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Landscape of South Carolina
Landscape of South Carolina

By 1730 the settler population of South Carolina had risen to about 30,000. The greatest concentration of settlers continued to be in the vicinity of Charles Town, but settlers had also fanned out to other areas of the coastal plain. In particular, the settlers sought out the numerous tidal swamps at the margins of rivers, where conditions were ideal for growing rice. The cultivation of rice began in South Carolina in the 1680s and, in the decades after 1700, became the colony’s richest economic activity. Charles Town was one of the busiest ports of North America as rice and other products were exported to Great Britain and the West Indies. For the most part, rice was grown on large plantations by slave labor; by 1708 blacks outnumbered whites in South Carolina. Slave labor was also essential to the cultivation of a second major staple crop, indigo, a source of dye, which began to be grown commercially in the 1740s.

In the 1730s pioneers began to settle in the so-called middle country of South Carolina, the hilly region between the low country and the Fall Line. In the 1750s settlement began in the Piedmont region between the Fall Line and the mountains. Various European groups were represented in the middle country and upcountry, including Germans, Welsh, Swiss, and Scots-Irish. Some of these settlers came directly from Europe and others from American colonies such as Pennsylvania, Virginia, and North Carolina. By 1775 these backcountry settlers constituted about half of the province’s white population.

Life in the South Carolina backcountry in the 18th century was in sharp contrast to life in the low country.

The smaller farm, rather than the plantation, was typical in the backcountry. Few farmers had slaves, and a large part of a farmer’s produce was likely to be consumed by himself and his family. The wealth and European culture that characterized Charles Town in the 18th century found little comparison in the settlements of the backcountry. Presbyterians, not the Anglican Church, dominated the area. "South Carolina" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia

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