Before Englishmen set foot in North Carolina, Spanish explorer Juan Pardo constructed Fort San Juan near modern-day Marion–"the earliest site of sustained interaction between Europeans and Indians in North America," writes one historian. In the end, however, Pardo’s two expeditions failed to gain land for Spain.
The snowy winter of 1566-1567 temporarily stopped Juan Pardo’s exploration of modern-day Piedmont and western North Carolina, so he and his Spanish force built Fort San Juan near the Indian town Joara (near present-day Morganton). When the weather permitted, Pardo continued his expedition. But he garrisoned the fort with between twenty to thirty men under the direction of Sergeant Hernando Moyano, whose interest in locating minerals and gold more than likely prompted the only attack against Indians during the Pardo Expeditions.
During Juan Pardo’s first expedition (1566-67), the Spanish constructed Fort San Juan near present-day Morganton, North Carolina. Although the Spaniards abandoned the fort after eighteen months, its presence marked a pivotal moment not only in North Carolina history but in United States history.
During the late-sixteenth century, Joara was the most dominant, and possibly the largest, town in what is now modern-day Piedmont and western North Carolina. Located in Burke County, twelve miles north of Morganton, on Upper Creek, Joara was, according to historians, “the northeastern edge of the Mississippian cultural world.” Its economic and political prominence and its location prompted Spanish explorer Juan Pardo to construct Fort San Juan near the Indian town.
Sixty years before England established settlements on the North Carolina coast, the Spanish had explored the land, interacted with Native Americans, and constructed forts. The Spanish effort to claim the land eventually failed, and by the late 1580s, England had only to battle the Indians for control of the land.
During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, a common custom was a skimmington. Traditionally, it served as a reminder for spouses to perform certain societal roles and behave within prescribed social boundaries and thereby secure social order. It was also incorporated into colonial political protests.
Affirmations are statements made in lieu of oaths by people who have conscientious scruples against taking oaths. Under modern North Carolina law, this means saying “solemnly affirm” instead of “solemnly swear,” and avoiding any invocation of God in support of one’s statement (North Carolina General Statues 11-1 and 11-4). Starting its colonial history with a de facto freedom to affirm instead of swear, North Carolina returned to a more restrictive position based on English law, then extended affirmation privileges to certain Protestant groups, and ultimately made affirmations available to anyone with objections to oaths.
The Carolina Charter of 1663 was the first organic law of what eventually became the state of North Carolina. It conferred territory that also included what is now South Carolina to eight “true and absolute Lords Proprietors.” They possessed broad feudal powers and bore the responsibility of managing Carolina in the interests of England.
Many times North Carolina law has required people to prove their words or actions with a solemn official statement when, for example, testifying in court or assuming public office. Such official statements must be given by a solemn oath or by affirmation. First passed in 1777, the North Carolina oath statute describes oaths as “most solemn appeals to Almighty God.” The affiant is declared to invoke divine “vengeance” on himself if he lies. The proper format for oaths and the issue of sworn testimony eligibility have been contentious issues in the history of the Tar Heel State.
Known as the “oldest cultivated vine in America,” the Mother Vine on Roanoke Island is reportedly over 400 years old. Historians debate the exact age of the vine, and one claims that its history rests mainly on unsubstantiated yarns. But one thing is certain: no one knows of another vine in the United States older than the Mother Vine in Roanoke Island.