North Carolina’s compelling history – and the connection between freedom and truth

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

Galatians 5:1
– outside the history museum

Now that my dad is a little more secure, Rebekah and I are trying to head out on some regular “field-trips” here in this part of North Carolina. The first was our beautiful walk around Duke Gardens (see the photos here). Then this week we headed into Raleigh to tour the North Carolina Museum of History.

The museum sits directly across from the Natural Science Museum. Between the two, the story of North Carolina can be experienced at any level the visitor wants to engage, from the one-second-per-exhibit fly-by of the group of 10-year-old boys (they paused for almost ten seconds at the Blackbeard display), to the total absorption of Rebekah, who occasionally doubles as an unofficial docent.

True story: One day, absorbed by the art in the Uffizi (Florence, Italy), Rebekah finished explaining something and looked over my shoulder to see a small crowd listening in! A couple of them with hands raised for the next question!!

So far – and we viewed less than a quarter of the museum Friday – I am pleased with how the story is being told. There is no glossing over the truth when it comes to the more difficult facts concerning how the native population was systematically mistreated, and about how slavery became integral to North Carolina’s emerging economy.

This pair of photographs illustrates the contrast between the life and disposition of a North American woman and the early Spanish explorers who were more interested in conquest than trade.

I was particularly interested in the story of the pirate leader, Blackbeard. Earlier in the week I listened to a podcast about The Golden Age of Piracy, that coincided with the time of Edward Teach’s short but violent life (1680 – 1718). The North Carolina coast was good for Blackbeard because the colonists turned a blind eye to piracy in exchange for access to the scarce goods Teach seized from the prizes he took.

One word that comes up again and again in settlement is “Presbyterian”. The summary in this photograph is, essentially, Rebekah’s family history on the Alexander side (her direct ancestor Hezekiah Alexander, for example, signed the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence of May 1775, when North Carolinians around Charlotte declared themselves “free and independent people”).

The other side of Rebekah’s family, the Roquemores, were French Huguenots, having fled religious persecution in Europe. The Huguenots were also important in the early annals of the state.

There is a lot more to see, and I will report on what we learn after we return.

But the point of posting today is this: We need to understand our history, and to know where we came from. Also, we need to live as if the freedoms we enjoy, that have been purchased at such cost – and, yes, compromise too – are worth holding onto. But real freedom comes with great responsibility, and if we are not responsible both for and to truth, then what we hold so dear will soon slip away.

The connection between freedom and truth is too important to discount.

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” – DEREK

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