The roots of the English Colonies of Virginia, Massachusetts, Maryland, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire were planted before 1640. In England, beginning in 1642 and lasting to 1659, the English Civil War, the execution of King Charles I, and the rule of Oliver Cromwell caused a cessation of new colonies in English America. With the restoration of the monarchy under Charles II, England began to colonize once again.
In 1663, eight English noblemen founded the Province of Carolina, named after King Charles. The charter gave the eight Lord Proprietors title to the land from Virginia south to Florida. While one large colony, Carolina had two distinct regions. Northern Carolina had a similar climate and soil with Virginia, and soon farmers and tobacco growers moved into the area. Today, “tobacco road” is a term still applied to the region.
Southern Carolina had a much different origin. In 1670, settlers from Bermuda founded Charles Towne. Because of its natural harbor, Charleston was a center of trade with the Caribbean and West Indies and attracted settlers from many possessions of the British Empire and became the colonial capital. Because of the much warmer climate and fertile soil, coastal southern Carolina grew tropical crops such as rice, sugar, indigo, and eventually cotton.
The labor intensive crops in the area around Charleston led to reliance upon slave labor. By the early 18th century the slave population was almost half of the total population. By the Civil War slaves made up almost sixty percent of the South Carolina population, and today it ranks sixth in population of people of African descent.
The differences in the population and economics of the two areas of Carolina combined with growing tension over how they were governed. The two regions grew apart, were increasingly viewed as two separate colonies, and in 1729 officially became North and South Carolina.
Editors Note: Travis Childs is a history instructor at Cameron University in Lawton, Okla. He is a graduate of Midway High School and lives in Bluegrove. He is currently president of the Clay County Historical Society.