Documenting the American South Logo
Colonial and State Records of North Carolina
Advanced Search Options
Report by the South Carolina General Assembly concerning the North Carolina/South Carolina Boundary
South Carolina. General Assembly
May 19, 1757
Volume 11, Pages 147-152

[B. P. R. O. So Carolina B. T. Vol: 20. m. 46.]
Report of the Assembly of South Carolina upon the Boundary Line between that Province and North Carolina

[Read 24. Novber 1762.]

Cape Fear River was the antient Boundary between South and North Carolina. That River divides these Provinces nearly in a North-West Direction bounding North Carolina to the South-West and South Carolina to the North-East. Hence it is that as the former Province was long since distinguished by the name of North-East so the latter was known by the Appellation of South-West and hence also it is that the Authority of Government and Exercise of Jurisdiction were respectively limited in each of these Provinces by Cape Fear River and so remained during the Proprietorship of South Carolina. Some years after His Majesty was graciously pleased to take the Inhabitants of this Province under His more immediate Protection it happened that Sundry persons who were settled near Charles Town removed from thence with their Families and Slaves and sat down upon the South Banks of Cape Fear River. Near the sea they built a Town and gave it the name of Brunswick There thō these new Settlers were within the legal Jurisdiction of the Courts of this Province yet practicably they

-------------------- page 148 --------------------
were beyond the reach of Process and thō taxable for the support of this Government yet by reason of their great distance from the Seat of Government no Taxes could be levied. The Inhabitants of this Province were then few in number Their Settlements Northward from Charles Town extending very little further than Santee River and they not being very opulent the Expences of Government which were greatly enhanced by their Vicinity to numerous Tribes of Indians became a very heavy burthen upon them while the Inhabitants of the North East parts felt little or no weight of annual Taxes. The People of Brunswick therefore became desirous to be legally as well as practicably freed from sharing this Burthen with their Brethren and moved by their own private Interest choose rather to be deemed Inhabitants of North Carolina and if possible to be included within the Limits of that Province. The Brunswick Settlement increased and by reason of its inconguity to North Carolina and distance from Charles Town it became expedient nay for many other reasons necessary to annex it to North Carolina therefore in 1730. when His Majesty was graciously pleased to take into His Royal Consideration of a Boundary Line between the two Provinces the Royal Will was in that respect so adapted to the Local Circumstances of the People of Brunswick as to include them within the Bounds of North Carolina yet in such an equal manner as to limit this Province in its antient natural Boundary to no more than Thirty Miles southerly distance from the whole course of Cape Fear River from the sea upward to its main source of head.

This appears by his His Majesty's Instruction to Robt Johnson Esqre then Governor of South Carolina and to George Burrington Esqre then Governor of North Carolina which is in the words following “and in order to prevent any disputes that may arise about the Northern Boundary of our Province under your Government we are graciously pleased to signifiy our Pleasure that a Line should be run by the Commissioners appointed by each Province beginning at the sea Thirty Miles distant from the mouth of Cape Fear River on the South West part thereof keeping the same distance from the said River as the course thereof runs to the main source or head thereof and from thence the said Boundary Line shall be continued due West as far as the South Seas But if Waccamaw River lies within Thirty Miles of Cape Fear River then that

-------------------- page 149 --------------------
River to be the Boundary from the Sea to the head thereof and from thence to keep the distance of Thirty Miles parrallel from Cape Fear River to the head thereof and from thence a due West Course to the South Seas.”

This His Majesty's Instruction remained unexecuted nor was any step taken by either of the two Governments in pursuance thereof until the year 1734. and then during the Government of Gabriel Johnson Esqre Commissioners were mutually appointed by both Provinces in order to run a Line of Division according to the said Instruction.

As His Majesty had not been pleased to direct a Boundary to be fixed by taking the latitude of different places at the Extremities of the intended Line but that a Line should be run parralel to the course of Cape Fear River at the distance of Thirty Miles to the SouthWest thereof it was expected that the said Commissioners would have made an actual survey of the said River in order from thence to ascertain a Boundary Line agreable to the said Instruction But upon the most diligent search into our Records and Journals of that time no such survey can be found. It appears from the Council Journals that for settling the said Boundary certain preliminary Articles were stipulated between the North and South Carolina Commissioners but it is equally manifest that the mode of division pointed at by these Articles was neither warranted by His Majesty's said Instruction nor countenanced by any Act of the Legislature of this Province and consequently had any survey been made in virtue of such Articles the same would have been void and ineffectual as done without authority. But we have good reason to believe and with truth we can affirm that no line or boundary between North and South Carolina has ever hitherto been run in exact conformity to His Majesty's said Instruction. We beg leave to observe that if the said Instruction is still to be kept in view and is now to be regarded as a direction in ascertaining a dividing Line between the two Provinces all reasoning in support of our Pretentions to an extensive North Boundary and upon the equality of a dividing Line must be inconclusive until a survey be made and taken of the real course of Cape Fear River up from its Entrance at Sea to its main source or head and the exact parallel of Latitude thereof be taken But in case His Majesty shall in His Royal Will be pleased to settle the said Boundary without such a

-------------------- page 150 --------------------
survey as is proposed or shall think proper to issue any new Instruction to that end it is incumbent on us even now to submit such general reasons and considerations as may tend to procure such an Allotment of Territory to this Province as may be most conducive to His Majesty's Interest in these Parts and to the Welfare of His Majesty's Subjects whether residing in this or that Province. And in the first Place we beg leave to observe that the Southern Parts of this Province are greatly retrenched by Georgia. The distance between Cape Fear River and Savannah River by the coast is indeed considerable. Charles Town Bar is not less than Seventy Miles from the mouth of Savannah River which gives to this Province a considerable Eastern Front But as Savanna River from the Sea upwards extends itself North Westerly and inclines still more and more Northerly as it approaches the mountains and as that River divides Georgia from South Carolina We humbly conceive a strong reason arises for enlarging the North Boundary of this Province 2dly Unless the North Boundary of this Province shall in His Majesty's good Pleasure be largely extended this His Majesty's flourishing Province will very probably be checked in its growth. A limited North Boundary intersecting Savanna River will form this Province into a Triangle and reduce its Western Frontier whereby the best and most fertile Body of Lands will be lopped off and the Inhabitants of the upper parts of Pedee and Santee Rivers who are the strength of this Province will be sequestered from us 3dly We humbly conceive it to be for His Majesty's Interest that a West Front in some good Measure suited to the East Front of this Province be allotted. As the Lands near the Coast of this Province are in general of a barren and sandy nature and far less fertile and valuable for corn and Indico than those Lands which lie remote from the Sea It is of the highest consequence so to proportion and accommodate the good lands to the bad as not only to preserve but invite Inhabitants Such a Boundary therefore as will favour this Equality of Distribution is the most likely to support and bear up this Province in its present vigour and to save it from that decay into which it must hereafter fall by a loss of Inhabitats and a want of fit soil for cultivation 4thly As Pedee and Santee Rivers run thro the very centre of this Province the Inhabitants and Proprietors of Lands upon the upper parts of these Rivers are naturally connected with those
-------------------- page 151 --------------------
upon the Coast, they have easy and convenient navigation for small Boats to George Town and Land carriage to Charles Town and there they find a ready Market for their Commodities and supply of merchandise It is but reasonable therefore to include them within the Limits and Jurisdiction of South Carolina 5thly As Georgia yet remains in a weak and infant state this Province is in reality the South Frontier of His Majesty's North American Dominions. North Carolina is much more populous with Freemen than South Carolina but this Province far exceeds in the number of Slaves The great disproportion there is between our White Men and Negroes renders us less formidable to a foreign enemy. In case Georgia or any of the Southern parts of this Province shall happen to be invaded then an exertion of our whole strength from every quarter will be absolutely necessary at once to oppose the invader and preserve our Slaves from revolt This double Task cannot be undertaken with any prospect of success without the ready aid of those Inhabitants who are settled upon the upper parts of our several Rivers and their Branches nor can this aid be procured in such an exigency unless these Inhabitants are subject to the immediate authority of this Government and within the influence of our Militia Law 6thly The Expences of Government have at all times been much higher here than in North Carolina. Our Taxes have been enlarged not only by means of common and ordinary Provincial Charges but by reason of our attachment to the Colony of Georgia whose Interest has ever been the object of our attention and also by reason of our connection with all the surrounding Tribes of Indians particularly the Creeks, Chickesaws, Cherokees and Catawbas. It is true that His Majesty has been graciously pleased of His Royal Bounty to lessen our Indian Expences for presents which with great gratitude we acknowledge yet still do they compose a large article in our annual Estimates We raise them with cheerfulness and it is with real pleasure we can say that within these few years in obedience to His Majesty's command we have compleated Fort Prince George at Kewokee in the Lower and Fort Loudoun at Tannisee in the Upper Cherokee Country. These considerations while they furnish us with a claim to the contribution of our numerous Back Settlers in aid of Taxes so also they in some degree point out the expediency of granting to this Province such a North Boundary as will include within it those
-------------------- page 152 --------------------
Parts of the Cherokee Country where the said Forts are erected. 7thly These different Tribes of Indians have always used this Government as the Medium between His Majesty and them, here they offer their complaints renew their Treaties give Intelligence and negociate all that concerns them. By long usage we have become thoroughly informed of their various Policy their connections inclinations and dependencies and are acquainted with most of their affairs wether foreign or domestic. It may prove a dangerous experiment to divert this long established communication between them and us into a different channel by throwing their Lands and Forts within the Bounds of another Government especially in a juncture so critical as the present when the French are practising every Act in their Power to seduce them from our Interest We are hopeful that the Peace and Union which we have maintained and preserved with these expensive yet important Allies for these forty years past and upwards even in these times of danger will not only hold the conduct of this Government approved to His Majesty but will have a proper weight in determining the Limits and Extent of South Carolina.