Southern Colonies > Province of North Carolina

Province of North Carolina


The Province of North Carolina played a significant and dynamic role during the American Revolutionary War. Its diverse population, internal divisions between Patriots and Loyalists, and strategic location made North Carolina a key battleground in the southern theater of the war. Here is an overview of North Carolina's involvement in the Revolutionary War:

Political Significance:

  1. Early Resistance and Political Mobilization:

    • North Carolina was an early supporter of the Patriot cause. In 1774, the colony sent delegates to the First Continental Congress, and by 1775, local committees of safety were established to coordinate resistance against British rule.
    • The Halifax Resolves, adopted on April 12, 1776, were the first official action by an entire colony recommending independence from Britain. This act was a precursor to the Declaration of Independence.
  2. Provincial Congresses:

    • The Provincial Congresses, which met from 1774 to 1776, took over the governance of North Carolina after the royal government collapsed. These congresses organized the colony’s military efforts and implemented measures to support the war.
    • On December 18, 1776, the Fifth Provincial Congress adopted the first North Carolina Constitution, establishing a framework for self-governance.

Military Activities:

  1. Early Conflicts and Battles:

    • Battle of Moore's Creek Bridge (February 27, 1776): One of the first significant battles in North Carolina, where Patriot forces defeated Loyalist militia. The victory effectively ended British authority in the colony and bolstered the Patriot cause.
    • Cherokee Campaigns: The Cherokee, aligned with the British, launched attacks on frontier settlements. Patriot militia and Continental Army forces conducted campaigns to subdue the Cherokee, leading to the Treaty of Long Island in 1777, which ended major hostilities with the Cherokee.
  2. Divided Loyalties and Civil Conflict:

    • North Carolina experienced significant internal conflict between Patriots and Loyalists. The backcountry was particularly divided, with many Loyalists supporting the British Crown.
    • Skirmishes and raids were common, as both sides sought to control territory and resources. This internal strife contributed to the broader dynamics of the Revolutionary War in the South.
  3. Southern Theater of the War:

    • Battle of Camden (August 16, 1780): A major defeat for the Patriots, where General Horatio Gates's forces were routed by British troops under General Cornwallis. Many North Carolinians fought and suffered heavy casualties.
    • Battle of Kings Mountain (October 7, 1780): A decisive Patriot victory led by backcountry militia against Loyalist forces. This battle was a turning point in the Southern campaign, demonstrating the effectiveness of Patriot militia.
    • Battle of Guilford Court House (March 15, 1781): Although technically a British victory, General Nathanael Greene's forces inflicted heavy casualties on Cornwallis's army, weakening British strength and contributing to their eventual surrender at Yorktown.

Economic and Social Impact:

  1. Economic Disruption:

    • The war caused significant economic disruption in North Carolina. Trade was hampered by British blockades and raids, and many plantations and farms were destroyed or abandoned.
    • The colony adapted by increasing local production of essential goods and relying on internal trade networks.
  2. Social Changes:

    • The war brought about changes in the social fabric of North Carolina. The ideals of liberty and equality began to influence attitudes toward slavery and social hierarchy, although significant changes in these areas would not occur until later.
    • The conflict fostered a sense of unity and identity among North Carolinians, despite the internal divisions.

Key Figures from North Carolina:

Post-War Period:

  1. Economic Recovery:

    • After the war, North Carolina faced the challenge of rebuilding its economy. Efforts were made to restore agricultural production and develop new economic opportunities.
    • Improvements in infrastructure, such as roads and ports, facilitated trade and economic growth.
  2. Political Development:

    • North Carolina ratified the U.S. Constitution on November 21, 1789, becoming the 12th state to join the Union. The state's leaders continued to play influential roles in the new federal government.
    • The principles of self-governance and republicanism established during the war continued to shape North Carolina's political landscape.


The Province of North Carolina's role in the American Revolutionary War was marked by significant political, military, and economic contributions. The state's leaders and citizens were deeply involved in the fight for independence, and their efforts helped shape the future of the United States.

Thirteen Colonies


Primary Sources

Secondary Sources

The American Cyclopædia (1879)

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