The first Europeans arrived along the unexplored coastal areas of the Carolinas (north and south) in the early 16th century. Native American residents in what is now called South Carolina included the Catawba, Cherokee, and Yamasee tribes.
The French and Spanish tried to establish permanent settlements, but all failed. In 1670, the English settlement near present day Charleston was finally established. The entire territory (from north to south) was named Carolina after King Charles II of England, and it would later be divided into the British provinces of South Carolina and North Carolina.
Eager settlers kept arriving, large plantations were established along the coastal lowlands and countless slaves from Africa. toiling long and hard in the rice and indigo fields. Rice was so profitable that by 1730, over 20 million pounds were being exported.
Charleston was now an important trading port, and as the interior of this new land began to develop, the Native Americans were pushed west, and eventually their ancestral home here was lost.
The British saw that the opportunity to tax the newfound wealth of America’s colonies and one of the richest, South Carolina, was no exception. Particularly disturbed by the Tea Tax, powerful landowners and merchants revolted, and in 1776, South Carolina declared its independence from Britain.
The American Revolutionary War was fought bravely on many fronts, and according to historical accounts, South Carolina witnessed more fighting than any other colony. At the end of the war, South Carolina ratified the United States constitution and officially became the eighth state to join the Union on May 23, 1788.
- Topschoolsintheusa: Guides to study in South Carolina, including geography, climate, economy, and tourism of the state.
- A2zcamerablog: Offers general information about South Carolina, covering history, population, economy and county list.
- Campingship: State outline of South Carolina, including geography location, state capital, brief history and a list of largest counties by area.
After the war, the state’s economy exploded; The cotton invention of gin turned cotton into a significant crop, and, when combined with the profits of tobacco, South Carolina was on a roll. Beneath this fabric of success, the wealth gained from the endless toil of black slaves was festering, a burning issue between North and South.
On December 20, 1860, South Carolina seceded from the union, the first of the Southern states to do so. When the newfangled Confederate troops fired on Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor on April 12, 1861, it ignited America’s civil war, a conflict that would eventually nearly destroy the southern states.
South Carolina timeline
- (1521) First recorded Spanish expedition reached Carolina coast
- (1524) First French ship explored the Carolina coast
- (1526) Spanish settlement, San Miguel de Guadalupe near Winvah Bay; failed within one year
- (1562) French attempted settlement of Charlesfort on Parris Island; failed within one year
- (1566) Spanish built coastal forts to discourage French settlements
- (1629) King Charles I granted a charter to Sir Robert Heath for all territory between 31° and 36° N (from Albermarle Sound in North Carolina to Jekyll Island off the coast of Georgia)
- (1663) King Charles II granted the area of Carolina to the Eight Lords Propritors
- (1666) Captain Robert Sanford explored, named Ashley River; took formal possession of the Carolina area for England and Lord Propritors
- (1669) Fundamental Constitution of Carolina approved by Lord Propritors; guaranteed religious freedom
- (1670) First permanent settlements of England and capital, Charlestown, (Charleston) founded; City Assembly established a tax-supported free library
- (1680) First French Huguenot group arrived; Charlestown moved to Oyster Point, current site
- (1700) Hurricane hit Charleston, 98 killed
- (1706) French, Spanish attacked Charlestown during Queen Anne’s War; colonial forces captured a French ship and crew
- (1712) Carolina Territory divided into North and South; each had its own governor
- (1713) Hurricane struck; severe flooding, 70 killed
- (1715 – 1717) Yemassi Indian Wars
- (1718) Pirate Blackbeard sailed into Charlestown Harbour; took hostages for ransom; Pirate Stead Bonnet captured, hanged in Charlestown
- (1719) Citizens of South Carolina riot against Lord Propritors; James Moore elected governor
- (1721) South Carolina became a British colony; General Sir Francis Nicholson appointed Governor
- (1728) Passenger, transportation service started between Charlestown and New York
- (1729) Seven Lords Proprietors surrendered to King George II
- (1730) Nine towns are located; settlers began to move into the interior
- (1730 – 1739) An estimated 20,000 enslaved Africans were brought to South Carolina
- (1739) 40 blacks, 21 whites died in Stono slave revolt
- (1740) Fire Rushed Through Charlestown
- (1742) Spanish prevented from taking Charlestown to the Battle of the Bloody Marsh
- (1747) Covenant signed with Choctaw Indians; the agreement established trade with the Choctaw Indians in order not to attack the French settlements
- (1752) Hurricane struck, 103 killed
- (1760 – 1761) Cherokee Wars
- (1761) Cherokee War ended; The agreement opened the land to settlement; Generosity Act Offered Tax Free Public Land for 10-Year-Old Inland, settlers began to move in
- (1769) Nine judicial districts established
- (1774) Henry Middleton, John and Edward Rutledge, Thomas Lynch, Christopher Gadsden named delegates to the First Continental Congress; Middleton elected President of the Continental Congress
- (1775) First Carolina Provincial Congress met
- (1776) First the main battle of the Revolution; 15 British warships, 1,500 troops attack Ft. Moultrie called away; Declaration of Independence arrives in Charlestown
- (1777) New state government required every male citizen to denounce the King, pledge loyalty to state
- (1778) Major fire in Charlestown destroyed many buildings, arson suspected
- (1779) British prepared sea and land expedition against Charlestown; General Washington sent 1,400 Continental troops to Charlestown
- (1780) British troops landed on Seabrook Island, warships anchored within range of the broad surface of Charlestown, the army crossed the Ashley River and erected a line of parapets; surrounded civilian population; the siege lasted 40 days; Charlestown surrendered to the British
- (1781) Revolutionary leader, Colonel Isaac Hayne, hanged by the British outside the city limits of Charlestown; US forces retake most of South Carolina advanced to within 15 miles of Charlestown
- (1782) British army defeated; departed Charlestown
- (1783) Charlestown renamed Charleston
- 1785) Legislation of the General Assembly disposed of districts, established district courts
- (1786) Capital moved from Charleston to Columbia
- (1788) South Carolina became 8th state
- (1792) Law passed – all free blacks between 16 – 50 to pay an annual “poll tax” of $2.00
- (1804) Hurricane hit South Carolina
- (1822) Vesey Plot of Denmark discovered (Vesey and other slave followers planned to capture Charleston, kill most whites, escape to the Caribbean or Africa); Vesey and 33 others hung
- (1830) First steam locomotive in the United States began passenger service between Charleston and Hamburg, South Carolina
- (1838) Fire destroyed much of Ansonborough
- (1843) The Citadel opened to the first class of cadets
- (1860) South Carolina first claims to secede from Union before Civil War
- (1861) First shots of civil war fired by Confederate forces at Sumter; Union calls sunk “Stone Fleet” in Charleston harbor channel
- (1862) Allies repulsed Union attack at the Battle of Sexeshenville on James Island; Simmons’ Bluff battle happened, victorious Alliance
- (1863) Confederate fleet attacked by Allied ironclads; The Union sent a fleet of warships to attack Ft. Sumter; Union attack on Battery Wagner in Morris Island led by an all black unit; 587-Day Bombardment of Downtown Charleston Begins
- (1864) Confederate submarine sank the Housatonic Union
- (1865) General Sherman’s troops reached Middleton Place Plantation, left it in ruins; burned Colombia; the civil war is over
- (1868) South Carolina re-admitted to the Union; a new written constitution; Senator B.F. Randolph killed by radical whites in Abbelville County
- (1869) Joseph Rainey first African American in South Carolina to become an American Representative
- (1886) Low Country, struck by about 7.5 earthquakes, 83 killed, $6 million in damages
- (1925) New dance craze in Charleston pubs, dance halls began, spread across country called “Charleston”
- (1934) George Gershwin arrived in Charleston to write Porgy and Bess, the first American opera
- (1954) Hurricane Hazel hit Garden City, left two of 275 habitable homes; severe coastal damage has occurred
- (1963) Rivers High School in Charleston became the first racially integrated high school in South Carolina
- (1964) Civil Rights Act passed; segregation ends
- (1968) The Orangeburg massacre on the K. State campus occurred; three students killed, 28 injured
- (1970) Angry whites overturned a school bus with young black children on a way to consolidate local schools in Lamar; the state restored the order, enforced the law
- (1986) Lake City native, astronaut and physicist Ron McNair killed in the Shuttle Challenger explosion
- (1989) Hurricane Hugo hit; barrier islands lost 80% of their homes; Charleston suffered significant damage; total losses $2.8 billion
- (1990) Hurricane Klaus hit; 80 bridges destroyed, 40 more damaged; secondary roads were washed away
- (1995) Divers discover the wreck of H. L. Hongli Federal Submarine in the waters off Sullivan’s Island
- (2000) South Carolina removed last Confederate flag flying above US State Legislature Building
- (2002) 100-year-old Senator Strom Thurmond retires
- (2004) Hurricane Gaston caused major flooding; damaged structures
- (2007) Nine firefighters killed in furniture store fire in Charleston
- (2009) Atlantic Coast Conference moved three future baseball tournaments out of state due to issues from NAACP over state-sponsored display of the Confederate flag
- (2010) Legislation introduced the mandate of gold and silver to replace the federal currency in the state
- (2011) State immigration laws challenged by 16 countries from Latin America and the Caribbean