"S" is for Slave Trade. The Atlantic slave trade was one of the most important demographic, social, and economic events of the modern era. Eighteenth century South Carolina was the continent’s leading importer of slaves, importing approximately 100,000 Africans. Crowded and unsanitary conditions, poor food, inadequate water, epidemic diseases, and long voyages made slave ships legendary for their foul smell and high death rates. European profits per slave ship ranged from a low of three percent to as high as fifty-seven percent in the eighteenth century. Sullivan’s Island has been styled the black person’s Ellis Island because large numbers, perhaps even the majority, of enslaved Africans who settled in the American South passed through the island. In the five years before federal prohibition in 1808, almost forty thousand Africans entered the port of Charleston.