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“A” is for African Americans

South Carolina From A to Z
SC Public Radio

“A” is for African Americans. The first African Americans to live in what is now South Carolina were enslaved persons in the sixteenth century Spanish settlements of San Miguel de Gualdape and Santa Elena. English settlers created an agricultural economy based upon enslaved labor. Some twenty-five West African ethnicities have been identified among the enslaved population. By 1708 African Americans comprised a majority of the colony’s population. A century later when the eternal slave trade was closed, it was estimated that forty percent of the enslaved persons brought to the United States had come through the port of Charleston. Regardless of individuals’ status, the presence of a large African American population throughout South Carolina’s more than 350 years of settled history has had a significant impact of the state’s cultural, economic, and political development.

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.