North Carolina

Blue Ridge Mountains

In 1663, after the restoration of the British monarchy, King Charles II the second granted eight of his supporters (known as “The Proprietors”), a charter to settle the land between Virginia and Florida. That land had been Spanish territory. The leader of the group was Lord Shaftesbury. The Lord had taken a clear interest in the Carolina territory. He helped craft “the Fundamental Constitution of Carolina”. Settlement in Carolina began in1665, when Sir John Yeomans led a settlement on the Cape Fear River (near present day Wilmington North Carolina). Initially, the new proprietors tried to get settlers already in the new world to settle in their colony. However, they were not successful. They advertised the land as “a fair and spacious province in the land of America”. The proprietors were able to get settlers who were looking for a new world to come to Carolina. In August 1669 three ship left with the first settlers. Each family had to pay 500 Pounds for their part of the settlement. They founded the settlement of Charlestown. Within two years there were 271 men and 69 women in the settlement.

The harbor in Charleston gave it a natural business advantage. The settlers promptly initiated trade with the West Indies.

The growth of the Carolina colony was slow. The coastal land was swampy and many of the early inhabitants came down with malaria. The proprietors of the colony wanted to offer large land holdings to a small number of settlers. This limited the number of settlers and slowed down the growth of the colony.

Carolina was a large colony. Over time, the Northern and Southern portions began to develop their own sense of identify. Charleston was the seat of government. However, both parts of the colony operated more or less independently until 1691– when Philip Ludwell was appointed governor of both parts. Each part had its own assembly, with the North having a deputy governor in charge of it. There was turmoil in the colony between 1706 and 1708. The Carolina colony was unable to elect any government. As a result, a further spit developed between North and South.

In 1711 many of the settlers of North Carolina were killed in what became known as the Tuscarora Wars. The Tuscarora Indians and their allies launched a surprise attack on settlers. The attack concentrated on New Berne, which had been founded by German immigrants a few years earlier. 150 settlers were killed in one day. The proprietary rule of the colony was increasingly unpopular, as it failed to protect the settlers in either North or South Carolina from Indian attack. The British government then revoked the colony’s charter, and established separate royal colonies for North and South Carolina in 1719.

During the years of the propriety rule, all of the settlement in North Carolina occurred along the coast. After the Indians were defeated in the Tuscarora war, more and more of the settlement took place in the interior, which was the frontier of the state.

New Berne became the capital of North Carolina in 1766. One section of North Carolina continued to be owned by the families of one of the original proprietors. The Caterer family owned the area known as “The Granville district”. North Carolina was an agricultural colony. The Carolina colony’s income was derived from tobacco in the North, and from Indigo, cotton and rice in the South. The Anglican Church was the official religion of North Carolina. However, most of the major protestant groups were represented in the colony, including Presbyterians, Methodist, Lutherans and Baptists.

Virginians played a key role in the confrontations that developed between the English government and the colonists in the years leading up to the Revolutionary War. While there were no direct confrontations, (like those that took place in Boston), leading Virginians became leaders in the cause for Independence.