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North Carolina

State History

Native Americans

Before Europeans arrived on the shores of North Carolina, the land was inhabited by Native American tribes including the Cherokee, the Catawba, the Tuscarora, and the Croatan. The largest of these tribes was the Cherokee who lived in the mountains to the west. They lived in permanent wattle and daub homes made from tree logs covered with mud and grass. For food they farmed corn, beans and squash. They also hunted game including turkey, rabbits, and deer.


The Blue Ridge Mountains
Blue Ridge Mountains by Ken Thomas

Europeans Arrive

The first Europeans to arrive in North Carolina were the Spanish. First, explorer Giovanni da Verrazano mapped out the coastline in 1524. Later explorers included Juan Pardo, who founded Fort San Juan in western North Carolina in 1567, and Hernando de Soto, who came searching for gold.

The Disappearing Colony

In 1584, the English established the Roanoke Colony on Roanoke Island in North Carolina. It was the first European colony in North America. The colony was sponsored by Sir Walter Raleigh and led by John White. At one point, White returned to England to gather more supplies. However, when he returned to Roanoke the colony had disappeared. What happened to this original colony is still a mystery to historians. The only clue left was a carving on a tree that said "Croatoan."

Early Settlers

Throughout the late 1600s and early 1700s more English began to move into North Carolina. The first permanent town was established in Bath in 1705. As more people moved into the land, the Native Americans were being pushed out. The Tuscarora began to fight back in 1711 resulting in the Tuscarora War. By 1713, the Tuscarora were defeated.


The city of Charlotte Skyline
Charlotte, NC by Daritto7117

An English Colony

Originally, Carolina was ruled by a number of friends of King Charles called the Lords Proprietor. In 1712, North Carolina split from South Carolina. It became an official English Royal Colony in 1729.

Revolutionary War

In the mid-1700s the American Colonies became angry with Great Britain over taxes such as the Stamp Act and the Townshend Acts. North Carolina joined in with the other colonies and signed the Declaration of Independence in 1776. A number of battles took place in North Carolina including the Battle of Moore's Creek Bridge, the Battle of King's Mountain, and the Battle of Guilford Courthouse.

After the war, North Carolina waited until the Bill of Rights was added to the Constitution before agreeing to ratify it. On November 21, 1789, North Carolina ratified the Constitution and joined the United States as the 12th state.

Civil War

In the 1800s, North Carolina was a rural state of mostly farms and plantations. It was also a slave state where around one third of the state's population was slaves. When the Civil War broke out in 1861, North Carolina joined the Confederacy of the South and seceded from the Union. Many North Carolina soldiers joined the Confederate Army and died in battle. The largest battle fought in North Carolina was the Battle of Bentonville where the largely outnumbered Confederate army of the South, led by Joseph E. Johnston, was defeated by the Union Army, led by General William T. Sherman. After losing the war, North Carolina rejoined the United States in 1868.


The first airplane flight at Kitty Hawk
First Flight by John T. Daniels

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Works Cited

History >> US Geography >> US State History





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