domingo, 10 de enero de 2010


By Felipe Argote

Before the arrival of Europeans North Carolina was populated by thousands of indigenous groups divided into the Cherokee tribe, the Tuscarora, the Cheraw, the Pamlico, the guardianship, the Waccamaw, the Catawba and other smaller groups.

Then came Spanish Lucas Vasquez de Villon trying to locate a passage to northern Mexico to reach the Spice Islands. Of course he had no idea that there existed a vast territory to the west, an area wider than mainland Europe to reach from the route of the Atlantic Ocean. In either case he settled in what is now North Carolina's the first European colonial settlement in what is now America, not counting for sure the earlier incursions of the Vikings before the arrival of Christopher Columbus. Vaquez Lucas established a settlement he called San Miguel de Guadalupe with short-lived as it was destroyed by indigenous groups.

Years later the Spanish captain Juan Pardo began an expedition to the land trying to add it to the colony of Florida. It lasted a year in the expedition in which were built six forts in the journey. A year after, the six forts were attacked by the warlike natives of the area to defend their territory killing all occupants except a small group including Juan Pardo who had already returned to Florida. Never again the Spanish tried to get again to what is now North Carolina.

In 1580 began the colonization by the British expedition led by Sir Walter Raleigh which established two colonies on the coast. Subsequently those colonies swept by the genuine owners of the tier, the Cherokees. However the attempt won him the territory was named Raleigh. In those moments Raleigh was still part of the province of Virginia, named on behalf of Virginia Dare, the first person born of English parents in America. Years after Sir Raleigh was beheaded in England on charges of treason to King Jacob I.

Carolina was named as such in memory of Charles I of England by his son Charles II. The province, now state, was originally populated by migrants from the northern Virginia seeking new land, but in 1710 was divided into North Carolina and South Carolina by political differences among the colonists. While this region was mainly populated by English and Scottish settlers in the east, in the west was mostly occupied by Irish and German. These different roots affected its political, economic and social status since the eighteenth century to the twentieth century. The east of the state was settled largely by immigrants from England and the Scottish Highlanders. The west was settled largely by Irish and German Protestants. This was decisive in their situation during the War of Independence of the United States because there were sporadic clashes between the English population more attached to England and the rest that didn’t want to remain as colony any more. In any case this was one of the first of the thirteen colonies that voted for independence from Britain in the Continental Congress that approved American independence.

During the civil war, the state of North Carolina joined the Confederate army for being essentially a slave  state. One-third of its inhabitants were slaves. No less than 125,000 joined the Confederate army soldiers including more than forty thousand died during the war.

It is a state where is more evident than in many other the variations on the political leanings of its members. We have said that the state is divided into distinct positions between east and west. While the independence war in the eastern sector of British descent were to be more conservative as they were to remain a colony of the West, descendants of Irish and Germans sided with the separatists. But during the Civil War the West more closely tied to agriculture and whose interests were tied to slavery were placed on the part of the Confederate army. In oposition of  what many people think, the Democratic Party represented the people who wanted slavery to stay, while Republicans were about to end slavery, they were the abolitionists. In fact once the United States Army left the state after the civil war Democrats regain political control. Then they lost to a coalition of the Republican Party with the populist party in 1894. The Democratic Party back to retrieve the state government in 1898 through a racist campaign whose slogan was by the "white supremacy". Was the time of the "solidly Democratic south" when this party represented the southern slavist rancid oligarchy. Democrats represented what the Republicans represent today: the most conservative and reactionary wing of American society. Who would have thought that this racist party brought to the presidency of the United States the first Afro-American more than a century later as the state has moved toward the Republican Party because they represent conservative mind today.

North Carolina also reflects the deep contradictions between sectors of American society today. While in the counties of Clay, Graham, Mitchell and Yancey sale of alcoholic beverages is prohibited and the offender can go with their bones to jail for a beer, at the same time this is one of the 12 states in the United States, where consumption of marijuana is permitted and possession of a cigarette of the drug and even smoke it is totally legal.

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