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Colonial and State Records of North Carolina
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Report concerning the history of the North Carolina/South Carolina boundary
Dobbs, Arthur, 1689-1765
1755
Volume 05, Pages 380-387

The State of the former Proceedings relative to the Boundary Line between the Northern and Southern Colonies together with the Opinion of the Governor & Council of North Carolina what they think would be a proper Boundary, with the reasons to support the limit and mearing they propose to determine the Line, to be laid before His Majesty for his approbation & final Commands to determine it.

The Line or Boundary which was necessary to be determined betwixt the Colonies of North and South Carolina having not been fixed by the Lords Proprietors of Carolina before they sold their Rights to the Crown, it was thought proper to give Instruction to the first Governors appointed by his Majesty to fix upon a proper line or boundary to divide and distinguish the limits and extent of each Colony, accordingly the Lords Commissioners of Trade sent over Instructions for that purpose, but being at that time entire strangers to the Geography of Carolina, by having only erroneous Charts of ye Country, and there being few or no settlers in the Southern parts of North Carolina, and the proprietors Governors of North Carolina knowing very little of ye maritime part of the Province to Southward of New River, & nothing at all of the Courses of the Rivers, or of the Country to the westward at any distance from the Sea coast the Lords Commissioners of Trade were then obliged to have their Information chiefly from Mr. Johnston then Governor of South Carolina, and so give Instructions according to the Account he thought proper to give them which was calculated to extend the limits of the Province of South Carolina, in pursuance to his Information they were pleased to give Instructions, that the Line should be carried from the entrance of Waggamaw river into the Winyaw up that River until it came within miles of the North west Branch of Cape Fear River, and in case the head of Waggamaw River came within eight miles from

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Cape Fear River, then to proceed at the distance of 8 miles up the North West Branch of the Cape Fear River, and so to the Fountain head of said River.

This Instruction after it came to be known to the Governor and Council of North Carolina they represented against so unequitable and improper a limit, which would have cut the Province off from all the Lands to the Westward of that River, which according to charter was to go in a west line to the South Sea, but this went so close to the Virginia Boundary, that this Northern Province would have been entirely hem'd in by Virginia and South Carolina; upon this true Representation of the Case the Lords of Trade withdrew their Instructions, & ordered that each of the Provinces should appoint Commissioners to run out a proper Line and when that was fixed to send it over to them to have his Majesty's Approbation.

This was the Instruction given to Mr. Johnston the late Governor of North Carolina when he was appointed in 1734, accordingly in April 1735 the Governor of South Carolina appointed 3 Commissioners under the Great Seal to agree with the Governor & Council of North Carolina or such Commissioners as they should appoint under their Great Seal in Case they should agree about the Line, accordingly 3 Commissioners were appointed to agree with them about the proper Boundary betwixt the two Colonies.

They met pursuant to their Commission, and according to the situation of the Colonies at that time they agreed that a due west Line should be carried from Cape Fear along the Sea Coast for 30 miles and from thence proceed North West to 35° N. L. and if the Line touched Pedee River before they arrived at 35° then they were to make a sett off at 5 miles distance from Pedee and proceed up the river till they arrived at that Latitude, and from thence they were to proceed due west until they came to the Catawba town, but if the Town should be to the Northward of the Line they were to make a sett off around the Town so as to leave it in the South Government. This agreement under hand and seal was lodged in the Secretaries office of each Province.

The Commissioners began to run the Line the first day of May 1735 and proceeded 30 miles west from Cape Fear which fell within 10 poles of little River where it enters the Sea, & then went North West to the place where it crossed the Country road, and set up Poles there for the Mearing of the two Provinces, and then seperated agreeing under hand and seal to meet again on the 18th of September, and if either party failed in coming the other was to continue the Line, which was to be binding upon both.

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The Northern Commissioners attended accordingly but the Southern Commissioners not coming until October, they proceeded north west for about 70 miles, and when the Southern Comrs arrived they followed upon the Line 40 miles and finding the work right so far they sent a Draught for what they had done to the Lords Commissioners of Trade, and nothing more has since been done, nor any approbation of it from his Majesty, for as the Commissioners had been paid nothing for their trouble or expence they would proceed no further, however a Deputy Surveyor took the lat. of Pedee at 35° and set up a mark which since the time has been deemed to be the Limit at that place.

Since that time there have been frequent quarrels to the westward of Pedee, and several have been killed or wounded upon executing Warrants, Grants for Land have been made out by the Governor of South Carolina north of 35° without survey, which being opposed by the Northern Government, squabbles have ensued, they have also sent over summons to oblige the Settlers on the North side of the Line to serve in their Militia, and to appear at Musters, and a kind of sanctuary allowed to Criminals and Vagabonds, by their pretending as it serves their purpose that they belong to either Province, so that there is a necessity to fix a Line or Boundary immediately to determine a proper and equitable Boundary without regard to what has been hitherto done, as nothing has been finished here or approved of by his Majesty in Council.

I must therefore beg leave to observe the great inconviency and expence attending the laying out Boundaries in a right Line, where natural Boundaries by rivers can conviently be had. The Commissioners in one case being obliged often to cut through almost impenetrable thickets or Swamps at great Expence as well of time as labour, and since yr situation of Affairs in the 2 provinces has been greatly altered after the former Instructions were given, the present Line should be altered for his Majesty's Service, and the greater Conveniencies of both Colonies.

Since the time of the first Instructions Georgia has been seperated from Carolina and given to private proprietors, and has lately again been by them restored to the Crown whilst it was in the Proprietors hands the Boundary betwixt that Colony and South Carolina was fixed by a natural Boundary the river Savana from the sea to its source in the Mountains which being in 35° latitude the limit since fixed for North Carolina, South Carolina would have then been quite cut off from the Country to the westward of that river, & occasioned their pushing to have their Northern Line extended further North into North Carolina along the North West Branch of Cape Fear river, but as at present his Majesty has recovered the Province of Georgia, his Majesty has the

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power and right to alter the Line betwixt South Carolina and Georgia, by making an equitable mearing and extending the Province of South Carolina westward beyond the Savana from a determined latitude to be fixed at some distance from the sea betwixt the 2 Colonies, as there are no Settlers yet fixed in that part of the Country.

I must also beg leave furthur to observe that since the mearing line has been run from little River towards Pedee, there has been a great alteration in the Province of North Carolina which will make it more equitable to enlarge the limits of this Province more to the Southward occasioned by his Majesty's having agreed to give Lord Granville's undivided eighth of Carolina and Georgia entirely out of the Province of North Carolina, along the Virginia Line, by which means the Quit rents of North Carolina for the length of 56° of latitude, are vested in Lord Granville, and only 34° of Lat: left in the Crown, in case North Carolina extends no furthur south than 35°, for the little Skirt thrown into North Carolina near Cape Fear to the Southward of 35° is barren sand near the sea coast of very little value & consequently not likely to be settled or to pay Quit rents & since Lord Granville had an equal right to have chosen part of his lands out of South Carolina and Georgia, it makes it therefore reasonable to alter the Boundary and increase his Majesty's Quit rents in North Carolina.

By the last Charter of Carolina its Bounds were fixed betwixt 29° & 36°, 30 N. L. & betwixt these parallels to the South Sea.

The Carolina's after Georgia was seperated from them, extending from the mouth of the Savana River in 32° to the Virginia Line in 36° 30', being 40° 30' from North to South, which at 69 miles to a degree is above 310 English miles, if the Division Line had then been fixed at 35° betwixt the Carolina's then South Carolina would have had 3 Degrees of latitude from 32° to 35° about 207 miles, and North Carolina only one Degree and half about 103 miles, of which Lord Granville having got about 56' that is 64 miles, there remains no more than 34' or 39 miles which pay Quit rent to the Crown in North Carolina except the small slip along the sea coast above mentioned.

Since then his Majesty might have taken a proportional share from South Carolina & Georgia of the Quit rents to be given to Lord Granville which would have been about 40 to a Degree it would seem equitable to take so much from South Carolina to add to North Carolina, and fix the Line at 34°, 20' betwixt the 2 Provinces in a west line from Pedee to the Mountains, and a proportional Quantity may be taken from Georgia West of Savana, which is not yet settled, and be given to South Carolina at a certain Distance from the sea, and there would still above 2

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Degrees of Lat: belong to Georgia from the Latitude 30° at Allalamaha to the Northward of 32° higher up the Savana.

But since the natural Boundary of a River is much more convenient where it can be had at least some distance from the sea, and is fixed without any expence so far, I therefore think it would be of singular Benefit to North Carolina, and of no real disadvantage to South Carolina upon their having an equivalent beyond the Savana, that ye Winyaw and Pedee should be the Boundary from the sea to 34°, 20' for at present they have no advantage from the sandy Beach along the sea coast from Winyaw to little river, in which is no creek or safety, but the inconviency of not having the east side of the Winyaw & Pedee within the Northern Province is very great to North Carolina for as there is a very large and fruitful Country upon the several branches of Pedee within the Northern Province, who have no conveniency of carrying their heavy goods but in floats down to Winyaw, if part of the East side of that river be left in the Southern Province, they may at pleasure prohibit or tax any goods coming into their Province, but if the river to the sea is made the Boundary, then they can build Towns and wharfes, on the East side in the Northern Province, so that it would be more advantageous to this Province to give up part of the latitude, and fix it at 34° 30' than not have the free navigation of the Pedee. This I take to be a fair state of the Case of the Boundary betwixt these two Provinces at present and the Line need be carried no further than to the Cherokee mountains, the Catawba Indians would be then entirely within the Northern Province, and we could then by an agreement with them lay out for their conveniency a sufficient Tract of Land about their Town, at present their Town lies upon the Line, and Governor Glen has taken upon him as I am well informed to give the Catawba's 130 miles extent around their Town, half out of the Northern Province, in order to create an Enmity betwixt the Catawba's & this Colony alledging that the Catawba's and Cherokees are subject to his and no other Province, and that no other Province has a right to Trade or any way interfere with them.

After the Boundary Line shall be fixed by his Majesty at a determined latitude, I am of opinion that it may be ascertained at a very inconsiderable expence, which has hitherto been done in other places at a very extraordinary expence by cutting their way through almost impenetrable Thickets and Swamps for as there are many Branches of rivers which cross the parallel at small Distances from each other not above 10 or 15 miles, the latitude may be fixed at each Branch which cross the Mearing, and sufficient marks set up, and the Distance betwixt each Branch may be ascertained whenever any surveys are made, or

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patents granted for the Lands upon the Line, at the expence of the person who gets the patent, as in other Cases and thus as the lands are granted the Line will be ascertained without furthur expence. After the several limits are fixed between the Colonies as far as the Mountains, I humbly submit it to his Majesty's consideration, if approved of by your Lordships, whether it would not be of service to his Majesty, and a benefit to the several Colonies to alter the Direction of the Line thro' ye passes of the Mountains, and from thence to run northwestward to the Ohio, according to the current of some proper brook or river running nearest that course, so as to have a natural Boundary without Expence to the Ohio, for whenever those Countries beyond the Mountains are settled with a sufficient number of Planters to make or constitute an Assembly and to defend themselves, His Majesty may probably think it prudent as well as political to have new distinct Governments formed beyond the Mountains for it will be too far to oblige the Inhabitants to attend the Assemblies near the Sea Coast, and it may be found necessary to have more distinct Governments independant of each other, as soon as they have Members sufficient to defend themselves, and make their own Laws, and they would become Barriers to the present Colonies; These may all be made by natural Boundaries, as the rivers run North West from the Mountains to the Ohio, & therefore the Boundaries of Virginia, North & South Carolina beyond the mountains may run the same way, until they are peopled so as to become distinct Colonies; for if the Lines should be continued due west beyond the mountains to the Missisippi, Virginia would have a Boundary of Vast Extent beyond both the Carolinas as it would extend from the falls of Niagara where it would join New York beyond the proprietory Colonies to Missisippi which would be too much for them to protect, or to join their Assemblies, and when the new Colonies should be seperated the mearings would be to settle again, which may be done now at once by directing the Line beyond the mountains betwixt Virginia and North Carolina, and betwixt North Carolina and the Southern Province to run Northwestward according to any Branch that may be chosen, then the Bounds betwixt Virginia and Carolina might fall into the Ohio above the Falls near the Chowan's Town, and the Line betwixt the Carolina's about the Entrance of the Occabach or river of St Jerome into the Ohio, and the Country to Westward of that river to the Southward of the Chickesaws might belong to South Carolina, and from thence to Mobile or Alibama fort, and the Spanish Line might be annexed to Georgia, and these several Countries be protected by the adjoining Colonies, until it would be proper to erect them into seperate Governments, and in the meantime they should be annexed to the neighbouring Colonies.

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The most material objection that the Government to South Carolina can make against the Winyaw's and Pedee's being made the natural Boundary betwixt the 2 Provinces, is that there are a considerable number of Taxables seated betwixt Winyaw and Pedee and the Waggamaw, which pay their Taxes at present to South Carolina, which would lessen their Revenue and increase the tax upon the remaining Inhabitants. To this may be answered that at present that may be true, but as South Carolina would have a much greater extent of better land annexed to their Province out of Georgia beyond Savana River at a distance from the sea, where the lands are rich, & at present the Settlers who remove from the Northward are now extended as far south as the Savana, and are taking up Lands to the Westward of it near the Mountains, rather than settle the hot sands near the Sea Coast, they would very soon have many more taxables there in the Country to be ceded to them than they have at present East of Winyaw & Pedee, and as a perpetual Boundary will be fixed to them westerly, it will soon turn out to their advantage, but as long as it should appear to be a disadvantage, the present inhabitants East of Winyaw may continue to be taxed by South Carolina, and pay their Taxes there, and when it appears that there are as many Taxables settled beyond Savana, that then His Majesty may direct the future Taxes to be paid to North Carolina together with the Quit rents, and in the mean time the Jurisdiction in all other things may be under the Government of North Carolina, and the goods coming down Pedee could not be taxed by the South Government and Towns would be Erected on the East side of Winyaw.

They may perhaps form another objection upon account of their having given £5 per head to every white person who came by sea to settle in that Province, but this can be only a triffling objection for they have paid a very small sum to those who have settled East of Winyaw, very few of them having come by Sea, but chiefly by land from the Northward who are not entitled to the premium, and the Lands west of Pedee have not been settled until within these few years, and all have come from the Northward by Land, so that it can have no weight. But when the Southern Government have sent over their Plan, how they would have the Mearing Line determined with their reasons to support it, then the two plans with the reasons given by each Province to support their Claim or to shew which will be most for his Majesty's service, and for the benefit of both Provinces, will come properly before his Majesty in Council with your Lordsps observations and opinion upon them, and whatever his Majesty will think proper & most for his service, and for the benefit of the two Provinces will be decisive and will determine the Boundary,

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which shall be run out without loss of time, and each Province will acquiesce in the Determination by which means all future Quarrels betwixt North Carolina & the Catawba Indians, who have of late been spirited up by the Governor of South Carolina to oppose the Planters of North Carolina in their possessions in the Neighbourhood will be prevented, as well as betwixt the Settlers on each side the Line and then no protection will be given to Criminals or Vagrants, nor will they have any opportunity to evade the Laws, when the Line is determined, but if the determining the Boundary be left to Commissioners to be appointed by each Colony, they could not be brought to agree upon the Line for some years, perhaps as long as the English and French Commissioners have and may take to fix the Boundaries of their Colonies at Paris, which the French will never agree to in time of peace, and at last if we desire it to preserve our Rights, the longest sword must carry it.

I humbly submit the Boundary proposed with the reasons to support it to your Lordships consideration, and this Province will cheerfully submit to whatever His Majesty shall determine But whatever is done I hope will be fixed without delay, that all the Inconveniencies may be avoided, and the Lands near the Line may be settled.