Tag Archives: Tryon Palace

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

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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.

Continue reading

Exhibit about North Carolina’s Revolutionary Politics and Signers of the Declaration of Independence

[This blog post was written by Donna Kelly, Head of the Special Collections Section.]

The Surry County Committee of Safety journal which reads both "Liberty or Death" and "God Save the King"

The Surry County Committee of Safety journal not only condemned British policies, but also declared loyalty to the Crown. To illustrate this paradox, the words “Liberty or Death” were printed in a circle surrounding “God Save the King.” From the State Archives of North Carolina (Secretary of State Records, Committees of Safety, MARS Id: 12.112).

A one-day special exhibit of documents from the State Archives will be displayed at Tryon Palace on Saturday, June 4, 2016. It focuses on North Carolina’s revolutionary politics and the signers of the Declaration of Independence. Among significant documents to be displayed are Josiah Martin’s speech denouncing the Second Provincial Congress, the General Assembly’s response, an excerpt from a Surry County committee of safety journal, and a letter delivering news of America’s newfound status as an independent state. Also included is a document signed by all three delegates, just over a month after they signed the Declaration of Independence.

Leading up to the American Revolution, tensions were growing between the British government and the American colonies. At a meeting of the Continental Congress in Philadelphia an economic boycott against Great Britain was instituted and local committees of safety were set up to enforce it. In North Carolina, Provincial Congresses were held despite their denunciation by the royal governor, Josiah Martin. He dissolved the General Assembly on April 8, 1775, hoping to quell growing resistance to British rule, but he was unsuccessful.

Fifth page of the Halifax Resolves

The fifth page of the Halifax Resolves reads: “Resolved that the delegates for this Colony in the Continental Congress be impowered to concur with the other delegates of the other Colonies in declaring Independency . . .” From the State Archives of North Carolina (Secretary of State Records, Provincial Conventions and Congresses, MARS Id: 12.114).

After the violence at Lexington and Concord in Massachusetts in April of 1775, and later the Patriot victory at Moore’s Creek Bridge in February of 1776, it became a foregone conclusion that any reconciliation between Great Britain and America was futile. As a result, the Halifax Resolves were adopted by the Fourth Provincial Congress on April 12, 1776, marking the first official action by a colony to declare independence. This date appears on the North Carolina state flag.

On July 2, 1776 the Continental Congress voted that the American colonies were independent states. On July 4, 1776 the Declaration of Independence was adopted. It was signed by William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, and John Penn, delegates from North Carolina.

For more details see http://www.tryonpalace.org/events/it%E2%80%99s-revolutionary-documents-state-archives-north-carolina.