Early North Carolina: Colonial Era and Revolutionary War

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If you’ve seen a North Carolina license plate recently, you’ve probably noticed the slogan “First in Freedom.” That refers to the Halifax Resolves, the first official cry from a colony, which were adopted in Halifax in April 1776.

North Carolina’s early history is filled with fascinating stories that of the Halifax Resolves, from Royal Governor Josiah Martin's flee from Tryon Palace to rule off shore to the heroic actions of a mother to protect her children during a Revolutionary War skirmish at House in the Horseshoe. Explore this interesting period of Tar Heel history with some of the resources gathered below. 

Colonial and Revolutionary North Carolina By the Numbers


Revolutionary War Battles in N.C.


Estimated N.C. Population in 1770


N.C. Men Who Signed the U.S. Consitution

North Carolina's Signers of the Declaration of Independence


Revolutionary Places to Visit

Learn about North Carolina's early history at the places where that history happened.

From the site of the first offical cry for independence from a colony at Historic Halifax to North Carolina's first capitol at Tryon Palace in New Bern to Bath, our state's first town, you'll find them all in North Carolina.

Find a Place to Visit

Constitutions Collection

Explore North Carolina's role in the ratification of federal amendments and its own internal efforts to protect the rights of its citizens dating back to 1776 through the documents held by the State Archives in this digital collection.

Browse the Digital Collection

A Pre-Revolutionary Revolution

Just years before the Revolutionary War, North Carolina backcountry farmers revolted against the colonial government centered in the east because they were upset with excessive taxation and a lack of representation as part of what's now called the War of Regulation.

Learn More About N.C.'s Revolution Before the Revolution