3 Virginia Counties Named After Presidents

  1. Washington, Organized 1776
  2. Madison, Organized 1792
  3. Buchanan, Organized 1858

Buchanan, Madison, and Washington counties bear the names of United States Presidents, though neither Madison nor Washington had attained to that office when the counties were named in their honor.

Buchanan forms a sharp point of the State that borders on Kentucky and West Virginia, and is drained by the Big Sandy River. Madison, a small county in north-central Virginia, is bounded on the west by the Blue Ridge, which separates it from Page. Rapidan waters drain most of this mountainous county. Washington, in the southwest, is beautified by the attractive river and mountain scenery of the Holston River valley.

Buchanan County was organized and named in 1858, the year after James Buchanan of Pennsylvania was inaugurated President. It was the last Virginia County to receive a President’s name.

Madison County was named in 1792, when James Madison of Virginia was the acknowledged leader of the Democrats in Congress, his previous public career gaining for him this leadership. He helped to secure religious freedom for Virginia, and strongly supported the Constitution, both when it was adopted by Congress and on its ratification by Virginia. In addition to the other high honors accorded him, Madison was afterwards twice President. He lived to the ripe old age of eighty-five, and died in Virginia, the State that had given him birth.

The universal esteem in which our first President is held is well proven by the great number of places that bear the name of Washington. Virginia, though the first,1 is but one of thirty-one States to have a Washington county. Seven of the original thirteen States thus honor the illustrious Virginian, while South Dakota, Idaho, and Oregon, in a similar way and also revere his name. Post offices in twenty-eight different States and Territories, the capital city of our great Republic, and a large State on the Pacific Ocean also bear the name of the one, who seems, in very truth, to be the “Father of His Country.”

Source: Virginia Country Names: Two Hundred and Seventy Years of Virginia History, Charles M, Long, PH.D., New York and Washington, The Neale Publishing Company, 1908

  1. Madison afterwards opposed the Constitution, and helped to secure a number of amendments that more fully guaranteed States’ rights. The Legislature established the county in October, 1776; the first county court was held January 28, 1777. 

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