Norfolk's Waters: An Illustrated History of Hampton Roads

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This book celebrates the long and fascinating history of the entire area of Hampton Roads. The history of the waters around Norfolk predates the city itself. Indeed, the stories of Virginia and other places along the Atlantic seaboard have their beginnings in the great harbor where the Chesapeake Bay flows into the ocean.

Colonization of America began as a commercial venture in the 16th century, when Queen Elizabeth dispatched profit-seeking adventurers. Colonists of the first ...

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Overview

This book celebrates the long and fascinating history of the entire area of Hampton Roads. The history of the waters around Norfolk predates the city itself. Indeed, the stories of Virginia and other places along the Atlantic seaboard have their beginnings in the great harbor where the Chesapeake Bay flows into the ocean.

Colonization of America began as a commercial venture in the 16th century, when Queen Elizabeth dispatched profit-seeking adventurers. Colonists of the first permanent settlement of Jamestown in 1607 eventually found "gold," the golden leaves of the tobacco plant, which soon engendered a brisk trade that filled Norfolk's waters with hundreds of ships. Plantation settlements dispersed along the great rivers flowing into the Chesapeake. Exports of colonial tobacco increased from 50,000 pounds in 1618 to more than 20 million per year by the end of the 17th century. In this maritime trade lay the seeds of the American Revolution and the troublesome paradox of slavery and freedom within the American republic.

Overlooking the waters of the bay, the town of Norfolk grew. By the eve of the Revolution, it was a busy seaport with 6,000 inhabitants. But on January 1, 1776, the British shelled it, and the city was burned to the ground by British shore parties and departing American troops. Norfolk's fortunes thereafter would be governed by cycles of trade and war. Embargoes, railroads, rival seaports, yellow fever epidemics, and blockades by the British in 1812 and the North in the Civil War -- all served to limit the city's growth.

By the 20th century, however, the great Jamestown Exposition of 1907 and two world wars made permanent and positive changes in Norfolk. The city acquired a naval base and became the center of a metropolitan area boasting more than a million people. Today, Norfolk's waters are home to U.S. Navy fleets and serve as a prosperous, welcoming host to trading vessels of the world, amply fulfilling the port's promise.

The authors have chronicled the dramatic story of Hampton Roads in fast-moving, yet marvelously documented prose that evokes an unforgettable succession of images from its rich past. By concentrating on the events that took place in and around Norfolk's waters, the authors make a unique contribution to the permanent literature about the distinctive communities that surround the city. The lively narrative is supplemented by several hundred historical and color contemporary illustrations. Norfolk's Waters is a timely reminder of the Hampton Roads region's proud heritage.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781892724168
  • Publisher: American Historical Press
  • Publication date: 11/28/2000
  • Pages: 268
  • Product dimensions: 8.84 (w) x 11.29 (h) x 0.83 (d)

Table of Contents

Introduction, A Song to the River 7
Introduction 9
Prologue 11
1 A Natural Paradise: 1607-1682 16
1 Special essay: The Culture of Tobacco 26
2 Colonial Virginia: 1682-1776 32
3 Norfolk Reborn: 1776-1815 44
4 From Sail to Steam: 1815-1861 60
5 Civil War: 1861-1865 74
5 Special essay: The Monitor and the Merrimac 84
6 Norfolk's Recovery: 1864-1914 96
7 Two World Wars: 1914-1945 114
8 Post War and Mid 20th Century: 1945-1982 130
9 The Heart of Hampton Roads: 2000 160
10 Chronicles of Leadership 180
A Timeline of Hampton Roads' History 258
Acknowledgments 262
Bibliography 263
Index 264
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