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  • Writer's pictureLeRoy Cossette


On April 12, 1776, North Carolina was to become the first state to call for independence from Great Britain. Her Provincial Congress, meeting at Halifax, North Carolina, passed a resolution that has come to be known as the "Halifax Resolves."

Following the Boston Tea Party, the women of Edenton, North Carolina, demonstrated remarkable bravery by organizing the first political resistance against British rule in the colonies, a tea boycott. This act of defiance set the stage for the first North Carolina Provincial Congress in 1774, where members were elected to attend the Continental Congress.

The Second Provincial Congress held the following year, further solidified North Carolina's stance against British rule, leading to the dissolution of the official assembly by Royal Governor Josiah Martin. North Carolina was the site of an early invasion attempt by the British in 1776, but the attempt failed when a large group of Loyalists were defeated at the Battle of Moore's Creek Bridge.

The “Halifax Resolves” were adopted less than a month later, on April 12, 1776. In July of 1776, after Richard Henry Lee of Virginia proposed a formal vote for independence to the Continental Congress, North Carolina's representatives, Joseph Hewes, William Hooper, and Lyman Hall, voted for independence per their instructions in the Resolves. The same month, Governor Martin fled with the attempted British invasion fleet, ending royal rule in North Carolina.

North Carolina's resilience was tested in the latter half of the war as the fighting moved south. The state saw some of the war's fiercest battles, including the crucial Battle of Guilford Courthouse. General Charles Cornwallis was left in awe despite the British victory, writing, "I never saw such fighting... the Americans fought like demons."

This testament to North Carolina's determination is a key part of the state's role in the American Revolution. Though the British won the battle, Cornwallis' troops were worn out and ill-supplied after a year of chasing the Continental Army through the state. The Battle of Guilford Courthouse finally broke his strength, and Cornwallis was forced to flee to the coast for reinforcements. He was trapped at Yorktown, Virginia, and forced to surrender, ending the American Revolution. 

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