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Hillsborough Convention Fails to Ratify Constitution

This Day in North Carolina History - Sun, 07/23/2017 - 01:00

On July 21, 1788, 270 delegates convened in Hillsborough for what would become a two-week debate on ratifying the national Constitution that had been drafted in Philadelphia in 1787. The Anti-Federalist delegates outnumbered their Federalist colleagues by a margin of two-to-one.

The Federalists wanted to strengthen the powers of the federal government to help the country keep from dissolving. They argued that the powers granted to the federal government in the Articles of Confederation were not sufficient. On the other side, the Anti-Federalists were suspicious of the federal government, and did not want self-rule to come under fire from a government that could intrude on state and individual rights.

Knowing that they would likely lose, members of the Federalist minority brought a stenographer to the convention to record their arguments for publication in hopes of changing public opinion in the future. The debate resulted in the delegates voting 184 to 84 to neither ratify nor reject the Constitution, and North Carolina was not part of the Union until the 1789 Fayetteville Convention. One of the major reasons why North Carolina didn’t ratify the Constitution was the lack of a Bill of Rights.

For more, check out North Carolina Votes on the Constitution: A Roster of Delegates to the State Ratification Conventions of 1788 and 1789  from N.C. Historical Publications.

For more about North Carolina’s history, arts and culture, visit Cultural Resources online. To receive these updates automatically each day subscribe by email using the box on the right and follow us on FacebookTwitter and Pinterest.

Modest Beginnings for Duke University Hospital

This Day in North Carolina History - Sun, 07/23/2017 - 01:00

On July 21, 1930, Duke University Hospital opened to patients after three years of construction.

The idea for the hospital can be traced back to 1925, when industrialist James B. Duke made a $4 million bequest to establish a medical school, nursing school and hospital to help improve health care in the Carolinas. Duke’s dream was to create what he hoped would become the best medical institution between Baltimore and New Orleans.

Although Durham already had two hospitals – Watts and Lincoln – Duke would be unique in offering specialized medical care, and with 400 beds, it would be by far the largest hospital in the city’s history. Some experts were skeptical about the idea of a medical facility of this size in Durham, arguing that the area was not densely populated enough to support it.

But patients were willing to travel. On the hospital’s first day, 17 patients were registeredThe number continued to grow at an extraordinary rate and, by 1932, over 10,000 patients had been treated.

While it began as a regional hospital, today the Duke University Medical Center is recognized as one of top health care organizations in the country, known for its commitment to education, research and innovation.

A special thanks to the Duke University Medical Center Archives and Assistant Director Jolie Braun for putting this story together. 

For more about North Carolina’s history, arts and culture, visit Cultural Resources online. To receive these updates automatically each day, make sure you subscribe by email using the box on the right, and follow us on FacebookTwitter and Pinterest.

Precepts for Colonial Government Set, 1669

This Day in North Carolina History - Sun, 07/23/2017 - 01:00

On July 21, 1669, the Lords Proprietors signed and sealed the Fundamental Constitutions of CarolinaThe document, perhaps written by John Locke who served as secretary to one of the Proprietors, established a framework of government for the nascent colony.

While the document recognized the Church of England, it also promoted religious tolerance. It attempted to set up an orderly feudal system with landed gentry, freemen, “leet-men” (similar to serfs), and slaves.

The Proprietors were given authority to grant titles, but not titles that existed in England, so they came up with landgrave (a title used in central Europe) and cacique(a term used for chiefs by some Caribbean natives). The Constitutions proposed a relatively low threshold for giving property owners the right to vote.

The complex document, with 111 often impractical provisions, was never popular among the residents of Carolina. One element of the Constitutions that came to fruition was the Palatine Court which operated in the colony for about 50 years and in some ways was a precursor to our modern legal system.

The full text of the Fundamental Constitutions is available on the Yale Law School’s website.

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J. C. B. Ehringhaus, Governor, 1932-1936

This Day in North Carolina History - Sun, 07/23/2017 - 01:00

On July 31, 1949, Depression-era governor John Christoph Blucher Ehringhaus, died.

Born in Elizabeth City in 1882, Ehringhaus represented Pasquotank County in the General Assembly and served as the modern-day equivalent of a district attorney before becoming governor.

Ehringhaus is probably best remembered for balancing the state’s budget during the turbulent times of the Great Depression. He improved the way the state’s public schools were managed, while ensuring no teachers lost their jobs or pay, and made certain that the schools kept functioning eight months a year with busing and textbook rentals.

Ehringhaus cut the state budget and returned the government to fiscal stability, while increasing its power with the introduction of a state sales tax to fund the public school system. He reorganized the prisons to make them self-sufficient and left the state with a $5 million surplus.

An advocate for farmers, Ehringhaus closed the state’s tobacco markerts in 1933 and traveled to Washington, D.C. to demand the federal government set higher prices for the crop. He publicly supported Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal programs, but did little to help implement them.

Ehringhaus’s popularity declined in the mid-1930s, and he returned to his law practice in Raleigh after his term.

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Cherokees Seek Peace After Rutherford Expedition

This Day in North Carolina History - Sun, 07/23/2017 - 01:00

On July 20, 1777, the Overhill Cherokee Indians signed a treaty of peace and ceded their lands east of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The meeting between Indian representatives and commissioners from North Carolina and Virginia took place at Long Island in the Holston River in Tennessee, and has since come to be known as the Treaty of Long Island of the Holston.

White settlers had long been encroaching on Cherokee tribal lands, and after the Indian demand in 1776 for the withdrawal of settlers was met with no action, the Cherokees began to attack frontier settlements. Citizens of the backcountry were alarmed. Griffith Rutherford, brigadier general of the Salisbury District militia, called for volunteers to conduct an expedition against the Cherokee. The Indians, having gotten word of the expedition, abandoned many of their settlements. Rutherford’s men burned whatever was left behind.

Rutherford concluded his campaign in October, having effectively neutralized the threat of the Cherokee in North Carolina. As refugees, surviving over the winter on wild game, nuts and fruits, the remaining Cherokee agreed to discuss peace terms the following year.

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Rocky Mount Mills Burned by Union Troops, 1863

This Day in North Carolina History - Sun, 07/23/2017 - 01:00

On July 20, 1863, Union cavalry led by Gen. Edward Potter torched Rocky Mount Mills, the second cotton mill in North Carolina after the short-lived Schenck-Warlick Mill in Lincoln County.

Manufacturing began in Rocky Mount in 1818 on a 20-acre tract at the falls of the Tar River. The mills were initially operated by Joel Battle and two partners, but by 182,5 Battle was the sole proprietor.

Built from local granite, the facility, housing cotton and grist mills, was three stories plus a basement. Slaves and a few free African Americans supplied the labor from the earliest days until about 1852, when the Battles began to substitute white workers, many of them women and children. By that time, local slaveowners were less inclined to hire their slaves out for factory work.

After the Civil War, Battle rebuilt the mills on the original foundation. The new brick building, four stories with a basement this time, burned in 1869 and Battle again rebuilt the mills.

When Rocky Mount Mills closed in 1996, it was believed to be the oldest operating cotton mill in the South. It now comprises a local historic district and is undergoing redevelopment.

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Sensational 1890s Murder in Winston-Salem

This Day in North Carolina History - Sun, 07/23/2017 - 01:00

On July 20, 1892, Ellen Smith was fatally shot by Peter DeGraff near the Zinzendorf Hotel in Winston-Salem. The murder became the subject of a popular turn-of-the-century ballad, “Poor Ellen Smith.”

The maid in the home of a Winston-Salem merchant, Smith became pregnant while romantically involved with DeGraff, a local ladies’ man and ne’er-do-well. The child was stillborn or died after birth during a visit to Smith’s family in Yadkin County. On that visit, Smith was allegedly accompanied by DeGraff, who denied that the child was his.

 

DeGraff subsequently broke off the relationship and threatened to shoot Smith if she attempted to contact him again. On July 17, the two had a major quarrel at the home of Smith’s employer. Tensions cooled the next day and DeGraff sent a note Smith telling her that he loved her and asking to see her on evening of the 20th. Smith’s body was found the next morning when individuals were directed to the site by a man who was apparently DeGraff himself.

DeGraff soon fled and lived under an assumed name in Mt. Airy, but returned in June 1893 and was arrested. At the trial, the accumulated evidence pointed convincingly towards DeGraff, who pled innocence, as the killer.

Convicted, DeGraff’s execution was held in 1894. He confessed to the murder in front of the large crowd of onlookers right before he was executed.

For more about North Carolina’s history, arts and culture, visit Cultural Resources online. To receive these updates automatically each day, subscribe by email using the box on the right and follow us on FacebookTwitter and Pinterest.

Surveying of the State Boundary and the Block House Near Tryon

This Day in North Carolina History - Sun, 07/23/2017 - 01:00

On July 20, 1813, representatives from North Carolina and South Carolina met near the present-day town of Tryon and marked the state boundary at a prominent building of the period known as the Block House.

The event was designed to help resolve a series of bitter boundary disputes with South Carolina. The Proprietary province of Carolina was divided into two separate colonies as of 1712, but no official boundary was specified for many years.

An initial agreement in 1730 called for the boundary to start 30 miles south of the mouth of the Cape Fear River and run northwest parallel to the river. Surveys in 1735 and 1737 brought the diagonal line beyond the settled regions to a remote meadow that was thought to lie on the 35th parallel.

As early as 1750, the Block House site stood as a prominent landmark along the line between the Carolinas, although technically 300 feet within South Carolina. It was used a trading post and fortification.

In 1764, another survey began at the same meadow where the line had ended in 1737. Work began on the boundary again in 1772. After years of disagreements, both states finally accepted the 1764 and 1772 survey lines in 1813, reasoning that what each state lost in one survey was made up for by the other.

Border disputes have continued into the modern era, and after more than 20 years of debate over minor adjustments, the Carolinas reached a final border agreement in 2016.

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Anti-Slavery Sentiment Sparks Quaker Organization

This Day in North Carolina History - Sun, 07/23/2017 - 01:00

On July 19, 1816, 23 delegates from four Quaker meetings organized the North Carolina Manumission Society in Guilford County. The delegates represented 147 members in local societies. The antislavery organization alternated between Quaker meeting meeting houses at Centre and Deep River until it disbanded after 1834. Female auxiliary societies were added beginning in 1825. Members met resistance from many quarters and had difficulty retaining printers for their handbills and other publications.

The Manumission Society was the chief antislavery society in antebellum North Carolina. Little is known about the separate North Carolina Abolition Society organized in 1824. Though the impact of the society’s activities on state politics is generally considered small, one of its major achievements was colonizing 420 slaves in Liberia.

After 1830, participation in the society declined, mostly due to the westward migration of its members and the rise of the more radical abolitionist movement. The Manumission Society’s final meeting was held in 1834 after legal and other pressures forced the society to disband. Many of its members turned their abolitionist energies toward working for the Underground Railroad.

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Country Music’s International Ambassador, George Hamilton IV

This Day in North Carolina History - Sun, 07/23/2017 - 01:00

On July 19, 1937, country music star George Hamilton IV was born in Winston-Salem. While a student at UNC, the young Hamilton recorded “A Rose and a Baby Ruth” at the independent Chapel Hill label, Colonial Records.  The song eventually became a gold record.

Hamilton left Chapel Hill for Nashville to pursue a career in country music and was invited to join the Grand Old Opry in 1960. Later that year he signed a record contract with RCA.

His fame quickly rose, and in 1963, he topped the Billboard Country chart with “Abilene.” After his popularity declined in America in the 1970s, he began travelling internationally, and had events in the Middle East and Eastern Europe. The activities earned Hamilton the nickname of “The International Ambassador of Country Music.”

In 2010, Hamilton was inducted into the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame. He died in 2014.

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Cherokee Wrestler and Chief

This Day in North Carolina History - Sun, 07/23/2017 - 01:00

On July 19, 1906Osley Bird Saunooke, super heavyweight wrestler and Chief of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (ECBI), was born in Cherokee.

Professional wrestling was a natural fit for Saunooke, who served in the Marine Corps, stood 6 feet, 6 inches tall and weighed more than 350 pounds. During the Depression, he began wrestling and his rise in the sport was quick. In 1937, he became the Super Heavyweight Champion of the World, and he went on to hold that title for 14 years. When he retired from the wrestling in 1951, Saunooke had fought 5,217 matches all over the country.

After retiring from the ring Saunooke changed gears quickly. He was elected Principal Chief of the ECBI almost immediately, serving in that capacity from 1951 to 1955 and again from 1959 to 1963. Saunooke is widely credited with turning the Cherokee’s home in western North Carolina into a model reservation. He is also often praised for working closely with the federal and state governments to ensure greater autonomy for the Cherokee.

Respected for his leadership abilities, Saunooke was the first Indian east of the Mississippi River elected to an office in the National Congress of American Indians. He died in 1965.

For more about North Carolina’s history, arts and culture, visit Cultural Resources online. To receive these updates automatically each day, make sure you subscribe by email using the box on the right, and follow us on FacebookTwitter and Pinterest.

Justice at Nuremburg: Judge Fitzroy Donald Phillips

This Day in North Carolina History - Sun, 07/23/2017 - 01:00

On July 19, 1982, former Superior Court Justice Fitzroy Donald Phillips died in Rockingham. He was one of two North Carolina judges who participated in the second phase of trials of former Nazi officials at Nuremberg, Germany (the other was Richard Dillard Dixon).

Phillips was born in Laurinburg in 1893, where he practiced law after studying at UNC. After service in the American Expeditionary Force in the First World War, he was elected mayor of Rockingham. In 1923, he was elected solicitor of the Thirteenth Judicial District, a role similar to that of district attorney, and 11 years later he was elected a Superior Court justice for the same district.

Following the major war crimes trials held before the International Military Tribunal in Nuremberg in 1945 and 1946, the United States established military courts to try lesser Nazi officials. In November 1946, Phillips resigned his judgeship to serve as one of the three judges of what was called Military Tribunal II, which presided over two trials in 1947.

The tribunal met again in 1948 to hear additional details concerning the second case. The Nuremburg trials collectively established the precedents for the successful prosecution of war criminals.

Phillips returned home to serve as Superior Court judge before retiring in 1962.

For more about North Carolina’s history, arts, nature and culture, visit DNCR online. To receive these updates automatically each day, make sure you subscribe by email using the box on the right, and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

John Lederer, Trailblazer

This Day in North Carolina History - Sun, 07/23/2017 - 01:00

On July 18, 1670, German-born explorer John Lederer ended his trip through the Carolina Piedmont north of what’s now Roanoke Rapids. Lederer’s expedition predated the much better-known trip led by naturalist John Lawson by 30 years.

Trained as a physician in Hamburg, Lederer arrived in Virginia in 1669, where Governor William Berkeley encouraged him to search for the Pacific Ocean. His journey helped allay many of the colonists’ fears about the backcountry.

Lederer began his journey with 21 militiamen and a Susquehanna Indian guide. Afraid of getting lost, the group pursued a straight compass course, ignoring several known Indian paths and encountering numerous natural obstacles. After 12 days of laborious path-cutting, the militiamen turned back, leaving Lederer and the guide to continue alone.

Together the pair demonstrated that explorers could survive amongst the wilderness and native peoples, and that large armed expeditions such as those undertaken by Spaniards a century earlier were not necessary for exploring the interior.

The militiamen who deserted Lederer spread stories that served to discredit the explorer. Claims related to his journey were doubted and scorned. Lederer moved to Maryland in shame, but in time regained his reputation.

His accounts are still widely studied by cartographers, historians and ethnologists today. You can read them for yourself on the UNC-Chapel Hill Department of Archaeology’s website.

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Scourge of Poverty Target of North Carolina Fund

This Day in North Carolina History - Sun, 07/23/2017 - 01:00

On July 18, 1963, Governor Terry Sanford announced the establishment of the North Carolina Fund, an interracial antipoverty initiative that predated and anticipated President Lyndon B. Johnson’s “War on Poverty.”

Sanford laid out his course in a speech at N.C. A&T State University in April 1963, rejecting segregation and proclaiming, “We must move forward as one people, or we will not move forward at all.”

The governor and his aides, principally novelist John Ehle, crafted a plan, using nonprofit and federal monies, to promote objectives without legislative interference. Startup funds, in the amount of $2.5 million, came from Z. Smith Reynolds and Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundations. A boost came from the Ford Foundation, in the amount of $7 million.  Over the course of five years, federal funds totaling $7 million, were routed to the Fund.

George Esser directed the effort, with the assistance of hundreds of student volunteers. Headquarters were set up in a former auto dealership in Durham, but the focus was statewide and not entirely urban. Special focus went to four mountain counties, Watauga, Avery, Mitchell, and Yancey.

The project in time became a political target, and while the Fund did not succeed in eliminating poverty, its ideals inspired subsequent efforts and activists.

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Sixteenth Century Vengeance on Roanoke Island

This Day in North Carolina History - Sun, 07/23/2017 - 01:00

On July 18, 1585, the Indian village of Aquascogoc was burned by men from the second of three Roanoke Voyages.

The voyagers on the second expedition left England in April 1585 with the goal of establishing a new colony on Roanoke Island. After arriving on the Outer Banks in June, a detachment of colonists, with Native American Manteo as their interpreter, explored the mainland and visited several villages, including Pomeiok, Aquascogoc and Secotan.

All but one of the boats of the detachment returned to settlers’ camp at Wococon on July 18. The remaining boat took Captain Philip Amadas, Manteo, and a few others back to Aquascogoc to “demand a silver cup which one of the Savages had stolen from us.”

It is unclear exactly what transpired at Aquascogoc—whether the Indians denied having the cup or whether they thought the English were taking back a gift. The leader of the village apparently promised the cup’s return in an effort to stall the English long enough for the women and children to escape. After noticing the people clearing the village, Amadas reacted with unconscionable violence.  It was written that the men “burnt, and spoyled their Corne, and Towne, all the people being fledde.”

Not a month had passed into the attempted colonization of the “New World,” when the English committed the first act of violence against the natives. It is believed that Aquascogoc was southeast of modern-day Belhaven in Beaufort County.

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Valorous Service by S.I. Parker in World War I

This Day in North Carolina History - Sun, 07/23/2017 - 01:00

On July 18, 1918, Union County World War I solider Samuel I. Parker advanced directly into machine gun fire, killing the gunner with his pistol. The incident took place near Soissons in northern France and earned Parker one of only two Medals of Honor awarded to North Carolinians for World War I service.

Parker was a descendant of early Supreme Court Justice James Iredell and Governor Abner Nash and left UNC for military service just prior to graduation in 1917. Part of the First Infantry Division of the American Expeditionary Force, he served on the front lines in France. Samuel J. Ervin, one of his classmates at UNC and later U.S. senator, served in the same unit.

After the war, Parker worked in textile mills. President Franklin D. Roosevelt presented the Medal of Honor to him in 1936 in a White House ceremony attended by Douglas MacArthur. During World War II, Parker trained troops at Fort Benning, Ga.

The Medal of Honor is the military’s highest honor and is awarded for gallantry above and beyond the call of duty. Since its creation during the Civil War, less than 3,500 Americans, and fewer than 40 North Carolinians, have received it.

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Bebop and Avant Garde Jazz Master, Saxophonist John Coltrane

This Day in North Carolina History - Sun, 07/23/2017 - 01:00

On July 17, 1967, legendary jazz saxophonist and composer John Coltrane died.

Born in 1926 in the small Richmond County town of Hamlet, Coltrane and his family moved to High Point by the time he was 3-years-old. Coltrane’s love of music developed early, and he played both clarinet and saxophone in high school.

After graduating from William Penn High School, Coltrane moved to Philadelphia to attend music school. He made his professional debut in 1945 and collaborated with Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonious Monk and Miles Davis in milestone recordings before forming his own group in 1960.

Though he died at age 40, Coltrane released nearly 50 studio albums and almost 20 singles during the course of his career.

He is perhaps remembered best for spanning genres and audiences and establishing avant garde jazz while also achieving popular success. He was posthumously awarded a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1997 and a special Pulitzer Prize in 2007.

One measure of Coltrane’s significance is that he has been the subject of at least four biographies.

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Royal Governor Gabriel Johnston in Office for 18 Years

This Day in North Carolina History - Sun, 07/23/2017 - 01:00

On July 17, 1752, Colonial-era Governor Gabriel Johnston died.

Johnston served in the colony’s top job for 18 years, holding the post longer than any governor in North Carolina’s history down to the present day. Perhaps even more remarkable is that, due to problems collecting the rents and taxes that paid his salary, he was left uncompensated for 13 of those years.

Johnston was born in the Scottish lowlands, before being educated at the Universities of Edinburgh and St. Andrews. Sometime around 1728, he moved to London, where he lived in the home of Lord Wilmington, president of the Privy Council, which was a panel of king’s closest advisers.

Named governor of North Carolina in 1733. Johnston didn’t arrive at his post in October of the following year. He advocated for the establishment of Newton in 1735, and later renamed the town Wilmington in his patron’s honor.

Johnston’s term saw many changes in North Carolina, including the first printer and thus the first newspaper and printed laws, new agricultural techniques and the building of several forts. North Carolina’s population also tripled during his term, thanks in part to Johnston’s efforts in encouraging immigration, especially from his native Scotland.

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Thomas Cary and Tumult of the Proprietary Period

This Day in North Carolina History - Sun, 07/23/2017 - 01:00

On July 17, 1711Thomas Cary was exiled from Carolina after a failed uprising that is now known as Cary’s Rebellion.

With support from the Anglican establishment that dominated the colony’s political scene at the time, Cary was appointed Governor of the Province of Carolina in 1705.

While the Quakers sent a representative to England to convince the Lords Proprietors to oust Cary, he tapped William Glover as his deputy and left to pursue business interests in South Carolina. Glover, supported by residents of Albemarle region, was elected chief executive in 1707.

Edward Hyde, who replaced Cary as governor, tried unsuccessfully to capture Cary, and Cary retaliated by instigating a rebellion that was put down by royal marines dispatched from Virginia. Cary was taken back to England, and held for a year before being released without further punishment.

Cary had a change of heart in 1708 and switched his allegiances to the Quakers, who, along with the residents of Bath, saw him as a better alternative to Glover. Cary and his supporters regained control of the government and remained in power until 1711 when Hyde arrived in North Carolina, claiming the governorship of the colony and calling for Cary’s arrest.

Hyde sent a force to capture Cary at his home, but was unsuccessful. Cary retaliated by outfitting a ship and sailing into the Albemarle Sound with intent of overthrowing the government. Royal marines dispatched from Virginia put down the rebellion, and Cary was taken back to England, where he was held for a year before being released without further punishment.

He returned to Bath where he died a few years later.

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A Little-Known Episode of the War of 1812

This Day in North Carolina History - Thu, 07/20/2017 - 01:00

On July 16, 1813, a British Royal Navy fleet departed Ocracoke Island, bringing to an end a little known episode of the War of 1812. The fleet appeared off the coast on July 11. Under the command of Admiral George Cockburn, the expedition landed at Ocracoke and Portsmouth as part of a surprise attack. The British invaders plundered the islands of hundreds of livestock. Their objective was to take New Bern and the state’s interior.

The United States Revenue Cutter Mercury, built at Ocracoke in 1807, usually policed the inner coast, enforcing state customs laws under the leadership of Captain David Wallace. On receiving word of the invasion, the Mercury set course for New Bern to deliver a warning of the fleet’s presence. Several of the British ships chased, but failed to overtake, the Mercury which very narrowly escaped by running up all its sails.

The timely warning allowed the state to prepare a defense, thus preventing a full-scale invasion. As news reached the mainland of the threat, militia units from across the state gathered at New Bern. British commanders abandoned their mission once the advantage of surprise had been compromised. The U.S. Revenue Service was the forerunner of the U.S. Coast Guard.

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