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Military Order Beginning the Trail of Tears

This Day in North Carolina History - Tue, 05/16/2017 - 01:00

On May 10, 1838, General Winfield Scott issued a proclamation to eastern Cherokees, by order of President Martin Van Buren, to evacuate their ancestral homeland. The subsequent military-enforced migration to what is now Oklahoma became known as the Trail of Tears.

The events leading to the migration were set in motion eight years earlier, in 1830, with the passage of the Indian Removal Act by the U.S. Congress. The act gave the president authority to exchange unsettled land west of the Mississippi River for Indian land in existing states.

In 1835, an unauthorized group of Cherokee leaders entered into the Treaty of New Echota in Georgia with the Federal government, giving all Cherokee territory in the South to the Federal government in exchange for land in the west. Chief John Ross, with more than 15,000 Cherokee signatures, petitioned the Senate not to ratify the treaty. The effort was to no avail; the treaty was ratified in 1836.

Two years later, in 1838, with the Cherokee still occupying their lands, General Scott came to issue the ultimatum to evacuate, backed by more than 5,000 troops. His May 10 proclamation read in part:

Cherokees! The President of the United States has sent me, with a powerful army, to cause you, in obedience to the Treaty of 1835, to join that part of your people who are already established in prosperity, on the other side of the Mississippi. . . . The full moon of May is already on the wane, and before another shall have passed away, every Cherokee man, woman and child . . . must be in motion to join their brethren in the far West.

Cherokee people were initially placed in internment camps in western North Carolina where many died prior to the tragic exodus.

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.

The First Planetarium in the South

This Day in North Carolina History - Tue, 05/16/2017 - 01:00

On May 10, 1949, the Morehead Planetarium opened on Franklin Street in Chapel Hill. It was first planetarium in the South, the first planetarium on a university campus and the sixth planetarium to be built nationwide.

The planetarium was primarily a gift of John Motley Morehead III, an 1891 graduate and founder of Union Carbide Corporation. Construction took 17 months and cost $3 million, making the building the most expensive in the state at the time. It was supervised by Harvard astronomer Harlow Shapely and designed by the architects who worked on the Jefferson Memorial.

From the late 1950s to the late 1970s, the planetarium became a hub of NASA’s astronaut training program. The facility was used primarily to help astronauts learn to navigate by the stars in case computerized navigation systems failed. The program ended largely because of advances in the technology of those navigation systems.

In 1973, the planetarium added an observatory with a telescope managed by UNC-Chapel Hill’s Department of Physics and Astronomy, and, in 1984, it became one of the first planetariums in the nation to use computer animation in its shows.

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.

Gunpowder Raid by Black Boys of Cabarrus

This Day in North Carolina History - Mon, 05/15/2017 - 01:00

On May 9, 1771, nine young men from what would become Cabarrus County raided a British convoy carrying gunpowder to General Hugh Waddell’s militia. The attack happened on Phifer’s Hill just north of Concord.

The men disguised themselves as American Indians before they blew up two wagons worth of gunpowder. They already had darkened their skin as part of their disguises, and the explosion of the powder coated them with additional soot, blackening their faces and earning them the moniker of the “Black Boys of Cabarrus.”

At the time of the raid, royal Governor William Tryon and his troops attempted to suppress the Regulator uprising near Hillsborough, and Waddell was in route to assist Tryon. The powder the Black Boys blew up had been intended to be used on Regulators, so their efforts likely saved future revolutionaries’ lives.

The Regulators viewed the Black Boys as heroes, but Governor Tryon most assuredly did not. He pardoned some of the Regulators after the failed uprising, but not the Black Boys, instead labeling them as criminals and fugitives.

The Black Boys hid out in Georgia until the Mecklenburg Resolves in 1775, after which they joined other colonists in fighting the British.

Visit: Alamance Battleground in Burlington tells the story of the War of Regulation and the Regulator movement.

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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 Butler, Militia District Commander

This Day in North Carolina History - Mon, 05/15/2017 - 01:00

On May 9, 1777, John Butler was appointed commander of the Hillsborough District militia.

Butler had settled in Orange County in the early 1760s and was elected sheriff in 1770. When the Revolution began, he was appointed to the Hillsborough committee of safety, and later commanded the Orange County militia at Moores Creek Bridge.  In 1776, the government divided the state into six military districts. Butler’s command put him in charge of militia regiments from Caswell, Chatham, Granville, Orange, Randolph and Wake Counties.

Though he held his command for the next seven years, Butler did not have a stellar military career. While he acted quite courageously in every engagement in which he was involved, he proved to be no great tactician. One soldier who served under him described him as just “an old man in a hunting shirt.”

During the “Tory War” in the early fall of 1781, Butler took an active part in trying to capture David Fanning. In September 1781, he engaged Fanning’s forces at Lindley’s Mill in an attempt to rescue Governor Thomas Burke and other political prisoners. After heavy fighting, Butler retreated, letting Fanning escape to Wilmington.

Butler’s home at “Mount Pleasant” is now site of a golf course.

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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.

U-Boat Survivors Added to POW Camp Rosters

This Day in North Carolina History - Mon, 05/15/2017 - 01:00

On May 9, 1942, the U.S. Coast Guard sank German U-boat 352 off the Outer Banks.

Thirteen German sailors died and 33 were plucked from the water. They were taken to Fort Bragg and confined as prisoners of war. During the course of the war thousands of POWs—mostly Germans and Italians—were captured and sent to camps in North Carolina.

Most POWs were brought to North Carolina from abroad. Fritz Teichmann was a member of the German Luftwaffe (the air corps) and was captured in Sicily in July 1943. He was held as a POW at Camp Butner in Granville County. Giuseppe Pagliarulo, a soldier in Benito Mussolini’s Italian army, was captured in Tunisia in North Africa in May 1943 and held at Camp Sutton in Monroe.

So many POWs were brought to the state that men were sent from larger military bases to smaller branch camps. These smaller camps housed up to 500 men each and were located in 16 communities around the Tar Heel state, including Whiteville, Roanoke Rapids, Williamston and Hendersonville.

From there, they were placed on compulsory work details and sent out to cut pulpwood, dig ditches, wash dishes and pick apples. Their employers—farmers, loggers and restaurant owners—knew of the camps but otherwise their presence was relatively secret.

Visit: The Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum in Hatteras interprets the shipwreck history of North Carolina’s Outer Banks.

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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.