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The Unexpected History of South Carolina - 1670 - 1788

Updated on July 29, 2018

Barbados Extention

The colony of Carolina, (there was no North or South) was not established until 1670.

Historically, this is very late.

The islands of the Caribbean were being settled in the late 1400s. The 1500s was a time of expansion and increased populations.

Rather interestingly, Carolina did not have an influx of settlers from England or Europe.

It's first settlers came from Barbados.

Barbados to Carolina

Barbados is a small island in the Caribbean. It was a British colony. It had become the refuge for Sephardic Jews escaping Brasil.

Parts of Brasil had been ruled by the Dutch. The Jews, who had fled the Inquisition in Spain and arrived in Holland, were encouraged to keep going.

They migrated to Dutch territories all over the world.

In the New World, the Dutch Colonies of Brasil, Suriname, and Curacao were very attractive. By the 1600s many Jewish communities existed, and because the Dutch were tolerant, unlike Spanish and Portuguese, Jews worshipped openly.

When Portugal extended it's control of Brasil, Jews had to leave, and some went to the British colony of Barbados.

They brought with them the expertise in growing sugar cane.

Barbados, which had heretofore grown tobacco, immediately turned to this new crop. Small holdings were taken over the the Government. Many people found themselves landless, as did the Jews, for all arable land was turned into large plantations.

Jews who remained in Barbados had no other livelihood than to become merchants.

As Carolina was a British territory, surrounded by the Roman Catholic Empires, Cromwell, who ruled the United Kingdom, offered freedom of religion in the new colony to all, specifically naming Jews.

French Huguenots, Baptists, Quakers, and Jews flocked to the colony of Carolina.

Carolina and Indian slaves

Between 1670 and 1717 the colony of Carolina made most of its revenue from the trading of Indian slaves.

Some historians claim over 50,000 people who were indigenous to that part of what is today the United States, were exported as slaves.

This led to American Indian Tribes forming an alliance against the Colonists. The wars were bloody and the very existence of the Colony was threatened.

The wars, the way the colony was ruled, led to a split.

South Carolina broke from the North and became a royal colony in 1719.

Planters, who needed labour, turned to the African slave.

And the Pirates

The harbour in Charleston was ideal for Pirates. And Pirates set up virtually unassailable bases.

Probably the most famous is Edward Teach, Blackbeard.

As Piracy, (more politely called Privateering when practised by the British) was a way to weaken the Spanish Empire, it was not as heinous then as it might be seen today.

As Charleston, the capital of South Carolina, was treated as if it were an island in the Caribbean, the same people who would use Port Royal in Jamaica as a base, would find a welcome in Charleston.

The nursey rhyme; "Sing a Song of Six Pence" is actually Blackbeard's advertising jingle.

"Sing a song of six pence
Pocket full of Rye
Four and twenty Blackbirds
Baked in a PIe

Six pence is what Blackbeard paid his crew, along with a 'pocket' of rye whiskey per day. Blackbirds were his crew, hiding in a ship.

"The King is in the counting house
Counting out his money
The Queen in in the Parlour
Eating Bread and Honey
The maid is in the garden
Hanging out the Clothes
Down came a Blackbird
and snapped off her nose."

The King, Blackbeard, had the money to pay his crew, his ship, Queen Anne's Revenge, was in the Harbour taking on supplies. The Maid, (the ship they planned to attack) was in the 'Garden', a specific area of the Atlantic off the coast of Charleston, already under sail, (hanging out the clothes).

The War of Independence

In 1776 the colony declared its Independence from Great Britain, and set up it's own government. It was the first of the 13 colonies so to do.

To gain South Carolina's support for the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson removed all references to slavery, upon which the economy of South Carolina depended.

In 1778, South Carolina was the first to ratify the Articles of Confederation. However, in 1780, those still loyal to England, helped British Troops recapture South Carolina.

Tens of thousands of slaves fought with the British against the Revolutions. They joined the British to obtain freedom. Thousands left with the British Troops in the last days of the war.

Estimates are that 25,000 slaves (30% of those in South Carolina) fled, migrated or died during the war.

In 1788, South Carolina was the 8th state to sign on to the Constitution and join the United States.


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    • Unifiniti profile image


      5 years ago

      Oh...So was Roanoke in North or South?

    • qeyler profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago

      These were the First Jewish immigrants. The first Jewish community in America was in South Carolina.

    • Unifiniti profile image


      5 years ago

      That's amazing! The first immigrants came from Barbados? I thought the first "immigrants" were the native Americans that moved into the region!

    • qeyler profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      S.C. was very much part of the Caribbean so it is not surprising that people would move to an island and recreate their lives. I believe a lot of the Virgin Islands have been so settled.

    • Mariefra Coppola profile image

      Mariefra Coppola 

      8 years ago from South Carolina

      I have enjoyably read "Wind from the Carolinas" by Robert Wilder, a romantic historical fiction taken from a true family's history in the 1800s -- the settlement of the Bahama Islands. Migrating form the plantation aristocracy of Carolina, Virginia and Georgia, loyal to the British Crown, they snubbed the American Revolution. They took their entire families, their slaves, livestock, furnishings, and even the bricks of their manors to the Bahamas. There they attempted to recreate the Colonial mansions, slave quarters and cotton fields. A good sequel to your time-line of SC - and background understanding of the southern culture.

    • qeyler profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      And your point means what? That Jews were totally responsible for African slavery in the New World?


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