History of South Carolina

Francisco Gordillo and Pedro of Quexós sailed along the coasts of the present states of South and North Carolina in 1521. A few years later, in 1526, Lucas Vázquez of Ayllón, who had organized the Gordillo expedition, formed a new fleet to explore the coasts that Pedro de Quexós had explored together with 500 men. The expedition landed near the Pee Dee River in South Carolina. The settlement Ayllón founded was named San Miguel de Guadalupe. The colony failed that same year due to epidemics and disagreements in the group, after Ayllón’s death. The northwest of the present state of South Carolina was explored by Hernando de Soto, during the expedition of 1540. In 1561, Viceroy Luis de Velasco commissioned Angelo de Villafane to sail from Florida along the north Atlantic coast. Villafane’s two ships that sailed to the coast of Virginia landed near Port Royal, South Carolina, where he took possession of the territory in the name of Spain. A few years later it was the Frenchman Jean Ribaut who sailed along the coast, landed, took possession and gave the name to this region in honor of the French king, Charles IX. Despite this, the Spaniards continued to explore the region with the expeditions of Menendez de Avilés (1566) and those of Juan Pardo and Hernando Boyano (1566-1567).

Colonization by the British began in 1585 when Walter Raleigh succeeded in founding a settlement on Roanoke Island in North Carolina. In 1629 the king of England, Charles I, determined the boundaries of the colony of Carolina, which he officially called Carolana, and granted its exploitation to Sir Robert Heath. The first settlers arrived from the nearby colony of Virginia in the mid-17th century. This colony had no defined limits to the west, as it theoretically reached the coast from the Pacific. The northern limit was the border with the colony of Virginia, and to the south it bordered on Spanish possessions.

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In 1680, the British who had settled ten years earlier in the vicinity of the Ashley River founded Charleston in South Carolina. During the 18th century the colony of Carolina began to flourish, this encouraged the immigration of Welsh, Scots, Irish and Germans., which began to occupy the interior of the territory. At that time, Charleston was already the most important center of the south coast, despite the great instability that characterized the life of the territory during the seventeenth century, caused by the corruption of the owners who administered the territory by royal concession and for the activities of pirates on the coast. Around 1731, the Crown’s control over the colony of North Carolina was consolidated when the king regained the power he had ceded in the previous century to the owners for the exploitation and administration of the region. Since then, the Crown has encouraged the emigration of new settlers even more. He also authorized the division of Carolina into two Colonies, the South and the North. The reorganization of the colonies continued with the creation, in 1732, of the colony of Georgia which marked, (not without contestation by the South Carolina settlers), the southern and western borders of South Carolina.

Although relations between coastal and inland settlers were frequently conflicted, when the independence movement was born the majority of South Carolina settlers united front against British abuses. After the occupation of Charleston by the English in 1780, numerous battles took place in South Carolina, including that of Kings Mountain and that of Cowpens. The victory of the separatists, led by General Nathanael Greene, succeeded in driving out the British from the interior of South Carolina in 1781. A few years later, they abandoned the port of Chaleston. In 1788, South Carolina ratified the United States Constitution, thus becoming the eighth state to join the Union. After independence, there were great disagreements between the small landowners of the interior and the large landowners of the coast. The imbalance between these two regions was tried to resolve with the transfer of the capital to Columbia, in the interior of the state, where 80% of the population lived at the beginning of the nineteenth century following the massive emigration to these lands.

The disagreements with the federal government were constant from the first years of existence, due to disagreements on customs policy. In fact, given that South Carolina was heavily dependent on trade with Europe, the customs barriers dictated by the federal government were enormously unpopular so as to question, even between 1847 and 1852, the permanence in the Union. On the other hand, the traditional activities of the state, the production of skins, and rice, were affected by the competition of the products that began to arrive from the western territories. As a result, many smallholder farmers had to emigrate, and then look for work in factories in North Carolina. The secession finally took place, in 1860 for the differences on slavery. In December 1861, the Civil War (1860-1865) began with the confrontation in Charleston harbor with federal troops. The Union Army quickly took control of the Sea Islands, a strategic enclave from which Charleston harbor could be blocked until the end of the war. Meanwhile, in the interior, General Sherman devastated the fields and properties of South Carolina as he passed. Carolina was readmitted to the United States in 1868 but suffered the effects of the war for decades.

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The First World War (1914-1918) had positive effects on the economy of South Carolina thanks to its farms and textile industries, which benefited from the enormous demand of the army. Conversely, the economic depression that began in 1929 caused severe problems for its economy, forcing the federal government to fund public works projects to alleviate enormous unemployment. In this sense, roads, dams and canals were built on the Santee and Cooper Rivers, which improved the state’s communications and provided electricity to its industries, factors that helped reactivate South Carolina’s battered economy. The Second World War (1939-1945) produced effects similar to those described during the First World War. In addition, various military bases were built in South Carolina which had a positive effect on the development of the state.

Currently, South Carolina is facing new restructuring plans due to its dependence on certain sectors, such as tobacco, textiles and the military. Indeed, the tobacco industry is suffering a severe attack in the United States for health risks, the textile industry cannot easily compete with producers in developing countries, and the military industry has cut funding over the past few years. years as a result of the end of the Cold War.

South Carolina State Flag

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