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The Making of the 50 States: South Carolina


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The Making of the 50 States

Part 1: In the Beginning

South Carolina was the eighth state to ratify the Constitution. As with other of the 13 Colonies, the land was originally inhabited by Native Americans.

The main tribes living in the area were the Kiawah, Cherokee, the Catawbas, the Creek, and the Yamasee. They grew corn and beans.

The first Europeans to visit what we now know as South Carolina were from France and Spain. The first permanent settlement was an English one, at Charleston (which was originally Charles Town) in 1670. Part of the organization set up to establish the colony was the Fundamental Constitutions, a series of laws and rules for governing the colony. The laws were based on English laws and customs and favored the same sort of aristocratic system found in England at the time. The king also decreed that eight man called Lords Proprietors were in charge of the colony (although none of these men ever set foot in South Carolina).

The colony expanded during the next several years and included much of what is now North Carolina as well. (It was named after the British king, Charles.) In 1710, a royal decree divided the colony into two, North and South. French settlers lived in the South as well.

Many workers on the land in South Carolina were indentured servants, who signed contracts to work for a number of years and were then granted their freedom. The arrival of slaves (who had no such contract) speeded up an already thriving plantation economy producing rice and indigo. Other crops included corn, cotton, and tobacco. So many were the African slaves who arrived in South Carolina that by 1720, they formed the majority of the population. Another economic factor during the early days of the colony was that Charleston and points south became trading centers, of both commerce and culture, while northern areas, which were more rural, became farming centers. It was these farmers and small-time traders who pushed the Native Americans further west.

A series of attacks by the Yamasee in 1715 had frightened the colonists into taking action. The conflict was finished by 1716, but distrust between Native Americans and new Americans continued for many years. Another flare-up in 1760 involved colonists fighting against Cherokee; the result there was the same as before.

One of the main ways that the northern part of the colony developed was under the Township Plan, which provided for a township with 20,000 acres of land on which settlers would live. The colony offered settlers 50 acres of land for each member of their family, provided food and equipment payments, and waived the land taxes for 10 years. Several hundred settlers took advantage of these incentives, and nine townships were settled in all, by people from England, Germany, and Switzerland. Among the most successful of these townships were Orangeburg and Williamsburg.

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