Carolana vs. Carolina

In 1562, Jean Ribaut established the short-lived Charlesfort on present-day Port Royal Island in South Carolina, and he named the land Carolana after his king, Charles IX of France, and it was thusly named on many maps of the late 1500s and early 1600s.

When King Charles I of England decided to grant the land to Sir Robert Heath in 1629, he personally chose the name Carolana for the new colony to be established, even though he was well aware that this was the name given by Ribaut and the French. Perhaps he wanted to send a message to the French - this place is his now, and not theirs.

The original charter in 1629 clearly calls the new colony Carolana, and it was known as this for many more years. However, when the next charter was granted in 1663 by his son, Charles II, the name was changed to Carolina. There are no records to indicate why this subtle name change was made. Perhaps Charles II wanted to distinguish his grant from his father's original grant, or perhaps there were political reasons to no longer offend the French (doubtful), or there were other reasons known only to history.

But, the two names were used frequently and interchangeably well into the early 1700s. Certainly by the time the Crown purchased the interests of the final Lords Proprietors in 1729, the name Carolina was adopted and used virtually in all instances from that time forward. After 1729, when the term Carolana was ever used, it was most often used with nostalgia or for poetic purpose.

To this author, Carolana represents the entire colony from 1629 to 1729 during which it was ruled by the Lords Proprietors, even though the names North Carolina and South Carolina were in use by the late 1680s and there never really was just "one" colony from the beginning. Perhaps it's also poetic or romantic, but the idea of "One Unique Vision" also represents the simple fact that all Carolinians have a common link to the original intentions of Charles I, way back in 1629.

Click Here for a comprehensive analysis of early documents debating Carolana vs. Carolina.


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