The Dismal Swamp Canal, originally chartered in 1790, connects the Albemarle Sound and the Chesapeake Bay. Opened in 1805, the Dismal Swamp Canal created a passage between northeastern North Carolina and Norfolk, Virginia. By the mid-1820s, the Dismal Swamp Canal was widened and deepened enough for reliable commercial traffic. As a result, international trade shifted from Albemarle Sound towns, like Edenton, to Norfolk, Virginia. Today the Dismal Swamp Canal is primarily used for recreational boating.
The Lake Company was created in 1784 by Josiah Collins, Sr., Nathaniel Allen, and Dr. Samuel Dickenson to acquire and develop land around Lake Phelps. The Lake Company was a successful agricultural business and built canals around Lake Phelps. After a long legal battle, Collins bought his partners’ shares in the company, and turned the Lake Company into “Somerset Place” Plantation.
Somerset Place is plantation located on the land around Lake Phelps in present-day Washington County, North Carolina. Originally part of the Lake Company’s holdings that spanned over 100,000 acres in Washington and Tyrrell Counties, the area became Somerset Place in 1816 when Josiah Collins, Sr. became sole owner of the Lake Company. Under Collins’s grandson, Josiah Collins III, Somerset Place became one of the largest plantations in the South. Today it is a North Carolina State Historic Site.
Josiah Collins II was the son of the prominent merchant Josiah Collins, Sr. He became manager and eventually the owner of the Collins Ropewalk in Edenton. Under his management, the Edenton Ropewalk became one of the most prosperous rope manufacturing sites in North America. When his father died in 1819, Josiah II became the temporary owner and manager of Somerset Plantation until his son Josiah III came of age. Josiah II was also important in the organization of North Carolina’s Episcopal Diocese in 1817.
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.
A jurist and pamphleteer from North Carolina, Maurice Moore opposed the passage and implementation of the Stamp Act (1765). He was the father of Alfred Moore, a justice on the United State Supreme Court.
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)