4 History of Wake Forest College
These distinct characteristics of the people of the two sections
were kept almost static by the lack of transportation facilities and
other means of communication. Only the eastern portion of the State
with its water transportation had developed to any extent industries
other than farming. In the central and western counties the farmers,
having no market for their products, were satisfied to make a bare
living for their families. The more progressive were moving to the
West in search of better markets and better lands. For several
decades the white population of the State was practically at a
In 1828 Dr. Joseph Caldwell, President of the University of North
Carolina, wrote a series of papers called the Numbers of Carlton, in
which he urged the importance of building a railroad for horse-
drawn traffic from Beaufort by Raleigh to the West. In it he gave a
graphic picture of the North Carolina farmer. With reference to the
lack of transportation he says:
In our present situation as a people, we are without opportunity and
without motive. We are hemmed in and trammeled on every side....
As we are now situated the whole value of our flour, corn, and all
other productions, except one or two, is swallowed up by the
expense of transportation. By the time the farmer arrives at market,
it is much the same as if he were to throw the whole into the sea...
The truth is that North Carolina has within the space of thirty years
past lost thousands of valuable citizens, with immense capital, to go
where they might find better settlements and an open market.
In 1830 the Legislature chartered the Petersburg Railway and two
years later the Portsmouth and Roanoke Railroad, both of which ran
through some counties in the northeastern part of the State. In 1833
was inaugurated the project for the Wilmington and Weldon
Railway. But as these railroads ran north and
and economy. A single laborer with an ox, a horse, a plough, and wagon, can, on a
few acres live independently and comfortably; and the lands are divided among a
multitude of small farmers of this sort. They form a race of people different from
any we have yet seen; these small freeholders, composing the larger portion of the
population, are a people peculiar to the upland districts of North Carolina. You
will find them a sedate sober, religious race; and you will find among them all
those higher elements of character that dignify and adorn our race." Ibid., p. 50.
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