K-12 Teaching and Learning From the UNC School of Education


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  • 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.
  • Immigrants' experiences in colonial North Carolina: In this lesson plan, students read two primary-source documents describing the experiences of new arrivals to North Carolina during the colonial period: One is a summary of a report written by a young Moravian settler from Pennsylvania; the other is a letter from a German immigrant. Students compare and contrast the journeys and settlement of the two groups.
  • Moravian migration: Before a visit to Bethabara: Students investigate NCECHO site to learn about the 1753 Moravian settlement of Bethabara. Student teams present information to classmates in some visual product in one of five categories. Students also will visit the photos on NCECHO and answer analytical questions to increase understanding of the past as compared to today.

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The following discussion questions will help guide students’ comprehension as they read the article “Expanding to the west: Settlement of the Piedmont region, 1730 to 1775.” Possible responses are included after each question.

  1. Why did most early settlers to North Carolina remain in the Coastal Plain before 1730?
    This area had already been established with towns, trade routes, and farms. Settlement did not move west as easy access by water was prevented by the fall line and there were no roads that provided transportation east and west. Also, before 1715 this area had been inhabited by Indians. By the 1730s most of the Piedmont Indians had moved, consolidated, or been ravaged by disease which helped open the Piedmont to European settlement.
  2. What two roads made settlement in the Piedmont possible? Where were they located? Why is the direction the roads followed significant?
    The Great Indian Trading Path — from Petersburg, VA southwest to Mecklenburg County. The Great Wagon Road — from Pennsylvania south through the Shenandoah Valley to the Carolinas.
    Since these roads connected the Piedmont with areas to the north and eventually south, there was more contact with other colonies than with the rest of North Carolina.
  3. What towns developed along each of these roads? Why did these towns continue to grow during this period?
    Great Indian Trading Path — Hillsborough, Charlotte, Salisbury
    Great Wagon Road — Bethabara, Bethania, Salem, Salisbury
    Towns were important trading and societal centers. Courts, schools, markets, taverns, and churches operated in the towns. As the population of the Piedmont grew, these towns became more influential to the culture and economic development of the region.
  4. During the early period of settlement in the Piedmont, why did the people trade with the colonies to the north and south rather than the towns in the Coastal Plain?
    The roads followed in a north/south direction. And water transportation from the Piedmont flowed to South Carolina rather than towards the sounds of the Coastal Plains. It was easier and more cost efficient to trade north and south, rather than to the east.
  5. How do you imagine this trade practice affected the relationship between the people of the Piedmont and the colonial government that was located in the eastern part of the colony?
    Answers will vary, but students should recognize that some rivalries or even resentment would have developed as North Carolina trade was heading into other colonies rather than to the Coastal Plain. By the late 1760s, the colonial government had attempted to make adjustments by improving or building roads to the east. Some students may also recognize that there will have been a lack of understanding between the two regions as many of the Piedmont settlers would have more contact with those in Virginia and/or South Carolina.
  6. What groups settled in the Piedmont between 1730 and 1775?
    Scots-Irish, Germans (particularly Moravians), Quakers, English Baptists, Africans (slaves brought by settlers)
  7. What were some of the push/pull factors that lead these groups to move to North Carolina?
    Answers will vary, but could include: inexpensive and large quantities of good land; uninhabited areas that offered settlement for religious groups that wished to remain secluded; relatively straightforward transportation from northern areas to the Piedmont by way of established routes; opportunity to move with others of the same ethnicity or from the same home country; rivers that offered good placement of mills and transportation to South Carolina; at the beginning of the settlement boom, the region was generally unpopulated; most of the Indian threat had been removed
  8. While most of the settlers lived on farms, what were other ways they earned money in this region? What does this tell you about life in the Piedmont in the 18th century?
    “Settlers built stores, gristmills, sawmills, and tanneries. Blacksmiths, carpenters, coopers, potters, rope makers, wagon makers, and wheelwrights established many local industries. Brewers, distillers, weavers, hatters, tailors, and others practiced their trades either in isolated homes or in shops in towns.” Students may also mention teachers, ministers, and traders or drovers.
    Students should understand that the settlers were developing their own society in the region. They did not have the immediate contact that colonists further east had within their colony or with cities and towns on the seaboard. These Piedmont settlers were self-sufficient and did not maintain close contact with North Carolinians to the east.
  9. By the late 1760s, the population of the Piedmont was larger than that of the Coastal Plain. The settlers in the Piedmont continued to trade with Virginia and South Carolina. How do these statements help to explain the tensions of the Regulator Movement?
    Students should understand that the lack of communication and understanding between the east and the backcountry helped to lead to the Regulator Movement. As the population of the Piedmont continued to grow, the colonists there expected to be treated in a fair and equitable manner. When this did not happen, they organized to demand their rights as British citizens.

  • North Carolina Essential Standards
    • Social Studies (2010)
      • Grade 8

        • 8.C.1 Understand how different cultures influenced North Carolina and the United States. 8.C.1.1 Explain how exploration and colonization influenced Africa, Europe and the Americas (e.g. Columbian exchange, slavery and the decline of the American Indian populations)....
        • 8.G.1 Understand the geographic factors that influenced North Carolina and the United States. 8.G.1.1 Explain how location and place have presented opportunities and challenges for the movement of people, goods, and ideas in North Carolina and the United States....
        • 8.H.1 Apply historical thinking to understand the creation and development of North Carolina and the United States. 8.H.1.1 Construct charts, graphs, and historical narratives to explain particular events or issues. 8.H.1.2 Summarize the literal meaning of...
        • 8.H.3 Understand the factors that contribute to change and continuity in North Carolina and the United States. 8.H.3.1 Explain how migration and immigration contributed to the development of North Carolina and the United States from colonization to contemporary...

North Carolina curriculum alignment

Social Studies (2003)

Grade 8

  • Goal 1: The learner will analyze important geographic, political, economic, and social aspects of life in the region prior to the Revolutionary Period.
    • Objective 1.01: Assess the impact of geography on the settlement and developing economy of the Carolina colony.
    • Objective 1.05: Describe the factors that led to the founding and settlement of the American colonies including religious persecution, economic opportunity, adventure, and forced migration.