A Brief History of Leesburg

Established in 1758, Leesburg is the seat of government for Loudoun County. The town's rich history spans three centuries. The following history provides an overview of the town's development through the beginning of the twenty-first century with interesting historical tidbits of local color.


Early Settlement and Founding: "indifferently built … tho' very advantageously situated" (1722-1813)

 Hough map of Leesburg, 1757 Original map of Leesburg. James Goode Photograph Collection (VC 0010), Thomas Balch Library, Leesburg, VA.

Following the 1722 Treaty of Albany, in which the Iroquois abandoned all lands east of the Blue Ridge Mountains to the colony of Virginia, colonists and new immigrants of a wide variety of ethnic and religious backgrounds began settling the lands that would become Loudoun County. In 1730, Thomas, the 6th Earl of Fairfax, granted 4,054 acres, including what would become Leesburg, to Francis Awbrey. At the intersection of the major north-south Carolina Road (now U.S. Highway 15) and the east-west oriented Potomac Ridge Road (now Virginia Highway 7), a small settlement emerged.

In 1757 the Assembly of Virginia selected this settlement for the location of the Loudoun County courthouse. The land was then owned by Nicholas Minor, who hired John Hough to survey and plat his 60 acres into 70 lots to form a town, which he called George Town. The name was changed to Leesburg the following year: the act establishing the Town of Leesburg by the General Assembly was signed 18 February 1813, providing for elected officials to pass laws governing the town and manage town affairs.

Discover more about Leesburg during its first decades.

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Leesburg was a prosperous southern town of about 1,700 at the outbreak of the Civil War. It was strategically (or uncomfortably) near the border, located just two miles south of the Potomac River, which then divided the United States from the Confederate States of America. Loudoun County's two delegates to the Virginia Secession Convention in April 1861, Leesburg attorney John Janney (whom the convention elected its president) and John Armistead Carter, voted against secession. The Ordinance of Secession passed nonetheless by a vote of 88 to 55.

The next month Leesburg men overwhelming ratified the Ordinance with a vote of 400 to 22. By war's end, Leesburg changed hands about 150 times and suffered not only from the frequent raids and combat in its streets but also the disintegration of civil authority.

Discover more about Leesburg during the Civil War.


Click here for official Town of Leesburg Website




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