North Carolina and the New Nation: Reconstruction and Reconciliation Efforts in the 1780s

  • John R. Maass
Part of the War, Culture and Society, 1750–1850 book series (WCS)


In November 1789, delegates at a state convention in Fayetteville, North Carolina voted to adopt the United States Constitution, ratification having failed the year before. North Carolina was the second to last state to vote for the Constitution due to a number of concerns and reservations its political leaders raised about the terms of the new union. The state’s history during the 1780s shows a pattern of disinclination on the part of Carolinians to wed their interests with the larger enterprise of American unity. Carolinians exhibited a strong desire to protect their own interests over national political goals. Their focus included possession of valuable western territory and the burden of financial debts; jealous concerns over the potential loss of state sovereignty; the traumatic wartime experiences of the state’s citizens; and a localism that emphasized the importance of their own communities. All of these issues came directly from the trying experience of the American War for Independence between 1775 and 1783, the rebellion of the American settlers against the British authorities. In the context of this conflict the Continental Congress declared the colonies free and independent states in July 1776. One year later these 13 states became the United States of America, a loose union under the Articles of Confederation (commonly referred to as the ‘Confederation government’). The war ended in 1783 with a peace treaty that confirmed the new nation’s separation from the British Empire.1


United States Constitution State Sovereignty United States Government Federal Constitution Financial Debt 
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© John R. Maass 2016

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