The colony of Carolina was settled by English settlers, mostly from Barbados, sent by the Lords Proprietors in 1670, followed by French Huguenots. The original Carolina proprietors were aware of the threat posed by the French and Spanish presence to the south, whose Roman Catholic monarchies were enemies of England and English values. They needed to act swiftly to attract settlers. Therefore, they were one of the first colonies to grant liberty of religious practice in order to attract settlers who were Baptists, Quakers, Huguenots and Presbyterians. Jewish immigration was specifically encouraged in the Fundamental Constitutions, since Jews were seen as reliable citizens. The Jewish immigrants were fleeing the Spanish Inquisition, which was being perpetrated in the Spanish colonies in the New World. Most immigrants in the colonial period were African slaves, who constituted a majority of the colony's population throughout the period. The Carolina upcountry was settled largely by Scots-Irish migrants from Pennsylvania and Virginia, following the Great Wagon Road.
Between 1715–1717 the Yamasee War, between colonial South Carolina and several Indian tribes, was one of America’s bloodiest Indian Wars, which for over a year seriously threatened the continued existence of South Carolina. The impact of the wars included dissatisfaction with the Proprietors who had the right to govern the colony. As a result, The Carolinas was split, and South Carolina became a royal colony in 1719.
The colony declared its independence from Great Britain and set up its own government on March 15, 1776, becoming the first colony to do so. On February 5, 1778, South Carolina became the first state to ratify the document which created the "United States of America" as an entity — the Articles of Confederation. The current United States Constitution was proposed for adoption by the States on September 17, 1787, and South Carolina was the 8th state to ratify it, on May 23, 1788.
The American Revolution caused a shock to slavery in the South. Tens of thousands of slaves fought with the British and thousands left with them; others secured their freedom by escaping. Estimates are that 25,000 slaves (30% of those in South Carolina) fled, migrated or died during the disruption of the war.
This historic home is at "The Battery," a neighborhood/park area at the Downtown Historic District of Charleston - a well-known historical city in South Carolina. "The Battery" is also known as White Point Gardens.
South Carolina politics between 1783 and 1795 were marred by rivalry between a Federalist Elite supporting the central government in Philadelphia and a large proportion of common people, often members of 'Republican Societies', supporting the Republican-Democrats headed by Jefferson and Madison who wanted more democracy in the US especially in South Carolina. Most people also supported the onset of the French Revolution (1789-1795) as anti-British feelings were still running high after the devastation of the war during the American Revolution and Charleston was the most French-influenced city in the USA after New Orleans. Leading South Carolina figures such as Pinckney and Governor Moultrie backed with money and actions the plans of the French to further their political, strategic, and commercial goals in North America. This pro-French stance and attitude of South Carolina ended soon due to the XYZ Affair.
Antebellum, South Carolina did more to advance nullification and secession than any other Southern state. On December 20, 1860, after it was clear Lincoln would be the next president, South Carolina became the first state to declare its secession from the Union. On April 12, 1861, Confederate batteries began shelling Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor, and the American Civil War began. Charleston was effectively blockaded and the Union Navy seized the Sea Islands, driving off the plantation owners and setting up an experiment in freedom for the ex-slaves. South Carolina troops participated in major Confederate campaigns, but no major battles were fought inland. General William Tecumseh Sherman marched through the state in early 1865, destroying numerous plantations, and captured the state capital of Columbia on February 17. Fires began that night and by next morning, most of the central city was destroyed.
Coastal towns and cities often have hurricane resistant Live oaks overarching the streets in historic neighborhoods, such as these on East Bay Street, Georgetown.
After the war, South Carolina was restored to the United States during Reconstruction. Under presidential Reconstruction (1865-66), freedmen (former slaves) were given limited rights. Under Radical reconstruction (1867-1877), a Republican coalition of freedmen, carpetbaggers and scalawags was in control, supported by Union army forces. The withdrawal of Union soldiers as part of the Compromise of 1877 ended Reconstruction. Whites used paramilitary groups such as the Red Shirts to intimidate and terrorize black voters, and regained political control under conservative white "Redeemers" and pro-business Bourbon Democrats.
The state became a hotbed of racial and economic tensions during the Populist and Agrarian movements of the 1890s. With the new conservative constitution of 1895, almost all blacks and many poor whites were effectively disfranchised by new requirements for poll taxes and literacy tests. By 1896, only 5,500 black voters remained on the registration rolls. The 1900 census demonstrated the extent of disfranchisement: African Americans comprised more than 58% of the state's population, with a total of 782,509 citizens essentially without any political representation. "Pitchfork Ben Tillman" controlled state politics from the 1890s to 1910 with a base among poor white farmers.