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South Carolina

Map of South Carolina
Locator Map of South Carolina

cherokee indians The first Europeans arrived along the unexplored coastal areas of the Carolinas (north and south) in the early 16th century. Native American inhabitants in what is now called South Carolina included the Catawba, Cherokee and Yamasee tribes.

The French and Spanish attempted to establish permanent settlements, but all failed. In 1670, the English settlement near present day Charleston finally took hold. The overall territory (north to south) was named Carolina after England's King Charles II, and it would later be divided into the British provinces of South Carolina and North Carolina.

Eager settlers continually arrived, great plantations were established along the coastal lowlands, and countless slaves from Africa labored long and hard in the rice and indigo fields. Rice was so profitable, that by 1730, over 20 million pounds were exported.

Charleston was now an important commercial port, and as the interior of this new land began to develop, the Native Americans were pushed west, and eventually their ancestral home here was lost.

The British saw an opportunity to tax the newfound wealth of America's colonies, and one of the richest, South Carolina, was no exception. Especially offended by the Tea Tax, powerful land owners and merchants rebelled, and in 1776, South Carolina declared its independence from Great Britain.

America's Revolutionary War was bravely fought on many fronts, and according to historical accounts, South Carolina witnessed more fighting than any other colony. At war's end South Carolina ratified the United States Constitution and officially became the eighth state to join the Union on May 23, 1788.

cotton gin After the war the state's economy exploded; the cotton gin invention turned cotton into a significant crop, and when combined with tobacco profits, South Carolina was on a roll. Underneath this fabric of success, the riches gained from the endless toil of black slaves was a festering, hot-button issue between North and South.

On December 20, 1860, South Carolina seceded from the union, the first of the Southern states to do so. When upstart Confederate troops fired on Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor on April 12, 1861, it sparked America's Civil War, a conflict that would eventually all but destroy the southern states.

plantation With Columbia ablaze, plantations in ruins and over 20% of its white male population dead, South Carolina was devastated. Once dominant whites were now without money and power, and newly freed black slaves by the thousands flooded into the fragmented social system.

During the long reconstruction period southern states were all placed under military control, and African Americans were thrust into (once unthinkable) prominent roles. Regardless, much of the white population wanted no part of it, and newly liberated blacks fought hard to keep their new status.

Racial attitudes and prejudices unfortunately formed groups like the Ku Klux Klan, groups that attempted to frighten blacks through vocal hatred, intimidation and violence. White power reforms peaked in the 1890's, and many schools and public places were again segregated.

By the dawn of the 20th century, the state was on the road to economic recovery. The textile industry led the way, and new railroads helped South Carolina attract additional industries, thus new jobs and continued economic growth.

hen, in 1929, America's stock market crashed, the Great Depression took a strong hold, and South Carolina and all southern states would suffer once again. During that Great Depression the price of cotton (almost unbelievably) bottomed-out at 5 cents a pound.

World War II sparked an economic boom of sorts as war-related industries built new plants in South Carolina, and even though unemployment levels began to fall for blacks and whites, and things were looking up, debilitating racial tensions continued.

In the 1960's (finally) blacks and forward-thinking people across the south celebrated the success of the hard fought civil rights movement. Discrimination and segregation ended, and all of the state's citizens, to their credit, came together.

hurricane hugo Frequently the target of tropical cyclones, on September 21, 1989, Hurricane Hugo, the most powerful hurricane to that date struck South Carolina. The state suffered extensive damage, especially along the coastal islands; bridges and homes were washed away, and the storm surge pushed boats 50 miles inland.

As an aggressive and resilient player in both America's past and present, this somewhat small state is renown for its antebellum homes, historical sites and southern style, especially in the aesthetically pleasing harbor city of Charleston.

Add hundreds of coastal islands and beaches, over 300 golf courses, wilderness areas, watersports of all description, and some of the country's most popular NASCAR events, and South Carolina is understandably a mecca for travelers throughout the year.

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