The Old Union County Courthouse in 1969
Location within the U.S. state of North Carolina
North Carolina's location within the U.S.
|Largest town||Indian Trail|
|o Total||640 sq mi (1,700 km2)|
|o Land||632 sq mi (1,640 km2)|
|o Water||8.0 sq mi (21 km2) 1.3%%|
| o Estimate |
|o Density||319/sq mi (123/km2)|
|Time zone||UTC-5 (Eastern)|
|o Summer (DST)||UTC-4 (EDT)|
The county was formed in 1842 from parts of Anson County and Mecklenburg County. Its name was a compromise between Whigs, who wanted to name the new county for Henry Clay, and Democrats, who wanted to name it for Andrew Jackson. The Helms, Starnes, McRorie, and Belk families were prominent in the town as well as Monroe and Charlotte. Most of these families came from Goose Creek Township.
Monroe, the county seat of Union County, also became a focal point during the Civil Rights Movement. In 1958, local NAACP Chapter President Robert F. Williams defended a nine-year-old African-American boy who had been kissed by a white girl in an incident known as the Kissing Case. A second African-American boy, aged seven, was also convicted and sentenced to live in a juvenile reformatory until he was 21 for simply witnessing the act. In 1961, Williams was accused of kidnapping an elderly white couple, when he sheltered them in his house during a very explosive situation of high racial tensions. Williams fled and went into exile in Cuba and in the People's Republic of China before returning to the United States.
As of the census of 2010, there were 201,292 people, 67,864 households, and 54,019 families residing in the county. The population density was 194 people per square mile (75/km²). There were 45,695 housing units at an average density of 31.4 per square mile (12.3/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 79.0% White, 11.7% Black or African American, 0.4% Native American, 1.6% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 5.3% from other races, and 1.9% from two or more races. 10.4% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 67,864 households out of which 42.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 64.60% were married couples living together, and 10.70% had a female householder with no husband present. 6.10% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.94 and the average family size was 3.3.
In the county, the population was spread out with 32.90% under the age of 20, 4.7% from 20 to 24, 27.7% from 25 to 44, 25.2% from 45 to 64, and 9.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36.2 years. The population was 49.4% male.
In the early twentieth century, Union County was typically firm "Solid South" Democratic apart from the 1928 election when anti-Catholicism reduced Al Smith's margin of victory in the county to only seven percentage points. Union County remained classically "Solid South" until after the Civil Rights Movement. The first Republican to win the county was Richard Nixon with less than forty percent of the vote in a three-way race in 1968. Following Nixon's election, the trend towards liberalism in the Democratic Party has turned Union into a strongly Republican county over the past half-century. The last Democrat to win Union County was Jimmy Carter in 1980, and since then no Democrat has won more than 36 percent of the county's vote.