A century before Lewis and Clark, John Lawson made a journey
John Lawson's journey of 1700-1701 provided the first scientific descriptions of the Carolinas. His resulting book cataloged everything from flora and fauna to the native populations and their languages and practices. Considering "the Latitude and convenient Situation of Carolina," he wrote, "our Reason would inform us, that such a place lay fairly to be a delicious Country."
Come with us -- writer Scott Huler and a changing cast of scientists, historians, and anybody else who wants to join in -- and learn how we retraced his trek through what is now a better known -- but still delicious -- country.
The Book that Populated a Colony
Lawson's A New Voyage to Carolina came out nine years after his trek; that was the speed of communication in the early eighteenth century. The book was enormously popular and widely plagiarized -- in several languages. Something of a sales document -- as all documents of exploration tend to be -- it helped bring thousands of settlers to the colony. It also provided descriptions of the wildlife, flora, territory, and native populations of the colony that remain useful to this day. His descriptions of the Native American peoples he visited are some of the best remaining, and his descriptions of animals and plants help modern scientists -- to say nothing of historians and geographers and archaeologists -- get a thorough understanding of the Carolina colony, centuries after first contact (and its resulting catastrophic illnesses to the native populations) but before the rush of settlement.
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We updated you about our progress as we followed Lawson, by canoe and on foot, on road or path, through forest, swamp, town, city, and field. Click here to see the most recent updates. Our first trip began in mid-October, paddling by canoe from Charleston, SC -- just like Lawson did. Our second took place in the first days of 2015, walking through Francis Marion National Forest, and we walked on and off until our ceremonial finish in Bath, NC, in September 2015. Now the blog includes updates on the progress of A Delicious Country, a book you can now order from its publisher, UNC Press or of course from Amazon. Click here to learn all about it. Check the calendar at the bottom of this page for upcoming events.
Who Was John Lawson?
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Past Events, continued:
McClellanville (SC) Arts Council, June 15, TBA.
Malaprop's, Asheville. Reading, 6 p.m., July 17.
Grandfather Mountain. Lecture, July 18, 6:30 p.m.
Bookmarks, Winston-Salem. August 17, TBA.
Southern Festival of Books, Nashville, TN, Oct. 11-13, TBA.
Native American Studies Center, Lancaster SC, Lunch and Learn. Oct. 18, noon.
Fairfield County Museum, Winnsboro, SC. Oct. 18, 6 pm.
Books on Broad, Camden SC, Oct. 19, noon.