Charleston's African-American Heritage
Famous Folks & Important Facts
1525/1526- A Spanish explorer lands on the coast of South Carolina and tries to build a colony. The attempt to build a colony fails, but before survivors leave, some of the Africans brought on the voyage may have escaped and then intermarried with the Indians in the area.
1670- About 100 English settlers and at least one enslaved African create the first permanent Colony in South Carolina near present-day Charleston. Soon after, the governor brings a family of enslaved Africans to the Colony. In subsequent years, slaves help establish the Colony in many ways, building homes, cooking, sewing, gardening, cattle raising, and providing many forms of skilled labor and artisanship. Approximately one in three of the early settlers is African.
1685- Seed rice arrives in Charleston as a gift from a sea captain whose boat was under repair here. Efforts by the English to grow rice fail. Slaves, who grew rice in Africa, show the English how to grow rice in wet areas. The "rice culture" creates tremendous wealth for the Colony.
1708- The growth of indigo and cotton require more labor, which leads to the importation of more captive Africans. By 1708, the numbers of whites and blacks in South Carolina are about 4,000 each. For the next two centuries (except for a brief period between 1790 and 1820), blacks outnumber whites in the state.