LEARN NC

  1. Credits & acknowledgments
  2. Introduction
  3. About this "digital textbook"
  1. 1 Planting a colony
    1. 1.1
      The founding of Virginia
      England planted its first successful North American colony at Jamestown in 1607, but settlers fought Indians and disease, and the colony grew slowly. By the end of the seventeenth century, Virginia had established tobacco as its main crop, a representative government, and slavery as a dominant system of labor.
      • Format: article
      • Relevant dates: 1600–1700
    2. 1.2
      Supplies for Virginia colonists, 1622
      A 1622 broadside listing recommended supplies for British colonists to bring to Virginia.
      • Format: document
      • Relevant dates: 1622
    3. 1.3
      A little kingdom in Carolina
      The original vision for Carolina was a feudal province in which eight "Lords Proprietors" would have nearly royal power, but with an elected assembly and guarantees of religious freedom.
      • Format: article
      • Relevant dates: 1640–1670
    4. 1.4
      The Charter of Carolina (1663)
      In the Charter of Carolina, King Charles II of England granted the eight men known as the Lords Proprietors rights to the land that became North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia. Primary source includes historical commentary.
      • Format: charter
      • Relevant dates: 1663
    5. 1.5
      The Lords Proprietors
      Brief biographies of the eight men named Lords Proprietors of the province of Carolina by Charles II in 1663.
      • Format: article
      • Relevant dates: 1660–1729
    6. 1.6
      A Declaration and Proposals of the Lords Proprietors of Carolina (1663)
      Initial plans by the Lords Proprietors for settling and governing the province of Carolina. Primary source includes historical commentary.
      • Format: declaration
      • Relevant dates: 1663
    7. 1.7
      William Hilton explores the Cape Fear River
      A 1663 report by the English explorer William Hilton about the geography and native peoples of the Cape Fear region, including a story of conflict between New Englanders and Cape Fear Indians. Includes historical commentary.
      • Format: book (excerpt)
      • Relevant dates: 1663
    8. 1.8
      A Brief Description of the Province of Carolina
      A pamphlet produced in 1660s London at the request of the Lords Proprietors described the economic opportunity and religious freedom available to settlers in Carolina. Includes historical commentary.
      • Format: book (excerpt)
      • Relevant dates: 1650–1670
    9. 1.9
      The Fundamental Constitutions of Carolina (1669)
      The lengthy and complicated plan devised by the Lords Proprietors for the government of Carolina would have established a feudal system of elaborate courts, manors, and serfs. Includes historical commentary.
      • Format: constitution
      • Relevant dates: 1669
    10. 1.10
      Land and work in Carolina
      This article explains the key elements of feudalism, including its hierarchy of personal relationships and system of landholding, and how those elements evolved into the systems of labor and land ownership seen in colonial North Carolina.
      • Format: article
      • Relevant dates: 1000–1700
    11. 1.11
      Culpeper's Rebellion
      In the 1670s, the British government insisted that exports from Carolina be taxed, but a group of settlers in the Albemarle region rebelled against what they saw as an unreasonable burden. The Lords Proprietors eventually regained control of the colony, but in the meantime, colonists set a precedent for governing themselves.
      • Format: article
      • Relevant dates: 1665–1670
  2. 2 Settling the coastal plain
    1. 2.1
      The present state of Carolina [people, climate]
      Excerpt from John Lawson's 1709 A New Voyage to Carolina describing (and mostly praising) the European and native inhabitants, weather, and natural resources of Carolina, as well as what settlers should bring with them from Europe. Includes historical commentary.
      • Format: book (excerpt)
      • Relevant dates: 1709
    2. 2.2
      An Act to Encourage the Settlement of this Country (1707)
      Passed by the provincial Assembly of Carolina in 1707, this legislation provides incentives for settlers and explains the justification for doing so. Includes historical commentary.
      • Format: legislation
      • Relevant dates: 1707
    3. 2.3
      The arrival of Swiss immigrants
      Although it was frowned upon in Switzerland, many Swiss citizens migrated to Carolina in the eighteenth century.
      • Format: article
      • Relevant dates: 1700–1750
    4. 2.4
      A German immigrant writes home
      Letter (c. 1710) from a immigrant to North Carolina to his family and friends in Germany, telling about his life and experiences in Carolina and giving advice to others who might follow him. Includes historical commentary.
      • Format: letter
      • Relevant dates: 1700–1750
    5. 2.5
      Quakers
      The Quakers — more properly known as the Society of Friends — were an important group in the politics and society of early North Carolina. This article explains their early history, beliefs, and immigration to North Carolina.
      • Format: article
      • Relevant dates: 1640–1780
    6. 2.6
      Graveyard of the Atlantic
      The waters off North Carolina's coast have been called the "Graveyard of the Atlantic" because of the great number of ships that have wrecked there -- thousands since the sixteenth century. Geography, climate, and human activity have all played roles in making this region unusually treacherous to shipping.
      • Format: article
      • Relevant dates: 1700–1740
    7. 2.7
      Of the inlets and havens of this country
      Excerpt from John Lawson's 1709 A New Voyage to Carolina detailing the geography of North Carolina's coast. Includes historical commentary and notes about how the coastline has changed since the colonial period.
      • Format: book (excerpt)
      • Relevant dates: 1700–1710
    8. 2.8
      The life and death of Blackbeard the Pirate
      Captain Blackbeard (born Edward Teach) was one of the most notorious pirates of the Atlantic Ocean in the 1710s. As captain of the ship "Queen Anne's Revenge," Blackbeard gained a reuptation for his frightening appearance as much as for his violence and cruelty. Between his adventures at sea, Blackbeard often returned to North Carolina and was rumored to have a house in Ocracoke. He enjoyed the tolerance of the North Carolina governor who did little to protect the people of the state from Blackbeard's attacks. Exasperated, North Carolinians appealed to the governor of Virginia, who sent a crew of British Naval officers to fight the pirate. On November 22, 1718, the crew succeeded in killing the infamous Blackbeard.
      • Format: article
      • Relevant dates: 1710–1720
  3. 3 The Tuscarora War and Cary's Rebellion
    1. 3.1
      Cary's Rebellion
      Because North Carolina permitted religious freedom, Quakers made up a large portion of the colony's early population and were heavily represented in its government. A division opened in the colony between the Quaker party and supporters of the Church of England, and disputes between the two sides led to violence in 1710–1711.
      • Format: book (excerpt)
      • Relevant dates: 1705–1711
    2. 3.2
      The Tuscarora War
      The encroachment of British colonists on Tuscarora land in North Carolina resulted in numerous conflicts. Control over the most desirable land caused disputes, British settlers engaged in unfair trade practices and violated treaties, and the Tuscarora raided British livestock. In 1711, these and other sources of conflict erupted into bloody warfare. With the assistance of soldiers and rival tribes from South Carolina, the Tuscarora were defeated in 1712. Following the war, the Tuscarora emigrated to New York and joined the Iroquois of the Long House.
      • Format: article
      • Relevant dates: 1711–1802
    3. 3.3
      Who owns the land?
      Europeans and American Indians had very different ideas about what it meant to "own" land, and these differences led to many of the conflicts between the two cultures in America.
      • Format: article
      • Relevant dates: 1607–1763
    4. 3.4
      John Lawson's assessment of the Tuscarora
      Excerpt from John Lawson's 1709 A New Voyage to Carolina discussing the sources of conflict between the Tuscarora and English settlers in North Carolina and Lawson's hopes for integrating the Tuscarora into colonial society. Includes historical commentary.
      • Format: book (excerpt)
      • Relevant dates: 1700–1715
    5. 3.5
      The Tuscarora ask Pennsylvania for aid
      Report of commissioners from the Pennsylvania provincial government who met with representatives of North Carolina's Tuscarora Indians in 1710. The Tuscarora requested permission to move to Pennsylvania to escape harrassment and enslavement by southern settlers, but were denied permission. Includes historical commentary.
      • Format: report
      • Relevant dates: 1710
    6. 3.6
      A letter from Major Christopher Gale, November 2, 1711
      Letter describing the bloody attacks that began the Tuscarora War between North Carolina Indians and settlers. Includes historical commentary.
      • Format: letter
      • Relevant dates: 1711
    7. 3.7
      Christoph von Graffenried's account of the Tuscarora War
      Account of the beginnings of the Tuscarora War in North Carolina between settlers and Indians. Primary source includes historical commentary.
      • Format: book (excerpt)
      • Relevant dates: 1711–1712
    8. 3.8
      The fate of North Carolina's native peoples
      After the Tuscarora War (1711–1713) and Yamasee War (1715–1716), only the Cherokee among North Carolina's native peoples remained intact. The Coastal Plain and Piedmont were effectively cleared for European settlement.
      • Format: article
      • Relevant dates: 1710–1720
    9. 3.9
      A royal colony
      In 1729, the colony of North Carolina was taken over by the king, the turmoil of its early years quieted down, and for the next few decades, colonists enjoyed relative peace and stability. But one of the Lords Proprietors refused to sell back his share, and the administration of that "Granville District," encompassing the northern half of North Carolina, would cause problems for settlers later on.
      • Format: article
      • Relevant dates: 1700–1750
  4. 4 From Africa to America
    1. 4.1
      Africans before captivity
      Most Africans who came to North America were from West Africa and West Central Africa. This article describes some of the cultures and history of those regions prior to the beginning of the slave trade.
      • Format: article
      • Relevant dates: -250–1800
    2. 4.2
      Leo Africanus describes Timbuktu
      Sixteenth-century description of the West African trading city of Timbuktu by a Spanish-born Muslim. Includes historical commentary.
      • Format: book (excerpt)
      • Relevant dates: 1500–1600
    3. 4.3
      A forced migration
      The first Africans, brought to America through forced migration, came as indentured servants to Jamestown, Virginia, in 1619. Africans brought to the colonies in later years were bought and sold as slaves. At the time of the American Revolution, most of the enslaved people in North Carolina lived in the eastern part of the colony and the majority lived on large plantations, where their work was critical to the state’s cash crops and economy.
      • Format: article
      • Relevant dates: 1619–1865
    4. 4.4
      Olaudah Equiano remembers West Africa
      Excerpt from a book written by a freed slave in the late eighteenth century, with memories of his boyhood in Guinea. Describes the government, culture, religion, architecture, and agriculture of the region. Primary source includes historical commentary.
      • Format: book (excerpt)
      • Relevant dates: 1700–1800
    5. 4.5
      Venture Smith describes his enslavement
      Excerpt from a late eighteenth-century book by a freed slave in Connecticut. Describes his capture and enslavement at the age of six. Includes historical commentary.
      • Format: book (excerpt)
      • Relevant dates: 1729–1740
    6. 4.6
      An account of the slave trade on the coast of Africa
      Excerpt from a book by a former surgeon on a slave ship, describing the horrors of the Middle Passage from Africa to America. Historical commentary is included. Warning: This document may not be suitable for all ages. Please use discretion.
      • Format: book (excerpt)
      • Relevant dates: 1750–1800
    7. 4.7
      African and African American storytelling
      The advent of slavery led to changes in the tradition of African storytelling. Tales in Africa had once featured the lion, elephant, and hyena; African tales in America began to star the rabbit, fox, and bear. To the African in slavery, the Brer Rabbit tales became a source of identity.
      • Format: article
      • Relevant dates: 0
  5. 5 Settling the Piedmont
    1. 5.1
      Expanding to the west: Settlement of the Piedmont region, 1730 to 1775
      The population of North Carolina's Piedmont region more than doubled in the decade from 1765 to 1775. Most of the settlers who arrived during that time were European Americans traveling from the North via the Great Indian Trading Path and the Great Wagon Road.
      • Format: article
      • Relevant dates: 1730–1771
    2. 5.2
      Mapping the Great Wagon Road
      The Great Wagon Road took eighteenth-century colonists from Philadelphia west into the Appalachian mountains and south into the North Carolina Piedmont. This article describes the route and its history and offers two detailed maps, one from 1751 and one from the present, for comparison.
      • Format: article
      • Relevant dates: 1730–1770
    3. 5.3
      Diary of a journey of Moravians
      In 1733, a group of Moravians -- a Protestant Christian denomination originating in fourteenth-century Bohemia -- moved from Europe to North America seeking freedom from religious persecution. In 1753, a group of twelve single brothers left Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, for a new settlement in North Carolina. These excerpts from their diary show the difficulties they faced on their journey. Includes historical commentary.
      • Format: diary
      • Relevant dates: 1753
    4. 5.4
      Summary of a report sent to Bethlehem
      In 1733, a group of Moravians — a Protestant Christian denomination originating in fourteenth-century Bohemia — moved from Europe to North America seeking freedom from religious persecution. In 1753, a group of twelve single brothers left Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, for a new settlement in North Carolina. Their report back to Bethlehem describes what they found in their new home. Includes historical commentary.
      • Format: report
      • Relevant dates: 1753
    5. 5.5
      From Caledonia to Carolina: The Highland Scots
      Many Scots immigrated to North Carolina due to growing population, changing methods of farming, and the defeat of the Highland Scots by English and Scottish forces in 1746. The first organized settlement of Highland Scots was in Cumberland County, where 350 people moved to in 1739.
      • Format: article
      • Relevant dates: 1700–1775
    6. 5.6
      William Byrd on the people and environment of North Carolina
      William Byrd II, a wealthy plantation owner from Virginia, was one of several men commissioned to survey the boundary between Virginia and North Carolina in 1728. His journals describe the people and environment of the region, though not all of his stories are believable. Includes historical commentary.
      • Format: diary
      • Relevant dates: 1728
    7. 5.7
      Governing the Piedmont
      As settlers spread across the North Carolina Piedmont in the eighteenth century, the provincial government didn't keep up with them. Westerners weren't fairly represented in the provincial Assembly, and the so-called "Granville District," owned by the one remaining Lord Proprietor, was badly mismanaged.
      • Format: article
      • Relevant dates: 1700–1780
  6. 6 Daily life and work
    1. 6.1
      The importance of one simple plant
      The natives of America could trace the history of maize to the beginning of time. Maize was the food of the gods that had created the Earth. It played a central role in many native myths and legends. And it came to be one of their most important foods. Maize, in some form, made up roughly 65 percent of the native diet. When European settlers reached the New World, they learned to cultivate Indian corn from their native neighbors.
      • Format: article
      • Relevant dates: 1500–1750
    2. 6.2
      The importance of rice to North Carolina
      Rice was a very profitable crop in the late 1600s. People in foreign lands were already familiar with it, and it was gaining popularity as a food for the growing slave trade. Rice production helped support North Carolina's economy for many years, relying largely on slave labor. The abolition of slavery marked the beginning of the end of rice plantations in North Carolina.
      • Format: article
      • Relevant dates: 1690–1900
    3. 6.3
      Janet Schaw on American agriculture
      Excerpt from the diary of a Scottish lady traveling in North Carolina on the eve of the American Revolution. She describes, and harshly criticizes, the farming practices she finds in the colonies. Includes historical commentary.
      • Format: diary (excerpt)
      • Relevant dates: 1775
    4. 6.4
      Naval stores and the longleaf pine
      North Carolina's extensive longleaf pine forests provided the natural resources needed to produce materials needed to build and maintain ships -- not only timber but tar, pitch, and rosin. These "naval stores" became North Carolina's most important industry in the eighteenth century, but today, the longleaf pine forests are nearly gone.
      • Format: article
      • Relevant dates: 1700–1775
    5. 6.5
      The value of money in colonial America
      This article explains the many kinds of money that circulated in colonial America and why it is nearly impossible to say what they were worth "in today's money."
      • Format: article
      • Relevant dates: 0
    6. 6.6
      Marriage in colonial North Carolina
      In the colonial period, how and when people got married depended on whether they were indentured servants, slaves, free laborers, or wealthy people. Many marriages were informal and validated by the community rather than by a legal license.
      • Format: article
      • Relevant dates: 1650–1750
    7. 6.7
      Families in colonial North Carolina
      In colonial families, the father had absolute authority over his family, and wives and children were expected to do as they were told. And everyone, even young children, worked to sustain the family.
      • Format: article
      • Relevant dates: 1650–1750
    8. 6.8
      Learning in colonial Carolina
      During the late 1600s and early 1700s, education in Carolina was largely informal. Most children learned by watching and imitating parents and older community members. The sons of the wealthy were sent away to schools in other colonies or in England. The first efforts to provide formal education in Carolina were made by religious groups — the Quakers, the Baptists, and the Presbyterians.
      • Format: article
      • Relevant dates: 0
    9. 6.9
      An orphan's apprenticeship
      An indenture from Bertie County, North Carolina, 1759, apprenticing an orphan boy to a shipwright. Includes historical commentary.
      • Format: document
      • Relevant dates: 1700–1800
    10. 6.10
      Benjamin Wadsworth on the duties of children to their parents
      Excerpt from a book by an eighteenth-century Puritan minister about expectations for children's behavior and respect for their parents. Includes historical commentary.
      • Format: book (excerpt)
      • Relevant dates: 1712
    11. 6.11
      North Carolina's first newspaper
      Without the large port cities of other colonies, North Carolina did not get its first newspaper until 1751. In the second half of the eighteenth century, newspapers were founded in several cities across the coastal plain and Piedmont.
      • Format: article
      • Relevant dates: 1700–1800
    12. 6.12
      Poor Richard's Almanack
      Excerpts from the alamanc published by Benjamin Franklin show what colonial Americans read and what topics interested them, including weather predictions, religion, history, astrology, and schedules of court dates. Includes both images of the original almanacs and transcriptions as well as historical commentary.
      • Format: magazine
      • Relevant dates: 1730–1770
    13. 6.13
      Nathan Cole and the First Great Awakening
      Diary of a Connecticut man from the 1760s tells of his conversion experience after attending a revival at which the famous minister George Whitefield preached. Historical commentary explains the differences between eighteenth-century and present-day religion and revivals.
      • Format: diary
      • Relevant dates: 1761
    14. 6.14
      Mapping life in a colonial town
      From a detailed map of colonial Edenton, North Carolina, we can learn a great deal about daily life and community life on the eve of the Revolution.
      • Format: activity
      • Relevant dates: 1769
    15. 6.15
      Colonial cooking and foodways
      • Format: video
      • Relevant dates: 1700–1800
    16. 6.16
      Work in Colonial America: Blacksmithing
      • Format: video
      • Relevant dates: 1700–1800
  7. 7 Material culture: Exploring wills and inventories
    1. 7.1
      About wills and probate inventories
      Explanation of legal documents surrounding a person's death and how historians use them to understand daily life, family structure, and other aspects of the past.
      • Format: article
      • Relevant dates: 1700–1800
    2. 7.2
      Probate inventory of Valentine Bird, 1680
      Probate inventory of one of the participants in Culpeper's Rebellion in colonial North Carolina. Includes explanations and photographs of items listed.
      • Format: inventory
      • Relevant dates: 1680
    3. 7.3
      Will of Susanna Robisson, 1709
      Will of a poor woman from colonial North Carolina. Includes explanations and photographs of items listed.
      • Format: will
      • Relevant dates: 1709
    4. 7.4
      Probate inventory of Darby O'Brian, 1725
      Probate inventory of a middle-class man from colonial North Carolina. Includes explanations and photographs of items listed.
      • Format: inventory
      • Relevant dates: 1725
    5. 7.5
      Will of Samuel Nicholson, 1727
      Will of a plantation owner in colonial North Carolina. Includes explanations and photographs of items listed.
      • Format: will
      • Relevant dates: 1727
    6. 7.6
      Will of William Cartright, Sr., 1733
      Will of a wealthy plantation owner in colonial North Carolina. Includes explanations and photographs of items listed.
      • Format: will
      • Relevant dates: 1733
    7. 7.7
      Probate inventory of James and Anne Pollard, Tyrrell County, 1750
      Probate inventory of a wealthy couple in colonial North Carolina. Includes explanations and photographs of items listed.
      • Format: inventory
      • Relevant dates: 1750
    8. 7.8
      Will of Richard Blackledge, Craven County, 1776
      Will of a wealthy plantation owner in colonial North Carolina. Includes explanations and photographs of items listed.
      • Format: will
      • Relevant dates: 1775
    9. 7.9
      Probate inventory of Richard Blackledge, Craven County, 1777
      Probate inventory of a wealthy plantation owner in colonial North Carolina. Includes explanations and photographs of items listed.
      • Format: inventory
      • Relevant dates: 1777
  8. 8 The French and Indian War
    1. 8.1
      The French and Indian War
      The French and Indian War was the North American conflict that was part of a larger imperial conflict between Great Britain and France known as the Seven Years' War. The French and Indian War began in 1754 and ended with the Treaty of Paris in 1763. The war provided Great Britain enormous territorial gains in North America, but disputes over subsequent frontier policy and paying the war’s expenses led to colonial discontent, and ultimately to the American revolution.
      • Format: article
      • Relevant dates: 1754–1763
    2. 8.2
      Fort Dobbs and the French and Indian War in North Carolina
      During the French and Indian War (1754–1763), North Carolina settlers fought the Cherokee, sent troops to fight in the North, and built Fort Dobbs in Rowan County to defend the frontier.
      • Format: article
      • Relevant dates: 1754–1763
    3. 8.3
      Toward a union of the colonies?
      The Albany Plan of Union was a plan to place the British North American colonies under a more centralized government. The plan was adopted on July 10, 1754, by representatives from seven of the British North American colonies. Although never carried out, it was the first important plan to conceive of the colonies as a collective whole united under one government.
      • Format: article
      • Relevant dates: 1754
    4. 8.4
      The Albany Plan of Union
      Transcription of a plan adopted by representatives of seven colonies in 1754 to place the British North American colonies under a more centralized government. Although never carried out, it was the first important plan to conceive of the colonies as a collective whole united under one government.
      • Format: constitution
      • Relevant dates: 1754
  1. Appendix A. Reading Primary Sources: An Introduction for Students
  2. Appendix B. Wills and Inventories: A Process Guide
  3. Appendix C. John Lawson
  4. Teacher's Guide: Using the Digital Textbook
  5. Glossary
  6. Index