South Carolina (U.S. state)

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South Carolina is a state in the southeast U.S. and was one of the original thirteen colonies forming the U.S. after the American Revolution. During the American Civil War (1861-1865), South Carolina was the first state to secede from the union to found the Confederate States of America.

North Carolina is named after King Charles II of England, as Carolus is Latin for Charles.

South Carolina Statehouse


South Carolina is bounded to the north by North Carolina (U.S. state); to the south and west by Georgia, located across the Savannah River; and to the east by the Atlantic Ocean.

South Carolina is composed of four geographic areas, whose boundaries roughly parallel the northeast/southwest Atlantic coastline. The lower part of the state is the Coastal Plain, also known as the Lowcountry, which is nearly flat and composed entirely of recent sediments such as sand, silt, and clay. Areas with better drainage make excellent farmland, though some land is swampy. The coastline contains many salt marshes and estuaries, as well as natural ports such as Georgetown and Charleston. An unusual feature of the coastal plain is a large number of Carolina bays, the origins of which are uncertain, though one prominent theory suggests that they were created by a meteor shower. The bays tend to be oval, lining up in a northwest to southeast orientation.

South Carolina cotton field ready for harvest

Just west of the coastal plain is the Sand Hills region, which is thought to contain remnants of old coastal dunes from a time when the land was sunken or the oceans were higher.

The Piedmont (Upstate) region contains the roots of an ancient, eroded mountain chain. It tends to be hilly, with thin, stony clay soils, and contains few areas suitable for farming. Much of the Piedmont was once farmed, with little success, and is now reforested. At the edge of the Piedmont is the fall line, where rivers drop to the coastal plain. The fall line was an important early source of water power, and mills built to harness this resource encouraged the growth of several cities, including the capital, Columbia. The larger rivers are navigable up to the fall line, providing a trade route for mill towns.

The upper part of the Piedmont is also known as the Foothills. The Cherokee Parkway is a scenic driving route through this area.

Highest in elevation is the Upstate, containing an escarpment of the Blue Ridge Mountains, which continue into North Carolina and Georgia, as part of the southern Appalachian chain. Sassafras Mountain, South Carolina's highest point at 3,560 feet (1,085 m) is located in this area.[1] Also located in the Upcountry is Table Rock State Park and Caesar's Head State Park. The Chattooga River, located on the border between South Carolina and Georgia, is a favorite whitewater rafting destination.

See also: List of South Carolina counties.


South Carolina remains a major agricultural state, despite the growth of industry and tourism. The historic crops indigo and rice, which were a major source of wealth in colonial times, have disappeared, but cotton still reigns as one of the most important crops. The boll weevil arrived in the early 1920s and depressed the cotton crop for some years until growers learned to control the weevils with insecticides. More recently the boll weevil has been eradicated due to a federal eradication program, with the aid of an invasive species, the fire ant. Much cotton was once grown upstate, but the thinner soils eroded and played out; today most of the cotton is grown in the upper coastal plain.

Brightleaf tobacco, introduced from North Carolina (U.S. state) at the turn of the Twentieth Century became one of the state's largest money crops, especially in the Pee Dee region. It has fallen off somewhat in recent years due to market reductions and foreign competition.

Wheat and corn, and soybeans are also grown in the coastal plain and in some areas of the upstate. Peanut acreage is growing rapidly, especially in the northeastern part of the state. Watermelons and cantaloupes are grown statewide, but with concentrations in the Allendale/Barwell/Hamption area and the Pageland area. Fresh market vegetables, especially tomatoes are grown for early market on the sea islands near Charleston and for later markets in Lexington County and in the mountain foothills. Pickle cucumbers and summer squash are grown in the upper coastal plain. South Carolina is one of the biggest nationwide producers of fall leafy greens such as collard, kale, and mustard, as well as turnips, which are used both as a green and a root vegetable. The only tea grown in North America is produced near Charleston.

Despite Georgia's reputation as the peach state, South Carolina grows far more peaches, with concentrations in Edgefield County, Chesterfield County, and Gaffney County. Strawberries and blueberries are a widely grown by market farms in various areas. Apple culture, once prominent in the foothills, has nearly died out. Much of South Carolina's produce and fruit are marketed through farmer's markets. The state Department of Agriculture sponsors three markets (wholesale and retail), at Columbia, Greenville, and Florence respectively, but many communities also have local retail markets.

Hobby horse farms are prominent in the Aiken area and around Camden. Beef cattle, turkeys, broiler poultry and eggs are major and widespread industries. Dairying has nearly disappeared with only a few large dairies left.

Tree farms are the biggest industry in the state, with loblolly pine and some longleaf pine being the major species. Loblolly pine is primarily grown for the pulpwood industry, though some is used for timber and for treated utility poles.


South Carolina has a humid subtropical climate (Koppen climate classification Cfa), although high elevation areas in the "Upstate" area have less subtropical characteristics than areas on the Atlantic coastline. In the summer, South Carolina is hot and humid with daytime temperatures averaging between 86-92°F (30-33°C) in most of the state and overnight lows over 70°F (21°C) on the coast and in the high 60s°F (near 20°C) further inland. Winter temperatures are much less uniform in South Carolina. Coastal areas of the state have very mild winters with high temperatures approaching an average of 60°F (16°C) and overnight lows in the 40s°F (5-8°C). Further inland in the higher country, the average January overnight low can be below freezing. While precipitation is abundant the entire year in almost the entire state, near the coast tends to have a slightly wetter summer, while inland March tends to be the wettest month.

Snowfall in South Carolina is slight, with coastal areas receiving less than an inch (2.5 cm) on average. The coast (especially the southern coast) normally receives no recordable snowfall in a given year. The interior more often receives a little snow, although nowhere in the state averages more than 6 inches (15 cm) a year.

The state is prone to tropical cyclones and it is a yearly concern during hurricane season which is from June-November, although the peak time of vulnerability for the southeast Atlantic coast is from early August to early October when the Cape Verde hurricane season lasts. South Carolina averages around 50 days of thunderstorm activity a year, which is less than some of the states further south and is slightly less vulnerable to tornadoes than the states which border on the Gulf of Mexico. Still, some notable tornadoes have struck South Carolina and the state averages around 14 tornadoes annually.[2]


Main article: South Carolina, History

The colony of Carolina was settled by English settlers, mostly from Barbados, sent by the Lords Proprietors in 1670, followed by French Huguenots. The Carolina upcountry was settled largely by Scots-Irish migrants from Pennsylvania and Virginia, following the Great Wagon Road. The formal colony of "The Carolinas" split into two in 1712. South Carolina became a royal colony in 1729.

Early exports such as indigo and rice, the latter based on labor and knowledge imported with slaves from West Africa made South Carolina the wealthiest English colony of the thirteen. Other trade, primarily with Great Britain included naval stores from the pine forests, beaver pelts and deer hides.

Native American tribes along the coast were decimated by disease after the first contact with Europeans, although tiny remnants of these tribes remain to this day, and some have been recently officially recognized by the state. The colonists had territorial conflicts with the larger inland tribes such as the Cherokees and the Chickasaws as population grew and moved inland.

The state declared its independence from Great Britain and set up its own government on March 15, 1776. It joined the United States by signing the Declaration of Independence. South Carolina became the 8th state to ratify the new Constitution on May 23, 1788.

As part of its strategy in the American Revolution, the British Navy attempted to capture Charles Town in 1776, but were unable to take the palmetto log fort that defended the harbor. This early victory, led by William Moltrie, stirred the colonial delegates in Philadelphia and helped ensure the passage of the U.S. Declaration of Independence. The British left to focus on the northern colonies, but returned in greater force in 1780 to capture Charles Town, including 5,000 Continental troops trapped in the city. The British quickly established control of the coastal region, and tried to push into the upstate with the aid of Loyalists. The Patriot governor John Rutledge was forced to flee into North Carolina (U.S. state); he and his aides with a printing press became effectively a government-in-exile.

Washington sent General Horatio Gates to rescue South Carolina, but he was defeated at the Battle of Camden on August 16, 1780, and the remnant of his forces retreated north. All of South Carolina at that point was effectively under the control of the British, except for the Williamsburg area which was controlled by Francis Marion and local militia forces. These forces harassed the British and the Loyalist forces, using guerrilla tactics, gradually enlarging their sphere of influence in northeastern South Carolina, and attracting Patriot support. A major victory of a combined militia force from both South and North Carolinas and (what would be) Tennessee, at the Battle of Kings Mountain on October 17, 1780 began the process of recapturing the Piedmont. In December, Continental troops under General Nathanial Greene arrived. Combined Continental troops and militia then pushed the British out of the rest of the state into Charleston, which the British finally evacuated in 1782.

After the Revolution the state prospered greatly with the increase in the production and milling of cotton; in fact the agricultural crop became known as "King Cotton." The state became increasingly in conflict with the northern states over States' Rights, and with Abolitionists over slavery.

South Carolina was the first state to secede from the United States on December 20, 1860. On April 12, 1861, Confederate batteries began shelling Fort Sumter and the American Civil War began. Edmund Ruffin is usually credited with firing the first shot from Battery Park (Charleston). 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 the major Confederate campaigns, but no major battles were fought inland. General William Tecumseh Sherman marched through the state in early 1865, destroying numerous plantations. The state capital Columbia was abandoned by the Confederates and released prisoners and slaves set the downtown afire.

After the Civil War, South Carolina was reincorporated into the United States during Reconstruction. Under presidential Reconstruction (1865-66) Freedmen were given limited rights. Under Radical reconstruction (1867-1877), a Republican coalition of Freedmen, Carpetbaggers and Scalawags were in control, supported by Union army forces. The withdrawal of Union soldiers as part of the Compromise of 1877 ended Reconstruction and brought an era where conservative white "[Redeemers]" and pro-business Bourbon Democrats were in control. The state became a hotbed of racial and economic tensions during the Populist and Agrarian movements of the 1890s. Blacks were disfranchised in 1890, and "Pitchfork Ben Tillman" controlled state politics from the 1890s to 1910 with a base among poor white farmers.

Jim Crow laws were enacted to suppress the African-American population by strict segregation and limitations on political and economic activity. A major migration of Black South Carolinians to northern cities occurred and continued until the mid Twentieth Century when the Civil Rights Movement began to push back Jim Crow. Today, many of the "exiles" have returned in retirement.

Today, South Carolina is one of the Sun Belt states that is drawing tourists, retirees and industry from the North, as a source of increasing prosperity.


Some content on this page may previously have appeared on Wikipedia.

See also

U.S. States and Territories


  1. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named usgs
  2. [1] NOAA National Climatic Data Center. Retrieved on October 24, 2006.