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The Carolinas

The Carolinas is a term used in the United States to refer collectively to the states of North and South Carolina. The Carolinas were known as the Province of Carolina during America's 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]


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. 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,[12] many rural and small urban communities suffered.[13] However, during the 1990s, both states began to experience growth in the technological and banking sectors, bringing jobs and population growth.[14] 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.[15]

See also


  1. ^ The Split - One Colony Becomes Two
  2. ^ Carolina Folk: The Cradle of a Southern Tradition origyear=2006. Mckissick Museum. Columbia, SC, USA: University of South Carolina Press. pp. 33. ISBN 0872499502. Retrieved 07 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". Retrieved 2008-06-07.  
  9. ^ Linda Joyce Forristal. "A Vinegar Barbecue". Retrieved 2008-06-07.  
  10. ^ a b c d Gunther, John. 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. ^ "Tobacco-Dependent Communities Research Initiative". N.C. Rural Economic Development Center. 2000-2005. Retrieved 2008-06-07.  
  13. ^ "Rural Dislocated Worker Initiative". N.C. Rural Economic Development Center. 2000-2007. Retrieved 2008-06-07.  
  14. ^ "North Carolina". American Planning Association. Retrieved 2008-06-07.  
  15. ^ Jim DuPlessis (2008-06-06). "U.S. economic growth matches S.C. at 2 percent in 2007". Retrieved 2008-06-07.  

Further reading

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


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