Revolutionary North Carolina, 1765-1789
by Alan D. Watson
Writing upon the immediate close of the bicentennial celebration of America's independence, with its heady slogans, gushy panegyrics, and eventual apathy in the face of rampant commercialism, it is sobering to remember that 1776 was but the midpoint of the revolutionary era. Although the revolutionary movement in North Carolina failed to receive the publicity accorded the activities of its neighboring colonies, the province chafed under the new directions of Britain's colonial policy and was not slow in opting for independence. Yet the march toward revolution and formal separation from England proved more exhilarating than the tasks of winning the war and establishing a viable government. The tribulations of the war and the political factionalism of the Confederation years yielded to a reluctant decision in 1789 to join the new Union, but almost immediately the state regretted this forward step and retreated to its time-honored agrarian insularity.
The revolutionary era has been the subject of historical investigation for more than a century and a half as North Carolina has benefited from a full complement of histories dating from the second decade of the nineteenth century. However, with one exception the early works generally evidenced perfunctory research, an obsessive concern with politics and war, a stylistic dullness, and a patriotic desire to present North