With the close of the Civil War North Carolina shared the general
ruin of the South. In the central and western parts of the State this was
less severe, since in these sections there were few large slave owners
and the population consisted largely of small planters, who even when
they owned a few slaves knew how to work with their own hands in
the production of crops. After the devastation of the war they still had
their lands and live stock and their usual agricultural implements
which were made and repaired by local blacksmiths and
wheelwrights. In the eastern parts of the State and in other counties
where the lands had been cultivated chiefly by slaves the distress was
more acute and adjustment to the changed conditions was made with
more difficulty and delay, and there was more uncertainty about the
future, which in numerous instances engendered a despair which
resulted in the premature death of many excellent men of middle and
In general, however, our people soon showed that they had that
indomitable persevering will of their pioneer forefathers. They were
glad that the war, the issue of which had long been foreseen, was at
last over, that the blockade was broken and now they could get sugar
and coffee for their tables, and salt for their pork, and for their
cornbread if they lived in the western half of the State. Feeling free to
look after and improve their homes and to assemble for worship in
their churches, they were willing to leave
'The loss of their slaves and the horrors of the great conflict so recently passed
broke the spirit of many a brave man. Fresh disasters and added ignominy they
clearly foresaw in the swift coming days of reconstruction. They had loved the State
and the South, and in old age had lost their buoyancy of spirit, and like a host of
others, made their exits from a scene where blood had ceased to flow, but was still
like some troubled sea whose waves continued to roll when the storm had all passed
by.... But the masses of our people in dumb apathy tilled their fields and strewed
flowers upon the graves of their dead soldiers and left to God the slow work of their
vindication and return to the condition of freemen." J. W. Moore, History of North
Carolina, II, 316f.
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