Juan Pardo explored the area in 1566–1567, establishing Fort San Juan in 1567 at the site of the Native American community of Joara, a Mississippian culture regional chiefdom in the western interior, near the present-day city of Morganton.The fort lasted only 18 months; the local inhabitants killed all but one of the 120 men Pardo had stationed at a total of six forts in the area.
The colonists generally supported the American Revolution, as the number of Loyalists was smaller than in some other colonies.
During colonial times, Edenton served as the state capital beginning in 1722, and New Bern was selected as the capital in 1766.
More than 300 miles (500 km) from the coast, the western, mountainous part of the state has a subtropical highland climate.
Woodland-culture American Indians were in the area around 1000 BCE; starting around 750 CE, Mississippian-culture Indians created larger political units with stronger leadership and more stable, longer-term settlements.
By 1810, nearly 3 percent of the free population consisted of free people of color, who numbered slightly more than 10,000.