Monday, 11 July 2011

Week 14: State - North Carolina

Hmm, maybe I should delete the "50 weeks" section of this blog (I honestly have no idea what week I'm on any more), but, for now at least, I have returned to carry on...

The colony of Carolina was established in 1663 when King Charles II of England granted a charter to start a new colony on the North American continent. Named in honour of his father Charles I (Latin: Carolus), the colony split into North Carolina and South Carolina in 1712 due to disputes over governance. Prior to this Sir Walter Raleigh established two colonies on the coast of North Carolina in the late 1580s, but both failed, though the capital of North Carolina, Raleigh, was named in his honour. It got its nickname The Old North State as the state did not vote to join the Confederacy during the Civil War until President Abraham Lincoln called on it to invade South Carolina. During the war North Carolina provided at least 125,000 troops to the Confederacy— far more than any other state, approximately 40,000 of whom never returned home. North Carolina was impoverished by the Civil War and hard hit by the Great Depression but Tobacco grew into a major industry, and today North Carolina is the leading producer of tobacco in the country. The state is also the largest textile employer in the United States, though in recent decades offshoring and industrial growth in countries like China has forced the economy to diversify and today Charlotte, the largest city in the state, is the second largest banking center in the United States (after New York). The western section of the state is part of the Appalachian Mountain range, and The Black Mountains subrange are the highest in the Eastern United States (Mount Mitchell is the highest point east of the Mississippi River). Tourism is the dominant industry in the mountains, and the state overall is the 6th most visited in the country in being, amongst other reasons, a top golf destination. North Carolina is also home to Fort Bragg, near Fayetteville, the largest military base in the United States. Severe weather occurs regularly in North Carolina and on average, the state receives a direct hit from a hurricane once a decade (only Florida and Louisiana are hit more often). North Carolina can claim two notable firsts: the first gold nugget found in the U.S. was found at the Reed Gold Mine (now a National Historic Landmark) in Cabarrus County in 1799, and the states unofficial motto "First in Flight" refers to the states honor in being the site of the first successful controlled, powered and sustained heavier-than-air flight, by the Wright brothers, near Kitty Hawk on December 17, 1903.

The television show most associated with North Carolina is The Andy Griffith Show, which aired from 1960 to 1968. The series is set in the fictional small town of Mayberry, North Carolina, and was based on the real-life town of Mount Airy, North Carolina. The film Bull Durham (North Carolina is a state known for minor league sports) was based on the Durham Bulls of the Carolina League, and Charles Frazier's Cold Mountain and the Oscar winning film adaptation follow a Confederate deserter's trek home through North Carolina... Firstly I started reading Serena by Ron Rash (set in 1929 against the backdrop of the North Carolina timber industry) but lost interest a third of the way through. Next I picked up a Thomas Wolfe novella (a North Carolina native) that turned out to not even be set in the state, and finally settled on The Marrow of Tradition by Charles Chesnutt.

Charles Chesnutt was an American author of mixed-race descent whose novels and short stories explored complex issues of racial and social identity in the post-Civil War South. His 1901 novel The Marrow of Tradition was a fictionalised retelling of the rise of the white supremacist movement in Wilmington, North Carolina, leading to the Wilmington Insurrection (or Massacre) of 1898 when whites took over the city and threw out the elected biracial government.

Review to follow at some point...