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The first European exploration of North Carolina can be attributed to Verrazano, an Italian working for France, who visited Cape Fear in 1524. The French did not pursue a settlement, but some Spaniards did two years later. Their colony failed soon thereafter. No further colonization was attempted until the English under Walter Raleigh in 1585. That colony was abandoned in 1586, but another was established in 1587. John White was named governor and after setting up the colony, he returned to England. Coming back three years later in 1590, he found no trace of the 100 settlers, who came to be known as the Lost Colony.
The first permanent settlers came to Albemarle Sound from Virginia around 1650. King Charles II granted Carolina to a group of nobles who were known as the lords proprietors of the colony. Representatives of the lords proprietors became much disliked by the population and in 1678, a revolt known as Culpeper's Rebellion temporarily overthrew them. New and more acceptable governors were later appointed. In 1712, North Carolina and South Carolina became separate colonies.
In 1729, the lords proprietors sold Carolina back to the King. As a royal colony, North Carolina began to prosper, with its population growing about 10 times in the next half century. Most of this growth took place in the inland counties, which were poorly represented in the North Carolina legislature, which was dominated by the coastal aristocracy. The feelings of alienation caused the Regulator revolt, which the coastal forces were able to suppress, but the coming of the revolution inspired the Mecklenburg Resolves and a new state constitution that brought more power to the interior.
During the War of Independence, the citizens of North Carolina generally supported the Patriot cause, but few battles were actually fought on its territory. Afterwards, North Carolina was reluctant to accept the Constitution, which it viewed as creating too strong a national government. The addition of the Bill of Rights made it more palatable, and North Carolina finally ratified it in late 1789.
When the Republican Party was formed in 1854, it was instantly unpopular throughout the South. When a professor at the University of North Carolina, Benjamin S. Hedrick, endorsed the candidacy of John C. Fremont in the Election of 1856, he was publicly denounced by a student at the university's law school. Hedrick's answer further inflamed opinion against him and, when he declined to resign, the board of trustees sacked him.
During the Civil War, North Carolina was the scene of a number of major battles, including the battle of Bentonville in March 1865. The Union's General Sherman defeated the Confederacy's General Johnston in a bloody battle over three days. Following the war, North Carolina was readmitted in 1868. Reconstruction continued until 1877. The effect of removing federal protection for black citizens was clear in the Wilmington Riot of 1898.
The economy of North Carolina recovered fairly quickly after the war. Tobacco and cotton were the principal crops. Furniture making also became a major industry. In the second half of the 20th century, North Carolina also emerged as a center of research, through the joint efforts of the University of North Carolina, North Carolina State University, and Duke University.
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Civil War Charlotte Last Capital of the Confederacy by Michael C. Hardy.
Though always an important North Carolina city, Charlotte truly helped to make history during the Civil War. The city’s factories produced gunpowder, ...
Hurricane Hazel in the Carolinas by Jay Barnes.
Hurricane Hazel swept the U.S. Eastern Seaboard in mid-October 1954, eventually landing in the record books as one of the most deadly and enduring hur...
Elizabeth City, North Carolina, and the Civil War, A History of Battle and Occupation by Alex Christopher Meekins.
This fascinating history chronicles a little-known theater of the Civil War. In February of 1862, a Union naval force captured Elizabeth City in north...
The Great Hurricanes of North Carolina by John Hairr.
Engagingly written and illustrated with historical photos that gracefully depict the disastrous effects of these mighty storms on the state of North C...
A Life of Duty The Autobiography of George Willcox McIver, 1858-1947 by Jonathan Dembo.
George Willcox McIver's life spanned a time of dramatic transformation in American history. A native of Davidson, North Carolina, McIver lived through...
North Carolina Rivers Facts, Legends and Lore by John Hairr.
John Hairr crafts a captivating study of the Tarheel State's rivers. The Cape Fear, the New, the Pee Dee: these are the streams that course through No...
On Sherman's Trail, The Civil War's North Carolina Climax by Jim Wise.
Journalist and historian Jim Wise follows Sherman's last march through the Tar Heel State from Wilson's Store to the surrender at Bennett Place. Retra...
The Wilmington Shipyard, Welding a Fleet for Victory in World War II by Ralph Scott.
Although the brief life of the North Carolina Shipbuilding Company was immersed in controversy, some 243 ships were built in Wilmington to bolster the...