Local News

Looking Back at the 20th Century, Forward to the 21st

Posted January 4, 1999

— The turn of a century has always been a time of great anticipation and reflection. At the dawn of the 20th Century, newspapers chronicled the hopes and fears of that age.

It is worth a visit to the state archives collection of North Carolina newspapers to relive that time.

Those who witnessed the last click of the centennial clock read about the issues of the new age in newsprint.

An editorialist in the "Raleigh Christian Advocate" worried about the growing influence of public schools teaching dry facts without values.

The"News and Observer" announced new funding for public schools, spending 15 and a half cents per child. Of course, the state had no money in the treasury to pay for it.

The harness oil business was good. And, Raleigh stores sold the latest in foot fashions.

A good typewriter, with no centennial bugs, cost a whopping $35. New home designs became popular in upscale Raleigh neighborhoods.

The new century promised a continued industrial boom. North Carolina lead the South in new cotton mills.

Chapel Hill had a new bank and a new hotel. Building in Durham was up 30 percent. The hot button issue of the day was suffrage.

The "Farmer's and Mechanic Paper" said that giving women the vote would increase the chances that men of good character would win office.

Giving blacks the vote was a less popular idea at the turn of the century. The "Raleigh Post" complained that blacks would vote straight Republican tickets.

The "News and Observer" printed a plea by blacks seeking white support in defeating an amendment denying them the vote. They feared re-enslavement without a place at the ballot box.

The best and the worst of the human condition marked the dawn of the 20th Century as it may once again for the 21st.

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