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The Southern States of America
Chapter III - North Carolina 1775 - 1861

The Revolutionary conflict in North Carolina has three characteristics : the local conditions which opened the way for permanent separation from the mother country, the zealous activity of the patriot party, and the strength of the loyalists. These factors were so pronounced as to give North Carolina an unique place in the history of the Revolution, and around them may be grouped all the essential incidents in the struggle for independence.

Governor Martin's Administration.

In 1771 Josiah Martin, last colonial governor, began his administration. He was a plain, blunt, outspoken man, in sympathy with the oppressed, but his lack of tact and his military training unfitted him for mastery in the long-standing conflict between the Executive and colonial Assembly. Indeed three grave problems demanded immediate settlement, and in trying to force a solution, Governor Martin lost control of the government and left the colony to its fate.

First of these was the question of finance. A special tax on polls and liquors had been levied for some time to meet certain emissions of paper currency. In 1771 the Assembly, learning that the paper had been liquidated, enacted a bill to stop the collection of the tax ; the governor disallowed the bill and prorogued the Assembly; the controversy continued, culminating in the critical year 1774 when the Assembly, defying the governor, ordered the revenue officials not to levy the tax.

A second cause of controversy was the South Carolina boundary. In accordance with royal instructions Martin asked the Assembly for an appropriation to complete the boundary, the line to run in a northwest direction from the neighborhood of the Catawba River, but the North Carolinians desired the line to run directly west, and thus save a large amount of land for settlement. The Assembly therefore refused to make the appropriation called for, and when the governor established the line through an arbitrary commission, the Assembly, in 1775, refused to grant any money for payment.

More serious yet was the controversy over the court system. The laws establishing courts in the colony were made by the Assembly and were temporary, being renewed from time to time. The last law of 1768 was unusually effective; it introduced a foreign attachment clause, by which the property of foreigners and non-residents might be seized in payment of debts. Now Martin's instructions forbade the reenactment of this attachment provision without a clause referring its enforcement to the approval of the Crown. But the Assembly, in framing a new court law in 1773, insisted on the attachment without a modifying clause. The Governor attempted to enforce his instructions. The result was a deadlock; the law of 1768 expired before a new one had been framed, and from 1773 to 1776 the colony was without a system of courts (except magistrates).

These controversies, revealing Governor Martin's inefficiency, opened the way for the Revolutionary movement. Sympathy with the grievances of other colonies bad long been felt. Governor Tryon had prevented radical action during the Stamp Act excitement by refusing to call the Assembly; but in 1773 a committee of correspondence was formed, its principal members being John Harvey, Robert Howe, Cornelius Harnett, William Hooper, Richard Caswell, Joseph Hewes and Samuel Johnston. Early in 1774 the people of Wilmington and New Bern collected provisions to aid Boston, and in October of that year the ladies of Edenton, at a tea party, agreed not to drink tea or use goods brought from England. In order to prevent delegates being sent to the Continental Congress, Governor Martin decided not to convene the Assembly of 1774 until autumn. Learning of this, John Harvey and a few other patriots determined to take matters into their own hands. They held a meeting in Wilmington, and following its recommendation thirty counties sent delegates to the First Provincial Congress of North Carolina, which met at New Bern on Aug. 25, 1774. Three delegates to the Continental Congress were chosen-William Hooper, Joseph Hewes and Richard Caswell. Resolutions were adopted asserting the right of self-taxation, denouncing the British policy toward Massachusetts, and providing for non-intercourse with Great Britain. Also, in accord with the advice of the Congress, the freeholders of the several counties met and elected County Committees of Safety. Thus was formed an effective Revolutionary organization, which fixed prices, enforced non-intercourse, collected subscriptions, regulated the conduct of individuals, stirred the fire of protest and revolt and became the foundation of the Revolutionary movement.

Provincial Congress.

The next step in the Revolution was the meeting of the second Provincial Congress at New Bern, April, 1775. It is one of the most interesting bodies that ever met in North Carolina. Governor Martin had called a meeting of the Assembly for April 4; Harvey called the Congress for April 3; sixty-one of the sixty-eight members of the Assembly were also delegates to the Congress; John Harvey, speaker of the Assembly, was also president of the Congress. Often the Provincial Congress would be in session when the governor's secretary would be announced, and then Proteus-like, the Congress would change itself into the legislative Assembly and proceed to despatch public business. Governor Martin was embarrassed; he issued a proclamation against the Congress and ordered the Assembly to oppose the illegal gathering, but the Assembly replied by endorsing both provincial and continental congresses and arraigning the British Parliament. After four days' session the governor dissolved the Assembly; the members remained as delegates to the Congress, which now adopted the Association of the Continental Congress, reappointed delegates and asserted the right of petition.

Governor Martin, feeling that the tide was against him, collected a few cannon at the palace and opened negotiations with the Scotch at the upper Cape Fear and with General Gage. Vigilant eyes were upon him, and sometime in April, the Committee of New Bern carried off the cannon; the next month the Governor left New Bern for Fort Johnston on the Cape Fear, and when the people of Wilmington, led by James Moore and John Ashe, seized the fort in July, they found that he had deserted it for a British man-of-war. Royal rule in North Carolina was really at an end; the Executive had left the seat of government for the protection of the British flag.

An Independent State.

In the meantime the local committees of safety in other parts of the colony were active. News of the battle of Lexington stimulated the revolutionary spirit. In two counties the sentiment voiced by the committees was radical, equal if not beyond that so far expressed in the whole country. On May 31 the Mecklenburg Committee at Charlotte adopted resolutions that, since the American colonies have been declared in a state of rebellion, the constitution of each colony is suspended, and that the provincial congresses under the Continental Congress have all executive, legislative and judicial power, and that the people of Mecklenburg county should fashion a form of government to last in full force and virtue until instructions from the provincial congress regulating the jurisprudence of the province shall provide otherwise, or the legislative body of Great Britain resign its unjust and arbitrary pretentions with respect to America. By declaring British authority suspended, the Mecklenburg Resolves took a very advanced step toward independence; moreover this attempt at a new form of local government was undertaken several days before the Provincial Congress of Massachusetts sought advice of the Continental Congress about a new government for that colony, and several months before Congress advised New Hampshire, South Carolina and Virginia to form governments of their own; indeed at this time the Olive Branch Petition was being proposed and the North Carolina delegates in Congress therefore sent back advice to be a little more patient until Congress should take measures thought best, and the resolves were not printed in Philadelphia newspapers. These resolves of May 31 should not be confused with those of May 20, the so-called Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence. Another set of resolutions, adopted in New Hanover and Cumberland counties, declared that "We do unite ourselves under every tie of religion and honor, and associate ourselves as a band in her defense against every foe, hereby solemnly engaging that whenever our continental or provincial counsel shall decree it necessary, we will go forth and be ready to sacrifice our lives and fortunes to secure her freedom and safety."

This revolutionary propaganda was soon followed by military preparations and armed conflict. The third provincial congress which met at Hillsboro in August, ]_775, established a provincial council, a temporary central organ to guard a colony deserted by its legal governor, instituted a military system and provided for finance. In the meantime events in the colony had attracted the attention of the British authorities and an invasion was planned. Sir Henry Clinton, from New York, and Lord Cornwallis, from England, were ordered to join Governor Martin and the loyalists at the mouth of the Cape Fear. Fortune and prompt action averted this great menace. In December the first regiment under Col. Robert Howe marched to Virginia and aided in the defeat of Lord Dunmore, who was rousing the Tories of that province ; in the same month 900 men were sent to South Carolina on a similar errand. North Carolina was thus the first colony to send troops beyond her borders for defense of the revolutionary cause. At home military achievement was no less worthy. The Scotch settlers on the upper Cape Fear, in the region of Fayettville, in answer to an appeal of Governor Martin, raised the royal standard in January, 1776, and two thousand strong prepared to join Governor Martin and the British. But they were intercepted on February 27 at Moore's Creek Bridge, eighteen miles from Wilmington, and defeated. This was the first victory won by an American force in the War of the Revolution. It strengthened the cause in North Carolina, disheartened the Tories, and when the British arrived on the coast a few weeks later they received so little sympathy that on June 1 they departed for Charleston, S. C.

In the flush of victory the North Carolina patriots made a most radical decision. On April 12, 1776, the fourth provincial congress in session at Halifax resolved that "The delegates for this colony in the Continental Congress be empowered to concur with the delegates of the other colonies in declaring Independence, and forming foreign alliances, reserving to this colony the sole and exclusive right of forming a constitution and laws for this colony, and of appointing delegates from time to time (under the direction of a general representation thereof) to meet delegates of the other colonies for such purposes as shall be hereafter pointed out." This was the first instruction for independence by any colony. It gives North Carolina patriots a high place in the history of the time.

The Congress then turned to the formation of a permanent frame of government and state constitution. Its efforts were not successful. Two factions appeared: one represented the ideals of radical democracy, demanding that all officers be chosen by the people, the other holding to the more conservative British forms of government. Both factions appealed to the people in the election for the Fifth Congress. Though Samuel Johnston, leader of the conservatives, was defeated, many of his followers were elected and the constitution which was framed was conservative. Many features of the colonial constitution were preserved. Property qualifications were required for membership in both houses of the legislature, representation was apportioned according to counties, not population, and to vote for state senator fifty acres of land was a prerequisite. The legislature was supreme; it elected the governor and all state officers; its annual sessions were the only check on legislative tyranny.

North Carolina in Revolutionary War.

The high fervor that carried the colony into revolt and created an independent government, was followed by a period of reaction. "After the first outburst of local patriotism in the spring of 1776, the support of the cause as far as the people were concerned was purely compulsory." The state's quota in the continental line was never complete, and the militia were also recruited with difficulty. There were three causes of this apathy. First, most of those who had participated in the Regulation movement were neutral; they saw in the Revolution a continuation of the old control of the colony by the eastern counties; 'indeed the same men who led Tryon's army in 1771 commanded the patriots in 1776. Equally important was the influence of the Scotch, who had very recently settled on the Cape Fear. Having been loyal to the cause of monarchy, they sympathized with Governor Martin. Thus a large portion of the state was neutralized. Finally there was a cleavage within the patriot party, similar to the alignment in the formation of the constitution, and many conservatives, among them Samuel Johnston and William Hooper, retired from public life and became luke-warm when the radicals, under Willie Jones, became important in state politics.

Yet the North Carolina patriots were directly concerned in some notable military achievements of the Revolution. They served with distinction at Brandywine and Germantown, and North Carolina troops composed most of the opposition to the British invasion of Georgia and South Carolina during 1778-1779; with the capture of Charleston in 1781, all of the North Carolina Continentals and considerable militia were captured. The way for invasion seemed open, the Tories also lifted their heads and Cornwallis promised to take advantage as soon as the harvest was gathered. For defense, the militia was the only reliance. Gen. Griffith Rutherford soon assembled 900 men at Charlotte, and with the aid of other militia leaders gave confidence by victories over the Tories at Ramsour's Mill (near Lincolnton, N. C.), Colson's Mill and Hanging Rock. During these activities in the summer of 1780, regulars from the Continental army arrived over whom Gen. Horatio Gates was given command. On August 16 occurred the disastrous battle of Camden; further resistance seemed impossible for Col. Patrick Ferguson, Cornwallis's able lieutenant, advanced as far north as Lincolnton, N. C., in pursuit of the patriot militia. Suddenly relief came from beyond the mountains. Alarmed at Ferguson's advance and his threats, the men of Watauga, 1,000 strong, started for the front. Learning of their approach Ferguson fell back to King's Mountain, and there his army was surrounded and defeated, and he himself was killed on October 7. The effect of the battle was to check Cornwallis's advance and to give time for the reorganization of the American army. This was accomplished by Gen. Nathaniel Greene, who took command at Charlotte in December. Soon he sent Gen. Daniel Morgan across the South Carolina line to collect supplies and to check the Tories. He met and defeated Tarleton at Cowpens on Jan. 17, 1781. Then began the famous Greene retreat, the withdrawal of Morgan, also of Greene, across North Carolina to the Virginia line, which culminated in the battle of Guilford Court House, and Cornwallis's retreat to Wilmington, eventually to Yorktown.

These campaigns were accompanied by a fratricidal conflict, a civil strife between the Tories and the Whigs. An interesting incident was the capture of Gov. Thomas Burke and his staff in 1781 at Hillsboro by David Fanning, a noted Tory leader. He was sent to Charleston for imprisonment, but he soon escaped, returned to North Carolina and resumed his duties as governor. In the same year the strength of the Tories was broken at the battle of Elizabethtown and by a campaign of Gen. Griffith Rutherford in the Cape Fear region. This enmity of Whig and Tory survived the Revolution and caused an extensive confiscation of loyalist property by the state government.

North Carolina's Attitude to the Federal Constitution.

The first political problem after the Revolution was that of the Federal constitution; indeed North Carolina has an unique place in the formation of the Union in being the last state, except Rhode Island, to ratify the constitution. For this hesitation there were various reasons. A strong sense of individualism, inherent in the people, bred indifference toward any central government whatever. Moreover, the old alignment of conservative and radical was still alive, and over the Federal constitution controversy was even more bitter than in 1776 over the state constitution. The radicals, under the leadership of Willie Jones, Rev. David Caldwell, Timothy Bloodworth and others, feared a consolidated republic, claiming that the words "We the people" in the constitution should read "We the States," criticised the Federal judiciary, believing it would encroach upon the state courts, opposed Federal taxation, and demanded that a Bill of Rights should precede the constitution. On the other hand the Conservatives, led by James Iredell, Wm. R. Davie, Samuel Johnston and Richard Dobbs Spaight favored ratification, but the Constitutional Convention which met at Hillsboro in July, 1788, was controlled by the radicals or Anti-Federalists, failed to ratify the constitution, although ten states had done so, and recommended a Bill of Rights and twenty-six amendments. But public opinion soon began to change: New York ratified just after the North Carolina Convention closed, leaving this state and Rhode Island the only ones outside the Union. The people also realized that the friends of the constitution in North Carolina regarded it as a compact and the Federal government as an agent of the states; consequently a second Constitutional Convention at Fayetteville on Nov. 21, 1789, ratified the constitution after a stormy session.

A strong sense of state individualism, however, ]on,, prevailed and aroused the suspicion and hostility toward the measures of the central government. In Congress, Hugh Williamson led the opposition to assumption of state debts, and in western North Carolina opposition to the excise law was as effective as in Pennsylvania. In 1790 the House of Commons, excited over the assumption of state debts, refused to take an oath to support the constitution, and the Court of Equity refused to obey a writ of certiorari issued by the Federal District Court removing a case to the Supreme Court of the United States.

The general discontent which these incidents suggest caused a reaction to Anti-Federalism; in 1793 that party carried all the Congressional districts save one, and in the person of Nathaniel Macon, North Carolina Anti-Federalism had a prominent place in the councils of the party. Yet the milder type of Anti-Federalism and Federalist policies prevailed in North Carolina. In 1797 the Assembly, in which the Federalists had a majority, instructed the state's delegates in Congress to labor for the repeal of the Alien and Sedition Laws, while the succeeding Assembly, having an Anti-Federalist majority, failed to approve the Virginia-Kentucky Resolves. The year 1800 marks the beginning of the decline of the Federalists in North Carolina. An important factor in the Anti-Federalist victory was Joseph Gales and the newly founded Raleigh Register. But as long as the party lasted, the Federalists had a strong hold in the Fayetteville and Salisbury districts, and during the War of 1812 one of the most prominent anti-administration leaders of Congress was William Gaston, of Craven county.

Domestic Affairs.

Gradually domestic problems assumed importance. In 1788 Wake county was chosen the seat of government; in 1791 the city of Raleigh was laid off, and in 1794 the Assembly held its sessions in the new capitol. In 1810 a system of state banks was inaugurated. The cause of internal improvements became popular. In the last decade of the Eighteenth century bounties for iron manufactures were offered, and in 1790 the Dismal Swamp Canal, connecting the Pasquotank River with Elizabeth River in Virginia was chartered; although begun as a private enterprise, it was ultimately finished by state aid, and later the state took stock in various navigation companies, whose aim was to improve rivers and harbors, but no step was made toward organized effort by the state until a Board of Internal Improvements was created in 1819. The need of better educational facilities was also felt; the constitution provided for "a school or schools" for the instruction of youth with salaries paid by the public, which shall enable them to instruct at low prices and for higher learning in one or more universities. The University of North Carolina was founded, but nothing was accomplished for public education, although various governors urged the cause and Archibald D. Murphy, in 1817, presented to the Assembly a comprehensive and searching educational report. Even more vital than these issues, and profoundly influencing them, was the cause of constitutional reform. The system of representation, which apportioned membership in the Assembly according to counties rather than population, fostered the old hostility of the eastern and western counties; for during the early years of the century those of the west so developed that they surpassed the east in population and wealth, but by virtue of a larger number of counties, the east controlled legislation. Gradually the two sections were divided on all important issues, the east opposing further aid to internal improvements and public education, the west demanding a progressive policy. In 1824, the year of national political ferment, the west supported Jackson, the east Crawford, for the presidency, but when, in 1828, the east adopted Jackson on account of his state's rights' principles, the west became lukewarm, and by 1832 was identified with the new Whig party.

New Constitution.

After prolonged agitation which threatened to rend the state, the western counties under the leadership of David Lowry Swain and Willie P. Mangum forced the submission of reform to the people. In 1834, and in accordance with a popular but sectional vote, a constitutional convention met at Raleigh in 1835. In a series of amendments representation in the House of Commons was apportioned among counties according to their population, in the Senate according to districts formed according to taxes. The Assembly was robbed of much of its power by establishing biennial instead of annual sessions, and by giving the election of governor to the people. Free negroes were disfranchised, and largely through the efforts of William Gaston the 32d clause of the constitution, which excluded from public office those denying the truth of the Protestant religion, was made to read the truth of the Christian religion. These reforms were ratified by a sectional vote, all western counties giving a majority for the amendment, the eastern, except one, voting against it.

Whig Ascendency.

The leaders in the cause of constitutional reform were Whigs, and the succeeding fifteen years (1835 to 1850) marked the period of Whig ascendency. In national politics such able leaders as Mangum, William A. Graham and Geo. E. Badger kept North Carolina loyal to the party when the real interests of the South seemed to be with the Democrats, and brought into the state a sentiment of nationality which later opposed secession. The real explanation of the party's supremacy, however, was its identification with the cause of domestic progress. Three notable achievements were made under Whig leadership. Chief of these was the inauguration of a public school system.

Public Education.

In 1825 the Assembly provided for a literary fund to be used for educational purposes. By 1838 this amounted to $1,732,485. After a few appropriations had been made a revised school law was enacted in 1840, framed by Bartlett Yancey, which distributed the income among the counties according to Federal population, and empowered the county courts to supplement it by a local county tax. There were many difficulties; local taxation of the counties not being mandatory, many failed to give local support. Not until 1846 were schools established in all counties, and there was no attempt at organized educational administration until 1852, when Calvin H. Wiley was appointed Superintendent of Common Schools. In 1860, on the eve of the War of Secession, the sum of $255,641.12 was spent for public education, and throughout that conflict the schools were kept open and the literary fund was kept a sacred trust. With the failure of banks and the collapse after the war, the literary fund was lost.

During the same period (1840 to 1860) the number of male colleges increased from three to six, the foremost being, besides the University already established, Davidson, Wake Forest and Trinity; and the number of female colleges increased from one to thirteen.

Internal Improvements.

The Whig leaders adopted a more liberal policy toward internal improvements. Better transportation facilities were necessary, but the failure of earlier corporations and the state's investment in them aroused opposition to further state aid. A new period opened with the completion of the Wilmington and Weldon and Raleigh and Gaston lines in 1840, both lines being assisted by liberal state aid. The western counties were unsupplied, and in 1845 a failure of crops created a famine, although corn was rotting in the fields of the eastern counties. The Whig leaders, principally William A. Graham, John M. Morehead and William S. Ashe, urged the building of a road from the coast to the mountains; but the Democrats and the eastern counties, partly from the embarrassment of the existing roads and the state's investment in them, partly from old sectional feeling, opposed the movement. But in 1849, after a prolonged debate, the North Carolina Railroad Company was chartered, by vote of Mr. Graves, speaker of the Senate, a Democrat, the state guaranteeing two-fifths of the capital stock. In a few years the road was completed from Goldsboro to Charlotte, and an extension toward Asheville was begun, while the Atlantic and North Carolina road was built to connect Goldsboro and the coast. The enterprise proved a success financially, while socially it was of great service, doing much to abolish the old hostility of the eastern and western counties.


The domestic policy of the Whig party was also pervaded by a humanitarian spirit. In 1845 the Institution for the Deaf, Dumb and Blind was founded, and in 1849, largely through the appeal of Dorothea Dix and James C. Dobbin, the Assembly established the present Central Asylum for the Insane at Raleigh. In 1848, also, the right of married women before the common law was amended by a statutory provision that maiden lands of wives should not be liable to execution for the husband's debts, and that no man could sell his wife's property without her consent, given in presence of witnesses.

Whigs Defeated.

Notwithstanding this program of progress, the Whig party lost its supremacy in 1850. For this there were two causes, one local and one national. The constitutional reforms in 1835 had made taxes the basis of membership in the Senate, and had preserved the property qualification as a requisite to vote for state senators. In 1848 David S. Reid, Democratic candidate for governor, through the advice of Stephen A. Douglas, made manhood suffrage the issue of his campaign, demanding the abolition of the property qualification and an apportionment of senators according to Federal population. Though defeated in 1848, Reid and also a Democratic Assembly were elected in 1850, but on account of obstruction by the Whigs the proposed reform did not pass the Assembly until 1854, and was ratified by the people the following year.


In addition to the local issue, a division in national policy toward slavery was fatal to the Whigs. In discussion of the proposed Wilmot Proviso, which excluded slavery from the territory acquired from Mexico, George E. Badger, in the Senate of the United States, admitted the right, though doubting the expediency of Congress, to exclude slavery from territories and denied the right of a state to secede from the Union; while Thomas L. Clingman, a Whig leader of the western counties, in a letter to Mr. Foote, of Mississippi, declared that the policy of exclusion would be revolutionary and leaned toward secession as a means of protection for the South. The North Carolina Whigs, however, supported the Compromise of 1850, but in 1852 an irreparable schism developed. Mr. Clingman favored the nomination of Millard Fillmore for the Presidency, and when General Scott was nominated he left the party, declaring that it had been captured by the abolitionists, and supported Franklin Pierce, the Democratic candidate. This defection was fatal, for although the Whigs nominated William A. Graham for the vice-presidency, the electoral vote of North Carolina showed a majority for Pierce. Thus, after years of service, the Whig party lost control of local and national political issues in North Carolina. Some of its members joined the- short-lived Know Nothing party; among these were John A. Gilmer and Kenneth Raynor, both prominent in the Know Nothing movement.

Toward the slavery question and the agitation which resulted in secession, North Carolina's attitude was conservative. For this there were various reasons. The small farm and the middle class planter being the dominant factors in industry, the milder type of slavery prevailed and the slave system never secured so strong a hold on the life of the people as in most other Southern states. Moreover, in the middle and western counties, there was a strong anti-slavery sentiment. These counties had been settled by Scotch-Irish, Germans and Quakers, and slavery had far less hold than in the east. Illustrative of this sentiment were Hinton Rowan Helper, Benjamin S. Hedrick, Daniel R. Goodloe, men who opposed slavery in the interest of the whites rather than the negroes. Indeed, in spite of the intense political controversy over slavery, there seems to have been a steady undercurrent of feeling among thinking people that sooner or later the institution must end.

Therefore, sympathy with other states and the logic of events, rather than personal grievances, led North Carolina into the Confederacy. Although secession had been advocated by political leaders, notably Thomas L. Clingman and William W. Holden, the principle made no headway among the people until 1857. Then the publication of Helper's Impending Crisis and John Brown's raid aroused public sentiment. Possession of Helper's book at once became a political crime, and sympathy for Virginia was expressed. The Council of State adopted resolutions threatening a new form of government unless slave property was protected. Public meetings were held in various counties that expressed defiance to the North and to abolition. In one year secession sentiment had grown more than in all the preceding ones, and a secession party, small but active, had come into existence.

The rising tide of secession and proslavery sentiment at once met strong opposition. In 1858 John W. Ellis, a states-rights Democrat, received the nomination of his party for governor. He was opposed by Duncan K. McRae, Independent, who sought to turn the people's mind from slavery to economic development and education. Though Ellis was victorious, McRae received a large vote, and W. W. Holden, disappointed at the nomination of Ellis, now drifted from the radicals to conservatism. Two years later opposition to slavery agitation and secession was even stronger. The Whig party revived, nominated John Pool for governor, ridiculed secession in its convention, and on a local issue, advalorem slave taxation, sought to divert the people from slavery questions. The Democrats renominated Ellis, and incorporated a strong states-rights clause in their platform. In the campaign Ellis in vain tried to arouse the people on the national question. He was forced to face the local issue; by adroit argument he won the fight, but the Democratic majority was reduced to 10,000 below that of 1858, though the vote was the largest ever polled in the state. Clearly the conservatism of the people made them hesitate to endorse radical views regarding slavery and secession.

The election of Lincoln gave new life to secession agitation. Public meetings were held in the interest of secession, and in the Assembly which met in November, 1860, resolutions asserting and denying the right of secession were introduced, but neither were adopted. The secessionists demanded the call of a state convention to consider Federal relations, and after prolonged-discussion in the Assembly and throughout the state on Jan. 30, 1861, both factions agreed to submit to the people the question of a convention whose work, if called, should be ratified by the people, while the election of delegates was to be held at the same time. The vote was cast on February 28; by a majority of 651 the call of a convention was rejected, and the majority of the delegates elected were Union men. The conservatism of the people was greater than that of their leaders. But the efforts of the secessionists did not abate and the trend of events soon favored them. The fall of Fort Sumter and a request by the secretary of war for two regiments of troops from North Carolina were decisive. Even the Union newspapers and leaders gave up the fight. Governor Ellis called a special session of the Assembly which met on May 1, 1861. A state convention with unlimited powers was ordered, and preparations were made for war. Public sentiment had quickly changed ; there was no opposition to military activity, to the convention or to separation from the Union. The social bond was stronger than the political bond; in the critical hour, the choice of North Carolina was to fight with sister states, although conservative political sentiment and love of the Union had heretofore been supreme.


There remained one final problem, viz.: the manner of withdrawal from the Union. In the convention which assembled at Raleigh on May 20, there were two distinct factions-one dominated by the principles of the old Whig party, the other representing the opinion of the advanced Democracy. In the preliminary test of strength the latter element proved supreme, Weldon N. Edwards being chosen president over William A. Graham. Two sets of resolutions looking to the withdrawal from the Union were then offered-one by George E. Badger providing for separation by means of revolution, without mentioning secession in its applied meaning; the other framed by Judah P. Benjamin, introduced by Burton Craige, based on the idea of constitutional secession, abrogated and rescinded the ordinance of the convention by which North Carolina had ratified the constitution of the United States in 1789. Mr. Badger's resolutions were rejected, and after a test vote those of Mr. Craige were unanimously adopted, the Whigs and Conservatives sacrificing their political convictions in the interest of a great cause. Thus on May 20, 1861, North Carolina left the Union.

BIBLIOGRAPHY. - Moore's History of North Carolina (2 vols., 1880) is the only book that covers the entire period of this chapter, is very incomplete and must be supplemented by other studies. For the Revolution, Colonial and State Records (Vols. X.-XXIV.) are an invaluable repository of documents; Ashe, History of North Carolina (Vol. L, 1908) Is written close to the sources; Sykes, Transition from Colony to Commonwealth (Johns Hopkins Studies); Hoyt, Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence (1906) and Schenck, North Carolina 1780-81 (1888) are useful studies, while Caruthers, Old North State (1854, second series 1856) contains illustrative material derived from legend and tradition. Political history from 1789-1861 is well outlined in Wagstaff's States Rights and Political Parties in North Carolina (Johns Hopkins Press).

Contributions to social history are Weaver, History of Internal Improvements in North Carolina (Johns Hopkins Press); Bassett, Slavery in North Carolina and Anti-Slavery (Ibid) Weeks, History of the Common School System in the South (U. S. Bureau of Education) and Coon, Documentary History of Education in North Carolina (N. C. Historical Commission).

Professor of History, Trinity College, N. C.

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