Act 4: A New Voyage to Carolina

Overhead view of JamestownEnglish colonies have proliferated along the Atlantic coast, some formed by those fleeing religious persecution, others are seeking fortune in the New World. The growth has caused a shortage of good land around Jamestown and with the Virginia governor on the wrong side in the coup that costs Charles I his head, Virginia's ports are ordered blockaded by Oliver Cromwell... leaving the only route south into the rich lands of Carolina a swampy wilderness that borders Virginia. [Video Commentary by Lindley Butler]

But the lands of Carolina are populated by the Tuscarora, a successful people with both an agrarian and a hunter society, as well as a trading culture that carries them as far as the Great Lakes. And they are a tribe of warriors not to be taken lightly.

The Virginian English find cleared land theirs for the taking, at least in their perspective, as many of the Indians have died from diseases brought by the Europeans and town sites as well as cleared agricultural sites abound along the riverbanks. Still, expansion southward is slow, and only a few hundred settlers homestead among the Indians during the next decade.

Civil war in England comes to an end in 1660 and Charles II is placed on the throne. He rewards eight of the men who helped him with huge land grants in Carolina and they become the Lords Proprietors. They quickly insist that their charter include the settled areas north of the Albemarle Sound. And suddenly, the people who thought of themselves as Virginians are now under new rulers, with the prospect of government and taxes a reality.

The Fundamental Constitutions of the CarolinasThe Fundamental Constitutions of Carolina, a complicated document combining the old feudal land laws with liberal political notions, is handed down to the displeased settlers. Taxes will be collected, but an effort is made to give the landholders a voice in their own government. And religious freedom is confirmed in the new laws.

The Quakers are the first to establish a church in Carolina. And in this promising political environment, an effort is made to encourage fair treatment of the natives as well. [Video Commentary by Clara Sue Kidwell]

Agitated colonistsThe efforts of the Lords Proprietors are not well-received in the Carolina colony. The colonists are an especially independent lot, self-sustaining and disdainful of outside government meddling. And there is more than just the rebellious spirit of the settlers that stands in the way of success for the Proprietors--the colony's lack of a deep-water port drives up the costs for shipping and there is general stagnation in the economy. [Video Commentary by William Price]

By 1670, there are really two colonies in Carolina, the one north of the Albemarle Sound and the second far to the south around the growing port of Charleston. The deepwater port there creates tremendous economic activity and the Proprietors begin to concentrate their efforts on the winning settlement, bringing still more wealth to the region.

Sugar slavesThe Charleston area sees the emergence of a new cash crop, rice, and with it the need for labor. This need intensifies in Virginia as well, with the clearing of land and expanding tobacco plantations.

Slavery is already present in the Americas, brought by the Spanish, and soon the English colonists who can afford it turn to African slaves as a source of labor.


Indian slave being loaded onto boatSlavery is legal in Carolina and there were slaves available, but the colony was, for the most part, not as wealthy as its neighbors to the south and north. Lack of ports meant less trade and, consequently, less money, holding the rise of slavery back in what is now North Carolina. But with the expansion of the colonies, the English settlers encourage their Indian trade partners to bring their captured neighbors to them as slaves, and many of the tribes seem more than eager to oblige.

Many of the enslaved Indians are destined, not for the plantations of Carolina, but to other colonies or to the Caribbean, and so they are taken from their native lands to faraway places, never to return.

Englishman John Lawson would have an impact on the colony's growth, following his arrival and early explorations in 1701. Lawson was a surveyor and a writer with a keen interest in the people, flora and fauna of this New World and he would write of his travels and observations in a successful publication called A New Voyage to Carolina.

"A New Voyage to Carolina" coverAfter his journey, he settles on the Neuse River near the native village of Chattoka and he writes glowingly of his Indian neighbors, describing them as a kindly and considerate people. [Video Commentary by John Lawson]

Lawson helps to establish the town of Bath, North Carolina's first, and more settlers are attracted to the region, drawn both by his book and the availability of building lots on the Pamlico River.

Portrait of Baron de GraffenriedHe convinces a Swiss Baron, Christopher de Graffenried, to settle a group of Palatines, German Protestants fleeing religious persecution, in the new Carolina colony. Lawson arranges a purchase of land at the point where the Trent and Neuse rivers join, and De Graffenried names the new settlement New Bern, after the capitol of Switzerland. The Baron would later accuse Lawson of selling land that belonged to the Tuscarora, but De Graffenried would be the only one around to tell the story.

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