November 1879: Colored Industrial Association Fair

This Month in North Carolina History

On November 18, 1879, the North Carolina Colored Industrial Association Fair opened in Raleigh at the site of what had been a military hospital. Thousands of African Americans flocked to the state capital to participate for the first time in an event that would display to all the extent to which they had established themselves in the world of free people. Held about a mile outside Raleigh, the fair featured a speech by Governor Thomas J. Jarvis, who was conveyed to the fairground in a parade of decorated carriages and African American military units. The four main buildings at the fair were devoted to handicrafts, agriculture, machinery, and art. Displays of tobacco, wine, corn, hams, and pumpkins vied with exhibits of wagons, plows, harnesses and even coffins. Many of the handicrafts, especially the spreads and baby hoods, would, in one reporter’s opinion, “hold their own in any Northern fair I have ever attended.” Amusements such as a Punch and Judy show and an “electric machine” were much admired and, in the case of the latter, a bit feared. Horse races and a walking race provided entertainment.

The fair was the brainchild of Charles Norfleet Hunter. Born into slavery in Raleigh in the late 1850s, Hunter became a journalist and educator after the Civil War and was a voice of the African American community in North Carolina. He believed that African Americans in North Carolina and throughout the South had made great progress since emancipation and had much in which to take pride. He also believed that the progress of the race depended and would continue to depend on the goodwill and kindness of whites. The Colored Industrial Association Fair embodied these beliefs. It was a showcase of African American achievement, but Hunter emphasized to reporters the importance of the support of prominent white people in bringing the fair about. In the end, however, it was race pride that made the fair an important part of North Carolina’s Black community for nearly fifty years.

Logan, Frenise A. “The Colored Industrial Association of North Carolina and its Fair of 1886,” North Carolina Historical Review, XXXIV:1 (January 1957) : 58-67.

Haley, John H. Charles N. Hunter and Race Relations in North Carolina. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1987.

Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper, December 6, 1879.

November 1753: Moravians Come to Bethabra

This Month in North Carolina History

Image of Bethabra Church
On November 17, 1753, fifteen weary men and a wagon load of supplies arrived at a deserted cabin in the western part of North Carolina in what is today Forsyth County. The group had been six weeks on a journey from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Their task was to break ground in the wilderness for a new colony of their church, the Unitas Fratrum, better known as Moravians.

The roots of the Moravian faith ran back to the teachings of the Czech priest Jan Hus, whose attempts to reform the Roman Catholic Church led to his martyrdom in 1415. The church founded by Hus’s followers was destroyed or scattered in the Thirty Years War, and it was not until the 1720s that adherents of this religious tradition were offered refuge on the estate of Count Nicholas Ludwig von Zinzendorf in Saxony. From their village of Herrnhut, the Moravians began sending missionaries around the world, including the colonial settlements of North America. To support their missionary effort, the Moravians founded towns in the American colonies, particularly in Pennsylvania. In 1753 Zinzendorf and other Moravian leaders accepted Lord Granville’s terms for the purchase of 100,000 acres of land from his vast holdings in North Carolina. An exploring party, led by Bishop August Gottlieb Spangenberg had already located a desirable tract of land, which they called Wachau, but soon came to be known as Wachovia.

The advance party of fifteen founded the village of Bethabara, and soon Moravians from Pennsylvania added to the population. The Moravian pioneers were organized and industrious, carefully selected by church leaders for their skills and talents. Originally all of the settlers were drawn from the “single brethren,” but in 1755 married couples and children began arriving. The resulting overcrowding led to the founding of nearby Bethania in 1759. Finally, in 1765, the Moravians launched an ambitious plan to build a “city” in the wilderness. Located six miles from Bethabara, the new town of Salem quickly outgrew the older settlements to become the center of life in the Wachovia tract.

The Moravians brought to North Carolina their strong system of community life. In the original Wachovia settlements, property was held in common and settlers drew on community stores for food, tools, and other supplies. Towns were governed by the church, which had control or influence not only over municipal affairs, but also over many aspects of the personal lives of the people. The Moravians brought with them a love of music, which was an integral part of their religious life. Distinctive aspects of Moravian worship, such as the community meals called “love feasts,” continued in the North Carolina settlements. In time, church control withered and the strictures of communal life eased. More than most settlers in North Carolina, however, Moravians maintained the heritage of a distinctive way of life into modern times.


Chester S. Davis. Hidden Seed and Harvest: A History of the Moravians. Winston-Salem, NC: Wachovia Historical Society, 1973.

Allen W. Schattschneider. Through Five Hundred Years: A Popular History of the Moravian Church. Bethlehem, PA: The Moravian Church in America, 1996.

Daniel C. Crews and Richard W. Starbuck. With Courage for the Future: The Story of the Moravian Church, Southern Province. Winston-Salem, NC: Moravian Church in America, Southern Province, 2002.

Image Source:

“Bethabara Church,” Board 8 (Area 7F) of Mary Grace Canfield Photographic Collection, North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives.

November 1997: Cherokee Casino Opens

Harrah's Cherokee Casino, 2000. Detail from a brochure in the North Carolina Collection Swain County Ephemera Collection.
Harrah’s Cherokee Casino, 2000. Detail from a brochure in the North Carolina Collection Swain County Ephemera Collection.

This Month in North Carolina History

On November 13, 1997, the first major casino in North Carolina opened on the reservation of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians in the western part of the state. The opening was the culmination of nearly a decade’s worth of negotiation and compromise between tribal, state, and federal officials.

In 1988, the U.S. Congress passed the Indian Gambling Regulatory Act, which allowed federally-recognized tribes to open casinos on tribal property, but limited the casino offerings to games that were already allowed under state law. This opened the door for the Cherokee to build a casino in western North Carolina.

Tribal Chief Jonathan “Ed” Taylor worked closely with Governor Jim Hunt to develop a plan for a casino that would meet state laws and satisfy local and tribal concerns. Some Cherokee leaders were not enthusiastic about the idea, most notably the tribe’s spiritual leader, Walker Calhoun, who said in 1995 that gambling would be the Cherokee’s damnation. Residents of the surrounding area were also concerned about the type of visitors that a casino would draw, and feared that the presence of a large group of gamblers would discourage the “tried and true” family vacationers who had been coming to the area for decades.

In the early 1990s, the tribe opened a small casino that offered electronic versions of bingo and poker, as well as pull-tab machines that offered cash prizes. Challenged by the Asheville U.S. Attorney, who argued that the tribe was offering a form of gambling that was not legal elsewhere in the state, the casino was forced to remove everything but bingo.

Worried that such a limited offering would not draw the crowds they hoped to see, tribal leaders continued negotiations with Governor Hunt, and finally arrived at an agreement under which the casino would be able to offer electronic games that required “skill or dexterity” and with a maximum jackpot of $25,000. Table games, or games featuring live dealers, were prohibited. Alcohol would also be prohibited in the casino, in accordance with existing reservation laws. As part of the agreement, one half of the casino earnings were to be divided among all members of the tribe, distributed as an annual bonus.

On opening day, the casino’s first visitors waited in line outside, in steady rain, for hours just to get inside of the casino. As the day went on, the crowds grew so large that casino officials made a public appeal for people to stay away. The casino’s popularity has remained steady, earning $155 million in annual payouts in 2004, which provided $6,000-dollar annual bonuses to every member of the tribe.

Barrett, Mark. “Gambling to change Cherokee’s image: Will it increase prosperity, or drive away traditional tourists?” Asheville Citizen-Times, 28 August 1994.

Buggs, Shannon. “Betting with reservations” The News & Observer, 19 October 1997.

Horan, Jack. “Miss. firm to build N.C. casino.” The Charlotte Observer, 7 January 1995.

Nowell, Paul. “Casino at heart of conflict.” The News & Observer, 28 March 2004.

Voorhis, Dan and Bob Scott. “Cherokee ordered to remove video gaming machines.”Asheville Citizen-Times, 20 July 1994.

Williams, Bob. “Cherokee casino opens” The News & Observer, 14 November 1997.

Williams, Bob. “Tribe hits jackpot with new casino.” The News & Observer, 13 April 1998.

Wilson, Trish. “Gambling the reservation.” The News & Observer, 12 March 1995.


November 1765: The Stamp Act Crisis in North Carolina

This Month in North Carolina History

On Saturday, November 16th, 1765, Dr. William Houston, a respected resident of Duplin County, arrived in Wilmington, North Carolina for a short visit. Houston had recently been appointed – to his great surprise, since he had not sought the position – distributor of stamps for the colony of North Carolina under a new revenue law enacted by the Parliament of Great Britain. Houston may have heard that the new tax was unpopular among his fellow colonists, but he quickly learned that the citizens of Wilmington were particularly upset about it. A crowd of three or four hundred people accompanied by drums and flags appeared at his inn and escorted Houston to the courthouse where, in the presence of Wilmington’s mayor and several aldermen, he was told that he would have to resign his position as stamp distributor. Under the circumstances, and not having wanted the job in the first place, Dr. Houston resigned on the spot. This made him the crowd’s hero, and Houston was carried in an armchair back to his inn and toasted by his admirers with “the best Liquors to be had.” More toasting followed around a bonfire that night as opponents of the new tax cheered themselves and their noble endeavor. The assault on Dr. Houston, while no one was harmed and the whole affair was more or less good-natured, was a symptom of a very real and serious division between Great Britain and her American colonies, a division which would soon lead to revolution.

For much of their early history the British colonies in North America had been treated with what has been called benign neglect. Great Britain regulated the colonies’ external trade through a series of navigation acts, but colonial assemblies took over responsibility for their internal affairs, including levying taxes and appropriating money. This changed as a result of the Seven Years War (1756-1763), which Americans knew as the French and Indian War. In North America British and colonial troops fought the French based in Canada, but Great Britain was also engaged in Europe and India in what Winston Churchill called “the first world war.”

Britain made many important gains during the war but at a great cost, and emerged from the conflict determined to bring its colonies under firmer control and raise some of the revenue necessary to support the new empire from colonial sources. As a part of this new policy Britain decided to station a permanent army in America to provide for colonial defense and pay for that army with funds raised in the colonies themselves. To this end Parliament, in March 1765, required that Americans pay a small tax on certain kinds of public papers, such as newspapers, pamphlets, insurance policies, ship’s papers, playing cards, and legal papers. To show that the tax had been paid, a stamp would be affixed to the paper. To the British this seemed reasonable and fair. To many American colonists, however, it violated the custom that direct taxes be levied only by colonial assemblies and the principle that Englishmen could only be taxed by a body in which they were represented. First resistance to the Stamp Act came in Boston, where the property of the stamp distributor was burned and the home of the colonial governor attacked. In response to an invitation from the legislature of Massachusetts, nine colonies sent delegates to the Stamp Act Congress in October 1765.

No delegates from North Carolina attended the Congress, but feeling in the colony, especially in the coastal area, was very much opposed to the tax. Governor William Tryon worked hard to convince North Carolinians to accept the tax, but when HMS Diligence arrived on November 28th bringing the tax stamps, the colonists refused to let them be brought ashore. In mid-January two ships were seized by the British navy in the Cape Fear River for sailing with unstamped papers. A thousand armed colonists forced the release of the ships and their crews. Governor Tryon discovered that he could not rely on magistrates and other law enforcement officials to suppress the disorder since so many of them had joined the protesters. The tension was finally eased by the repeal of the Stamp Act in March 1766. Life in colonial North Carolina returned to normal, but the Stamp Act Crisis had revealed serious, on-going problems in the relationship between Great Britain and the American colonies.

Lawrence Lee. “Days of Defiance: Resistance to the Stamp Act in the Lower Cape Fear,” North Carolina Historical Review, vol. 43:2 (Spring 1966).

Donna J. Spindel. “Law and Disorder: The North Carolina Stamp Act Crisis,” North Carolina Historical Review, vol. 57:1 (Winter 1980).

November 1979: Greensboro Killings

This Month in North Carolina History

image of Southern Struggle special edition
On November 3, 1979, members of the Communist Workers Party (known then as the Worker’s Viewpoint Organization) sponsored a rally at Morningside Homes, a housing project in Greensboro. Billed Klan Kills Five Headlineas a “Death to the Klan Rally,” the demonstrators gathered to speak out against what they saw as continued racial injustice in North Carolina.
A group of self-proclaimed Klansmen and Nazis attended the rally and fired upon the crowd, killing five people and wounding nine. Much of the violence was captured on film by reporters who were covering the event.

The men accused of firing on the crowd were apprehended and charged with murder. In November 1980 a jury found them not guilty on the grounds of self-defense. After extensive FBI inquiries into the killings, the case was reopened and, in 1983, nine people were indicted for conspiracy to violate the protesters’ civil rights. Again, the defendants were acquitted.

In addition to their outrage at the violence in their community, many people in Greensboro blamed the police department for failing to act promptly enough to prevent the killings. The frustration in the community continued to grow as the courts failed to convict anyone for the shootings.cover to "They Died Fighting..."

At the twentieth anniversary of the killings in 1999, it was clear that tensions in Greensboro still ran high and that there were many unresolved feelings and accusations surrounding the case. A Truth & Reconciliation Commission, modeled on similar projects in South Africa, was established in 2004. The Commission began holding public hearings on the 1979 killings, operating under the principle that the community cannot begin to heal until the events of the past are honestly and openly confronted. The final report of the Commission is due in 2006.

Elizabeth Wheaton, Codename GREENKIL: The 1979 Greensboro Killings. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1987.

“The Third of November.” Southern Exposure, vol. 9 no. 3 (Fall 1981), pp. 55-67.

Greensboro Truth & Reconciliation Commission

Greensboro Truth & Community Reconciliation Project (available via the Wayback Machine)

Image Source:
Southern Struggle (Special Edition), vol. 37 no. 6 (November-December 1979). Greensboro Massacre Materials, North Carolina Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

“They Died Fighting Rather Than Live As Slaves.” Card produced by the Committee to Avenge the Greensboro-CWP 5, [1979]. Greensboro Massacre Materials, North Carolina Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

November 1920: Exum Clement

This Month in North Carolina History

Article about Lillian Exum Clement

On November 2, 1920, Lillian Exum Clement of Buncombe County was elected to the North Carolina House of Representatives, becoming the first woman in the history of the state to be elected to the legislature. Although only twenty-six years old at the time, it was not the first of Clement’s firsts.

Clement was born near Black Mountain, and raised there and in Biltmore. She attended local schools and the Asheville Business College. After her formal schooling was done, but still eager for education and experience, she began work in the Buncombe County sheriff’s office while studying law in her spare time. Clement was admitted to the bar and began practicing law in 1917, the first woman in the state to open her own practice. One of the local judges gave her the nickname “Brother Exum,” which stuck with her for the rest of her career.

Clement quickly gained a reputation as a competent criminal lawyer and after several years of a successful practice, she decided to run for office. This was a bold decision, considering that at the time of the Democratic primary, the 19th Amendment had yet to be ratified and women would not vote in the election. Running against two men in the primary, Clement won by just 83 votes over her closest competitor. With the Democratic party firmly in control of the state, the general election was a mere formality, and Clement was swept into office by a commanding margin.

Once she reached Raleigh for the 1921 legislative session, Clement was not content with just being there. She was an active participant in the House, introducing at least seventeen bills, many of which were passed. Although one of her first bills — proposing private voting booths for elections — was defeated (some argued that other legislators opposed the bill because it would be impossible to bribe or intimidate voters if you couldn’t see them cast their ballots), Clement was successful in passing bills requiring testing of dairy herds and sanitary dairy barns and decreasing the number of years of abandonment required for a decree of divorce.

After her marriage in 1921, Clement decided not to run for office a second time. She was active in local civic groups and was a director of the state hospital in Morganton. Clement died of pneumonia in 1925.

Alice R. Cotten, “Stafford, Lilliam Exum Clement.” In Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, vol. 5. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1994.

“Woman Legislator Travels Long Way To Capitol.” Asheville Citizen-Times (Asheville, N.C.), May 8, 1960. In North Carolina Collection Clipping File through 1975: biography, vol. 28, pp. 753-755.

Image Source:
News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.), January 6, 1921.

November 1718: The Death of Blackbeard

This Month in North Carolina History

Drawing of BlackbeardThe 1710s have been called the “golden age of piracy.” Pirate ships roamed the Atlantic Ocean, preying upon busy commercial ports in the West Indies and along the coast of North America. One of the most notorious of the pirates, Edward Teach, better known as “Blackbeard,” was a frequent visitor to North Carolina and it was here, in November 1718, that he was captured and killed.

Edward Teach was from Bristol, England, a town on the Avon River in southwest England, which produced many pirates. Teach served on a privateer during Queen Anne’s War (1701-1714). Privateering was, in a sense, legalized piracy. The British government authorized private ships to attack and capture enemy merchant vessels, with the proceeds divided between the Queen and the crew of the privateer. When the war ended, Teach was faced with the prospect of losing his livelihood and the great potential for adventure and profit that it promised. Along with many others in the same position, he turned to piracy.

Teach served for several years on a pirate ship under another captain before, in 1717, he stole a ship for himself and formed a crew of his own. Teach and his crew, aboard the “Queen Anne’s Revenge,” captured a number of valuable cargoes off of the coasts of Virginia and the Carolinas. In what would become one of his most famous acts, Teach sailed boldly into Charleston, South Carolina, captured several prominent citizens, and held them hostage until the city agreed to exchange them for costly medical supplies.

While he was terrorizing commercial ports along the coast of North America, Teach became known as “Blackbeard” and his reputation spread quickly. Blackbeard was widely feared for his violence and cruelty and cultivated a fierce appearance to intimidate his victims. This memorable description is from Charles Johnson’s A General History of the Pyrates, published in London in 1726:

This Beard was black, which he suffered to grow of an extravagant Length; as to Breadth, it came up to his Eyes; he was accustomed to twist it with Ribbons, in small Tails, after the Manner of our Ramilies Wiggs, and turn them about his Ears: In Time of Action, he wore a sling over his Shoulders, with three Brace of Pistols, hanging in Holsters like Bandaliers; and stuck lighted Matches under his Hat, which appearing on each Side of his Face, his Eyes naturally looking fierce and wild, made him altogether such a Figure, that Imagination cannot form an Idea of a Fury, from Hell, to look more frightful.

Between adventures at sea, Blackbeard often returned to North Carolina. The shallow waters and complicated inlets of the Outer Banks provided a popular hiding place for pirates while they rested their crews and repaired their ships. Blackbeard favored Ocracoke Inlet and was rumored to have had a house in Ocracoke village. There is an inlet there today still known as “Teach’s Hole.” North Carolina was also a popular refuge for pirates because of its governor, Charles Eden, who was widely rumored to have ignored the illegal activities of the pirates in exchange for a share of the spoils. In the summer of 1718, Blackbeard lived in the coastal town of Bath, North Carolina, where he was known to have socialized with Governor Eden. After a few months on shore, Blackbeard had to return to piracy in order to maintain his lavish lifestyle. The people of North Carolina, tired of seeing their ships attacked and goods stolen, and frustrated at their own government’s failure to act, turned to the governor of Virginia for help.

Governor Alexander Spotswood of Virginia gathered a crew of British Naval officers, led by Lieutenant Robert Maynard, and sent them to Ocracoke where Blackbeard was known to be hiding. In a fierce fight beginning at dawn on November 22, 1718, the British sailors attacked and defeated Blackbeard and his crew. After suffering twenty-five wounds, including five from gunshots, Blackbeard finally died. Lieutenant Maynard, needing proof of Blackbeard’s death in order to claim the bounty offered by Governor Spotswood, beheaded the pirate and hung his severed head from the front of the ship as it sailed home.

Suggestions for Further Reading
Clowse, Converse D. “Teach, Edward.” In American National Biography, ed. John A. Garraty and Mark C. Carnes. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999.

Lee, Robert E. Blackbeard the Pirate: A Reappraisal of His Life and Times. Winston-Salem, N.C.: John F. Blair, 1974.

Lee, Robert E. “Blackbeard the Pirate.” In Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, vol. 1, ed. William S. Powell. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1979.

Moore, David D. “A General History of Blackbeard the Pirate, the Queen Anne’s Revenge and the Adventure.” Tributaries, vol. 7, 1997, pp. 31-35. Available online,

Rankin, Hugh F. The Golden Age of Piracy. Williamsburg, Va.: Colonial Williamsburg, 1969.

Rankin, Hugh F. The Pirates of Colonial North Carolina. Raleigh: State Department of Archives and History, 2008.