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NcSc74

Colonial Carolina as a modern day state

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After a couple of weeks reading and posting on this great site I have been wondering what if the colony of Carolina would have never split. Here are my questions. Would Charlotte have emerged to the capital of the Carolina region. Or would Charlestons early wealth and power held on to its position. At the time of the split I think Charleston was the largest and most prosperous city. I know up north there was Wilmington and New Bern but they were no way close to the power and money Charleston had. I am curious to see what the impications of a modern day state of Carolina would be as far economic, population and general power in the south of today.

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Interesting topic. To put a different spin on it, the original colony of Carolina also included the territory that is now the state of Georgia. So if Carolina was never split, it is possible that Georgia would have never been founded as a separate state.

Anyway, I think if South Carolina was able to move the capital from Charleston, the chief center of culture and of wealth in the South at that time, to a geographically central city (Columbia), then it seems that a state of Carolina could have and would have done the same, and the area we now know as the Charlotte region would have been a probable choice.

It's hard to say how things would have turned out economically, politically, etc. I say that because had the two new states not have been designated "South Carolina" and "North Carolina," it could be questioned whether or not the two areas share any sort of colonial history. Case in point: South Carolina was the first state to secede from the Union, whereas North Carolina was the last. I guess that could be due to the fact that, for one, many wealthy aristocrats in South Carolina largely depended on the institution of slavery, moreso than in North Carolina. Fast-forwarding to recent times, I believe it is only within the past few decades that North Carolina began to pull ahead of South Carolina in some areas. South Carolina has certainly had its moments of progression, even in the Reconstruction era: the largest number of black officeholders was in South Carolina, where throughout Reconstruction they formed a majority in the state house of representatives.

I guess I'll let someone elaborate from a North Carolina point of view. :)

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So if Carolina was never split, it is possible that Georgia would have never been founded as a separate state.

Actually, I'm pretty sure that Oglethorpe somehow got the rights to the land from the King.

As far as the idea of it being one state, Charlotte seems a very logical choice for the capital seeing as it is already in that position pretty much. Also, it's central location helps it out quite a bit.

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It would become a state of 13-14 million and growing fast and would be very diverse in terms of geography, climate, and "feel" for lack of a better word.

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It would become a state of 13-14 million and growing fast and would be very diverse in terms of geography, climate, and "feel" for lack of a better word.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

i agree

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I expect the only reason that texas and alaska are such large states is because they do not have the diversity the east coast provides. I think the state of "carolina" would have become too much to manage. But it does really make you think. I wonder if florida's panhandle kept La and AL off the Gulf. We would have less drilling in the gulf...

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....  I wonder if florida's panhandle kept La and AL off the Gulf.  We would have less drilling in the gulf...

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Not with a member of the Bush family as Governer. You would probably have more.

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I expect the only reason that texas and alaska are such large states is because they do not have the diversity the east coast provides. I think the state of "carolina" would have become too much to manage. But it does really make you think. I wonder if florida's panhandle kept La and AL off the Gulf. We would have less drilling in the gulf...

What do you mean that Texas lacks "diversity?" If you're speaking geographically, it's got the Piney Woods (near AR and LA), the Hill Country, the Gulf Coast, Big Bend County, etc. Texas is a big state because of the historical circumstances surrounding its creation.

Anyway, I really like the size of states throughout the South. They are big enough to encompass geographic and cultural sub-regions, but small enough to be managed in a more local way and have a sense of community.

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It is very difficult to determine what the state would be like now as a unified Carolina. Would Charlotte be the capital? Possibly, but if a split had never been done, cities and towns that held important political influence would be primary candidates for the new capital. State leaders would probably have moved the capital from Charleston anyway, primarily because people realized that it was an easy target to takeover if the Brits or other invaders wanted to take the capital during times of war.

Any number of cities that are geographically central to the Carolinas could have been considered for being the capital: Laurinburg, Bennettsville, Chesterfield, Pageland, Monroe, even Rockingham! Imagine what those cities might have been like.

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The reason colonial states are so small compared to western states is due to the communication technology available at the time. Larger colonies were too difficult to manage if the borders were a long ways away, so they were divided down to the 13 colonies that eventually became the 13 first states. Georgia for example has so many small counties because counties were limited in size to what could be ridden on a horse in just one day. This allowed everyone in a county to have decent access to the county seat.

Texas is the size that it is because that is the territory that was won from the Mexicans when we went to war with them over Texas. Texans saw themselves as their own republic and it would not have made sense from a political standpoint to break it up into smaller states at the time statehood was under consideration. This is why you often hear of the Republic of Texas.

Alaska, of course, was purchased from the Russians in the 1800s and it remained a territory until 1959. At that point there were fewer people living in Alaska than in Rhode Island, and breaking it into multiple states would not have made any sense either. By that point modern technology and travel were available so keep it as one state made sense. Plus breaking into two states would have given them 2 more senators 2 more congressmen which would have been politically impossible to do.

The reasons that we are as we are all in the history books.

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Actually, I'm pretty sure that Oglethorpe somehow got the rights to the land from the King.

As far as the idea of it being one state, Charlotte seems a very logical choice for the capital seeing as it is already in that position pretty much. Also, it's central location helps it out quite a bit.

Correct - Georgia would exist, but would not include the northern part of the state, which includes Atlanta. Possibly, if NC held power over TN & SC held power over northern GA, AL & MS for longer. We could have a much different scenario over state developments. I would theorize that the western section of the greater Carolina would have still split, but given time - would have developed into different states, rather than being given to GA as it was.

Also - I think Carolina would have still split, but rather than north & south, the likely scenario could be a East & West Carolina.

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After some thought - to answer the initial question - no, I don't think Charlotte would have been the capitol & Charlotte should be fortunate that the Carolina's did split. My theory is that a new city would be platted near the town of Cheraw SC.

My reasoning - by 1800, as Raleigh & Columbia were built, the need would still exist in a single state of Carolina to build a new capitol. This would be due for the same reasons both NC & SC built new capitols, to bridge the cultural divide of the original colonial settlers & the newer Scott-Irish settlers of the Piedmont & Foothills. A site along the Fall Line would be the preffered location, as Columbia & Raleigh are. This would be closest to a population center for the state, which the geographic center is closest to the Upstate settlers. The biggest reason would be, in order to be accessible, it would need to be on a navigable river for those living along the coast. There was also a major trading route that followed the Fall Line, lastly the location is relatively central for everyone living in the Piedmont - though still a long travel.

So supposing this new capital does grow during the 1800's & just as no other large city developed through all of the 1800's, it would be unlikely for any other city to 'steal' the capitol away. That would be the case with Atlanta stealing the capitol from the established Georgia capitol of Milledgeville. But this would probably be due to the town being too close to Macon & not as accessible for everyone - poor site location. The location near Cheraw would probably grow to be a larger city than Raleigh or Columbia were in the 1800's. With only Fayetteville & Florence nearby, the city's influence would be felt around Fayetteville, Florence, Charlotte & Sumter - which would be the largest city in that area, except perhaps by the town of Statesburg which was initially built as a potential capital site before Columbia. With such a large geographic influence, most of the rail routes would intersect at this location, from the mountains via Charlotte, Greensboro & Greenville, multiple locations along the coast such as Wilmington, Georgetown (which would have become a larger trade port being downstream the PeeDee) & Charleston, as well as cities along the Fall Line. Also - just like Columbia it would have a manufacturing base. No other city would be significantly larger (except Charleston) to be in a position to steal the capitol in the 1800's.

Through the 1900's, it would be feasible that most of the current large cities would still be large, except perhaps for Columbia, Raleigh & Charlotte. It's questionable if the Raleigh site would have still developed on it's own - being near other developed towns like Durham. Some city would probably have been built on the site of Columbia, & it's feasible it could have still become a large city - but not as large as Columbia is. Charlotte is a bit trickier, though old - it had always been just a local trading center. But it could have grown as a minor transport center for goods en route to the new capital, as well as a textile mill town. But it's possible it would only have been as large as Gastonia or Spartanburg. Most likely, Greensboro or Winston Salem and Greenville would be the largest cities, far enough from the capital but along the route to reap the benefits connecting the city to Atlanta & the Northeast.

I would suggest that this city could have developed larger than any current Carolina city & might rival Atlanta or Washington as a South Central Atlantic economic power.

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I am familiar with SC geography but please give me an idea where Cheraw is. I am under the impression it is on the Pee Dee but just how far west is it.

Also interesting that you think the Carolina capitol would be very large. I didn't think about this on that level but with the sphere of influences by nearby cities in both states I guess it is possible.

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I was also thinking how much of a possibilty of a Boston model for Charleston in the single Carolina state. If you look at the two there are some similarities. Textile mills, heavy and light industry and strong historical backgrounds. Being that Charleston has the best harbour in the Carolinas it would not be a stretch for this to happen. A large port to export the textiles and of course ag products that were the main commerce of the south at that time would accomodate the cities growth.

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^ Charleston was one of the largest southern cities until 1900 - besides Richmond & New Orleans, but moving the capital away from Charleston was inevitable. So it still would have occured if the Carolina's never split.

Regarding my view of the capital being a large city, it is just a hunch. But the location puts it in an area with plenty of room to grow. But it is possible that other cities could have caused pressure on the capital, such as Florence or Fayetteville - both cities that could have a viable choice for the capital.

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.... Charlotte is a bit trickier, though old - it had always been just a local trading center. But it could have grown as a minor transport center for goods en route to the new capital, as well as a textile mill town. ...

Well not quite. Charlotte was the location of the nation's first gold rush when gold was discovered here in the early 1800s. The area along with a site in GA produced almost all the USA's gold until gold was discovered in California in the 1840s. The US Mint here minted gold coins until it during after the Civil War and gold in Charlotte financed much of the Confederacy's war operations. It also financed much of the construction of the textile industry that existed in the Piedmont for more than a century and later made Charlotte the place for the cotton mills to handle their banking.

Would this have made Charlotte the capital of Carolina? Probably not, but I think Charlotte still would have grown to be the economic center of the two states as it is mostly today.

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Interesting topic. Carolina would've been a powerhouse for sure, it would've been one of the largest in size and population. Charleston probably would be a larger city than what it is today but would've lost it's capital status at some point to a new central city, so it's hard to say. The Myrtle Beach area might have become a huge city growing more like Miami since it would've been centrally located on the coast and not be a border city. I've always wondered what a united Carolina would be like but if it means Atlanta, Charlotte, Raleigh or Columbia wouldn't have become what they are today, then it's best that it did split.

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Would this have made Charlotte the capital of Carolina? Probably not, but I think Charlotte still would have grown to be the economic center of the two states as it is mostly today.

What would determine how well Charlotte would have grown would have been the layout of rail lines and highways. The Cheraw area location would be interesting, however I feel Atlanta would still be a major player but Charlotte would be somewhat diminished from it's standing today. Raleigh wouldn't exist in it's current state, but I think Winston-Salem, Greensboro, and Durham would have benifitted greatly from this turn of events.

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What would determine how well Charlotte would have grown would have been the layout of rail lines and highways. The Cheraw area location would be interesting, however I feel Atlanta would still be a major player but Charlotte would be somewhat diminished from it's standing today. Raleigh wouldn't exist in it's current state, but I think Winston-Salem, Greensboro, and Durham would have benifitted greatly from this turn of events.

It is very interesting to think about what might have been... I would definitely say that Columbia would NOT be what it is today without state govt or USC, which would not be there because it would not be the capital...

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^Surely state government wouldn't be located in Columbia if the city wasn't chosen as Carolina's new capital city, but it could have still been chosen as the site of the "University of Carolina." Not all states have their flagship universities in their capital cities (eg, NC, GA, FL, VA, TN, KY etc.); as a matter of fact, most don't. The city's identity would definitely be different whether or not this hypothetically turned out to be the case, but no one can say for sure that the city would be larger or smaller. If anything is responsible for Columbia's growth historically, it would be the textile industry and railroad connections, as was the case for many other Southern cities of similar size back in the day. That's not to say that USC or state capital status didn't play a role in the city's growth, but there are several small state capitals (eg, Annapolis, MD, Jefferson City, MO, Frankfort, KY) as well as several small towns that serve as the home of its state's flagship university (eg, Oxford, MS, Chapel Hill, NC, Charlottesville, VA).

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Come to think of it Carolina would be a large state by east coast standards but I am curious to know was the split more of economical or politcal differences. It makes you wonder just how 100 miles can change a populations culture and commerce.

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