First Wednesdays: Hardship

In early 1861 the brewing political turmoil over secession created hardships within the private lives of North Carolina citizens. Although North Carolina remained part of the union, the altering of public opinion from unionists to secessionists created new economic and political realities for all members of the society. Local government justices of the peace decided to withdraw their support for the Lincoln administration by resigning their offices. Federal employees, such as naval personnel, chose to align themselves to their state, and as a result, lost their current means of livelihood. At the same time fears of a slave insurrection pushed white citizens to call for further governmental regulations of free persons of color, which in turn forced these oppressed members of society to consider the repulsive choice of re-enslavement in order to survive. The growing secession movement in the United States was now touching North Carolina citizens’ private lives, forcing them to make decisions that would ultimately affect their families for generations to come.

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