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city, seat of Burke county, west-central North Carolina, U.S. It lies on the Catawba River about 20 miles (30 km) west of Hickory. It was named for General Daniel Morgan, a leader of the American Revolution, and was originally called Morganborough. The area had been inhabited by the Catawba when settlers first came in the early 1700s. In 1893 the county drew a group of Waldenses, religious refugees from the Italian Alps; their descendants hold an annual festival in mid-August in nearby Valdese.