This week in N.C. History

President George Washington visited Tryon Palace on April 20, 1791.

April 17 1968

What began as a peaceful protest with 500 inmates at Central Prison in Raleigh turned into a violent riot. Inmates first did a 'sit-in' in effort to get prison officials to listen to their grievances about restricted visiting hours and poor living conditions in the dilapidated facility. What started peaceful became violent when prisoners were ordered to their cells. The violence began in an open yard with inmates throwing torches and using homemade weapons to attack staff. Riot-control officers were called in, opening fire. Six inmates were killed and more than 75 people were injured. Today, the prison still houses male prisoners with sentences over 20 years although 1980s renovations improved conditions. 

April 20 1791

During his Southern Tour, President George Washington visited Tryon Palace in New Bern. During this time both the federal government and presidency were fairly new, Washington had been elected two years prior in February of 1789 with North Carolina joining the Union that same year. Washington's tour served as a way for him to meet the people and state's he led. New Bernians warmly welcomed Washington and during his two-day stay he dined at the Palace and attended a "dancing assembly" with about 70 ladies. He also paid a visited to some of New Bern's most famous citizens like John Wright Stanly, John Sitgreaves and Richard Dobbs Spaight. Washington left New Bern on April 22 and headed south towards Wilmington.

April 20 1898

Hydroelectric power was introduced at the Fries Manufacturing and Power Company. Electrical power was transmitted 13 miles from the generating plant to Arista Textile Mill. The transmission originated near the Yadkin River bridge west of Clemmons and marked North Carolina's first long-distance transmission of energy. The station later provided power for textile and grain mills and also the Winston-Salem electric railway and street lights. Fries sold his company in 1913 to Southern Public Utility Company and it was bought by Duke Energy a year later. Duke Energy operated the station until 1996, and it burned down in 1998. 

April 22 1865

The Confederate Cabinet held its first of several meetings in Charlotte to determine their actions as an organized government. Confederate President Jefferson Davis and fellow members met first in Greensboro then later moved south to Charlotte. The final meetings were held in the Branch office of Bank of North Carolina on Tryon Street. Faced with ultimate defeat, Davis adjourned the government with plans to head southwest to Mexico where he could establish a government in exile. On May 10, Davis and his wife Varina were captured in Georgia. 


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