Creating the Carolinas

While English migrants worked to build the new American colonies, England was experiencing the greatest turmoil in her history. The Stuart King, Charles I was beheaded as the result of a Civil War In 1649. A brutal dictator, Oliver Cromwell, ruled England until 1660.The disruption caused by Cromwell was a temporary distraction from colonizing the new world.

When Charles II assumed the throne, he was well received by the public. England returned to business as usual. The colonies that were created under his rule were known as Restoration Colonies. It was in this environment that the Carolinas were created.

The southern part of Carolina served first as support for the British West Indies. Soon the slave economy of the sugar islands reached the shores of Carolina. The cultivation of rice in the plantation system quickly became profitable, and planters in the hundreds and slaves in the tens of thousands inhabited Carolina. At the heart of the colony was the merchant port of Charles Town, later to be known as Charleston. African slaves became a majority of the population before the middle of the 18th century.

Such was not the case for the northern reaches of the Carolina colony. The earliest inhabitants of this region were displaced former indentured servants from the Chesapeake. Most had small tobacco farms; slavery existed but in far smaller numbers. The inhabitants felt as though the aristocrats from Virginia and the Charles Town area looked down their noses on them. Northern Carolina, like Rhode Island in the north, drew the region’s discontented masses.

As the two locales evolved separately and as their differing geographies and inhabitants steered contrasting courses, calls for a formal split emerged. In 1712, North Carolina and South Carolina became distinct colonies. Each prospered in its own right.

Source: Creating the Carolinas
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