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Report by the Board of Trade of Great Britain concerning generalconditions in North Carolina [Extract]
Great Britain. Board of Trade
September 08, 1721
Volume 02, Pages 418-425
[B. P. R. O. B. T. Plant. Gen. Vol. 38. page 357.—Extract.]
REPRESENTATION OF THE BOARD OF TRADE TO THE KING UPON THE STATE OF HIS MAJ: PLANTATIONS IN AMERICA
8 September 1721.
* * * *
Carolina was granted by King Charles the Second to several Lords Proprietors by two different Charters the 1st dated 24th March in the 15th year of his Reign which contains all that Tract of Ground, extending Westward from the North end of Luck Island as far as the South seas southward as far as the River St Mathias and thence Westward again in a direct Line as far as the South Seas aforesaid together with all the Ports, Harbours, Bays Rivers, Isles and Islets thereunto belonging
The second Charter which is more extensive, bears date the 30th June in the 17th year of the said King Charles and reaches as far as the North end of Carahtuke River or Gullet, and thence upon a strait Westerly line to Wyanoak Creek, which is supposed to ly in or about 36 degrs and 30 Minutes of Northern Latitude.
Carolina is divided into two Province called North and South Carolina which have separate Governors Councils and Assemblies.
The Governors of these Provinces have been usually named by the Proprietors subject to your Majesties Approbation
North Carolina was formed partly of Virginia till granted to the Lords Proprietors by their second Charter and it was at a certain place in this Province called Roanoke that Sr Walter Raleigh's servants made their first settlement.
The Boundary that separates this Province from Virginia being conceived in very disputable Terms hath never yet been finally settled thō Commissaries have been formerly deputed by the two Colonies for that purpose who could never agree either upon the Latitude or upon the true Position of Wyanoak Creek for the Indians from whom this place derives its appelation having often wander'd as their usual Custom is, over that part of the Continent and fixed for certain times at different places there they have left their name to many Creeks.
The South Limits of this Colony have likewise admitted of some disputes the Commissioners of the Lords Proprietors having frequently named Cape Fear instead of the River of that name for their Boundary.
The Government of North Carolina is something different from that of the Southern Province resembling more nearly that of Virginia of which as hath been observed it was formerly a part being divided into two Counties and seven precincts with petty Courts for each from whence in all matters exceeding a certain value Appeals lye to the suprem Court held by the Governor and Council which Liberty of Appeal as we are informed your Majesty's subjects at South Carolina do not at present enjoy.
There are great Tracts of good land in this Province and it is a very healthy Country, but the situation renders it for ever uncapable of being a place of considerable Trade by reason of a great sound near sixty miles over, that lyes between this Coast and the Sea, barr'd by a vast chain of sand banks so very shallow and shifting that sloops drawing only five foot water run great riske of crossing them.
The little Commerce therefore driven to this Colony is carryed on by very small sloops chiefly from New England, who bring them Clothing and Iron Ware in Exchange for their Pork and Corn but of late they have made small Quantities of Pitch and Tar which are first exported to New England and thence to Great Britain.
We are not throughly informed of the number of Inhabitants, but according to the best accounts we could get the number of persons in their Tythables or Poll Tax were not long since above 1600 of which about one third were Blacks.
The Government of this Province having for many years been a very disorderly one this becomes a place of Refuge for all the Vagabonds
whom either Debt or Breach of the Laws have driven from the other Colonies on the Continent and Pirates have too frequently found entertainment amongst them.
There is no great prospect that these Mischiefs should be redressed unless your Majesty shall be pleased to resume this as well as the southern Province into your immediate Government in which case North Carolina might in our Opinion be restored again to Virginia and put under the care of your Majesty's Governor of that Colony.
South Carolina extends from Cape Fear to the River of St Mathias The inhabitants of this Province conceiving themselves to be ill used or greatly neglected by the Lords Proprietors have lately deposed their Governor and Council and chosen a new Governor and Council of their own which great disorder induced your Majesty to reassume the Government thereof.
This Colony is the Southern Frontier to your Majesty's Plantations on the Continent and will no doubt under the happy influence of your Majesties immediate Protection become a flourishing Colony.
The Trade of this Province with respect to their own shipping is not hitherto very considerable, the Inhabitants not having above 20 sail of their own amounting to about 1500 Ton, and as they cheifly apply themselves to the Plantation Work, they have not many seafaring-men But their Trade is carried on by the Merchants of Great Britain who reap a considerable advantage thereby.
The Commodities the people of Carolina take from Great Britain are all manner of cloathing Woolen, Linnen Iron Ware Brass and Pewter and all sorts of Household Goods, having no Manufactories of their own and their southerly situation will make them always dependent on Great Britain, for a supply of those commodities whose consumption may be computed at about £23,000 per Annum. besides the cost of a considerable number of Negros with which the British Merchants have for some time yearly furnished them taking their Returns in Rice and Naval Stores.
There is a small Trade carried on between Carolina and the Maderas for Wine and the Commissioners of the Customs have a surveyor General, a Collector, a Comptroller, a searcher, a waiter and a Naval Officer to put the Laws of Trade and Navigation in Execution here. But daily experience shows that illegal Trade is not to be prevented in a Proprietory Government.
The natural Produce of this Country is Rice, Pitch, Tar, Turpentine, Buck skins, Hides Corn Beef Pork Soap Mirtle Wax-Candles various sorts of Lumber as Masts Cedar Boards, staves shingles, and Hoop-poles
But the soil is thought capable of producing Wine, Oyle, Silk, Indico, Pot-Ashes, Iron, Hemp and Flax.
The number of White Inhabitants in this Province have some time since been computed at 9000 and the Blacks at 12000. But the frequent massacres committed of late years by the neighbouring Indians at the Instigation of the French and Spaniards has diminished the white men whilst the manufacture of Pitch and Tar has given occasion to encrease the number of Black Slaves who have lately attempted and were very near succeeding in a New Revolution which would probably have been attended by the utter Extirpation of all your Majesty's subjects in this Province. And therefore it may be necessary for your Majesty's service that the Governor should be instructed to propose some Law to the Assembly there for encouraging the entertainment of more white servants for the future.
The militia of this Province does not consist of above 2000 men and therefore considering the circumstances and situation these people are in exposed in case of a Rupture on the one side to the Spaniards on the other to the French, and surrounded by savages who are for the most part in a Interest opposite to that of Great Britain, unless your Majesty shall be graciously pleased to send a military Force to this Country sufficient to protect your subjects this valuable Province it in all probability will be lost.
For this reason we took the Liberty of representing to the late Lords Justices the necessity of sending four Regiments thither to prevent the further encroachments of the French in those parts. We likewise propose that as well to ascertain the Bounds of this Province which have not hitherto been fixed any other way but by the Charters to the Lords Proprietors as to extend and protect the Trade of your Majesties subjects there, several small Forts should be erected in proper places and that particular care should be taken to secure the Navigation of the several Rivers emptying themselves in those parts to the Northward of Fort St Augustine into the Westward Ocean, but more especially that of the River Alamatahama which the French have some time go new christened by the name of the River May.
We were humbly of Opinion that no time should be lost in a matter of this consequence because the great difficulties the French have found in the Navigation of the River Mississippi made it necessary for them to secure a better part, and they did sometime ago take Pensicola from the Spaniards which being since as we are informed restored it is very probable the French may think of opening another communication from
their great settlement at Mobile down the River Alamatahama to the Western Ocean which wou'd be a more fatal blow than any that has hither been given to your Majestys Interests in America.
The Fortifications of this Country at Present are but very few and their situation not the most advantagious. Charles Town for instance is regularly fortifyed and hath about 100 Guns mounted on the Walls the largest not exceeding twelve pound Ball.
There is likewise a small Fort of about 10 Guns at Port Royal and a Pallizado Fort at the late Savana Town of 5 or 6 small Guns which lyes about 140 Miles West from Charles Town towards the Head of Santee River 120 Miles from Charles Town is also another small Fort in all which places there are about 100 men in Garrison.
But Port Royal seems to have been a good deal neglected considering it is at present the Frontier Town lyes ready for the supply of the Indian Trade and the Protection of the out Garrison and has an excellent Harbour for which reason we should think that place ought to be better secured.
It would likewise be for your Majesties Service that other Forts should be built in this Province in proper places for the reasons which shall be mentioned in that part of this Representation relating to the means proposed for preventing the Encroachments of our European Neibours.
The Indian Nations lying between Carolina and the French settlements on the Mississippi are about 9200 fighting men of which number 3400 whom we formerly Traded with are entirely debauched to the French Interest by their new settlement and Fort at the Albamas. About 2000 more that lye between your majesty's subjects and those of the French King, Trade at present indifferently with both, but it is to be feared that these likewise will be debauched by the French unless proper means be used to keep them in your Majestys Interest.
The remaining 3800 Indians are the Cherokees, a Warlike Nation Inhabiting the Apalatche Mountains these being still at enmity with the French might with less difficulty be secured, and it certainly is of the highest consequence that they should be engaged in your Majesty's Interest, for should they once take another party not only Carolina but Virginia likewise would be exposed to their Excursions.
Besides the Indians above mentioned there are about 1000 Savages dispersed in several parts between Carolina and Virginia from whom we have not much to apprehend Provided your Majesty's Governors of those Provinces live in that perfect Harmony and good understanding which they ought to maintain with each other and do justice to these poor people, who seldom give the first Offence.
It were to be wished we had not so much reason to complain of our European Neighbours in these parts but besides the Encroachments made by the French your Majesty's subjects meet with ill treatment from the Spaniards more particularly at Fort St Augustine where they have a Garrison of 3. or 400 white men and about 200 Indians who give shelter to all our run-away slaves and without regard to Peace or Treaties commit frequent Acts of Hostility upon your Majesty's Subjects.
We are not as yet informed whether the Spaniards have resettled Pensecola or what Force they have there but they have a Fort at the mouth of the Catahooche River with about 400 or 500 men in Garrison and we shall give your Majesty an account of the French Force in the Neighborhood, in that part of our Report which relates particularly to their settlement on the Continent.
This Province having hitherto but few Inhabitants the Quit Rents of the Lords Proprietors amount only to about 500l per annum But there is a Duty of 3d per Skin for the Benefit of the Clergy and the Contingences of the Government which vary every year, are raised by the Assembly.
There are no officers in Carolina that have patents from the Crown and none appointed at present by your Majesty's Authority but those of the Governors and Custom: House Officers.
All other Officers both Civil and Military hold their employments immediately under the Lords Proprietors their Governors or the Assembly.
Rice being the principal and staple commodity of this Province and the Merchants trading to Carolina having often complained that the advantage they formerly reaped by supplying Portugal with Rice hath been almost entirely lost since the act of the 3d and 4th years of Queen Ann whereby Rice is made one of the Enumerated Commodityes and the Importation thereof restrained to Great Britain, we think it necessary before we conclude what we have to offer concerning this Province to lay before your Majesty a particular state of this Trade.
Before the production of Rice in Carolina the Kingdom of Portugal was supplyed with very great Quantities every year from Italy.
And the great consumption thereof in Portugal with the Liberty of transporting it directly thither from the Plantations as freely as any other Grain first induced the people of Carolina to plant and propagate it.
Their Labour and industry being by Degrees rewarded by an abundant increase of this usefull and valuable Product they had a very fair prospect of wholly supplying the Portugal Markets therewith.
But being deprived by the foresaid Act of the Liberty of transporting their Rice directly to Portugal and the additional Freight (from this to that Kingdom) with all other charges thereon amounting to about one third part of its value no Rice could be carried from England to Portugal but when the Price has happen'd to be very high there
But the true state of this affair will best appear by the following account of the Quantities of Rice imported and re-exported communibus Annis on a Medium of five years from Christmas 1712 to Christmas 1717 vizt
From Carolina and the other Plantations
From East India Turkey and Italy about
The total Import
To Portugal Spain and other Ports to Southward of Cape Finistere
To Holland Germany & other countries to Northward of Cape Finistere
The total Export
Remained for Consumption
It is evident from this account that the Exportation of Rice from Great Britain to the Northward is very considerable and that the exportation of this Commodity to the Southward is very small which can arise from no other cause but the great expence that attends the same in double Freight, the Rice of Carolina being esteemed the best in the World but by that means it happens that the Italians being near at hand have almost entirely beaten your Majesty's subjects out of this Trade which proves very detrimental to the Navigation of Great Britain for if the Italians had not a vent for their Rice in Portugal they would hardly be able to carry on a Trade to that Kingdom and Spain in their own shipping they having no other Gross Goods but Rice and Paper sufficient to furnish lading for great ships, and they dare not adventure in any others for fear of the Algerines
We would therefore humbly submit to your Majesty whether it might not be for the advantages of the Plantations and of Great Britain likewise to allow that Rice might be carried from Carolina directly to Portugal or any other part of Europe to the Southward of Cape Finisterre upon giving security that every vessel so freighted shall touch in Great Britain before she returns to the West Indies.
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