Writing North Carolina History

By Jeffrey J. Crow; Larry E. Tise | Go to book overview

Introduction

"The history of the State is unknown," declared Joseph Seawell "Shocco" Jones in 1834. "The great events of her annals are buried amidst the musty papers of her ancient families, and are not celebrated by the 'historians of the adjacent States,' because they were ignorant or careless of their existence." Jones, of course, had a highly partisan and romantic view of North Carolina history, and his purpose in writing the history of the Old North State in the American Revolution bore a political intent (an attack on Thomas Jefferson and the Democratic party) as much as a pedagogical one. Even so his words still resonate with surprising relevance for this volume and may be taken as a point of departure. "It is the duty, and the most sacred duty, of the historian to preserve the integrity of history," Jones intoned. "Ignorance and wickedness may misrepresent with impunity the character of her [ North Carolina's] history, if efforts are not made to break away the darkness which surrounds it; and such are the inducements to this publication."1

In the nearly 150 years since Jones took up the gauntlet and unsheathed a rapierlike pen, scores of works on North Carolina history have appeared.2 With varying success, all have

____________________
1
Joseph Seawell Jones, A Defence of the Revolutionary History of the State of North Carolina from the Aspersions of Mr. Jefferson ( Boston and Raleigh, 1834), pp. 11, 16.
2
Other Tar Heel historians, to be sure, preceded Jones. For their identities and works, see the essays by William S. Powell, Alan D. Watson, and Robert M. Calhoon in this volume. Two helpful bibliographies on North Carolina history are becoming outdated: Mary Lindsay Thornton, comp., A Bibliography of North Carolina, 1589-1956 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1958);

-ix-

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