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Friday, August 07, 2009

North-South Carolina Boundary Problems

Figure C-1: George Burrington’s interpretation of the South Carolina border as advertised in “Timothy's Southern Gazette, Oct. 21, 1732,” recorded in Colonial Records of North Carolina 5: 372-4. Robert Johnson, governor of South Carolina, interprets Waccamaw River to be the border between the two colonies, with a direct westerly line running from the head of the river (Lake Waccamaw) which would eliminate much of South Carolina’s northern territory. South Carolina Governor Robert Johnson interpreted it as thirty miles south of the mouth of the Cape Fear River, running roughly in the direction of that river with its head, then to the west (approximate current boundary). Previously, South Carolina officials considered the Cape Fear River as their colony’s northern boundary. This portion of Emanuel Bowen’s 1747 map reflects this interpretation. [George Burrington and Robert Johnson, “Declarations by George Burrington and Robert Johnson concerning the North Carolina/South Carolina boundary,” Colonial Records of North Carolina (September 11, 1732 - November 01, 1732), 5: 372-4; graphics by Baylus C. Brooks, July 18, 2009.]

The Rice Industry in Colonial America


[Reprinted from S. C. Statutes at Large. Vol. 1. P. 406.]

Timothy's Southern Gazette, Oct. 21, 1732.

Source: George Burrington and Robert Johnson, “Declarations by George Burrington and Robert Johnson concerning the North Carolina/South Carolina boundary,” Colonial Records of North Carolina (September 11, 1732 - November 01, 1732), 5: 372-4.

“Notification of George Burrington, Governor of North Carolina.

“I am informed that several persons in South Carolina, have taken out warrants there, to survey lands on the North side of Wackamaw river, and on the lands formerly possessed by the Congerree Indians, which are within this government. Therefore to prevent unadvised people from parting with their money to no purpose, and to give satisfaction to all persons whom it may concern, I have transcribed his Majesty's instruction for ascertaining the bounds of the two governments of North and South Carolina.

“The King's instructions, 104.

“And in order to prevent any disputes that may arise about the Southern boundaries of our Province under your government, we are graciously pleased to signify our pleasure that a line shall be run by Commissioners appointed by each Province, beginning at the Sea, thirty miles distant from the mouth of Cape Fear River, on the South-west thereof, keeping at 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 Wackamaw lies within thirty miles of Cape Fear River, then that river to be the boundary from the Sea to the head thereof, and from thence a due West course to the South Seas.

-------------------- page 373 --------------------

“For the satisfaction of all men that bought land of the late Proprietors (before the King's purchase was compleated) scituated on the North side of Wackamaw River in any other part between Cape Fear River and the line given by his majesty to this government, I give notice their rights and titles to all lands so purchased as aforesaid, are deemed and allowed to be good and lawful by this government.

“N. B. The above recited instruction, is the same in his Excellency Governor Johnson's and mine, except the word “Southern” before boundaries, which is altered to Northern in his. The head of Wackamaw river is within ten miles of Cape Fear River, and is not distant so much as thirty miles in any place, but a few miles before it runs into Winyaw Bay.


“North Carolina, Sept. 11, 1732.

“The above is transcribed verbatim from the Gazette of the day.

“To this, Robert Johnson, Governor of South Carolina, issued a counter-proclamation, which follows, copied from Timothy's Southern Gazette, Nov. 4, 1732.

“Governor Johnson of South Carolina. I being very much surprized at his Excellency Governor Burrington's advertisement in this paper of the 21st instant, relating to the boundaries of the two Colonies of North and South Carolina, and his manner of interpreting his Majesty's instructions relating thereunto, think proper for the better information of those concerned, to publish what I know concerning the intention of his Majesty's said instruction, which is as follows:

“Governor Burrington and myself, were summoned to attend the board of Trade, in order to settle the boundary of the two Provinces. Governor Burrington laid before their Lordships Col. Moseley's Map, describing the Rivers Cape Fear and Wackamaw, and insisted upon Wackamaw river being the boundary from the mouth to the head thereof, &c.

“We of South Carolina, desired their Lordships would not alter their first resolution, which was thirty miles distant from the mouth of Cape Fear River on the South-west side thereof, &c. as the first instruction published by Governor Burrington sets forth; and their Lordships concluded that that should be the boundary, unless the Mouth of Wackamaw River was within thirty miles of Cape Fear River; in which case, both Governor Burrington and myself agreed Wackamaw River should be the boundary. And I do apprehend the word Mouth being left out of the last part of the instruction, was only a mistake in the wording of it.

-------------------- page 374 --------------------

“And I think proper farther to inform those it may concern, that I have acquainted the Right Honorable the Lords of Trade, of the different interpretations Governor Burrington and myself, have put on his Majesty's aforesaid instruction, and have desired his Majesty's further order.

“November 1, 1732.

The Rice Industry in Colonial America
Robert L. Meriwether (Professor of History, University of South Carolina), The Expansion of South Carolina 1729-1765 (Doctoral diss., Columbia University, 1940), 248:
The Waccamaw rises within ten or fifteen miles of the Cape Fear, but 
flowing southwestward enters Winyah Bay more than eighty miles from 
that river. The proposed revision would have brought a long finger of 
North Carolina territory within sixty miles of Charleston, and would 
have given several hundred square miles of South Carolina sea coast and 
river swamp in exchange for a smaller area at the head of the Waccamaw. 
Johnson later claimed that the addition to the instruction should have pro- 
vided that the Cape Fear be the boundary unless the mouth of the Wac- 
camaw were within thirty miles of Cape Fear River, and it is possible that 
this was the case. The fact, however, that the wording was the same in 
each rendering of the clause indicates that the inadvertence was Johnson's 
own, and that he failed to realize the construction that would certainly be 
placed upon it. In October 1732 Burrington published a notice in the 
South Carolina Gazette declaring that Johnson was granting lands within 
the northern province, and quoted his boundary instruction, omitting, 
however, the clause which stipulated that the line should, from the head 
of Waccamaw River, parallel the Cape Fear River to its head. Two weeks 
later Johnson replied in the Gazette with a vigorous argument in support 
of his contention, but his letters to the Board of Trade were somewhat 
Finally in January 1735 Johnson and the council laid the matter before the Commons, and a joint committee of both houses went into the question at length, putting the best possible face on the South Carolina arguments for a line paralleling the Cape Fear. In March three commissioners were sent to meet those already appointed for North Carolina and after six weeks of consultation "the Friendly interposition" of Gabriel Johnston, now governor of North Carolina, brought about a compromise. The boundary thus defined was to begin on the seacoast thirty miles southwest of the Cape Fear, and it was to run northwest to latitude thirty-five, thence west to the South Seas, with a provision that the Catawbas and Cherokees should be included in South Carolina. For a strip of land fifty miles long and from three to fifteen miles wide the southern commissioners yielded up a claim to the immense area north of the thirty-fifth parallel and west of the Cape Fear River.


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