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Fayetteville is a city located in Cumberland County, North Carolina. As of the 2000 census, the city had a total population of 121,015. It is the county seat of Cumberland County, and is best known as the home of Fort Bragg, a U.S. Army post located northwest of the city.
As of 2007, the city of Fayetteville has a population of approximately 172,000 including annexation since the 2000 census. It currently ranks as the sixth-largest municipality in North Carolina. Fayetteville is located near the Sandhills in the western part of the Coastal Plain region, on the Cape Fear River. With a population of 341,363, the Fayetteville metropolitan area is the largest in southeastern North Carolina, and the fifth-largest in the state. Suburban areas of metro Fayetteville include Hope Mills, Spring Lake, and Raeford.
The area of present-day Fayetteville was inhabited by various Siouan Native American peoples such as the Eno, Shakori, Waccamaw, Keyauwee, and Cape Fear Indians for more than 12,000 years.
After the violent upheavals of the Yamasee War and Tuscarora Wars during the second decade of the eighteenth century, the administration of North Carolina colony encouraged colonial settlement along the upper Cape Fear River, the only navigable waterway entirely within North Carolina. Two inland settlements, Cross Creek, and the riverfront settlement of Campbellton were established by Scots from Campbellton, Argyll and Bute, Scotland.
Merchants in Wilmington wanted a town on the Cape Fear River to secure trade with the frontier country. They were afraid people would use the Pee Dee River, taking their goods to Charleston, S.C. Merchants, though, bought land from Newberry in Cross Creek. Campbellton became a place where free blacks and poor whites lived and was known for its lawlessness.
After the American Revolutionary War, the two towns were united and renamed to honor General Lafayette, a French military hero who fought with and significantly aided the American Army during the American Revolutionary War. Many cities are named after Lafayette but, Fayetteville, N.C. was the first and, it is told, the only one he actually visited. The Frenchman arrived in Fayetteville by horse-drawn carriage in 1825.
The Fayetteville area was the home of many residents, particularly the Highland Scots, who were loyal to the British government. But it also included a number of active Patriots.
In late June 1775, the "Liberty Point Resolves" preceded the Declaration of Independence by a little more than a year. The Liberty Point document pledged the group to "go forth and be ready to sacrifice our lives and fortunes to secure (the county's) freedom and safety." The document concluded: "This obligation to continue in full force until a reconciliation shall take place between Great Britain and America, upon constitutional principles, an event we most ardently desire; and we will hold all those persons inimical to the liberty of the colonies, who shall refuse to subscribe to this Association; and we will in all things follow the advice of our General Committee respecting the purposes aforesaid, the preservation of peace and good order, and the safety of individual and private property." Robert Rowan, who apparently organized the group, signed first.
Robert Rowan (circa 1738-1798) was one of the area's leading public figures of the 1700s. A merchant and entrepreneur by trade, Rowan arrived in Cross Creek in the 1760s. He served as an officer in the French and Indian War, as sheriff, justice and legislator, and as a leader of the Patriot cause in the Revolutionary War. Rowan circulated the statement known as the "Liberty Point Resolves" in 1775. Rowan Street and Rowan Park in Fayetteville and a local chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution are named for him, though Rowan County (founded in 1753) was named for another Rowan (Matthew Rowan), who was not related to Robert.
Flora MacDonald (1722-1790), the Scottish Highland heroine, who gained fame for aiding "Bonnie Prince Charlie" after his Highlander army's defeat at Culloden in 1746, lived in North Carolina for about five years. Legend has it that she exhorted the Loyalist force at Cross Creek that included her husband, Allan, as it headed off to its eventual defeat at the Battle of Moore's Creek Bridge in 1776.
Seventy-First Township in western Cumberland County (now a part of Fayetteville) is named for a British unit during the American Revolution - the 71st Regiment of Foot or 'Fraser's Highlanders,' as they were first called.
Fayetteville experienced what is sometimes called its "golden decade" during the 1780s. It played host, in 1789, to the convention that ratified the U.S. Constitution and to the General Assembly session that chartered the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, America's oldest public university. The legislators paused for the state funeral of former Governor Richard Caswell, who fell ill after arriving in Fayetteville and died November 10, 1789. Fayetteville lost out to the future city of Raleigh in the bid to become the permanent state capital. Fayetteville was the capital of the state from 1789-1793.
In 1793 the Fayetteville Independent Light Infantry formed and is still active as a ceremonial unit. It is the second-oldest militia unit in the country.
Henry Evans (circa 1760-1810) a free black preacher is locally known as the "Father of Methodism," for blacks and whites, in Fayetteville. Evans was a shoemaker by trade and a licensed Methodist preacher. He met opposition from whites when he began preaching to slaves in Fayetteville, but his preaching later attracted whites to his services. He is credited with building the first church in town, called the African Meeting House, in 1796. Evans Metropolitan AME Zion Church is named in his honor.
The old "State House" in Fayetteville was destroyed in the "Great Fire" of 1831 along with a multitude of historic buildings.
Fayetteville remained a village of only 3,500 residents in 1820, but Cumberland County's population still ranked as the second-most urban in the state behind New Hanover County (Wilmington).
The "Great Fire" of 1831 was believed to be one of the worst in the nation's history, even though, remarkably, no lives were lost. Hundreds of homes and businesses and most of its best-known public buildings were lost, including the old "State House." Fayetteville leaders moved quickly to help the victims and rebuild the town.
The Market House, completed in 1832, became the center of commerce and celebration. The structure was built on the ruins of the old State House. It was a town market until 1906. Slaves were sold there before abolition. It served as Fayetteville Town Hall until 1907. The City Council is considering turning the Market House into a local history museum.
The Confederate arsenal in Fayetteville was destroyed in March 1865 by Union Gen. William T. Sherman during the Civil War.
The Civil War Era
In March 1865, Gen. William T. Sherman and his 60,000-man army moved into Fayetteville. The Confederate arsenal was totally destroyed. Sherman's troops also destroyed foundries and cotton factories and the offices of The Fayetteville Observer. Not far from Fayetteville, Confederate and Union troops engaged in the last cavalry battle of the Civil War, the Battle of Monroe's Crossroads.
Downtown Fayetteville was the site of a skirmish, as Confederate Lt. Gen. Wade Hampton and his men surprised a cavalry patrol, killing 11 Union soldiers and capturing a dozen on March 11, 1865.
20th century to the Present
Cumberland County's population exploded in the post-World War II years, with its 43% increase in the 1960s the largest in any of North Carolina's 100 counties. Construction was fast-paced as shopping developments and suburban subdivisions began to spread outside the Fayetteville city limits toward Fort Bragg and Pope Air Force Base. The Fayetteville and Cumberland County school systems moved toward integration gradually beginning in the early '60s and busing brought about large-scale student integration in the 1970s.
Civil rights marches and sit-ins, with students from Fayetteville State Teachers College (now Fayetteville State University) at the forefront, led to the end of whites-only service at restaurants and segregated seating in theaters. Politics changed. Blacks and women gained office in significant numbers, from the late 1960s and on into the early '80s.
A New Water Tower With the New City Logo
The Vietnam Era was a time of turmoil in the Fayetteville area. Fort Bragg did not send many large units to Vietnam. But from 1966 to 1970, more than 200,000 soldiers trained at the post before leaving for the war. The effect of such a large troop rotation was dramatic and would continue to be for years to come. Then there were the anti-war protests. They drew national attention because of the proximity to Fort Bragg, in a community that generally supported the war. Jane Fonda came to Fayetteville to participate in three anti-war events. Bars were not new to Fayetteville, by any means, but Hay Street, became notorious for bars, strip clubs and prostitutes during the Vietnam era up until the late 1980s. Fayetteville's reputation was dealt a huge blow and nicknames such as "Fayettenam" stuck.
Fayetteville has successfully reversed the image of its downtown area through a multitude of downtown revitalization projects. New additions, such as the Airborne & Special Operations Museum, The Fayetteville Area Transportation Museum, Fayetteville Linear Park, and Fayetteville Festival Park, which opened in late 2006, have all contributed to the changing face of the downtown area. However, the downtown Hay St. area is in close proximity to an impoverished and very high crime area extending from the edge of downtown eastward to the NC Highway 301 area.
Hay Street in Downtown Fayetteville, N.C.
The towns and rural areas surrounding Fayetteville have experienced rapid growth over the past decade. This growth has spilled over into suburbs such as Hope Mills, Raeford and Spring Lake.
The western part of Cumberland County was annexed into Fayetteville in recent years.
BestLife Magazine, using data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the National Center for Education Statistics, the FBI, the American Association of Museums, the National Center for Health Statistics and the American Bar Association, ranked Fayetteville as the 3rd worst city in America to raise a family.
Sanctuary Community for Military families
On September 5, 2008, Fayetteville was declared "The World's First Sanctuary for Military Families." This declaration was supported by local, regional and national dignitaries, including Mayor Tony Chavonne, County Commissioner Chairman Breeden Blackwell, NC State Representative, Brigadier General Arthur Bartell, Colonel John McDonald and Congressman Robin Hayes. Through the Army's Army and other volunteer groups, the citizens and businesses of Fayetteville are dedicated to watching over those who watch over us.
Time Magazine recognized Fayetteville for their support of military families and declared Fayetteville as America's most pro-military town.