The British colonies, 1763–1776 by William R. Shepherd, 1923. Charlotina is labeled just to the west of Lake Superior and Lake Michigan.

In the fall of 1763, a pamphlet was published in Edinburgh titled The Expediency of Securing Our American Colonies by Settling the Country Adjoining the River Mississippi, and the Country Upon the Ohio, Considered.[1] The publication of this pamphlet points to the interest aroused in western land speculation among many in North America and Great Britain after the French and Indian War. In essence, the pamphlet’s writer advocated the establishment of a province carved out of the newly-acquired lands taken from France. It was to be called Charlotina, named in honor of Queen Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. Charlotina’s boundaries would have been “betwixt the Missisippi and the fresh water Lakes, extending north-west from this proposed bound.”[2] A portion of the eastern boundary extended “from Lake Errie, up the river Miamis to the Carrying-place, from thence down the river Waback to where it runs into the Ohio, and from thence down the Ohio to the Forks of the Mississippi.”[3] Charlotina encompassed parts of the modern-day states of Ohio and Minnesota while including the entirety of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin.

If properly encouraged, Charlotina offered numerous political and military benefits to the empire. As outlined in the pamphlet, the province would have given Britain command over that region, checked Native American threats, and served as a buffer colony for the defense and security of all those on the eastern seaboard. Economically, Charlotina’s fertile soil and agreeable climate could have yielded plenty of staple commodities in large quantities for the mother country. The soil, “being of a rich black mould, three feet deep in the hills, and much deeper in the bottoms, with a strong clayey foundation,” could have produced rice, wheat, rye, tobacco, vegetables, fruits, “hemp, flax, silk, cotton, cochineal, oil, raisins, currants, almonds, oranges, citrons, walnuts, chestnuts, prunes, potash, indigo, rice, copper, iron, pitch, tar, rosin, saltpeter, sweet-gum, wax . . . [and] materials for medicine and dyeing.”[4] Pine, Cedar, Cypress, and ever-green Oaks grew aplenty there and offered suitable timber for the construction of naval vessels. The various silver, lead, and iron mines around that country would have provided yet another raw material for export.[5]

In the end, Charlotina never came into existence—the British government banned settlement past the Appalachian Mountains under the Proclamation Line of 1763. Had it been established, Charlotina would likely be considered the “fourteenth colony,” a phrase commonly used by historians today to refer to British colonies on the North American mainland other than the original thirteen colonies that had some connection, albeit however minor, to the American Revolution. The failure of Charlotina’s founding is just one element of British limitations placed on North American westward expansion, a source of serious American frustration that contributed to the rise of the pre-revolutionary anti-British movement.


[1]Clarence Walworth Alvord, The Mississippi Valley in British Politics: A Study of the Trade, Land Speculation, and Experiments in Imperialism Culminating in the American Revolution, vol. 1 (Cleveland, OH: The Arthur H. Clark Company, 1917), 100-101.

[2]The Expediency of Securing Our American Colonies by Settling the Country Adjoining the River Mississippi, and the Country Upon the Ohio, Considered (Edinburgh: 1763), 14.

[3]Ibid., 13.

[4]Ibid., 16, 20, 23-24, 27-28.

[5]Ibid., 27-28.

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