South Carolina History
The colony of Carolina was founded by eight English nobles, who received the land from King Charles II because they helped him when he was having troubles maintaining his reign. The land was initially called Province of Carlana, in honor of King Charles I, and later became known as Carolina. Before the English arrived, the land was temporarily colonized by the Spanish, however, they were in constant conflicts with the local Native Americans so they moved further south, towards Florida and then Mexico and Cuba. During the first decades, the colonists engaged in frequent wars with the Spanish and with the Native4 American tribes. Their plantations were still small and most of their economy relied on trade with the Indians, usually in slaves, fur and deerskin. They also financed the purchase of black slaves. Carolina prospered thanks to the trade and by selling the land. The prices of the land were low, as not many settlers desired to move there. The constitution of the colony was written by John Locke.
Throughout the 18th century, the colony continued to prosper thanks to the slave trade and a big harbor. The soil in the colony was rich and could be cultivated for a larger portion of the year. In that period, Carolina was one of the richest American colonies. The Yemasee War, from 1715 to 1717, involved a union of Native American tribes against the colony, and for a while it seemed the war would destroy the colony completely. However, the Yemasee Indians were exposed to European diseases to which they had no immunity and the colonists were able to defeat them.
After the Yemasee War, Carolina turned almost exclusively to the black slave labor imported from Africa. They used the black slaves on their plantations and in infrastructure building (dams, irrigation, etc). Many of the slaves brought to South Carolina from Africa belonged to the Gullah people, whose culture was always rather interesting since they continued to observe their own tradition and to cultivate their identity complying at the same time to the rules of the American life.
While the South Carolina’s Low Country was initially settled by wealthy white men with plantations and slave labor, the back country or Upcountry comprised mostly of the North British (Scottish and Irish) migrant settlers from Virginia and Pennsylvania. They generally did not own slaves. Due to the cultural, political and social differenced between the two major groups of settlers, the two parts of the state were quite competitive towards each other.
The colony became the first republic in the United States in 1776, when it adopted its state Constitution. South Carolina was also the first state that ratified the Articles of Confederation. The problem occurred in 1779 when the loyalists in South Carolina helped the British to regain the state. In the Battle of Cowpens, 1781, the Americans defeated the British troops, who evacuated in the following year, along with the loyalists and many slaves.
South Carolina ratified the U.S. Constitution in May 1788.
Before the American Civil War started, the Nullification proponents were very strong in South Carolina. The Nullification Crisis led the president Jackson to declare he would use any means necessary to enforce all federal laws. This is important as the Force Bill was the first to forbid the secession of a US state. During the same period, the conflicts between the proponents of slavery and the abolitionists became more and more acute.
South Carolina declared its secession from the Union in December 1860. In April 1861, the Confederates attacked Fort Sumter in Charleston, and thus began the Civil War. In 1865, General Sherman arrived in South Carolina, his troops caused a lot of damage by burning the plantations and occupied Columbia, the state capital, destroying its central part.
South Carolina lost 18,666 soldiers during the Civil War.
During Reconstruction, South Carolina returned to the United States and the former slaves, called freedmen, were given certain, yet limited rights. The members of the Ku Klux Klan continuously harassed and intimidated black voters in South Carolina until most of them were arrested or chased out of the state in 1871.
During the last decades of the 19th century, the racial and economic tensions in South Carolina were high. In 1900, African Americans were the majority in the state, but they basically had no political rights. Poor whites were also significantly disenfranchised. As for the women’s suffrage, South Carolina rejected the 19th Amendment (which guaranteed the women’s right to vote) and ratified it only in 1969.
In the first decades of the 20th century, South Carolina shifted the focus of its economy from cotton to other crops, perceived as more profitable, and the state’s textile industry was quickly growing.
Throughout the century, South Carolina has been in the center of the nation’s attention because of its display of the Confederate flags on the government buildings, most notably the State Capitol, located just across the street from the University of Carolina campus. The display of the flag was perceived by many as an act of disobedience against the de-segregation in the institutions of education. In 2000, the flag was removed and placed next to a monument to the fallen Confederate soldiers. However, even there it continues to fuel the tensions in the state.
As for the economy, South Carolina continues to attract new businesses as a state with no income tax, inventory tax or state property tax. Many companies have decided to move their headquarters and other offices to South Carolina because there are no labor unions and the workforce is generally cheap. In agriculture, South Carolina relies greatly on tobacco, hay, rice, cattle, poultry, dairy and soy. Its industry mainly consists of textile, paper products, chemical products, cars, machinery and tourism.
As a “Bible Belt” state, South Carolina is predominately protestant (Southern Baptists and Methodists are the largest denominations), and the other significant religious communities are Catholic, Episcopalian, Mormons and Orthodox.
Geography of South Carolina
The territory of South Carolina can be divided into five geographic regions. The Coastal Plain lies on the southeast, and this region can be divided into two sections – Inner and Outer Coastal Plains. Along the north-south coastal line, three areas can be identified – Grand Strand, the Santee River Delta and Sea Islands. Ancient dunes of Sandhill are located further inland, and the Fall Line marks the boundary between Sandhill and Piedmont. The smallest region consists of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
The coast of South Carolina consists mostly of marshes and estuaries and it has two important natural harbors – Charleston and Georgetown. One typical feature of South Carolina’s geography are the bays, which are usually oval.
The Piedmont or the Upstate region of South Carolina is hilly and most of it is covered in soil that cannot be farmed. This region has been reforested. The Foothills are an area in the northwestern section of the Piedmont, with the scenic Cherokee Parkway and the Table Salt State Park.
The Blue Ridge Region is a part of the Appalachian and it has the state’s highest point – the Sassafras Mountain. The Ceasars Head State Park and the Chattooga River are among the favorite destinations in this region.
South Carolina has several large lakes – Lake Marion, Lake Strom Thurmond, Lake Moultrie and Lake Harwell.
The state is often exposed to severe weather, especially during the hurricane season. The worst hurricanes in South Carolina were the Hurricane Hazel in 1954 and the Hurricane Hugo in 1989.
South Carolina is a major summer destination in the Southeast of the country, especially when it comes to beaches, from Hilton Head Island, exclusive resorts around Charleston to Myrtle Beach.
Population of South Carolina
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2011 South Carolina had a population of 4,679,230. The racial makeup of the state was 64.1% non-Hispanic White, 27.9% Black or African American, 5.1% Hispanic or Latino, 1.3% Asian, 0.4% Native American, 0.1% Pacific Islander and 1.7% from two or more races.
The largest ancestry groups in the state are African American, American, English, German and Irish. Throughout the history, black slaves and their descendants were the largest population group in the state and the whites became a majority around the beginning of the 20th century, due to the Great Migration of the blacks towards northern states.
Religiously, South Carolina is a predominately Christian state, with largest denominations being Protestant (Southern Baptist, Methodist and Presbyterian), followed by Roman Catholic and other Christian denominations. The state also has a traditionally large Sephardic Jew population.
South Carolina Economy
In 2007, the gross state product in South Carolina was $153 billion, compared to $97 billion in 1997. After the recession struck most of the U.S. states in 2000s, the unemployment rates in South Carolina grew steadily until they peaked in late 2009, when the unemployment rate was 12%. After that, the unemployment has been in a decline, with 8.9% rate as of spring of 2012.
Agriculture is a large sector in the economy of South Carolina, with major outputs being tobacco, cattle, poultry, dairy, soybeans, rice, hay and pork. As for the industry, the state produces textile, paper products, chemical products, machinery and parts for the automobiles. Tourism is also an important sector, especially in the areas along the Atlantic Coast, with exclusive resorts, spas and other establishments, but also with smaller coastal towns ideal for family vacations.
The state also benefits from foreign investment, with more than 1,900 foreign companies operating there.
Some of the largest companies based on South Carolina are Domtar, SCANA, ScanSource and Sonoco Products.
South Carolina Government and Legislation
The state government of South Carolina consists of the executive, legislative and judicial branches. Historically, the executive branch was always weak in the state while the legislature was always strong. As of 1865, the governors of South Carolina are elected by a popular election. Prior to that, governors were appointed by the General Assembly. Governors serve a four-year term and are allowed to run for two (but not three) consecutive terms.
The current governor of South Carolina is Nikki Haley, the state’s first female governor and also the first Indian American governor in the United States.
The South Carolina General Assembly consists of South Carolina House of Representatives with 124 members and South Carolina Senate with 46 members.
Politically, South Carolina was largely Democrat throughout the 19th century and in the first half of the 20th century. However, the political environment in the state changed in 1964 and South Carolina has voted Republican in every presidential election until 2008, with the exception of Jimmy Carter who won the state in 1976. As of 2012, Republicans are holding all statewide offices (including the governor’s), have the majority in both chambers of the General Assembly, have both of the South Carolina senators in the U.S. Senate and five of six members of the U.S. House of Representatives.
South Carolina is the only state in which it is mandatory for an arresting officer to videotape a person suspected for driving under the influence while performing the breath test. The state has no statewide smoke-free workplace law and has five counties and 43 cities and towns with smoke-free laws adopted and enforced. As for the alcoholic beverage laws, there are no “dry” counties in South Carolina but some may enforce time restriction for sales of alcoholic beverages, especially wine and beer.
Education in South Carolina
South Carolina has 85 school districts with 1,144 K-12 schools. It is the 31st state for per student spending. In 2011, the average SAT score of the students in the state was 1360.
The state has a number of institutions of higher education, from large state-funded universities to smaller liberal arts, military and religious colleges. The oldest institution is the College of Charleston, founded in 1785. Three of its founders were the signers of the Declaration of Independence and three of them also signed the U.S. Constitution.
The University of South Carolina is a public, co-ed research university founded in 1801 and located in Columbia. The University was one of the symbols of the South in the period just before the Civil War. Today it enrolls more than 27,000 students.
Other institutions of higher learning in South Carolina include Furman University in Greenville, The Citadel (The Military College of South Carolina), Wofford College in Spartanburg, Presbyterian College in Clinton, Winthrop University in Rocky Hill, Clemson University in Clemson, South Carolina State University in Orangeburg, Charleston Southern University, Anderson University, Bob Jones University and others.
South Carolina Transportation
Major highways in South Carolina include I-20 (from Florence through Columbia to Aiken), I-26, (from Charleston through Columbia to Spartanburg), I-77 (from York County to Columbia), I-85 (from Cherokee County to the southwestern border), I-385 (from Greenville to Clinton) and I-95 (from Dillon County to Jasper County).
South Carolina is somewhat famous for having the worst highways and roads in terms of littering. The state also has a very high fatality rate due to accidents caused by litter and debris on the roads.
As for the passenger rail, Amtrak offers trains on four routes throughout South Carolina: the Palmetto, the Crescent, the Silver Star and the Silver Meteor. The largest freight carriers in the state are CSX Transportation and Norfolk Southern Railway.
South Carolina has seven large airports. The largest and the busiest one is the Charleston International Airport. The residents of South Carolina also frequently use the Charlotte/Douglas International Airport in North Carolina, located just across the border.
Other airports include Columbia Metropolitan Airport, Myrtle Beach International Airport, Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport, Florence Regional Airport, Rock Hill/York County Airport and Hilton Head Airport.