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An Independent People: North Carolina 1770-1820

By Elizabeth A. Fenn, Peter H. Wood, Harry L. Watson, Thomas H. Clayton, Sydney Nathans, Thomas C. Parramore, and Jean B. Anderson; Maps by Mark Anderson Moore. Edited by Joe A. Mobley. From The Way We Lived in North Carolina, 2003; Revised by Government and Heritage Library, January 2023. Published by the North Carolina Office of Research and History in association with the University of North Carolina Press. Republished in NCpedia by permission.

See also: Part I: Natives and Newcomers, North Carolina before 1770; Part II: An Independent People, North Carolina, 1770-1820; Part III: Close to the Land, North Carolina, 1820-1870; Part IV: The Quest for Progress, North Carolina 1920-2001

Part II: An Independent People: North Carolina 1770-1820

When the shooting of the American Revolution died away, North Carolinians continued to work out the meaning of independence in the fabric of their daily lives. An Independent People describes how these efforts toward independence left their marks on public and private life.

Early republican North Carolina was no egalitarian utopia. Most Black people in North Carolina were enslaved, members of various American Indian tribes were more threatened than before the war, and all women remained subordinate to men. In the years after the Revolution, however, free North Carolinians wrote their first constitution, opened the first state university, and transformed their churches in a stirring revival of religion. Women, members of American Indian tribes, and most Black people would not enjoy these freedoms until later. 

By 1820, North Carolinians were facing the insistent reality that one cycle of adjustment would not be enough. The demands of independence would call for repeated bursts of wrenching transformations.

Chapter Contents:

First European Settlers: Overview
The Forest, the Indians, and the Yeoman Family
Planters and Enslaved People
Towns in a Rural Society
The Culture of the Republic

Keep reading  >> Part II: First European Settlers: Overview  Keep reading


Fenn, Elizabeth Anne, and Joe A. Mobley. 2003. The way we lived in North Carolina. Chapel Hill, NC [u.a.]: Published in association with the Office of Archives and History, North Carolina Dept. of Cultural Resources, by the University of North Carolina Press.