The Carolinas
The Carolinas.PNG
States served NC
Time Zone Eastern
US Region Southeast

The Carolinas is a term used in the United States to refer collectively to the states of North and South Carolina. Together, the two states (North Carolina 9,380,884) + (South Carolina 4,561,242) have a population of 13,942,126. "Carolina" would be the fifth most populous state behind California, Texas, New York, and Florida. The Carolinas were known as the Province of Carolina during America's early colonial period, from 1663–1710. Prior to that, the land was considered part of the Colony and Dominion of Virginia, from 1609–63. The province, named "Carolina" to honor King Charles I of England, was divided into South Carolina and North Carolina in 1729, although the actual date is the subject of debate.[1]


The culture of the Carolinas is a distinct subset of larger Southern culture. Notably, the coastal Carolina region was settled by Europeans over a century before the inland regions of the South,[2] and was influenced by the culture of the Caribbean, especially Barbados; many of the early governors during the unified period were Barbadians.[3] Though the two states are often grouped together as a region of the south, there are historically a number of strong differences in the settlement patterns, political development, and economic growth of the two states. For example, during the Civil War, South Carolina was the first Southern state to secede from the Union,[4] while North Carolina was the last state to secede.[5] During the war, South Carolina was generally one of the strongest supporters of the Confederacy. Many North Carolinians (especially in the western part of the state), however, refused to support the Confederacy at all; they either remained neutral or covertly supported the Union during the war. North Carolina's Civil War governor, Zebulon Vance, was an outspoken critic of Confederate President Jefferson Davis and frequently refused to obey Davis's orders for reinforcements and supplies; Vance insisted the soldiers and supplies were needed in North Carolina.[6] Nevertheless, North Carolina lost more soldiers in the Civil War than any other state in the Confederacy.


A nationally-famous staple of Carolina cuisine is pork barbecue.[7] There are strong regional differences and rivalries over the sauces and method of preparation used in making the barbecue.[8] In the eastern portions of both Carolinas, pork barbecue uses a vinegar-based sauce; western North Carolina pork barbecue uses a ketchup-based sauce; in the South Carolina midlands and upstate regions, pork barbecue often uses a mustard-based sauce.[8][9] Several varieties of barbecue sauce trace their origins to South Carolina.[8]

Hushpuppies and pork chops are popular traditional dishes.[7] The Lexington Barbecue Festival, held each October in Lexington, North Carolina, is a celebration of both types of Carolina barbecue.


During most of the twentieth century South Carolina was a bastion of the "solid Democratic South" with almost no Republican officeholders, and the state frequently elected politicians who were outspoken supporters of racial segregation. North Carolina, while mostly Democratic, contained a large Republican minority – the state voted Republican in the presidential election of 1928 and elected several Republican congressmen, governors, and senators from 1868–1928 – and North Carolina was widely known as one of the more progressive Southern states on the issue of segregation and civil rights. In 1947, the famous journalist John Gunther wrote, "that North Carolina is by a good deal the most progressive Southern state will, I imagine, be agreed to by almost everybody."[10] On the other hand, he described South Carolina as "one of the poorest American states, and probably one of the balkiest."[10] In describing the differences between the two states, Gunther noted that, in 1947, divorce in North Carolina "may be granted simply on the ground of absence of cohabitation; South Carolina is the one American state in which divorce is not possible."[10] North Carolina's nickname for many years was "a vale of humility between two mountains of conceit"; the "mountains" were Virginia and South Carolina.[10]

Despite these differences, North Carolina and South Carolina are the country's two most politically similar states, according to a comparison of the states along a range of 19 variables performed by the statistician Nate Silver.[11]


Traditionally, like much of the South, the Carolinas have been agricultural.[12] However, the predominance of certain crops has influenced the regional economy:

Like other [Southern] states, until after World War II North Carolina remained primarily a region of small farms and factories heavily dependent on just a few labor-intensive crops, relying on sharecropping and tenancy, especially for black laborers. The Carolinas are distinct for their economic dependence on tobacco as well as on cotton and rice, and for their many small-scale furniture, textile, and tobacco factories.

These small industries gave the Carolinas, in particular North Carolina, a more significant industrial base than most Southern states, but as increased mechnization in the textiles, apparel, and furniture industries combined with the decline of the tobacco industry,[13] many rural and small urban communities suffered.[14] However, during the 1990s, both states began to experience growth in the technological and banking sectors, bringing jobs and population growth.[15] These changes, as with earlier industrialization, were more pronounced in the northern state, and South Carolina has experienced a lower rate of economic growth for several years.[16]


Club League Sport City Established Championships
Carolina Panthers NFL Football Charlotte, North Carolina 1995 0 NFL Championships, 1 Super Bowl Appearance/Conference Title, 3 Division Titles
Charlotte Bobcats NBA Basketball Charlotte, North Carolina 2004 0 Championships, Conference Titles, or Division Titles.
Carolina Hurricanes NHL Hockey Raleigh, North Carolina 1997 1 Stanley Cup, 2 Conference Titles, 3 Division Titles

The Carolinas have three sports teams in the Big 4 major leagues, all based in North Carolina, but supported in both, two based in Charlotte and another based in Raleigh. All of the sports teams are fairly recent additions, the oldest team, the Panthers, only fifteen years old and the Bobcats are the most recent expansion franchise added to the NBA. Of all the teams, the Hurricanes are the most successful, being the only team with a championship. The New Orleans Hornets are the only former team in the big four leagues, playing in the NBA and were based in Charlotte from 1988 to 2002.

The Carolinas are a hub for basketball players, with many superstars coming from the Carolinas, with North Carolina being the homestate of Chris Paul, James Worthy, John Wall, and Michael Jordan, who owns the Bobcats. South Carolina has Kevin Garnett, Jermaine O'Neal, Ray Allen, and Raymond Felton. Six of these players are All Stars, four are NBA champions, and John Wall and James Worthy were the Number 1 draft picks in the 2010 NBA Draft and 1982 NBA Draft, respectively. An abnormal amount of basketball players come from here, on par with the big cities like New York and Los Angeles. While the Bobcats do little to generate buzz in the Carolinas, they are home to two of the most successful collegiate men's basketball teams in the NCAA, the North Carolina Tar Heels and the defending champion Duke Blue Devils, who have a fierce rivalry but have combined to win 9 NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Championships (North Carolina has 5, Duke has 4). Duke has the fourth most championships and North Carolina is tied for third.

Boundary between the states[]

According to the Prefatory Notes to Volume 5 of the Colonial Records of North Carolina, the process of determining the boundary between North and South Carolina began in 1720 "when the purpose to erect a third Province in Carolina, with Savannah for its northern boundary"[17] began. On January 8, 1730[18] an agreement between the two states said for the border "to begin 30 miles southwest of the Cape Fear river, and to be run at that parallel distance the whole course of said river;" The next June Governor Robert Johnsonof South Carolina said the border should start 30 miles southwest of the source of the Cape Fear "due west as far as the South Sea," unless the "Waccamaw river lyes [sic] within 30 miles of the Cape Fear river,"[17] which would make the Waccamaw the boundary. North Carolina agreed to this until the discovery that the Cape Fear headwaters were very close to Virginia, which would not have "permitted any extension on the part of North Carolina to the westward."[17] In 1732, Governor George Burrington of North Carolina stated in Timothy's Southern Gazette that territory north of the Waccamaw was in North Carolina, to which Johnson replied that South Carolina claimed the land. Johnson also said that when the two met before the Board of Trade in London two years earlier, Burrington had "insisted that the Waccamaw should be the boundary from its mouth to its head,"[17] while South Carolina agreed the border should be located 30 miles from the mouth, not the source. Johnson said this was "only a mistake in wording it."[17]

Both Carolinas selected commissioners to survey the line between them. The plan called for the line to run northwest to 35 degrees latitude, unless the Pee Dee River was reached first, in which case it would run along the Pee Dee to 35 degrees north. Then the line would run west to Catawba town, though if the town were north of the line the line was to run around Catawba to keep it in South Carolina.

In May 1735, the surveyors went from the Cape Fear westward thirty miles along the coast. Then they turned northwest and marked the location with stakes. The surveyors agreed to meet again on September 18. However, only the North Carolina team returned at that time, extending the line northwest 70 miles. The South Carolina team arrived in October and only followed the previous line for 40 miles because they had not been paid. A deputy surveyor marked where the Pee Dee crossed the 35th parallel.

An extension of the line in 1737 ran 22 miles to a stake in a meadow. In 1764, a second extension ran 62 miles westward. In 1772, after making adjustments to keep the Catawba Indians in South Carolina, "extended in a due west course from the confluence of the north and south forks of the Catawba river to Tryon mountain."[17] North Carolina did not agree to the line of 1772 until 1813. Joseph Caldwell, president of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, found that the line west of the Pee Dee did not run along the 35th parallel, but 12 miles to the south. However, the western part of the line ran far enough to the north to make up for the difference.[17]

In the mid-1990s, Duke Energy determined that the border between the Carolinas needed to be re-surveyed, as the company was selling and donating land in the Jocassee Gorge area, which included parts of both states. Also, with more people living outside cities, the precise boundaries of fire, tax, and school district lines needed to be known. This was especially a problem in the mountains, where people had previously lived in valleys, not on the ridges where the border was. A 15-year plan to re-establish the boundary began, using maps from the 1813-1815 survey and GPS technology. A few stone markers still read, "NC/SC 1815 AD".[19] The process is scheduled to be complete in 2012.[20]

See also[]

  • Cuisine of the Southern United States
  • Politics of the Southern United States
  • Southern American English
  • The Dakotas


  1. ^ The Split - One Colony Becomes Two
  2. ^ Carolina Folk: The Cradle of a Southern Tradition. Mckissick Museum. Columbia, SC, USA: University of South Carolina Press. 2006. pp. 33. ISBN 0872499502. Retrieved 7 June 2008. 
  3. ^ "SCIway News No. 43". 2007-05. Retrieved 2008-06-07. 
  4. ^ "A Brief History of South Carolina". South Carolina Department of Archives and History. Retrieved 2008-06-07. 
  5. ^ Robert Morgan (2003-08-22). "The Bill of Rights Belongs in North Carolina". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-06-07. 
  6. ^ "Book Review: War Governor of the South". The Journal of American History. 2006-09. Retrieved 2008-06-07. 
  7. ^ a b Tricia Childress (2002-03-20). "Soul Food". Creative Loafing. Retrieved 2008-06-07. 
  8. ^ a b c Lake E. High, Jr.. "A Very Brief History of the Four Types of Barbeque Found In the USA". Archived from the original on 2008-04-11. Retrieved 2008-06-07. 
  9. ^ Linda Joyce Forristal. "A Vinegar Barbecue". Retrieved 2008-06-07. 
  10. ^ a b c d Gunther, John (1947). Inside U.S.A. (50th Anniversary edition ed.). New Press. pp. 719–723. ISBN 978-1565843585. 
  11. ^ Nate Silver (2008-07-07). "State Similarity Scores". Retrieved 2008-07-07. 
  12. ^ See Wallace Stevens's poem In the Carolinas for a reference to the fertility of this part of the world.
  13. ^ "Tobacco-Dependent Communities Research Initiative". N.C. Rural Economic Development Center. 2000-2005. Archived from the original on 2008-06-01. Retrieved 2008-06-07. 
  14. ^ "Rural Dislocated Worker Initiative". N.C. Rural Economic Development Center. 2000-2007. Retrieved 2008-06-07. 
  15. ^ "North Carolina". American Planning Association. Archived from the original on 2008-05-11. Retrieved 2008-06-07. 
  16. ^ Jim DuPlessis (2008-06-06). "U.S. economic growth matches S.C. at 2 percent in 2007". Retrieved 2008-06-07. 
  17. ^ a b c d e f g "History of Western North Carolina - Chapter II. Boundaries". webroots. Retrieved 2011-04-05. 
  18. ^ "Carolina Noteworthy Events - The North Carolina-South Carolina Border Surveys - 1730 to 1815". Retrieved 2011-04-05. 
  19. ^ Dan Huntley, "Surveyors to Separate Carolinas, Precisely," The Charlotte Observer, December 27, 2001.
  20. ^ "Dispute over North Carolina/South Carolina border". WIS-TV. 2011-01-04. Retrieved 2011-04-05. 

Further reading[]

  • John Gunther. Inside USA, Harper & Brothers, 1947.

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