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North Carolina and the American Revolution

North Carolinians reacted strongly to British taxation and reorganization schemes introduced in 1763. The Stamp Act and the Townshend Acts drew the growing radical element's ire in particular and led to the emergence of a Sons of Liberty group. Pressure was exerted on colonial officials in the colony, which forced them to abandon efforts to implement the Stamp Act; only the royal governor held firm and attempted to enforce the law. North Carolina responded to the Tea Act of 1773 by creating and enforcing Nonimportation Agreements that forced merchants to drop trade with Britain. In the following year, when Massachusetts was punished by Parliament for the destruction of a shipload of tea in Boston Harbor, sympathetic North Carolinians sent food and other supplies to its beleaguered northern neighbor. North Carolina governor Josiah Martin opposed his colony’s participation in the First Continental Congress. However, local delegates met at New Bern and adopted a resolution that opposed all Parliamentary taxation in the American colonies and, in direct defiance of the governor, elected delegates to the Congress. During the War for Independence, the opposing sides in North Carolina took on the name of English Parliamentary parties. The "Whigs" were the patriot side and the "Tories" were the Loyalists. Tory forces were defeated in the Battle of Moore's Creek Bridge in February 1776, the first military action in North Carolina and the last until near the end of the war. A provincial assembly met in Halifax in late 1776 and adopted a state constitution and bill of rights, which were notable for the establishment of a strong legislature and weak executive — clearly a reaction to their recent history under royal governors. Soldiers from North Carolina did see action in neighboring Virginia, South Carolina and Georgia. In March 1781, American forces under General Nathanael Green defeated Lord Cornwallis' forces at Guilford Courthouse, which forced the British to vacate the Carolinas.

See timeline of the American Revolution and North Carolina.