Saturday, January 14, 2017

In his May 1, 1861 message to the North Carolina General Assembly, Governor John Ellis of referred to the “Northern Government” and that “they have drawn the sword against us and are now seeking our blood. They have promised to partition our property and the earnings of our people among the mercenary soldiers after our subjugation shall be effected. All fraternity of feeling is lost between us and them. We can no longer live with them. There must be a separation at once and forever.”
Bernhard Thuersam,   The Great American Political Divide

“In Defense of Their Traditional Liberties”

“Although North Carolina had soon after the adoption of the Federal constitution taken steps to prevent the importation of Negroes, not only from abroad but from any other State, yet in the progress of time the system of slavery became strongly engrafted on her social structure, and the agitation of slavery question excited her people greatly.

Periodically this agitation stirred the people and animated them to maintain with steadfastness the right to manage their own domestic, local concerns in their own way.

At length when it was declared that an “irrepressible conflict” had arisen, and that the “Union could not exist half slave and half free,” it came to be regarded that the limitations of the Federal constitution were no longer to be observed, and that the abolition party would seek to abolish slavery. This led South Carolina and other commonwealths to the South to withdraw from the Union.

The question of holding a convention for the purpose of withdrawing was submitted to the people of North Carolina in the spring of 1861, but so conservative were they and so attached to the Union, that they separated themselves from their Southern brethren and refused to call the convention. The difference between the votes was, however, small — only about 250 in the poll of the entire State.

Such was the situation, when in April 1861, Fort Sumter was bombarded and President Lincoln called on North Carolina to furnish her quota of troops to coerce the seceding States. These events changed the aspect of affairs in North Carolina instantaneously. All differences ceased.

Union men, who, like George E. Badger, did not hold to the right of secession, united now in the declaration that North Carolinians must [now] share in the fortunes of their Southern kindred. Then amid the excitement of that period came the rapid preparations for the inevitable conflict — the marshaling of troops, the formation of armies, the strenuous endeavors to equip and maintain our citizen [soldiers] and make defense of our unprotected coast.

Never was there a finer display of patriotic ardor; never did peaceable ploughboys more quickly assume the character of veteran soldiers. It was if a common inspiration possessed the souls of all the people and animated them to die, if need be, in defense of their traditional liberties.

During the four years of strife that followed, the people of North Carolina bore themselves with an unparalleled heroism. With a voting population of 112,000, North Carolina sent to the army 125,000 soldiers.

Strenuous efforts were made to provide food for the soldiers and the poor, and while salt works were erected along the sea coast, vast quantities of cards were imported for the women to use at home, and other supplies were brought through the blockade.

[Life then] was accompanied, however, by straits and hardships, suffering and mourning, the separation from husbands and fathers from their families and the pall of death that fell upon every household. What awful experiences were crowded into four years of heroic and grand sacrifice — how trying the vicissitudes, how calamitous the dire result!”

(Cyclopedia of Eminent and Representative Men of the Carolinas of the 19th Century, Volume II, Brant & Fuller, 1892, pp. 35-36)


  1. I reckon the average person today is unaware that slavery in America began in Jamestown, Virginia as the result of a court decision in 1654, with the very first slave, John Casor, and the very first slave owner, Anthony Johnson, both being black men from Africa, who arrived together on the same ship, which was bound for South America before it was intercepted on the high seas by the English.

    My own ancestors, John Trueblood and Agnes Fisher, were Quakers who emigrated from London, England to North Carolina in 1682.

    My ancestors in North Carolina did own slaves, but when the Society of Friends (i.e., the "Quakers") ruled that all Quakers must immediately free their slaves or forfeit their Quaker membership, then many of my ancestors moved to Southern Indiana, fearing that releasing their slaves in North Carolina would subject them to kidnapping, enslavement, and possible inhumane treatment from their new slavemasters.

    Some of my Quaker ancestors in Southern Indiana then helped operate the Underground Railroad, which included assisting a mysterious white escaped slave boy who never spoke.

    When President Lincoln ordered the invasion of the South, the people in Southern Indiana were so outraged that they threatened to also secede from the Union, but were prevented from doing so when Union troops were sent to Kentucky.

    In the final days of the War Between the States, one of my Quaker ancestors still living in North Carolina, Jonathan Trueblood, an elderly farmer, was conscripted into the Senior Reserves of the Confederate Army, and assigned to a unit which guarded prisoners of war.

    His unit was in the last major conflict of the war, the Battle of Bentonville, North Carolina, and he was present at the surrender of General Joseph Eggleston Johnston.

    His son, William (also my direct ancestor), went to Illinois and joined the Union Army, serving in a Mounted Infantry unit.

    They both survived the war and were reunited afterwards in Illinois, where they are presently buried.