We provide records of relative sea level since A.D. 1500 from two salt marshes in North Carolina to complement existing tide-gauge records and to determine when recent rates of accelerated sea-level rise commenced. Reconstructions were developed using foraminifera-based transfer functions and composite chronologies, which were validated against regional twentieth century tide-gauge records. The measured rate of relative sea-level rise in North Carolina during the twentieth century was 3.0–3.3 mm/a, consisting of a background rate of ~1 mm/a, plus an abrupt increase of 2.2 mm/a, which began between A.D. 1879 and 1915. This acceleration is broadly synchronous with other studies from the Atlantic coast. The magnitude of the acceleration at both sites is larger than at sites farther north along the U.S. and Canadian Atlantic coast and may be indicative of a latitudinal trend.