From the beginning, Virginians have styled their government a conservative commonwealth, seeking stability amid change and often fashioning change to fit their concept of what Virginia--and America--should be like. In the eighteenth century Golden Age, Virginia was a world of broad acres and country gentlemen. To preserve the world, Virginians led a revolution and helped to found a government that they believed would secure their children's future. In the name of old and tried principles, Virginians in 1861 seceded from the Union to defend a way of life that to them seemed worth fighting for. In the twentieth century, they "paid as they went," convinced that debt meant the end of good government.