North Carolina History
As early as the 1500’s, the coast of NC has been drawing adventures and explores. From Giovanni de Verrazano to Hernando de Soto or Sir Walter Raleigh, many have come to look for fame and fortune. Some found it and others died looking. Established by Sir Walter Raleigh’s colony on Roanoke Island in 1585, North Carolina’s beginning was not initially successful. Sir John White also established a colony and then returned to England for supplies. When he came back two years to Fort Raleigh, he found no trace of the people he has left behind—one of which was Virginia Dare, his granddaughter. (Virginia Dare, born on August 18, 1587, was the first English child born in America.) The only clue was the word “Croaton” which was carved into a tree. To this day, the Lost Colony is a mystery.
In 1629, King Charles I granted the land south of Virginia in a charter, and named it Carolina. In 1653, the first successful colony, established by Virginian settlers, began on the shores of the Albemarle Sound. By 1712, the settlers, unhappy with a feudal-like system of government, divided into separate provinces—North & South Carolina. This brought prosperity for North Carolina for 50 years; however, by the 1760’s, North Carolina became unhappy with British rule—especially the taxes! By 1768, the western counties led by a group of farmers know as the Regulators, were openly rebelling royal rule. Though they were defeated by Governor Tryon’s militia in May of 1771 near Alamance Creek, the desire for independence had not died.
On August 25, 1774, the North Carolinians organized a congress to plan a resistance. War broke out in Concord and Lexington, the royal governor deserted and the new congress took over. On May 20, 1775 the citizens of Mecklenburg wrote the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence. Then on February 27, 1776, the NC militia was victorious over the Loyalist troops. In the spring of 1776, North Carolina became the first colony to authorize a vote for independence as well as the site of the first battle of the Revolution.
After the Revolution, North Carolina struggled for more than 70 years with political unrest, poor local government, and economic depression. Things continued like this until the Civil War. North Carolina did not secede until after the fall of Fort Sumter, but it did so wholeheartedly. In April of 1865, Durham was the site of the last major actions of the War.
Reconstruction years were difficult for North Carolinians. Many farms had been decimated, towns had been devastated and the economy was a disaster. On July 20, 1868, North Carolina was readmitted and in 1876 Reconstruction ended.
Today, North Carolina’s past brings in many tourist viewing historic sites and memorials. Other boost to the economy are the growing and manufacturing of tobacco, textiles and wooden furniture. It has the second largest population of the South Atlantic states but is the leader in agriculture.