Tag Archives: history

A Capital Affair, Pt. IV

To recap on this series, it’s possible that Raleigh was chosen as the state capital of North Carolina for a number of reasons:

  1. Geographic location: the state’s population was gradually moving westward; Raleigh is not far from the geographical center of the state, which meant that it was relatively easy for members of the Assembly, who lived as far west as Burke County and as far east as Hyde County, to attend sessions
  2. Access to higher education: the University of North Carolina was newly chartered in 1789, which was within a day’s ride to Raleigh
  3. Thoroughfare: Raleigh was established near two major roads – an east-west road, “Jonesborough Road,” connected New Bern to Knoxville, TN (mostly follows present-day US Route 70), and a north-south road, “Fall Line Road” (forked off of the King’s Highway), connected Fredericksburg, VA to Augusta, GA
  4. Fresh start: being a brand new city, Raleigh didn’t carry the burden of its predecessors; this also led to more stability, at least in terms of keeping state records in one fixed location
State_House

North Carolina State House, painted by Jacob Marling in 1818. Raleigh History Collection, NC Digital Collections

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A Capital Affair, Pt. III

Raleigh: 1794-present

The North Carolina General Assembly has been convening exclusively in Raleigh since 1794.

The city of Raleigh was planned and built specifically for the purpose of becoming the state’s capital, which was largely decided on based on it being close to the geographical center of the state. There were several benefits of designating Raleigh as the capital; it was not vulnerable to naval attack, it was located near a major interregional thoroughfare, and it was seen as a blank slate for some. However, many opposed this decision initially.

Plan_of_Raleigh

Historic map from the North Carolina Maps project overlaid with a current satellite image of downtown Raleigh. Original map: “Plan of the city of Raleigh: from Johnson’s map of 1847,” circa 1867. North Carolina Collection call number Cm912c R163 1867.

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A Capital Affair, Pt. II

New Bern, the first colonial capital: 1766-1776

“Perhaps a greater villain than corrupt officials was the absence of a provincial capital or fixed courthouse during the early years” (Jones, 1966).

At its first few meetings in New Bern, the Assembly voted against the town becoming the permanent seat of government, despite Governor Gabriel Johnston’s efforts. Meanwhile, the public records continued to suffer. Continue reading

A Capital Affair

We have a little-known fact to share that may leave some native North Carolinians mystified…

Raleigh was not the original capital of North Carolina.

In fact, it wasn’t the second or third…or even sixth choice. Bath (1710-1722) and Edenton (1722-1743) were considered the first unofficial capitals of North Carolina, later followed by the first official state capital, New Bern (1766-1776). Each of these towns served as the seat of government for a period of time, but there were several other contenders in the early years.

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History Repeats Itself: the 1918 Influenza Pandemic

This post is part of the blog series, “History Repeats Itself,” which discusses events in North Carolina history that correspond with current events and draw attention to related North Carolina Digital Collections materials.

Exactly one century ago, the 1918 Spanish influenza pandemic wreaked havoc on the world and became the worst flu outbreak in recorded history. This pandemic was said to be responsible for the deaths of approximately 50-100 million people worldwide, nearly 14,000 North Carolinians were among those who died.

1918HealthBulletin

Illustration from the October 1919 issue of the Health Bulletin (vol 34, issue 10), published by the North Carolina State Board of Health.

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Treasures of Carolina: the Carolina Charter of 1663

The first Wednesday of each month will feature a document or item from the State Archives considered a treasure because of its significance to the history and culture of our state or because it is rare or unique. Sometimes the featured item just illustrates a good story. The items highlighted in this blog have been taken from the exhibit, “Treasures of Carolina: Stories from the State Archives” and its companion catalog.

Detail NC_Charter-Pg1

Page 1 of the Carolina Charter features an elaborate drawing of King Charles

Considered the “birth certificate” of the Carolinas, the Carolina Charter of 1663, so named after King Charles II of England, gave the province of Carolina to eight of his loyal supporters, known later as Lords Proprietors of Carolina, in return for their service to the Crown during the English Restoration.  The original Charter designated land between 31°and 36° north latitude and extending east to west, ocean to ocean, covering parts of what is now Florida, Mexico, Texas, and California.

Written on vellum (calf- or sheepskin), this remarkable document is composed of four pages and bears a striking pen-and-ink portrait of King Charles II of England on the first page. The Charter marks the beginning of organized, representative government in the province of Carolina, granting to the colonists rights that were to have lasting influence on the region’s population and its history. For example, the Charter guaranteed the rights of property ownership, the establishment of courts, and representation of delegates of “Freemen of said Province.”

The Carolina Charter of 1663 is both a government document—as a land grant and a treatise for governing—and a work of art.  In 1949, using privately-donated funds, the Department of Archives and History paid $6,171 for its purchase from a bookseller in England. Two years of research on both sides of the Atlantic had confirmed the Charter’s authenticity. Today it is housed in one of two climate-controlled security vaults in the State Archives. Because of preservation concerns and its intrinsic and documentary value its display is carefully monitored.

New Digital Collection: Travel Perspectives

PC_2064_Stewart_1923_106

Stewart Family Ledger and Scrapbook, available online through the NC Digital Collections.

The Travel Perspectives collection is now available online via the North Carolina Digital Collections. This collection features narratives and images of tourism as experienced by North Carolinians, found within the holdings of the State Archives of North Carolina. These documents consist of letters, scrapbooks, journals, photographs, postcards, newspaper clippings, and other material related to the representation of the creator’s travels and experiences. The collection consists of items dating primarily from the 1850s through the 1950s, representing the first significant wave of mass tourism in which North Carolinians participated.

For more information on topics related to this collection, please check out this NCpedia page developed by the State Library:

Other resources:

Another digital collection of interest includes the Historic North Carolina Travel and Tourism Photos Project, which includes a series of photos, originally used in advertising campaigns to market the state as a travel destination, produced between 1929 and 1970 by the Conservation and Development Department, Travel and Tourism Division.