"S" is for Slavery. Africans were present at the founding of South Carolina and within several decades became a majority of the population. By 1740, only 15,000 of the 45,000 people in South Carolina were white. Although the demographics were not as extreme as in the West Indies, the disequilibrium was more than sufficient to make the colony unique in North America. Reacting to the Stono Rebellion of 1740, the colony passed it most comprehensive slave law. The 1740 slave code was the basis for all slave laws subsequently enacted in South Carolina until 1865. The cultivation of short staple cotton led to the expansion of slavery throughout the state and to the full maturity of the slave society in South Carolina. By 1860, 45.8 percent of white families in the state owned slaves.