This essay attacks the basis of much of our folk culture and American myths. We want to focus on the Pilgrims and the early settlers fleeing to America for religious and economic freedom, the shining city on the hill: Today we want to present these settlers as setting the tone for modern America. However, through this myth we have wiped clean from our collective memories the reality that most of these colonies over the first seventy-five years of settlements were economic disasters. Only when a different model, one not coming from Europe, a model not based on freedom and opportunity, but based on mass slavery, was introduced to North America from the Caribbean, did the economics of the new colonies change rapidly (for the better). This model first came into South Carolina, and spread throughout much of the country from there. This essay argues that while we see our history mainly as the development of the North, in reality, until so recently, the real history and political development of America was dominated by South Carolina and those who followed her model.
How to measure the importance of one state over another is difficult for so many reasons. However, there is a strong case to argue that much of the history of the lands that became the United States, and subsequently the history of the United States altogether, have been influenced by South Carolina perhaps more than by any other state. Since this relatively small and relatively less developed state is not currently an economic or, apparently, social driving force, few people readers of history would point to this state as such an important catalyst in the past and current economic and social makeup of the nation.
However, in this brief review, I hope to show that in fact
· the ideals and economics (and social construct) behind the development of South Carolina created the source of some of what in retrospect appears to be the worst of the history of the US (what Lincoln referred to as the “House Divided”); and
· this influence started in mid- to late-Colonial times, and continued through the creation of states in the expansion West, and to the Civil War; and
· how that influence continued throughout US history past the Civil War into present times.
Today, however, South Carolina is perhaps attempting to create influence in a new and possibly positive fashion that could once again change this country greatly:
· Electing the first female governor of (Asian) Indian descent
Attempting to make the conservative movement more accepting of African American leaders
Therefore continuing the great influence this one state has on the nation.
To understand South Carolina’s seminal influence we need to understand the unique origins of the state of South Carolina as distinct from all the other “original 13 Colonies.” In fact, they were overtly unique in two aspects, and had commonality with only one other colony in another aspect, that one other being New Jersey.
· New Jersey and South Carolina both were created as personal gifts to loyal supporters of the Stuart line during the period of Civil War and the period of “Restoration” to enrich their personal wealth.
· One of the South Carolina’s unique aspects is that, among all the colonies, they were mostly peopled by settlers (voluntary and forced) not directly from the British Islands or Holland (or a few other European countries).
· The other unique aspect is that the colony was majority slave (and therefore majority Black).
In addition, there were three other aspects that made South Carolina different from the other colonies:
· It generally had no concerns about religion or any real conflict with the State of England
· It was extensively pro-nobility and hierarchy, with its founders having very little interest in the interests of anyone other than themselves.
· And, unlike any of the other colonies, they were economically very successful right from the start.
We today have little understanding of the foundations of the eventual thirteen Colonies. Their founding and development were not a neat and orderly process as often presented in our social studies or history classes. At times it appeared there would be only a few official colonies of England, and at other times it looked as if there could be fifteen or more (if Canada was included in the picture).
The process of determining what was a colony and what was not is beyond the scope of this paper, but just to point out a few aspects:
· Originally Carolina was to be one colony, and New Jersey two.
· Vermont was never recognized as a separate entity until after the Revolution, even though the settlers there had established a separate government.
· Almost all of the mid-Atlantic area was one colony and, in fact, not English at all but Dutch.
· The Crown also looked upon the areas of Canada added after the French and Indian wars as more North American colonial areas, more or less the same as the colonies to the south.
So, each of the “thirteen” had a rocky road to establishment and success. But again, South Carolina’s route was different than all of them.
Most of the colonies were created as “refuges” of one form or another. The social and religious wars leading to the creation of the Commonwealth of Cromwell and the eventual collapse of Republican England go well beyond the scope of this paper. However, in one way or the other these wars (and the other religious wars throughout Western and Central Europe) had a great influence on the creation of almost all of what eventually became the “thirteen colonies.” Principally in that almost all were created, or populated, in one form or another by peoples seeking haven for whichever of several religious or social groups who were out of favor in one place or the other. (Massachusetts by Pilgrims, and later other religious dissenters, and then Connecticut and Rhode Island by those oppressed by the Massachusetts new religious establishment, Pennsylvania for Quakers and Maryland for Catholics, Georgia for convicts seeking a new start, etc.)
Another reason of course for colonial development was economics; with the hopes England in this area mainly focused on of Virginia. However the Dutch were great competitors of the British in settling North America south of Canada (along with the French and even the Swedes and Danes) in the realm of economic development as all these countries sought vast new farm lands available, the mass forests and trade with the native peoples for furs. For some forty years, what is now New York, New Jersey and Delaware, along with a goodly part of current-day Pennsylvania, was all part of Dutch North America and just one colony under the Dutch (only to be all lost to the British after one of the three Anglo-Dutch Wars). The English later divided the area into initially five colonies and later four.
While economic in nature, the Dutch were, at least on paper, highly tolerant of religion (except for Catholics). This went so far as requiring (after a court case on the issue) the city of New Amsterdam to be the first to place legally allow Jews to settle in North America. That toleration continued in these areas even after British rule began.
Along with desire for freedom of worship (at least for themselves) and economic opportunities, a third factor driving immigration of new settlers was a motivation to be free of the traditional bonds of the “old world” making most of the settlers strongly “anti-nobility.” This is not to say that most of the settlers were pro-Republican/Cromwell (while many were), or anti-King, which many were not. Most settlers were anti-noble for three main reasons:
· Forced Religious Conformity: With the religious conformity of Europe, for centuries it was assumed that all people (commoners and nobles alike) were Catholic. However, with the conditions created in the lead-up to the English civil war, and then the Republic, religious diversity developed. Nobles pressed to ensure that everyone in their lands followed the religion of the overlord. Therefore, if the noble was a Catholic or an Anglican or a Quaker or a reformed church group of one kind or another, the noble would typically insist that all of his people follow his faith. This pressure led to a new layer of conflict between nobles and “their people” that had not been seen before. Many of those settling in the New World sought to get away from the imposition of a noble’s demand for accepting religions that conflicted with their personal beliefs.
· Avoidance of nobles’ claim to land and taxes: The new world offered the opportunity to almost anyone (male and white that is ) to acquire vast amounts of land the size of which were virtually incomprehensible in Europe of the time, in their own name and free of obligation to any noble (for tax and military obligations or other fees or levels or tithing During the colonial period, no Earl of Maryland or Duke of New England could have been created without massive resistance by the settlers.
· Opportunity for Social Advancement. Along with the economic changes came the ability to create a culture in which social status was not just based on birth (into a noble or royal family) but could be created by personal skill and capacity. This opportunity for advancement was not available to most individuals in the socially rigid nobility- dominated Old World, but was dramatically available in the New.
Therefore, there was a strong anti-nobility concept among most of the colonial settlers (whether English, Dutch, French, German or Swedish). This sentiment ran deep in almost all of the colonies, with the exceptions of Virginia, New Jersey and, eventually, South Carolina.
Now, while the initial leading settlers of Virginia were more inclined to support the concepts of nobility and even longed to obtain titles from the king (as George Washington had wished for long into his adulthood), the majority of Virginians were in line with the new concepts of a New World, where accomplishment was obtained by one’s capacities (and of course, God’s will), rather than by birth. While the leadership of Virginia attempted to create a “new England” in their boundaries (including religious conformity), short of adding nobility, the land areas were so great and the government so limited that outside of the core areas, the settlers were able to do much as they pleased. This “freeholder mentality” of the “frontier” areas was extended south in-to what was called the Carolinas. The original settlers of the Carolinas were so anti-State they mainly refused to even establish towns. The area of North Carolina, filled with small freeholds and highly independent minded people, could not even establish a seat of government for the Revolutionary government until well into the war period.
The attempt to import nobility and pro-noble ideals into the colonies in the newly formed New Jersey failed with the complete corruption and incompetence of the friends of the king given the lands as gift. Eventually, to restore order, and to create a functioning government, the gift was rescinded and the area was made a Crown Colony with a royal governor. The land was mainly peopled by those coming from other colonies and those seeking respite from the economic limitations created by the nobles in England. Therefore the people of this new Crown colonial areas tended to be as anti-noble as most of the other colonies.
Now we come to the founding of South Carolina, and we begin to see how this colony differed from the others in outlook in religion, in economics and even in the origins of its populations. From the history of the development of the area, we see South Carolina’s settlers as
· solidly Anglican and with no religious diversity issues (and with a limited geographic area to control could enforce this conformity if at all needed);
· Not only pro-king, but pro-nobility and all that entails; these were people who were descendants of nobles or clearly noble “want to be”;
· opposed to social change, not seeing the need for social advancement of any class other than themselves.
In addition, the settlers of South Carolina brought a new element into the North American colonies:
· the plantation culture completely dedicated to the concept of an elite ruling basically a slave population (with a small “overseer class” completely dedicated to the “noble” rulers.)
There were virtually no freeholder independent-minded settlers allowed in the area of what became South Carolina (cut out of Carolina through a gift from the king). Those few who had been there prior to the separation of the Carolinas were either forced north or became absorbed into the new social establishment as the overseer cast.
The key to understanding why this area developed so differently than the others in Eastern North America is looking at the origins of the settlers. The first major (and most successful) settlers of South Carolina came specifically because the plantation economy had been well established and the mass enslavement of the population had been in place for some one hundred and seventy years. Furthermore, in South Carolina the new settlers were “nobles,” some in name and some only in wealth and status (though their wealth often bought marriages into nobility).
· For the settlers of South Carolina came from Barbados and other Caribbean Islands, where the Sugar Plantations and the horrific form of chattel slavery that dominated the sugar economies of the New World had been in place, and highly successful, since almost the time of Columbus.
The settlers of South Carolina were therefore not religious or economic or political refugees seeking asylum of some kind; they were children (often the second and third sons of plantation owners who would not inherit the land of their fathers) of highly successful and powerful families coming from an area that was simply was running out of land. They were not looking for a means of creating a “new world”; these people were looking for a means of expanding their “old world” into new areas. They came, dragging their slaves with them, wanting to duplicate the success of their fathers in creating a “plantation culture” (a “more Roman” concept of society then even English) that happened to exploit the cash crop economy of the time: sugar.
To understand this development of these sugar empires, we need to go back even farther into history to the discovery and exploitation of the New World (again, a full discussion of this is well beyond the scope of this paper) We need to understand that after the Spanish had sacked all the wealth of empires of the Native Peoples, the wealth of the New World was in the new food crops found there (and in the vastness of the land available to grow the crops), with the three most important being potatoes, maize (corn) and, most important of all, sugar.
We need to also understand that for the first hundred or so years, all the New World belonged to the Castilians (later to be transformed into Spain) and Portuguese, based on papal Decree. Only with the Reformation and the rejection of the Pope’s laws, could other countries even begin to seek lands in the vast new areas. And only when Spanish power was broken in the ninety-year Dutch War of Independence (and other European political and religious wars) along with the loss of the Spanish fleet (in the effort to suppress English support for their fellow religious reformers; the Dutch), could any effort be made to “colonize” (or steal from Spain and Portugal) any part of the New World.
We also need to understand how little the Spanish really cared about what is call North America. To them this was “ca nada” or the “land of nothing.” To them the real wealth of the new world lay in the lands where sugar could be grown (and potatoes and maize was grown to feed the slaves, at first Native peoples, who quickly died off, and then Africans, imported as replacements for Native populations who worked the sugar plantations).
These areas were also the focus of the new Reformation states (and the big Catholic rival of Spain, France) who began to attack and seize the lands where sugar was grown. At first through “pirates” and then through formal wars or conquests, small but highly valuable lands became part of the territories of the newly rising powers of Western Europe (England, France and Holland, and even Denmark got into the picture a little). England gained Jamaica, Barbados and a number of smaller islands; the Dutch, the ABC islands (Aruba, Bon Air and Curacao); and the French, what is now Haiti, along with some other islands. They also each grabbed a small chunk of South America as well.
· Through these islands, sugar flowed to the “Old World,” transforming both cooking and the social order. Those who went to the “West Indies” and established plantations (and survived the fevers and slave revolts), became incredibly rich.
These colonial upstarts took on airs of lords and masters, to the point that they were seen as an embarrassing mockery of themselves by to the traditional nobles of their period.
And all this time, North America was considered almost economically worthless, except as a source of furs, since the key cash crop of the day, sugar, could not really be grown in most of the area (with the exception of Florida, which the Spanish did maintain as their territory into the 19th Century). The northern lands of America were primarily settled by those who were seeking religious and economic and political asylum, often with much support from those whom they would rebel against, for after all if the dissenters were far, far away from the home of the establishment, they were less likely to cause trouble, or be a local embarrassment.
The economic history of the early North American colonies shows how right the general view of the establishment was. For the most part the colonies struggled, and the freeholders had to supplement their efforts at farming with fur trading, providing Europe with fish and lumber and sending slaves and food stuffs to the Caribbean plantations. The only potential cash crop that seemed to grow well in the area was tobacco and, for many years numerous European countries outlawed its use, though it nonetheless was very popular among the wealthy classes, used as “snuff.” In many ways the early wealth of Virginia was created through the selling of an illegal substance that was snorted up the nose (much like Columbia is gaining wealth today).
Therefore, up until the late 17th and early 18th centuries, North America was looked upon by the European powers as an economic dung hill, but militarily important (protecting the Northern flanks of the Caribbean trade routes). The lands were claimed for national pride (to poke at the very soft underbelly of the Spanish Empire) but little was really done to exploit or develop the area, other than providing for resettling undesirable elements of the society. No real means of making the Colonies profitable could be seen.
The developers of South Carolina changed all of that. They not only brought in the plantation culture, fully developed, but introduced cash crops that were highly valuable and “needed” the plantation culture to be successful: rice and indigo (able to be grown in the marsh lands of South Carolina) . The rice was used to feed the slaves (with surpluses being sold to the Caribbean markets), and indigo to provide dyes for the demand for blue colors among the elite of Europe.
South Carolina, therefore was unlike all of the other colonies in yet another way: they were an economic success basically from the start. And they linked their success to the plantation culture from which they came, which they understood and knew to be successful based on the creation of the sugar states in the Caribbean and elsewhere. For the first time, mass chattel slave culture came into North America and was highly successful.
Slavery at this point (using roughly pre-1700 as the baseline) was legal in almost all of the colonies, and in fact most of the slaves in North America in the beginning of the 18th century were concentrated in the “cities” (New York, Boston, Philadelphia and Charleston) where they worked as household slaves and as stevedores in the ports Many were also rented out to local smaller farmers throughout a colony as “hired hands” or “share croppers” for part of the farming year. ( Many farmers could not afford to maintain a slave all year but gained access to them for critical times (planting and harvesting.)
For a long while there were more White “slaves” then Black ones. Up until the development of the South Carolina Model, most slaves (both Black and white) were indentures who worked for periods of time and then became free people (based on the Bible story of Jacob and Rebecca, the time of indenture usually lasted seven years). Once freed, both Black and white) they had all the rights of all free men (if they were men) and even could become land and slave owners themselves. As noted in most of the colonies, this somewhat held true for Black slaves as well as whites, with some variations on lengths of slavery and rights after freedom. (This is the origins of the free Blacks populations of the North and South among whose historic accomplishments long before the civil war and general emancipation included the first person to be killed in revolutionary activities against the British (Crispus Attucks in the Boston Massacre) and volunteering for what became “the most reliable” regiments for Washington’s army (despite Washington initial rejection of free Black regiments for the revolutionary army).
· At the time of the Revolution there were some 40,000 Free Blacks in the Colonies. Of these some 5,000 fought for the Revolution and perhaps another 20,000 fought for the British many in exchange for freedom from bondage.
Virginia only began to put limits based on color on current and former slaves in the late 17thcentury (including making Black slaves lifelong property). More limits ensued in the 18th century after they began to fully incorporate the South Carolina model in their state. With a few exceptions, Virginia was the only one of the original Colonies with plantation-style farms and with large number of slaves, mainly for tobacco farming. Maryland and Delaware also had some of these styles of farms, but in limited numbers. Prior to the success of South Carolina, most of the slaves in all the colonies were not treated with the cruelty and low regard as the chattel slaves of the sugar areas. Once Virginia changed, the other states followed and they all started to impose harsh limitations on Black slaves (including making them slaves for life.)
The life expectancy of a slave coming from Africa into the sugar industry was only about five years; most of them died quickly and quickly had to be replaced.
Thus the need for a constant flow of slaves in the industry to keep the process moving (and the great profit of the slave traders, including those from New England, flowing). Therefore that’s why, over the first three hundred and fifty years of the New World, 95% of Africans were funneled into the sugar-growing areas of Brazil and the Caribbean. The sugar plantation culture saw no need to look after the general welfare of the slave, nor even to allow the development of families, since the slave was simply a replaceable “thing” that would soon wear out and be replaced again. This was part of the mind-set of the settlers of South Carolina that was not part of the mind-set of even the largest of the tobacco plantations. To the large owners of slaves in the tobacco areas, slaves were valuable and often hard to replace. Whereas in the Caribbean and then in South Carolina, slaves were not of much value because they died quickly and could be quickly replaced. The South Carolina port of Charles Town (soon Charleston) became the point of entry for most of the 5% of slaves who ended up in the new North American slave market, needed to feed the plantation model.
So here is one of the major changes that the founders of South Carolina brought to North America: a massive change in mind-set towards slaves, and especially towards Blacks in general. These founders of South Carolina barely considered the slave human (a social justification for the brutality of the sugar slave system), barely considered them of value. The Black slaves were not slightly different than others, as white indentures or urban Black stevedores as seen in most of the other colonies. To the Caribbean migrants the Black slave was severely different and with no rights under any conditions, and barely a soul. In the Old World, in medieval times most nobles viewed their peasants in almost the same fashion as these New World plantation lords. As noted, they ruled these slaves with all the pretension and power of the ancient Roman or the European noble, or Eastern European boyars.
Despite social revolts and religious revolutions, the nobles living around the development of North America still viewed their peasants as having very limited rights or capacities. In Russia, the “serf” was a person almost akin to the Black slave of the plantations of the Caribbean. In the West the peasant or serf were slightly better viewed. In England, the views were less severe, based mainly on labor shortages. As stated, in the founding of most of the North American colonies, settlers resisted and hated these “noble” views of the world.
However, in the Caribbean world, the limited restrictions on the nobles and limited rights ascribed to the peasant were completely ignored when it came to the Black slave. Here, we find the noble view as if on steroids, stripped of almost all limitations. This “noble” view established itself in North America, through South Carolina, and eventually spread throughout what we refer to as the Southern States, along with the successful plantation model of the Caribbean, into the lands that become Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, East Texas, and Florida. The model also soon supplanted the other plantation models of Virginia and displaced many freeholders in North Carolina. It influenced the views of the settlers of Tennessee, Kentucky, Missouri and Arkansas, especially their views of Blacks, even though the lands of those regions did not fit the model well. Despite the historical trend in the Colonies to hate the power and pretensions of nobles, soon for many that was replaced with awe of the new planter class, a new American nobility only without titles.
Therefore, the initial anti-noble impulses of the founders of the original colonies were successfully challenged by the concepts of the founders of South Carolina, in a third of, if not half, the nation over time. In addition, the view of the Blacks as
· being sub human
· of little value, and
· not worthy of investment of almost any kind
spread not just to what became the South, but throughout most of the nation.
Again, the creation of anti-Black racism in the US and the long and ongoing struggle against this worldview is beyond the scope of this paper. However, clearly this mass hatred of Blacks was first to introduce into the mainstream of what became the United States with the founders of South Carolina, who came up from the Caribbean, where these values and economic models had developed in the creation of the sugar empires of the New World.
Despite the early success of the South Carolina plantation model, there was no assurance that it would become as widely replicated as it did. Rice and indigo could not be grown in most areas, and, while successful in South Carolina, there was not such a huge demand for these products that it could form the basis for the economic development of new areas, also modeled on South Carolina.
Initially, the westward expansion of the new nation in the late colonial and early independent periods came from the land-hungry, freedom-loving, free landholders, much like those that had dominated North Carolina and New England. Tennessee and Kentucky and the failed state of Franklin were initially created by this type frontier people (the Daniel Boone image). It appeared at first that these areas would become regions of small farms with few if any slaves, and strongly anti-noble in nature. However, major economic revolutions occurred that changed the future of these and many other territories, if not the whole nation.
Much of the social and economic revolutions that did occur and that led to the success of the plantation model is again beyond the scope of this paper. However, certain key factors had to independently develop to allow for the spread of the model into other colonies and later into added territories of the new nation. While there were many key events, the three most important were:
· The eventual legalization of tobacco and the eventual spread of smoking the weed instead of just using it for snuff. This created a far greater demand for tobacco, worldwide, and the spreading of tobacco plantations (with great financial success) in the colonies, and later the US, to meet this demand.
· The creation of cotton as the new cash crop with the cost factor of “de-seeding” the plant solved by the creation of the “cotton gin” (1793). The demand for cotton became so great, eventually the term “King Cotton” was used to describe the economic impact it had on the development of wide areas of the new nation (spurring the desires of so many to become plantation owners).
· The creation of the industrial age, which both set off a world-wide massive demand for cotton, for the new textile mills of England and later New England and generated the means for the cotton to be effectively transported from what had been remote lands to distant markets via steam river boats, and railroads).
With these changes, new lands could be opened and used for the new cash crops, and the new crops could be transported to markets. Therefore, the lands of the Southern and Central new nation were prime locations for expansion of the South Carolina model. And these lands were cleared (of both woods and the native peoples who had lived there) and new plantations and eventually new states were developed to meet the cotton demand. Mississippi and Alabama were specifically developed to expand the plantation system, Louisiana was transformed for the model, and eventually Texas was “liberated” from Mexico for a new source of cotton land. (Slavery had to be re-introduced in the new nation of Texas, since Mexico had outlawed the institution some ten years before the battle of the Alamo.)
One of the areas of social needs of the time that did not get too impacted by any inventions of the time was fertilization. Both cotton and tobacco tended to waste the land quickly, and people were unaware of how to revitalize it once it was worn out by the crops. Therefore, part of the cotton mania created in the US by the worldwide demand was the need by the plantation model owners for greater expansion, to gain control of more lands to be exploited and depleted (a version of slash and burn farming techniques). This led to one political crisis after another in the US, including the Louisiana Purchase, the expulsion of the Native Peoples from the southern areas (the Trail of Tears), the acquisition of Florida, the Texas Republic and war with Mexico, as well as intense domestic arguments over the allowance or non-allowance of slavery in these newly added lands.
The intellectual leadership that provoked many of the crises came from South Carolina, with the prime example being John C. Calhoun. It was he who not only almost started the Civil War in the 1830s with his argument for the right of nullification, but it was he who also clearly declared slavery to be a moral and social good.
As noted in the Wikipedia article on the politician,http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_C._Calhoun
Calhoun was shaped by his father, Patrick Calhoun, a prosperous upstate planter who supported Independence during the American Revolutionary War but opposed ratification of the Federal Constitution. The father was a staunch slaveholder who taught his son that one's standing in society depended not merely on one's commitment to the ideal of popular self-government but also on the ownership of a substantial number of slaves. Flourishing in a world in which slaveholding was a badge of civilization, Calhoun saw little reason to question its morality as an adult. … Calhoun believed that the spread of slavery into the back country of his own state improved public morals by ridding the countryside of the shiftless poor whites who had once held the region back. He further believed that slavery instilled in the white who remained a code of honor that blunted the disruptive potential of private gain and fostered the civic-mindedness that lay near the core of the republican creed. From such a standpoint, the expansion of slavery into the backcountry decreased the likelihood for social conflict and postponed the declension when money would become the only measure of self-worth, as had happened in New England. Calhoun was thus firmly convinced that slavery was the key to the success of the American dream.
In a famous speech on the Senate floor on February 6, 1837, Calhoun asserted that slavery was a "positive good." He rooted this claim on two grounds: white supremacy and paternalism.
Here was the conception of the “noble” view of the world fully-exposed.
But Calhoun was just carrying on the tradition of other South Carolina leaders, intent on promoting their ideals onto the rest of the land. It was the South Carolina delegates to the Revolutionary Congress that forced the elimination of the mildest of anti-slavery references in the Declaration of Independence. (Edward Rutledge took the lead in that effort, and who also did all he could to keep free Blacks from joining the Continental Army)
The conflict over slavery was between those who wished to allow the free holders model of most of the original colonies and the Plantation model of South Carolina was the driving force in early American history; the Plantation model won out in most cases. The supporters of the model forced “compromise” after “compromise” (1820, 1850) which allowed for the expanding of the South Carolina model at the expense of the freeholder anti-noble model. Here was “the house divided against itself; half slave half free.”
Another unique aspect of the South Carolina colony and state was a population that was in fact majority slave, as with the Caribbean islands dominated by plantations. Along with the intense racism of the island and South Carolina cultures came intense fear of slave uprisings, or even worse, slave liberation of some kind, or even slave enrichment on any level. This fear explains many actions throughout both Caribbean and US history.
· For example, when the newly created French Republic declared the end of slavery in both France proper and all French colonies, the French plantation owners of Haiti turned themselves over to England, their arch rivals, in order to preserve the existing order. (The slaves rose in revolt in the name of France, beat the English, only to have to fight against the slave support Napoleon later.)
It also explains why South Carolina, the colony most in favor of noble and elitist society, would side with the revolution, and in fact be the first to declare independence from the king. For two forces played into? the actions of South Carolina;: the pressure by England to create a standard Crown law everywhere, and the ruling of the Crown Courts that slavery was not legal in England proper (Sullivan vs. the Crown 1772). Therefore, in the eyes of South Carolina, if a standard Crown law was imposed, slavery would become illegal throughout all of the British Empire. Therefore, after Sullivan, South Carolina became the leading Southern voice in favor of independence. (Even thought at the time the Sullivan ruling was specific to England proper and had no impact on the colonies, the fear of the potential outlawing of slavery was enough to drive South Carolina to revolution.)
Later, after extensive efforts to have no limits on slavery in the US, when the new Republican party won for the first time, with Lincoln, with a platform to limit the expansion of slavery in the West (no direct threat to existing status of current slaves), South Carolina headed up the secessionist movement, became the first state to actually secede, and provoked the Civil War, when negotiations and compromises were being offered, by firing on the Federal Fort Sumter. As with Sullivan, the Republicans offered no direct threat to existing slavery, the fear of any limits and potential political impacts later led South Carolina once again in to revolution.
When the war was lost, once again South Carolina (along with Mississippi, as state founded on the South Carolina model) provided leadership to the plantation orientated states by introducing the Black Codes, which created a virtual state of slavery for the newly emancipated Blacks. While forced to be repealed by the Reconstruction governments, they came back within a few years under the guise of what was called “Jim Crow” laws which created the American Apartheid system that, along with the Black Codes, dominated Southern life for over 100 years.
Once again, when the first efforts to address the racial inequities of Southern life came to the fore, starting in the 1940s, it was South Carolina that provided the “moral,” intellectual and political leadership against all efforts to end segregation. Primarily this effort was personified by the long serving senator and presidential candidate of the States Rights Party (also known as the “Dixicrats”), Strom Thurman. In the critical election of 1948, the party carried South Carolina along with Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana, the states most founded on the South Carolina model, nearly costing the Democratic Party the election.
The transformation of the South from a completely race-based oligarchy, a “noble” system, to the current society is again beyond the scope of this paper. However, it should be noted that South Carolina was one, if not the most resistant state to the Federal mandates to integrate society. Yet again, this state provided what became an intellectual basis for resistance, through what was called "segregationist folk theology," a blending of Biblical and social justifications that echo John Calhoun.
· The paper of the capital “State of Columbia”, urges all Southern states to resist together, for if any state gave in, it made it harder for others to resist. (See Massive Resistance, Southern Opposition to the Second Reconstruction.)
The historical tradition that had always kept South Carolina leading the efforts to maintain white supremacy and a “noble” view of society continued on late into the 20th century, having changed little in outlook than its founders.
From this brief review, it is clear that South Carolina is the origins of much of the race and class issues that have caused such pain and social conflict throughout the United States. It is clear that the economic success of the plantation model, and the massive support for the old world elitist noble concepts of society spread out from South Carolina, to be directly mimicked throughout the whole “deep South” and was envied and accepted by many people in all the South. In addition the deep hatred and great fear of the Black slave inherent in the Plantation culture soon became ingrained in American life in the form of White racism throughout the land. This inherent racism and long-time acceptance of slavery and Black peonage has dominated political and social issues for most of the history of this nation.
· Therefore, South Carolina’s role as the colony in which this culture was created and dispersed and supported, makes South Carolina the most important state in US history, the one that has influenced the politics and culture of the nation the most.
And, as this nation has evolved out of the plantation concept and become more diverse, through constant waves of immigration (mainly to areas other than the Deep South), and as the mixture of the old colonial views of the freeholders and modern national views of equality forms a new American culture, the holders of “conservative values” (the evolved successors of the noble class and the “Know Nothings” and “Dixicrats” and the aging white racist voters) are losing power (at least in national elections). Experts all point to the changing demographics as the potential death-knell of the remnants of those so influenced by the South Carolina of the past, which currently seems to dominate the Republican Party.
However, once again South Carolina is providing the political and intellectual framework that may yet allow for the continuation of what they see as conservativeness, while working to actually move away from the racist foundation of the past. Currently the leadership of South Carolina has moved to attempt to make “conservatism” no longer for whites only. They are attempting to make their values appeal to minorities and to women.
· If we look at the government of South Carolina, we see a very conservative governor, who is of East Indian descent. We also see that she, with almost no opposition from the white elite of the state, appointed a very conservative African American to the U.S. Senate.
This is not to say that South Carolina continues to be a virtual single party state (as it has been since its founding) nor are the parties in the state really integrated; in general the party of the whites is still Republican and the party of the Blacks is still Democratic.
However, this change in which an African American can be appointed to the Senate from South Carolina, and become the leading contender to win the special election for the seat in 2014, shows a dramatic change of events in the South, one in which race and race hatred takes a back seat to the concept of “conservative values.” We could get an inkling of this type of change coming through the actions of Strom Thurman when he actually hired as a staff member, James Meredith, the first Black man to attend the University of Mississippi (and whose enrollment set off wild riots of protest).
We can see and hear the differences in the “new South” where white governors speak openly of racial equality and the “mistakes of the past.” We hear them argue that the Voting Rights Act is no longer needed since all the restrictions against voting have been removed.
And we know that mostly it is a façade. Most of these states have gerrymandered the Blacks into underrepresentation, and no African American has won a statewide office in any former Confederate state.
· South Carolina is 1/3 Black with only one Black Democratic member of Congress (the other eight in safely designed districts, are all white male conservatives).
Perhaps it can only be South Carolina, the traditional Southern states leader, who can lead the rest of the South to really put aside race hatred and once again become the most important state in the Union in this time. If Tim Scott, the appointed Senator, does win statewide election in 2014, it will truly be a landmark occurrence, once again coming from South Carolina.