Dr. Jon Kukla Interview – Political and Social Stability: Order or Chaos in 17th Century Virginia. (Pillars of 17th Century Virginia Society, Part 1)

For decades prevailing thought said that 17th Century Virginia was chaotic, had little to build upon, and therefore left a scanty legacy. Historians such as Bernard Bailyn prominently argued that 17th Century Virginia was untamed and chaotic, but in 1985 Jon Kukla challenged that opinion.

While working at what is today the Library of Virginia, Dr. Kukla was asked to undertake a project concerning the General Assembly which led to his thesis challenging research. His work was packaged in the brilliant “Order and Chaos in Early America: Political and Social Stability in Pre-Restoration Virginia” which was featured as the lead article in the April 1985 American Historical Review.

Dr. Kukla argued that Pre-Restoration 17th Century Virginia was anything but chaotic and did indeed have order. That order may not be what we think of today, yet the foundations that Virginia settlers laid down in the 17th Century allowed for subsequent generations to build a strong colony. That colony would then go on to profoundly influence America’s founding generation, which in turn built what was then a radically different governmental/political entity that the world had never seen.



  1. Kukla, Jon. Speakers and Clerks of the Virginia House of Burgesses, 1643-1776. Richmond, VA: Virginia State Library, 1981.
  2. Kukla, Jon. Bill of Rights: A Lively Heritage. Richmond, VA: Library of Virginia, 1987.
  3. Kukla, Jon. Political Institutions in Virginia: 1619-1660. Taylor and Francis, 1989. (Dr. Kukla’s Ph.D. Dissertation)
  4. Kukla, Jon; Rosal, Angelita; and Lemmon, Alfred, E . A Guide to the Papers of Pierre Clement Laussat. New Orleans, LA: Historic New Orleans Collection, 1993.
  5. Kukla, Jon and Kukla, Amy. Patrick Henry: Voice of the Revolution. Powerplus, 2002. (Great Children’s book!)
  6. Kukla, Jon. A Wilderness So Immense: The Louisiana Purchase and the Destiny of America. New York: Anchor, 2004.
  7. Kukla, Jon and Kukla, Amy. Thomas Jefferson: Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. Powerplus, 2005. (Great Children’s Book!)
  8. Kukla, Jon. Mr. Jefferson’s Women. New York: Vintage, 2008.
  9. Kukla, Jon. Patrick Henry: Champion of Liberty. New York: Simon and Schuster, 2017.



All photography used on this site is owned and copyrighted by the author. The Featured Image is of Dr. Jon Kukla from our interview at the Library of Virginia.

Music used for this episode – Louis Armstrong and the Mills Brothers,”Carry Me Back to Old Virginia” available on iTunes, and Fantasia on a Theme of Thomas Tallis by Ralph Vaughan-Williams performed by the Sir Andrew Davis and the BBC Symphony Orchestra also available on iTunes.

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