History and Culture
From Roanoke Island in the 1580s to the Research Triangle in the 1990s, North Carolina's history spans more than four centuries. From Sir Walter Raleigh's search for the New World to Governor James B. Hunt's search for new world markets, key leaders have guided the state's development. From the Regulators' effort to define and defend the rights of citizens in the Battle of Alamance in the 1770s to the civil rights sit-in in Greensboro in the 1960s, the struggle for human freedom has continued in the state. In America's revolution in the seventeenth century, citizens from the state were "First in Freedom." In the emergence of the New South in the twentieth century, North Carolinians demonstrated a progressive spirit as leaders of the region. A review of key events in the development of North Carolina informs us of its history and provides insights into its progressive character.
The opening of the English-speaking New World began in what we now know as the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Although French and Spanish explorers preceded them with early sightings of the North Carolina coast, English citizens sponsored by Queen Elizabeth I and directed by Sir Walter Raleigh were the first nonnatives to settle on the coast of what came to be called North Carolina. Occupied briefly in 1584, Roanoke Island was the site of a colony established in 1585 and was populated until 1587 or soon thereafter. During their stay, the settlers explored the area, including the mainland, which was declared "to bee the goodliest soile under the cope of heaven." 1 Thomas Harriot prepared reports on resources found in the New World, and John White provided watercolor drawings, giving a glimpse of the New World to other explorers preparing for voyages to America.