A Celebration of Women Writers

"Part IV, Chapter 42." by Henrietta Elizabeth Marshall (1876-)
From: This country of ours; the story of the United States by Henrietta Elizabeth Marshall (1876-) New York, George H. Doran company, 1917.

Editor: Mary Mark Ockerbloom


CHAPTER 42
THE FOUNDING OF NORTH AND SOUTH CAROLINA

IT was in the part of the United States which we now call North Carolina, you remember, that Sir Walter Raleigh tried to found a colony. That colony came to nothing, and the land which the white men had reclaimed from the wilderness returned once more to the wilderness.

 

Nearly a hundred years went past before white men again appeared in that part of the country. In 1629 King Charles I granted all this region to Sir Robert Heath, but he made no attempt to colonise it. Then a few settlers from Virginia and New England and the Barbados, finding the land vacant and neglected, settled there.

Sir Robert Heath

Meanwhile Charles II had come to the throne, and, wanting to reward eight of his friends who had been staunch to him during the Commonwealth, in 1663 he gave them all the land between latitude 30° and 36° and from sea to sea. If you look on the map you will see that this takes in nearly the whole of the Southern States.

The Carolinas given to eight Englishmen, 1663

Sir Robert Heath was by this time dead, and his heirs had done nothing with his great territory in America, but as soon as it was given to others they began to make a fuss. Charles II, however, said as Sir Robert had failed to plant a colony his claim no longer held good. So the eight new proprietors took possession of it. This tract of land had already been named Carolina by the Frenchman Ribaut in honour of Charles IX of France, and now the Englishmen who took possession of it kept the old name in honour of Charles II.

 

The Lords Proprietary then set about drawing up laws for their new country. After an old English title they called the oldest among them the Palatine. Palatine originally meant a person who held some office about a king's palace. It has come to mean one who has royal privileges. So a Prince Palatine is really a little king. When the Palatine died it was arranged that the next in age should take his place. As to the other seven proprietors they all had grand sounding titles, such as Chamberlain, Chancellor, Constable, High Steward, and so on.

The Prince Palatine;

Having settled all these grand sounding titles the proprietors went on to frame a system of laws. They called it the Grand Model or Fundamental Constitutions, but it was more like some old English feudal system than anything else. It might have done for the ancient Saxons of the ninth century; it was quite unsuitable for rough colonists in a new and almost uninhabited country. It was quite unsuited for men who had left Europe because they wanted to get away from old conventions and be more free.

the Grand Model;

Yet the Lords Proprietors said that the Grand Model was to be the law of Carolina for ever and ever. The settlers however, would have nothing to do with the Grand Model, for it was altogether too fanciful for them. The proprietors on their side persisted. But when they found it impossible to force the settlers to obey their laws they changed their Grand Model and tried again. Still it was of no use. The colonists would not have it. So at length, having altered their unalterable rules five times, they gave them up altogether and took to something more simple.

 

But among much that was foolish and unsuitable in the Grand Model there was one good thing. That was that every one was free to worship God in the way he thought right. If only seven men agreed together, said the Grand Model, they were enough to form a church. All it insisted upon was that people must acknowledge a God, and that they must worship Him openly. Nevertheless, in spite of this they made no provision for worship. No clergymen went with the settlers, and indeed for many years no clergymen settled among them.

religious freedom granted

But because there was religious freedom people of all religions came to Carolina. Quakers and dissenters of every description sought a refuge there. They came not only from England, but from the other colonies and from foreign countries.

 

You remember that the Protestants of France were called Huguenots, and that they had had to suffer many things at the hands of Catholic rulers until the good King Henry of Navarre protected them by the Edict of Nantes. Now Louis XIV, who was at this time on the throne of France, revoked that edict. He forbade the Huguenots to worship God in their own way, and he also forbade them to leave the country on pain of death.

Edict of Nantes revoked, 1685

But thousands braved death rather than remain and be false to their religion. Some were caught and cruelly punished, but many succeeded in escaping to Holland, England and even to America. So many Huguenots now settled in Carolina. They were hard-working, high-minded people and they brought a sturdiness and grit to the colony which it might otherwise have lacked. Germans too came from the Palatinate, driven thence also by religious persecutions. Irish Presbyterians came fleeing from persecution in Ulster. Jacobites who, having fought for the Stuarts, found Scotland no longer a safe dwelling-place came seeking a new home.

Many Protestants come to Carolina;

These were all hardy industrious people. But besides these there came many worthless idlers who came to be known as "poor whites." These came because in the early days when the colony was but sparsely peopled, and more settlers were wanted, a law was passed that a new settler need not pay any debts he had made before he came to the colony; and for a year after he came he need pay no taxes. These laws of course brought many shiftless folk who, having got hopelessly into debt somewhere else, ran away to Carolina to get free of it. Indeed so many of these undesirables came that the Virginians called Carolina the Rogues' Harbour.

shiftless folk come also,

Besides all these white people there were a great many negroes especially in South Carolina. This came about naturally. The climate of Carolina is hot; there is also a lot of marshy ground good for growing rice. But the work in these rice fields was very unhealthy, and white men could not stand it for long. So a trade in slaves sprang up. Already men had begun to kidnap negroes from the West Coast of Africa and sell them to the tobacco planters of Virginia.

and many negroes

In those days no one saw anything wrong in it. And now that the rice fields of South Carolina constantly required more workers the trade in slaves increased. Whole shiploads were brought at a time. They were bought and sold like cattle, and if they died at their unhealthy work it mattered little, for they were cheap, and there were plenty more where they came from.

 

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Editor: Mary Mark Ockerbloom

This book has been put on-line as part of the BUILD-A-BOOK Initiative at the
Celebration of Women Writers.
Initial text entry and proof-reading of this book were the work of volunteers at
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Editor: Mary Mark Ockerbloom