A Journey of Rediscovery: Retracing the Route of John Lawson's 1700 Expedition in Carolina

Oct 26, 2020

(Originally broadcast 03/29/19) - In 1700, a young man named John Lawson left London and landed in Charleston, South Carolina, hoping to make a name for himself. For reasons unknown, he soon undertook a two-month journey through the still-mysterious Carolina backcountry. His travels yielded A New Voyage to Carolina in 1709, one of the most significant early American travel narratives, rich with observations about the region's environment and Indigenous people. Lawson later helped found North Carolina's first two cities, Bath and New Bern; became the colonial surveyor general; contributed specimens to what is now the British Museum; and was killed as the first casualty of the Tuscarora War. Yet despite his great contributions and remarkable history, Lawson is little remembered, even in the Carolinas he documented.

In 2014, Scott Huler made a surprising decision: to leave home and family for his own journey by foot and canoe, faithfully retracing Lawson's route through the Carolinas. He chronicled that unlikely voyage, revealing what it's like to rediscover your own home. Huler talks with Walter Edgar about his journeys and the resulting book, A Delicious Country: Rediscovering the Carolinas along the Route of John Lawson's 1700 Expedition (2019, UNC Press).

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