Scott Huler, the Knight Project Fellow for 2014-2015, will take a modern walking expedition through the Carolinas, following in the footsteps of an explorer who made the trek in 1700, one of the earliest of the Lewis and Clark-type of scientific explorations in America.
In 1700, explorer John Lawson left “Charles-Town,” the only settlement of any size in the Carolina colony, for a walk into the backcountry. First settled by Europeans in 1670, Carolina beyond its coast remained in 1700 mostly unknown, and its owners charged Lawson with figuring out what was out there. Over the next months Lawson, with native guides, made his way through the colony, mostly on foot. He kept a journal and produced a natural history of the colony; descriptions of the new territory’s plants, animals, birds, and crops; and a thorough account of the natives, including dictionaries. Lawson did, that is, what Lewis and Clark did for the Louisiana Territory a century later. Lawson’s resulting 1709 book – “A New Voyage to Carolina” — was a bestseller, and his observations formed the foundation of understanding of the Carolinas. With the cooperation of modern scientists and historians, I plan to retrace his journey to compare today’s flora, fauna, terrain, and inhabitants with those Lawson would have found more than 300 years ago. WHere Lawson took 9 years to publish his account, I’ll update progress from the field, keeping blog posts, images, and video flowing directly from the expedition.