a tactic while fighting in the Dutch army where the cavalry would charge at full speed into the opponent's infantry firing their pistols just before impact. However, with Oliver Cromwell and the introduction of the more disciplined New Model Army, a group of disciplined pikemen would stand their ground in the face of charging cavalry and could have a devastating effect. While the Parliamentarian cavalry were slower than the cavaliers, they were better disciplined; the Royalists had a tendency to chase down individual targets after the initial charge leaving their forces scattered and tired.
Cromwell's cavalry, on the other hand, was trained to operate as a single unit, which led to many decisive victories. The English Civil War broke out less than forty years after the death of Queen Elizabeth I in 1603. Elizabeth's death had resulted in the succession of her first cousin twice-removed, King James VI of Scotland, to the English throne as James I of England, creating the first personal union of the Scottish and English kingdoms; as King of Scots, James had become accustomed to Scotland's weak parliamentary tradition since assuming control of the Scottish government in 1583, so that upon assuming power south of the border, the new King of England was genuinely affronted by the constraints the English Parliament attempted to place on him in exchange for money. In spite of this, James's personal extravagance meant he was perennially short of money and had to resort to extra-Parliamentary sources of income; this extravagance was tempered by James's peaceful disposition, so that by the su
Head of state
A head of state is the public persona who represents the national unity and legitimacy of a sovereign state. Depending on the country's form of government and separation of powers, the head of state may be a ceremonial figurehead or concurrently the head of government. In a parliamentary system the head of state is the de jure leader of the nation, there is a separate de facto leader with the title of prime minister. In contrast, a semi-presidential system has both heads of state and government as the leaders de facto of the nation. In countries with parliamentary systems, the head of state is a ceremonial figurehead who does not guide day-to-day government activities or is not empowered to exercise any kind of political authority. In countries where the head of state is the head of government, the head of state serves as both a public figurehead and the highest-ranking political leader who oversees the executive branch. Former French president Charles de Gaulle, while developing the current Constitution of France, said that the head of state should embody l'esprit de la nation.
Some academic writers discuss states and governments in terms of "models". An independent nation state has a head of state, determines the extent of its head's executive powers of government or formal representational functions. In protocolary terms, the head of a sovereign, independent state is identified as the person who, according to that state's constitution, is the reigning monarch, in the case of a monarchy, or the president, in the case of a republic. Among the different state constitutions that establish different political systems, four major types of heads of state can be distinguished: The parliamentary system, with three subset models; the non-executive model, in which the head of state has either none or limited executive powers, has a ceremonial and symbolic role. The Parliamentary-Presidential model, or South African Method, where Parliament chooses the President, who acts as both Head of State and Head of Government; some argue this is unfair, becouse citizens dont get a direct say in their executive leadership.
However, this method makes it impossible for a dictator to come to power. The semi-presidential system, in which the head of state shares key executive powers with a head of government or cabinet. In a federal constituent or a dependent territory, the same role is fulfilled by the holder of an office corresponding to that of a head of state. For example, in each Canadian province the role is fulfilled by the Lieutenant Governor, whereas in most British Overseas Territories the powers and duties are performed by the Governor; the same applies to Indian states, etc.. Hong Kong's constitutional document, the Basic Law, for example, specifies the Chief Executive as the head of the special administrative region, in addition to their role as the head of government; these non-sovereign-state heads have limited or no role in diplomatic affairs, depending on the status and the norms and practices of the territories concerned. In parliamentary systems the head of state may be the nominal chief executive officer, heading the executive branch of the state, possessing limited executive power.
In reality, following a process of constitutional evolution, powers are only exercised by direction of a cabinet, presided over by a head of government, answerable to the legislature. This accountability and legitimacy requires that someone be chosen who has a majority support in the legislature, it gives the legislature the right to vote down the head of government and their cabinet, forcing it either to resign or seek a parliamentary dissolution. The executive branch is thus said to be responsible to the legislature, with the head of government and cabinet in turn accepting constitutional responsibility for offering constitutional advice to the head of state. In parliamentary constitutional monarchies, the legitimacy of the unelected head of state derives from the tacit approval of the people via the elected representatives. Accordingly, at the time of the Glorious Revolution, the English parliament acted of its own authority to name a new king and queen. In monarchies with a written constitution, the position of monarch is a creature of the constitution and could quite properly be abolished through a democratic procedure of constitutional amendment, although there are significant procedural hurdles imposed on such a procedure.
In republics with a parliamentary system the head of state is titled president and the principal functions of such presidents are ceremonial and symbolic, as opposed to the presidents in a presidential or semi-presidential system. In reality, numerous variants exist to the position of a head of state within a parliamentary system; the older the cons
Kingdom of England
The Kingdom of England was a sovereign state on the island of Great Britain from 927, when it emerged from various Anglo-Saxon kingdoms until 1707, when it united with Scotland to form the Kingdom of Great Britain. In 927, the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms were united by Æthelstan. In 1016, the kingdom became part of the North Sea Empire of Cnut the Great, a personal union between England and Norway; the Norman conquest of England in 1066 led to the transfer of the English capital city and chief royal residence from the Anglo-Saxon one at Winchester to Westminster, the City of London established itself as England's largest and principal commercial centre. Histories of the kingdom of England from the Norman conquest of 1066 conventionally distinguish periods named after successive ruling dynasties: Norman 1066–1154, Plantagenet 1154–1485, Tudor 1485–1603 and Stuart 1603–1714. Dynastically, all English monarchs after 1066 claim descent from the Normans; the completion of the conquest of Wales by Edward I in 1284 put Wales under the control of the English crown.
Edward III transformed the Kingdom of England into one of the most formidable military powers in Europe. From the 1340s the kings of England laid claim to the crown of France, but after the Hundred Years' War and the outbreak of the Wars of the Roses in 1455, the English were no longer in any position to pursue their French claims and lost all their land on the continent, except for Calais. After the turmoils of the Wars of the Roses, the Tudor dynasty ruled during the English Renaissance and again extended English monarchical power beyond England proper, achieving the full union of England and the Principality of Wales in 1542. Henry VIII oversaw the English Reformation, his daughter Elizabeth I the Elizabethan Religious Settlement, meanwhile establishing England as a great power and laying the foundations of the British Empire by claiming possessions in the New World. From the accession of James VI and I in 1603, the Stuart dynasty ruled England in personal union with Scotland and Ireland.
Under the Stuarts, the kingdom plunged into civil war, which culminated in the execution of Charles I in 1649. The monarchy returned in 1660, but the Civil War had established the precedent that an English monarch cannot govern without the consent of Parliament; this concept became established as part of the Glorious Revolution of 1688. From this time the kingdom of England, as well as its successor state the United Kingdom, functioned in effect as a constitutional monarchy. On 1 May 1707, under the terms of the Acts of Union 1707, the kingdoms of England and Scotland united to form the Kingdom of Great Britain; the Anglo-Saxons referred to themselves as the Engle or the Angelcynn names of the Angles. They called their land Engla land, meaning "land of the English", by Æthelweard Latinized Anglia, from an original Anglia vetus, the purported homeland of the Angles; the name Engla land became England by haplology during the Middle English period. The Latin name was Anglorum terra, the Old French and Anglo-Norman one Angleterre.
By the 14th century, England was used in reference to the entire island of Great Britain. The standard title for monarchs from Æthelstan until John was Rex Anglorum. Canute the Great, a Dane, was the first to call himself "King of England". In the Norman period Rex Anglorum remained standard, with occasional use of Rex Anglie. From John's reign onwards all other titles were eschewed in favour of Regina Anglie. In 1604 James I, who had inherited the English throne the previous year, adopted the title King of Great Britain; the English and Scottish parliaments, did not recognise this title until the Acts of Union of 1707. The kingdom of England emerged from the gradual unification of the early medieval Anglo-Saxon kingdoms known as the Heptarchy: East Anglia, Northumbria, Essex and Wessex; the Viking invasions of the 9th century upset the balance of power between the English kingdoms, native Anglo-Saxon life in general. The English lands were unified in the 10th century in a reconquest completed by King Æthelstan in 927 CE.
During the Heptarchy, the most powerful king among the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms might become acknowledged as Bretwalda, a high king over the other kings. The decline of Mercia allowed Wessex to become more powerful, it absorbed the kingdoms of Kent and Sussex in 825. The kings of Wessex became dominant over the other kingdoms of England during the 9th century. In 827, Northumbria submitted to Egbert of Wessex at Dore making Egbert the first king to reign over a united England. In 886, Alfred the Great retook London, which he regarded as a turning point in his reign; the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle says that "all of the English people not subject to the Danes submitted themselves to King Alfred." Asser added that "Alfred, king of the Anglo-Saxons, restored the city of London splendidly... and made it habitable once more." Alfred's "restoration"
The Chesapeake Bay is an estuary in the U. S. states of Virginia. The Bay is located in the Mid-Atlantic region and is separated from the Atlantic Ocean by the Delmarva Peninsula with its mouth located between Cape Henry and Cape Charles. With its northern portion in Maryland and the southern part in Virginia, the Chesapeake Bay is a important feature for the ecology and economy of those two states, as well as others. More than 150 major rivers and streams flow into the Bay's 64,299-square-mile drainage basin, which covers parts of six states and all of Washington, D. C; the Bay is 200 miles long from its northern headwaters in the Susquehanna River to its outlet in the Atlantic Ocean. It is 2.8 miles wide at 30 miles at its widest. Total shoreline including tributaries is 11,684 miles, circumnavigating a surface area of 4,479 square miles. Average depth is 21 feet; the Bay is spanned twice, in Maryland by the Chesapeake Bay Bridge from Sandy Point to Kent Island and in Virginia by the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel connecting Virginia Beach to Cape Charles.
Known for both its beauty and bounty, the Bay has become "emptier", with fewer crabs and watermen in past years. Recent restoration efforts begun in the 1990s have been ongoing and show potential for growth of the native oyster population; the health of the Chesapeake Bay improved in 2015, marking three years of gains over the past four years, according to a new report by the University of Maryland. The word Chesepiooc is an Algonquian word referring to a village "at a big river", it is the seventh oldest surviving English place-name in the United States, first applied as "Chesepiook" by explorers heading north from the Roanoke Colony into a Chesapeake tributary in 1585 or 1586. The name may refer to the Chesapeake people or the Chesepian, a Native American tribe who inhabited the area now known as South Hampton Roads in the U. S. state of Virginia. They occupied an area, now the Norfolk, Portsmouth and Virginia Beach areas. In 2005, Algonquian linguist Blair Rudes "helped to dispel one of the area's most held beliefs: that'Chesapeake' means something like'great shellfish bay.'
It does not, Rudes said. The name might have meant something like'great water,' or it might have just referred to a village location at the Bay's mouth." In addition, the name is always prefixed by "the" in usage by local residents: "The Chesapeake", "The Chesapeake Bay" and "The Bay". The Chesapeake Bay is an estuary to the North Atlantic, lying between the Delmarva Peninsula to the east and the North American mainland to the west, it is the ria, or drowned valley, of the Susquehanna River, meaning that it was the alluvial plain where the river flowed when the sea level was lower. It is not a fjord, because the Laurentide Ice Sheet never reached as far south as the northernmost point on the Bay. North of Baltimore, the western shore borders the hilly Piedmont region of Maryland; the large rivers entering the Bay from the west have broad mouths and are extensions of the main ria for miles up the course of each river. The Bay's geology, its present form, its location were created by a bolide impact event at the end of the Eocene, forming the Chesapeake Bay impact crater and the Susquehanna River valley much later.
The Bay was formed starting about 10,000 years ago when rising sea levels at the end of the last ice age flooded the Susquehanna River valley. Parts of the Bay the Calvert County, coastline, are lined by cliffs composed of deposits from receding waters millions of years ago; these cliffs known as Calvert Cliffs, are famous for their fossils fossilized shark teeth, which are found washed up on the beaches next to the cliffs. Scientists' Cliffs is a beach community in Calvert County named for the desire to create a retreat for scientists when the community was founded in 1935. Much of the Bay is shallow. At the point where the Susquehanna River flows into the Bay, the average depth is 30 feet, although this soon diminishes to an average of 10 feet southeast of the city of Havre de Grace, Maryland, to about 35 feet just north of Annapolis. On average, the depth of the Bay is 21 feet, including tributaries; because the Bay is an estuary, it has salt water and brackish water. Brackish water has three salinity zones: oligohaline and polyhaline.
The freshwater zone runs from the mouth of the Susquehanna River to north Baltimore. The oligohaline zone has little salt. Salinity varies from 0.5 ppt to 10 ppt, freshwater species can survive there. The north end of the oligohaline zone is north Baltimore and the south end is the Chesapeake Bay Bridge; the mesohaline zone has a medium amount of salt and runs from the Bay Bridge to the mouth of the Rappahannock River. Salinity there ranges from 10.7 ppt to 18 ppt. The polyhaline zone is the saltiest zone, some of the water can be as salty as sea water, it runs from the mouth of the Rappahannock River to the mouth of the Bay. The salinity ranges from 18.7 ppt to 36 ppt. The climate of the area surrounding the Bay i
The James River is a river in the U. S. state of Virginia that begins in the Appalachian Mountains and flows 348 miles to Chesapeake Bay. The river length extends to 444 miles if one includes the Jackson River, the longer of its two source tributaries, it is the longest river in Virginia and the 12th longest river in the United States that remains within a single state. Jamestown and Williamsburg, Virginia’s first colonial capitals, Richmond, Virginia's current capital, lie on the James River; the Native Americans who populated the area east of the Fall Line in the late 16th and early 17th centuries called the James River the Powhatan River, named for the chief of the Powhatan Confederacy which extended over most of the Tidewater region of Virginia. The English colonists named it "James" after King James I of England, as they constructed the first permanent English settlement in the Americas in 1607 at Jamestown along the banks of the James River about 35 miles upstream from the Chesapeake Bay.
The navigable portion of the river was the major highway of the Colony of Virginia during its first 15 years, facilitating supply ships delivering supplies and more people from England. However, for the first five years, despite many hopes of gold and riches, these ships sent little of monetary value back to the sponsors. In 1612, businessman John Rolfe cultivated a non-native strain of tobacco which proved popular in England. Soon, the river became the primary means of exporting the large hogsheads of this cash crop from an ever-growing number of plantations with wharfs along its banks; this development made the proprietary efforts of the Virginia Company of London successful financially, spurring more development and immigration. Below the falls at Richmond, many James River plantations had their own wharfs, additional ports and/or early railheads were located at Warwick, Bermuda Hundred, City Point, Claremont and Smithfield, during the 17th century, the capital of the Colony at Jamestown.
Navigation of the James River played an important role in early Virginia commerce and the settlement of the interior, although growth of the colony was in the Tidewater region during the first 75 years. The upper reaches of the river above the head of navigation at the fall line were explored by fur trading parties sent by Abraham Wood during the late 17th century. Although ocean-going ships were unable to navigate beyond present-day Richmond, portage of products and navigation with smaller craft to transport crops other than tobacco was feasible. Produce from the Piedmont and Great Valley regions traveled down the river to seaports at Richmond and Manchester through such port towns as Lynchburg, Scottsville and Buchanan; as the James River passed through the Confederate capital Richmond, it was the scene of much action in the Civil War, notably in the Peninsula Campaign, the Seven Days Battles and the Siege of Petersburg. The James River was considered a route for transport of produce from the Ohio Valley.
The James River and Kanawha Canal was built for this purpose, to provide a navigable portion of the Kanawha River, a tributary of the Ohio River. For the most mountainous section between the two points, the James River and Kanawha Turnpike was built to provide a portage link for wagons and stagecoaches. However, before the canal could be completed, in the mid-19th century, railroads emerged as a more practical technology and eclipsed canals for economical transportation; the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway was completed between Richmond and the Ohio River at the new city of Huntington, West Virginia by 1873, dooming the canal's economic prospects. In the 1880s, the Richmond and Alleghany Railroad was laid along the eastern portion of the canal's towpath, became part of the C&O within 10 years. In modern times, this rail line is used in transporting West Virginia coal to export coal piers at Newport News; the James River drains a catchment comprising 10,432 square miles. The watershed includes about an area with a population of 2.5 million people.
The James River forms near Iron Gate on the border between Alleghany and Botetourt counties, from the confluence of the Cowpasture and Jackson rivers in the Appalachian Mountains. It flows into the Chesapeake Bay at Hampton Roads. Tidal waters extend west to the capital of Virginia, at the river's fall line. Larger tributaries draining to the tidal portion include the Appomattox River, Chickahominy River, Warwick River, Pagan River, the Nansemond River. At its mouth near Newport News Point, the Elizabeth River and the Nansemond River join the James River to form the harbor area known as Hampton Roads. Between the tip of the Virginia Peninsula near Old Point Comfort and the Willoughby Spit area of Norfolk in South Hampton Roads, a channel leads from Hampton Roads into the southern portion of the Chesapeake Bay and out to the Atlantic Ocean a few miles further east. Many boats pass through this river to export Virginia products. During the 1960's and 70's, mishandling and dumping of the insecticide Kepone resulted in the contamination of large stretches or the James River Estuary downstream of the Allied Signal Company and LifeSciences Product Company plants in Hopewell, Virginia.
Due to the pollution risks, many businesses and restaurants along the river suffered economic losses. In 1975 Governor Mills Godwin Jr. shut down the James River to fishing for 100 miles, from Richmond to the Chesapeake Bay. This ban remained in effect for 13 years. A decade of accumulated silt, lying above the contaminated riverbed, helped to reduce levels of the chemical; the James River contains numerous park
Ralph Shearer Northam is an American politician and physician serving as the 73rd Governor of Virginia since January 13, 2018. A pediatric neurologist by occupation, he was an officer in the U. S. Army Medical Corps from 1984 to 1992. Northam, a member of the Democratic Party, served as the 40th Lieutenant Governor of Virginia from 2014 to 2018 prior to winning the governorship against Republican nominee Ed Gillespie in the 2017 election. Northam was born in the town of Nassawadox on Virginia's Eastern Shore on September 13, 1959, he and his older brother of two years, were raised on a water-side farm, just outside Onancock, Virginia. The family tended livestock on their seventy-five-acre property; as a teenager, Northam worked on a ferry as a deckhand on fishing charters. He and Thomas attended desegregated public schools. Northam graduated from Onancock High School. Northam's mother, Nancy B. Shearer, was from Washington, D. C, she was a part-time nurse at Northampton-Accomack Memorial Hospital, her father was a surgeon.
Nancy Shearer died in 2009. Northam's father, Wescott B. Northam, served as a lawyer and is a veteran of World War II. After losing election to a fourth term, Wescott Northam was appointed as a Circuit Court judge for Accomack and Northampton counties. Wescott Northam's own father, Thomas Long Northam, had served as a judge in the same court. Thomas Long Northam died when Wescott Northam was only fourteen, a few years the family farm in Modest Town, where Wescott had been born, was sold; the farm had first come into the family through Ralph Northam's great-great-grandfather, who along with his son, Levi Jacob, had owned slaves – one of whom, Raymond Northam, was freed to enlist in the 9th Regiment of Colored Troops. Ralph Northam was unaware of his family's slave-owning history until his father conducted research into their ancestry during the time of Northam's gubernatorial campaign. In high school, Northam was graduated as salutatorian, he was a member of his school's baseball teams. Northam graduated from the Virginia Military Institute in 1981, where he served as president of VMI's honor court and received a bachelor's degree in biology.
He went on to Eastern Virginia Medical School, earning his M. D. degree in 1984. From 1984 to 1992 he served as a United States Army medical officer. During his Army service, he completed a pediatric residency at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, followed by a child neurology fellowship at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D. C. and Johns Hopkins Hospital. During Operation Desert Storm, he treated evacuated casualties at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany. Northam left the U. S. Army in 1992 at the rank of major, having completed eight years of service. Since 1992, Northam has been a pediatric neurologist at Children's Hospital of the King's Daughters in Norfolk, Virginia. Prior to entering politics, Northam voted for Republican George W. Bush in the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections, a fact that opponents raised in Democratic primaries. Northam says that he was apolitical at the time and regretted those votes, saying: "Politically, there was no question, I was underinformed."
Northam first ran for office in 2007 in the Virginia 6th Senate district, which includes the Eastern Shore of Virginia. He was unopposed for the Democratic nomination. On November 6, 2007, he defeated Nick Rerras, a two-term Republican incumbent, 17,307 votes to 14,499, he was re-elected in November 2011, defeating Ben Loyola Jr. a defense contractor, 16,606 votes to 12,622. One of Northam's first major activities as a state legislator was to lead an effort to pass a ban on smoking in restaurants in Virginia; the bill failed the first time, but it passed the next year and Governor Tim Kaine signed it into law. In 2009, Northam – a self-described "conservative on fiscal issues and liberal on social issues" – was the subject of an attempt by state Senate Republicans to get him to switch parties; this action would have given Republicans control of the State Senate, but after news of the imminent switch broke on Twitter, Democrats held a closed-door meeting, Northam reiterated that he was not leaving the party.
He said, "I guess it's nice to be wanted, but I'm a Democrat, that's where I'm staying." Northam ran for Lieutenant Governor of Virginia in the 2013 election. Northam competed against U. S. Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra for the Democratic nomination. On June 11, 2013, Northam won the Democratic primary over Chopra with 54% of the vote to Chopra's 46%. On November 5, 2013, Northam was elected as Virginia's 40th Lieutenant Governor over Republican E. W. Jackson by a 10% margin, receiving 55% of the vote to Jackson's 45%. Northam was the first Democrat since Tim Kaine in 2001 to be elected Lieutenant Governor of Virginia. In February 2015, just over a year into his term as lieutenant governor, Northam confirmed his interest in running for Governor of Virginia in 2017, he made these intentions official on November 2015, via an email to supporters. In the Democratic primary, Northam faced Tom Perriello, who had served as a Congressman from Virginia and as a diplomat in the Obama administration.
The primary campaign was described as a proxy battle between the Bernie Sanders/Elizabeth Warren wing of the Democratic Party, represented by Perriel