It is obviously impossible in the brief space of a single chapter to give an adequate account of the social, religious and educational ideals and practices of any large and complex community through a century of its history. All that will be attempted her, therefore, will be a very brief statement of some of the more important of these ideals and practices in colonial North Carolina to which nothing more than mere reference can be made in the general narrative which makes up this volume.
In colonial times, class distinctions were sharply drawn. The highest social group was that which was composed of the large planters, professional men, and public officials. Many of them were connected by family ties with the gentry of England, Scotland, and Ireland and they sought to maintain in America the social distinctions which characterized their class in the Old World. Speaking broadly they were men and women of education, culture, refinement and character. Evidence of their social rank is found in the application to them of such terms as "gentleman," "esquire," "planter," all of which had a technical significance when used, as they commonly were, in such official documents as wills, deeds, and court records. The general use of such insignia as family crests and coats-of‑arms was also indicative of the social rank of the planters. Says a scholarly Virginia historian: "There is no reason to think that armorial bearings were as freely and loosely assumed in those early times as they are so often now, under republican institutions; such bearings were then a right of property, as clearly defined as any other, and continue to be in modern England, what they were in colonial Virginia. In the seventeenth century, when so large a proportion of the persons occupying the highest position in the society of the colony were natives of England, the unwarranted assumption of a coat-of‑arms would probably have p181 been as soon noticed, and perhaps as quickly resented, as in England itself. The prominent families in Virginia were as well acquainted with the social antecedents of each other in the mother country as families of the same rank in England were with the social antecedents of the leading families in the surrounding shires; they were, therefore, thoroughly competent to pass upon a claim of this nature; and the fact that they were, must have had a distinct influence in preventing a false claim from being put forward. In a general way, it may be said it was quite as natural for Virginians of those times to be as slow and careful as contemporary Englishmen in advancing a claim of this kind without a legal right on which to base it, and, therefore, when they did advance it, that it was likely to stand the test of examination by the numerous persons in the colony who must have been familiar with English coats-of‑arms, in general. * * * The possession of coats-of‑arms by the leading Virginian families in the seventeenth century is disclosed in various incidental ways. Insignia of this kind are frequently included among the personal property appraised in inventories. And they were also stampt on pieces of fine silver-plate."1 A more frequent use was to stamp impressions on seals of letters and valuable papers. That what Mr. Bruce says of the use and significance of such insignia in Virginia is equally true of North Carolina, is shown by an examination of the wills and other valuable papers of colonial families, many of which are sealed with crests and arms which show close relationship between their signers and the gentry of the mother country.
Just below the planters in social rank was the largest single social group in the colony which was composed chiefly of small farmers, who tilled the land with their own hands. Their life was crude. They enjoyed few luxuries and fewer refinements. They worked hard, played hard, lived hard. Brickell declares that some of them "equalize with the Negroes in hard Labour." On holidays, or between working seasons, they indulged in such sports as horse-racing, cock-fighting, wrestling, and on these occasions generally drank hard and deep of strong liquor. "I have frequently seen them," wrote Brickell, "come to the Towns, and there remain Drinking Rum, Punch, and other Liquors for Eight or Ten Days successively, and after they have committed this Excess, p182 will not drink any Spirituous Liquor, 'till such time as they take the next Frolick, as they call it, which is generally in two or three Months." Despite crudities and excesses, due chiefly to the hard, circumscribed life of a frontier community, they possessed the sterling qualities characteristic of English yeomen. They, too, had a keen class consciousness and took as much pride in being able to write after their names, as their wills and other records testify, such terms as "farmer," "husbandman," "yeoman," as the planters did in using terms similarly descriptive of their social rank. "I, Thomas West, of Bertie County and Province of North Carolina, Yeoman," thus Thomas West begins his will. A strong, fearless, independent race, simple in tastes, crude in manners, provincial in outlook, democratic in social relations, tenacious of their rights, sensitive to encroachments on their personal liberties, and, when interested in religion at all, earnest, narrow and dogmatic, such were the people who chiefly determined the character of the civilization of North Carolina.
Next in the social order were the indentured white servants among whom were represented many classes and conditions. Some — fortunately a negligible number — were convicts sold into bondage as a punishment for crime.a Another class entered in the official records as criminals were guilty only of political offenses. Many of the followers of the Duke of Monmouth after his defeat at Sedgemore in 1685 were deported to the colonies under sentences of servitude. An even more unfortunate class were the women and children who had been kidnapped in London and other large cities and sent to the colonies to supply the increasing demands for labor. But the largest number of indentured servants were those who had voluntarily taken upon themselves the obligations of service in order to pay for their passage across the Atlantic. Some of this class were of low moral and intellectual development, but most of them were energetic, industrious and thrifty persons who had simply taken the only means open to them to leave the Old World for the greater opportunities of the New World. At the expiration of their terms of service their masters were required by law to fit them out decently with food and clothes; in the case of a man-servant, the master must also furnish "a good well-fixed Gun." An indentured servant, at the expiration of his term, was also entitled to take up •fifty acres of land. Thus many of this class entered the ranks of the small farmer group and by industry and frugality became good, substantial citizens.
p183 The lowest social group was, of course, composed of negro slaves. From the beginning of the colony the soil of North Carolina was dedicated to slavery. It was recognized in the Concessions of 1665 and in the Fundamental Constitutions. The Lords Proprietors encouraged it by granting fifty acres for each slave above fourteen years of age brought into the colony. At a court held in February, 1694, several persons appeared and proved their rights to land by the importation of negroes. Besides negroes the whites early adopted the custom of reducing to slavery Indians captured in battle.
Necessity made the slave code harsh and cruel. Stringent restrictions were thrown around the movements of slaves. They were not to be permitted to leave their masters' plantations without proper tickets of identification stating the place from which, and the place to which they were going; and similar restraints, under severe penalties, were placed on their right to hunt, to bear arms, and to assemble together or communicate with one another at night. The Fundamental Constitutions gave masters "absolute power and authority over negro slaves," but the king, after purchasing the colony, sought to mitigate this law by securing to the slave his right to life. It was not, however, until 1754 that the Assembly considered making the wilful killing of a slave punishable by death, and even then the Council rejected the bill. In 1773 a similar measure introduced by William Hooper passed both houses and was rejected by the governor. The following year such an act was passed by both houses, and was the last law, but one, that was signed by a royal governor of North Carolina. Barbarous punishments were inflicted upon slaves convicted of crimes. Brickell records that he had frequently seen negroes whipped until large pieces of skin were hanging down their backs, "yet," he added, "I never observed one of them shed a tear." A negro, mulatto, or Indian convicted of perjury was punished by being compelled to stand for one hour with his ear nailed to pillory, after which he was released by having his ear cut of; then a similar proceeding was followed with the other ear; and the punishment was completed by the infliction of thirty-nine lashes on his bare back, well laid on. Negroes guilty of rape were often castrated. There are on record instances of negroes, who had been convicted of murder, being burned at the stake by order of the court. It would be easy, however, to make too much of the severity of these punishments, and to draw unwarranted conclusions from them, for it ought not to be forgotten that they were inflicted p184 at a time when the criminal codes of all nations were disgraced by cruel and barbarous practices.
The earliest slaves in the colony were undoubtedly pagans, and their masters as a rule were willing enough for them to remain so. This attitude was due less to indifference than to a widespread belief that it was illegal to hold a Christian in bondage. In 1709, Rev. James Adams reported that there were 211 negroes in Pasquotank Precinct, "some few of which are instructed in the principles of the Christian religion, but their masters will by no means permit them to be baptized, having a false notion that a Christian slave is, by law, free." This belief, however, was not universal and some masters permitted their slaves to be baptized. Gradually it died out altogether and the baptism of slaves who professed Christianity became general.
The hold which the institution of slavery secured on the colony is indicated by its rapid growth. Careful estimates, some of which are official, show the population of negroes at various times as follows: 1712, 800; 1717, 1,100; 1730, 6,000; 1754, 15,000; 1756, 19,000; 1765, 30,000; 1767, 39,000. The increase was due chiefly to births. In 1754, only nineteen negroes were entered in the customs-house at Bath; and during the preceding seven years the average number annually brought in at Beaufort was only seventeen. The stronghold of slavery was in the East where, as early as 1767, the negroes out-numbered the whites.
Historians do not agree in their delineation of the character of the settlers of North Carolina. There are those, of whom perhaps George Davis, the historian of the Cape Fear, was the most eminent, who would have us believe that they "were no needy adventurers, driven by necessity — no unlettered boors, ill at ease in the haunts of civilization, and seeking their proper sphere amidst the barbarism of the savage," but that "they were gentlemen of birth and education, bred in the refinement of polished society, and bringing with them ample fortunes, gentle manners, and cultivated minds."2 On the other hand there are others who, like John Fiske, could see in colonial North Carolina nothing more than "a kind of back-woods for Virginia," "an Alsatia for insolvent debtors," "mean white trash," and "outlaws," from the northern colony.b Fiske divides the early settlers of North Carolina into two classes: First, the thriftless, improvident p185 white servant class who could not maintain a respectable existence for themselves in Virginia; second, the "outlaws who fled [from Virginia] into North Carolina to escape the hangman."3 Neither picture is true, for if Davis insists that the shield is all gold, none the less does Fiske insist that it is all of a baser metal. The truth lies between. Undoubtedly there were enough well-born, educated leaders among the population to give a cultured tone to the best society in the colony; and undoubtedly there were enough escaped outlaws to stimulate the vigilance of the criminal law. But both together constituted no larger percentage of the population of North Carolina than of the other colonies and in none of them were they ever more than a very small minority. Between the two extremes, constituting as now the bone and sinew of the population, were those sturdy, enterprising, law-abiding, and liberty-loving middle class Englishmen who have always from Crecy and Agincourt to Yorktown, Gettysburg, and Mons formed the strength and character of English-speaking peoples. After the middle of the eighteenth century came that great tide of Scotch peoples who renewed and strengthened but did not essentially alter these characteristics of the great mass of the population of colonial North Carolina.
The best contemporary account of the social and industrial life of the colony during the first seventy-five years of its existence is that found in Brickell's "Natural History of North Carolina," published in 1737. The author was a physician and scientist of ability whose residence for several years in the colony gave him ample opportunity for observation. Says he: "The Europians, or Christians of North-Carolina, are a streight, tall, well-limbed and active People. * * * The Men who frequent the Woods, and labour out of Doors, or use the Waters, the vicinity of the Sun makes Impressions on them; but as for the Women who do not expose themselves to the Weather, they are often very faire, and well-featured, as you shall meet with any where, and have very Brisk and Charming Eyes; and as well and finely shaped, as any Women in the world. * * * They marry generally very young, some at Thirteen or Fourteen; and she that continues unmarried, until Twenty, is reckoned a stale maid, which is a very indifferent Character in that Country. * * * The Children * * * are very Docile and apt to learn any thing, as any p186 Children in Europe; and those that have the advantage to be Educated, Write good Hands, and prove good Accountants. * * * The young Men are generally of a bashful, sober Behaviour, few proving Prodigals, to spend what the Parents with Care and Industry have left them, but commonly Improve it. * * * The Girls are not only bred to the Needle and Spinning, but to the Dairy and domestic Affairs, which many of them manage with a great deal of prudence and conduct, though they are very young. * * * The Women are most Industrious in these Parts, and many of them by their good Housewifery make a great deal of Cloath of their Cotton, Wool, and Flax, and some of them weave their own Cloath with which they decently Apparel their whole Family though large. Others are so Ingenious that they make up all the wearing apparel both for Husband, Sons and Daughters. Others are very ready to help and assist their Husbands in any Servile Work, as planting when the Season of the Year requires expedition: Pride seldom banishing Housewifery. * * * The Men are very ingenious in several Handycraft Businesses, and in building their Canoes and Houses * * * Their Furniture, as with us, consists of Pewter, Brass, Tables, Chairs, which are imported here commonly from England: The better sort have tolerable Quantities of Plate, with other convenient, ornamental and valuable Furniture. There are throughout this settlement as good bricks as any I ever met with in Europe. All sorts of handicrafts, such as carpenters, coopers, bricklayers, plasterers, shoemakers, tanners, tailors, weavers, and most other sorts of tradesmen, may with small beginnings, and good industry, soon thrive well in this place and provide good estates and all manner of necessaries for their families."
Land and slaves were then, as they continued to be throughout the South until 1865, the chief form of wealth in Eastern North Carolina. Consequently the growth of towns was very slow and life in the colony was seen at its best on the great estates of the planters scattered along the banks of the rivers and their tributaries. Many of these planters counted from •5,000 and 10,000 acres in their estates, while not a few were lords of princely domains embracing •from 30,000 to 50,000 acres, and were masters of as many as 250 slaves. In 1732 Thomas Pollock of Bertie County devised •22,000 acres of land, besides 10 other plantations, and 75 slaves; Edward Moseley, in 1749, mentioned in his will tracts embracing •30,000 acres, besides three other plantations, and 88 slaves; p187 Thomas Pollock of Chowan County, in 1753, left •40,000 acres and 16 other plantations, and 75 slaves; Governor Gabriel Johnston's estate included more than •25,000 acres and 103 slaves; Cullen Pollock mentioned in his will 150 negroes; while Roger Moore of New Hanover County in 1750 mentioned 250 slaves. The prices of negroes of course varied according to time and the individual negro. In 1694 James Phillpotts of Albemarle County left 6,000 pounds of pork for the purchase of a negro. In 1680 the estate of Valentine Byrd included 12 negroes valued at £310 sterling; in 1695 a negro man and his wife belong to Seth Sothel's estate sold for £40; in 1745 an old negro woman belonging to James Winwright of Carteret County sold for £100, a negro boy for £150, a negro man for £200, and another for £250, these prices probably being reckoned in proclamation money.
The river courses afforded the best sites for plantations not only because of the greater fertility of the bottom lands, but also because of the greater ease of transportation. Brickell tells us that "Both Sexes are very dexterous in paddling and managing their Canoes, both Men, Women, Boys, and Girls, being bred to it from Infancy." At the planter's wharf sloops, schooners, and brigantines were loaded with cargoes of skins, salt pork and beef, tallow, staves, naval stores, lumber, tobacco, corn, rice, and other products of the plantation to be carried away to the West Indies and exchanged for rum, molasses, sugar, and coffee, or to Boston where the proceeds were invested in clothing, household goods, books, and negroes. In 1734, England Salter of Bath, in his will, directs his executors to load his brigantine with tar and send it to Boston to be exchanged for young negroes. In 1753 the exports from North Carolina plantations were 61,528 barrels of tar; 12,052 barrels of pitch; 10,429 barrels of turpentine; 762,000 staves; 61,580 bushels of corn; 100 hogsheads of tobacco, and 30,000 deer skins, besides lumber and other commodities.
On an elevated site overlooking some river and generally approached through a long avenue of oaks, cedars, or poplars, stood the "Manor House," or as the negroes called it the "Big House." Brickell says that in their houses "the most substantial Planters generally use Brick, and Lime, which is made of Oyster-shells; * * * the meaner Sort erect with Timber, the outside with Clap-boards, the Roofs of both sorts of Houses are made with Shingles, and they generally have Sash Windows, and affect large and decent Rooms with good Closets, as they do a most beautiful Prospect by some noble p188 River or Creek." These residences were often characterized by the huge white columns, broad verandas, wide halls, large and spacious rooms, which have become famous as the "colonial" style. Whether of wood or brick all were the seats of unbounded hospitality. John Lawson tells us that "The planters [are] hospitable to all that come to visit them; there being very few housekeepers but what live very nobly and give away more provisions to coasters and guests who come to see them than they expend among their own families." Hospitality to strangers and travelers was regarded as a social duty which the wealthy planters, owing to the absence of inns and comfortable taverns, felt impelled to exercise for the honor of the province. Indeed, upon a lonely plantation, a garrulous traveller or a genial sea-captain who brought news of the outside world, was ever an honored and a welcome guest, for whom the housekeeper brought out her finest silver and china ware, her best linen and her most tempting morsels, while the planter regaled him with the choicest liquid refreshments which his cellar afforded, for as Brickell assures us, "the better Sort, or those of good Œconomy" kept "plenty of Wine, Rum, and other Liquors at their own Houses, which they generally make use of amongst their Friends and Acquaintance, after a most decent and discreet Manner."
Every great plantation was almost a complete community in itself. Each had its own shops, mills, distillery, tannery, spinning wheels and looms, and among the slaves were to be found excellent blacksmiths, carpenters, millers, shoemakers, spinners, and weavers, and other artisans. "The Cloathings used by the Men," Brickell tells us, "are English Cloaths, Druggets, Durois, Green Linen, etc. The Women have their Silks, Calicoes, Stamp-Linen, Calimanchoes, and all kinds of Stuffs, some whereof are Manufactured in the Province. They make few Hats, though they have the best Furrs in plenty, but with this Article, they are commonly supplied from New-England, and sometimes from Europe." In their homes the planters were supplied not only with all the necessities of a pioneer community, but enjoyed many of the comforts and luxuries usually found only in a long established society. An examination of their wills, inventories, and other documents shows among their household furniture an ample supply of those fine old mahogany tables, sideboards, bedsteads, couches, chairs, and desks which excite the envy of modern housekeepers and deplete the purses of modern husbands. That the Carolina housekeeper was prepared to play the hospitable p189 hostess to the most particular guest or the most pompous colonial potentate who might chance to honor her board, is well attested by the excellent silver, china, and glassware which adorned her sideboard. The diamond rings, earrings, necklaces, and other jewelry which the colonial dame passed down as heirlooms to her children and grandchildren show clearly enough from whom the twentieth century dame inherited her love of finery and personal ornaments; while a goodly sprinkling of silver and gold kneebuckles, shoebuckles, and other such trinkets betrays the vanity with which the colonial planter displayed his silk-stockinged calf and shapely foot.
Much of what has been written above applies only to the older communities in East Carolina; some modifications are necessary in describing conditions in the back country. There farms were smaller, agriculture was less dependent upon slave labor, and the land, therefore, was better tilled. Industrial enterprises were more important. With the Scotch-Irish and German settlers industries which the eastern planters usually left to negro slaves were conducted by skilled laborers. Among the most prosperous settlers in those communities were the weavers, joiners, coopers, wheelwrights, wagon-makers, tailors, blacksmiths, hatters, rope-makers, and fullers. The Germans in Wachovia early set up "a number of useful and lucrative manufactures, particularly a very extensive one of earthenware, which they have brought to a great perfection, and supply the whole country with it for •some hundred miles around."4 What Doctor McKelway says of the Scotch-Irish applies also to the Germans in Carolina. Their chief wealth was "in their own capacity to manufacture what they needed. When the goods brought with them began to wear out, the blacksmith built his forge, the weaver set up his loom, and the tailor brought out his goose. A tannery was built on the nearest stream and mills for grinding the wheat and corn were erected on the swift water courses. Saw mills were set up, and logs were turned into plank. The women not only made their own dresses but the material as well, spinning the wool and afterwards the cotton into lindsey and checks and dying it according to the individual taste. * * * In other words the people were an industrial as well as an industrious people."5
p190 They were all farmers who owned a few slaves and as a rule tilled the soil themselves. A traveller who had traversed the entire length of the State from Edenton to Wachovia makes this interesting observation: "The moment I touched the boundary of the Moravians, I noticed a marked and most favorable change in the appearance of buildings and farms; and even the cattle seemed larger, and in better condition. Here, in combined and well-directed effort, all put shoulders to the wheel, which apparently moves on oily springs. We passed in our ride New Garden, a settlement of Quakers from Nantucket. They, too, were exemplary and industrious. The generality of the planters in this State depend upon negro labor and live scantily in a region of affluence. In the possessions of the Moravians and workers all labor is performed by the whites. Every farm looks neat and cheerful; the dwellings are tidy and well furnished, abounding in plenty."6
As a rule the English planters of the East called themselves Churchmen. In 1765 Tryon wrote, "Every sect of religion abounds here except the Roman Catholic, * * * though the Church of England I reckon at present to have the majority of all other sects." Its numerical superiority, however, was not the measure of its influence. The Church in North Carolina paid the penalty of all organizations which enjoy the legal support and patronage of government. Besides those who were Churchmen from religious convictions, the rolls of the Church included others, perhaps even more numerous, who called themselves Churchmen from political, business, or social reasons. Nominally members of the Establishment, they were without serious religious convictions of any sort, and contributed nothing to the real welfare of the Church, to which their membership was rather a hindrance than an aid. On the other hand, those who became members of the dissenting denominations did so from genuine religious convictions and were fired with fervor and zeal in the propagation of their faith. Consequently the religious history of North Carolina in colonial times is of interest and significance less on account of the Established Church than for the growth and contributions of the dissenting denominations.
The royal authorities were even more determined upon a legal establishment than the proprietary authorities had been. It was, indeed, difficult for statesmen of the eighteenth century to think of a monarchy without an established church; the p191 epigram of James I, "No bishop, no king," seemed to them to express the true relation between the Church and the State. Consequently we find that under the royal administration emphatic instructions were issued to each governor commanding him to secure the necessary legislation for the support of the Church. Burrington failed in his efforts, not because of the influence of the dissenting interests, which were small at that time, but because of his utter inability to act harmoniously on any public matter with the representatives of the people. His successor, Johnston, was more successful. In 1739, Johnston reported that there were but two places in the province at which divine services were regularly held, and as a zealous Churchman he lamented "the deplorable and almost total want of divine worship throughout the province," which he thought was "really scandalous" and a reproach which the Assembly "ought to remove without loss of time." The Assembly in 1741, therefore, passed a vestry act which proved, however, to be ineffective. In 1748 Governor Johnston wrote that "a Multitude of children are unbaptized" along the Cape Fear for "the want of a Minister [which] is very sensibly felt in that large District;" while about the same time Rev. James Moir declared that many people were becoming Baptists for lack of clergymen of the Church of England to minister to their religious needs.
In 1754 Governor Dobbs secured a more satisfactory act, but the Crown repealed it by proclamation because it conferred the right of presentation upon the vestries. "This was the beginning," says Doctor Weeks, "of a triangular fight between Dissenters, democratic Churchmen, and supporters of the rights of the Crown. The ecclesiastical history of the next ten years is of interest chiefly because of the stubborn resistance to the enforcement of church laws by the Dissenters, the stubborn determination of the Churchmen to have an establishment with the right of presentation, and the steady opposition of the Crown to both parties."7 The Crown repealed vestry acts passed in 1758, 1760, 1761 and 1762 on the ground that the right of presentation by vestries was "incompatible with the rights of the Crown and the ecclesiastical jurisdiction." These quarrels were of course injurious to the real interest of the Church. They left the clergy without support, and their number began to decrease. In 1764 Dobbs stated that there were only six orthodox clergymen in the p192 colony, "four of which," he added, "are pious and perform their duty." Under Tryon and Martin the situation showed a marked improvement. The number of clergymen increased to eighteen; the vestry act passed in 1764 for five years was renewed in 1768 for another five, and in 1774 for ten years, "the longest existence that ever was allowed to any vestry act in this province." Commenting on this renewal, Rev. James Reed, the missionary of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel at New Bern, said: "I sincerely wish the period had been shorter, or indefinite for there is the greatest probability that in ten years the dissenting interest will be strong enough to carry everything in the Assembly, and that the Vestry Act will then receive its quietus." But the vestry act, and with it the Established Church, was not to receive its "quietus" from the dissenting interests in the Assembly. Both went down along with other monarchical institutions, before the revolutionary movement of 1776, for when the convention of that year came to adopt a constitution for the newly independent state, Churchmen joined with Dissenters in inserting a section prohibiting the "establishment of any one religious Church or Denomination in this State in Preference to any other."
In 1760, Rev. James Reed lamented the fact that a "great number of Dissenters of all denominations" had settled in North Carolina, mentioning especially Quakers, Presbyterians, Baptists and Methodists. First in point of time were the Quakers. Since the visits of Edmundson and Fox to North Carolina, the Quakers had grown rapidly in numbers. Prior to 1700 their efforts were directed chiefly to securing a foothold; their growth came after that date. In the eastern section of the colony it was the result of expansion among the native population, in the back country it was due to immigration. In 1729 Governor Everard attributed the growth of Quakerism to the absence of clergymen of the Established Church. Four years later, Governor Burrington gave another reason, — "the regularity of their lives, hospitality to strangers, and kind offices to new settlers," he wrote, "inducing many to be of their persuasion." To these causes may be added the zeal of their missionaries who in 1729, wrote Everard, were "very busy making Proselytes and holding meetings daily in every Part of this Government." Doctor Weeks records the visits to North Carolina between 1700 and 1729 of seventeen missionaries, three of whom were women.
In 1700 the Society was confined largely to Perquimans and p193 Pasquotank precincts. It began to cross the Albemarle Sound about 1703 and by the middle of the century had planted itself in many of the precincts of Bath County. When the colony was transferred to the Crown, the Quakers were "considerable for their numbers and substance." Under the royal government the Society continued to grow in East Carolina, but not very rapidly. Missionaries came in, held meetings whenever they could secure a group of people, and organized several monthly meetings. Monthly meetings were established in Carteret in 1733, in Dobbs in 1749, and in Northampton in 1760. In Northampton and other counties bordering on Virginia the growth was due chiefly to the overflow from Virginia, but in the other counties it was the natural expansion of the native element. "For as this country was at first settled in a great measure by Baptists and Quakers," wrote William Orr, a missionary of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, in 1742, "so their descendants (though they come to church now and then) yet they still retain, and are more or less under the influence of their Fathers' Principles."
The planting and growth of Quakerism in the back country was due not to expansion from within but to immigration from without. Quaker immigrants, chiefly from Pennsylvania, began to come about 1740 and soon spread over the territory now embraced in Alamance, Chatham, Guilford, Randolph, and Surry counties. They were a strong and healthy race and their presence added to the population of the colony a stable element characterized by thrift, industry and energy. In 1751 the Cane Creek Monthly Meeting was organized in what is now Alamance County. Three years later the famous New Garden Monthly Meeting, the mother of many others, was organized. From New Garden most of the meetings in that section of the State took their rise. Although the Quakers increased in numbers after the transfer of the colony to the Crown, comparatively they lost ground. Says their leading historian, Doctor Weeks: "The promise of an aggressive and rapid growth in the youth of Quakerism was not fulfilled in its maturer years. This promise was particularly clear in North Carolina. During the seventeenth century the records show that the Society in that colony was quietly but steadily extending its outposts and was being strengthened by immigration and conversion. To such an extent was this true, that in 1716 Rev. Giles Rainsford writes to the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel that the 'poor p194 colony of North Carolina will soon be overrun with Quakerism and infidelity if not timely prevented by your sending over able and sober missionaries as well as schoolmasters to reside among them.' But this almost phenomenal growth of the native element ceased soon after the Established Church became well organized. Quakers never played in North Carolina under royal government the part they had played under the government of the Proprietors. * * * The Revolution, like the Civil War, was a time of suffering to the Quakers. Many left their ranks and were disowned to take part in the struggle for liberty, and the Society was much depleted."8
"The Presbyterians," wrote Tryon in 1765, "are settled mostly in the back or westward counties," that is to say in the sections of the colony settled by the Scotch-Irish and Scotch-Highlanders. Presbyterianism as an organized religion was introduced into North Carolina by the Scotch and a brief account of its introduction has been given elsewhere in this volume. The earliest Presbyterian settlements in North Carolina were those made in 1736 on the McCulloh grants in Duplin and New Hanover counties. More than twenty years passed before a Presbyterian clergyman was regularly settled in the colony, but Presbyterian missionaries began to make periodical visits as early as 1742, and in 1744 supplications were sent from North Carolina to the Synod of Philadelphia. In 1755 came Hugh McAden, a truly great missionary, who did more, perhaps, than any other to establish Presbyterianism on a firm foundation in North Carolina. Traversing almost the entire length and breadth of the province, from the Catawba on the west to the Neuse and the Pamlico on the east, from the Roanoke on the north to the Cape Fear on the south, he visited places on the extreme frontier where not only "never any of our missionaries have been," but where the voice of a Christian minister had never before been heard, and preached in private houses, in courthouses, in churches and chapels, under the trees of the forest, wherever, indeed, he could gather two or three together. Scotch, Germans and English, Presbyterians, Lutherans, Quakers and Churchmen, and "irregular" people who knew "but little about the principles of any religion," all flocked eagerly to hear him. He began his great missionary tour in North Carolina on April 3, 1755 and brought it to a close on p195 May 6, 1756, and all along his route left Presbyterian communities firmly established.
As a result of McAden's labors many supplications went up from North Carolina to the Synod of Philadelphia. In 1757 came Rev. James Campbell, the first Presbyterian minister to serve a regular pastorate in North Carolina. He settled on the Cape Fear, a few miles above Cross Creek, where for a decade or more he served three churches. In 1758, Rev. Alexander Craighead, the first Presbyterian minister in Western North Carolina, accepted a call to Sugar Creek Church in what is now Mecklenburg County, and from 1758 to 1766, was the only minister in all the region between the Yadkin and the Catawba. Following McAden, Campbell and Craighead, came Henry Patillo, who in 1765 accepted a call to Hawfields, Eno, and Little River churches in Orange County; David Caldwell, more famous as a teacher than as a preacher, who in 1765 became pastor of Alamance and Buffalo churches in Guilford County; and others scarcely less distinguished in the religious history of North Carolina. In 1776 the Presbyterian churches of the Carolinas had been organized into the Orange Presbytery, with eight members in North Carolina and four in South Carolina. Foote records the names of eight ministers who were then regular pastors of Presbyterian congregations in North Carolina.
Perhaps the most aggressive of the colonial missionaries were those of the Baptist faith. Individual Baptists were found in North Carolina as early as 1695, but whence they came, or in what numbers is not known. The first Baptist congregation organized in the colony was at Shiloh in what is now Camden County. It was organized by Paul Palmer in 1727. Governor Everard writing in 1729, says: "Quakers and Baptists flourish amongst the No. Carolinians * * * owing to the want of Clergymen amongst us. * * * Both Quakers and Baptists in this vacancy are very busy making Proselytes and holding meetings daily in every Part of this Government. * * * when I first came here, there was no Dissenters but Quakers in the Government and now by the means of one Paul Palmer the Baptist Teacher, he has gained hundreds." By this time too Joseph and William Parker had organized the Meherrin Church. Fired with missionary zeal and finding a fertile field for their work, the Baptists pushed it with vigor and success. In 1742 William Sojourner organized the Kehukee Association in Halifax County, and from this center radiated influences which were quickly extended p196 into all the counties along the Roanoke from Bertie and Hertford on the east to Granville on the west, and as far south as Bladen County. In 1775 came Shubal Stearn of Boston, who erected a meeting-house on Sandy Creek in Guilford County. Under Stearn's pastorship the congregation flourished, great crowds coming for many miles and from all directions to hear him preach. Within less than three years the membership of his congregation had grown to more than nine hundred. By 1776 the Baptists had become a power in the colony, having established at least one church in every county. It is estimated that they then had forty congregations with many branches which afterwards developed into independent churches.
The introduction of the German Reformed, the Lutheran, and the Moravian churches into North Carolina was coincident with the coming of German settlers. It is strange that, except the Moravians, none of these German immigrants, although of a deeply religious nature, brought regular pastors with them, and that many years passed before congregations were regularly organized and pastors installed. The Reformed and Lutheran churches were closely allied and many of their early churches were union churches. Missionaries of course came and went, but it was not until 1768 that a regular German Reformed pastor came and not until 1773 that the Lutherans had a regular pastor. In 1768, Rev. Samuel Suther, a Reformed preacher, settled in Mecklenburg County. He was an indefatigable worker and to him is chiefly due the organization of most of the Reformed congregations prior to 1776. The mother churches of the North Carolina Lutherans are St. John's, established in 1768 at Salisbury, Zion, commonly called "Organ Church," on Second Creek in Rowan County, and St. John's, founded in 1771, on Buffalo Creek in what is now Cabarrus County. "The pioneer minister of the Lutheran Church in the province of North Carolina" was Adolphus Nussman, who came thither from Germany in 1773. Nussman was accompanied by J. Gottlieb Arndt who came as a schoolmaster, but on August 22, 1775, at "Organ Church," was ordained to the ministry. He was "the first Lutheran minister ever ordained in North Carolina." Suther, Nussman and Arndt worked in practically the same territory, from Mecklenburg and Rowan on the west to Orange on the east, ministering to Reformed and Lutherans alike. Unlike the other German settlers the Moravians brought ministers with them. First in the list of the twelve brethren who came in p197 1753 to lay the foundations of the colony was Rev. Bernhard Adam Grube. The great obstacle of language, added to their position on the extreme frontier surrounded by the more aggressive Scotch-Irish Presbyterians, prevented the German churches from making any progress in North Carolina beyond the German settlements, so that they never became the force in the province to which their numbers and the character and intelligence of their membership might be thought to entitle them.
The last of the great Protestant denominations to seek a foothold in North Carolina, prior to the Revolution, was the Methodist Church. "The Methodist preacher came not to represent and build up a denomination, because at this time he belonged only to a society in the Church of England, but his mission was to preach the gospel to a lost and dying race."9 The most eminent of this type of the early preachers of Methodism to visit North Carolina was Rev. George Whitfield who came to the colony as early as 1739. Writing from Bath in 1739 he said, "I am here, hunting in the woods, these ungospelized wilds, for sinners." Whitfield made several visits to North Carolina meeting always with a cordial reception from people, clergy and officials. When he preached at New Bern, in 1765, according to Rev. James Reed, who wrote eulogistically of his sermon people "came a great many miles to hear him;" while Governor Tryon declared that his sermon at Wilmington "would have done him honour had he delivered it at St. James' allowing some little alteration of circumstances between a discourse adapted for the Royal Chapel and the Court House at Wilmington." Whitfield, however, was still a communicant of the Church of England, and made no effort to establish a new organization. As early as 1760 there were people in the colony calling themselves Methodists, to whom the missionaries of the Established Church always refer with great bitterness; but Whitfield, during his visit in 1764, declared that they were improperly so called as they were followers neither of himself nor of John Wesley, and none except their followers were properly called Methodists. This view seems to be accepted by the best authorities on the history of Methodism.
The first Methodist preacher to come to North Carolina was Rev. Joseph Pilmoor who had been sent to America by John Wesley. Pilmoor came in 1772 and at Currituck Courthouse, p198 September 28, 1772, had "the honor of preaching the first Methodist sermon in the colony." On his tour through North Carolina he frequently preached in the chapels of the Established Church; and at Brunswick in January, 1773, he preached in St. Philip's Church to "a fine congregation." Pilmoor was followed by Rev. John Williams who, in 1773, organized the first Methodist Society in North Carolina. The following year he organized societies in "a six weeks circuit which extended from Petersburg (Va.) to the south over Roanoke River some distance into North Carolina." The early Methodist pioneers in North Carolina met with remarkable success. In 1775 as a result of their preaching a great revival swept over the northern section of the colony from Bute County eastward. A participant, writing about it, says: "My pen cannot describe the one-half of what I saw, heard, and felt. I might fill a volume on this subject, and then leave the greater part untold." As a result of this revival 683 new members in North Carolina were reported to the Fourth Conference which was held at Baltimore, May 21, 1776, and a North Carolina circuit was established with Edward Dromgoole, Francis Poythress, and Isham Tatum as preachers. As their field of labor was unlimited, they penetrated great portions of the colony, and laid firmly the foundations of Methodism in North Carolina.
By 1775 Churchmen were outnumbered by Dissenters who were a unit in opposition to the Establishment. Besides the principle of the Establishment itself, there were three features which accompanied it in North Carolina that were especially offensive to the dissenting denominations. They were the application of the principles of the Schism Act to North Carolina, the militia laws as they affected ministers of the Gospel, and the marriage law. Although the Schism Act had been repealed in England in 1719, Burrington was instructed to enforce it in North Carolina, and similar instructions were sent to his successors under the royal administration. The governor was to allow no person to come from England "to keep school" in North Carolina "without the license of the Lord Bishop of London," and to see that "no person now there or that shall come from other parts shall be admitted to keep school in North Carolina without your license first obtained." The military laws exempted clergymen of the Established Church from militia duty, but not the ministers of any of the dissenting denominations until 1764 when exemption was extended to Presbyterian clergymen who were "regularly called p199 to any congregation." Both the Schism Act and the exemption features of the militia laws were offensive to Dissenters rather in what they implied than in their actual application. Only three instances are on record of efforts to enforce the former and while these are three too many, there is should not be forgotten in estimating the importance of the Schism Act in our educational history that they were the exceptions and not the rules. The militia laws, too, were too feebly enforced generally to work any hardship in practice on the dissenting clergy.
The case of the marriage law, however, was different. It was a real grievance against which the dissenting clergy justly protested. By an act of 1666 magistrates were permitted to perform the marriage ceremony. The vestry act of 1715 continued this authority to magistrates in parishes where there were no ministers. In 1741 a special marriage law was passed which confined the right to perform the marriage ceremony to clergy of the Established Church, and where no such clergyman were accessible to magistrates. This act chiefly affected the Presbyterians. It appears that in colonial times it was not the practice of Baptist ministers to perform the marriage ceremony. Quakers followed their own customs. The Methodists came too late to be much affected by the act. The Presbyterian clergy protested against the injustice of it, refused to obey it, and performed the marriage ceremony without license or publication of the banns. By 1766 they had grown strong enough to secure a modification of the law. A new act was passed which legalized all marriages performed by Presbyterian clergymen and permitting those who were "regularly called to any congregation" to perform the ceremony. But even this act fell far short of justice, for it required that all fees should be paid to the minister of the Established Church in the parish in which the marriage occurred unless he had refused to act. Bitter protests arose from all dissenting denominations and petitions especially from the Presbyterian congregations, poured in upon the Assembly. In 1770, therefore, the Assembly passed an act granting relief to the Presbyterian clergy only, but the king disallowed it. Relief finally came from the people themselves. One of the ordinances adopted by the Convention of 1776 provided "That all regular ministers of the Gospel of every Denomination having the Cure of Souls shall be empowered to celebrate Matrimony according to the rites and ceremonies of their respective churches."
The history of education is really a part of the history of p200 religion in colonial North Carolina. Among Churchmen and Dissenters alike education was considered one of the functions of the church and most of the early teachers were either preachers or candidates for the ministry. The first attempts to establish schools in North Carolina were made under the patronage of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel; its missionaries "brought with them the first parish or public libraries and its lay readers were the first teachers." Brickell whose work was published in 1737 says that the lack of orthodox clergymen in the colony was "generally supply'd by some School-masters, who read the Lithurgy, and then a Sermon out of Doctor Tillotson, or some good practical Divine, every Sunday. These are the most numerous, and are dispersed through the whole Province." After the purchase of the proprietary interests by the Crown an effort was made, as has already been pointed out, to confine the privilege of teaching to communicants of the Established Church, but fortunately without success. The most recent of the historians of education in North Carolina holds the opinion that in spite of the attempts to apply the Schism Act, "the intellectual and educational life of the colony was somewhat encouraged and assisted" by the establishment of the Church, and there is ample evidence to sustain his view.10 The clergy of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel were the first missionaries of education in North Carolina, and their letters to the Society are filled with earnest and persistent appeals for teachers as well as for preachers.
There were probably schoolmasters in North Carolina prior to 1700, but the first professional teacher here of whom we have any record was Charles Griffin, a lay reader of the Established Church, who came from the West Indies in 1705 and opened a school in Pasquotank County. In 1708 his school was transferred to Rev. James Adams and Griffin removed to Chowan County where he opened a school. Governor William Glover bore testimony to Griffin's "industry" and "unblemished life." Even the Quakers patronized his school; indeed, his association with them was so intimate that he became "tainted" with their principles and finally joined their Society. For this reason, probably, he lost his school in Chowan County; at any rate Rev. William Gordon reported that in 1709 he "settled a schoolmaster [in Chowan], and gave some books for the use of the scholars, which the church-wardens p201 were to see left for that use, in case the master should remove." Another of the early colonial teachers whose name has come down to us was "one Mr. Mashburn who," wrote Rev. Giles Rainsford in 1712, "keeps a school at Sarum on the frontiers of Virginia between the two Governments. * * * What children he has under his care can both write and read very distinctly and gave before me an account of the grounds and principles of the Christian religion that strangely surprised me to hear it." We have abundant evidence that there were other schoolmasters in North Carolina contemporaneously with Griffin and Mashburn but unfortunately their names are unknown.
Although teachers were scarce it would be an error to infer from that fact that the planters were either ignorant or illiterate themselves, or indifferent to the education of their children. In 1716 Governor Eden was of the opinion that if the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel would furnish the teachers "the Inhabitants would willingly pay them the greatest part of their salaries." Evidence in support of his opinion is found in the provisions made by the planters in their wills for the education of their children. "I will," declared Alexander Lillington, in 1697, "that my Executors carry on my Son, John, in his learnings as I have begun, and that All my Children be brought up in Learning, as conveniently can bee." Thomas Bell, in 1733, desired that the profits from his estate be devoted to the education of a niece and nephew, "in as handsome and good a matterº as may be." It was Edward Salter's wish, in 1734, that his son should "have a thorough education to make him a compleat merchant, let the expense be what it will."
In infancy children were taught at home, or in the elementary schools in North Carolina, but for their higher education they were sent to Virginia, New England, and to the English and Scotch Universities. In 1730 George Durant directed that his son "should have as good Learing [learning] as can be had in this Government." Edward Moseley, in 1745, provided for the higher education of his children when it should become time for them to have "Other Education than is to be had from the Common Masters in this Province" adding, "for I would have my Children well Educated." Stephen Lee directed that his son be educated either in Philadelphia or Boston, while John Skinner provided for the education of his son in North Carolina, "or other parts." John Pfifer of Mecklenburg County wished his children "to have a reasonable p202 Education and in particular my said son Paul to be put through a liberal Education and Colleged." When Governor Gabriel Johnston died, in 1752, he left a legacy to a nephew "now at school in Newhaven in the Colony of Connecticut."
In 1721 John Hecklefield desired that his son be educated "after the best thought manner this country will admit." There is ample evidence to show what was "the best thought manner" of education of that day. One of its outstanding features was religious instruction; boys and girls were trained in the teachings of Christianity. On the secular side emphasis was laid on practical or vocational education. William Standid desired his son to be taught "to read, rite, and cifer as far as the rule of three." Joshua Porter directed his executor to "see yt my Son and Daughter may be Carefully learnt to read and write and Cypher, and yt they may be duly Educated." Specific directions were often given for the education of boys in the professions, commerce, and the trades, and girls in household duties. Thus John Baptista Ashe, in 1734, says: "I will that my Slaves be kept at work on my lands, and that my Estate be managed to the best advantage, so as my sons may have as liberal an Education as the profits thereof will afford; and in their Education I pray my Executors to observe this method: Let them be taught to read and write, and be introduced into the practical part of Arithmetick, not too hastily hurrying them to Latin or Grammar, but after they are pretty well versed in these let them be taught Latin and Greek. I propose this may be done in Virginia; After which let them learn French, perhaps Some French man at Santee will undertake this; when they are arrived to years of discretion Let them study the Mathematicks. To my Sons when they arrive at age I recommend the pursuit and study of Some profession or business (I could wish one to ye Law, the other to Merchandize,) in which Let them follow their own inclinations. I will that my daughter be taught to write and read and some feminine accomplishments which may render her agreable; And that she be not kept ignorant of what appertains to a good house wife in the management of household affairs."
There were, of course, no free public schools, but the education of the poor, and especially of orphans was provided for in the apprenticeship system which the colonies inherited from England. Masters and guardians were required to give their wards the "rudiments of learning," and to teach them a p203 trade or occupation. In 1695 the General Court of Albemarle County bound an orphan, "being left destitute," to Thomas Harvey, "the said Thomas Harvey to teach him to read;" and in 1698 another orphan was bound to Harvey and his heirs "they Ingagen to Learn him to Reed." The minutes of the court are full of such entries. The guardian, or master, was required to enter into bond for the faithful performance of his duty. There are also instances of legacies being left for the education of the poor. In 1710 John Bennett of Currituck directed "that forty Shillings be taken out of my whole Estate before any devesion be made to pay for ye Schooling of two poor Children for one whole year;" and that if he should fail of heirs, his estate "to remaine and bee for ye use and bennefitt of poor Children to pay for their Schooling and to remaine unto ye world's End." Since, however, there was no failure of heirs, the legacy never became available for educational purposes. Two more famous legacies to education were those of James Winwright of Carteret County, 1744, and James Innes of New Hanover, 1754. Winwright left the "yearly Rents and profits of all the Town land and Houses in Beaufort Town," after the death of his wife, to be used "for the encouragement of a Sober discreet Quallifyed Man to teach a School at least Reading Writing Vulgar and Decimal Arithmetick" in the town of Beaufort, and set aside £50 sterling "to be applyed for the Building and finishing of a Creditable House for a School and Dwelling house for the Master." Unfortunately so far as known no school was ever established on the Winwright foundation. Better use was made of the Innes legacy. Colonel Innes left his plantation called Pleasant Point, "Two negero Young Woomen, One Negero Young Man and there Increase," a large number of hogs, cattle and horses, his books, and £100 sterling "For the Use of a Free School for the benefite of the Youth of North Carolina." The legacy did not become available for educational purposes until after the Revolution. In 1783 the Assembly chartered the Innes Academy in Wilmington.
A marked impulse was given to education by the coming of the Scotch-Irish and Germans. In every community where they settled a church and a schoolhouse sprang up almost simultaneously with the settlement. The German schools were taught by teachers who came from Germany and in the German language. Among the Scotch-Irish the influence of Princeton College was strong. Many of their religious leaders, and such lay leaders as Alexander Martin, Waightstill Avery, Samuel Spencer, Ephraim Brevard, Adlai Osborne, p204 and William R. Davie, were Princeton graduates. To the Scotch North Carolina owes the establishment of her first classical schools, the development of which was so marked a feature of the educational history of the State during the first half of the nineteenth century. In 1760, Rev. James Tate, a Presbyterian clergyman, opened at Wilmington Tate's Academy, the first classical school in North Carolina. During the same year, Crowfield Academy, said to have been the beginning of Davidson College, was founded in Mecklenburg County. The most noted of this class of schools was Rev. David Caldwell's school, founded near the present site of Greensboro in 1767. For many years, this famous "log college," with an average annual enrolment of between fifty and sixty students, was the most important institution of learning in North Carolina, serving, as has been said, "as an academy, a college, and a theological seminary."
It was in connection with the establishment of an institution of higher learning, under the auspices of the Presbyterians, that occurred the most notable of the efforts to enforce the Schism Act in North Carolina. In January, 1771, the Assembly, acting upon the recommendation of Governor Tryon, incorporated at Charlotte a school for higher learning called Queen's College. It was designed to enable such of the young of the colony who had "acquired at a Grammar School a competent knowledge of the Greek, Hebrew, and Latin Languages, to imbibe the principles of Science and virtue, and to obtain under learned, pious and exemplary teachers in a collegiate or academic mode of instruction a regular or finished education in order to qualify them for service of their friends and Country." The college was authorized to confer degrees. For its endowment a tax was levied on all spirituous liquors sold in Mecklenburg County for ten years. Since its patronage and support would come chiefly from Presbyterians, all the incorporators, except two, were of that faith, but to forestall anticipated opposition in England, the president was required to be a member of the Church of England. In return for the timely aid he had received from the Presbyterian clergy and laity alike in the War of the Regulation, Tryon earnestly urged the king's approval of the act; but the Board of Trade, while commending the principle of religious toleration, questioned whether the king ought "to add Incouragement to toleration by giving the Royal Assent to an Establishment, which in its consequences, promises great and permanent Advantages to a sect of Dissenters p205 from the Established Church who have already extended themselves over that Province in very considerable numbers." The Board, therefore, advised that the act be disallowed, and the king vetoed it April 22, 1772. A year passed, however, before his action was certified to the governor, Josiah Martin, who had succeeded Tryon, and in the meantime Queen's College had opened its doors to students. In spite of the royal disallowance, it continued its work without a charter until the king's approval to acts of the North Carolina legislature was no longer necessary. In 1777 the General Assembly granted another charter in which the institution's name was changed from Queen's College to Liberty Hall.
Almost without exception these efforts to promote education were made by the church. Except its efforts through the established Church, the colonial government did practically nothing for education. Governor Gabriel Johnston and Governor Arthur Dobbs both urged upon the Assembly the importance and duty of making "provision for the education of youth," but the Assembly did nothing until 1745 when it passed an act for the erection of a schoolhouse at Edenton which, however, was never built. Bills for the establishment of free schools introduced in 1749 and in 1752 failed of passage. Finally in 1754 the Assembly appropriated £6,000 for the purpose of building a school, but afterwards used the money for the support of the French and Indian War. In 1759, and again in 1764, Governor Dobbs petitioned the Board of Trade to permit an issue of paper money to replace this fund, and the Assembly, in 1759, requested that some of the money appropriated by Parliament to reimburse the colony for its expenditures in the war might be used for establishing free schools, but both requests were refused. The only legislation that bore any practical results were acts passed in 1766 incorporating an academy at New Bern and in 1770 incorporating an academy at Edenton. However, the agitation of these years in behalf of education had good results. Its fruit is seen in Section XLI of the Constitution of 1776, the foundation of our public school system of today, which provides: "That a school or schools be established by the Legislature, for the convenient Instruction of youth, with such Salaries to the Masters, paid by the Public as may enable them to instruct at low prices; and all usefull Learning shall be duly encouraged and promoted in one or more Universities."
Two other indications of the intellectual standards of the p206 people were the extent and character of their libraries and the position of the press among them. The first libraries were brought to the colony by the missionaries of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel. They consisted chiefly of religious and doctrinal books, intended primarily for the instruction of the people in the orthodox faith. About 1705, Rev. Thomas Bray established a free public library at Bath. The books were so carelessly kept that in 1715 the Assembly passed an act "for the more effectual preservation of the same." In 1728 Edward Moseley offered the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel a free public library for Edenton, but no evidence exists that his offer was accepted, and the books probably remained in his private library. James Innes left his library to the free school which he had endowed under his will. In the home of nearly every planter were to be found small libraries of good books. Their wills and inventories from early times show the existence of many such libraries numbering from 25 and 50 volumes to more than 500. Edward Moseley's library inventoried 400 volumes, Jeremiah Vail's 230, Dr. John Eustace's 292, Rev. James Reed's 266, James Milner's 621. There were many others similar to these. The library begun by Governor Gabriel Johnston and continued by his nephew Samuel Johnston at "Hayes" was probably the largest and most important library in the colony, containing more than 1,000 volumes. Most of the books in these libraries were treatises on theology, moral philosophy, law, history, and medicine and were in Greek, Latin, Hebrew, German and French, as well as in English. In them were Xenophon, Homer, Ovid, Horace, Virgil, Sallust, Juvenal, Caesar, Puffendorf, Grotius, Coke, Blackstone, Montesquieu, Shakespeare, Milton, Pope, Dryden, Gray, Voltaire, Bacon, Swift, Steele, Addison, Bunyan, Plutarch's "Lives," "The Complete Angler," Locke "On the Human Understanding," "Antidote Against Popery," "Tristram Shandy," "Tom Jones," "Letters of Abilard," Raleigh's "History of the World," The Spectator, The Tatler, The Annual Register, and many other similar works, all testifying to "a degree of culture not often believed to have existed in North Carolina in the eighteenth century."11
The press was late in coming to North Carolina and until long after the Revolution its influence was negligible; indeed, except Georgia, North Carolina was the last of the thirteen p207 colonies to receive the printing press. The absence of towns, the diffusion of the population over a vast territory, the lack of a regular post and means of communication, and, finally, the small demand for books and periodicals among the people generally made the maintenance of a press too precarious to invite capital. There was no popular demand for newspapers and except for the public printing there was not enough business in the colony to support a printing establishment. The first press in the colony, therefore, was set up and sustained by the patronage of the General Assembly. In 1749, in order to secure the printing of a revision of the laws, the Assembly chose James Davis public printer at an annual salary of £160 proclamation money, and gave him a copyright on all government publications. Accordingly Davis set up his press at New Bern and began work June 24, 1749. In 1751 he issued Swann's Revisal, so called because Samuel Swann was chairman of the commission which prepared it, the first book published in North Carolina. Because of the yellowish hue of the parchment in which it was bound it became popularly known as "The Yellow Jacket." During his career as public printer, which extended over a period of thirty-three years, Davis issued several other revisions of the laws. In 1753 he published Clement Hall's "Collection of Christian Experiences," which is "the first book or pamphlet so far as known to be compiled by a native of North Carolina."12
Davis was also the father of journalism in North Carolina. There was, of course, no popular demand for newspapers in the colony. Among the planters along the Cape Fear, The South Carolina Gazette, which had a correspondent at Brunswick, had a small circulation, while The Virginia Gazette served those along the Roanoke. It was published on Thursdays and bore the imprint: "Newbern: Printed by James Davis, at the Printing-Office in Front-street; where all persons may be supplied with this paper at Sixteen shillings per Annum: And where Advertisements of moderate length are inserted for Three Shillings the first week, and Two shillings for every week after. And where also Book-binding is done reasonably." The Gazette was published for six years when it was suspended. In 1764 Davis began to issue the North Carolina Magazine, or Universal Intelligencer. How long this new p208 venture continued is not known. In 1768 The Gazette was revived and continued for a decade. It was again suspended in 1778 because the printer's son, who was his chief reliance in the business, had been drafted into the army.
The right of appointment of a public printer was one of the political issues in dispute between the governor and the Assembly. In 1764, on account of charges of neglect of duty brought by Dobbs against Davis, the Assembly appointed a committee to secure another public printer, and this committee induced Andrew Steuart of Philadelphia to come to North Carolina. But the bill to appoint a public printer was defeated in the Council, whereupon Governor Dobbs appointed Steuart "his Majesty's printer." The House of Commons took umbrage at this exercise of prerogative, declared that it knew of "no such office as his Majesty's printer," and denounced the appointment of Steuart as an act "of a new and unusual nature unknown to our laws" and "a violent stretch of power." It accordingly voted £100 to Steuart as compensation for his trouble and expense in coming to North Carolina and re-appointed Davis public printer. Steuart, who was the second printer in the province, settled at Wilmington where in September, 1764, he began the publication of The North Carolina Gazette and Weekly Post Boy. It had but a brief existence being suspended in 1767. The chief incident of interest in its history occurred during the resistance to the Stamp Act on the Cape Fear when the Cape Fear patriots compelled Steuart to issue his paper without the stamps required by law, a skull and bones appearing in the margin with the legend, "This is the Place to affix the Stamp."
In 1769 Steuart was drowned in the Cape Fear River and his press was purchased by Adam Boyd. This "third and last of the pre-Revolutionary printers," says Doctor Weeks, "was not a printer at all. He was what we should call in this day a publisher."13 In 1769 Boyd began the publication of The Cape Fear Mercury which he continued to issue until well into the year 1775. The Mercury is perhaps the most famous of the pre-Revolutionary papers of North Carolina because of its connection with the famous Mecklenburg Declaration controversy. On August 8, 1775, Governor Josiah Martin declared in his "Fiery Proclamation" that he had "seen a most infamous publication in The Cape Fear Mercury importing to p209 be resolves of a set of people stiling themselves a Committee for the County of Mecklenburg most traiterously declaring the entire dissolution of the Laws Government and Constitution of this country," and it was long thought that if a copy of this issue of The Mercury could be found it would settle the controversy by proving the authenticity of the Declaration of May 20th; but when a copy was finally discovered it was found to contain the Resolves of May 31st. The Mercury suspended publication soon after this issue.
1 Bruce: Social Life of Virginia in the Seventeenth Century, pp105‑108.
2 University Address, 1855.
3 Old Virginia and Her Neighbours, Vol. II, p316.
4 Smyth: A Tour in the United States of America, Vol. I, p214.
5 The Scotch-Irish in North Carolina. (N. C. Booklet, Vol. IV, No. 11, pp15‑16.)
6 Watson, Elkanah: Men and Times of the Revolution, p293.
7 Church and State in North Carolina, pp32‑33.
8 Southern Quakers and Slavery, pp124‑25.
9 Grissom: History of Methodism in North Carolina, Vol. I, p24.
10 Knight: Public School Education in North Carolina, p5.
11 Knight: Public School Education in North Carolina, p11.
12 Weeks: The Pre-Revolutionary Printers of North Carolina (N. C. Booklet, Vol. XV, No. 2, p112).
13 Pre-Revolutionary Printers of North Carolina (N. C. Booklet, Vol. XV, No. 2, p116).
a The affirmation should probably be tempered: see "British Convicts Shipped to American Colonies", Am. Hist. Rev., II.12‑33.
b This common opinion is an old one. Joachim Murat, in America and the Americans (New York, 1849), wrote: "North Carolina is a bad imitation of Virginia. Its interest and politics are the same, and it navigates in its own waters." [As quoted in Macartney and Dorrance, The Bonapartes in America, p140.]
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