June 20, 2012

South Carolina – “The Palmetto State”

South Carolina


 Just the Facts…

bird – Great Carolina Wren
flower – yellow jessamine
tree – palmetto
capital – Columbia
union – 8th on May 23, 1788
population – about 4  1/2 million





The Basics 

The Carolinas were named after King Charles of England.  “Carolina” is based on the Latin word for Charles – which is “Carolus.”   North and South Carolina started as one colony.  In 1719, South Carolina received its own royal charter.  No one knows exactly why the split occurred – most people attribute it to disagreements between the noblemen who owned the land.

South Carolina is shaped a little bit like a triangle and is between North Carolina, Georgia, and the Atlantic Ocean.  Like many other mid-Atlantic states, the northwestern part of South Carolina is mountainous, which flattens to the Lowlands near the Atlantic Ocean.  In between the Blue Ridge Mountains and the coastline lies the Sandhills region.  Many years ago, the Atlantic Ocean was higher than it is now and the Sandhills were part of the beach – they were giant sand dunes along the coast!

For much of South Carolina’s history, a majority of its population was African American.  But that is no longer the case.  Demographics changed drastically after the “Great Migration” that occurred at the beginning of the 20th Century.  At that time, thousands of African Americans left the South to find work in the factories of the northern states.  Now, about 30% of South Carolina’s population is African American.


Its Claim to Fame

South Carolina was a big player in the Civil War.  It was the first state to secede from the Union.  And, the first battle of the Civil War was fought within its borders at Fort Sumpter in Charleston Bay.

In fact, South Carolina still makes the news today regarding its affection for the Confederate flag.  The flag of the Confederate States of America was raised on top of the Statehouse dome in 1962.  The NAACP fought for years to have the flag removed, even organizing economic boycotts of the state.  Business leaders within the state got involved as well.  Finally, the flag was taken down from the Statehouse dome in 2000 and re-located to a monument honoring Confederate soldiers.  Even today, emotions run high about the issue.

South Carolina is home to many Gullah communities.  The Gullah are African Americans that live in the Lowcountry of South Carolina and Georgia.   The first Gullah were slaves that worked in the rice fields.  Many were brought from a region in West Africa that also had rice fields.  As a result, the Gullah have created a culture and language based on their common traditions and African heritage.  Popular dishes from the Gullah culture are red rice and okra soup.  Gullah have been hand-making baskets out of sweetgrass for over 300 years – a long time ago, the baskets were used to plant and harvest rice.   The Gullah also have a strong history of storytelling – stories have been passed down orally from generation to generation.  Some of them have been recorded – have you heard of Brer Rabbit? It is originally a Gullah story!


What Makes it Tick

Plantations once dominated the landscape in South Carolina, growing tobacco, cotton, rice, and indigo.  Slaves imported from Africa taught the plantation owners how to grow rice and indigo.  By the American Revolution (and up until the Civil War), there were more slaves in South Carolina than white colonists.

After the Civil War, South Carolina’s economy had to change (it could no longer rely on the plantation model).  As a result, textile, lumber and paper mills grew in importance.  These mills relied on power provided by the rivers flowing down from the Blue Ridge Mountains.  The textile mills processed the cotton grown in the region, and the lumber mills took advantage of the acres and acres of forest.

Agriculture is still an important part of South Carolina’s economy.  Now, a wide variety of crops are grown there – cotton, tobacco, peaches, chickens and dairy.


If You Visited

South Carolina has miles and miles of sandy white beaches! If you visited South Carolina, you might travel to the coast for a weekend getaway.  You might build a sandcastle on Myrtle Beach.  Or, you might kayak around Hilton Head Island and search for loggerhead turtles.  If you spotted one you would be very lucky – they are an endangered species.  Loggerhead turtles can live to be 80 years old and grow to be more than 400 pounds!


You might take a horse drawn carriage ride in historic Charleston.  Or you might visit the Magnolia Plantation in Charleston – it has the oldest garden in America!  The Magnolia plantation is over 300 years old, one of the oldest plantations still standing in the South.  The first part of its garden was planted shortly after the mansion was completed and has been expanded many times over the years.  Magnolia Plantation has been owned by the same family since it was built – that is 15 generations!  After the Civil War, the family rebuilt the plantation mansion and opened the gardens to the public.


Want to Know More? 

Do you live in South Carolina? Have you visited South Carolina recently?  We want to hear from you!!  Post a comment at the end of this page.

  • Where is your favorite thing about your state?
  • What is your favorite beach?
  • What is your favorite thing to eat?
  • What is your favorite thing to do?
  • What other special or unique facts do you want to share about your home state?

Do you have any photos of South Carolina to share? Email them to: info@grandtourkids.com. Or, post them to our Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/GrandTourKids

Our tour includes just a few things that are interesting and special about South Carolina.  Visit these websites to learn more: