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As interest in the frontier grew, the colonial assembly responded by forming a new county named Spotsylvania (after Alexander Spotswood, the governor at the time) in 1720 and establishing Fredericksburg in 1728 as a port for the county, of which it was then a part.
Named for Frederick, Prince of Wales, son of King George II, the colonial town named its streets after the members of the royal family.
During the Civil War, Fredericksburg was strategically important because of its port location midway between Washington and Richmond, the opposing capitals of the Union and the Confederacy.
During the Battle of Fredericksburg, December 11–15, 1862, the town sustained significant damage from bombardment and looting by the Union forces.
More than 10,000 African Americans in the region left slavery for freedom in 1862 alone, getting behind Union lines.
Tourism is a major part of the economy, with approximately 1.5 million people visiting the Fredericksburg area annually, including the battlefield park, the downtown visitor center, events, museums, and historic sites.
English colonists recorded the name of the Manahoac village there as Mahaskahod.
John Washington, a literate slave who shortly crossed to freedom, wrote later about people watching the approach of Union troops across the river from Fredericksburg: “No one could be seen on the street but the colored people.
The land on which the city was founded was part of a tract patented in 1671. Alexander Spotswood sponsored a German settlement called Germanna on the Rapidan River, a tributary of the Rappahannock upstream from the future site of the city.
The Virginia General Assembly established a fort on the Rappahannock in 1676, just downriver of the present-day city. In 1716, he led an exploratory expedition westward over the Blue Ridge Mountains.
The county court was moved to Fredericksburg in 1732, and the town served as county seat until 1780.
The court was then moved closer to the county center in Spotsylvania County.