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Colonial Period of South Carolina

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By the end of the 16th century, the Spanish and French had gone from the area of South Carolina after several colonization attempts and reconnaissance missions. In 1629 Charles I granted his attorney general a charter to everything between latitudes 36 and 31. Later, Charles II gave the land to eight nobles, the Lords Proprietors, who ruled over the Carolinas until 1719 when South Carolina was split off from North Carolina and became a British province.

Throughout the Colonial Period, the Carolinas would participate in numerous wars with the Spanish and the Native Americans, particularly the Yamassee and Cherokee tribes. The Carolina upcountry was settled largely by Scotch-Irish migrants from Pennsylvania and Virginia, while the lowcountry mostly consisted of wealthy plantation owners. Toward the end of the Colonial Period, the upcountry was majorly underrepresented and mistreated, which caused them to take a loyalist position when the upcountry complained of new taxes that would later help spark the American Revolution.


1 Lords Proprietors
2 The first passage
3 Population growth
4 War of Augustino
5 The South Carolina Revolution of 1719
6 Frontier settlement
7 Land aquirement

Lords Proprietors

By the end of the 16th century, the Spanish and French had gone from the area of South Carolina after several colonization attempts and reconnaissance missions. With the exception of a few Spanish Jesuit priests, the indigneous Americans were left alone for 83 years before the next attempt at colonization. Spain’s power had declined enough for King Charles I to assert historical claims to the American coast based on the discoveries of the Cabots.

In 1629 he granted his attorney general a charter to everything between latitudes 36 and 31, which extends from the Georgia-Florida border to the North Carolina-Virgina border, and all the way west to the Pacific. In this charter, Charles I calls this region “Carolana,” an altered form of his own name. No one ever settled in South Carolina under the Heath Charter, despite a failed attempt where the Mayflower miscalculated and landed its French Huguenot passengers in Virginia.

After Charles I was beheaded by Cromwell and the Puritans, Cromwell had taken control, but when he died, Charles II was restored to the throne by the English nobility. He had wanted to pay back his allies and show them his gratitude, but had a lack of funds, so in 1663 he granted most of the Heath Charter lands to a group of eight noblemen. A number of colonists in the British colony of Barbados expressed interest in colonizing Carolina (the name had been changed slightly by Charles II), tired of the West Indies hurricanes, tropical illness, and humidty. The noblemen, the Lords Proprietors, were overjoyed and told them to spread the word to their neighbors in a letter the lords named “Barbados Adventures.”

The first passage

The Barbadians greatly influenced Carolina culture into the 21st century with their European feudalism, their experience growing rice, and their preference for West African slave labor. In 1663 they sent William Hilton sailing along the Carolina coast to look for a good place for settlement, but nothing came of the voyage except for the discovery and naming of Hilton Head Island. They made a short-lived colony near the mouth of the Cape Fear River in modern day North Carolina, and sent a ship southward to explore the Port Royal area. 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 Cape Fear’s interior and native languages.

In August 1669, the first three ships, called Carolina, Port Royal, and Albemarle sailed from England to Barbados. The third of the forementioned ships sank off the coast of Barbados. They grabbed the supplies the Lords Proprietors had prescribed, replaced the Albemarle with Three Brothers, and set sail again. The ships were separated in a thunderstorm shortly afterward, and Port Royal was drifting lost for six weeks. It ran out of drinking water in the process before wrecking in the Bahamas. 44 people made it to the shore, but many of them died before the Captain was able to build a new ship to get them to the closest settlement. With the new ship, they reached New Providence and bought a new boat that would take them to Bermuda, where they were reunited with the Carolina.

In Bermuda, an 80-year-old Puritan Bermudan colonist, Colonel William Sayle, was named governor of Carolina. On March 15, 1670, under Sayle, they finally reached Port Royal. According to the account of one passenger, the Indians were friendly, made signs toward where they should best land, and spoke broken Spanish. Spain still considered Carolina to be its land; the main Spanish base, St. Augustine, wasn’t far away. Though the Edisto Indians were not happy to have the English settle there permanently, the chief of the Kiawah Indians, who lived farther north along the coast, arrived to invite the English to settle among his people in exchange for helping to beat off the Spanish and their Westo Indian allies.

The sailors agreed and sailed for the region now called West Ashlee. When they landed in early April at Albemarle Point on the shores of Ashlee, they founded Charles Town, 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. Catherine’s Island, Georgia, and had ran 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.

Population growth

The settlers began protecting themselves against the Spanish and their Indian allies. In August, the residents of St. Augustine sent Indians to destroy Charles Town. Dr. Henry Woodward arrived, returning from a diplomatic journey where he had convinced many tribes to unite with England in a powerful defense league against the Spanish. The arriving Spanish and Westo Indians, knowing of this, decided not to attack after all and went back to St. Augustine to fortify the city.

In February 1671, 86 Barbadians arrived to join the settlement, Governor Sayle died, and he was replaced by the temporary Governor Joseph West. Barbadian Governor John Yeamen arrived September 1, 1671 with 500 more Barbadians and eventually replaced West as governor. The young colony’s economy depended largely upon Indian trade, and Carolina quickly grew in population and prosperity. However, most of South Carolina’s first immigrants were indentured servants or slaves that worked for Barbadians already building plantations up the rivers and on the nearby Sea Islands.

As late as 1715, 90% of South Carolina’s European and African population lived within 30 miles of Charles Town. The threat of the Spanish and Westo Indians prevented any pioneers from venturing any further. The whites who didn’t work on plantations lived mostly among their own slaves, with African-American bond servants outnumbering free people as often as 10 to 1 in some districts. Some whites warned that planters were setting themselves up for an insurrection, but the Barbadians claimed that they had turned a wild land into a boom economy before, and slavery was the way to do it.

The proprietors and royals were not concerned with the slavery, as it was yet legal in the British empire, but they were concered with Carolina’s exports. Their Carolinan rice, and, after 1740, indigo, were extremely valuable to the empire. In the 1730s, England even made a point of settling Georgia in order to create a buffer zone for the protection of the Carolinan plantations.

By 1680 it was decided that Albemarle Point was too unhealthy and hard to defend. Some settlers began moving north to Oyster Point. The white-shell point at the end of a narrow-necked peninsula was much easier to defend because there was no question about which direction a ground attack would come from. Anyone attacking from the harbor would be visible a long way off. In May 1680, the Lords Proprietors instructed the governor and the council to resettle Charles Town at Oyster Point. Because it was low on the peninsula, planters on the coast could easily transport their good to Charleston’s port using tidal creeks.

French Huguenot Protestants began arriving in 1680. France’s 1685 repeal of religious freedoms for non-Catholics sped up the process.

War of Augustino

In 1686, though they allowed English settlement of Charles Town, the Spanish forbade any further settlement to the south. 100 Spanish, free blacks, and Indians landed at Edisto Island and broke into Governor Joseph Morton’s house, stealing his valuables and kidnapping and murdering his brother-in-law, and freeing his slaves. By 1695 Charles Town made their city into an armed fortress, and by 1702 England was in the middle of Queen Anne’s War with France and Spain. The French were in the Mississippi Valley at the time and the Spanish were in Florida to the South. Carolina decided to attack the stronghold of St. Augustine. They cleared several smaller Spanish settlements between the two rival capitals, but the War of Augustino was unsuccessful and the Spanish stayed in Florida.

During the beginning of the 1700s, numerous problems plagued Carolina, the pirates and the Yamassee War worst among them. Colonists begged England for help, but the Lords Proprietors did nothing, convincing the Carolinans that they did not need the Lords Proprietors at all.

The South Carolina Revolution of 1719

Carolina’s northern part grew rather differently than its southern part because it had no deepwater port, and it had only one river that ran directly to the ocean without running through modern-day South Carolina first. While South Carolina was populated by wealthy English planters, North Carolina was populated primarily by small Welsh and Scottish farmers largely from Pennsylvania and Virginia. By 1712, the northern half of Carolina was granted its own governor and named officially “North Carolina.” Because of its greater development, most Europeans referred to South Carolina when they spoke about “Carolina.” The region south of North Carolina eventually came to be known as South Carolina.

North Carolina stayed under Proprietor rule until nearly 1729, and some parts nearly until 1776, but in 1719 South Carolina the people of Charleston were holding a revolution. The South Carolina Revolution of 1719 was a polite and orderly revolution; no one was killed. Unlike the 1776 revoluton everyone very much respected Proprietary Governor Robert Johnson who had recently saved Charles Town from pirates. 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 and direct aid and security from the English government. Because the royal government was interested in Carolina’s exports and did not think the Lords Proprietors were adequately protecting the colony, they agreed. Robert Johnson, old proprietary governor, became the first royal governor.

Frontier settlement

Governor Robert Johnson encouraged settlement in the western frontier to make Charles Town’s shipping more profitable, and to create a buffer zone against anyone looking to attack the Carolinans. The Carolinans 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 woould be declared a parish and given two representatives in the state assembly. Within ten years, eight towniships 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 or military reserves against the threat of a slave uprising.

By the 1750s the Piedmont region began to fill up with frontier familes from the north seeking to avoid the threats of Indian attacks and harsher winters. Differences in philosophy of the Calvinist subsinence farmers in the Upcountry and the Anglican aristocrat planters of the Lowcountry bred distrust and hostility between the two regions. By the time of the Revolution, the Back Country contained nearly half of the white population of South Carolina, 20,000 to 30,000, nearly all of them non-Anglicans. Despite the promises of the initial constitutions, the Anglican planters had gone ahead and established the Anglican church as the official state church of South Carolina.

Land aquirement

Though Governor Francis Nicholson had tried to pacify the Cherokee with gifts, they had still grown discontent with the arrangements. Sir Alexander Cuming negotiated with them to open their lands for settlement in 1730. Because Governor James Glenn stepped in to bring peace between the Creek and Cherokee, the Cherokee rewarded him by granting South Carolina with a few thousand acres of land on which the Carolinians built Fort Prince George, near the Keowee River, as a British outpost. Two years later Old Hop, the top Cherokee chief, sat with Glenn at Sadula Old Town midway between Charles Town and the Indians’ town of Keowee, and gave the Carolinians the 96 District, a region that now includes parts of ten separate counties.

By January 19, 1760, the Cherokee, angered at the British broken promises, and the gradual theft of their land, began massacring white settlers in the Upcountry, an uprising referred to as the Cherokee War. Carolinians acted quickly, spreading their own terror into Cherokee villages and burning out their crops and winter stores. In 1761, a number of Cherokee chiefs led by Attakullakulla petitioned for peace. With the Cherokees “pacified,” new settlers flooded into the Upcountry through the Waxhaws in what is now called Lancaster County. Lawlessness soon ensued and robbery, arson, and looting became common. Upcountry residents formed a group of “Regulators,” who were vigilantes who decided to take the law into their own hands. Now home to 50% of the 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 an estimated 60,000 European-Americans and 80,000 African-Americans. No other colony enjoyed the wealth concentrated in the Lowcountry. The constant battles with Indians, French, and Spanish were enhancing the average colonist’s feelings of military competence and independence.

Source Wikipedia

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