The Virginia Colony, 1607 - 1776, initially contained all (or most) of what was to become Virginia, North Carolina, West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota. For nearly two centuries, the governmental and economic heart of that colony was on the land we call the Peninsula.
The Age of Exploration saw the Portuguese, Spanish, English, Dutch and French in constant search for expansionist footholds in the Western Hemisphere. While these efforts eventually spawned two centuries of rampant piracy throughout the Atlantic coastal areas of both continents, there were no known instances of piracy in Hampton Roads. The early settlements on, or in direct communication with, the Hampton Roads Harbour: (Jamestown, Hampton, Newport News, Norfolk, Williamsburg) were defended most ably by Cape Comfort/Fort Algernon/(later) Fort Monroe, which was manned for defense by 1608.
Commerce (as opposed to looting) with the "Old World", which began as early as 1616, was able to flourish, and the establishment of government was made possible; because these early settlements of the Virginia Colony were free to trade, under the protection of Cape Comfort. As government is based on economy, and economy is based on trade; I do not believe that the germinal settlements of what would become USA would have survived without the manned occupancy of Cape Comfort. Therefore, our nation would have a very different history than the one that brought us to be the greatest in the world.
All that being said, Hampton Roads is a great region, in better part for the presence and contributions of Fort Monroe; allowing the many regional cities to thrive from infancy to maturity.