The Pageant of America: A Pictorial History of the United States - Vol. 1

By Clark Wissler; Constance Lindsay Skinner et al. | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XIV
THE CAROLINA PROPRIETORS

WHEN Charles II returned as King of England there were men of power and influence in his realm whose support was needed to make the new monarch secure. Recompense for such support was only just. Hence, in 1663 Charles drew up a charter granting territory covering five degrees of latitude south of Virginia -- and stretching westward without limit -- to "our right trusty and right well-beloved cousins and counsellors, Edward, Earl of Clarendon, our High Chancellor of England, and George, Duke of Albemarle, Master of our Horse and Captain-General of all our Forces, our right trusty and well-beloved William, Lord Craven, John, Lord Berkeley, our right trusty and well-beloved counsellor, Anthony, Lord Ashley, Chancellor of our Exchequer, Sir George Carteret, Knight and Baronet, Vice-Chamberlain of our Household, and our trusty and well-beloved Sir William Berkeley, Knight, and Sir John Colleton, Knight and Baronet." Thus did the Proprietary of Carolina come into being. The first ships sailed in 1669, and in 1670 Charleston was founded.

The Carolina enterprise was a speculative venture, the aim being to make the Carolinas and the Bahamas centers of trade in semi-tropical products, such as almonds, silk and wine. One charter was granted in 1663 and a second in 1665. The latter was for the purpose of enabling the proprietors to incorporate in their colony settlements in the region of Albemarle Sound. The charter provided for a government under the direction of the proprietors with the assistance of a representative assembly. Religious toleration was also guaranteed.

Before the charters were granted settlement had been begun in what is now North Carolina, territory which Virginia considered to be part of her domain. The Virginia Assembly in 1653 had granted rights on Roanoke and Choan rivers "and the branches thereof" to one Roger Green, who desired to plant a settlement in this wilderness. Huguenots, Quakers, Ulstermen, poor and hardy men of all persuasions, followed Green into North Carolina to grapple anew with the forest. About 1660 a party of New Englanders looked in at Cape Fear river mouth, but soon abandoned the place; and five years later Englishmen from Barbados led by John Yeamans made a temporary settlement in the same region.

To the south of Carolina lay the Spanish settlements in Florida. Both Spain and England claimed the Carolina region. Its occupation became, therefore, a matter of political importance; to forestall the rival Spaniard was a patriotic duty. This argument weighed in the minds of the aristocratic proprietors who, at the same time, felt that the commercial resources of the country would fill their pockets with profit. In this they were doomed to disappointment. But out of their small beginnings grew ultimately two important commonwealths.

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