The American Revolution in North Carolina

North Carolina Counties - 1783

NC Counties 1775 to 1777

NC Counties 1777 to 1779

Since life was relatively quiet in North Carolina during 1779 - just before the British refocused their efforts from the North to the South, there was a great influx of people crossing the Great Smoky Mountains seeking greener pastures and to get away from the depredations of the Loyalists in the eastern sections of the country.

Over the next four years, these newcomers steadily encroached into the lands of the Cherokee and the Chickamauga Indians, taking what land they wanted and causing new frictions between whites and natives. Tensions erupted into new hostilities on both sides, yet the natives knew that they were fighting a losing battle. When the British finally withdrew from the state in late 1781 the natives no longer had an ally to put pressure on their "elder brothers" (the white man). All during these four years, the encroachers lobbied the state government for a new county and equal representation.

In May of 1782, the General Assembly agreed to split the Salisbury District and create a new Morgan District. Since the primary town was named Morgantown, most folks called the district the Morgantown District, so both names will be found in records.

In late 1782, word came to North Carolina that the Crown was seriously considering a peace treaty with the Americans, and by December of that year the British even evacuated Charleston, SC. Savannah, GA had been liberated earlier, and now there were no enemy soldiers on Southern soil. The populace could begin to look to the future in a more positive light, so their thoughts quickly turned to.... "how the heck are we gonna pay for this long and bloody war?"

The Southern states were in a somewhat enviable situation in the fact that they had unsettled lands on their western borders - which allegedly went as far west as the Mississippi River - and of course many claimed these extended to the Pacific Ocean. The Continental Congress in Philadelphia began tallying up what each state "owed to the national government," and all states began posturing to figure out how to avoid paying, or at least minimizing their financial obligations.

The state of North Carolina easily decided to use their western lands for two key purposes - to pay its soldiers for their service and hardships during the long war, and to sell the remaining lands to new pioneers at a great profit for the state. Interestingly, the states of Maryland and Delaware had no unclaimed lands and could not expand westward, but both states provided a significant number of soldiers that served in both Carolinas and in Georgia, many who had lost their lives in the South.

So, the three states of North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia all agreed to offer western lands to those soldiers of Maryland and Delaware that had served in the South helping to defend against the British and their allies.

In late 1782, the NC Continentals named their delegates to present a plan to the NC General Assembly that would ensure all soldiers would receive their fair share of the western lands. By the time of the first session of the General Assembly in the Spring of 1783, all interested factions presented their plans to the government, and they were all fairly well satisfied. In May, two new counties were authorized by the legislature - Davidson and Greene - both in what is today the state of Tennessee. This legislature also - once again - attempted to clearly delineate which lands were for the Native Americans and not to be encroached upon by their "elder brothers." And once again, this was soon ignored as all other delineations were.

In September of 1783, the Treaty of Paris officially ended the Revolutionary War, and the state of North Carolina was already moving forward. With a decent solution for minimizing the divide between the Loyalists and the Patriots, the state was already healing - and it was quickly expanding westward, even faster than anyone could predict.

© 2010 - J.D. Lewis - PO Box 1188 - Little River, SC 29566 - All Rights Reserved