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Native American groups lived in South Carolina when European explorers
first arrived in the early 1500s. Largest
among these were the Cherokee, Catawba, and Yamasee. In 1521, Spaniard Francisco Gordillo explored the Carolina
coast. Lucas Vásquez tried
to establish a colony near the Winyah Bay region five years later, but due
to disease the colony failed.
attempted settlements in South Carolina as well, but they also failed.
began settlement of the Americas during the 1600s. In 1670, the first permanent European settlement of South
Carolina was established at Albemarle Point.
In 1680, the settlement was moved to Oyster Point and renamed
Charles Towne. Now it is
known as Charleston.
battles were fought during the early 1700s.
Colonists received little help from England, but rallied together
to defeat French and Spanish troops.
They were also victorious against Indian attacks and pirates that
raided ships along the coast until 1718.
1719, South Carolina became a royal colony.
Plantations grew rice and indigo and sold them to England.
Several colonists came from Pennsylvania and Virginia to settle the
area. Charleston became an
important center for trade. The
nation’s first theater and museum opened there.
important battles were fought in South Carolina during the Revolutionary
War (1775-1783). British
troops attacked Charleston several times, finally capturing the city in
1780. That same year, Britain
captured Camden and controlled most of South Carolina.
Huge colonial victories in South Carolina occurred at Kings
Mountain in 1780 and Cowpens in 1781.
By 1782, British troops fled from the state into Virginia.
After the war, South Carolina ratified the U.S. Constitution and
became the 8th state of the Union on May 23, 1788.
the early 1800s, South Carolina’s economy depended highly on trade with
England. Federal laws raised tariffs in 1828 and 1832 which discouraged
trade. South Carolina
responded with the Ordinance of Nullification; it stated the tariffs were
null and void. Congress
passed a bill in 1833 to help South Carolina, and the Ordinance of
Nullification was repealed.
In 1850, disputes
rose over permitting slavery in newly organized states.
Abraham Lincoln, a Northerner, was elected president in 1860.
South Carolina feared slavery would be abolished and became the
first state to secede from the Union on Dec. 20, 1860. Ten other states soon joined them to form the Confederate
States of America.
first shots of the Civil War (1861-1865) were shot by Confederate forces on Fort
Sumter in Charleston Harbor. South
Carolina’s economy suffered greatly during the war.
Trade was completely stopped as Union ships closed Charleston
Harbor. In 1865, the entire city of Columbia was burned along with
many plantations throughout the state.
Carolina was placed under militia rule during the Reconstruction period.
A new state constitution freed slaves and allowed blacks the right
to vote. South Carolina was
readmitted to the Union on June 25, 1868, but federal troops did not
withdraw from the state until March 1877.
By 1895, blacks again had lost many of their rights in South
Carolina and cities became segregated.
growth helped South Carolina’s economy during the late 1800s.
The textile industry became its leading business.
Boll weevils ruined cotton crops during the 1920s.
Although cotton remained the largest crop, farmers began planting
tobacco, soybeans, wheat, and fruits.
The Great Depression (1929-1939) hurt South Carolina as mills
closed and prices for crops dropped.
economy slowly recovered during the 1930s.
World War II (1939-1945) brought work to Charleston, where over 200
fighting ships were built. In
1941, the Santee-Cooper Dam was built to supply electric power to growing
industries. In 1953, the
Savannah River Plant began production of nuclear materials.
Industry continued to expand during the 1960s.
the U.S. Supreme Court decision ruled segregation in public schools
unconstitutional in 1954, South Carolina integrated schools.
Blacks now voted in large numbers and several were elected to serve
in the government. By the 1970s, most segregation had ended in South Carolina.
Recently, industrial growth continues as businesses come to South Carolina internationally. State officials are concerned about the growing air and water pollution problems. South Carolina continues to be one of the fastest growing states in the South.