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South Carolina

State History

Native Americans

Before the Europeans arrived in South Carolina the land was inhabited by a number of Native American tribes. The two largest tribes were the Catawba and the Cherokee. The Cherokee lived in the western part of the state near the Blue Ridge Mountains. The Catawba lived in the northern part of the state near the city of Rock Hill.


Myrtle Beach
Myrtle Beach by Joe Byden

Europeans Arrive

The first European to arrive in South Carolina was Spanish explorer Francisco Gordillo in 1521. He captured a number of Native Americans and left. The Spanish returned in 1526 to settle the land in hopes of finding gold. However, the settlement didn't survive and the people left. In 1562, the French arrived and built a settlement on Paris Island. This settlement failed as well and the French soon returned home.

The English Arrive

In 1607, the British built the settlement of Jamestown in Virginia. The land south of Virginia was called Carolina. The first permanent British settlement in South Carolina was founded in 1670. It would later become the city of Charleston. Settlers were soon moving into the region to grow crops on large plantations. In order to work the plantations they brought in slaves from Africa. Two of the main crops were rice and Indigo, which was used to make blue dye.


Plantation home
Millford Plantation by Jack Boucher

Splitting from North Carolina

As the region grew, the people in South Carolina wanted to have their own government from North Carolina. They got their own governor in 1710 and were officially made a British colony in 1729.

American Revolution

When the American Revolution began, South Carolina joined with the thirteen American colonies in declaring their independence from Britain. A lot of fighting took place in South Carolina including major battles at King's Mountain and Cowpens that helped to turn the tide of the war. There were more battles and fights in South Carolina than in any other state during the war.

Becoming a State

After the Revolutionary War, South Carolina became the eighth state to join the United States on May 23, 1788. The first capital was Charleston, but the capital was moved Columbia in 1790 in order to be located near the center of the state.

With the invention of the cotton gin in 1793, many of the plantations in South Carolina began growing cotton. The state became very wealthy off of cotton. Plantation owners brought in slaves to work the fields. By the middle of the 1800s, there were over 400,000 slaves living in South Carolina.

The Civil War

When Abraham Lincoln was elected in 1860, the plantation owners of South Carolina were afraid he would free the slaves. As a result, South Carolina was the first state to secede from the Union in order to form the Confederate States of America. On April 12, 1861 the Civil War began with fighting at Fort Sumter near Charleston. When the war finally ended in 1865, much of South Carolina was destroyed and needed to undergo reconstruction. The state was readmitted into the Union in 1868 after ratifying a new constitution that freed the slaves.


Fort Sumter
Fort Sumter by Martin1971

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Works Cited

History >> US Geography >> US State History





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