One of the original 13 colonies, North Carolina was the first state to instruct its delegates to vote for independence from the British crown during the Continental Congress. Following the Revolutionary War, North Carolina developed an extensive slave plantation system and became a major exporter of cotton and tobacco, although the slave population remained relatively small compared to that of other southern states. In 1861, North Carolina became one of 11 states to secede from the United States, beginning the American Civil War. Despite no major battles being fought in the state, North Carolina sent more recruits to fight for the Confederacy than any other rebel state. In 1903, the state became the site of the first manned self-propelled airplane flight when the Wright brothers took off from a cliff near Kitty Hawk.
Date of Statehood: November 21, 1789
Population: 9,535,483 (2010)
Size: 53,819 square miles
Nickname(s): Old North State; Tar Heel State
Motto: Esse Quam Videri (“To Be Rather Than to Seem”)
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- In one of the nation’s most intriguing mysteries, a group of around 150 colonists from Plymouth, England, who had landed on Roanoke Island off the coast of North Carolina in July 1587 vanished without a trace, except for the word “Croatoan” scratched on a post that had enclosed the settlement. Although there have been several hypotheses as to what occurred, historians and archaeologists have been unable to find evidence to support any of them.
- The first child born in America of English descent was a girl named Virginia Dare. Born on August 18, 1587, Virginia was one of the members of the “Lost Colony,” discovered missing on what would have been her 3rd birthday by her grandfather John White, who had originally led the colonial expedition to Roanoke Island but later returned to England for supplies.
- Angered by the Navigation Acts, which imposed taxes on colonial goods, and the abuse of power flaunted by the customs collector and deputy governor, Thomas Miller, a group of about 40 rebels imprisoned Miller and seized control of local government in 1677. John Culpeper, one of the group’s leaders, was tried for treason in England, but was acquitted and returned to Albemarle. The uprising became known as Culpeper’s Rebellion.
- Orville and Wilbur Wright’s first powered airplane flight on December 17, 1903, covered only 120 feet and lasted only 12 seconds.
- During World War II, approximately 10,000 enemy soldiers were contained within 18 prisoner of war camps throughout the state of North Carolina.
- North Carolina is the largest producer of sweet potatoes in the nation. In 2011, farmers within the state harvested 64,000 acres—yielding 1.28 billion pounds of the vitamin A-rich tubers.