Yes, Mega Virginia Is a Thing. No, It Has Nothing to Do With D.C. Statehood

Map showing the land claims of the original 13 states. Credit Kmusser.

Yes, I know. “Idiots on Twitter are idiots” is not really grounds for good journalism. But stupid Twitter trends provide writers with an excellent excuse to write about things that really do matter, so I’m just going to take this opportunity to talk about Mega Virginia and the push for Washington, D.C., statehood.

Yes, Mega Virginia is a thing. Or rather, it was, before the United States became a thing. Virginia, arguably the most powerful state in the Union at the time, voluntarily sacrificed its ridiculous land claims in order to join the other states and become a country. Even so, Virginia remained large enough to later become two states in the Civil War.

“Mega Virginia” became a topic of conversation among liberals who wanted to mock Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) for claiming that “The Founding Fathers never intended for Washington D.C. to be a state.” He rightly argued that the issue of D.C. statehood “is really about packing the Senate with Democrats in order to pass a left-wing agenda.” After all, D.C.’s voter registration is 76.4 percent Democrat and 5.7 percent Republican.

Furthermore, it’s not exactly a secret that Democrats are trying to change the Constitution just to acquire more power. President Joe Biden has established a commission to consider packing the Supreme Court. Democrats rail against the filibuster as “racist.” Through H.R. 1, Democrats are trying to shift the playing field decisively in their favor in the name of voting reforms.

Yet there was a slight irony in Rounds’ tweet. Rounds represents the State of South Dakota, a state that entered the Union in 1889. The Founding Fathers did not conceive of South Dakota as a state, so, the thinking goes, Rounds has no right to cite the Founders’ opinions on statehood.

That might be a decent argument if Rounds had been talking about a territory gaining statehood, but the Founders did indeed view the capital as an exception to the normal rules of statehood. Article 1, Section 8, Clause 17 of the Constitution states, “The Congress shall have Power To …exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of particular States, and the Acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of the Government of the United States.”

Liberals are wrong to mock Sen. Rounds for rightly opposing the idea of D.C. statehood and citing the Founders on it. But some of them brought up the fact that some of the Founders viewed Virginia as far, far larger than it is today.

A user named K.S. Kirton tweeted, “Don’t talk to me about the founding fathers not wanting D.C. to be a state unless you also support Mega Virginia.”

Kirton shared a map with the land claims of each of the separate 13 states before they surrendered their land claims during the 1780s and 1790s. “Mega Virginia” included parts of what are now Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and Kentucky.

Ironically, another user posted a map of Mega-Mega Virginia, the lands claimed under the Third Virginia Charter of 1611. This claim included most of the United States, along with parts of Mexico and Canada.

Yet this claim came at a time when settlers had no idea how big the continent of North America truly was. Early settlers made claims to lands as far as they could, but it was never realistic to imagine those claims would be enforced. Over the passage of time, Virginia “lost” the vast majority of its land, and then it ceded the rest after the United States of America became a thing.

As a descendant of George Washington’s brother, I happen to take pride in Virginia, which has become my adopted state. Four of the first five presidents (excluding John Adams) were from Virginia, and Virginia played a major role in the federal government until some idiots decided they didn’t like Abraham Lincoln enforcing the Missouri Compromise.

However, for the proud Texans and Louisianans out there, it is important to note that the Lone Star State and the Bayou State also had “Mega” versions. Mega Texas stretched further north, and the Louisiana Purchase included parts of fourteen states besides Louisiana.

Does any of this history matter for the D.C. statehood debate? Not really. But it is fun to think about.

Also, I just happen to love the idea of “Mega” states. It’s hilarious in a very puerile sort of way.

Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.

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