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The Spanish Explore the Interior

Helmets like these were worn by Spanish explorers in the 1500s. This particular one can be seen at the N.C. Museum of History.

Helmets like these were worn by Spanish explorers in the 1500s. This particular one can be seen at the N.C. Museum of History.

On December 1, 1566, Spanish Captain Juan Pardo left Santa Elena (in present day South Carolina) with 125 men to explore the region and claim the land for Spain while pacifying local Indians.  It was also hoped that he would find an overland route from Santa Elena to the Spanish silver mines in northern Mexico.

In January 1567, Pardo and his company arrived at Joara, a large native town in the upper Catawba Valley near the eastern edge of the Appalachian Mountains. At Joara, he built Fort San Juan, and manned it with thirty soldiers.  Although previous expeditions in the interior had made seasonal encampments or had temporarily occupied native towns, Pardo explicitly built Fort San Juan to expand Spanish holdings. In so doing, he founded the earliest European settlement in the interior of what is now the United States.

Although relations between the two groups were good initially, by May 1568, news reached Santa Elena that Indians had attacked all of Pardo’s forts and that all were destroyed.

In Morganton, where significant Spanish ceramics and hardware have been recovered, archaeologists have identified a compound of five burned buildings. It is believed that the Spanish artifacts and burned buildings represent the material remains of Fort San Juan.

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SS James Iredell Launched

The SS Zebulon Baird Vance being launched. The Iredell would have been launched in a similar way. Photo from NCpedia

The SS Zebulon Baird Vance being launched. The Iredell would have been launched in a similar way. Photo from NCpedia

On November 29, 1942, the SS James Iredell, a Liberty Ship constructed by the North Carolina Shipbuilding Company, was launched.

Along the Tar Heel coast maritime industries mobilized with the coming of World War II. Mine sweepers were built at New Bern and submarine chasers at Elizabeth City; naval repair stations operated at Morehead City and Southport. By far the largest construction effort of the war, the building of 243 Liberty Ships and other cargo vessels took place at a shipyard on the Cape Fear River three miles south of downtown Wilmington.  Workers there could complete a ship, from the laying of the keel to launch, in 25 days.

Initially the yard built only Liberty Ships, cargo vessels 440 feet in length. Called “ugly ducklings,” the Liberty Ships were the workhorses of the war. The 126 Liberty Ships built at Wilmington were named for prominent historical figures, many of whom were from North Carolina. as James Iredell, for instance, was one of the first U.S. Supreme Court Justices.  The SS James Iredell was scuttled as a breakwater off of Omaha Beach as part of the U.S. invasion of German-occupied France on June 8, 1944.

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Martin Luther King Jr.’s Rehearsal Speech in Rocky Mount

An image of Martin Luther King, Jr. speaks in Durham in 1958 from the State Archives

An image of Martin Luther King, Jr. speaks in Durham in 1958
from the State Archives

On November 27, 1962, Martin Luther King, Jr., delivered a speech in Rocky Mount. Before a crowd of nearly 2,000 in the gymnasium at Booker T. Washington High School, King used a number of expressions that made their way into his landmark “I Have a Dream” address at the Lincoln Memorial, which was part of the March on Washington in August 1963.

Near the close he built toward these lines: “I have a dream that one day right here in Rocky Mount, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will meet at the table of brotherhood, knowing that one God brought man to the face of the Earth. I have a dream tonight that one day my little daughter and my two sons will grow up in a world not conscious of the color of their skin, but only conscious of the fact that they are members of the human race. . . .”

Clayborne Carson, editor of the King Papers, notes that while this was not the first use of the “I have a dream” phrase, it “appears to be an important new rhetorical formulation.” By the spring and summer of 1963 the words were among the most frequent of King’s refrains.

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USS Huron Ran Aground Near Nags Head

The USS Huron. Photo courtesy of the Navy Historical Center.

The USS Huron. Photo courtesy of the Navy Historical Center.

On November 24, 1877, the USS Huron ran aground near Nags Head, en route for Havana from New York.  Commander George P. Ryan chose to sail close to shore to prevent having to travel against the Gulf Stream or taking the time to maneuver a route beyond the current.

During the night, rough seas and dense fog hindered the officers’ ability to navigate the treacherous coastline. The Huron came too close to the shore and ran aground around 1:30 A.M. Although the closest lifesaving station was only two miles away, it was closed until December. Some of the sailors braved the strong currents and cold temperatures and: 36 made it to the shore and 98  men died.

Two months later, another 85 men died when a second ship, the Metropolis, ran aground north of the Huron wreck. The two disasters prompted Congress to fund additional lifesaving stations and to increase their months of operation. Today, the wreck of the USS Huron is on the National Register of Historic Places. In 1991, the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources designated the wreck site as North Carolina’s first “Historic Shipwreck Preserve.”

Walter Reed Died

200px-walterreed1On November 23, 1902, Walter Reed, head of U.S. Yellow Fever Commission in Cuba, died.  During his time in Cuba, Reed conclusively demonstrated that mosquitoes transmitted the deadly disease. Reed called Hertford County home for much of his life before medical school.

Reed graduated from medical school at the University of Virginia at seventeen and continued his education at Bellevue Hospital Medical College in Manhattan. He joined the U.S. Army Medical Corps in 1875, eventually becoming curator of the Army Medical Museum in Washington and a professor at the army medical school.

By the outbreak of the Spanish-American War, Reed was considered a pioneer in the field of bacteriology. His interest in the cause of yellow fever was timely, as epidemics broke out in camps in Cuba and elsewhere. In 1900, Reed led the fourth U. S. Army Yellow Fever Commission.

Reed was buried in Arlington National Cemetery. An army hospital completed in 1909 in Washington, D.C., was named in his honor. The museum of which he was curator is now the National Museum of Health and Medicine.

Death of Junaluska, Revered Cherokee Warrior

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On November 20, 1858, distinguished Cherokee warrior Junaluska died.

Little is known of his early life. Although he was not chief, Junaluska spoke for the tribe in 1811 when he refused the Shawnee request for the Cherokee to join in fighting against the influx of settlers. As further indication of his loyalty to the United States, Junaluska recruited 100 warriors to join the war against the Creek Indians in 1814. An account of the conflict credits Junaluska for saving Andrew Jackson’s life at Horseshoe Bend, Alabama.

Junaluska returned to his farm in North Carolina and lived a quiet life until Andrew Jackson, then President of the United States, called for the removal of Cherokee to Oklahoma in 1838. Junaluska survived the Trail of Tears, but later walked home to North Carolina.

The General Assembly granted Junaluska citizenship in 1847, and gave him 337 acres of land and $100 in recognition of his military service. The land was at Cheoah, near what is now the town of Robbinsville, and was, ironically, part of his property prior to the Cherokee removal.

Visit: This Saturday, the N.C. Museum of History will host its 19th Annual American Indian Heritage Celebration, highlighting the history and culture of North Carolina’s eight state-recognized tribes.

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Raleigh Register, North Carolina’s First Daily Paper

On November 19, 1850, the Raleigh Register became North Carolina’s first newspaper to be published daily. The Register traces its roots

A photograph of a portrait of Joseph Gales Senior. Image courtesy the State Archives of North Carolina.

A photograph of a portrait of Joseph Gales Senior. Image courtesy the State Archives of North Carolina.

to 1799 when it was founded by English immigrant Joseph Gales, who had already successfully published several newspapers in England. Gales ran the paper until his retirement in 1833.  Under his leadership it was one of the major publications in the state and was widely regarded as the leading political voice for the Jeffersonian Repulicanism.

Gales started publishing the paper semiweekly only when the General Assembly was in session, but eventually settled upon weekly publication. He brought his son, Weston, in as a partner, and Weston would eventually go on to be the paper’s publisher.

It became a daily under Seaton Gales, grandson of the founder, who enlarged the paper’s operation and added a telegraph service. His efforts, though, soon proved unsuccessful and by January 1851, the Register had stopped publishing each day. Gales tried to revive paper by retrofitting its offices with the latest technology, but it was sold at public auction by 1856.

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