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North Carolina History
© 2005 Rickie Lazzerini

Page 2

Historical Review 1.3   
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The Settlers

     Settlers coming into North Carolina had to deal with the Native Americans who already inhabited the region they were trying to claim. The tribe of the Albemarle region, the Tuscaroras, felt the Carolinians were overstepping their boundaries. In the process Indian huntings grounds had shrunk and some Indians had become addicted to liquor, while still others feared enslavement. This infuriated the Tuscaroras and on September 22, 1711, war broke out between the Indians and the settlers. The Indians attacked settlements and captured settlers. In return, North and South Carolina troops teamed up to fight back. They captured 1,000 Indians and killed 1,400. The war ended in March of 1713. The remaining Tuscaroras traveled north and joined the Iroquois Confederacy. Putting an end to the "Indian problem," as the Indian presence was often called, made more people feel comfortable about settling in North Carolina.  

     In the 17th century most settlers in North Carolina had come from Virginia, but after the Tuscarora War more diverse groups of settlers began to arrive. Prior to the war, a couple non-Virginian groups had ventured into North Carolina. In 1680, a group of French Huguenots went to Carolina in an effort to produce silk and wine. In 1710, 400 German and Swiss settlers arrived and established the town of New Bern.

     After 1735, land started to become scarce in the northern colonies so farmers from Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia, migrated to the Piedmont region of North Carolina. At first most of the migrants were of Scotch-Irish heritage, but by mid-century, Pennsylvania Germans began to join the Scotch-Irish and the backcountry population began to grow. The North Carolina backcountry developed into an area of ethno-religious enclaves. Pennsylvania Quakers, German Lutherans, Moravians, and Scotch Presbyterians all inhabited North Carolina's backcountry. The German population, which had grown from 15,000 to 209,550 by 1775, banded together in communities where they shared religion and language. They settled throughout the Piedmont, concentrating heavily in Rowan, Cabarrus, Davidson, and Davie counties. A backcountry elite developed as well. The top ten percent of landowners held forty percent of the wealth.

     Among the Germans in the backcountry was an interesting group, the Moravians. These people belonged to the Moravian Church, officially named the Renewed Unity of Brethren. The Moravians based their religion on the 15th century Unitas Fratrum created by John Hus. Hus, a Bohemian, wanted to simplify Christianity and make it more applicable to people's everyday lives. This religion appealed to many Bohemians as well as their neighbors in Moravia. By the early 16th century, the church had grown to include 200,000 followers. The Roman Catholic Church was not pleased by this development, mainly because the Unitas Fratrum believed that Christ alone led the church, not the Pope. So in the beginning of the 17th century, the Hapsburg Emperor, Ferdinand III, eliminated nearly all of the members of the Unitus Fratrum. The religion barely survived through a few refugees. In the 18th century the religion was renewed and developed into the Moravian Church that exists today. New congregations emerged in Germany, England, Holland, and Pennsylvania. This group was considered somewhat radical because they focused intensely on Christ. Some considered them anti-Trinitarian, and they received much resentment from other Christian sects. The resentment they faced eventually forced them to North Carolina. Here, the group fell into contact with John Carteret, Earl of Granville, who owned over 15 million acres of North Carolina land. The Moravians bought land near Muddy Creek and named their town Wachovia. The first ten settlers arrived at Wachovia in 1753, and by 1772, 350 Moravians resided in the town. The Moravians lived communally, believed in equality, and did everything for the good of the community as a whole. Today the first Moravian settlement is part of an archeological park near present-day Winston-Salem. Some of the original buildings remain intact, and ruins have been excavated and stabilized for visitors.

     Scottish Highlanders also added to the diversity of North Carolina's settlers. The Highlanders immigrated to America because of the laws enacted by the British that were designed to destroy the Highland clan culture and bring them under British control. The decay of the clan system, change in agriculture, poverty, and unrest made the decision to leave Scotland relatively easy for many Highlanders, and thousands flocked to America in the 18th century. The first Highlanders arrived in North Carolina in the 1730s, and settled in Cape Fear. James Innes, Hugh Campbell, and William Forbs were among the first Highlanders to settle in Cape Fear. When the Highlanders arrived in North Carolina, they disembarked at either Brunswick or Wilmington. They then had to travel ninety miles up the Cape Fear River to the Cross Creek area, which was the hub of Scottish settlement. The first large group of Highlanders to settle in the Cross Creek area was a party of 350 from Argyllshire who arrived in 1739. By 1775 a large body of Highlanders was situated along the rivers on the Sand Hill region of Upper Cape Fear. Most Highlanders settled into North Carolina and became farmers.

     Slavery was a part of North Carolina from the beginning; the proprietors who founded the state were slave owners in the West Indies. Plantations were held by the aristocracy, and slaveholders were the wealthiest and most powerful people in society. North Carolina blacks originally came from other British colonies, but in 1786 a ship came to North Carolina directly from New Guinea. Slavery continued to be a part of North Carolina's culture until the conclusion of the Civil War.

     By the time of the American Revolution, settlement in North Carolina had defined the state into distinct ethno-religious sections. The Albemarle Sound region had been settled by the English for one hundred years where wealthy slave owners operated plantations. In the Appalachians the Cherokee lived undisturbed. In the middle, Germans and Scotch-Irish inhabited backcountry enclaves. Together these groups formed a uniquely diverse North Carolina.
By Rickie Lazzerini

BA History
University of California, Santa Barbara

Index of Historical Reviews

2005 Rickie Lazzerini, All Rights Reserved
This page may be freely linked to but may not be reproduced
in any form without prior written consent from the author.

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