Chronicles of America 

The Carolinas

The first settlers on the banks of the James River, looking from beneath their hands southward over plain land and a haze of endless forests, called that unexplored country South Virginia. It stretched away to those rivers and bays, to that island of Roanoke, whence had fled Raleigh's settlers. Beyond that, said the James River men, was Florida. Time passed, and the region of South Virginia was occasionally spoken of as Carolina, though whether that name was drawn from Charles the First of England, or whether those old unfortunate Huguenots in Florida had used it with reference to Charles the Ninth of France, is not certainly known.

South Virginia lay huge, unknown, unsettled. The only exception was the country immediately below the southern banks of the lower James with the promontory that partially closed in Chesapeake Bay. Virginia, growing fast, at last sent her children into this region. In 1653 the Assembly enacted: "Upon the petition of Roger Green, clarke, on the behalfe of himselfe and inhabitants of Nansemund river, It is ordered by this present Grand Assembly that tenn thousand acres of land be granted unto one hundred such persons who shall first seate on Moratuck or Roanoke river and the land lying upon the south side of Choan river and the ranches thereof, Provided that such seaters settle advantageously for security and be sufficiently furnished with amunition and strength . . . ."

Green and his men, well furnished presumably with firelocks, bullets, and powder-horns, went into this hinterland. At intervals there followed other hardy folk. Quakers, subject to persecution in old Virginia, fled into these wilds. The name Carolina grew to mean backwoods, frontiersman's land. Here were forest and stream, Indian and bear and wolf, blue waters of sound and sea, long outward lying reefs and shoals and islets, fertile soil and a clime neither hot nor cold. Slowly the people increased in number. Families left settled Virginia for the wilderness; men without families came there for reasons good and bad. Their cabins, their tiny hamlets were far apart; they practiced a hazardous agriculture; they hunted, fished, and traded with the Indians. The isolation of these settlers bred or increased their personal independence, while it robbed them of that smoothness to be gained where the social particles rub together. This part of South Virginia was soon to be called North Carolina.

Far down the coast was Cape Fear. In the year of the Restoration a handful of New England men came here in a ship and made a settlement which, not prospering, was ere long abandoned. But New Englanders traded still in South Virginia as along other coasts. Seafarers, they entered at this inlet and at that, crossed the wide blue sounds, and, anchoring in mouths of rivers, purchased from the settlers their forest commodities. Then over they ran to the West Indies, and got in exchange sugar and rum and molasses, with which again they traded for tobacco in Carolina, in Virginia, and in Maryland. These ships went often to New Providence in the Bahamas and to Barbados. There began, through trade and other circumstances, a special connection between the long coast line and these islands that were peopled by the English. The restored Kingdom of England had many adherents to reward. Land in America, islands and main, formed the obvious Fortunatus's purse. As the second Charles had divided Virginia for the benefit of Arlington and Culpeper, so now, in 1663, to "our right trusty and right well-beloved cousins and counsellors, Edward, Earl of Clarendon, our High Chancellor of England, and George, Duke of Albemarle, Master of our Horse and Captain General of all our Forces, our right trusty and well-beloved William, Lord Craven, John, Lord Berkeley, our right trusty and well-beloved counsellor, Anthony, Lord Ashley, Chancellor of our Exchequer, Sir George Carteret, Knight and Baronet, Vice Chamberlain of our Household, and our trusty and well-beloved Sir William Berkeley, Knight, and Sir John Colleton, Knight and Baronet," he gave South Virginia, henceforth called the Carolinas, a region occupying five degrees of latitude, and stretching indefinitely from the seacoast toward the setting sun.

This huge territory became, like Maryland, a province or palatinate. In Maryland was one Proprietary; in Carolina there were eight, though for distinction the senior of the eight was called the Palatine. As in Maryland, the Proprietaries had princely rights. They owed allegiance to England, and a small quit-rent went to the King. They were supposed to govern, in the main, by English law and to uphold the religion of England. They were to make laws at their discretion, with "the advice, assent, and approbation of the freemen, or of their deputies, who were to be assembled from time to time as seemed best."

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