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2 - State Information and History

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Basic State Info

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State Motto: "Solidarité, Liberté et la Prospérité" (Solidarity, Liberty and Prosperity)

State Capital: Haverford

Largest City: Monroe

State Bird: Northern Goshawk

State Tree: Poplar

Geography

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Approximate Location

The State of Norfolk is located at the eastern edge of Lake Erie, just north of Upstate New York. Norfolk is currently the smallest state in the U.S. in terms of physical size; approximately 3/4th the size of Rhode Island. Owing to its small size and high population density, the state is nearly 100% urbanized. The climate is similar to Upstate New York with a humid continental Köppen climate classification; with hot, humid summers and cold winters. The terrain consists largely of coniferous forests.

Demographics

(Data from 2010 Census)

Population: 7,067,845

Population Growth Rate (2010 est.): 2.4%

Ethnic Makeup

  • White (non-Hispanic) - 46%
  • Black - 13%
  • Asian - 19%
  • Hispanic (of any race) - 22%

Religious Makeup

  • Protestant - 22%
  • Catholic - 34%
  • Jewish - 6%
  • Bhuddist - 4%
  • Hindu - 3%
  • Islam - 3%
  • Unaffiliated - 28%

History

Settlement and Independence 1615-1789

Following explorer Samuel de Champlain's establishment of the French colonial outpost Quebec in 1608, fellow Frenchman Jacques Moreau would establish the colony of Moreau in 1615 further south of Champlain's original settlement. As Moreau progressed, Dutch and British traders began moving into the new colony due to its convenient location between the French colonies to the north and the British provinces of New England and New York to the south; giving Moreau a relatively cosmopolitan flair for its time. However, following the Seven Years War between Britain and France, the French possessions in North America were ceded to Great Britain through the 1763 Treaty of Paris; placing the colony of Moreau in the province of New York. British control over the colony remain short-lived however, as a still angry French settler population was convinced to join the rest of the American colonies in gaining independence against the British crown. After the establishment of the current United States government in 1789, Moreau was granted statehood, separate from New York. Unfortunately for the original French settlers, many of the original names in the colony were thoroughly Anglicized; with Moreau being renamed as Monroe after the founding father James Monroe(he had a great fondness for the city, being a former diplomat to France; he would later reside in the city following his Presidency). The new state would thus be dubbed as Norfolk.

Cultural Struggles and Industrialization 1790-1907

The new state of Norfolk was racked with numerous conflicts soon after it's establishment. The ever dwindling French population struggled to keep their culture and customs recognized by the U.S. Federal Government in the face of a growing Anglo-Saxon presence in the state. Many in the French population wished to join the province of Quebec to the north (ironically placing them back in British hands). In 1830, riots broke out for 5 days when a group of French extremists set fire to the state capitol building; angering the Anglo-Saxon population, leading to widespread violence against the French, leaving 47 dead. As a result, the Norfolk state government decided to move the state capital south to the new planned city of Haverford. However, the French language was given special status within the state in order to appease the French population. The wave of industrialization soon swept the state; with the construction of a new canal from Lake Erie to the Gulf of St. Lawrence completed in 1876 along with railroad links to various other American industrial centers. Norfolk soon became the nexus of trade between the cities of the Eastern Seaboard, the Great Lakes and the Canadian cities of Toronto and Montreal.

A Liberal Tradition 1908-Present

With industrialization came poor working conditions and meager wages among the working class. Labor movements were especially strong during this era, with Norfolk electing the Socialist party candidate John T. Lawrence as Governor in the 1908 state election. In fact, Norfolk was one of the first states to enact many of the labor policies that we take for granted today; minimum wages, sick leave, weekends, abolishment of child labor, etc. During both World Wars, the state was one of the many major centers of production for the war effort in the United States; providing much needed stimulus for the previously depressed economy of the 1930's. The post-war period was marked by the state's continuing economic and eventual social liberal tradition; becoming a magnet for the many student-led movements of the 1960s. Even during the conservative resurgence of the early 1980s, the state was the one of the only ones (along with Minnesota) to vote against Reagan in the 1984 Presidential elections. Following the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, Norfolk received an influx of immigrants from Asia and Latin America; drastically changing the state's demographics. In the 2000s, Norfolk adopted a number of progressive legislations including legalized gay marriage, legalized marijuana, a cap-and-trade system on carbon and the establishment of a state sponsored single-payer healthcare system (no less influenced by their Canadian neighbors to the north). Because of this, a number of conservative politicians today often poke fun of the state; often dubbed the "Socialist Hippie Commune of Norfolk". Today, the Commonwealth of Norfolk remains a forward thinking state, with a strong diversified economy and a diverse and tolerant population.

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