Josiah Collins III was the heir to Somerset Place, a plantation originally built by his grandfather Josiah Collins, Sr. and his Lake Company. Josiah Collins III was educated at Harvard and later studied law in Litchfield, Connecticut, and lived in New York City for a time. At age 21, he assumed management of Somerset Place and turned it into one of the largest and most prosperous plantations in the South. Josiah Collins III died shortly after the beginning of the Civil War and his death marked the end of Somerset Place. It was restored as a North Carolina State Historic Site in the 1950s and 1960s.
Although born in Scotland in 1733, Samuel Johnston lived in North Carolina from infancy. Historians have described the native Scot as a “prominent voice for the Patriot cause” who possessed “Revolutionary zeal.” Even so, many North Carolinians today are unaware of his illustrious political and legal career.
One of the first rope manufacturing establishments in North America; the Edenton Ropewalk (also referred to as the Hewes Ropewalk or the Collins Ropewalk) was originally established by Joseph Hewes in about 1777 and was acquired by Josiah Collins, Sr. in 1783. Under the management of his son, Josiah Collins II, the Edenton Ropewalk became one of the premier rope manufacturing sites in America. Covering an immense 131-acres of land, the Edenton Ropewalk was a large-scale rope making operation and by 1795 it is said to have created some of the best rope in the colonies. However, due to changes in the economic climate and the death of Josiah Collins II, the Edenton Ropewalk ceased operation in 1839.
In my experiences teaching United States history, students have a misconception that American slavery was strictly an agricultural institution. The slave labor experience, in particular, is considered one that existed entirely on plantation fields, sowing, tending, or harvesting cash crops — tobacco, cotton, or rice. Not all rural slaves worked on plantations, though; many toiled on smaller farms with a workforce of five to 10 field hands.
Many United States and North Carolina history enthusiasts are aware that President George Washington nominated James Iredell, Sr. (namesake of Iredell County, North Carolina) as one of the first justices on the U.S. Supreme Court. Far fewer are aware that another Washington appointee to the high court called North Carolina home, albeit for only the final year of his life.
Wayne County was formed from Dobbs County in 1779 in North Carolina’s Coastal Plain. Wayne County is named after “Mad Anthony” Wayne, one of George Washington’s most trusted generals. Goldsboro is the county seat, and Wayne is also home to Seymour Johnson Air Force Base. Wayne is also the home of numerous cultural institutions and events.
Many North Carolinians expressed Antifederalist sympathies and were skeptical of giving the national government more authority, especially without a Bill of Rights added to the Constitution. There might be problems with the Articles of Confederation, sure, but did Americans, many Tar Heels questioned, need to hurriedly give the national government more power?
During the past 30 to 40 years, historians have revived for Americans the legacy of Frederick Douglass (1818–95). Before then, his accomplishments largely had been swept up, dropped into the dustbin of history, and left out of view.
Born in an area that many of North Carolina’s early republic and antebellum statesmen called home—Warren, Halifax, and Edgecombe counties—Willis Alston entered into the political arena with established familial and political connections. He served as a state legislator and senator, and as a U.S. Congressman for 21 years. Although he was Nathaniel Macon’s nephew, Willis Alston disagreed with his influential uncle on various political issues during Thomas Jefferson’s administration (1801-1809)
A Brunswick County native, William Henry Hill was the state’s district attorney, a state senator, a University of North Carolina Trustee, and a U.S. Congressman. Unlike many of his North Carolina contemporaries in Congress, Hill was a staunch Federalist who, according to Lawrence F. London, “believed in a strong central government.”