city, seat (1799) of Pasquotank county, northeastern North Carolina, U.S. It lies on the Pasquotank River (an embayment of Albemarle Sound) at the southern end of Dismal Swamp Canal on the Intracoastal Waterway. Settlers had established a presence on the river in the 1660s, and the area was the scene of Culpeper's Rebellion (1677-79). It was founded and incorporated as Redding in 1793 but was renamed Elizabethtown in 1794 and Elizabeth City in 1801, probably for Elizabeth, wife of Adam Tooley, the original landholder. Its excellent harbour was developed after the canal (completed 1828) stimulated trade with the West Indies. Union troops occupied the city (1862) during the American Civil War.
Learn more about Elizabeth City with a free trial on Britannica.com.