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James Rumley and the Union Occupation of Eastern North Carolina

During the initial phase of the Civil War and the debates over secession, North Carolina was widely regarded as a moderately unionist state. Many in the region feared secession would ensure the destruction of their cultural and social norms much more so then making concessions with the Union. Many northern political officials would hint that the populace in the region was loyal to the Union, but ideologically oppressed under a radical regime. Initial reports from the occupying forces suggest that there was indeed a sense of Union allegiance, but as Rumley’s diary suggest people were going to do whatever provided the most opportunity. The diary also suggest continuance of southern allegiance, which is quieted by the intimidating mass of Union soldiers. James Rumley was vehement in his Confederate ideology but knew not to step too far out of line. The Union during occupation exerted control over state laws and imposed and enforced Federal political policies. Due to this, the occupying force saw a transition within those “loyal” to the Union, and the people would voice their strong distaste towards the imposing force, Rumley. Furthermore, during a time of great change and turmoil, the same Federal force that sways public opinion in the region is the same force that ensures African American advancement in occupied eastern North Carolina.


John Hathorn