city, seat (1791) of Lenoir county, east-central North Carolina, U.S. It lies at the head of navigation on the Neuse River, about 25 miles (40 km) southeast of Goldsboro. Settled as a planters' trading post in 1740 by William Heritage, it was incorporated as Kingston in 1762, named for King George III of England; in 1784, after the American Revolution, the g was dropped from its name. Richard Caswell, the first governor of North Carolina, lived there and was one of its original trustees, and the town was briefly (1833-34) called Caswell. During the American Civil War the Confederate ironclad gunboat Neuse was sunk there by its crew in 1865 to keep it from being captured by Union forces; its hull, salvaged in 1963, lies on the riverbank, which has been designated a state historic site.
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