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“B” is for Beaufort County

“B” is for Beaufort County (587 square miles; 2020 population: 195,656). Beaufort County occupies the southernmost corner of South Carolina. Geographically, Beaufort has generally been defined by the Combahee and Salkehatchie Rivers on the northeast, the Savannah River on the Southwest, and the Atlantic Ocean on the Southeast. Beaufort has one of the oldest records of European settlement on the North American continent, including the French on Parris Island (1566), the Spanish at Santa Elena (1566-1587), the Scots at Stuart Town (1684-1686). From one of the wealthiest areas in the state prior to 1860, the county—with an overwhelmingly large Black population—became one of the poorest. That began to change in the twentieth century with the presence of federal military installations and wealthy beachfront communities. In 2020, Beaufort County had the second highest per capita income in the state.

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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.