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A Slave Auction at the South, Harper’s Weekly, July 13, 1861. Library of Congress.

Antebellum refers to the pre-Civil War era; sometimes you will also see it called the Plantation era. In the South, this period of time traditionally covers the economic growth of the South based on plantation farming and driven by slave labor. As such, it includes some very well-known events that North Carolinians were involved with, like Nat Turner’s Rebellion in 1831 and John Brown’s Raid of 1859 at Harpers Ferry. However, this time period also includes very important moments in American Indian history, such as the establishment of the Cherokee alphabet by Sequoyah in 1821 and the removal of the Cherokee to Indian Territory during the Trail of Tears in 1838. This era ends with the election of Abraham Lincoln in November of 1860, an event which quickly led to the establishment of the Confederate States of America in 1861.