Caribbean Project: The Barbados-South Carolina Connection

South Carolina was founded by settlers from Barbados
South Carolina was founded by settlers from Barbados

South Carolina

The Barbados-South Carolina connection has come up in a discussion at Civil War Talk.

There’s a thread over there that links to an old post here where I shared an excerpt from Colin Woodard’s book, American Nations.

In December, I stopped at a Barnes and Noble in Greenville when I was in South Carolina for the League of the South’s Lindsey Graham protest. After looking through the local book section, I bought a book by Jack Bass and W. Scott Poole called The Palmetto State: The Making of Modern South Carolina.

Here’s an excerpt from “The Beginning”:

“South Carolina developed as the only English colony in North America where slavery had been entrenched from the very beginning. Although the earlier colonists of Virginia had first experimented with slavery early in the seventeenth century, it was the hard- and high-living English planters on the Caribbean island of Barbados who perfected the oppressive system of chattel slavery in the 1830s. Their system became the model for the Carolina settlement, and sons of Barbadian planter families – seeking new lands and new staple crops – became a significant part of the original Charles Town settlement …

Most of the Lords Proprietors already had strong Caribbean connections. Ashley Cooper, in addition to a Caribbean plantation, also held a financial interest in the Royal African Company, the major English financial concern involved in the transatlantic slave trade. Moreover some of South Carolina’s most prominent families, including the Draytons and the Middletons, can trace their lineage directly to Barbadian settlers. The first Africans in the colony had been slaves in Barbados. Some historians refer to South Carolina as “the colony of a colony” because of the strong Barbadian influence. Barbadian architectural influence is also found in Charleston, especially the single houses – a single room wide with their downstairs and upstairs piazzas, or porches, to catch the breezes.”  (Jack Bass and W. Scott Poole, The Palmetto State: The Makings of Modern South Carolina, pp.3-4)

We’ve discussed this at length.

Just as Yankees settled New Hampshire (and the rest of New England) from their base in Massachusetts, South Carolina was founded by “culture bearing” settlers spreading out from their “cultural hearth” in Barbados who had already spread their culture across the Leeward Islands and Jamaica.

Paul M. Pressly’s book On the Rim of the Caribbean: Colonial Georgia and the British Atlantic World discusses how migrating South Carolina planters took over Georgia – “Colonial Georgia was West Indian rather than North American.” Adam Rothman’s Slave Country: American Expansion and the Origins of the Deep South shows how this culture spread west into Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana.

6 Comments

  1. South Carolina was founded by “culture bearing” settlers spreading out from their “cultural hearth”

    Is there a lesson for today? Perhaps how Southern nationalists, race realists, etc., can spread White culture? White people conquered a continent in the 19th century. There’s no reason they could not reconquer it–if they had the vision and political will.

  2. @DixieGirl The real key to understanding our past is primogeniture—the fact that the eldest son inherited the estate in Britain. The younger heirs were lucky to get a free ticket to America. Primogeniture was enforced by either law or custom in most of Western Europe.

    Another key, is the merchant factor back in England, regardless if you were in South Carolina, Virginia, or the Caribbean you still had to deal with the factor back in England if you wanted almost anything. Much of George Washington’s correspondence right up to the American Revolution was with his factor back in England. Interesting stuff…Hunter should examine it.

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