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Setting the Stage

In 1663, England's King Charles II granted the territory of Carolina, which included land stretching from Virginia to Florida, to a group of eight men. Known as proprietors, they were given the authority to control the land and establish a government. From 1691 to 1712, North Carolina's government was administered by a deputy who served under the governor of the province of Carolina. After 1712, North Carolina became a separate province with its own governor. The province grew slowly, however, and proved unprofitable for the proprietors.

North Carolina became a royal colony in 1729 when King George II purchased the land from the proprietors. The next 40 years brought the first period of marked progress evidenced by a stable government, steady population growth, and improvements in transportation and agriculture. Settlements expanded, and many new counties and towns were established. In 1774, North Carolina residents met in the town of New Bern, which was serving as the capital, to elect delegates to the first Continental Congress. This act defied the wishes of the Royal Governor, who was appointed by the King of England. Royal rule ended the following year when the Governor fled New Bern. On November 12, 1776, the first state constitution was drafted at Halifax by the Fifth Provincial Congress.

During and after the American Revolution, the legislature (the official body of lawmakers) met at several different locations in North Carolina. As was true in other states, the question of where to locate a permanent capital, the place where a government meets to enact laws, sparked heated debate. Finally, the town of Raleigh was mapped and laid out specifically to serve as the capital in 1792.



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