North Carolina


North Carolina was first explored in early 1524 by Giovanni de Verrazano, with his ship Daphine. He was an Italian working for France. He was looking for a shortcut to Asia just like some other explorers like John Cabot, an English explorer. The first place Verrazano stepped on was Cape Fear in North Carolina, then he went north looking for the shortcut. He was also the first person who explored New York and Rhode Island. Verrazano gave a good reputation to North Carolina saying that it was a very good region. In 1526 Spaniards may have made an attempt to settle North and South Carolina. That summer Lucas Vásquez de Ayllón led about 500 people and they made a settlement that may have been in the place where Cape Fear empties into the Atlantic. They moved south because of starvation and disease but still, people died. By October of that year only 150 out of the original 500 people were still alive, these people gave up and returned to Santo Domingo (now this city is part of the Dominican Republic).England realized that they better do something before Spain occupied all the land like they did in Central and South America. Some English people became very interested in the Americas. One of them was Walter Raleigh. In the spring of 1584 Queen Elizabeth gave a charter to Raleigh to build an American colony. Raleigh sent an expedition to find a good site for his colony. Two ships departed to America under the command of Philip Amadas and Arthur Barlow in April 1584. After two months, on July 4, 1584 the ships approached North Carolina. The commanders were very happy with what they saw, they wrote reports saying how wonderful the land was. During the summer of 1584 the commanders held a ceremony in which they claimed the present day US for England. They asked the Indians North Carolina’s name, the Indians didn’t understand the English and they responded “Wingandacon” meaning “You wear good clothes”, as a result the English called the place Wingand. After two months of staying in North Carolina Amandas and Barlow departed for England, around mid-August. By mid-September of 1584 the expedition was back in England, there they gave the good news. The news caused excitement in England and in the next few months Raleigh organized a group of people to begin settling the new colony. In this period of excitement, Queen Elizabeth knighted Raleigh, so from now on, he was supposed to be called Sir Walter Raleigh. At the same date that the queen knighted Raleigh she changed the name of the colony from Wingandacon to Virginia, which means “Fresh or unspoiled”. The Virginia at that time wasn’t the same size as the Virginia of today, at that time it included the Carolinas and other States. Raleigh’s first people that were going to be in the first colony reached North Carolina’s outer banks in late June 1585. Raleigh planed that the settlement would be at Roanoke Island which was just off the coast of North Carolina. Before they went to that Island they visited several villages.The Indians welcomed the new comers very well. One day, the Englishmen found one silver cup of theirs missing, Sir Richard Grenville, who was one of the leaders, assumed that the Indians stole the cup and in revenge he did the most stupid and cruel act that helped doom the colony turning the Indians against the Englishmen. He burned the whole village and its cornfields.

The expedition finally reached Roanoke Island in late July 1585. Raleigh and the people that came with him were prepared to do work, though Grenville soon departed back to England. Ralph Lane was in charge of the colony. Not everything went right for him, in fact, he was lacking things like food. The Indians would have helped, but after knowing what Englishmen did for a drinking cup, they didn’t help. The Indian Chief was going to destroy the island but Ralph Lane knew this and in late spring 1586 he attacked and killed Roanoke’ chief Wingina.

Ralph Lane went back to England, and soon the ships with supplies that were sent by Raleigh arrived, posibly just a day after Ralph departed. A few weeks after the supplies arrival, more supplies arrived, Grenville arrived and brought with him a years’ supplies for the colony. Nor did Raleigh or
Grenville find a sign of life from the people that they left before going to England, the only thing that they did find were a settler and an Indian, both dead. Grenville went back to England in 1586, he left 15 to 18 people in the colony to see if they could survive, which was very probable. Next year more settlers came. The colonists only found a skeleton out of the 15 to 18 people that Grenvile left before going. A friendly Indian told them that at least one settler was killed by the Indians and the rest probably fled.

Among the new colonists that came in 1587, was George Howe who was killed by the Indians in revenge for their murdered chief, Wingina. A few days later, on August 13, 1587, Manteo, who was a Croatoan, adopted the Christian faith, he was the first known Protestant Baptist in what is now the U.S. Five days later, Elenor White Dare gave birth to the first child in the colony, Virginia Dare, the first Christian child born in the U.S.. Governor White faced many problems, the most important was that the colony didn’t have food and the Indians didn’t want to help because of the bad reputation of the Englishmen. White went back and reached England in November of 1587, but before he left he told the settlers that if for some reason they had to leave the city of Raleigh, they were supposed to write their destination on the tree near the fort, and if they were in danger, they were supposed to mark a cross on top of it. He ran into some problems while in England, the biggest one was that he couldn’t do anything to help the new colony because all the ships of England were being used to fight the Spanish armada. Sir Francis Drake and other captains defeated the Armada in the summer of 1588, but for reasons that aren’t quite clear he couldn’t come back to the colony until 1590.

White reached the Roanoke Island in that summer of 1590, and found the tree near the fort. It read “CROATOAN” which was the name of an Indian tribe. He tried to go to that island were they lived, but a big storm (in which seven people drowned), and lack of food and fresh water made them go back to England. White died without knowing what happened with the colony.

All of these bad things that happened prevented North Carolina from being the site for the first English colony. The Colony of Virginia was formed as the first permanent colony, please read Virginia Colony for more information. Virginia was governed by a private company at first, but then, in 1624 it became a royal colony. In 1625 King James died and his son, Charles I, became the king. The King lopped off a huge area south of modern day Virginia, it included the greater part of North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia and named it Carolana which meaned “Land of Charles” in Latin. The King gave this piece of land to Sir Robert Heath. The name Carolana was changed to Carolina in 1663. In 1665, King Charles II enlarged the Carolina colony, from the present day border of N. Carolina to border with Florida.

During the 1600s most of the people that lived in North Carolina were big families and people with religious problems. The main crop was corn, because the colonists ate almost all of the corn. Corn wasn’t the only crop though, beans, peas, potatoes, rice, sweet potatoes, and wheat, also tobacco was something that the settlers grew a lot. The families in this period did a great deal of trading with each other. Later on North Carolina became a state in about 1653 and became the 10 Colony.



In 1629, King Charles I of England “erected into a province,” all the land from Albermarle Sound on the north to the St. John’s River on the south, which he directed should be called Carolina. The word Carolina is from the word Carolus, the Latin form of Charles.When Carolina was divided in 1710, the southern part was called South Carolina and the northern, or older settlement, North Carolina. From this came the nickname the “Old North State.” Historians have recorded that the principle products during the early history of North Carolina were “tar, pitch, and turpentine.” It was during one of the fiercest battles of the War Between the States, so the story goes, that the column supporting the North Carolina troops was driven from the field. After the battle the North Carolinians, who had successfully fought it out alone, were greeted from the passing derelict regiment with the question: “Any more tar down in the Old North State, boys?” Quick as a flash came the answer: “No, not a bit, Old Jeff’s bought it all up. “Is that so; what is he going to do with it?” was asked. “He’s going to put on you-un’s heels to make you stick better in the next fight.” Creecy relates that General Lee, upon hearing of the incident, said: “God bless the Tar Heel boys,” and from that they took the name.



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