Why Is There a North and South Carolina?

A map showing both North and South Carolina.
A map showing both North and South Carolina.

It is not strange for places, cities, towns, and states to share names or parts of their names. In the United States, at least four states share names including the Dakotas and the Carolinas. Carolinas include the two states of North and South Carolina. The two states are collectively bordered by Virginia, Tennessee, Georgia, and the Atlantic Ocean. North Carolina is the 9th most populous state while South Carolina is the 23rd most populous state. By surface area, North Carolina is 28th while South Carolina is 40th most extensive. South Carolina was admitted to the union in 1788 as the 8th state while North Carolina was admitted in 1789 as the 12th state.


The territory of Carolina, also known as Carolana Colony, was declared a Spanish colony in 1512 by Ponce de Leon. The Spanish never cared to name it nor settled there; it was just proclaimed for future settlement which never happened. In 1562, French settlers arrived there only to be driven out immediately by the Native Americans. Carolina was named during the French brief stay there, with the name referring to King Charles IX of France. In 1629, Sir Robert Heath, who was a politician and a member of the English House of Common, was granted the charter over the land but he never attempted to colonize the area because of the open rebellion from the natives and incidences of smallpox. The land was passed to eight rich white men referred to Lord Proprietors. The eight constantly disagreed about almost everything. The area remained largely ungoverned due to these disagreements.

In 1710, the Proprietors appointed a governor for North Carolina rather than for Carolinas and in 1712, North Carolina became a distinct colony. Seven years later, Carolina was made a crown colony.In 1729, North Carolina was made a royal colony.

Admission to the Union

North and South Carolina became separate colonies in 1712. Each of the colonies prospered on its own after the peaceful split and managed its affairs without depending on the other. The fertility of the Low Country and several harbors facilitated the prosperity of the South. The region also allowed religious toleration and encouraged settlement spread and trade. By late 1700s, South Carolina was one of the richest of would be 13 colonies. It adopted the constitution on March 26, 1776, and in 1778 it became the first state to ratify the Article of Confederation. Ten years later, it was admitted to the union as the 8th state on May 23, 1788.

On the other hand, North Carolina did not enjoy much prosperity as the South. Most of the settlers on the North established tobacco farms. The prosperity of the region was based on slave labor, devoted to the tobacco farms. The settlers also felt that the aristocrats from Virginia looked down on them. In 1776, while the South was adopting a constitution, North Carolina began a process of voting for independence from the British Colony. In 1789, North Carolina became the 12th state to ratify the constitution, 18 months after South Carolina.


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