“A” is for African Americans
“A” is for African Americans. The first African Americans to live in what is now South Carolina were enslaved persons in the sixteenth century Spanish settlements of San Miguel de Gualdape and Santa Elena. English settlers created an agricultural economy based upon enslaved labor. Some twenty-five West African ethnicities have been identified among the enslaved population. By 1708 African Americans comprised a majority of the colony’s population. A century later when the eternal slave trade was closed, it was estimated that forty percent of the enslaved persons brought to the United States had come through the port of Charleston. Regardless of individuals’ status, the presence of a large African American population throughout South Carolina’s more than 350 years of settled history has had a significant impact of the state’s cultural, economic, and political development.