History Of The Carolina Colonies

Francisco Gordillo was the first European to visit the present day South Carolina in 1521. The Spanish attempted the first European settlement near present day Georgetown in 1526, but it failed after 9 months.

The name Carolina is derived from King Charles I of England, who granted "Carolina" in 1629 to Sir Robert Heath.

In 1663, King Charles II, who gave away vast regions with as much coolness as if they had really belonged to him, granted to eight of his favorites a charter and certain privileges, to repay them for their loyalty in restoring him to the throne of his father. This grant was of the territory extending from the present southern line of Virginia to the St. Johns, in Florida, and from the Atlantic to the Pacific. (31 deg and 36 deg North Latitude and extending from the Atlantic Ocean to the South Seas) The eight "lords proprietors" Were:

  1. Lord Chancellor EDWARD HYDE CLARENDON, b. 1609-d. 1674 (1st Earl of Clarendon & Prime Minister)
  2. Sir GEORGE MONCK, b. 1608 d. 1670 (1st Duke of Albemarle, General Monck)
  3. Lord CRAVEN,
  4. Lord JOHN BERKELEY, of New Jersy
  5. Lord ANTHONY ASHLEY COOPER, b. 1621 d. 1783 (1st Earl of Shaftesbury)
  6. Sir GEORGE CARTERET, b. c1606 d. 1677 of New Jersey
  7. Sir WILLIAM BERKELEY, b. 1606 d. 1677 (Governor of Virginia)

This region was later (1665) extended to 36 deg 30 minutes North to include the Albemarle settlers who had moved south from Virginia.

The first permanent settlement at Charles Town (Charleston) on the Ashley River, was established by the English in 1670. It was moved in 1680 to the peninsula between the Cooper and Ashley rivers. Later in 1783 it was renamed to Charleston.

The Carolinas were early in resisting British rule.  In 1693 the colony won the right to initiate legislation in the British House of Commons.

Bath, near the mouth of the Pamlico River, was the first town to be incorporated (1706).

In 1704 an act that would have required members of the colonial assembly to adhere to the rites of the Church of England was defeated. The church was, however, made official in 1706 and remained so until 1778.

Settlement spread from Charles Town south toward BEAUFORT (founded 1710), north toward Georgetown (1735), and inland along the rivers.

In 1719 the populace rebelled against the British proprietors and their reactionary policies, expelling them and electing James Moore as governor. As a result the British crown assumed (1729) jurisdiction.

A survey of the boundary between the two, begun in 1735, was not completed until 1815.

Political strife and Indian wars slowed the Carolina Colony's growth, however, and as "Charles Town" grew more rapidly, the territory began to be known as North and South Carolina. The northern territory was made a separate colony in 1712 and had its own governors until 1829. This boundary begun in 1735, but was not established, nor fully surveyed until 1815.



In 1729, NORTH CAROLINA became a crown colony when King GEORGE, II purchased the shares of Carolina from all the lords proprietors except Lord GRANVILLE.

By the 1750s, Germans and Scottish-Irish from Pennsylvania and Virginia were settling the Piedmont (present day SC) on small, subsistence farms in contrast to the coastal plantations. 

British rule came to an end in NORTH CAROLINA when Gov. JOSIAH MARTIN fled New Bern in May 1775. The Second Provincial Congress in 1775 established two regiments and a state government. The first battle of the Revolution in NORTH CAROLINA was fought against Scottish Loyalists at Moore's Creek Bridge on Feb. 27, 1776. Later that year the Fifth Provincial Congress adopted a state constitution and elected RICHARD CASWELL the first governor. NORTH CAROLINA was the first colony to declare officially its readiness for independence and in April 1776 furnished ten regiments to the Continental army, as well as thousands of militiamen. At the same time, it helped defeat the Cherokee and suppressed the Tory residents who made the revolution virtually a civil war in NORTH CAROLINA. Despite its leadership in the Revolution, NORTH CAROLINA was the next to last of the 13 original states to ratify the federal Constitution (November 1789). In 1789, NORTH CAROLINA ceded its western territory, present-day Tennessee, to the federal government.



The Revolutionary War, after the British repulse at Charleston in 1776, temporarily bypassed South Carolina. Then the British captured Charleston on May 12, 1780. The numerous battles and skirmishes fought in the state after 1780 included important American victories at Kings Mountain and Cowpens.

South Carolina was the eighth state to ratify the federal Constitution, on May 23, 1788. To mollify Piedmont settlers, who demanded increased representation, the General Assembly agreed in 1786 to move the capital. Columbia was established as the new seat of government. In the first federal census of 1790, South Carolina's population of 249,073 ranked 7th. Nonwhites accounted for 43.7% of the total and were concentrated in the low country around Charleston.


Note: Adapted from a document located on the SC Genweb site: ftp://ftp.rootsweb.com/pub/usgenweb/sc/sccolony.txt