Related page: Decline and Resistance
This image gives little indication that Virginia was actually in political and agricultural decline in the 1830s, and that the state's traditions were additionally threatened by social and economic change.
This scene is a French idealization of the society that in the antebellum era was routinely referred to as "Old Virginia." The region is characterized as having a resident aristocracy, Native and African American populations, and great natural wonders, the most famous being Natural Bridge.
From the French viewpoint, America had begun as an arcadia. The Indians who stand are pictured in Roman-like togas, an idea that was probably derived from earlier illustrations of South American Indians. The African Americans are not slaves in this mythologized view, but instead are shown to be free, well dressed, and cosmopolitan, as blacks might have appeared in Paris at that time. The vibrant colors and lively characters suggest that by the early 19th century Virginia had attained a distinct, if skewed, identity in the minds of many Europeans.
Image rights owned by the Virginia Historical Society. Rights and reproductions