Friday, 10 January 2014

North Carolina

North Carolina, state in the southeastern United States. It is bounded by Virginia on the north, Tennessee on the west, and South Carolina and Georgia on the south. The Atlantic Ocean forms its long irregular eastern boundary. Long an important agricultural state, North Carolina is the nation’s leading producer of tobacco. Since the 1920s, however, it has also been a major source of manufactured goods, especially tobacco products, chemicals, textiles, and furniture. Raleigh is the capital of North Carolina. Charlotte is the largest city and the center of the state’s most populous metropolitan region.
The site of an early attempted English settlement in the 1580s, North Carolina has played a significant role throughout U.S. history. North Carolinians were leaders in the American Revolution (1775-1783) and, through the Battle of Guilford Courthouse, contributed significantly to the ultimate American victory. North Carolina joined the Union on November 21, 1789, as the 12th of the original 13 states. Although hesitant to join the Union in 1789, they were equally reluctant to leave it during the American Civil War (1861-1865). However, once they joined the Confederacy, they gave wholeheartedly of North Carolina’s men and wealth. The state has been a pacesetter in internal improvements and public education. From a high sand dune called Kill Devil Hill, located near Kitty Hawk on North Carolina’s Outer Banks, Wilbur and Orville Wright made the first successful airplane flights in 1903.
North Carolina’s name is derived from the Latin word Carolinus, meaning “of Charles.” The state was named in honor of King Charles I and King Charles II of England by their friends and supporters who were establishing colonies in the southern part of the Virginia colony. The state is nicknamed the “Tar Heel State.” While time has obscured the source of the name, some historians believe it refers to one of the state’s major colonial-era products—tar—which was derived from slowly burning the stumps of longleaf pine trees. More commonly accepted is that the name came about during the Civil War. Some say the name may have originally been used derisively, applied to North Carolina soldiers who could not hold a position against Union troops because they had forgotten to “tar their heels” and thus could not stick to their ground. Others contend the name was applied to North Carolina troops by Confederate leaders as a tribute to their sticking quality during battle. The state, once the northern part of the original Carolina colony, is also referred to as the “Old North State.”
North Carolina, 29th in size among the 50 states, has a total area of 139,391 sq km (53,819 sq mi), including 10,256 sq km (3,960 sq mi) of inland water. Its maximum dimensions are 809 km (503 mi) from east to west and 301 km (187 mi) from north to south. The state’s mean elevation is about 210 m (700 ft).
A Natural Regions
Largely on the basis of its topography and landforms North Carolina is often divided into three natural regions, or physiographic provinces: the Atlantic Coastal Plain, the Piedmont, and the Blue Ridge (or Mountain) province.
The Atlantic Coastal Plain makes up about 45 percent of the state (see Coastal Plain). It is a low, flat to gently sloping plain that tilts slightly seaward. Much of the region is less than 75 m (250 ft) above sea level. The western margin is marked by the Fall Line, in actuality a zone where the rivers descend over small waterfalls and rapids from the ancient, harder rock of the Piedmont to the more easily eroded sands, clays, and shales of the Atlantic Coastal Plain. At the Fall Line the land of the Coastal Plain rises in some places to elevations of 120 m (400 ft). The Coastal Plain is actually a series of broad, very flat terraces or steps, which are bounded on their western edges by abrupt rises in elevation that represent ancient beach ridges. The easternmost of these terraces are poorly drained in places, giving rise to large swampy areas or “pocosins,” an Algonquian word meaning “swamp on high ground.” The Great Dismal Swamp is one of these pocosins. Others are Holly Shelter Swamp and Green Swamp. The river valleys in the eastern Coastal Plain were flooded by a rise in sea level since the end of the last period of glaciation, creating the broad sounds and rivers, which are called estuaries.
Most of the Atlantic Coastal Plain has a sandy surface, and solid rock is very deep below many layers of sediments. Marsh grass and water-tolerant trees cover the wetter areas. Pine forests occupy the better-drained sandy sections.
The seaward part of the Atlantic Coastal Plain, extending from 50 to 130 km (30 to 80 mi) inland, is usually referred to as the Tidewater. Marshes, swamps, and lakes cover wide areas. The irregular shoreline has numerous bays and sounds that penetrate westwardly into the Coastal Plain. Sand dunes are numerous near the shore in many places. Low narrow sandbars, called barrier islands, enclose quiet lagoons, or sounds, and provide long stretches of attractive beaches. The outermost barrier islands are called the Outer Banks, which enclose the large body of water known as Pamlico Sound. At three locations along the coast—Cape Hatteras, Cape Lookout, and Cape Fear—the sandbars project far out under the Atlantic Ocean, creating dangerous shoals that are hazards to shipping. Just offshore from Cape Hatteras are the treacherous Diamond Shoals, site of hundreds of shipwrecks. This coast is nicknamed the “Graveyard of the Atlantic.” North Carolina’s coastline measures 484 km (301 mi). The tidal shoreline, which includes islands, bays, and river mouths, stretches for 5,432 km (3,375 mi).
The inner portion of the Atlantic Coastal Plain is somewhat higher in elevation and much better drained than the outer Coastal Plain. The gently rolling surface and light sandy soils have helped mold it into a leading agricultural region. In its southwestern part, near the South Carolina border, is found the Sandhills, a hilly area of ancient beach sand dunes with heights up to 180 m (600 ft) above sea level. This area is known for its peach orchards and for its winter golf resort areas.
North Carolina’s Piedmont is about the same size as the Atlantic Coastal Plain, comprising about 45 percent of the state’s area (see Piedmont Plateau). Lying between the Coastal Plain and the Appalachian Mountains, this rolling to hilly transitional region ranges from 150 m (500 ft) above sea level in places on its eastern border to as much as 460 m (1,500 ft) in the west.
The mountain region of North Carolina occupies about 10 percent of the state. It is part of the southern portion of the Appalachian Mountain province, which extends from New England in the north to Alabama in the south. In the southern part of the Appalachian system, the easternmost mountain ridge is called the Blue Ridge. The Blue Ridge province attains its greatest width, height, and ruggedness in the area along the North Carolina-Tennessee border. In places the boundary between these two states follows the crest of the mountain ridges. The region is divided into a number of smaller mountain ranges. The easternmost range is specifically called the Blue Ridge, while along the western margin lie several ranges, including the Unaka Mountains and the Great Smoky Mountains. Several ranges, such as the Black Mountains and the Plott Balsam Mountains, connect the easternmost and westernmost ranges, enclosing lower-lying basins and valleys. The Asheville Basin, in the French Broad Valley, is the most significant.
The general elevation within the mountains varies from 600 to 1,200 m (2,000 to 4,000 ft), with valleys considerably lower. Many peaks are considerably higher; 50 exceed 6,000 ft (equivalent to 1,829 m). Mount Mitchell in the Black Mountains, 2,037 m (6,684 ft) high, is the highest point not only in the state but also in the entire eastern United States east of the Black Hills of South Dakota.
B Rivers and Lakes
The drainage divide in North Carolina follows the Blue Ridge range on the eastern margin of the mountain region. This is called the “Eastern Continental Divide.” West of this divide, rivers drain into the Mississippi River through the Tennessee River and other tributaries of the Ohio River. The French Broad, the largest, and the Little Tennessee flow into the Tennessee River. The New River flows into the Kanawha River of West Virginia which in turn flows into the Ohio River.
Most of the state’s rivers flow southeastward across the Piedmont and the Atlantic Coastal Plain. In the mountains and in the Piedmont they are relatively swift-flowing streams. In places the rivers have cut valleys 60 m (200 ft) or more below the upland surface. Major rivers and their tributaries provide good drainage, and excellent sites to use the rivers to generate electricity are numerous. Most rivers have developed falls or rapids where they cross the Fall Line from the Piedmont into the Atlantic Coastal Plain and become sluggish as they wend their way across the flatter Coastal Plain. Floodplains are wide and river swamps are common.
The Cape Fear River, one of the principal rivers in the state, begins in the Piedmont and flows southeastward as a stream laden with yellow muds and silts until it converges with a large backwater tributary known as the Northeast Cape Fear River. From the junction point of these two rivers at Wilmington, a broad estuary is formed that flows south to empty into the Atlantic Ocean at Smith Island just west of Cape Fear. The Neuse and Tar-Pamlico rivers flow into different arms of the Pamlico Sound. The Roanoke, Chowan, Perquimans, and Pasquotank rivers enter Albemarle Sound. The New River (which is a different river from the New River in the Blue Ridge province) empties into Onslow Bay. The Yadkin-Pee Dee, Catawba, Broad, and Waccamaw rivers originate in North Carolina and reach the ocean through South Carolina.
North Carolina’s few large natural lakes are in the outer Coastal Plain. Lake Mattamuskeet, near Pamlico Sound, is the largest. Lake Phelps, nearby, is second in size. Lake Waccamaw, near the South Carolina border, is the state’s third largest lake. Of the numerous swamps, the Great Dismal Swamp, astride the North Carolina-Virginia border, is the best known.
C Floods and Flood Control
The rivers of the Atlantic Coastal Plain flow through broad flat valleys and sometimes can cause damaging floods to large areas. Flooding in the mountains and the Piedmont, however, is restricted more to the immediate stream valleys. The early spring is usually the flood season, but hurricanes in the late summer and autumn can sometimes cause tremendous flood damage both along the coast and in the river valleys of the Piedmont and mountains.
Most of the dams and reservoirs on the Yadkin, Catawba, Roanoke, and other North Carolina rivers play a double role of hydroelectric power production and flood control, although some dams are used for power generation or for flood control only. By far the largest reservoir is Lake Norman, on the Catawba River, completed in 1964. Others include Lake Tillery, Badin Lake, High Rock Lake, and Wilkesboro reservoir on the Yadkin River, and John L. Kerr Reservoir and Lake Gaston on the Roanoke River. Fontana, Nantahala, and Cheoah reservoirs, in the west, are Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) multipurpose dams for both flood control and power.
D Climate
North Carolina has a humid subtropical climate, with precipitation in all seasons and few temperature extremes.
D1 Temperature
In January temperatures average 4° to 7°C (40° to 45°F) in most areas, except in the mountains, where the range is from 1° to 3°C (34° to 38°F). There cold raw weather lasts much of the winter. In the Coastal Plain and the Piedmont, cold spells are brief. On the highest peaks, January averages are well below freezing and heavy snowfalls occur. July temperatures range from an average of about 20°C (about 68°F) in the mountainous regions to as high as 27° C (80°F) in the Coastal Plain. Hot days are common at lower elevations, and temperatures occasionally rise into the upper 30°s C (lower 100°s F). Summers are cooler in the mountains.
D2 Precipitation
Yearly precipitation averages 1,000 to 1,300 mm (40 to 50 in) over most of the Atlantic Coastal Plain and the Piedmont. The sheltered basins and mountain valleys receive 1,000 mm (40 in). The southern-facing slopes of the mountains in the extreme southwestern part of the state receive about 2,000 mm (80 in) due to the moist prevailing winds blowing northward from the Gulf of Mexico. Summer is the rainiest season, and autumn is generally the driest, except that near the coast, autumn can be very rainy because of tropical storms and hurricanes. Snowfall ranges from 25 to 250 mm (1 to 10 in) a year over the Atlantic Coastal Plain and the Piedmont. In the mountains annual snowfall averages as much as 1,300 mm (50 in) in places, and the snow cover can last for several weeks at a time.
D3 Growing Season
At the low elevations the growing, or frost-free, season is from seven to nine months long. The mountain region in the northwestern part of the state has a growing season of as short as five months.
E Soils
North Carolina’s well-drained mature soils belong mainly to the group known as the red-yellow podzolic soils (ultisols), that covers most of the southeastern United States. In the mountains are gray-brown podzolic soils and a few small areas of podzols, two soil types that are similar to the soils of the northeastern United States.
Most of the soils of the Atlantic Coastal Plain are light colored and of sandy texture. They are low in most elements essential to crop growth and are moderately to strongly acidic. Many of them respond to proper treatment and become quite productive for agriculture when limed and fertilized. Drainage is the major soil problem of the Atlantic Coastal Plain.
Clay and clay loam textures typify Piedmont soils, and stoniness is common. Many of the flatter upland areas and some basins have light-colored sandy and sandy loam soils. The parent material, which is derived from old deeply weathered crystalline rocks, is high in iron oxide, which gives most Piedmont soils their distinctive red color. Piedmont soils are richer in most essential elements than are most Coastal Plain soils. Some of the Piedmont’s best crop soils are derived from water-laid, or alluvial, materials on river floodplains and terraces.
Most of the mountain soils are thin, stony, and not fully developed. At lower elevations are many red-yellow podzolic soils typical of the Piedmont. In the higher parts the cooler climate accounts for gray-brown podzolic soils. The best agricultural soils are on floodplains and terraces in valleys and basins.
F Plant Life
Forests today cover 62 percent of North Carolina’s total area. Originally they covered the entire land area, except for grassy marshes and some bald treeless areas at high elevations. The highest proportion of forest land exists where there is little farming, in the steep mountains and the poorly-drained outer Coastal Plain.
The forests of the Atlantic Coastal Plain consist largely of southern loblolly pines and longleaf pines. Cypresses, gums, Atlantic white cedars, and other water-tolerant species are found in river bottomlands and in Coastal Plain swamps. A rare carnivorous plant called the Venus’s-flytrap is native to the swamps of southeastern North Carolina. The coastal pine forests have been cut over repeatedly, and all that remains is second-growth timber.
The forests of the Piedmont and the mountains at the time of the European settlement consisted of red oaks, white oaks, hickories, gums, yellow poplars, and other deciduous trees mixed with smaller numbers of pines. Pines predominate in some parts of the Piedmont today, but most of the region is covered by a mosaic of hardwood and pine stands. In the mountains low temperatures, a shorter warm season and abundant rainfall have favored northern species and abundant undergrowth. These species include the maple, birch, beech, hemlock, fir, and spruce.
G Animal Life
Although North Carolina’s wildlife has diminished over the years, it is still plentiful and varied. Land birds include quail, doves, wild turkeys, and many songbirds. Ducks and geese are plentiful near the coast. Most wooded areas have squirrels, rabbits, opossums, raccoons, foxes, and other small game. Deer are widespread. Bears are not numerous but are found in the mountains and the Coastal Plain swamps. Wild boar can be found in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Nantahala National Forest. Snakes, including poisonous species such as rattlesnakes and water moccasins, are common throughout the state, and even alligators are native to the southeastern corner of the state. Most inland waters are stocked with fish, including trout, bass, bream, and perch.
H Conservation
Twenty divisions of the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources are responsible for aspects of environmental quality. Included are the Division of Air Quality, which monitors the quality of outdoor air (including problems such as smoke, haze, and noxious fumes), and the Division of Water Quality, which monitors the quality of surface and groundwater resources. Each of these agencies also carries out enforcement actions against violators. The Division of Soil and Water Conservation conducts programs to slow loss of topsoils, control agricultural pollution, protect watersheds, and map wetlands.
In 2006 the state had 31 hazardous waste sites on a national priority list for cleanup due to their severity or proximity to people. Some progress was being made in efforts to reduce pollution; in the period 1995–2000 the amount of toxic chemicals discharged into the environment was reduced by 29 percent.
From colonial times to the 1920s, agriculture dominated the economy of North Carolina. Manufacturing surpassed farming as a source of income in the 1920s and as a source of jobs, as well, by the 1950s. In the late 1990s manufacturing remained the principal economic activity, but government, commercial and financial services, and tourism also were important. In addition, a large number of research and development industries have been established in North Carolina, in facilities such as Research Triangle Park, located between Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill. Handicrafts, such as baskets and pottery are important products of the Blue Ridge and Piedmont regions.
North Carolina had a work force of 4,465,000 in 2006. Of those, the largest share, 33 percent, worked in the diverse services sector, doing such jobs as working in tourist facilities or computer programming. Another 20 percent of the workers were employed in wholesale and retail trade; 13 percent in manufacturing; 17 percent in federal, state, or local government, including those in the military; 6 percent in construction; 17 percent in finance, insurance, or real estate; 19 percent in transportation or public utilities; and 3 percent in farming (including agricultural services), forestry, or fishing. Only 0.2 percent held jobs in mining. In 2005, 3 percent of North Carolina’s workers were unionized, one of the lowest rates in the country. The state has a right-to-work law, which prohibits union membership as a condition of employment.
A Agriculture
In 2005 there were 50,000 farms in North Carolina. Of those farms, 40 percent had annual sales of more than $10,000. Many of the remainder were sidelines for operators who held other jobs. Farmland occupied 3.6 million hectares (8.9 million acres); crops were grown on 60 percent of the land. The rest was divided between pasture and woodlots.
Chickens and broilers and hogs outranked all other agricultural products as sources of farm income, accounting for three-fifths of total farm sales in 1997 and nine-tenths of all livestock sales. North Carolina ranked first among the states in production of turkeys, second in hogs, and fourth in broilers (young chickens used for meat). During the 1990s huge hog farm operations began to dominate the rural countryside of the inner Coastal Plain.
Tobacco growing was the dominant and best-known agricultural activity in the state for many years. It is still the leading crop, but in 1997 tobacco accounted for only one-seventh of total agricultural sales. Soybeans are the most widely grown crop in North Carolina, accounting for almost one-quarter of the harvested crop acreage, and corn is the second leading crop by acreage planted. Cotton, the state’s leading crop as late as 1952, went through a period of decline, but has become more important since the early 1980s. Greenhouse and nursery items are now the second most valuable crop group in the state’s agricultural economy.
The Atlantic Coastal Plain is North Carolina’s leading agricultural region. It has nearly three-fifths of the state’s cropland. About three-fifths of North Carolina’s tobacco acreage is in the Coastal Plain. In the inner Coastal Plain, where sandy well-drained soil is plentiful, the state’s tobacco crop is most abundant. Over wide areas it is grown on practically every farm. Tobacco acreage is rigidly controlled by a government quota system. Practically all Coastal Plain tobacco is the bright leaf flue-cured kind, which is used almost exclusively for cigarettes.
Nearly three-fourths of North Carolina’s corn acreage is in the Coastal Plain. Most of the state’s peanuts are raised in the northeastern part of the plain. This peanut-growing region extends into Virginia and is one of the leading peanut areas in the nation. Soybeans, sweet potatoes, Irish potatoes, and a wide variety of vegetables are much more important in the Coastal Plain than in other regions of North Carolina. Truck farming is significant in the Morehead City and Wilmington areas. Faison, in Duplin County, is one of the largest wholesale produce markets in the nation. The Sandhills is the state’s main peach-producing area.
The Piedmont is less important than the Atlantic Coastal Plain as a farming region. The heavily textured red clays and clay loams are adapted to a variety of grains, hay crops, and pasture, but they are not well suited to high-value cash crops. Soil erosion is a problem, but much of the hillier land that was badly eroded is now used for profitable livestock raising.
The Piedmont grows all the major crops found in the Coastal Plain, except peanuts. Tobacco, largely bright leaf but also some burley, is the leading money crop. The scale of production and acreage quotas are much smaller than in the Coastal Plain, but farming methods are similar. The Piedmont produces most of the state’s cotton crop, mainly in the southern Piedmont.
Corn leads all Piedmont crops in acreage. It is grown on most farms and is used mainly to feed stock. Among small grains, winter wheat is grown largely as a cash crop. The growing of oats is second and barley a distant third. Lespedeza leads all hay crops.
The Piedmont produces many of the state’s cattle, with about equal numbers of beef and dairy animals. High-quality Hereford, Angus, and other beef cattle are raised on many large livestock farms. However, small farms produce most of the beef.
The mountains contain the least important farming region. Most mountain farming is carried on in valleys, coves, and basins. Alluvial soils, covering narrow ribbons of floodplains along swift streams, are very restricted in total area. However, these soils are highly productive when they escape flooding. The largest and best-developed agricultural area of the region is the Asheville Basin. The Waynesville Basin and other smaller basins, coves, and valleys are also important.
As in the Atlantic Coastal Plain and in the Piedmont, tobacco is the leading cash crop of the mountains. Almost all of the tobacco is the air-cured burley kind. The crop is widely grown but on a small scale. In many areas it is the chief source of farm income. Corn is grown on practically all mountain farms. Most of it is fed to cattle and poultry, but the Asheville Basin grows a considerable amount of corn as a cash crop. Several varieties of hay crops are harvested in the region. The Asheville Basin grows vegetables and many flowers, particularly gladiolus. Apples are also widely grown. Orchards usually occupy slopes well above the valley floors. There are also vineyards, the most famous of which are at the Biltmore Estate near Asheville.
In addition to cattle raising, the mountain region produces most of the state’s sheep. Both broilers and laying hens give the mountains a significant poultry industry. Farms in the Asheville Basin produce hatching eggs, which are shipped out by air to markets in other states and overseas.
B Fishing
North Carolina’s long shoreline is washed by warm Atlantic waters that abound in fish. The area is high in shrimp production, and shrimp boats operate from many fishing ports. The most valuable shellfish catch is blue crabs. Other shellfish harvested include sea and bay scallops and oysters. By far the major part of the catch by weight, however, consists of finfish that are found in great variety. Food fish taken commercially include flounder, Atlantic menhaden (used in industrial processes), sea trout, tuna, grouper, shark, and Atlantic croaker. In 2004 the value of the fish catch was $77.1 million.
C Forestry
North Carolina is one of the leading states in lumber production. All areas of North Carolina produce lumber. The pine is by far the leading lumber tree. Many medium-sized sawmills and a few large ones operate on a permanent basis, turning out finished lumber for construction and other uses. However, much of the state’s lumber is rough sawn by the hundreds of small portable mills that operate in the midst of the woods. The mills spend only a few weeks in one place. Pine is also the leading wood cut for the state’s paper and pulp industry. Gums, soft maples, poplars, and some oaks are also cut for pulp. Tree growth is rapid in North Carolina’s mild rainy climate. Also, the forest area continues to expand with the abandonment of farmland.
D Mining
A wide variety of metals and nonmetallic minerals occur in North Carolina, but in most instances they are produced on only a small scale. By value, the leading mineral products in the late 1990s were stone (mostly granite), phosphate rock, and sand and gravel. One of the largest known deposits of phosphate rock in the United States is located in Beaufort County. In the late 1990s the state ranked first in the nation in the production of feldspar, lithium ores, and mica, and third in phosphate rock.
E Manufacturing
North Carolina is the second largest industrial state in the South, behind only Texas, and one of the more important manufacturing states in the nation. About 856,000 workers were employed in industry in 1996. North Carolina produces more than two-fifths of the nation’s tobacco products and one-quarter of its textile manufactures. The world’s largest furniture mart, at High Point, attracts buyers from all over the United States. These traditional industries of the state have been joined by the manufacturing of chemicals, industrial machinery, and electrical equipment.
Textile manufacturing is the leading source of industrial jobs and wages. The state’s textile industry underwent a contraction in the 1980s, however, because of competition from new plants in foreign countries. From 1980 to 1986 some 43,000 textile manufacturing jobs in North Carolina disappeared. Important textile centers are Burlington, Charlotte, Durham, Gastonia, High Point, Kannapolis, and Winston-Salem.
The decline of the textile industry has lifted the chemical industry to first place in terms of total income generated, but this sector provides far fewer jobs than textile production. Leading employers are firms making pharmaceuticals, organic fibers, cleansers, toilet articles, and plastics and resins.
Industries centered on tobacco rank second behind chemicals in production value. Cigarettes are the main product. Pipe tobacco, cigars, and snuff are also manufactured. The entire tobacco products industry is located in the Piedmont, although most of the bright leaf cigarette tobacco is grown in the Atlantic Coastal Plain. Four regions, Durham, Greensboro, Reidsville, and Winston-Salem, are the centers of production.
Also important for the state are firms making electronic and electrical equipment, such as telephones, electric housewares, and industrial controls. Another large contributor to the state’s economy is the manufacture of industrial machinery, such as computers, power hand tools, machinery for the textile industry, engines, construction equipment, turbines, and pumps.
North Carolina has a large and diversified food processing industry. The biggest source of employment in this sector is the processing of poultry and eggs, much of it done in small factory operations.
Furniture manufacturing once ranked second, behind textile manufacturing, as a source of jobs, but since has declined in relative position. Many leading furniture firms have factories in the state, and they make all grades and kinds of wooden household furniture, as well as a relatively wide variety of office furniture. The furniture plants are widely distributed. Towns with large factories include High Point, Lenoir, Lexington, Hickory, Mount Airy, Statesville, and Thomasville, home of one of the world’s leading chair manufacturers.
Lumber and paper industries have developed as a result of North Carolina’s rich forest resources. Nearly 200 firms making pulp, paper, and paper products operate in the state. Large paper mills in the Coastal Plain are located in Plymouth, Roanoke Rapids, and Reigelwood. In the mountains, at Canton, a large mill makes paper from pines and other softwoods. Another large mill, located at Brevard, makes most of the state’s cigarette paper. There are plywood and veneer mills in the Piedmont.
The red clay soils of the Piedmont region provide an excellent raw material for the manufacture of bricks. Much of the brickmaking industry is located around Sanford.
North Carolina’s progress in manufacturing since the beginning of World War II (1939-1945) has been rapid. Geographically, the expansion has been most marked in the central Piedmont. Raleigh, Durham, Burlington, Greensboro, Winston-Salem, High Point, Charlotte, and many smaller manufacturing towns lie in a crescent-shaped region, covering roughly 12 counties in the central Piedmont, and usually called the Piedmont Crescent.
F Electricity
Steam plants burning fossil fuels, principally coal, generate 63 percent of North Carolina’s electricity production. The state has 5 nuclear power plants, two near Southport, two at Cowan’s Ford Dam, and one southwest of Raleigh. Combined, the nuclear plants are responsible for 31 percent of the state’s electrical generation. Hydroelectric power, which accounts for the remaining electricity produced in the state, is generated at plants in the mountains.
Fontana Dam, operated by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) on the Little Tennessee River, is the site of the largest hydroelectric plant in North Carolina and is the highest dam in the TVA system. A considerable amount of TVA power is sold to customers in North Carolina. The Duke Power Company is the largest private company operating in the state and one of the largest in the country. It operates the Big Duke hydroelectric plant at Cowan’s Ford Dam, which has created Lake Norman, an enormous reservoir in the western Piedmont region.
G Transportation
The rivers that served North Carolina’s early transportation needs are little used for commercial purposes today. Only the Cape Fear River can be considered a waterway to the state’s interior. It has a 2.4 m (8 ft) channel and is navigable to Fayetteville, located at the Fall Line.
A section of the Intracoastal Waterway System, a protected route for all types of boats from Massachusetts to Texas, serves the entire Atlantic Coast of North Carolina. Numerous coastal shippers, together with many small local fishing, freight, and pleasure crafts, use the waterway. Wilmington and Morehead City are ports of entry for ships from foreign countries. They have improved harbors and channels deep enough for oceangoing vessels that connect the harbors to the open Atlantic.
In 1840 the Wilmington to Raleigh Railroad was finished between Wilmington and Weldon on the Roanoke River. Its length of 259 km (161 mi) made it the longest railroad in the world at that time. It connected with the Richmond and Petersburg Railroad, creating an interstate railroad that served to increase trade between Virginia and North Carolina and to enable Wilmington to grow into a major port. In 2004 North Carolina had 5,230 km (3,250 mi) of rail lines. Principal products shipped by rail and originating in the state were lumber and wood (12 percent of total weight), chemicals (23 percent), nonmetallic minerals (19 percent), and pulp and paper (7 percent).
North Carolina’s major transportation asset is its road system. Highway improvements were launched by the Highway Act of 1921. It led to an era of unprecedented construction, which soon brought fame to North Carolina as the “Good Roads State.” The state had 165,968 km (103,128 mi) of public roads and highway in 2005, of which 1,743 km (1,083 mi) were national interstate highways. The Blue Ridge Parkway, a particularly scenic drive along the crest of the Blue Ridge, is part of the National Park System.
Several airlines and 15 airports and airfields serve the state. Several modern airports have been built since 1950, of which Douglas International Airport in Charlotte and Raleigh-Durham International Airport are the busiest.
In the 2000 census, North Carolina ranked 11th in population in the nation. It had 8,049,313 people, an increase of 21.4 percent over the 1990 population of 6,628,637. In 2006 North Carolina’s population density was 70 persons per sq km (182 per sq mi). North Carolina is less urbanized than most other states. In 2000 only 60 percent of the state’s inhabitants were classified as urban dwellers.
A Population Patterns
In colonial days the English constituted the largest group of settlers. Scots-Irish, Highland Scots, Germans, and Welsh also arrived in the 18th century, many from the colony of Pennsylvania. Sometimes certain dialects and accents can be detected in the speech of more isolated rural North Carolinians, especially on the Outer Banks, where descendants of early English settlers remained spatially isolated for many decades.
North Carolina had about 100,000 black inhabitants in 1790, and by the time of the American Civil War (1861-1865) blacks accounted for one-third of the population. In 2000 blacks accounted for 21.6 percent of the state’s population. Whites comprised the largest share of the population, representing 72.1 percent of the people. Asians were 1.4 percent, Native Americans 1.2 percent, and those of mixed heritage or not reporting race were 3.6 percent. Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders numbered 3,983. Hispanics, who may be of any race, were 4.7 percent of the people.
B Principal Cities
The largest cities in North Carolina are Charlotte (2006 population, 630,478), Raleigh (356,321), Greensboro (236,865), Durham (209,009), and Winston-Salem (196,990). All are located in the industrial Piedmont region. Charlotte is the chief distribution center for the area. Raleigh, the state capital, has a modern legislative building designed by Edward Durell Stone. Greensboro is the site of much textile and tobacco manufacturing, and many insurance companies also have their home offices there. Tobaccoville, near Winston-Salem, has the world’s largest plant for manufacturing cigarettes. Asheville is the largest industrial city in the state outside the Piedmont. It is the central city of the mountain region and is an important resort and cultural center.
C Religion
The early settlers who came to North Carolina brought various forms of Protestantism. Nearly one-half of church members are Baptist, and the second largest group is Methodist. Roman Catholics form the third largest religious group. Others in the state are the United Church of Christ, Episcopalians, Lutherans, Disciples of Christ, Quakers, Moravians, Jews, and small numbers of other religious groups, including some non-Christian world religions such as Islam and Buddhism.
A Education
At the turn of the 20th century, North Carolina’s educational system was one of the weakest in the nation. School attendance was not required, and most school-age children did not go to school. Furthermore, there were few professionally trained teachers. Governor Charles B. Aycock, who took office in 1901, began a series of improvements that were continued under subsequent administrations. Schools were built at a rapid rate. The school year, originally four months, was gradually lengthened until, in 1943, it became nine months long. Over the first half of the 20th century many professional schools for training teachers were founded.
A1 Primary and Secondary Education
School attendance is compulsory for children from the ages of 7 to 16. Private schools enroll 8 percent of the state’s children. In the 2002–2003 school year North Carolina spent $7,529 on each student’s education, compared to a national average of $9,299. There were 15.1 students for every teacher (the national average was 15.9 students per teacher). Of those older than 25 years of age in 2006, 82 percent had a high school diploma, while the national norm was 84.1 percent.
A2 Higher Education
Founded in 1789, the University of North Carolina is now a consolidated state institution with 16 constituent campuses. Six campuses, with locations in Asheville, Chapel Hill, Charlotte, Greensboro, Raleigh (North Carolina State), and Wilmington, were joined with ten other state institutions by legislation passed in 1971 to create the existing system. In 2004–2005 North Carolina had 75 public and 52 private institutions of higher learning.
Among the many private universities serving the state, the most well-known are Duke University, in Durham; Wake Forest University, in Winston-Salem; and Davidson College, in Davidson. Other schools include Bennett College and Guilford College, both in Greensboro; Lenoir-Rhyne College, in Hickory; and Shaw University, in Raleigh.
Research Triangle Park—with its apexes focused on the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Duke University in Durham, and North Carolina State University in Raleigh—is a unique complex for institutional, governmental, and industrial research that was established in 1959.
A rapidly shifting economy pushed the state to consider a different type of education for residents. Beginning in the late 1950s, state government began funding a variety of post-high school training centers. Known now as the North Carolina Community College System, it has grown to encompass 59 campuses. In 1999-2000 it enrolled approximately one out of every eight adults in the state.
B Libraries
North Carolina’s first library was established at Bath soon after 1700. There were, however, few public libraries in the state before 1900. Since then the number has grown significantly, and in 2002 the state had 76 tax-supported library systems. Each year the libraries circulate an average of 5.4 books for every resident. The state’s largest public library system is the Public Library of Charlotte & Mecklenburg County.
C Museums
The North Carolina Museum of Art, in Raleigh, is the nation’s first art museum whose collection was founded with state funds. At Hickory is an art museum with American and European works and Chinese porcelains. Other art collections are in Chapel Hill, Greensboro, Durham, and Winston-Salem. Raleigh and Charlotte have natural history museums, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has a planetarium. The state also has many small museums devoted to special displays, such as minerals, handicrafts, Native American lore, and the material of local historical societies.
D Communications
The first newspaper in the state was founded in 1751 at New Bern. By 1900 there were 27 dailies, but their circulation was very small. In 2002 there were 47 dailies, of which the largest and best-known were the Charlotte Observer, the Raleigh News & Observer, the News & Record of Greensboro, and the Winston-Salem Journal.
The state’s first radio station was WBT, founded in Charlotte in 1921. In 2002 there were 146 AM and 112 FM radio stations and 39 television stations.
E Music and Theater
North Carolina strongly supports country music and old-style American folk dancing. Such events as the Mountain Dance and Folk Festival, the North Carolina Folk Heritage Awards, and a variety of fiddler’s conventions are typical ingredients of this cultural heritage. Classical music is performed by the North Carolina Symphony, which is based in Raleigh, and by several other city symphony orchestras. The American Dance Festival has its headquarters at Duke University. Brevard, a Blue Ridge resort, is the site of the Brevard Music Center and Festival. It presents a series that begins in June with the opening of its music camp and runs through August.
Several outdoor historical dramas take place each summer. One of the most popular, Unto These Hills, portrays the events leading up to the removal of the Cherokee people from North Carolina to Oklahoma. It is performed at Cherokee in the Great Smoky Mountains. At Fort Raleigh National Historic Site near Manteo, The Lost Colony describes the disappearance of the first attempted English settlement in the state. A saga of Daniel Boone, Horn in the West, is performed at Boone. Plays and musical comedies are presented in the state’s summer theater circuit. Flat Rock Playhouse is the state theater. Year-round amateur drama is presented at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and at theaters in the chief cities.
Perhaps the best-known scenic attraction is Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which is located astride the North Carolina-Tennessee border. The park’s mountainous terrain and primitive wilderness afford ideal conditions for hiking, fishing, and camping. Western North Carolina’s spectacular mountain panoramas and quiet beauty are accessible from the Blue Ridge Parkway, a scenic highway running from Shenandoah National Park in Virginia to the Great Smoky Mountains. Along the route are beautiful displays of rhododendrons, mountain laurels, and rugged terrain, including Mount Mitchell (2,037 m/6,684 ft), the highest peak in the eastern United States.
A Other National Areas
A major attraction of the coastal region is the Outer Banks, much of which has been set aside as the Cape Hatteras and Cape Lookout national seashores. The area offers extensive opportunities for seaside recreation. Deep-sea fishing off the Outer Banks is excellent. Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, near the cape, is the tallest lighthouse in North America at 63 m (208 ft). The national seashore also contains one of the state’s three national wildlife refuges—Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge. Also located at Kitty Hawk on the Outer Banks is the Wright Brothers National Memorial, the place where the first motor-powered flight was made in 1903. Fort Raleigh National Historic Site on Roanoke Island commemorates the place where the English first attempted to establish a colony in America. Moores Creek National Battlefield and Guilford Courthouse National Military Park are sites of important battles of the American Revolution (1775-1783). The home of the poet Carl Sandburg, Connemara, at Flat Rock, is a national historic site.
Pisgah, Nantahala, Uwharrie, and Croatan national forests cover 486,000 hectares (1.2 million acres). Pisgah National Forest lies in the mountains, as does Nantahala National Forest. Because the sun penetrates to the bottom of Nantahala Gorge only in the middle of the day, the Cherokee called it the “Land of the Noon Day Sun,” or “Nantahala.” About 1,600 hectares (4,000 acres) of virgin wilderness forest in the Nantahala National Forest has been set aside as the Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest, to memorialize the poet who wrote the poem “Trees.” The Uwharrie National Forest, in the central Piedmont region of the state, is a fairly rugged area of ancient volcanic mountains that have resisted erosion and weathering better than the surrounding countryside. The forest received its name from German settlers, for whom uwharrie meant “new home.” On the coast is the Croatan National Forest, which derived its name from the name of a main town of the Algonquin people that occupied the region when the English arrived in the 1580s.
B State Parks
There are 63 state parks, of which Kerr Lake State Recreational Area is the largest at 43,246 hectares (106,864 acres); this reservoir area includes nine different parks. Hanging Rock State Park, in the Sauratown Mountains, is well known for its vertical cliffs and rock climbing opportunities. Pettigrew State Park, along the shoreline of Lake Phelps, is located on a former plantation called Somerset Place. Fort Macon, completed in 1834 and fought over during the American Civil War (1861-1865), is a state park near Morehead City. The state has a nature preserve near Southern Pines. Also under state administration are a number of historic sites, among which are Fort Fisher, south of Wilmington, where a museum and remnants of the Civil War earthwork fort commemorate one of the largest amphibious landings prior to the invasion of Normandy in World War II. Tryon Palace Historic Site and Gardens, at New Bern, has been restored to its appearance during colonial times. Town Creek Indian Mounds, near Mount Gilead, is the location of some reconstructed Native American temples. A fine example of a mountain log home is preserved at the Zebulon B. Vance Birthplace State Historic Site near Weaverville, commemorating the man who was governor of North Carolina from 1862 to 1865 and later a United States senator.
The North Carolina Division of Forest Resources operates a system of six Educational State Forests—Clemmons, Holmes, Jordan, Rendezvous Mountain, Turnbull Creek, and Tuttle—as well as several other state forests. The educational forests, the first of which was designated in 1977, are designed to teach the public—especially schoolchildren—about the forest environment.
C Other Places to Visit
The Biltmore Estate is one of the country’s best examples of the mansions built at the turn of the 20th century by American millionaires. It was designed and built in the early French Renaissance style by George W. Vanderbilt. The birthplace of President Andrew Johnson is in Raleigh, and that of the novelist Thomas Wolfe is in Asheville. In Winston-Salem is Old Salem, a Moravian town founded in 1766 (see Moravian Church). Many 18th-century buildings, including Salem Tavern and Winkler Bakery, are still in use. Automobile races are held annually at speedways in Charlotte, Asheville, Winston-Salem, Hickory, and North Wilkesboro. The U.S.S. North Carolina, a World War II battleship, is permanently docked in a berth alongside the Cape Fear River at Wilmington as a war memorial. A former Native American trading post at Murphy is now the Cherokee County Historical Museum, featuring 2,000 exhibits of the Native American lifestyle.
D Sports
Offshore and freshwater fishing, swimming, hiking, and hunting are popular outdoor activities in North Carolina. The state also has many golf courses. Automobile racetracks are at Charlotte and at Rockingham. Charlotte is the home of the Charlotte Bobcats, a men’s professional basketball team, the Charlotte Sting, a women's professional basketball team, and the Carolina Panthers, a professional football team. Raleigh is home to the Carolina Hurricanes of the National Hockey League. The state has a strong tradition of college basketball, especially at schools such as the University of North Carolina and Duke University.
E Annual Events
Each year, North Carolina has numerous fairs, festivals, and celebrations in addition to those associated with drama and music. Wilmington’s Azalea Festival and the Great Smoky Mountain Trout Festival occur every spring. A wagon train following Daniel Boone’s trail through the Blue Ridge range, and the Highland Games and “Gathering of the Scottish Clans” at Grandfather Mountain, take place in July. Henderson’s Apple Festival, Benson’s Mule Days, and the North Carolina State Fair in Raleigh occur each fall. Each December, at the Wright Brothers Memorial in Kitty Hawk, there is a ceremony honoring their historic flight. Other annual events include boat races on the lakes and coastal waters and fishing tournaments in the Atlantic Ocean.
North Carolina’s first constitution was adopted in 1776; a second one was adopted in 1868 and revised in 1875. The present constitution went into effect on July 1, 1971. Amendments must be approved by three-fifths of each legislative house and by a majority of the electorate.
A Executive
The executive branch of the government is headed by the governor, who is elected for a four-year term and may serve a maximum of two terms. The lieutenant governor, secretary of state, treasurer, auditor, and heads of the agriculture, insurance, justice, labor, and public instruction departments are all elected to four-year terms. The lieutenant governor cannot serve more than two terms.
B Legislative
The General Assembly, or state legislature, has a Senate of 50 members and a House of Representatives of 120 members, all of whom are elected for two-year terms. North Carolina is the only state in which the governor does not have a veto power over laws approved by the legislature.
C Judicial
The highest court is the Supreme Court, which has a chief justice and six associate justices, all of whom are popularly elected to eight-year terms. The courts are split into two divisions, trial and appellate. The intermediate appellate court is the court of appeals, with 12 judges, while the Supreme Court is the court of final jurisdiction. The trial courts are the district and superior courts of the state’s judicial districts. The appellate justices and most superior court judges are popularly elected to eight-year terms, and district judges are elected to four-year terms.
D Local Government
Each of the state’s 100 counties is governed by its own board of commissioners elected every two years. Also elected are the sheriff, clerk of the superior court, registrar of deeds, treasurer, coroner, and members of the board of education. There are also many appointed officers, including the superintendents of schools and public welfare. Most large towns and cities are administered by city managers.
E National Representation
North Carolina is represented in the Congress of the United States by two senators and 13 representatives, giving the state 15 electoral votes in presidential elections.
A Early Inhabitants
The first humans in North Carolina were Native Americans, the so-called Paleo-Indians of 10,000 to 12,000 years ago. They were nomads who pursued buffalo and other large game animals, some of which are now extinct. Their likely descendants were the Archaic people of about 3,000 to 10,000 years ago, who did not yet have agriculture. Agriculture, along with pottery, was introduced in the Woodland stage of culture, lasting from about 3,000 years ago into the historical period. After ad 800, the Mississippian culture, or Mound Builders, was represented in the south and west. They built large towns centered around ceremonial mounds. North Carolina’s Native American population in the 1600s is estimated at about 30,000, organized into about 30 peoples, of which the most important were the Hatteras, Tuscarora, Chowanoc, Catawba, and Cherokee.
Contact between Native Americans and whites resulted occasionally in friendship but often in hostility. In either event it ultimately led to the death or displacement of most of the Native Americans. Even in the friendliest of contacts, the Europeans unwittingly spread diseases to which the Native Americans had no resistance. Deaths from measles, smallpox, and colds decimated their populations and disrupted their societies.
In the present day, North Carolina has some 70,000 Native Americans, organized into nine or more governments or corporations. The state’s largest reservation is that of the Eastern Band of the Cherokee, who descend largely from 1,000 Cherokee who fled into the Great Smokies in 1838 when the Cherokee nation was forcibly moved to Oklahoma. The reservation occupies 22,660 hectares (56,000 acres) near Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and park-related tourism provides employment for many of the band’s approximately 5,750 members.
Another strong present-day Native American community is the Lumbee of Robeson County, with a population of about 34,500. The Lumbee are socially and politically well organized although they are unrecognized by the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs. They have had a number of strong leaders, notably Adolph Dial, a former university professor and member of the North Carolina state legislature (1991-1993).
B The 16th Century
B1 European Exploration
Giovanni da Verrazzano, a Florentine navigator, led a French expedition that in 1524 explored the coast near the mouth of the Cape Fear River. The coast was visited as far north as Cape Hatteras by Spanish explorer Angel de Villafane in 1561. Parts of the mountain area were explored by Spaniards Hernando de Soto in 1540 and Juan Pardo in 1566 and 1567.
In 1584, Sir Walter Raleigh of England obtained permission from Queen Elizabeth I to explore the Western Hemisphere and claim any land not already claimed by Christians or inhabited by them. Raleigh sent out an expedition that same year to choose a site for a colony; its members returned with an enthusiastic description of the Roanoke Island area. Two Native Americans, Wanchese and Manteo, returned with the expedition to England.
B2 First Roanoke Island Colony
Raleigh’s vaguely defined land was named Virginia in honor of Elizabeth I, the virgin queen. In his first attempt at settlement, Raleigh sent 108 men, including Wanchese and Manteo as interpreters, to Roanoke Island.
Leaving England in April 1585, the group reached Roanoke Island in August. However, unable to cope successfully with the new and difficult problems of colonization, in June 1586 the men boarded ship with the English privateer Sir Francis Drake, who had put in at Roanoke Island on his way back to England after a raid on the Spanish West Indies. Eighteen men were left behind to hold England’s claim to the land.
B3 Second Roanoke Island Colony
One member of Raleigh’s first colony was John White, who began at Roanoke Island his famous series of paintings of Native American life. Chosen to serve as governor of the second colony, White sailed from England in May 1587 with a group of more than 100 settlers, including 17 women and 9 children. The group reached Roanoke Island in July. Of the 18 men left there in 1586, only some skeletons were found. Manteo, who had returned as Raleigh’s personal representative, was designated Lord of Roanoke and Dasamonguepeuk—the first title of nobility granted to a Native American.
On August 18, White’s granddaughter, Virginia Dare, was born. She was the first child of English parents born in America. Nine days later, White returned to England for supplies. For three years the fleet of Spain, which was at war with England, kept him from sailing out of English ports. When he managed to return to Roanoke Island in 1590, the colonists had disappeared.
The mystery of the “lost colony,” as it is now called, has never been solved. The letters “CRO” were carved into a tree on the beach and the single word, “Croatoan,” was found on a post. These inscriptions may have indicated that the colonists had gone to live with the friendly Croatan or Croatoan Indians on Croatan Island or north to Chesapeake Bay. However, storms kept White’s ship from reaching Croatan, and later explorations found no trace of the settlers. The present-day, 1,725-member Coharie tribe of Sampson County claims to be descended from the Croatan tribe and the vanished colonists. Others believe the colonists may have been the victims of a hurricane, an attack by Native Americans, or disease. A recent theory, based on the analysis of growth rings in nearby trees, suggests that the colonists disappeared during one of the area’s worst droughts in 800 years and may have left the island or perished because of starvation.
C The 17th Century
Although Raleigh failed to plant a permanent colony, he gave impetus to ventures that succeeded elsewhere, some of them on land that had been part of his grant. In 1606 King James I of England granted patents to two commercial companies, the Plymouth Company of Virginia and the London Company of Virginia, to colonize Virginia. The London Company dispatched three ships, the Susan Constant, the Goodspeed, and the Discovery, under the command of Captain Christopher Newport. In May 1607 the voyagers landed on a swampy peninsula and erected James Fort, the nucleus of Jamestown, Virginia, the first permanent English settlement in America.
In 1629 James’s son, King Charles I, split off the part of Virginia south of Albemarle Sound, which was still unsettled, to make a new proprietary colony called, after himself, Carolana. Charles granted Carolana to his attorney general, Sir Robert Heath. The grant was from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean between latitudes 31° north and 36° north.
C1 The Lords Proprietors
Heath was never able to undertake the settlement of Carolana. So in 1663 King Charles II, the son of Charles I, changed the name slightly to Carolina and regranted the land to eight lords who had helped him regain the English throne. In 1665 these men, known as the lords proprietors, obtained a new charter that greatly extended the boundaries to the north and the south to include all the land between latitudes 36°30’ north and 29° north.
The lords proprietors planned three counties in Carolina, each named for one of them: Albemarle, Clarendon, and Craven. Albemarle County already had some settlers who had come from Virginia in the 1650s and was the only one of the three counties to play an important role in North Carolina history.
Until 1689 Albemarle County had the only proprietary government in Carolina. During that period 12 officials served by appointment, under varying titles and for irregular terms, as governor of the county. The governor was assisted by a council, which he appointed. The council advised the governor in executive and legislative matters, sat with the elected assembly as part of the legislature, and served with the governor as the general court for legal disputes. In most matters the legislature was subordinate to the governor. It could not convene unless he called it, and he could veto its decisions. However, the legislature controlled the governor’s salary and used this power to strengthen its authority.
In 1689 the proprietors, in an effort to improve administration, began appointing governors over that part of Carolina lying north and east of Cape Fear. This was a first step toward creation of a distinct identity for North Carolina, although the governor was a deputy under the governor of Carolina. North Carolina and South Carolina became popular terms.
D The 18th Century
D1 The Emergence of North Carolina
Finally, in 1712, the proprietors began to appoint governors for North Carolina who were independent of the Carolina governor. From 1711 to 1713 the colony was involved in a war with the Tuscarora people, and it relied on assistance from South Carolina to defeat them. Pirates posed another problem for North Carolina. The colony’s unusual coast, with its sandbars and shallows, provided a haven for pirate ships. Furthermore, the colonists frequently benefited from purchasing the pirates’ goods. It was not altogether accidental that the two most notorious pirates, Blackbeard and Stede Bonnet, were captured by expeditions sent out by the governors of Virginia and South Carolina, respectively, although they operated from North Carolina. Some of North Carolina’s governors are believed to have collaborated with the pirates.
Settlers came from Virginia and South Carolina and directly from France, Germany, and Switzerland. By 1729 the estimated settler population was 35,000. As settlement spread, dispute over the Virginia-North Carolina boundary intensified. Finally, in 1728, commissioners representing both colonies chose a point on the coast and surveyed a line west. The line proved to be north of the land already claimed by North Carolina and also north of latitude 36°30’ north, but Virginia accepted it.
D2 Royal Colony
In 1729 King George II of Great Britain (a union of England, Scotland, and Wales) bought out seven of the eight shares in the Carolina grant. One owner, John Carteret, refused to sell. A strip of land just south of the Virginia border was assigned to him and became known as Granville District. He continued making grants to settlers out of that tract. During the American Revolution (1775-1783), North Carolina abolished the district and confiscated its lands that had not yet been regranted.
Under the king, the quality of administration improved. In general, the royal governors demonstrated significant ability compared to the proprietary governors. The legislature became two-house, or bicameral: The council sat as the upper house, and the assembly as the lower house. The judicial system was enlarged by the creation of new courts but continued to be subordinate to the governor.
Through the Vestry Act of 1701 and subsequent acts, the legislature had established the Anglican Church as the official church of the colony. However, the church’s influence gradually weakened because of the rapid growth of Presbyterian, Quaker, Baptist, Lutheran, German Reformed, Moravian, and Methodist congregations.
The colony’s politics was marked by sectional controversies. There was an early north-versus-south sectional division of the Coastal Plain, but this faded in importance as these two eastern sections united in competition with the growing west. The east dominated the colony. New Bern, in the east, was chosen as the permanent capital. Tryon’s Palace, the nickname for an expensive residence and statehouse erected for Governor William Tryon (1765-1771), was built in New Bern over the objections of the west. To the east’s advantage, local government was in the hands of the justices of the peace, who were appointed by the governor. The whole structure was conducive to abuses of power.
In 1768 westerners organized the Regulator movement to resist arbitrary taxes and fees and to demand honest local officials. In vain the Regulators sought redress of grievances through the courts and the legislature. Rioting erupted in several counties. In Rowan and Orange counties the Regulators declared that they would pay no more taxes and would tolerate no more courts. On May 16, 1771, Governor Tryon led the militia against a force of about 2,000 Regulators at Alamance Creek and defeated them. The movement was broken. Many Regulators left North Carolina, more than 6,000 were pardoned, and six were hanged for treason.
Conflicts with the governor were, in essence, conflicts with Britain. This became obvious after 1763, when the governor was required to enforce a new policy designed to strengthen the colonies but also to restrict them to colonial status. The colonists were aggrieved by two colonial tax laws, the Stamp Act of 1765 and the Townshend Acts of 1767, which were enacted without the colonies’ consent or vote in the British legislature, or Parliament. Armed members of the Sons of Liberty, a secret patriotic resistance organization, compelled all of the important North Carolina officials except the governor to agree not to enforce the Stamp Act. Nonimportation associations were formed to boycott British goods in protest against the Townshend Acts. In December 1773 the assembly created a committee to correspond with the other colonies and coordinate resistance. When Massachusetts was punished for resisting the Tea Act of 1773, North Carolina sent supplies of corn, flour, and pork.
A proposal by Massachusetts for a continental congress was opposed by North Carolina Governor Josiah Martin, who refused to call a meeting of the legislature to elect delegates. As a consequence, delegates were elected locally in counties and towns to the colony’s first provincial congress, which met in New Bern in August 1774. It declared any tax by Parliament on the colonies to be unconstitutional and chose delegates to the First Continental Congress, which met in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on September 5, 1774. The second provincial congress met in New Bern early in April 1775.
D3 The American Revolution
On April 18, 1775, the American Revolution began with the battles of Lexington and Concord in Massachusetts. On May 31, 1775, the people of Mecklenburg County, at a meeting in Charlotte, adopted a new county government on the basis that the king had allegedly severed relations with the colonies. Also in May 1775, Governor Martin fled from the palace to Fort Johnston on the Cape Fear River; in June he reached safety on a British ship. In August, North Carolina’s third provincial congress met at Hillsboro and provided for a new colonial government, with a congress to replace the assembly and a council to replace both the royal governor and his council.
In February 1776 Governor Martin devised a plan for combining British forces with Loyalists (locals loyal to the king) in Brunswick in order to capture all the Southern colonies. His plan failed, however, when 1,400 to 1,500 of the Loyalists, called Tories by their opponents, were defeated on the way to the rendezvous by North Carolina revolutionists, who called themselves Whigs, at Moore’s Creek Bridge on February 27, 1776. After that, no major engagements with the British occurred in North Carolina until 1781.
The fourth provincial congress met at Halifax in April 1776 and adopted the Halifax Resolves. These authorized North Carolina’s delegation to Congress to concur with the other delegations in declaring independence for the colonies. The North Carolina signers of the Declaration of Independence, adopted by Congress on July 4, 1776, were William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, and John Penn.
D4 A State Constitution
The fourth provincial congress rejected a proposal for a state constitution, preferring to govern through a continuously functioning council of safety. However, the fifth congress, meeting in Halifax in November 1776, adopted a constitution and a bill of rights. The constitution contained protections for the political and legal rights and personal liberties of the people. It also provided for a legislative branch, consisting of a bicameral legislature; an executive branch, consisting of a governor and a council of state; and a judicial branch, consisting of supreme courts of law and equity, judges of admiralty, and justices of the peace.
Both houses of the legislature, the senate and the house of commons, were elected by the people. The senate consisted of a small body of men owning 121 hectares (300 acres) of land, who were elected by freemen owning 20 hectares (50 acres). The house of commons was open to men owning 40 hectares (100 acres), who were elected by freemen who paid public taxes. Representation was based primarily on counties, rather than on population. The governor had to own land and tenements valued at no less than 1,000 pounds, and he and the council of state were elected by the legislature for one-year terms. An official church was forbidden, but no person who denied the “Truth of the Protestant Religion” could hold public office. The legislature was required to establish a public school system and “one or more Universities.”
Legislative supremacy was the most striking characteristic of the new constitution. The dislike of a strong chief executive was reflected in his being elected by the legislature, his short term of office, and his restricted powers. The governor could recommend legislation, but had no veto power.
The fifth provincial congress launched the new government by electing a governor and a council of state, who took office in January 1777. Richard Caswell (1776-1780) was the new governor. The first legislature elected under the new constitution convened in April.
D5 Military Action During the Revolution
During the revolution, North Carolina was called on to help defeat the Cherokee, who sided with the British, and to suppress Loyalists. It also raised a militia containing thousands of men and supplied ten regiments for the rebels’ Continental Army. An attempted invasion by British forces was repelled by North Carolinians and Virginians at Kings Mountain, in South Carolina near the North Carolina border, on October 7, 1780, and a second attempt was stopped at Guilford Courthouse on March 15, 1781. British General Charles Cornwallis won the battle at Guilford Courthouse, but his forces were so weakened that he withdrew to Wilmington, from which he ultimately moved north to Yorktown, Virginia. After his surrender at Yorktown in October, the last of the British forces evacuated Wilmington in November and the military phase of the revolution was ended in North Carolina.
D6 Political Organization
During the revolution, when Congress sought to unify the newly established states and to strengthen the central government by proposing the Articles of Confederation, the North Carolina legislature ratified the articles unanimously.
The state’s delegation to the Constitutional Convention, held in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1787, did not contribute extensively to the writing of the new Constitution of the United States. Hugh Williamson was the most active of the five delegates, making frequent speeches and motions and suggesting the six-year term for senators. Although North Carolina was the fourth largest state in population, its delegation voted with the small states in favor of a senate in which all were represented equally.
A convention met in Hillsboro on July 21, 1788, to vote on the Constitution but declined to ratify it. Instead, it adopted a resolution requesting several amendments and a bill of rights. The new government of the United States was organized, with North Carolina left out as an independent nation.
D7 Statehood
North Carolina’s status was uncomfortable for its citizens. A second convention, meeting at Fayetteville, ratified the Constitution on November 21, 1789, and thus North Carolina became the 12th state to enter the Union. In 1790 the state’s western lands, which had been annexed in 1777, were ceded to the federal government; this territory later became the state of Tennessee.
Between the implementation of the state’s constitution in 1776 and its modification by a constitutional convention in 1835, North Carolina had 27 governors. Few of them were able to enhance the power of the chief executive significantly. The judicial branch was more successful in acquiring power and prestige. In the case of Bayard v. Singleton, 1787, this court handed down the first decision under a written constitution in the United States declaring a legislative act unconstitutional. Later, superior court judges began to function as supreme court judges, and they did so until 1818, when a separate supreme court was created.
The legislative branch had great power but used it in limited ways. Exigencies of the revolution prompted the legislature to issue large quantities of paper money, levy taxes, and borrow money. After the war the state’s economy was so depressed that the legislature declined to create the public school system required by the constitution, although it incorporated many private academies. In 1789 it chartered the University of North Carolina, which in 1795 became the first state university to open in the United States. Wake County had been agreed upon by the Hillsboro Convention of 1788 as the site for the capital. In 1794 the legislature began meeting in the new city of Raleigh.
E The 19th Century
After achieving statehood, North Carolina tended to turn against the concept of a strong federal government. Beginning in 1800, the state predominantly voted for the Democratic-Republican Party, which emphasized states’ rights. It remained basically a one-party state until the Whig Party emerged in 1834. At the same time, however, it rejected the extreme position that states could override federal power, as suggested by Thomas Jefferson, founder of the Democratic-Republican Party, in his Kentucky Resolutions of 1798.
E1 Constitutional Changes
Largely because of strong support in the west, a state constitutional convention was held in Raleigh in 1835. In most respects the amendments adopted by the convention strengthened and democratized the government. The governor was elected for a two-year term by the adult male taxpayers of the state. The house of commons was reorganized to contain 120 members, one for each county and the remainder apportioned among all the counties on the basis of population. Meetings of the legislature became biennial rather than annual. This legislative organization is still basically intact. In the provision imposing a religious restriction on officeholding, the word “Christian” replaced “Protestant,” thus legitimizing officeholding by Roman Catholics—but not Jews, Muslims, or atheists. Because of the growing desire to create a sharp distinction between free whites and enslaved blacks, the right of free blacks to vote was abolished. All the amendments were ratified by a statewide referendum.
The constitutional changes paralleled and stimulated a diminished sectionalism, an increased interest in government, the development of a two-party system, a heightened governmental concern with the people’s welfare, and a period of cultural and economic advancement. The Whig Party, representing largely the nonslave areas of the west, held the governorship and most public offices from 1836 to 1850. Thereafter the Democratic Party, usually dominated by slaveholders of the east, controlled the government.
Both parties used governmental power on the people’s behalf to an unprecedented extent. Money was appropriated to aid navigation companies and the building of roads and railroads. A public school system was established that was regarded as the best in the South prior to the Civil War. Nonetheless, the number of illiterate people remained high. In 1860 among the Southern states only Virginia, with a larger population, had more illiterates than North Carolina. Institutions for the deaf, blind, and insane were founded, and some of the harsh penalties inherited from English criminal law were abolished. The tax system was reformed, and taxes were raised to support the new services. However, as concern about slavery grew more intense, the free blacks, as well as the slaves, were increasingly repressed and their legal rights were restricted.
E2 Civil War
Slavery was one of the most divisive political issues in the Congress of the United States in the first half of the 19th century. Many Congress members from the Northern states pressed to end slavery, both because it was considered immoral and because white labor could not compete with unpaid black labor. Members from the Deep South (North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Florida) believed that slavery was essential to their cotton-centered agricultural system and that the North was trying to dominate the national economy. By the 1850s, Southerners saw their power slipping in Congress, the clamor for abolition of slavery was at a high pitch, and many in the South came to believe that secession from the Union was the only way to protect “Southern rights,” including the right to own slaves.
As secession sentiment in the South increased, North Carolina supported the Union. In 1860, however, Abraham Lincoln was elected president as the candidate of the Republican Party, which opposed the spread of slavery. South Carolina had threatened to secede if the Republicans won, and in December 1860 it did so. Other Southern states followed, and in February 1861 they organized as the Confederate States of America and began mobilizing for war. The American Civil War (1861-1865) began officially on April 12, 1861, when Confederate artillery bombarded a federal fort in Charleston harbor.
When South Carolina seceded, North Carolina worked for compromise. However, after Lincoln sent out a call for troops, opinion solidified among North Carolinians that they would not take up arms against fellow Southerners. A state convention voted for secession on May 20, 1861.
As a member of the Confederate States, North Carolina furnished more than its share of troops and in the fighting lost 40,275 men, about one-fourth of all Confederate casualties. At the same time, however, under the leadership of Governor Zebulon B. Vance, the state resisted the central control by the Confederate government that was essential to efficient conduct of the war.
Most of the fighting occurred in other states. The most significant events of the war in North Carolina included the battles of Fort Hatteras, Plymouth, New Bern, Fort Fisher, and Bentonville; the surrender of General Joseph E. Johnston to General William T. Sherman near Durham on April 26, 1865; and General George Stoneman’s raid in the western counties.
E3 Reconstruction
Devastated and under military occupation at the end of the war, North Carolina was eager for reunion, restoration of order, and rehabilitation of the economy. In accordance with the plan of President Andrew Johnson for restoration, or Reconstruction, of the Union, a state convention in 1865 declared slavery abolished, repealed the ordinance of secession, and repudiated the state war debt. However, the Southern legislatures, including North Carolina’s, adopted the Black Codes that restricted blacks to second-class citizenship.
Partly because of these acts by the Southern legislatures, the Radical wing of the Republican Party in Congress wrested control of Reconstruction from President Johnson and imposed the harsher regime called Radical Reconstruction. In March 1867 Congress put all the ex-Confederate states except Tennessee under military rule. As a condition for returning to the Union, the Southern states were required to ratify the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which made the former slaves citizens. In addition, each state was required to hold elections, in which black men would be allowed to vote, for delegates to state constitutional conventions. The Republican Party of North Carolina, formed in 1867, dominated the constitutional convention and the elections of 1868. The new legislature ratified the 14th Amendment, and Congress admitted North Carolina’s congressional delegation on July 20, 1868.
The constitution of 1868, with significant modifications, remained in effect for a century. It provided for voting by all adult men, eliminated property qualifications for voting and officeholding, permitted anyone who did not deny the existence of God to hold public office, established a system of popular election of local government officials, required four months of public school education per year, and extended the governor’s term to four years.
E4 Resurgence of the Democrats
For many reasons, including the participation of blacks and Northerners, derogatorily called carpetbaggers, the Republican administration was disliked by most whites. Extravagance, waste, and corruption were widespread; taxes increased enormously, and the state debt doubled. The Democratic, or Conservative, Party publicized these abuses and regained control of the legislature in the elections of 1872 under the leadership of a group of conservatives called Bourbons. Victory was aided by the activities of the Ku Klux Klan, a secret terrorist organization that kept blacks and Republicans away from the polls by a campaign of threats, whippings, and occasional murders. In 1871 the Bourbon legislature impeached and convicted Republican Governor William W. Holden for abuses of power, and he was removed from office.
In 1875 the legislature called a constitutional convention that adopted 30 amendments, the most important of which returned local government to the control of the legislature and thus to the Democratic Party. All these amendments were ratified by popular vote. In 1876 the Democratic candidate for governor, Zebulon B. Vance, defeated the Republican candidate by a small majority.
The Bourbons controlled the legislature from 1872 to 1893 and the governorship from 1877 to 1897. Government was generally honest and economical, but all tactics were aimed at keeping the party and the white people in power. Voting and officeholding by blacks were permitted only within closely guarded limits. Public education was provided for blacks, but not on an equal basis with whites. Democratic leaders tended to follow a policy that favored the railroads and business interests over the farmers. Cotton textiles, tobacco, and furniture industries grew rapidly. The Democrats, who had difficulty perceiving the changes brought about by the Industrial Revolution, generally ignored the growing desires for aid to agriculture, equitable taxation on the new concentrations of wealth, regulation of the new economic power, and popular control of local government.
E5 Agricultural Distress and Populism
A sharecropping and tenant farming system grew up as a replacement of the old plantation system. A sharecropper raised part of a landowner’s crop and was paid a share of the profit after deductions for living expenses and the cost of tools and supplies. A tenant farmer sold what he raised and paid the landlord a share of the profit as rent. If the profit was low, the landlord got his share first. The cropper or tenant took what was left or, if none was left, got an advance to keep going until the next harvest. Because farm prices fell after the war and stayed low, most tenants and sharecroppers sank into an endless cycle of debt. Not until World War II (1939-1945), when widespread mechanization of agriculture made sharecropping unprofitable, did the system begin to disappear.
Farmers in general experienced a sharp decline in income in this period, while their living and operating costs continued to rise. Farmers began to organize in the 1870s, and, during the ensuing two decades, many joined the National Grange and the Farmers’ Alliances. The Alliances were cooperative organizations that hoped to lower farmers’ costs by selling supplies at reduced prices, loaning money at rates below those charged by banks, and building warehouses to store crops until prices increased. Dissatisfied with the Democratic Party, about half of the farmers of the state, already organized in the Alliance, formed the People’s Party in 1892. This political movement, called populism, had as its principal objectives the unlimited coinage of silver and large amounts of paper money, which were inflationary measures intended to raise farm prices and help farmers pay off their debts. Populists also sought a national cooperative system like the local Alliances; lower freight rates under state-run railroads; a graduated income tax to distribute the cost of government more widely; direct popular elections of U.S. senators; and an eight-hour workday.
The elections of 1892 demonstrated that the populists could win some offices but could not become the majority party. Therefore, in the elections of 1894 the populists cooperated with the Republicans, supporting in many instances a Fusion (Republican and Populist) ticket. The Fusionists won control of the legislatures of 1895 and 1897 and in 1896 elected a Republican, Daniel L. Russell, to the governorship. Russell was the only Republican to hold the governorship of North Carolina between the end of Reconstruction and 1973.
The Fusionists liberalized the election laws. As a result, a larger percentage of men voted in the presidential election of 1896. The Fusion administration improved the public schools and stimulated interest in education. Partly out of political necessity, the Fusionists also initiated a major experiment in political equality. Blacks voted freely. Ten blacks served a total of 12 terms in the legislature, and one black, George H. White, was, from 1897 to 1901, the last person of his race to represent a Southern state in the U.S. Congress until 1973.
E6 White Supremacy
Toward the end of the 1890s a younger group assumed the leadership of the Democratic Party, drew up a broad platform designed to attract people of all classes, and waged a campaign exploiting the race issue. The Democrats gained control of the legislature in 1898, and in 1900, with Charles Brantley Aycock as their nominee, won the governorship on a platform of education and white supremacy. In the same election, the voters approved a constitutional amendment mandating a literacy test that Aycock promised would remove blacks temporarily from politics; eventually, he contended, universal education would lead to universal suffrage. Blacks were indeed a disproportionately small minority of North Carolina voters from 1900 to the 1960s.
In the last part of the 19th century, as throughout the South, racial segregation was instituted in North Carolina through laws providing separate public facilities for whites and blacks. Blacks had to live in a different part of town, go to separate schools, eat at separate restaurants, and use different laundries, restrooms, and even drinking fountains. The facilities provided for blacks were never as good as those provided for whites. Segregation became a basic rule in Southern society, helping to ensure that blacks would not present a serious challenge to the social order.
F The 20th Century
After 1900 the state’s farmers enjoyed an improved market. Because of this and the defeats of 1898 and 1900, the populist movement disappeared. The loss of the black vote reduced the Republican Party to impotence for many years. From 1901 to 1973 the Democratic Party maintained an unbroken record of dominance in state government. The Democrats also controlled both houses of the legislature by overwhelming majorities in every session. From the end of the Fusionists’ terms to 1973, every U.S. senator from North Carolina was a Democrat.
F1 Economic Development
By the 1920s North Carolina was a national leader in the manufacture of textiles, tobacco products, and furniture. The state suffered economic hardship during the Great Depression, the hard times of the 1930s, but after 1933 public works projects funded by the federal government provided jobs for thousands of people, and federal programs aided cotton and tobacco farmers. In World War II (1939-1945) the unemployment problem was significantly reduced as 362,000 North Carolinians went into the armed services and the federal government spent almost $2 billion in the state for war materials. Defense agencies were supplied by 83 industrial plants in the state; among these were the North Carolina Ship Corporation at Wilmington, which turned out 358 ships; and the Ethyl-Dow Plant at Kure Beach, which manufactured all the tetraethyl lead used by the United States in the war. After World War II many Northern businesses, attracted by North Carolina’s restrictions on labor unions, relocated in the state. Many people seeking jobs moved from the farms to the cities, and industry expanded.
By the 1970s an urban way of life and culture had emerged in North Carolina. Nevertheless, problems of poverty persisted, and labor still lacked effective bargaining power. However, in 1974 the right to unionize was won at eight plants belonging to the giant J. P. Stevens Textile Company after an 11-year organizing drive by the Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers Union.
F2 The Civil Rights Movement
An important part of the civil rights movement—mass sit-ins—originated in Greensboro in February 1960. The tactic was this: A body of blacks and whites together would crowd into a segregated lunch counter and ask for service. If service was refused, they would remain in their seats, taking up most of the available space so that the counter could do little other business until the police came and removed the demonstrators. From Greensboro, this tactic spread throughout the South during the early 1960s. Some establishments closed down their lunch counters, some changed to a stand-up operation, and others began integrated service. Many of the larger cities of North Carolina began to serve blacks and whites together, but in many of the smaller towns, segregated service continued until it was outlawed by the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964.
When the U.S. Supreme Court in 1954 decided, in Brown v. Board of Education, that segregated schools were unconstitutional, the state was less resistant than most Southern states to desegregation, but proceeded slowly. The legislature in 1955 voted to eliminate any reference to race from the laws of the state but would not go beyond that. By unanimous vote, the legislators approved a resolution stating that:

The mixing of the races in the public schools within the state cannot be accomplished and if attempted would alienate public support of the schools to such an extent that they could not be operated successfully.

However, desegregation began in the fall of 1955 on the university undergraduate level, when three black applicants were admitted to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. These were the first in the university’s 160-year history, other than a few who had been specially admitted to the law, medical, and graduate schools. They were admitted under federal court order after the university’s board of trustees initially voted not to process their applications. Integration at lower levels began in the fall of 1957 with three school boards—Charlotte, Winston-Salem, and Greensboro—and gradually spread. After some initial protests by white segregationists, the process was a peaceful one. Busing of pupils to achieve racial desegregation began in the early 1970s in several cities in the state, following a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court in a case involving a Charlotte school district. In 1981 the U.S. Department of Education and North Carolina authorities agreed on a plan for the full desegregation of the state university system by 1986. The agreement ended an 11-year dispute.
Although North Carolina’s black citizens advanced in rights, opportunities, and influence after World War II, they suffered the effects of years of economic, social, legal, and educational inequality. Various organizations advocating white supremacy were still active in the state. In November 1979, five members of the Communist Workers Party were shot to death by a group of Ku Klux Klansmen and American Nazis while holding an anti-Klan protest rally in Greensboro. The six men accused in the killings were found not guilty by a state court jury in November 1980.
F3 End of One-Party Rule
In the 1960s the Republican Party became stronger in North Carolina, partly in reaction to the liberalism of the Democratic-controlled U.S. Congress. In 1972 the Republicans elected a governor, James E. Holshouser, Jr. (1973-1977), their first since 1901, and a U.S. senator, Jesse A. Helms, their first since 1895. Many other Republican candidates have been elected to Congress since 1972. In 1992 Republicans won control of the state House of Representatives (formerly the house of commons) and many county courthouses. Also in 1992, however, Democrat James B. Hunt, Jr., was elected governor; and Representative Eva M. Clayton, a Democrat, became the first black U.S Congress member from North Carolina since 1901.
Two North Carolina senators got large shares of the national limelight in the late 20th century—Republican Jesse Helms and Democrat Sam J. Ervin, Jr. Helms was first elected senator in 1972 and served until 2003, when he retired. He was outspoken on his stands in favor of traditional moral values. The son of the police chief of Monroe, Helms stuck to his early convictions about law and order, respect for elders, religious faith, and patriotism. He was an opponent of abortion and an advocate of prayer in public schools. Sam Ervin was a North Carolina Supreme Court justice when he was appointed to the U.S. Senate in 1954 to serve the unexpired term of the deceased Clyde R. Hoey. Ervin, who served in the Senate until 1974, was a Democrat of the old school. He opposed most civil rights legislation, generally supported business over labor, and supported U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War (1959-1975). Ervin headed the Senate committee investigating the Watergate Affair (1973-1974) and fought President Richard M. Nixon’s efforts to withhold evidence and testimony on the ground of executive privilege.
North Carolina’s prominence in national politics continued in the 21st century as one of its two U.S. senators, John Edwards, ran for the presidency and eventually became the Democratic party’s vice-presidential candidate in the 2004 elections. Although the ticket of Edwards and presidential candidate John F. Kerry lost nationally and within the state, North Carolina reelected Democrat Mike Easley as governor. The Democrats’ effort to retain Edwards’ Senate seat for the party failed as Republican representative Richard Burr defeated Erskine Bowles, who won the Democratic nomination for the Senate after Edwards decided not to seek reelection.
F4 Economic Expansion and Diversification
As the 20th century came to a close, North Carolina was at an economic crossroads, as long-established industries slowed and were overtaken by new ones. Tobacco revenues, for years a major part of North Carolina’s economy, began to fall in the 1980s and 1990s. Although the state still led the nation in 1996 in tobacco production and sales, findings about the health hazards of smoking lessened profits, and the industry faced an uncertain future. At the same time, textile mills, once a mainstay of North Carolina’s economy, began to suffer from competition by foreign operators with lower production costs.
Many of these older industries began to be overtaken by high-tech and research and development industries in the 1990s. The driving force behind this change was the Research Triangle Park, which opened in 1959. The park was a cooperative research center created by three North Carolina universities—Duke University in Durham, the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, and North Carolina State University in Raleigh. A unique complex for organizations engaged in institutional, governmental, and industrial research, the park employed in 1998 more than 42,000 people working for more than 100 companies and organizations. The largest single employer at the park in 1998 was International Business Machines Corporation (IBM), a leading manufacturer of computers, which employed about 14,000 people at its facility in the park. Other major employers included Nortel Networks Corporation, a telecommunications company; Glaxo Wellcome Inc., a pharmaceutical concern; and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, a biomedical research institute. The Research Triangle Park has brought prosperity to Durham, Chapel Hill, and Raleigh.
Largely because of the success of endeavors such as the Research Triangle Park, North Carolina’s economy has grown and diversified, and the number of professional and high-tech jobs has increased rapidly. From 1990 to 1997 the state’s economy grew by 31 percent, compared to 20 percent for the United States as a whole in the same period. The state seemed poised to continue its growth well into the 21st century, spurred in part by Dell Computer Corporation’s decision in 2004 to build a manufacturing plant in North Carolina.
This article, except for the history section, was contributed by W. Frank Ainsley.

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