Monument Dedicated 1923 at Bennett Place Symbolizes Unity

The Unit Monument is unvieled at Bennett Place in November 1923 (the dedication is the day we remember today).

The Unity Monument is unveiled at Bennett Place in November 1923 (the dedication is the day we remember today). Image from the State Archives.

On October 12, 1923, the Unity Monument was dedicated at Bennett Place in Durham, memorializing the end of the Civil War and reunification of the country.

Sponsored by the Samuel Tate Morgan family and the state of North Carolina, the monument is composed of two Corinthian columns symbolizing the Union and the Confederacy topped by a beam bearing the word “Unity.” The inscription on a stone at the monument’s base details the surrender of Confederate troops by General Joseph E. Johnston to General William T. Sherman in 1865 at the farmhouse owned by James and Nancy Bennitt.

Sherman and Johnston met at the Bennitt farm three times during the month of April 1865 to negotiate the war’s largest surrender of Confederate troops. Their first meeting came just two days after Lincoln’s assassination. Although Lee’s April 9 surrender to Grant at Appomattox Court House is often considered the end of the Civil War, Johnston’s April 26 surrender of the armies of the Carolinas, Georgia and Florida to Sherman is more correctly viewed as the close of the conflict.

Following the surrender, the two generals became friends. Johnston even served as a pallbearer at Sherman’s funeral in 1891.

Visit: Bennett Place State Historic Site in Durham, the site of the largest surrender of the Civil War.

Other related resources:

For more about North Carolina’s history, arts and culture, visit Cultural Resources online. To receive these updates automatically each day, subscribe by email using the box on the right and follow us on FacebookTwitter and Pinterest.

U.N. Representative Herschel Johnson Advocated Partition of Palestine, 1947

A U.N. Security Council meeting in December 1947. Herschel Johnson is seated fifth from the left in the front row. Image from the United Nations.

On October 11, 1947, as the newly created United Nations debated the partition of Palestine and the creation of the state of Israel, North Carolinian Herschel Johnson was at the center of the deliberations.

The plain-spoken career Foreign Service officer understood that no plan could satisfy both Arabs and Jews but “if we are to effect through the United Nations a solution to this problem, it cannot be done without the use of the knife.” The plan, with the support of the Soviet Union, passed the Assembly by a 33-17 vote.

Born in Atlanta in 1894, Johnson moved to Charlotte with his family when he was 6. He attended UNC and Harvard before joining the State Department in 1920. He served in junior roles in American embassies in Switzerland, Bulgaria, Honduras, Mexico and Great Britain, where he acted as ambassador after the death of Robert W. Bingham and departure of Joseph P. Kennedy.

In 1946, Johnson became acting U.S. representative to the U.N. He followed his service in New York with the ambassadorship to Brazil. A lifelong bachelor, he died in 1966 and is buried in Charlotte’s Elmwood Cemetery.

Johnson’s speech is available online.

For more about North Carolina’s history, arts and culture, visit Cultural Resources online. To receive these updates automatically each day, make sure you subscribe by email using the box on the right, and follow us on FacebookTwitter and Pinterest.

Jazz Giant Thelonious Monk of Rocky Mount

Monk plays the piano in September 1947. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Monk plays the piano in September 1947. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress.

On October 10, 1917, Thelonious Monk was born in Rocky Mount. Though Monk lived most of his life in Manhattan, his North Carolina roots ran deep.

Monk’s style was original and unorthodox, incorporating elements of stride piano and gospel to create a “rhythmic virtuosity,” striking dissonant notes and playing skewed melodies. He collaborated with Charlie Parker, John Coltrane and many other noted jazz musicians of the time. Along with Dizzy Gillespie, another of his collaborators, Monk is credited as an architect of bebop; The third composition he copyrighted, and his first as sole composer, was also his best-known, “’Round Midnight.”

Personally, Monk had a reputation as the ultimate hipster, with his goatee, skullcap and bamboo-rimmed sunglasses. He often left his keyboard to dance while onstage and, at random moments, on the street or in public spaces, would twirl for several minutes. Viewed by some as temperamental and eccentric, he is described by his biographer Robin Kelley as essentially rebellious. Kelley documented that Monk suffered from bipolar disorder most of his adult life.

In 1972, Monk withdrew from public appearances and was hospitalized intermittently until his death. Among his last extended stands was a week at the Frog and Nightgown in Raleigh’s Cameron Village in 1970. A park in his hometown has carried his name since 2000.

Other related resources:

For more about North Carolina’s history, arts and culture, visit Cultural Resources online. To receive these updates automatically each day, subscribe by email using the box on the right and follow us on FacebookTwitter and Pinterest.

W. W. Kitchin, North Carolina-Style Progressive Politician

Image from the State Archives.

On October 9, 1866, Governor William Walton Kitchin was born near Scotland Neck. Educated in local schools and at Wake Forest, he studied law and in 1888 opened a practice in Roxboro.

Kitchin, a Democrat, entered politics at a point when his party’s fortunes were at a low point. He was the sole Democrat elected to either house of the Congress from North Carolina in the fall 1896 election.

After 12 years in Congress, Kitchen was elected governor in 1908. While he held the state’s top job, he worked to increase expenditures for education, public health, care for the mentally handicapped and drainage of swamp lands.

In line with the national efforts to break up trusts and regulate business, Kitchin backed legislation to strengthen antitrust laws, require better sanitation and set a 10-hour workday in factories. He also advocated prohibiting work by children under the age of 13 and licensing foreign corporations doing business in the state. During his term 1,300 miles of roads were constructed. He served as governor for four years and then returned to practicing law.

In 1919, a stroke forced him into retirement and he returned to Halifax County. He died in 1924.

Other related resources:

For more about North Carolina’s history, arts and culture, visit Cultural Resources online. To receive these updates automatically each day, make sure you subscribe by email using the box on the right, and follow us on FacebookTwitter and Pinterest.

Edenton Courthouse, Built 1767 and Renovated 2004

On October 8, 2004, the Chowan County Courthouse reopened to the public after years of renovation. The majestic courthouse, completed in 1767 in Edenton, is considered the finest example of Georgian architecture in the South.

While the architect remains anonymous, many have speculated that either Gilbert Leigh, known to have worked on many houses in the area, or John Hawks, best known for Tryon Palace, supervised construction.

474583_579680692066755_461077497_o

Overlooking Edenton Bay, the building features Flemish bond brickwork and a slightly projecting three-bay entrance pavilion crowned by a classical pediment. The interior consists of two floors, the bottom a courtroom with a large magistrate’s chair in the center. English ballast stones pave the ground floor and, in lieu of paint, the plain walls were whitewashed.

The top floor, an assembly hall, was one of the largest during the colonial period. Beginning in 1778, the hall hosted the Masons of Unanimity #7, an order to which George Washington belonged. The first president’s chair remains a permanent collection piece in the courthouse.

Necessary utilities were incorporated through the years, including telephones, electricity and plumbing services. Although Edenton constructed a modern courthouse in 1979, the historic Chowan County Courthouse remains in use and open to the public.

Visit: Historic Edenton State Historic Site, which includes the 1767 Chowan County Courthouse.

Other related resources:

For more about North Carolina’s history, arts and culture, visit Cultural Resources online. To receive these updates automatically each day subscribe by email using the box on the right and follow us on FacebookTwitter and Pinterest.

Patriots Victorious at Kings Mountain, 1780

The "Overmountain Men: gather at Sycamore Shoals prior to the Battle of King’s Mountain. Image from the N.C. Museum of History

The “Overmountain Men: gather at Sycamore Shoals prior to the Battle of
Kings Mountain. Image from the N.C. Museum of History.

On October 7, 1780, Patriot forces defeated the British in the Battle of Kings Mountain, signaling the beginning of the end of British control in the South.

Patriots had created an atmosphere of Tory persecution in western North Carolina and, in September 1780, British Major Patrick Ferguson decided to subdue the rebellious region. He warned mountain residents that if insurrection continued, he personally would “lay waste their country with fire and sword.”

Patriot volunteers heeded Ferguson’s challenge. Roused by the threats, many of those who gathered against Ferguson did so only to protect their communities. Joseph Winston and Benjamin Cleveland raised Surry and Wilkes County militias, marching to Burke County, where they met Major Joseph McDowell’s volunteers. Militia groups came from surrounding states—those from Tennessee were known as the “over-mountain men.”

When Patriot forces arrived at the foot of Kings Mountain, they found Tories camped at the top, prepared to repel any attack. Surrounding the base of the mountain, columns of men engaged the Tory line, and eventually the lofty position caused Loyalists to fire over the heads of Patriots who raced up the incline to overrun the first defensive line. Major Ferguson was killed and the Loyalist militia was overwhelmed.

The battlefield is now a national military park in South Carolina.

Other related resources:

For more about North Carolina’s history, arts and culture, visit Cultural Resources online. To receive these updates automatically each day, make sure you subscribe by email using the box on the right, and follow us on FacebookTwitter and Pinterest.

Fire Destroys “Bandon,” Home of Inglis Fletcher

Inglis Fletcher autographs a book. Image from the Outer Banks History Center.

On October 6, 1963, “Bandon,” the beloved plantation home of author Inglis Fletcher, burned.

Fletcher, the author of the Carolina Series–12 historical novels set in eastern North Carolina during the colonial and revolutionary period–purchased the early 19th century property with her husband in 1944. The mansion and several outbuildings were situated on just over 60 acres north of Edenton on the shores of the Chowan River. The house had been unoccupied for 18 years and was in a state of disrepair when the Fletchers bought it. A schoolhouse on the grounds dated to the 1750s, while the plantation house itself was completed around 1800.

At the time of the fire, Fletcher and her grandson were watching television on Bandon’s second floor. The blaze was discovered by neighbors who spotted flames coming from the roof. The fire was believed to have started in the attic.

Although the mansion was fully engulfed by the time firefighters arrived, neighbors had moved much of the antique furniture on the first floor out onto the lawn. Fletcher sold the land the following year, and the schoolhouse was moved to Edenton.

Other related resources:

For more about North Carolina’s history, arts and culture, visit Cultural Resources online. To receive these updates automatically each day, subscribe by email using the box on the right and follow us on FacebookTwitter and Pinterest.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 874 other followers