When Rice Was King

The cultivation of rice in South Carolina began in the late 1600s. By the time of the American Revolution, it had created the largest concentration of wealth in the American colonies. The knowledge and labor of slaves from Africa’s Windward Coast were major factors in the making of this wealth. However, South Carolina’s rice culture experienced heavy tolls due to the Civil War, emancipation and hurricanes. Its passing, along with that of the grand cotton plantations, ended a way of life. The economic and social impact of the state’s rice culture created a legacy that remains today.

 

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When Rice Was King (1): Intro
When Rice Was King (1): Intro

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Before the American Revolution, the 300 mile coast line of South Carolina was known as the "Kingdom of Rice." Charleston was considered the richest city in Colonial America.
When Rice Was King (6): Tidal Irrigation
When Rice Was King (6): Tidal Irrigation

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Planters made the transition from swamp based rice-growing, to using tidal irrigation. With tidal irrigation, planters used a series of dikes and dams to control the flow of water into rice fields.
When Rice Was King (7): Georgetown
When Rice Was King (7): Georgetown

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By 1800, Georgetown was known as the land where planters all made fortunes with rice plantations. In 1839, Georgetown alone produced nearly half of America's Rice.
When Rice Was King (10): Slave Lifestyle
When Rice Was King (10): Slave Lifestyle

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An essay called "The Successful Planter," published in 1832, outlined a system of every day life for slaves living on plantations. State law in the 1830s forbade the education of slaves, but many...