Norfolk was settled in the seventeenth century as the Virginia colony expanded from its original base in Jamestown. The town was incorporated in 1705, and in 1736 King George II granted it a royal charter as a borough. By the time of the outbreak of the North American Rebellion in 1775, Norfolk had become the most prosperous city in Virginia.
After fleeing from Williamsburg in May 1775, the Royal Governor of Virginia, Lord Dunmore, tried to re-establish control of the colony from Norfolk. The attempt was unsuccessful, and in June Dunmore retreated to HMS Fowey, anchored in the James River. On 1 January 1776 Dunmore ordered three warships to bombard the Norfolk waterfront. This resulted in a fire that destroyed two thirds of the city, leaving Dunmore no choice but to abandon Virginia and sail to New York City.
The people of Norfolk were still struggling to rebuild the city when it was named the capital of the newly-created Southern Confederation in the Britannic Design. The first Governor-General, John Connolly, was inaugurated in Norfolk on 2 July 1782. There were celebrations in Norfolk in 1795 when word came of the Trans-Oceanic War with France and Spain.
As the prosperity of the S.C. grew along with the cotton trade in the early nineteenth century, Norfolk developed into a major city with a brilliant social scene. By 1831, Norfolk was connected to the cities of the Northern Confederation by railroad.
In 1869, a group of small farmers and impoverished former plantation owners from throughout the S.C. met in Norfolk to establish a new political party called the People's Party of the Southern Confederation. The delegates in the meeting issued the Norfolk Resolves, setting forth their their political program. Within four years, the party, renamed the People's Coalition, had spread throughout the Confederation of North America, and was running a full slate of 150 candidates for the Grand Council.
The People's Coalition held its national convention in Norfolk in January 1958, possibly as a tribute to the party's foundation there. The battle for party leader pitted Councilman Roswell James of the S.C., who controlled much of the party machinery, against Minority Leader Perry Jay, and newspaper editor Jeffrey Martin, the popular favorite. Martin was able to gain the leadership on the seventh ballot, and proceeded to give a rousing speech attacking every aspect of Governor-General Richard Mason's New Day program.