Accretion of the extensive Carolina zone to Laurentia is one of the most critical unresolved problems in southern Appalachian tectonics. Synthesis of southern Appalachian tectonism reveals three lines of evidence from across the orogen that indicate a Late Ordovician to Silurian time of accretion. A tectonic unconformity in native Laurentian rocks, an extensive magmatic pulse in the Piedmont zone of the orogen, and active uplift in the Carolina zone are all related to this accretionary event. Structural geometries in the Carolina zone suggest that accretion involved sinistral transpression. This new model for Carolina accretion is consistent with models for the accretion of northern Appalachian peri-Gondwanan terranes; collectively their timing and mode of accretion to Laurentia place tectonic constraints on Paleozoic global reconstructions.