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FIRST STEPS

IN

NORTH CAROLINA HISTORY.

CHAPTER I.

OUR STATE.-ITS FIRST INHABITANTS.

The State of North Carolina lies between 34° and 361° North latitude. On its northern boundary lies the State of Virginia; south lies South Carolina ; east of it is the Atlantic Ocean, and west the State of Tennessee.

It is about 400 miles long from east to west; about 120 miles broad from north to south; it contains about 50,000 square miles of territory (or 3,000,000 acres), and has 1,400,000 inhabitants.

If we look at the map, we see that the west side of the State is full of mountains. Many of these are thousands of feet above the level of the sea. From their lofty heights the land slopes down gradually eastward, becoming less and less mountainous. In the middle part of the State there are only hills to be seen. The hills are lower and lower as we go east, till at last on the shore of the Atlantic Ocean the land is flat and sandy and full of swamps and lakes.

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The climate varies with the height of the land, being, of course, colder among the mountains and hotter in the lowlands; but it is, on the whole, a temperate and healthy climate. The air is clear and soft and mild for a great part of the year, and there are no plants, no trees or flowers or crops grown in any of the United States that will not flourish in North Carolina. It is remarkable for the variety of its vegetable growth.

The State has also a great variety of minerals. Fine stones for building, and precious stones and mines of many different metals abound.

All along the seacoast, a few miles out from shore, is a belt of low, narrow, sandy islands which look as if they were a bar placed to defend us from the stormy ocean outside of it. That bar of sand has a good deal to do with the history of North Carolina. Inside of it are the great bays, or sounds, of Albemarle and Pamlico, into which many rivers pour their waters.

This is our State, We are bound to love it, for here we were born and this is our home. We will study its history and know it well, and be prepared to honor and defend it always.

Three hundred years ago this fine country, which now is full of towns and villages and farms, was inhabited only by a race of wild and savage men whom we call Indians. They were tall and straight, with long straight black hair and copper-colored skin.

They lived chiefly by hunting and fishing, and were clothed in skins of wild animals they had slain, or in a sort of coarse cloth made of platted grass.

They were separated into tribes, each tribe with a different name, and each with a chief or king of its own, and each living apart in its own village or huts. These hutsor, as they called them, wigwams--were made of poles and branches of trees covered with bark or with skins. Inside, the ground was covered with skins or rude mats.

The language these redmen spoke, though different in the different tribes, was yet so similar that they could understand each other.

They had no tools or weapons or utensils made of metal of any

sort. Their weapons were bows and arrows, and small stone hatchets which they called tomahawks. Their arrow-heads were made of flint, and plenty of them are still found in our woods and in places where the Indians had their camps.

The only tame animals they had were dogs, and these were not much better than half-tamed wolves. They had no means of cultivating the ground except by scratching the surface with rude wooden hoes: in this way the Indian women and children raised corn and potatoes and beans in small patches around their wigwams; and they had plenty of melons and gourds.

A large part of North Carolina that is now covered with forests was then open prairie, with tall grass and cane growing thick over it. This could easily be cultivated by the Indian women, who had no way of clearing ground except by burning the grass off of it. Whenever the Indians wanted to get a large tree down to make a boat or a bowl, or a mortar to pound their corn in, they had to burn it through near the ground and hollow it out afterwards with fire.

Some of them had stone mortars, and rude pots made of clay in which they cooked their pounded corn and called it hominy. The Indian men usually left all kinds of work, except that of hunting, to the women. All ignorant savages have this sort of pride and despise honest labor. They think it is degrading to a man.

Their chief business was fighting or preparing for war, and their greatest happiness was in torturing or killing their enemies. The various tribes, great and small, were almost always at war with each other, killing and destroying. Their warriors would march hundreds of miles over mountains and through deep snows, swimming wide rivers, and enduring patiently every hardship, for the pleasure of revenge and destroying those they hated. They were extremely treacherous, stealthy, and cruel in their way of making war. They had no ideas of pity or mercy.

We are to consider that they had never been taught better things. They had some good traits, ignorant savages as they were. They possessed a rude religion. They believed in a God, whom they called the “Great Spirit,” who after death would reward the good and punish the wicked. They were very brave and patient in suffering. They would keep a promise and remember a kindness, and they were hospitable to strangers who came peaceably among them. The Indian women especially could be very gentle and kind; and they all were very fond of their children.

The principal tribes that dwelt in North Carolina when the white people came here were the Tuscaroras, the Catawbas, and the Cherokees. The Cherokees lived in the mountains, and do not appear in our early history. The Catawbas, dwelt in the middle section. They were less savage than some, and more friendly to the whites. The Tuscaroras lived on the east side of the State. They were numerous and warlike, and gave the white people a great deal of trouble.

Besides these there were many small tribes—the Meherrins, the Enoes, the Corees, and others.

The Indians were often visited by pestilences, and, as they were always at war and led lives of great exposure and hardship, their tribes were small; and it is likely that even if the whites had not come here, in a few generations the redmen would have destroyed each other or would have died out from natural causes.

RECITATION.

INDIAN NAMES.

YE say they all have passed away,

The race of Indian braves;
That their light canoes have vanished

From off our crested waves ;

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