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New South


Biltmore Estate

A “digital textbook”

LEARN NC’s digital textbook for North Carolina History uses primary sources and multimedia to tell many stories about the past, not just one.

Part seven explores the political, economic, social, and cultural history of the state in the last decades of the nineteenth century.

North Carolina Digital History

North Carolina in the New South

North Carolina emerged from Reconstruction a new state in a “New South.” But what would that New South look like? Reformers and industrialists built factories and railroads, established businesses, and expanded cities. Farmers struggled to keep their land and their way of life in the face of increasing economic pressures. African Americans took advantage of new opportunities, while conservatives fought to reestablish white supremacy. And the changing culture of the urban middle and working classes made its way into North Carolina, bringing new technology, new consumer goods, new patterns of living, and new opportunities for women.

Designed for secondary students, part seven of our web-based “digital textbook” combines primary sources with articles from a variety of perspectives, maps, photographs, and multimedia to tell the many stories of North Carolina in the late nineteenth century:

  • changes in agriculture, the emergence of sharecropping, and the economic pressures on farmers
  • the growth of industry and cities and the experiences of mill workers
  • changes in education and expanding opportunity
  • the culture of the “Gilded Age” — and its limits
  • overseas expansion and the Spanish-American War
  • changes in the state’s political landscape, including populism, “fusion” politics, and the legal establishment of white supremacy
  • the Wilmington Race Riot

Get started: Table of Contents


More than just a linear narrative, our “digital textbook” is modular and fully searchable. If you need a primary source, a map, some background reading, or a lesson plan, this is the place to start!