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Social Divisions in Antebellum North Carolina


Social Divisions in Antebellum North Carolina


In antebellum North Carolina, there were six distinct social classes. The gentry, or planter class, were those few people who owned more than twenty slaves, or well-to-do professionals like high-level public officials or lawyers. The middle class consisted of farmers who owned fewer than twenty slaves, merchants, and other smaller-scale professionals. About sixty percent of the white population in North Carolina belonged to the yeoman farmer or skilled labor classes, often referred to together as “common.” Free African Americans and people of mixed race made up a fifth class. Though many found success as skilled laborers or yeoman farmers, free African Americans faced restrictions and discrimination.  The lowest social class in antebellum North Carolina consisted of enslaved men and women, nearly one third of the state’s total population. (UNC School of Education, “Social Divisions in antebellum North Carolina”)


UNC School of Education. “Social Divisions in antebellum North Carolina.” Learn NC: North     Carolina Digital History. (Accessed November 20, 2012).


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Jessica Cochran


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Social Divisions in Antebellum North Carolina, Civil War Era NC, accessed October 4, 2023,