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North Carolina State Tartan

Carolina Tartan

North Carolina State Tartan

Adopted in 1991.

The Carolina Tartan was designed and registered with the Scottish Tartans Society in 1981 by Peter MacDonald of Crieff, Scotland. The design was based on a Royal Stewart tartan believed to have been worn by king Charles I of England during his marriage, giving it significance since The Carolinas were named after King Charles. It was made the official tartan of North Carolina in 1991 when it was passed by the North Carolina General Assembly. South Carolina followed suit and enacted legislation making the Carolina Tartan its official tartan as well in 2002

House Bill No. 932 (H932), proposing that the "Carolina tartan" be adopted as "the official tartan of the State of North Carolina" was ratified on May 13, 1991 by the General Assembly of 1991 (Session Laws, 1991, c. 85).

According to

The so-called "North Carolina" and "South Carolina" tartans are copyrighted proprietary designs, and as such, they may only be purchased through McGill's company, International Tartan. The actual Carolina tartan, as an official symbol of both NC and SC, is in the public domain.

North Carolina State Tartan: Carolina Tartan

Tartan, a plaid textile design consisting of stripes of varying width and color, was first worn by Scottish Highlanders. Scottish families began to settle in both North and South Carolina in the late 1600s, with Scots eventually becoming a vital part of both colonies. The Carolina Tartan - a variation of a tartan associated with King Charles II - is believed to be the first tartan design sanctioned for a group of US states.

In fact, the "Carolina tartan" shown above (STA No. 1377) is the "official tartan" of the States of North Carolina and South Carolina. It is the only official tartan of these states.

The Carolina tartan was designed in 1981 by Peter MacDonald of Crieff, Scotland. This tartan is the official state tartan of both North and South Carolina.

Both states have received their fair share of Scottish immigration. The Cape Fear River Valley in particular was home to a large settlement of Gaelic speaking Highlanders, among them Flora MacDonald. Many of these Highlanders had taken oaths of loyalty to the Crown after the '45 and so fought as soldiers for the Royalists in the Revolutionary War.

By contrast, the west part of the Carolinas was settled primarily by Ulster Scots, Lowland Scots who had migrated to Ulster in the seventeenth century, and later to the American colonies. Many of these people would join the fight for American independence in the late eighteenth century.  Land grants given to veterans after the Revolutionary War encouraged many Ulster Scots to settle in the Appalachian mountains of North Carolina.

The Carolina district tartan was the idea of Peter MacDonald. It is based upon a version of the Royal Stewart tartan found in a fragment of a coat from the Royal Company of Archers c. 1730. It is believed to be the same sett that was used as ribbons on the coat of King Charles II for his marriage in 1661. It was chosen since the Carolina colonies were named for Charles. MacDonald proposed his idea of a Carolina tartan to the St. Andrews Society of North Carolina and the St. Andrews Society of Charleston, South Carolina, both of which approved of the idea.

North Carolina House Bill 932



Whereas, Scottish families began to settle in both North and South Carolina during the last two decades of the seventeenth century; and

Whereas, in the first half of the eighteenth century, large numbers of both Highland Scots and Ulster Scots settled in the two Carolinas; and

Whereas, Scots became major elements of the population of both colonies; and

Whereas, a tartan is a plaid textile design consisting of stripes of varying width and color, each tartan unique to a clan, district, or group; and

Whereas, St. Andrews Societies are organizations for the celebration of things Scottish; and

Whereas, St. Andrews Societies in North and South Carolina arranged for the design of a Carolina Tartan and cosponsored the effort for adoption of the design by the Scottish Tartans Society, which registered the Carolina Tartan in 1981, and

Whereas, those St. Andrews Societies believe that the Carolina Tartan was the first one successfully advanced for a group of states in the United States, although Canadian provinces had their distinctive tartans; and

Whereas, since 1981 tartans have been designed for other states; and

Whereas, the Carolina Tartan is a variation of a tartan associated with King Charles II, who gave the grant in 1663 that made Carolina a proprietary colony; and

Whereas, there is a desire on the part of many North Carolina citizens of Scottish descent to honor their ancestral ties; Now, therefore,

The General Assembly of North Carolina enacts:

Section 1. Chapter 145 of the General Statutes is amended by adding a new section to read:

"§ 145-15. State tartan.

The Carolina Tartan is adopted as the official tartan of the State of North Carolina."

Sec. 2. This act is effective upon ratification.

In the General Assembly read three times and ratified this the 13th day of May, 1991.

H932 wording, above, is virtually identical to wording used to adopt the Carolina tartan as the official tartan of South Carolina eleven years later.

North Carolina Law

The law designating the official North Carolina state tartan is found in the North Carolina General Statutes, Chapter 145 Section 145-15.

CHAPTER 145. State Symbols and Other Official Adoptions.
SECTION 145-15.

§ 145-15. State tartan.

The Carolina Tartan is adopted as the official tartan of the State of North Carolina. (1991, c. 85, s. 1.)

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