South Carolina became the eighth state to ratify the U.S. Constitution, on May 23, 1788. South Carolina became the first state which voted to secede from the Union on December 20, 1860. After the American Civil War, it was readmitted into the United States on June 25, 1868.
South Carolina is the 40th most extensive and 23rd most populous U.S. state. Its GDP as of 2013 was $183.6 billion, with an annual growth rate of 3.13%. South Carolina is composed of 46 counties. The capital is Columbia with a 2016 population of 134,309; while its largest city is Charleston with a 2016 population of 134,385. The Greenville-Anderson-Mauldin metropolitan area is the largest in the state, with a 2016 population estimate of 884,975.
South Carolina is named in honor of King Charles I of England, who first formed the English colony, with Carolus being Latin for "Charles".
South Carolina is known for its 187 miles of coastline, beautiful lush gardens, historic sites and Southern plantations, colonial, African and European cultures, and its growing economic development.
There is evidence of human activity in the area about 40,000 years ago. At the time Europeans arrived, marking the end of the Pre-Columbian era around 1600, there were many separate Native American tribes, the largest being the Cherokee, and the Catawba, and the total population being up to 20,000.
Up the rivers of the eastern coastal plain lived about a dozen tribes of Siouan background. Along the Savannah River were the Apalachee, Yuchi, and the Yamasee. Further west were the Cherokee, and along the Catawba River, the Catawba. These tribes were village-dwellers, relying on agriculture as their primary food source. The Cherokee lived in wattle and daub houses made with wood and clay, roofed with wood or thatched grass.
About a dozen separate small tribes summered on the coast harvesting oysters and fish, and cultivating corn, peas and beans. Travelling inland as much as 50 miles (80 km) mostly by canoe, they wintered on the coastal plain, hunting deer and gathering nuts and fruit. The names of these tribes survive in place names like Edisto Island, Kiawah Island, and the Ashepoo River.
The Spanish are the first Europeans in the area, exploring from June 24 to July 14, 1521 a land around Winyah Bay named, according to the captive Francisco, Chicora, in struggle with nineteen other neighboring peoples whose names have been also transmitted without it being possible to identify them with certainty. They found in October 8, 1526 San Miguel de Gualdape, near what is now Georgetown, South Carolina. It is the first European settlement in what is now mainland USA. Established with five hundred settlers, it was abandoned eight months later by one hundred and fifty survivors. In 1540, Hernando de Soto explored the region and the maintown of Cofitachequi, where he captured the queen of the Maskoki and the Chelaque who had welcomed him.
In 1562 French Huguenots established a settlement at what is now the Charlesfort-Santa Elena archaeological site on Parris Island. The garrison lacks supplies and the soldiers, as in the same time in the France Antarctique, run away, some settlers preferring the savagering and a « natural » life far from the « civilization » and the atrocities of the Wars of Religion. In May 1564, a second expedition explore the shore from « Jordan River » up to « Dolphins river » and takes possession of the territory from the coast to the « Palassi Mountains », middle French transcription of Appalachian Mountains. On June 20, 1564, they founded Fort Caroline, so called in honour of the King of France Charles IX.
On August 28, 1565, the Spanish built a fort on the site of St. Augustine and, few days later, exterminate the French colonists on the shore of the « Massacre's river ». Because they are not Catholic, the two hundred men left to guard Fort Caroline are executed on September 20, 1565. Three years later, a punitive expedition led by Dominique de Gourgue provokes a general insurrection of the natives which permanently expelled the Spaniards from the Piedmont and the Cumberland region, that they had begun to invest from Joara. Confined to St. Augustine, they are then confronted with hostilities of the English navy.
Sixty years later, in 1629, King of England Charles I established the Province of Carolina, an area covering what is now South and North Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee. In 1663, Charles II granted the land to eight Lords Proprietors in return for their financial and political assistance in restoring him to the throne in 1660. Anthony Ashley Cooper plans the Grand Model for the Province of Carolina and writes the Fundamental Constitutions of Carolina. His utopia is inspired by John Locke, the major investor in the English slave-trade through the Royal African Company.
In the 1670s, English planters from Bermuda established themselves near what is now Charleston. Settlers built rice plantations in the South Carolina Lowcountry, east of the Atlantic Seaboard fall line. Settlers came from all over Europe. Plantation labor was done by African slaves who formed the majority of the population by 1720. Another cash crop was the Indigo plant, a plant source of blue dye, developed by Eliza Lucas.
Meanwhile, in Upstate South Carolina, west of the Fall Line, was settled by small farmers and traders, who displaced Native American tribes westward. Colonists overthrew the proprietors' (absentee English landowners) rule, seeing more direct representation. In 1719, the colony was officially made a crown colony. In 1729 North Carolina was split off into a separate colony.
Southern Carolina prospered from the fertility of the Low Country and the harbors, such as that at Charleston. It allowed religious toleration, encouraging Settlements spread, and trade in deerskin, lumber, and beef thrived. Rice cultivation was developed on a large scale.
By the second half of the 1700s South Carolina was one of the richest of what were about to become the Thirteen Colonies.
On March 26, 1776, the colony adopted the Constitution of South Carolina, electing John Rutledge as the state's first president. In February, 1778, South Carolina became the first state to ratify the Articles of Confederation, the initial governing document of the United States, and in May 1788, South Carolina ratified the United States Constitution, becoming the eighth state to enter the union.
During the American Revolutionary War (1775–1783), about a third of combat action took place in South Carolina, more than in any other state. Inhabitants of the state endured being invaded by English forces and an ongoing civil war between loyalists and partisans that devastated the backcountry. It is estimated that 25,000 slaves (30% of those in South Carolina) fled, migrated or died during the war.
America's first census in 1790 put the state's population at nearly 250,000. By the 1800 census the population had increased 38 per cent to nearly 340,000 of which 146,000 were slaves. At that time South Carolina had the largest population of Jews in the 16 United States, mostly based in Savannah and Charleston, the latter being the country's fifth largest city.
In the Antebellum period (before the Civil War) the state's economy and population grew. Cotton became an important crop after the invention of the cotton gin. While nominally democratic, from 1790 until 1865, wealthy male landowners were in control of South Carolina. For example, a man was not eligible to sit in the State House of Representatives unless he possessed an estate of 500 acres of land and 10 Negroes, or at least 150 pounds sterling.
Columbia, the new state capital was founded in the center of the state, and the State Legislature first met there in 1790. The town grew after it was connected to Charleston by the Santee Canal in 1800, one of the first canals in the United States.
As dissatisfaction with the federal government grew, in the 1820s John C. Calhoun became a leading proponent of states' rights, limited government, nullification of the US Constitution, and free trade. In 1832, the Ordinance of Nullification declared federal tariff laws unconstitutional and not to be enforced in the state, leading to the Nullification Crisis. The federal Force Bill was enacted to use whatever military force necessary to enforce federal law in the state, bringing South Carolina back into line.
In the United States presidential election of 1860 voting was sharply divided, with the south voting for the Southern Democrats and the north for Abraham Lincoln's Republican Party. Lincoln was anti-slavery, did not acknowledge the right to secession, and would not yield federal property in Southern states. Southern secessionists believed Lincoln's election meant long-term doom for their slavery-based agrarian economy and social system.
Lincoln was elected president on 6 November 1860. The state House of Representatives immediately passed the "Resolution to Call the Election of Abraham Lincoln as U.S. President a Hostile Act, 9 November 1860", and within weeks South Carolina became the first state to declare secession from the US.
On April 12, 1861, Confederate (southern) batteries began shelling the Union (federal, northern, or US) Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor, after US troops refusal to leave the fort peacefully, and the American Civil War began. In November of that year the Union attacked Port Royal Sound and soon occupied Beaufort County and the neighboring Sea Islands. For the rest of the war this area served as a Union base and staging point for other operations. Whites abandoned their plantations, leaving behind about 10,000 slaves. Several Northern charities partnered with the federal government to help these people run the cotton farms themselves under the Port Royal Experiment. Workers were paid by the pound harvested and thus became the first former slaves freed by the Union forces to earn wages.
Although the state was not a major battleground, the war ruined the economy. Under conscription, all men aged 18–35 (later 45) were drafted for Confederate service. More than 60,000 served, and the state lost nearly one-third of the white male population of fighting age.
At the end of the war in early 1865, the troops of General William Tecumseh Sherman marched across the state devastating plantations and most of Columbia.
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. They established public education, welfare institutions, and home rule for counties, expanding democracy.
In Texas vs. White (1869), the Supreme Court ruled that the ordinances of secession (including that of South Carolina) were invalid, and thus those states had never left the Union. However, South Carolina did not regain representation in Congress until that date.
Until the 1868 presidential election, South Carolina's legislature, not the voters, chose the state's electors for the presidential election. South Carolina was the last state to choose its electors in this manner. On October 19, 1871 President Ulysses S. Grant suspended habeas corpus in nine South Carolina counties under the authority of the Ku Klux Klan Act. Led by Grant's Attorney General Amos T. Akerman, hundreds of Klansmen were arrested while 2000 Klansmen fled the state. This was done in order to suppress Klan violence against African-American and white voters in the South. In the mid to late 1870s, white Democrats used paramilitary groups such as the Red Shirts to intimidate and terrorize black voters. They regained political control of the state under conservative white "Redeemers" and pro-business Bourbon Democrats. In 1877, the federal government withdrew its troops as part of the Compromise of 1877 that ended Reconstruction.
The state became a hotbed of racial and economic tensions during the Populist and Agrarian movements of the 1890s. A Republican-Populist biracial coalition took power away from White Democrats temporarily. To prevent that from happening again, Democrats gained passage of a new constitution in 1895 that effectively disfranchised almost all blacks and many poor whites by new requirements for poll taxes, residency, and literacy tests that dramatically reduced the voter rolls. By 1896, only 5,500 black voters remained on the voter registration rolls, although they constituted a majority of the state's population. The 1900 census demonstrated the extent of disenfranchisement: the 782,509 African American citizens comprised more than 58% of the state's population, but they were essentially without any political representation in the Jim Crow society.
The 1895 constitution overturned local representative government, reducing the role of the counties to agents of state government, effectively ruled by the General Assembly, through the legislative delegations for each county. As each county had one state senator, that person had considerable power. The counties lacked representative government until home rule was passed in 1975.
Governor "Pitchfork Ben Tillman", a Populist, led the effort to disenfranchise the blacks and poor whites, although he controlled Democratic state politics from the 1890s to 1910 with a base among poor white farmers. During the constitutional convention in 1895, he supported another man's proposal that the state adopt a one-drop rule, as well as prohibit marriage between whites and anyone with any known African ancestry.
Some members of the convention realized that prominent white families with some African ancestry could be affected by such legislation. In terms similar to a debate in Virginia in 1853 on a similar proposal (which was dropped), George Dionysius Tillman said the following in opposition:
If the law is made as it now stands respectable families in Aiken, Barnwell, Colleton, and Orangeburg will be denied the right to intermarry among people with whom they are now associated and identified. At least one hundred families would be affected to my knowledge. They have sent good soldiers to the Confederate Army, and are now landowners and taxpayers. Those men served creditably, and it would be unjust and disgraceful to embarrass them in this way. It is a scientific fact that there is not one full-blooded Caucasian on the floor of this convention. Every member has in him a certain mixture of… colored blood. The pure-blooded white has needed and received a certain infusion of darker blood to give him readiness and purpose. It would be a cruel injustice and the source of endless litigation, of scandal, horror, feud, and bloodshed to undertake to annul or forbid marriage for a remote, perhaps obsolete trace of Negro blood. The doors would be open to scandal, malice and greed; to statements on the witness stand that the father or grandfather or grandmother had said that A or B had Negro blood in their veins. Any man who is half a man would be ready to blow up half the world with dynamite to prevent or avenge attacks upon the honor of his mother in the legitimacy or purity of the blood of his father.
The state postponed such a one-drop law for years. Virginian legislators adopted a one-drop law in 1924, forgetting that their state had many people of mixed ancestry among those who identified as white.
Early in the 20th century, South Carolina developed a thriving textile industry. The state also converted its agricultural base from cotton to more profitable crops; attracted large military bases through its powerful Democratic congressional delegation, part of the one-party South following disfranchisement of blacks at the turn of the century; and created tourism industries. During the early part of the 20th century, thousands of African Americans left South Carolina and other southern states for jobs and better opportunities in northern, Midwestern and western cities. In total from 1910 to 1970, 6.5 million blacks left the South in the Great Migration. By 1930 South Carolina had a white majority for the first time since 1708.
The struggle of the Civil Rights Movement took place in South Carolina as well as other places in the South.
South Carolina was one of several states that initially rejected the Nineteenth Amendment (1920) giving women the right to vote. The South Carolina legislature later ratified the amendment on July 1, 1969.
As of 2015, South Carolina had one of the lowest percentages among all states of women in state legislature, at 13.5% (only Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Wyoming had a lower percentage; the national average is 24.3%; with the highest percentage being in Colorado at 41%). In 2011, South Carolina ranked first in the country in the rate of women killed by men.
As the 21st century progresses, South Carolina attracts new business by having a 5% corporate income tax rate, no state property tax, no local income tax, no inventory tax, no sales tax on manufacturing equipment, industrial power or materials for finished products; no wholesale tax, no unitary tax on worldwide profits.
Starting January 1, 2013, South Carolina was one of the first states that no longer pays for 'early elective' deliveries of babies, under either Medicaid and private insurance. The term early elective is defined as a labor induction or Cesarean section between 37–39 weeks that is not medically based. This change is intended to result in healthier babies and fewer unnecessary costs for South Carolina.
On November 20, 2014, South Carolina became the 35th state to legalize same-sex marriages, when a federal court ordered the change. For further information see: Same-sex marriage in South Carolina.
The state can be divided into three geographic areas. From east to west: the Atlantic coastal plain, the Piedmont, and the Blue Ridge Mountains. Locally, the coastal plain is referred to as the Low Country and the other two regions as Up Country. The Atlantic Coastal Plain makes up two-thirds of the state. Its eastern border is the Sea Islands, a chain of tidal and barrier islands. The border between the low country and the up country is defined by the Atlantic Seaboard fall line, which marks the limit of navigable rivers.
The state's 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. The bays tend to be oval, lining up in a northwest to southeast orientation. The terrain is flat and the soil is composed entirely of recent sediments such as sand, silt, and clay. Areas with better drainage make excellent farmland, though some land is swampy. The natural areas of the coastal plain are part of the Middle Atlantic coastal forests ecoregion.
Just west of the coastal plain is the Sandhills region. The Sandhills are remnants of coastal dunes from a time when the land was sunken or the oceans were higher.
The Upstate region contains the roots of an ancient, eroded mountain chain. It is generally hilly, with thin, stony clay soils, and contains few areas suitable for farming. Much of the Piedmont was once farmed. Due to the changing economics of farming, much of the land is now reforested in Loblolly pine for the lumber industry. These forests are part of the Southeastern mixed forests ecoregion. At the southeastern 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. 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 northwestern part of the Piedmont is also known as the Foothills. The Cherokee Parkway is a scenic driving route through this area. This is where Table Rock State Park is located.
Highest in elevation is the Blue Ridge Region, containing an escarpment of the Blue Ridge Mountains, which continue into North Carolina and Georgia, as part of the southern Appalachian Mountains. Sassafras Mountain, South Carolina's highest point at 3,560 feet (1,090 m), is located in this area. Also located in this area is Caesars Head State Park. The environment here is that of the Appalachian-Blue Ridge forests ecoregion. The Chattooga River, located on the border between South Carolina and Georgia, is a favorite whitewater rafting destination.
South Carolina has several major lakes covering over 683 square miles (1,770 km2). The following are the lakes listed by size.
Earthquakes in South Carolina demonstrate the greatest frequency along the central coastline of the state, in the Charleston area. South Carolina averages 10–15 earthquakes a year below magnitude 3 (FEMA). The Charleston Earthquake of 1886 was the largest quake ever to hit the Southeastern United States. This 7.2 magnitude earthquake killed 60 people and destroyed much of the city. Faults in this region are difficult to study at the surface due to thick sedimentation on top of them. Many of the ancient faults are within plates rather than along plate boundaries.
South Carolina has a humid subtropical climate (Köppen climate classification Cfa), although high-elevation areas in the Upstate area have fewer subtropical characteristics than areas on the Atlantic coastline. In the summer, South Carolina is hot and humid, with daytime temperatures averaging between 86–93 °F (30–34 °C) in most of the state and overnight lows averaging 70–75 °F (21–24 °C) on the coast and from 66–73 °F (19–23 °C) 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 around 40 °F (5–8 °C). Inland, the average January overnight low is around 32 °F (0 °C) in Columbia and temperatures well below freezing in the Upstate. While precipitation is abundant the entire year in almost the entire state, the coast tends to have a slightly wetter summer, while inland, March tends to be the wettest month and winter the driest season, with November being the driest month. The highest recorded temperature is 113 °F (45 °C) in Johnston and Columbia on June 29, 2012, and the lowest recorded temperature is −19 °F (−28 °C) at Caesars Head on January 21, 1985.
Snowfall in South Carolina is somewhat uncommon in most of the state, while coastal areas receive less than an inch (2.5 cm) annually on average. It is not uncommon for areas along the coast (especially the southern coast) to receive no recordable snowfall in a given year. The interior receives a little more snow, although nowhere in the state averages more than 12 inches (30 cm) of snow annually. The mountains of extreme northwestern South Carolina tend to have the most substantial snow accumulation. Freezing rain and ice tend to be more common than snow in many areas of the state. Road bridges in South Carolina are commonly marked, "Bridge ices before road."
South Carolina is also prone to tropical cyclones and tornadoes. Two of the strongest hurricanes to strike South Carolina in recent history were Hurricane Hazel (1954) and Hurricane Hugo (1989).
The state is occasionally affected by tropical cyclones. This is an annual concern during hurricane season, which lasts from June 1 to November 30. The peak time of vulnerability for the southeast Atlantic coast is from early August to early October, during the Cape Verde hurricane season. Memorable hurricanes to hit South Carolina include Hazel (1954) and Hugo (1989), both Category 4 hurricanes.
South Carolina averages around 50 days of thunderstorm activity a year. This is less than some of the states further south, and it is slightly less vulnerable to tornadoes than the states which border on the Gulf of Mexico. Some notable tornadoes have struck South Carolina, and the state averages around 14 tornadoes annually. Hail is common with many of the thunderstorms in the state, as there is often a marked contrast in temperature of warmer ground conditions compared to the cold air aloft.
The United States Census Bureau estimates that the population of South Carolina was 4,896,146 on July 1, 2015, a 5.85% increase since the 2010 United States Census.
As of the 2013 census estimate, the racial make up of the state is 68.3% White (63.9% non-Hispanic white), 27.9% Black or African American, 0.5% American Indian and Alaska Native, 1.5% Asian, 0.1% Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander, 1.7% from two or more races. 5.3% of the total population was of Hispanic or Latino origin of any race.
According to the United States Census Bureau, as of 2014, South Carolina had an estimated population of 4,896,146, which is an increase of 63,664 from the prior year and an increase of 270,782, or 5.85%, since the year 2010. Immigration from outside the United States resulted in a net increase of 36,401 people, and migration within the country produced a net increase of 115,084 people. According to the University of South Carolina's Arnold School of Public Health, Consortium for Latino Immigration Studies, South Carolina's foreign-born population grew faster than any other state between 2000 and 2005.
An August 2011 Public Policy Polling survey found that 21% of South Carolina voters thought that same-sex marriage should be legal, while 69% thought it should be illegal and 10% were not sure. A separate question on the same survey found that 48% of South Carolina voters supported the legal recognition of same-sex couples, with 19% supporting same-sex marriage, 29% supporting civil unions but not marriage, 51% favoring no legal recognition and 2% not sure.
According to the Association of Religion Data Archives (ARDA), in 2010 the largest denominations were the Southern Baptist Convention with 913,763 adherents, the United Methodist Church with 274,111 adherents, and the Roman Catholic Church with 181,743 adherents. Fourth largest is the African Methodist Episcopal Church with 564 congregations and 121,000 members and fifth largest is the Presbyterian Church (USA) with 320 congregations and almost 100,000 members.
As of 2010, South Carolina is the American state with the highest per capita proportion of Baha'is with 17,559 adherents, making the Baha'i Faith the second largest religion in the state.
In 2016, the US Census Bureau released 2015 population estimates for South Carolina's most populous cities.