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Northampton County was formed in 1741 from Bertie County and was named in honor of James Crompton Earl of Northampton, an English nobleman. Located in the northeastern section of the state, it is bounded by the State of Virginia and neighboring North Carolina counties of Halifax, Bertie and Hertford. The Roanoke River determines the southwest boarder of Northampton following its flow from the Roanoke Rapids Lake in the northwestern corner of Northampton County. The Meherrin River marks the northeastern border. The present land area is 536 square miles and the 2003 estimated population was 21,782. Jackson is the seat of Northampton County and is an extremely fertile area along the Roanoke River with cotton, corn and peanuts being its principal crops. The first courthouse was built here in 1742 and was known as Northampton Courthouse; Jackson, NC was incorporated in 1823 and named after Andrew Jackson who was born near the NC/SC line, studied law in Salisbury, NC and later became the seventh President of the United States.
During the Nat Turner slave insurrection of 1831 in the adjoining Southampton County, Virginia, NC militia were mobilized at Jackson, NC in readiness for the anticipated slave uprising that was quelled prior to the militia's intervention. The Northampton County Courthouse was built in 1859 and it is purported that Cornwallis visited a tavern that was located diagonally opposite the Courthouse. Lafayette, the first Frenchman to come to the aid of the American revolutionary cause and whom the United States Congress commissioned a major general of the Continental Army on July 31, 1777 dined in Jackson on his 1825 triumphal visit to North Carolina.