Colonial period of South Carolina
The history of the colonial period of South Carolina focuses on the English colonization that created one of the original Thirteen Colonies. Major settlement began after 1712 as the northern half of the British colony of Carolina attracted frontiersmen from Pennsylvania and Virginia, while the southern parts were populated by wealthy English planters who set up large slave plantations. Therefore the Province of South Carolina was separated from the Province of North Carolina in 1729. With its capital city of Charleston becoming a major port for traffic on the Atlantic Ocean, South Carolina produced a large export surplus in the colonial era, making it one of the most prosperous of the colonies. A strong colonial government fought wars with the local Indians, and with Spanish imperial outposts in Florida, while fending off the threat of pirates. Birth rates were high, food conditions were abundant, and offset the diseased environment of malaria to produce rapid population growth. The colony developed a system of laws and self-government and a growing commitment to Republicanism that patriots feared was threatened by the British Empire after 1765. South Carolina joined the American Revolution in 1775, but was bitterly divided between Patriots and Loyalists. The British invaded in 1780 and captured most of the state, but were finally driven out.
After several expeditions and settlement attempts in the 16th century, France and Spain had abandoned the area of present-day South Carolina north of the Edisto River. In 1629 Charles I granted his attorney general a charter to everything between latitudes 36 and 31. Later, in 1663, Charles II gave the land to eight nobles, the Lords Proprietor. There was a single government of the Carolina's based in Charleston until 1712, when a separate government (under the Lords Proprietors) was set up for North Carolina. In 1719, the Crown purchased the South Carolina colony from the absentee Lords Proprietor and appointed Royal Governors. By 1729, seven of the eight Lords Proprietors had sold their interests back to the Crown; the separate royal colonies of North Carolina and South Carolina were established.
Throughout the Colonial Period, the Carolinas participated in numerous wars with the Spanish and the Native Americans, particularly the Yamasee, Apalachee, and Cherokee. During the Yamasee War of 1715-1717, South Carolina faced near annihilation due to Indian attacks. A pan-Indian alliance had formed to try to push the colonists out, in part a reaction to their trade in Indian slaves for the nearly 50 years since 1670. The effects of the slave trade affected tribes throughout the Southeast. Estimates are that Carolinians exported 24,000-51,000 Indian slaves to markets from Boston to Barbados. The emerging planter class used the revenues to finance the purchase of enslaved Africans. So many Africans were imported that they comprised a majority of the population in the colony during most of the years before the American Revolution.
The Carolina upcountry was settled largely by Scots-Irish immigrants arriving from Pennsylvania and Virginia, German descended people in the Piedmont, and the white population of the Lowcountry was dominated by wealthy plantation owners of English and French descent. Toward the end of the Colonial Period, the upcountry people were underrepresented and mistreated. In reaction, they took a loyalist position when the Lowcountry complained of the new taxes that would later spark the American Revolution.
In North Carolina a short-lived colony was established near the mouth of the Cape Fear River. A ship was sent southward to explore the Port Royal, South Carolina area, where the French had established the short-lived Charlesfort post and the Spanish had built Santa Elena, the capital of Spanish Florida from 1566 to 1587, until it was abandoned. Captain Robert Sanford made a visit with the friendly Edisto Indians. When the ship departed to return to Cape Fear, Dr. Henry Woodward stayed behind to study the interior and native Indians.
In Bermuda, an 80-year-old Puritan Bermudian colonist, Colonel William Sayle, was named governor of Carolina. On March 15, 1670, under Sayle (who sailed on a Bermuda sloop with a number of Bermudian families), they finally reached Port Royal. According to the account of one passenger, the Indians were friendly, made signs toward where they should land, and spoke broken Spanish. Spain still considered Carolina to be its land; the main Spanish base, St. Augustine, wasn't far away. The Spanish missionary provinces of Guale and Mocama occupied the coast south of the Savannah River and Port Royal. Though the Edisto Indians were not happy to have the English settle permanently, the chief of the Kiawah Indians, who lived farther north along the coast, arrived to invite the English to settle among his people and protect them from the Westo tribe, slave-raiding allies of Virginia. The sailors agreed and sailed for the region now called West Ashley. When they landed in early April at Albemarle Point on the shores of the Ashley River, they founded Charlestown, in honor of their king. On May 23, Three Brothers arrived in Charles Town Bay without 11 or 12 passengers who had gone for water and supplies at St. Catherines Island, and had run into Indians allied with the Spanish. Of the hundreds of people who had sailed from England or Barbados, only 148 people, including three African slaves, lived to arrive at Charles Town Landing.
The end of proprietary rule
Proprietary rule was unpopular in South Carolina almost from the start, mainly because propertied immigrants to the colony hoped to monopolize fundamental constitutions of Carolina as a basis for government. Moreover, many Anglicans resented the Proprietors' guarantee of freedom of religion to Dissenters. In November 1719, Carolina elected James Moore as governor and sent a representative to ask the King to make Carolina a royal province with a royal governor. They wanted the Crown to grant the colony aid and security directly from the English government. Because the Crown was interested in Carolina's exports and did not think the Lords Proprietor were adequately protecting the colony, it agreed. Robert Johnson, the last proprietary governor, became the first royal governor.
Meanwhile, the colony of Carolina was slowly splitting in two. In the first fifty years of the colony's existence, most settlement was focused on the region around Charleston. The northern part of the colony had no deep water port. North Carolina's earliest settlement region, the Albemarle Settlements, was colonized by Virginians and closely tied to Virginia. In 1712, the northern half of Carolina was granted its own governor and named "North Carolina". North Carolina remained under proprietary rule until 1729.
Because South Carolina was more populous and more commercially important, most Europeans thought primarily of it, and not of North Carolina, when they referred to "Carolina". By the time of the American Revolution, this colony was known as "South Carolina."
Governor Robert Johnson encouraged settlement in the western frontier to make Charles Town's shipping more profitable, and to create a buffer zone against attacks. The Carolinians arranged a fund to lure European Protestants. Each family would receive free land based on the number of people that it brought over, including slaves. Every 100 families settling together would be declared a parish and given two representatives in the state assembly. Within ten years, eight townships formed, all along navigable streams. Charlestonians considered the towns created by the Germans, Scots, Irish, and Welsh, such as Orangeburg and Saxe-Gotha (later called Cayce), to be their first line of defense in case of an Indian attack, and military reserves against the threat of a slave uprising.
By the 1750s the Piedmont region attracted numerous frontier families from the north, using the Great Wagon Road. Differences in religion, philosophy and background between the mostly subsistence farmers in the Upcountry and the wealthy slaveholding planters of the Lowcountry bred distrust and hostility between the two regions. The Lowcountry planters traditionally had wealth, education and political power. By the time of the Revolution, however, the Back Country contained nearly half the white population of South Carolina, about 20,000 to 30,000 settlers. Nearly all of them were Dissenting Protestants. After the Revolution, the state legislature disestablished the Anglican Church.
The main source of wealth was the export of indigo used to dye cloth.
Though Governor Francis Nicholson attempted to pacify the Cherokee with gifts, they had grown discontented with the arrangements. Sir Alexander Cuming negotiated with them to open some land for settlement in 1730. Because Governor James Glen stepped in to bring peace between the Creek and Cherokee, the Cherokee rewarded him by granting South Carolina a few thousand acres of land near their major Lower Town of Keowee. The Carolinians built Fort Prince George as a British outpost and trading center near the Keowee River. Two years later Old Hop, an important Cherokee chief, made a treaty with Glen at Saluda Old Town, midway between Charles Town and Keowee. Old Hop gave the Carolinians the 96th District, a region that included parts of ten currently separate counties.
In early 1760, the Cherokee began attacking white settlers in the Upcountry. This uprising was called the Cherokee War. South Carolina's Governor Lyttelton raised an army of 1,100 men and marched on the Lower Towns (Seneca Town was the closest), which quickly agreed to peace. As part of the peace terms, 29 Cherokee chiefs were imprisoned as hostages in Fort Prince George. Lyttelton returned to Charles Town, but the Cherokee were continued raiding the frontier. In February 1760, the Cherokee attacked Fort Prince George in a rescue attempt of the hostages. In the battle, the fort's commander was killed. His replacement quickly ordered the execution of the hostages, then fought off the Cherokee assault.
Unable to put down the rebellion, Governor Lyttelton appealed to Jeffrey Amherst, who sent Archibald Montgomery with an army of 1,200 British regulars and Scots Highlanders. Montgomery's army burned a few of the Cherokees' abandoned Lower Towns. When he tried to cross into the region of the Cherokee Middle Towns, he was ambushed and defeated at "Etchoe Pass" and forced to return to Charles Town. In 1761 the British made a third attempt to defeat the Cherokee. General Grant led an army of 2,600 men, including Catawba scouts. The Cherokee fought at Etchoe Pass but failed to stop Grant's army. The British burned the Cherokee Middle Towns and fields of crops.
In September 1761, a number of Cherokee chiefs led by Attakullakulla petitioned for peace. The terms of the peace treaty included the cession of most of the eastern lands of the Cherokee, including the whole region of the Lower Towns. The Cherokee who had lived there were forced to migrate - most went to the Middle Towns or beyond.
Settlement of Upcountry
After the Cherokee defeat and cession of land, new settlers flooded into the Upcountry through the Waxhaws in what is now called Lancaster County. Lawlessness ensued and robbery, arson, and looting became common. Upcountry residents formed a group of "Regulators," vigilantes who took the law into their own hands to control the criminals. Having acquired 50% of the state's white population, the Upcountry sent representative Patrick Calhoun and other representatives before the Charles Town state legislature to appeal for representation, courts, roads, and supplies for churches and schools. Before long, Calhoun and Moses Kirkland were in the legislature as Upcountry representatives.
By 1775, the colony contained 60,000 European Americans and 80,000 mostly enslaved African Americans.
Lord William Campbell was the last English Governor of the Province of South Carolina.
Numerous churches built bases in Charleston, and expanded into the rural areas, including Anglicans, Presbyterians, and Lutherans. Catholics and Jews built their churches in Charleston. The Baptists and Methodists appeared in the late 18th century, and grew rapidly, attracting many slaves. The Scotch-Irish in the Backcountry were Presbyterians, and the wealthy planters in the Lowcountry were English Anglicans. They had many disputes over politics and economic policy, but seldom fought over religion. The different churches recognized and supported each other, building the colony into a pluralist and tolerant society.
The highly successful preaching tour of evangelist George Whitefield in 1740 ignited a religious revival—called the First Great Awakening—which energized evangelical Protestants. They expanded their membership among the white farmers, as women were especially active in the small Methodist and Baptist churches that were springing up everywhere. The evangelicals worked hard to convert the slaves to Christianity and were especially successful among black women, who played the role of religious specialists in Africa and again in America. Slave women exercised wide-ranging spiritual leadership among Africans in America in healing and medicine, church discipline, and revivalistic enthusiasm.
Many of the rich planters came, along with their slaves, from Barbados and other islands in the Caribbean. They built plantations focused on export crops, such as law Sea Island cotton, indigo, and rice. The slaves came from many diverse cultures in Africa, and the one major rebellion was the Stono rebellion in 1739. Some of the leaders had previously been involved in Africa in the Christian kingdom of Kongo; they introduced their ritual practices and apparently employed military tactics they had learned in the Kongo.
South Carolina was struck by four major hurricanes during the colonial period, and South Carolinians were constantly aware of the threat these storms posed and even their impact on warfare.
The 1752 hurricane caused massive damage to homes, businesses, shipping, and the rice crop. Charles Town, the capital, was the fifth largest city in British North America at the time. The storm was compact and powerful, but the city and surrounding areas were saved from even greater destruction only because the wind shifted some three hours before high tide. The bickering between the various political authorities over money following the destruction of the colony's defenses, a devastating financial crisis, and the threat of the Commons to report Governor Glen's conduct to the king substantially weakened the relationship between the royal governor and the local political elites in the Commons House Assembly.
- Edgar, Walter. South Carolina: A History, (1998) the standard scholarly history
- Edgar, Walter, ed. The South Carolina Encyclopedia, University of South Carolina Press, 2006 ISBN 1-57003-598-9, the most comprehensive scholarly guide
- Rogers Jr., George C. and C. James Taylor. A South Carolina Chronology, 1497-1992 2nd Ed. (1994)
- Wallace, David Duncan. South Carolina: A Short History, 1520-1948 (1951) standard scholarly history
- Clarke, Erskine. Our Southern Zion: A History of Calvinism in the South Carolina Low Country, 1690-1990 (1996)
- Coclanis, Peter A., “Global Perspectives on the Early Economic History of South Carolina,” South Carolina Historical Magazine, 106 (April–July 2005), 130–46.
- Crane, Verner W. The Southern Frontier, 1670-1732 (1956)
- Johnson Jr., George Lloyd. The Frontier in the Colonial South: South Carolina Backcountry, 1736-1800 (1997)
- Edelson, S. Max. Plantation Enterprise in Colonial South Carolina (2007)
- Hewat, Alexander. An Historical Account of the Rise and Progress of the Colonies of South Carolina and Georgia Vol.1 and Vol.2 (London 1779)
- Rogers, George C. Evolution of a Federalist: William Loughton Smith of Charleston (1758-1812) (1962)
- Roper, L. H. Conceiving Carolina: Proprietors, Planters, and Plots, 1662-1729 Palgrave Macmillan, ISBN 1-4039-6479-3.
- Smith, Warren B. White Servitude in Colonial South Carolina (1961)
- Wood, Peter H. Black Majority: Negroes in Colonial South Carolina from 1670 Through the Stono Rebellion (1996)
- Wright, Louis B. South Carolina: A Bicentennial History' (1976)
- Walter B. Edgar (1998). South Carolina: A History. Univ of South Carolina Press.
- Joseph Hall, "The Great Indian Slave Caper", review of Alan Gallay, The Indian Slave Trade: The Rise of the English Empire in the American South, 1670-1717, New Haven: Yale University Press, 2002, Common-place.org, vol. 3, no. 1, October 2002, accessed 4 Nov 2009
- Richard Waterhouse (2005). A New World Gentry: The Making of a Merchant and Planter Class in South Carolina, 1670-1770. The History Press. p. 27.
- Alexia Jones Helsley; Lawrence S. Rowland (2005). Beaufort, South Carolina: A History. The History Press. p. 38.
- David Hackett Fischer (1991). Albion's Seed: Four British Folkways in America. Oxford University Press. p. 64.
- Thomas A. Foster; Mary Beth Norton; Toby L. Ditz (2011). New Men: Manliness in Early America. NYU Press. p. 61.
- Theda Perdue (2005). The Cherokees. Infobase Publishing. p. 23.
- Spencer C. Tucker (2011). The Encyclopedia of North American Indian Wars, 1607–1890: A Political, Social, and Military History. ABC-CLIO. p. 157.
- John Oliphant (2001). Peace and War on the Anglo-Cherokee Frontier, 1756-63. Louisiana State U.P. p. 243.
- Edward McCrady (1899). The History of South Carolina Under the Royal Government, 1719-1776. Macmillan. p. 23.
- Ben Rubin, "Planters and Presbyterians: South Carolina from Atlantic Microcosm to the Eve of the American Revolution," Journal of Backcountry Studies, Fall 2010, Vol. 5 Issue 2, pp 1-16
- Charles H. Lippy, "Chastized by Scorpions: Christianity and Culture in Colonial South Carolina, 1669-1740," Church History, June 2010, Vol. 79 Issue 2, pp 253-270
- J. Glen Clayton, "South Carolina Baptist Records," South Carolina Historical Magazine, Oct 1984, Vol. 85 Issue 4, pp 319-327
- David T. Morgan, Jr., "The Great Awakening in South Carolina, 1740-1775," South Atlantic Quarterly, (1971), pp 595-606
- Sylvia R. Frey and Betty Wood, Come Shouting to Zion: African American Protestantism in the American South and British Caribbean to 1830 (1998)
- John K. Thornton, "African Dimensions Of The Stono Rebellion," American Historical Review, Oct 1991, Vol. 96 Issue 4, pp 1101-13
- Jonathan Mercantini, "the great Carolina hurricane of 1752," South Carolina Historical Magazine, Oct 2002 v. 103#4, pp 351-65