Saturday, December 18, 2010
England's Positive Influence on North Carolina
What was it in 1733 that happened, you may ask?
There was a port city on the Cape Fear River in 1733 that was in the deepest part of that river and served England's mercantile purposes quite well. No, that port was not Wilmington. Wilmington did not exist as yet. This older port cannot be seen today... there are nothing but ballast stone foundations of former homes there now, not even visible from the river. However, one home does still exist near that old port. It is now a tourist attraction famous for its beautiful gardens.
Where there are now gorgeous flowers, there once were fields of rice, tended by as many as 250 slaves. These slaves were owned by one man from South Carolina. But, he wasn't the only South Carolinian to live in the Lower Cape Fear. He had lots of family there, too. Brothers, sisters and their families, all ostentatious South Carolinians that looked damned uppity to our North Carolina ancestors. Uppityness was essentially a British trait of the eighteenth century. According to historian Keith Wrightson, author of English Society, 1580-1680, this was a disassociation of "polite and plebian cultures." Uppityness was even more pronounced in the 18th century and when Carolina was founded in 1663 than during Elizabethan times. South Carolina, as the "King's favorite" Carolina, engendered more uppity folks than North Carolina.
Actually, many North Carolinians today are the descendants of these uppity South Carolinians. Since British administration affected both North and South Carolina about the same time, the uppity folks stayed in the Lower Cape Fear, even after their initial settlement failed.
Why did it fail? Well, South Carolinians always believed that the boundary between the colonies was the Cape Fear River. So, when they moved onto its western bank in 1726, they felt like the territorial dispute might give their settlement an advantage. You see, Cape Fear was also as far away from Charleston as it was from Edenton (the early capital of North Carolina). In fact, the Lower Cape Fear region was literally the "boonies" between the two Carolinas in 1726-1733. These visitors decided to build a new colony, "A New Settlement calld Cape Fear, bounding on this and on North Carolina, but under neither, nor any Government." British authorities clearly saw this as a problem. That quote came from a South Carolinian priest writing to his SPG superiors in London.
Governor James Moore of South Carolina was known around the Empire as the infamous Indian slave trader of the early eighteenth century. He not only appeared "uppity" to British officials, but downright dangerous, too. He led expeditions against Spain's St. Augustine and other parts of Florida to scoop up more Indian slaves, on the pretense of defying Spain's dominance of America. He cared much more for personal profit than English needs.
It was his sons and daughters who founded Brunswick Town in 1726 and the illegal "Brunswick Settlement" on the Cape Fear River in present-day North Carolina. His descendants still live in the Lower Cape Fear today. Of course, their original settlement of Brunswick is completely gone today, a result of a British police action in 1733 that resulted in the replacement town of Wilmington. Wilmington did not lie in a deep portion of the river and accessible to British shipping. In fact, many ships had to be offloaded at Brunswick and a nearby island before proceeding to Wilmington. Still, after 1733, every aspect of British government left Brunswick and moved to the new town of Wilmington.
The owner of that slave plantation was "King" Roger Moore, credited with "running off" the Cape Fear Indians to build their empire. His brother, Maurice founded Brunswick Town on their land. Together, they formed the Family, along with family friend and former employee of Gov. James Moore, the controversial Edward Moseley. These men all married sisters and their family to form this generational empire. It took nothing short of a revolution to oust them from their throne.
[Two of my works treat Edward Moseley and his early history in London. Both papers are free as downloads.]
Still, North Carolina always told the tale from the standpoint of local pride. According to decades of historiography, North Carolinians founded Wilmington and developed the unique American ideals that led to the revolution in 1776. Maurice Moore Jr and many other Jrs of the Family (now living as prominant citizens of Wilmington) joined in that Revolution and became famous for their service. Still, it was Moore descendants who later led the only coup d'etat EVER in American history when they took back Wilmington from the "Black Republicans" in 1898. Alfred Moore Waddell, gg-grandson of Brunswick founder, Maurice Moore, stated that he would "choke the Cape Fear with carcasses" to achieve his uppity aims and he did exactly what he promised. [American history officially starts in 1776, remember. Otherwise, 1733 might be considered the first and both happened in the same area.]
This is the true story of Wilmington and that beautiful Orton plantation on the west bank of the Cape Fear River. This story was never told. It was not favorable to our state at the time. This is only a small sample of how history has been skewed to support a political agenda. Truth is whatever is told the loudest and the longest. If you want to read the details, CLICK HERE. If you download it, it's free. It was my pleasure to bring you the truth.
The development of Wilmington as opposed to Brunswick Town allowed for settlement to continue since the Family bought up over 105,000 acres of the most coveted land in the region and kept it for their plantations, rarely selling bits of it to anyone outside the Family. If this had not happened the way it did, our history might have been radically different. Wilmington was the only viable port in our state until roads became the dominant form of transportation over the rivers. The Cape Fear was still quite important as a "highway" throughout history and even today. England made our state what it is and they have seldom been given any credit at all. When you get a chance, say thank you to Thomas Pelham-Holles, the Duke of Newcastle and the former Secretary of the Southern Department who made Wilmington possible. Even though the Family again usurped the Lower Cape Fear anyway, later colonial governors made it damned difficult for them to regain full control. If anything, the American Revolution gave the Family a new start... allowed them to usurp the Lower Cape Fear again and to elevate criminals like Edward Moseley to hero status. The Race Riot of 1898 shows that they still held power over that region. They still do.