Alexander H. Jones
In the late 19th century, 60 German Jews made their way into the terra incognita of Old North Carolina. James “Buck” Duke had invited them here because he had the bright idea of automated cigarette rolling, and they knew how to operate the machines.
It must have been quite a shock — going from a country, Germany, that was then the worldwide capital of science and technology, to a state of quiet, rolling hills and tobacco fields that the same families had planted since the days of Frederick the Great. But they set down roots, and as a result, Durham has a vibrant Jewish community to this day.
What’s the point of this story? Mostly, its exceptionalism.
North Carolina does not have a deep immigrant history. In fact, for the first three and a half centuries of the state’s existence, our population remained in an equilibrium of native-born whites, enslaved or oppressed…