LEARN NC was a program of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Education from 1997 – 2013. It provided lesson plans, professional development, and innovative web resources to support teachers, build community, and improve K-12 education in North Carolina. Learn NC is no longer supported by the School of Education – this is a historical archive of their website.

Slaves under the overseer's whip

An illustration from the “narrative” of an enslaved man who escaped to the North shows slaves under the overseer’s whip. About the illustration

By the middle of the nineteenth century, slavery was a foundation of North Carolina’s economy and society. One-third of North Carolinians were enslaved — yet only a quarter of free families owned slaves. In this chapter, we’ll explore those inequalities and what slaveholders had to do to maintain them.