The Political World of a Small Town: A Mirror Image of American Politics

By Everett Carll Ladd Jr.; Nelson Wikstrom | Go to book overview

2
West Point: History and Community Profile

Forty-two miles east of Richmond, Virginia, in King William County, at the confluence of the Mattaponi and Pamunkey rivers, which flow into the York River, lies the town of West Point, with a population of approximately 2,700 people, of whom about one-fifth are African-American (see Map 2.1). In some ways, West Point typifies the American small town; a visitor from metropolitan America immediately senses that life in West Point moves at a distinctly slower pace. Further, unlike several decades ago when the central business district was a bevy of commercial transactions, especially on Saturdays, now Main Street is the locale of several vacant stores and retailing is steadily being displaced by professional endeavors as the dominant activity. However, in contrast to many of its small town counterparts, West Point is the site of a major paper and pulp facility of the Chesapeake Corporation, a Fortune 500 paper and forest products concern.

West Point enjoys a long and legendary history--a somewhat cyclical history marked by periods of substantial growth, decline, and rebirth. Although early historical records of West Point are scarce, scholars have documented that there was established in the early seventeenth century, in the area that is presently West Point, the Indian town of Cinquoteck, presided over by the Powhatan Indian Chief Opechancanough. 1 The first white man to visit Cinquoteck was Captain John Smith, who was earlier captured by the Powhatans and put on display in the town in 1607.

After his release from captivity, primarily due to the renowned legendary efforts of Pocahontas, Captain Smith referred to Cinquoteck as "Paumunkee Town." Relations during this time between the Indians and the whites in the area soon became tense and in 1623 a Captain Tucker and twelve of his English colleagues killed forty Indian warriors and three chiefs at Pau-

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The Political World of a Small Town: A Mirror Image of American Politics
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Recent Titles in Contributions in Political Science ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Copyright Acknowledgments v
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations ix
  • Foreword xiii
  • Preface xv
  • 1 - The Small Town as a Political Laboratory 1
  • Notes 5
  • 2 - West Point: History and Community Profile 7
  • Notes 25
  • 3 - West Point: Social Attitudes, Political Culture, and Electoral Behavior 27
  • Notes 56
  • 4 - West Point: Government, Politics, and Public Policy 61
  • Notes 101
  • 5 - Power, Influence, and Policymaking in West Point 105
  • Notes 145
  • 6 - The Chesapeake Corporation and West Point: Chesapeake's Evolving Role in the Political Life of the Community 149
  • Notes 177
  • 7 - West Point's Polyarchy: A Mirror Image of American Politics 181
  • Notes 192
  • Bibliography 195
  • Index 205
  • About the Author 209
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