VIRGINIA, Ohio, and Mississippi represented three different stages of political and economic development in 1837. While Mississippi had the impulsiveness and inexperience of youth and Ohio had the vigor and confidence!of approaching maturity, Virginia had passed the"period of its economic and political prime. Mississippi and Virginia were boti slave states. But in Mississippi the plantation system was expanding and profitable, whereas in Virginia many plantation owners were surrounded with worn-out lands and a surplus labor force. Ohio was opening up the interior of the state to the market economy by an extensive internal-improvement system that would in turn stimulate the development of commerce and local industry. Internal-improvement schemes in Virginia proceeded slowly and seemingly without conviction, and the state never developed a commercial or industrial center like Cincinnati.
Virginia in 1837 remained among the most important and influential states in national politics. To many residents of the Old Dominion, their state had been the flagship in the Democratic flotilla that had scuttled Federalism in 1800 and neo-Federalism in 1828. However, there was a strong sense, too, that Virginia's power, prestige, and political grandeur were on the wane. While Virginians had held the Presidency for thirty-two of the fifty-two years between the inauguration of George Washington and the end of Van Buren's term, no resident of the state had occupied the office since James Monroe.
Perhaps because of the leading role that Virginia had taken and desired to take in the federal government, national political issues as