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"C" is for Cotton

South Carolina From A to Z
SC Public Radio
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"C" is for Cotton. Cotton served as an important staple crop during the antebellum period and continued as the foundation of the state’s economy through World War II. Two basic types of cotton have been grown in South Carolina. The cultivation of Sea Island or long-staple cotton was restricted to coastal areas south of Charleston. Upland or short staple cotton was successfully grown in the interior and accounted for the spread of the plantation system throughout most of the state. As late as 1820 South Carolina produced more that one-half of the nation’s cotton. By 1911, production in South Carolina reached its peak at 1.6 million bales. Production declined dramatically after World War II, dropping to a low of 53,000 bales in 1983. However, since then cotton production—concentrated in the inner coastal plain—has rebounded.

Dr. Walter Edgar has two programs on South Carolina Public Radio: Walter Edgar's Journal, and South Carolina from A to Z. Dr. Edgar receivedhisA.B.degreefromDavidson 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.