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South Carolina has a roughly triangular shape. Georgia borders it on the south, on the north by North Carolina, and on the east coast by the Atlantic Ocean. South Carolina is a member of three physical regions of the United States including the Blue Ridge, the Piedmont Plateau, and the Atlantic Coastal Plain. The Coastal Plain is referred to as the Low Country while the Piedmont Plateau and the Blue Ridge are referred to as the Up Country. The Blue Ridge is a mountainous area; in fact it is the highest mountain range in Eastern North America. The Piedmont Plateau has many hills and in is very rocky in certain areas. The inland has a relatively cool climate, which becomes even cooler as elevation increases. The Atlantic Coastal Plain is flat and has beaches as well as marshes and swamps. The coastal climate is humid subtropical, meaning South Carolina has long, hot summers and short, mild winters. The Fall Line separates the Low Country from the Up Country. It has many waterfalls and rapids as rivers drop to the coastal plain. The Fall Line was a great source of water power for colonial South Carolina. Mills were built in the Fall Line zone, stimulating the growth of cities. South Carolina’s major rivers are the Santee River, the Edisto River, and the Savannah River. These rivers drain South Carolina, which create the rapids and waterfalls. In particular, the Santee River drains the Piedmont and the Blue Ridge. A good portion of the coastal land was salt marshes and streams, which provided South Carolina’s colonial population with seafood. The coast was flat land with soil composed of sand, silt, and clay. Areas drained by the rivers were better for farming. The coast also provided areas for rice, cotton, and indigo plantations. The Piedmont Region was fairly rocky, thus it did not provide good farmland.


The states known today as South Carolina and North Carolina are said to be the first European settlement in North America in 1526. The Spanish explorer Lucas Vasquez de Ayllon established this settlement. The English King Charles I (whom the Carolinas were named after) unofficially granted this territory to Englishman Sir Robert Heath. However, this English claim was soon stripped away. In 1663, King Charles II issued a charter to the eight nobles known as the Lords Proprietors, giving them proprietary rule of the Carolinas. William Sayle established the first permanent colony in 1670 at Albemarle Point in Charles Town, which is today known as Charleston. South Carolina’s white population consisted of seven main ethnic groups: English, French, Scots, Germans, Irish, Jews, and Welsh. The Barbadians were the most prominent English settlers who came from West Indian colonies including Barbados, Jamaica, Antigua, and the Bahamas. The Huguenots, or French Protestants, arrived in South Carolina in 1680. Shortly after they arrived, they joined the Church of England and made English their official language. The Germans came to South Carolina seeking free land. The Scots settled in South Carolina in hopes of wealth and settled in Charleston. The Jewish from Portugal and Spain wanted religious freedom and wealth. The Irish and the Welsh sought land. Prior to their settlement in South Carolina, the Creeks, Cherokees, Catawbas, and Yammasees were Native American groups living in the region.


The Barbadians brought slavery with them to South Carolina. South Carolinians grew most of their own crops with the help of African slaves. A typical plantation owner owned up to fifty slaves. The Atlantic Coastal Plain provided them with a vast variety of seafood, including fish. Areas drained by the rivers provided areas for rice, cotton, tobacco, and indigo plantations. Charleston was the capital city of South Carolina. It became a center of trade because it was the only major seaport in the southern colonies. Charleston regularly traded with the northern colonies, the West Indies, Portugal, and England. South Carolina deerskin traders dominated trade in the southeastern United States. From 1670 to 1717, English and British traders stimulated South Carolina’s economy by the trade of Indian slaves. Slaves from American Indian tribes were bought and traded. South Carolinas geography made it a major exporter of rice, indigo, and ship supplies. The 1720s were considered to be the city of Charleston’s golden age due to the rise of rice exports. However, this ended in response to the American Revolution.
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The Low Country, or Atlantic Coastal Plain, was divided into four main social classes: the aristocrats, the middle class, the working class, and the slaves. The elite were the richest class of South Carolina, gaining their wealth predominantly from rice and indigo plantations. Some merchants, physicians, and lawyers also belonged to the aristocracy. The middle class consisted of artisans, including carpenters and silversmiths. Some less successful physicians belonged to the middle class as well as teachers and shopkeepers. The working class was sailors, apprentices, and journeymen (those who completed their apprenticeship). Eventually, slaves comprised about eighty percent of colonial South Carolinas population. A majority worked on the rice and indigo plantations of the aristocrats, while some were cabinet-makers and carpenters. The role of women was to raise the children at home and help their husbands. However, they were also allowed to attend parties and visit family and friends. Men were to be head of household, hunt and fish, and earn a living for their families. English was the main language spoken in the colony. Although the English made up only a small portion of the white population, the Church of England was the official church of South Carolina from 1704 to 1778. However, other Protestant religions were practiced. A dissenter in South Carolina was a person who did not follow the Church of England. The Anglicans resented the proprietor’s guarantee of religious freedom.


In 1663, King Charles II issued a charter to the Lords Proprietors. This established the Carolinas as a proprietary colony. Proprietary colonies were grants of land in the form of a charter. Britain used them to rapidly settle colonies with people living under British control. The proprietors could appoint all officials, meaning they could create courts, make laws, and establish churches. During the proprietary period, the northern and southern sections of the Province of Carolina developed separately under the Fundamental Constitutions of Carolina. This document was written in 1669 by John Locke as served as the basis for Carolina’s colonial government. The Fundamental Constitutions of Carolina was unenforceable in the Southern and Northern regions of Carolina. According to the document, religious freedom was acceptable and the parishes had control of the proprietary colonies. There were a few local officials appointed by the governor . There was no taxation system. However, it called for a manorial system in which serfs were bound to land in exchange for shelter. In the North, settlers refused to live on manors and created their own farms. In the South, colonists depended on African slave labor. They each had their own governors. The proprietors guaranteed freedom of religion to Dissenters. A Dissenter in Colonial America was a person who did not follow the official Church established in his economy. The official Church of South Carolina from 1704 to 1778 was the Church of England. In the early 1700s, the Dissenters lost many members to the Anglican Party. The Anglicans took away the religious freedom of certain groups. In 1706, religious toleration was restored. The colonists, unhappy with the proprietors, overthrew them in 1717. In 1719, the colony officially became a crown colony, which is a British colony controlled by the British King and Queen. In 1729, the Lords Proprietors completely gave up their rights to the Carolina region. Also in 1729, North and South Carolina became two separate colonies. By the 1700s, English settlers made up less than half of the colony’s white population. The French, Irish, Scottish, Germans, Jewish, Dutch, and Swedish settlers came to South Carolina. In 1776, South Carolina declared its independence from Great Britain and established its own government.


Triangle Trade: The triangle trade was a trade pattern between Great Britain, the colonies of British North America, and the British colonies in the Caribbean. Europe exported manufactured goods to Africa. Africa traded slaves to British North America. British North America exported tobacco, cotton, sugar, and molasses to Europe. South Carolina was a major exporter of tobacco, rice, indigo, and ship supplies.
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Salutary Neglect: Although Britain believed in mercantilism, or the fact that the colonies existed for the benefit its benefit, salutary neglect encouraged the colonies to develop an economy and government on their own. Since there was such a great distance between the colonies and Britain, Britain allowed the colonies to develop on their own. South Carolina benefited from this policy. For example, the colony learned how to utilize their natural resources to their advantage, such as indigo plantations.

Mercantilism: Mercantilism is the belief that the colonies exist for the sole purpose of benefiting the Mother Country, in this case, Britain. South Carolina exported tobacco, rice, indigo, and lumber to Britain.

The Great Awakening: The Great Awakening was a spiritual awakening in the American colonies. The colonies questioned the role of the individual in religion and society. During this time, church was considered boring, and some colonists wanted to transform the traditional ways of the church. New churches were created in South Carolina, and people began to see church in a more exciting, spiritual way.

Cash Crops: Tobacco, rice, and indigo were cash crops in South Carolina.
Much of the land was fertile because of drainage by rivers, therefore huge plantations were established, and Charleston became the center of trade.

Road to Revolution

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French and Indian War: The French and Indian War was fought between France and Britain over territory and expansion. Intense rivalry for the “well-being” of local Native American groups existed between South Carolina and Virginia. Virginia wanted the Cherokees, Catawbas, Muskogees, and Chickasaws of South Carolina to migrate to Virginia. South Carolina wanted the Native American groups to stay in South Carolina because the groups would help protect them against the British. However, South Carolina was not truly concerned with the Native Americans’ well-being, but rather the colonists’ protection. As a result of the French and Indian War, the British were stuck in major debt. In order to pay for the war, the British taxes were implemented on the South Carolinians. Although the taxes were not high, people were still very unhappy. Many colonists were angry and protested. There were more Patriots (colonists who wanted to separate from England and form an independent nation) in South Carolina than Loyalists (colonists who wanted to remain loyal to Britain and the King). As a result, a majority of South Carolina supported the ideas of revolution. Patriots of South Carolina allied with other colonies that had Patriots as well.

Revolution: General Daniel Morgan(bottom right) and General Thomas Sumter (bottom left) were war leaders from South Carolina. South Carolina residents were furious about the 1767 Townshend Acts, which taxed tea, paper, wine, glass, and oil. In protest against the Stamp Act of 1965, South Carolina sent Thomas Lynch, John Rutledge, and Christopher Gadsden to the Stamp Act Congress in New York. Tea taxes still remained after the Congress, and South Carolinians stole the tea that arrived at the Charleston Harbor to sell for profit. The Battle of Cowpens (bottom picture) in 1781 involved the Americans against the British and the loyalist Americans. General Daniel Morgan was a leader of this battle. It was a reconquest of South Carolina from the British. General Thomas Sumter lead several battles including: Hanging Rock, Ninety-Six, Manigualt’s Ferry, and Blackstock. The Battle of Hanging Rock was also between the American Colonies and the British. Sumter created a plan of attack against the British. It resulted in an American victory. The Battle of Blackstock took place in present-day Union County, South Carolina. South Carolina declared independence from Great Britain and set up its own government in 1776. The first government lasted two years under president John Rutledge. South Carolina did support the constitution. In fact, South Carolina became the first state to ratify the first constitution of the United States in 1778.
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Works Cited

Elson, Henry William. "**History of the United States of America**," The MacMillan Company, New York, 1904. Chapter IV pp. 88-93. Transcribed by Kathy Leigh.

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No Author. “Everyday Life In Colonial South Carolina.” 28 September 2010.