New Carolina in 1720


Nowhere near North Carolina or South Carolina

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The original of this 1720 map of New Carolina titled La Californie ou Nouvelle Caroline is in the John Carter Brown Library of Brown University at Providence, Rhode Island.
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New Carolina is not where you might think.

Explorers in the late 1600s and early 1700s thought the land we now call California was an island off the west coast of North America, particularly off of Mexico. They called it New Carolina.

The original of the 1720 map of New Carolina La Californie ou Nouvelle Caroline – translation from the French: California or New Carolina – is in the John Carter Brown Library of Brown University at Providence, Rhode Island.

The full title of the hand-colored engraved map is California or New Carolina: Place of Apostolic Works of Society of Jesus at the Septentrional America.

Nicholas de Fer (1646-1720) was a French cartographer who published atlases.

This hand-colored map by de Fer from 1720 is actually a pirated copy of a manuscript map of 1696 by Father Eusebio Kino (1645-1711), according to the World Digital Library.

Kino was an Italian-born Jesuit priest who was trained as a cartographer. Best known for his work in establishing missions and in defending the rights of Indians, he also made important geographic discoveries.

In the 1680s and 1690s he explored Pimeria Alta in present-day southern Arizona and northern Mexico. His explorations of Baja California and the Colorado River eventually led him to conclude definitively that California was not an island – a discovery not yet reflected in de Fer's later map.
Source: World Digital Library

Carolina Province

The word Carolina as used on the east coast of North America was from the Latin word for Charles (Carolus), honoring King Charles I of England (1600-1649) , whose son Charles II (1630-1685) gave the land as a grant.

The charter for the territory named it Carolina, or the Province of Carolina.

It consisted of the land between "the Ocean upon the east side & soe to the west & soe fare as the Continent extends itselfe...." The northern border was the 36th parallel, which is roughly a line from Kill Devil Hills to Knoxville, Tennessee. The southern border was the 31st parallel line of latitude, which extended the province through current-day Georgia – the modern state border between Florida and Alabama follows the 31st parallel. A later charter extended the territory north to approximately the modern North Carolina-Virginia border, and south to around modern Daytona Beach, Florida.

Years later, the colony divided and North Carolina and South Carolina split officially in 1729.

Charles I and Charles II were English kings, of course, so why would Italian and French explorers call the West Coast land New Carolina?
Sources:  Wikipedia  North Carolina  South Carolina  Charles I  Charles II


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© 2011 Dr. Anthony Curtis, Mass Communication Dept., University of North Carolina at Pembroke    email    home page