The state of South Carolina epitomizes the American Deep South in many ways. Historically spoken, the state played a crucial role in all events that were preceding the Civil War, and following the Civil War, South Carolina had to endure some of the most terrible effects of the reconstruction period.
Subsequently, South Carolina had to deal with the economic changes from agricultural produce to an industrial environment that already had been so crucial for the economic development of other Deep South states.
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South Carolina is the place where two of America’s most important historic battles took place. In 1780, during the Revolutionary War, the British troops were defeated at the ‘Battle of King’s Mountain’, indicating the Revolutionary War’s turning point, and later, in 1861, Charleston Harbor’s Fort Sumter was bombed by Confederate batteries which marked the beginning of the Civil War.
South Carolina, the ‘Palmetto State’ is actually the smallest state in the Deep South, and it features a wide variety of landscapes, from the vast lowland region on the coast, to a beautiful mountainous area in the western portions of the state.
Charleston, the state’s first capital, is actually a lot older than the nation, and the town boasts a gorgeous and beautifully restored residential section. With its courtyards, fine ironwork, historic homes, gardens, and piazza, this gem truly is one of America’s most delightful.
Quick Facts about South Carolina
– South Carolina had the first European settlement in 1526.
– The first American Protestant settlement was set up here in 1652.
– More Revolutionary War Battles than in any other state.
– It was the first state that seceded from the Union.
– In South Carolina, the Civil War’s first shots were fired.
– Leads the nation in vermiculite mineral production.
– Boasts the first American railroad designed for steam.
– Was the nation’s first to have a cotton mill.
– Leads America in the production of glass fiber.
– Street Theater on Charleston’s Old Dock is America’s oldest theater building.
South Carolina brief history
Lucas Vasquez de Ayllon, a Spanish captain, set up a rather short-lived Spanish settlement in 1526 at a site near present-day Winyah Bay. This is probably the first settlement by Europeans on North America’s coast. Hernando de Soto’s highly destructive and brutal expedition of 1540-41 came to the region near what now is Silver Bluff. They left a trail of misery and disease in the region that is now western South Carolina.
In 1652, Huguenots that were led by Jean Ribaut, set up the first Protestant European settlement in America at Parris Island. Charles II rendered rule over the Carolina region to a few of his loyal friends, the ‘Lords Proprietors’, and in 1670, Charles Town was established, to be relocated only ten years later to its present site where it eventually got the name Charleston. The area’s plantations were booming business after the first slaves were imported in 1670.
In the year 1715 the Indians, enraged over the seizure of their lands and possessions, started to attack and massacre on a large scale in their struggles that became known as the ‘Yamassee War’.
The French later started to urge the Cherokee Indians to attack western settlements but the Indians were forced to give their attempts up in 1761. Though South Carolina was relatively prosperous, its residents were resisting and despising the British taxes, and the region sent a high delegation to the Continental Congress of 1774 and the one of 1775.
South Carolina was the place of some of the fiercest battles during the Revolutionary War, and the region suffered greatly. Almost 140 battles were fought here, and more than a hundred were fought without any help from other colonies.
In 1780, Francis Marion was organizing a guerrilla fighting group, and he was known under the name ‘Swamp Fox’ for his extremely brilliant raids and how he managed to disappear into the region’s swamps.
The British troops were defeated in 1780, when a rapidly assembled frontier force was victorious in the ‘Battle of King’s Mountain’ on October 7th. This is considered an important turning point in the Revolutionary War as it meant the beginning of the end for the British.
One more important victory took place in 1781 (on January 17th) as the Americans won the ‘Battle of Cowpens’. The British ultimately left Charleston in December 1782, and in 1788, on May 23rd, South Carolina became the Union’s eighth state.
State leaders threatened to denounce U.S. laws, and South Carolina was appearing to break away from the Union as it opposed high Union tariffs, but then the tariff rates were reduced. All across the nation, divisions over the slave practices were deepening, and in 1860, on December 20th, South Carolina was the first state that broke with the Union. The new 1895 constitution was depriving most of South Carolina’s black residents of their right to vote.
Some 62,000 South Carolina residents were called to service during World War I, and more than 2,000 did not return alive. During World War II Sumter native Ervin David Shaw was among the first U.S. pilots that got killed in action, and that war involved more than 173,640 South Carolina residents of whom almost 3,500 lost their lives.