The history of Fayetteville dates back to the two settlements on the Cape Fear River— Cross Creek and Campbelltown. Cross Creek was initially a settlement for trading in 1756. Campbelltown, on the other hand, was founded in 1762 by the North Carolina General Assembly. They united in 1763. The merged town was named Fayetteville to commemorate Marquis de Lafayette, a Frenchman who aided the Americans during the American Revolution. It was the first town in the country named after him.
Fayetteville grew in many areas after the American Revolution. It also became the heart of the political activities of the state. In 1786, a new courthouse and jail were constructed and opened. The Fayetteville Gazette, the city’s first publication, began operations three years after. Members of the North Carolina General Assembly met to decide on the delegates to the 1787 Constitutional Convention. The residents of North Carolina wanted Fayetteville to become the state capital in 1788. In the following year, they yielded the western side of the land to Tennessee and ratified the Constitution of the United States. The General Assembly continued to meet in Fayetteville until they moved to Raleigh in 1794.
Fayetteville grew in its economy in the nineteenth century. It became a regional center for goods and other services. The port had a courthouse, banks, churches, clubs, offices, and other businesses. Around the area limits were church-affiliated academies. People went to dancing clubs for entertainment, as well as musicals and dramas. A great fire in Fayetteville demolished most of its downtown area in 1832. The residents of Fayetteville replaced the wooden establishment with buildings made of bricks. In 1838, the United States Arsenal was built in Fayetteville. After more than a decade, its campus expanded across forty acres.
In the latter part of the Civil War, General William Tecumseh Sherman’s troops stayed in Fayetteville for two days. He ordered the federal arsenal’s burning in March 1865. Billy Yanks left the town and ruined its newspaper establishments, cotton factories, and shops. In the Reconstruction era, Fayetteville became a leader in African American education, with three educational institutions established in the town. The Howard School that was initially established in 1867, became the Fayetteville State University.
Several stores and establishments were built and operated in downtown Fayetteville in the 20th century. A five-story building was constructed by the Stein Brothers in 1916. After two years, the founding Camp Bragg was authorized by the federal government. Fort Bragg, which is the most extensive Army base in the U.S. and Pope Air Force Base, helped improve the economy of Fayetteville. Many people believe that Fayetteville would not have grown without the help of Fort Bragg.
The growth of Fayetteville gathered contradictory responses from people. Hay Street, which was Fayetteville’s main street, was considered corrupt in the 1960s. After two decades, the main road has been restored, but it wasn’t able to exceed the revenues of suburban shopping centers. At present, Fayetteville is home to more than a hundred subdivisions, malls, and plazas.
Aside from its service and military industry, Fayetteville is renowned for its higher education institutions. Fayetteville State University was established in 1867 to provide education to freed slaves. It is also known to be home to the Fayetteville Symphony, which was established in 1957 after World War II.