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By 1775, Norfolk developed into what contemporary observers argued was the most prosperous city in Virginia.
The largest Navy base in the world, Naval Station Norfolk, is located in Norfolk along with one of NATO's two Strategic Command headquarters.
After persuading 105 people to settle in the colony, Adam Thoroughgood (who had immigrated to Virginia in 1622 from King's Lynn, Norfolk, England) was granted a large land holding, through the head rights system, along the Lynnhaven River in 1636.
When the South Hampton Roads portion of the shire was separated, Thoroughgood suggested the name of his birthplace for the newly formed New Norfolk County.
The invention of the cotton gin in the late-eighteenth century had enabled the profitable cultivation of short-staple cotton in the uplands, which was widely used.
The American Colonization Society proposed to "repatriate" free blacks and freed slaves to Africa by establishing the new colony of Liberia and paying for transportation.