North Carolina’s 1776 constitution guaranteed the state’s citizens a system of public education:
That a school or schools shall be established by the Legislature, for the convenient instruction of youth, with such salaries to the masters, paid by the public, as may enable them to instruct at low prices; and all useful learning shall be duly encouraged, and promoted, in one or more universities.
But although the legislature established the University of North Carolina in 1789, the first public school for younger students didn’t open until 1840. In the meantime, children were educated — if they were educated — in a patchwork of institutions. Paid tutors, community schools built by volunteers, private academies, boarding schools, and private colleges all played a role. In this chapter you’ll explore what education was like for young students in early nineteenth-century North Carolina — boys and girls, black and white — and what their education, or lack thereof, said about the values of North Carolinians.
- Primary Source: A Free School in Beaufort
- Primary Source: Rules for Students and Teachers
- Primary Source: John Chavis Opens a School for White and Black Students
- Primary Source: Education and Literacy in Edgecombe County, 1810
- Primary Source: "For What Is a Mother Responsible?"
- The University of North Carolina Opens
- Primary Source: Student Life at UNC
- Cherokee Mission Schools
- Primary Source: A Bill to Prevent All Persons from Teaching Slaves to Read or Write, the Use of Figures Excepted (1830)
- Primary Source: Academies for Boys and Girls
- Primary Source: First Year at New Garden Boarding School
- A Timeline of North Carolina Colleges (1766–1861)