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Carolina Colonies

A Brief History

"Carolina was so called by the French, in 1563 or 1564, in honor of Charles IX, King of France (Carolus in Latin, meaning Charles), under whose patronage its coast was discovered.

The territory thus named afterwards included the lands between the 30th and 36th degrees of north latitude, and extended from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific. In 1663, this defined territory was conveyed, by Charles II, King of England, who claimed it by virtue of Cabot's discovery, to Lord Clarendon, Sir William Berkley, Sir George Carteret, and four others with ample powers to settle and govern it.

Between 1640 and 1650, before the above grant to Clarendon and others, a settlement had begun by planters from Virginia, near the mouth of the Chowan River, on the northern shore of Albemarle Sound. This settlement was placed by Governor Berkley, of Virginia, under the superintendence of William Drummond. The little plantation received the name of the Albemarle County Colony, in honor of the Duke of Albemarle, one of the proprietors.

In 1665, a second permanent settlement was effected, near the mouth of the Clarendon or Cape Fear River, by emigrants from the Island of Barbados. This was called the Clarendon County Colony. It had a similar constitution with Virginia. Sir John Yeamans was the first governor. Both of the above settlements, were within the present limits of North Carolina.

In 1670, a third colony was founded, called the Carteret County Colony, after Sir George Carteret. The colonists were accompanied by Governor Sayle, who had previously explored the coast. The ships which bore the emigrants first entered the harbor of Port Royal, near Beaufort; but, not being pleased with the place, they soon sailed into the Ashley River, and laid the foundations of Old Charleston. In 1680, this settlement was abandoned for Oyster Point, on which was commenced the present city of Charleston. This was the commencement of South Carolina.

During the administration of Governor Sayle, a form of government was prepared for these colonies, at the request of the celebrated Lord Shaftesbury, acting in behalf of the proprietors, by the still more celebrated John Locke. It proposed a court, to consist. of the proprietors, one of whom was to be elected president for life; also, an hereditary nobility, and a parliament, the latter to consist of the two former, and representatives from each district. All were to meet in one apartment, and to have an equal voice. This ill-contrived and absurd plan of government was attempted to be applied in practice, but it was found to be impracticable. In Albemarle County, it caused an insurrection. It was therefore abandoned, and the former proprietary government restored.

In the year 1671, Governor Sayle dying, Sir John Yeamans, Governor of Clarendon, was appointed to succeed him. In consequence of this event, and the little prosperity of the colony, chiefly arising from the barrenness of its soil, the inhabitants of this later settlement, within a few years, removed to that of Charleston, and the three governments, consequently, were reduced to two. Being widely separated, the distinctive names of' North and South Carolina began to be used in respect to them.

North Carolina Colony

The progress of the Albemarle or North Carolina Colony was long retarded by domestic dissensions. An insurrectionary state of the inhabitants arose out of an attempt to enforce Mr. Locke's plan of government; — taxes were enormous, and commercial restrictions embarrassing. In 1677, after an attempt to enforce the revenue laws against a smuggler from New England, the people rose upon the government, and imprisoned the president of the colony and six members of the council, and, having done this, assumed the prerogative of governing themselves.

In 1683, the proprietors sent over Seth Sothel, one of their number, hoping through him to restore quiet and contentment. But he only increased existing disorders. For six years, the inhabitants endured his injustice and oppression, and then seized him, and, after trying him, banished him from the colony. A historian once remarked about Sothel, 'The dark shades of his character were not relieved by a single ray of virtue.'

Philip Ludwell, of Virginia, succeeded the infamous and exacting Sothel, and redressed the wrongs he had done. Under him, arid his successor, Sir John Archdale, in 1695, a Quaker and an excellent man, order was restored to the colony. Emigrants began to flock in, and various other portions of the territory, in the course of a few years, were settled. Liberal assignments of land were made them by the proprietors, and here many, who had fled from religious persecutions, or the devastations of war in foreign lands, found a peaceful and grateful asylum. This was particularly true of a company of French Protestants, who arrived in 1707, and settled on the river Trent, a branch of the Neuse, and of a large number of Germans, who fled from persecution in 1710, and planted themselves in that same part of the province.

But the inhabitants of this colony were destined soon to experience a sad, and, to many, a fatal calamity. The Indian tribes on the seacoast, once numerous and powerful, were fast dwindling before the enterprise of the colonists. To the more inland tribes, especially the Tuscaroras and the Corees, this was an indication not to be mistaken that the days of their prosperity were fast numbering. Grieved and exasperated at the prospect before them, they now combined with other tribes to utterly exterminate the new settlers. This purpose they attempted to carry into effect; and so successful were they, that in one night, October 2nd, 1711, they massacred one hundred and thirty persons belonging to the settlements along the Roanoke River and Pamlico Sound.

A few colonists, escaping, hastened to South Carolina for assistance. Governor Craven immediately dispatched to their aid nearly a thousand men, under Colonel Barnwell. On his arrival, he defeated the enemy in several actions; and, at length, pursued them to their fortified town, which capitulated, and peace was 

But it proved of short duration. The Indians renewed their hostilities, and the assistance of the southern colony was again involved. In response, Colonel Moore set out for the hostile territory, with a competent force; — forty white men; and eight-hundred friendly Indians. They reduced the fort of the Tuscaroras, and with it took eight hundred prisoners. Broken and disheartened by this defeat, the tribe, in 1713, migrated north, and became the sixth nation of the great Iroquois Confederacy; — sometimes called the Five, and after this event, the Six Nations. In 1715, a treaty was concluded with the Corees.

In 1719, the proprietary government, which had continued from the settlement of the colony until now, was terminated in consequence of difficulties between the inhabitants and the proprietors. Their charter was vacated by the crown, and royal government substituted. Ten years after in 1729, the proprietors surrendered their right to the government, and interest in the soil, to the king; upon which the province was divided into North and. South Carolina, and their governors and councils were appointed by the crown.

South Carolina Colony

The foundation of the Carteret or Southern Colony, was laid by Governor Sayle and emigrants accompanying him, in the settlement of Old Charleston, in 1670. Sayle fell victim to some disease of the climate early in the following year, and Sir John Yeamans, then Governor of Clarendon Colony, was appointed his successor. On being transferred, he drew after him a considerable portion of the latter colony.

The progress of the southern colony was, from the commencement, more rapid than the northern. Several circumstances contributed to this. The soil was more feasible and fertile. Many Dutch families from New York, dissatisfied with the transfer of their home to the English, in 1664, were ready to find a home here; and, in 1671, shiploads of them were transported by the proprietors to Carolina, free of expense, and liberal grants of land were made to them. They chiefly concentrated at a place called Jamestown, west of the Ashley River, where they were, from time to time, enforced by emigrants from Holland. The profanity and licentiousness of the court of Charles II, also, drove many Puritan refugees across the Atlantic, a considerable number of whom settled in Carolina.

In 1680, the people of Old Charleston, attracted by the more pleasant location of a point of land between thee rivers Ashley and Cooper, called Oyster Point, removed there, and there laid the foundation of the present City of Charleston, which, from that time, has had the honor of being the capital of the colony and state.

They were, however, immediately afterward, annoyed, and the safety of the place even endangered, by the hostile and predatory conduct of the Westoes, a powerful tribe of Indians in the neighborhood. Retaliatory measures became necessary; numbers of the Indians were shot; and others, who were captured, were sent into slavery in the West Indies. Fortunately, peace was made with them the following year.

In 1686, soon after the revocation of the edict of Nantes, by Louis XIV, a large number of Huguenots, or French Protestants, came over, and settled in the colony. To the English settlers, who were Episcopal, these refugees being of so different a faith, were by no means welcome; and they were quite disposed to drive them from the colony, notwithstanding the latter had been introduced by the proprietors under an assurance of enjoying the rights of citizenship.

About this time, James Colleton, a brother of Sir John, was appointed governor, under an expectation that he would be able to reduce the people to a proper submission to proprietary authority, to which they had for a long time seemed averse. But his arbitrary conduct, in excluding refractory members from the colonial assembly, and in attempting to collect rents claimed by the proprietors as due, drove the people to open resistance. The public records were seized, the colonial secretary imprisoned, the governor defied, and, at length, banished from the colony.

In 1690, that notable person, Seth Sothel, who, for his corrupt conduct, had been driven from North Carolina in disgrace, appeared in the province, and was allowed by the people to assume the government. But, impelled by his avarice to acts of meanness and oppression, as formerly; at the expiration of two years he was banished from the colony. Next, Philip Ludwell was appointed by the proprietors as the person to teach the South Carolinians submission and good manner; but they were too turbulent, as he thought, and he became glad, at no distant day, to retire.

In 1695, John Archdale, the Quaker, was appointed governor, with power to redress all grievances. The people had long complained against their rulers, and had quarreled among themselves. Archdale, by a wise and conciliatory course, restored harmony, and removed the causes of civil dissatisfaction. He introduced a more republican form of government, thus restoring to the people rights and privileges which had been monopolized by the proprietors, or their agents.

One difficulty, however, still remained, and which he was compelled to leave to the 'softening influence of time' to remove. This was the jealousy and antipathy already alluded to, of the English Episcopalians against the French Protestants. The latter, it was contended, could not legally hold real estate in the colony; that the French ministers could not lawfully solemnize marriages; and that the children of the refugees must be debarred inheriting the property of their fathers.

But these animosities and differences found an end. When, at length, the inoffensive and even exemplary lives of these exiles, were observed by the English, and also their uniform and liberal efforts to sustain and advance the interests of the colony, prejudice and opposition yielded; and, in a few years, the colonial assembly gladly extended to them all the rights of citizens and freemen.

Soon after the declaration of war in 1702, by England against France and Spain, called Queen Anne's War, Governor Moore proposed to the assembly of the colony an expedition against the Spanish settlement of St. Augustine, in Florida. To this the more considerate of the assembly were opposed; but, the enterprise being approved by a majority, nearly ten thousand dollars were appropriated for the object, and twelve hundred troops raised, one half of whom were Indians. With the forces above named, and some merchant vessels impressed as transports, Governor Moore sailed for St. Augustine. The design for Colonel Daniel, an enterprising officer, was to proceed by the inland passage, and then attack the town by land, with a party of militia and Indians; while Moore was to proceed by sea, and take possession of the harbor. Daniel advanced against the town, entered and plundered it, before the governor's arrival. The Spaniards, however, retired to the castle, with their principal riches, and with provisions for four months.

The governor, on his arrival, could effect nothing, for want of artillery. In this emergency, Daniel was dispatched to Jamaica for cannon, mortars, etc. During his absence, two large Spanish ships appearing off the harbor, Governor Moore hastily raised the siege, abandoned his shipping, and made a precipitate retreat into Carolina. Colonel Daniel, having no intelligence that the siege had been raised, on his return, stood in for the harbor, and narrowly escaped the ships of the enemy. In consequence of this rash and unfortunate enterprise, the colony was loaded with a debt of nearly thirty thousand dollars, which gave rise to the first paper currency in Carolina, and was the means of filling the colony with dissension and tumult.

The failure of this expedition was soon after, in a measure, compensated by a successful war with the Appalachian Indians, who, in consequence of their connection with the Spaniards, became insolent and hostile. Governor Moore, with a body of white men and Indian allies, marched into the heart of their country, and compelled them to submit to the English. All the towns of the tribes between the rivers Altamaha and Savannah were burnt, and between six hundred and eight hundred Indians were made prisoners.

In 1704, Sir Nathaniel Johnson succeeded Governor Moore; and now, under his influence, a long-cherished object of the proprietors was accomplished. This was the establishment of the Church of England forms of worship as the religion of the province, and the exclusion of dissenters from all participation in the government. But, in 1706, these laws of exclusion or disfranchisement were repealed, by direction of the English Parliament, which decided that they were inconsistent with the laws of England. But the acts establishing the Church of England religion continued in force, until they were abrogated by the American Revolution.

In 1706, while yet Queen Anne's War continued, a French and Spanish squadron, consisting of a French frigate and four armed sloops, appeared before Charleston, with a design of annexing Carolina to Florida; but, by the prompt and energetic efforts of the governor, seconded by Colonel Rhett and the inhabitants, this issue was averted. When, at length, the enemy had passed the bar, he sent a summons to the governor to surrender. Four hours were allowed him to return his answer. But the governor informed the messenger that he did not wish one minute. On the reception of this answer, the enemy seemed to hesitate, and attempted nothing that day.

The day succeeding, a party of the enemy, landing on James Island, burnt a village by the river's side. Another party landed at Wando Neck. The next day both these parties were dislodged; the latter party being surprised, and nearly all killed or taken prisoner.

This success so animated the Carolinians, that it was determined to attack the enemy by sea. This was attempted with a force of six vessels, under command of Rhett; but, on his appearance, the enemy weighed anchor, and precipitately fled.

In 1715, the province came near the verge of ruin, by reason of a combination of the Yamassees and other Indian tribes—stretching from Cape Fear to Florida—against them. The 15th of April 1715, was fixed upon as the day of their general destruction. Owing, however, to the wisdom, dispatch and firmness of Governor Craven, and the blessing of Providence, the calamity was, in a measure, averted, and the colonies saved, though at the expense during the war, of near four hundred of the inhabitants. The Yamassees were expelled from the province, and took refuge among the Spaniards in Florida.

In 1719, the people of Carolina, having been long disgusted with the management of the proprietors, were resolved, at all hazards, to execute their own laws, and defend the rights of the province. A subscription to this effect was drawn up, and generally signed. On the meeting of the assembly, a committee was sent with this subscription to the governor, Robert Johnson, requesting him to accept the government of the province, under the king, instead of the proprietors. Upon Johnson's refusal, the assembly chose Colonel James Moore governor, under the crown; and on the 21st of December, 1719, the convention and militia marched to Charleston fort, and proclaimed Moore governor, in his majesty's name.

The Carolinians, having thus assumed the government, in behalf of the king, referred their complaints to the royal ear. On a hearing of the case, the privy council adjudged that the proprietors had forfeited their charter. From this time, therefore, the colony was taken under the royal protection, under which it continued until the Revolution. This change was followed, in 1729, by another, nearly as important. This was an agreement, between the proprietors and the crown, that the former should surrender to the crown their right and interest, both to the government and soil, for the sum of seventeen thousand five hundred pounds sterling. This agreement being carried into effect, the province was divided into North and South Carolina, each province having a distinct governor, under the crown of England.


Source: A History of the United States, by Charles A. Goodrich, 1857




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