To recap on this series, it’s possible that Raleigh was chosen as the state capital of North Carolina for a number of reasons:
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
Access to higher education: the University of North Carolina was newly chartered in 1789, which was within a day’s ride to Raleigh
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
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
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.
“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 →
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.