Charlotte: The Perceived Capital of North Carolina

By: George Adelman
Sunset at North Caroline Lake

Once known as the Golden State- long before California- Charlotte is the largest city in the state of North Carolina and an economic hotspot for America. It’s also the second-largest banking center in the country after New York.

Aside from having the most expansive landmass, Charlotte also houses the biggest population in NC. Because of its geographical and demographical supremacy over all other NC cities, many people believe that Charlotte is the capital of the Old North State. But the reality is not the same, nor it ever was. Despite all the prominent features, Charlotte remains just another town in North Carolina. However, the glorious city was once the unofficial capital of the Confederacy at the very end of the civil war. After Richmond, Virginia, had been seized, Charlotte was named the Confederacy’s headquarters in 1865. But even then, no official record was released, declaring the Queen City the state’s capital. In conclusion, the hustling bustling North Carolina city of Charlotte was never the capital, nor it is today.


The Current Capital Of North Carolina

The current capital of the Old North State is Raleigh and has been since 1792. It is located only 130 miles from Charlotte and houses a population of 450,000 people. On the other hand, Charlotte has a population of approximately 2.5 million people (almost twice the size in Raleigh) and constitutes a total of 16 counties.

Raleigh is the second-largest city in North Carolina. Though it officially became the capital in 1792, it had been chosen to be the state capital in 1788, when NC was in the process of becoming a separate state.


Earlier Capitals Of North Carolina

Before the state of Carolina was demarcated into north and south zones, the capital of the region was Charleston, which exists in now-South Carolina. Back then, Carolina was a British province, under the rule of King Charles I. Charleston and Carolina both were named after the British monarch at the time; King Charles-Carolina was the Latin form of Charles whereas Charleston (which was initially named Charles town) was clearly named such to honor the King.

Although the two regions were not separated back then, based on North Carolina’s current location, historians claim that the city of Edenton was the capital of the area that later came to be known as NC.

From 1766 to 1788, the city of New Bern was declared the capital of the Old North State. But due to Raleigh’s strategic geographical location, it was chosen as the capital from 1788 onwards.


Charlotte As The Capital Of The Confederacy

After Richmond Virginia was taken over in April 1865, Jefferson Davis moved towards Charlotte to set up the Confederacy’s headquarters. Charlotte was home to a military hospital, the Ladies’ Aid Society, a prison, the treasury of America’s confederate states, and the confederate navy guard. It was also the last capital of the Confederacy.

Because of the similarity in the two names-Charlotte and Charles, many Americans believe that Charlotte was named after the British King, but instead, it was named after the Queen Consort of Great Britain, Queen Charlotte.