South Carolina: A Short History, 1520-1948

By David Duncan Wallace | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XX
BOUNDARY TROUBLES AND BORDER WARS, 1732-1748

Disputes Over the North Carolina Line. --The fact that the earlier settlements in North Carolina lay near the Virginia line and that the early South Carolinians were along the faraway Ashley destined the development of two provinces instead of one imperial Carolina. The expansion of the two colonies toward each other rendered a dividing line between them a necessity for establishing the certainty of land titles and the authority of one government or the other in border regions. An increasing class of frontier outlaws took advantage of the uncertainty and retarded the coming of desirable population.

In January, 1730, the Lords of Trade, to divide the provinces, adopted a line "beginning at the sea thirty miles distant from the mouth of the Cape Fear on the southwest thereof," paralleling the river to its source, and thence west to the Pacific. They added in June, "but if the Waggamaw River lyes within thirty miles of Cape Fear River, then that river to be the boundary from the sea to the head thereof and from thence to keep the distance of thirty miles parallel from Cape Fear River to the head thereof, and thence a due west course to the South Sea."

Here was a fatal ambiguity; for, although the mouths of the two rivers are over fifty miles apart, they approach in their upper reaches nearer than thirty. South Carolina claimed that the instruction referred to their separation at their mouths and that therefore the line was to lie thirty miles west of the Cape Fear and so to its source, while North Carolina contended that the Waccamaw was to be the boundary if at any point it was within thirty miles of the Cape Fear. In 1735 commissioners were appointed by both provinces to run the line. An agreement was made by them, unauthorized by the King's instructions or the action of the Assembly, to run northwest in a straight line from a point on the coast thirty miles southwest of the mouth of the Cape Fear up to latitude 35 and thence west to the Pacific. Both provinces accepted this compromise, but the surveyors erroneously stopped in 1737 eleven miles south of latitude 35.

The steps in settling the line between the Carolinas have been as

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