The Southern Colonies

The land that stretched south of Virginia to Florida was granted to the group of King's Charles friends in 1663. They named the colony Carolina in honor of Charles. The first settlement was Charleston. When these men arrived to the area they found that many people had been already living there and the area was much less cosmopolitan when compared to the northern states of New England. In its northern half, poor farmers eked out a living. In its southern half, planters managed vast estates that produced corn, timber, beef and pork, and since the 1690s even rice. The south Carolinians had close ties to the English planter colony on the Caribbean island of Barbados, which relied heavily on African slave labor, and many were involved in the slave trade themselves. As a result, slavery played an important role in the development of the Carolina colony, too. The overall differences caused arguments between the two groups, and in 1729 the colony was divided into two separate colonies: North Carolina and South Carolina.

In 1732, inspired by the need to build a buffer (border) between South Carolina and the Spanish settlements in Florida, the Englishman James Oglethorpe established the Georgia colony, the last of the original 13 British colonies. The King also planned this colony as a place to get rid of people he did not want in England. It was named in honor of King George II of England and the first settlement was Savannah. In many ways, Georgia’s development mirrored South Carolina’s, except for slavery. Originally, Oglethorpe imagined a province populated by sturdy and strong farmers that could guard the border. Because of this, the colony's charter prohibited slavery. But in the beginning, the colony had a sluggish start. James Oglethorpe did not allow alcohol as well and he did several limitations for land ownership. Discontent grew in the colony because of these restrictions, and so Oglethorpe canceled them. With slavery, liquor, and land acquisition the colony improved much faster. Slavery had been permitted from 1749. There was some internal opposition, particularly from Scottish settlers, but by the time of the War of Independence, Georgia was much like the rest of the South.

In 1700, there were about 250,000 settlers in North America’s 13 English colonies, both Europeans and Africans. By 1775, on the eve of revolution, there were nearly 2.5 million and several small but growing urban centers had emerged. Philadelphia, with 28,000 inhabitants, was the largest city, followed by New York, Boston and Charleston. The colonists did not have much in common, but they were able to band together and fight for their independence.