Founded in 1585, the city was originally known as Vila de Felipéia de NS das Neves. It was later renamed for João Pessoa, the governor of Paraíba who formed an alliance with Getúlio Vargas to run for the presidency of Brazil in 1929. When courted by opposing political parties, João Pessoa uttered a pithy ‘nego’ (I refuse), which is now given prominence in all Brazilian history books and is emblazoned in bold letters on the state flag of Paraíba.
Yet João Pessoa’s aspirations to the vice-presidency were short-lived. In July 1930 he was assassinated, an event that sparked a revolutionary backlash that swept Getúlio Vargas to power (with plenty of help from the military) later that year.