Origin of "South Carolina"

South Carolina State Name Origin


Painting of King Charles I by artist Anthony van Dyck

Painting of Charles I (1600-49) with M. de St Antoine by artist Anthony van Dyck (public domain photo on Wikimedia Commons).

What does "South Carolina" mean?

Carolina is from the Latin word for Charles (Carolus) honoring King Charles I of England (who made the original land grant in 1629). South Carolina was formed in 1729, when the Carolina colony was divided in two. South Carolina was the eighth state to ratify the United States Constitution in 1788 (see statehood order).


King Charles I granted territory in America in 1629 to Sir Robert Heath (his Attorney General) to be named Carolina, or the province of Carolina (the same charter also refers to the province as Carolana or New Carolana).

The Carolina province consisted of all the land lying between "the Ocean upon the east side & soe to the west & soe fare as the Continent extends itselfe...." The northern border was to be the 36th parellel (roughly a line from Kill Devil Hills to Knoxville, Tennessee). The southern border was the 31st parallel, which extended the province through current-day Georgia (the state border between Florida and Alabama follows the 31st line of latitude).

King Charles II granted a new charter to the Lords Proprietors for the same territory in 1663 and two years later the charter expanded the colony north to 36° 30' (extending the territory to approximately the current North Carolina-Virginia border, and south to 29° N latitude (just south of Daytona Beach, Florida).

South Carolina


1636 portrait of King Charles I in robes of state (public domain image on Wikipedia).

King Charles I

The state of South Carolina, USA; public domain image.

South Carolina, USA

South Carolina geology and topography map from USGS: A Tapestry of Time & Terrain.

South Carolina geology and topography map