North Carolina History Timeline

Important Dates, Events, and Milestones in North Carolina History

Offers a chronological timeline of important dates, events, and milestones in North Carolina history.

The first Native Americans cross into North America from Siberia 12,000 to 10,000 years ago. The first permanent settlements appear around 1000 BCE. Approximately 30 Native American tribes are scattered across the area now known as North Carolina. The Iroquois inhabit the mountains in the western part of the state, the Sioux live in the central piedmont area, and the Algonquin live in the southern tidewater area.

One of the original 13 colonies, North Carolina was the first state to instruct its delegates to vote for independence from the British crown during the Continental Congress.

16th Century North Carolina History Timeline

1524 - Giovanni da Verrazano explores the Carolina coast for France.

1540 - Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto explores the southwestern part of the state in search of gold.

1584-1585 - Sir Walter Raleigh sends several shiploads of people to establish the New World's first English colony on North Carolina's Roanoke Island.

1586 - The colonists are forced to return to England due to hardships.

1587 -

  • July 2 - John White establishes a second English colony at Roanoke.
  • August 18 - Virginia Dare is born, becoming the first English child christened on American soil.
  • August 22 - White returns to England for more supplies.

1590 - White returns to Roanoke to find that the settlers have all disappeared. The word "CROATOAN" is found carved into a tree. The fate of "The Lost Colony" remains one of the state's most enduring mysteries.

17th Century North Carolina History Timeline

1655 - Nathaniel Batts becomes the first European man to permanently settle in North Carolina.

18th Century North Carolina History Timeline

1705 - Bath, the first town in North Carolina, is built.

1711-1713 - The Tuscarora War between Native Americans and European settlers. After two years of fighting a number of military expeditions, the Tuscarora ended the war, marking the last significant effort by eastern Indians to stop the wave of white settlers crowding them out of their land.

1718 - Blackbeard the pirate is killed off the North Carolina coast.

1729 - North Carolina becomes a royal English colony

1767-1770 - Tryon Palace is built in New Bern, becoming North Carolina's colonial capitol building.

1774 - The women of Edenton, led by Penelope Barker, take on British rule by putting down their tea cups in what becomes known as the Edenton Tea Party.

1776 -

  • February 27 - Whigs defeat the Tories the Battle of Moores Creek Bridge is the first battle of the American Revolution to be fought in North Carolina.
  • April 12 - North Carolina becomes the first state to vote in favor of independence.

1789 -

  • November 21 - North Carolina becomes the 12th state of the United States of America.
  • December 11 - The University of North Carolina is chartered, becoming the first public school in the United States.

1794 - The capital of North Carolina, which had previously been located in New Bern, is moved to Raleigh.

1795 - Univ. of North Carolina becomes the nation's first state university

1799 - The first gold nugget is found in the United States at Reed Gold Mine in Cabarrus County.

19th Century North Carolina History Timeline

Early 1800s -North Carolina becomes known as the "Rip Van Winkle" state because it makes so little progress that it appears to be asleep.

1804 -The "Walton War" is fought between residents of Georgia and North Carolina.

1828 - North Carolina Native Andrew Jackson becomes the 7th president of the United States.

1830s - The US government forces Cherokee Indians from their homes in what becomes known as the "Trail of Tears." Many Cherokee hide in the mountains of North Carolina.

1831 - Workmen attempting to fireproof the roof of the State Capitol ironically end up setting the building aflame.

1836 -After years of having governors elected by the state senate, Edward B. Dudley becomes the first popularly elected governor of North Carolina.

1840 -

  • The first public schools open in North Carolina, based on a plan that had been drafted in 1817.
  • The new State Capitol is completed.

1845 - James Polk becomes the 11th president of the United States.

1853 - The first North Carolina State Fair is held.

1861 - May 20 - North Carolina leaves the Union. Instead of voting to secede from the United States, as other states did, North Carolina voted to "undo" the act that had brought it into the United States.

1861-1865 -The United States Civil War. Some 40,000 North Carolinians are killed over the course of the war.

1865 -

  • March 19-21 - The Battle of Bentonville becomes the bloodiest battle fought in North Carolina. The Confederates are defeated by Union troops.
  • April 26 - A large number of Confederates surrender at Bennett Place, outside of Durham, North Carolina.
  • May 6 - The last Confederate troops in North Carolina surrender.
  • April 15 - Andrew Johnson becomes the 17th president of the United States.

1866 - Tuscarora Indian Henry Berry Lowrie leads a revolt in Robeson County, becoming a folk hero to many Native Americans. Six years later, he mysteriously disappears.

1868 - July 4 - North Carolina is readmitted to the Union.

1877 -

  • The last federal reoccupation troops leave North Carolina.
  • The North Carolina Department of Agriculture is created.

1878 - A Cherokee reservation is formed in Western North Carolina, providing protection for those Native Americans who lived in that area.

Late 1800s - The textile and furniture industries grow rapidly in North Carolina.

1897 - The first bill to give women the right to vote in North Carolina is proposed, but is sent to a committee on insane asylums and is never passed.

20th Century North Carolina History Timeline

1903 - The Wright brothers make man's first successful flight at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.

1917 - The United States enters World War I.

1918 - Fort Bragg is established.

1920 - The 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution passes, giving women the right to vote across the country, including in North Carolina.

1920s - Tobacco becomes an important crop in North Carolina.

1929 - The Great Depression begins.

1941 - The United States enters World War II.

1943 - Pembroke State College for Indians (now UNC-Pembroke) becomes the nation's first public four-year college for Native Americans.

1954 -Hurricane Hazel, one of the most destructive hurricanes in state history, batters the Carolina coast.

1959 - Research Triangle Park opens in between Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill, ushering in an era of high-tech growth in North Carolina.

1950s-1960s - The Civil Rights Movement.

1960 -

  • Governor Terry Sanford starts his "Go Forward" program to improve education in North Carolina.
  • February 1 - The first ever sit-in occurs in Greensboro, North Carolina, to protest segregation at a lunch counter. Within days, sit-ins are occurring across the state.

1960s - The North Carolina Fund, established by Governor Sanford, works to end poverty in North Carolina and becomes a model for programs across the nation.

1965-1973 - Vietnam War.

1989 - Hurricane Hugo strikes North Carolina, reaching as far inland as Charlotte, and doing major damage.

1993 -The Smart Start program to improve school readiness begins. The program is looked upon as a national model.

1994 -The Raleigh-Durham area of North Carolina is ranked as the best place to live in the United States.

1996 -Hurricane Fran strikes North Carolina, causing massive damage across the state.
Governor Jim Hunt is re-elected to a record 4th term.
Elaine F. Marshall becomes the first female to be elected Secretary of State in North Carolina.

1999 -Hurricane Floyd slams into North Carolina, bringing with it flood waters that devastate many areas in the eastern part of the state.

21st Century North Carolina History Timeline

2003 - Police arrested Olympic bombing suspect, Eric Robert Rudolph, in Murphy

2005 - State legislature voted implementation of state lottery

2006 -

  • North Carolina Hurricanes won hockey's Stanley Cup;
  • 17,000 people evacuated after explosion at chemical plant near Apex

2009 - Seven people in North Carolina charged with plotting terror attacks in foreign countries, including Israel and Jordan

2010 - Duke University won NCAA Championship

2011 - Huricane Irene made landfall in North Carolina

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