“The Chiefs Now in This City”

Virginia, the largest British colony, had nearly 350,000 people in 1763, but the capital, Williamsburg, had no more than 2,000 residents, black and white.  The largest urban center in Virginia was actually Norfolk, another port at the intersection of key trade networks.  Norfolk thrived exporting timber, tar, and tobacco to Europe and provisions to the Caribbean, and it was the sixth-largest city in mainland British America by the second half of the eighteenth century.  Like Baltimore, it had a population of more than 6,000 by 1776.  Annapolis, the capital of Maryland, was even smaller than Williamsburg.  Andrew Burnaby, an English vicar, saw it in 1759 and reported: “None of the streets were paved, and the few public buildings here are not worth mentioning.”

The largest city in the southern colonies and the wealthiest in all of the North American colonies was Charleston, or Charles Town, the seat of government in South Carolina.

The author is Colin G. Calloway, the subtitle is Indians and the Urban Frontier in Early America, and the main theme is Native American interactions with the major urban areas of the British colonies.


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