Adventurer John Lawson booked passage for the New World and sailed from Cowes, England on May 1, 1700. An acquaintance who had been to America assured Lawson "that Carolina was the best country I could go to," and the young traveler was eager to see Britain’s colony in the New World. After a harried ocean voyage lasting nearly three months, Lawson’s ship put in at New York Harbor. In late August, following a brief stay in New York, Lawson sailed for the bustling colonial port of Charleston. By December, the young adventurer had been given a daunting task. The Lords Proprietors — wealthy Englishmen appointed by the Crown to govern the settlement of Carolina — assigned John Lawson to conduct a reconnaissance survey of the interior of the province. The Carolina backcountry at that time was an unknown and forbidding place. There were no adequate maps, and little was known about the Native American inhabitants of the region — including their attitude toward English settlers.
The subject of Scottish folklore and myth, Flora MacDonald assisted Prince Charles Stuart in his escape from King George II during the Jacobite rebellion. In 1774, Flora and her family moved to the North Carolina colony, and Flora’s husband and son fought for the Loyalists during the Battle of Moore’s Creek Bridge. The Jacobite heroine returned to her native Scotland in 1779 where she passed away in 1790.
Similar to the earlier, explorer-naturalist John Lawson, William Bartram traveled and detailed most his 1770s trek throughout the southern colonial wilderness and what would become known as North Carolina. His descriptive Travels through North and South Carolina, Georgia, East and West Florida was published in 1791. The account became an important account of the early American South. Born in 1739, Bartram died in Bladen County in 1823.
As the oldest courthouse in North Carolina, the historic Chowan County Courthouse was constructed in 1767 in Edenton. Joseph Hewes, Samuel Johnston, and other important North Carolina Patriots used the courthouse during the 1770s and 1780s. With the Cupola and Barker House, the Chowan County Courthouse remains an important historical structure and popular attraction in Edenton. Today, the courthouse is the oldest government building in use in the state.
The Tuscarora, one of the most prominent tribes of eastern North Carolina at the time of European settlement, were a well-developed tribe that spoke a derivative of the Iroquoian language. The tribe established communities on the Roanoke, Tar, and Neuse Rivers, growing crops such as corn, picked berries and nuts. They also hunted big game such as deer and bears. Despite the tribe’s size and numerous warriors, the Tuscarora War (1711-1713) led to the migration of the tribe to New York and the near vanishing of the tribe from North Carolina.
William Tryon, one of the most notorious royal governors of North Carolina, was born in England in 1729. Although he did not receive a formal education, Tryon’s family was well-esteemed, and his wife’s friendship with Lord Hillsborough led to his appointment as lieutenant governor of North Carolina in 1764. Tryon encountered heavy rebellion during the Regulator Movement and he was later relocated to serve as governor of the New York colony. He died on January 27, 1788, in England.
Willie Mangum, born in 1792 in Durham County, served as a North Carolina Senator for nearly 20 years. Mangum studied at the University of North Carolina in 1815, and was admitted to the state bar in 1817. In 1823, Mangum was elected to the national House of Representatives, and in 1830 he became a N.C. Senator. During President John Tyler’s tenure, Mangum served as the Senate president pro tempore.
The site of the first Moravian settlement in North Carolina, Wachovia, or Wachau, was the 100,000 acre tract in present-day Forsyth County. The name Wachovia was derived from Der Wachau, the name of Count Zinzendorf’s estate where the early Moravians lived in Eastern Europe. Today, most may associate the land name with the former Wachovia Corporation.
Wake County was formed in 1771, and its county seat is Raleigh (also the capital city of North Carolina). Named after Governor Tryon’s wife, Margaret Wake Tryon, Wake County is home to the State Capitol building, the North Carolina State Fairgrounds, and several colleges and universities. Several important political leaders were born in Wake County, including the seventeenth president Andrew Johnson (1808-1875).
The first successful machine gun, known as the Gatling gun was invented by North Carolina native Richard J. Gatling in 1862. The gun saw limited use in the Civil War because the original model proved ineffective but once Gatling perfected his machine gun, the United States Army purchased 100 guns in 1866. Although the patent was eventually purchased by Colt’s Armory, the more developed guns built by Nordenfeldt and Maxim gun manufacturers outlasted the Gatling machine gun.