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L” is for Land Granting

South Carolina A to Z larger logo

“L” is for Land granting. The granting of land was of immense importance in establishing and shaping South Carolina. The granting of lands by “headrights” (generally fifty acres) was determined by the size of the grantee’s family. Hence the larger the family, the larger the grant. Indentured servants and enslaved persons were counted as family for the purpose of land grants. The Lords Proprietors and the royal government granted land to encourage immigration, to reward beneficial services, to encourage investments in the colony, and to secure revenue. The headrights, while encouraging immigration, also encouraged the acquisition of a large number of enslaved Africans. After the American Revolution, the state of South Carolina continued to issue land grants until the Civil War, albeit at a slower pace as the amount of public land was declining. The practice of land granting virtually died out by 1878.

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Dr. Walter Edgar has two programs on South Carolina Public Radio: Walter Edgar's Journal, and South Carolina from A to Z. Dr. Edgar received his B.A. degree from Davidson College in 1965 and his Ph.D. from the University of South Carolina in 1969. After two years in the army (including a tour of duty in Vietnam), he returned to USC as a post-doctoral fellow of the National Archives, assigned to the Papers of Henry Laurens.