North Carolina Government & Politics

By Jack D. Fleer | Go to book overview
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DANIEL J. ELAZAR


Series Introduction

The more-than-continental stretch of the American domain is given form and character as a federal union of fifty different states whose institutions order the American landscape. The existence of these states made possible the emergence of a continental nation where liberty, not despotism, reigns and self-government is the first principle of order. The great United States republic was born in its states, as its very name signifies. America's first founding was repeated on thirteen separate occasions over 125 years, from Virginia in 1607 to Georgia in 1732, each giving birth to a colony that became a selfgoverning commonwealth. Its revolution and second founding was made by those commonwealths, now states, acting in congress, and its constitution was written together and adopted separately. As the American tide rolled westward from the Atlantic coast, it absorbed new territories by organizing thirty-seven more states over the next 169 years.

Most of the American states are larger and better developed than most of the world's nations. Territorially, North Carolina is a middle-sized state, but in terms of its population and its gross domestic product it ranks with the larger nations of the world and now is a small power in its own right. In short, North Carolina is a southern state with a difference. The last of the Confederate states to secede at the outbreak of the Civil War, it was never dominated by a slaveholding planter economy and was more Presbyterian than Baptist. It was long known for its relative progressiveness with a southern context, Now its heritage has come into its own.

Once even poorer than its neighbors, North Carolina used intelligent and judicious mobilization of its political institutions and leadership to build itself into one of the major American states. As this book indicates, North Carolina was originally settled by far more ordinary people than those that domi

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