Monday, January 5, 2009

Barbados: South Carolina's Mother Colony

When most of us were in elementary school, we learned about the English settlement at Jamestown and the Pilgrims' landing at Plymouth Rock. It seemed that all 13 American colonies were settled by people who sailed directly from the British Isles or continental Europe.

But one colony was different. Many of South Carolina's early settlers – and an even higher proportion of its leaders – came from the English colony of Barbados.

Barbados is the most eastern island in the West Indies. It lies off the northeastern coast of South America and is sandwiched between the Atlantic Ocean on its east and the Caribbean Sea on its west. At 166 square miles, Barbados is less than half the size of South Carolina's smallest county, McCormick.

British colonists first arrived in Barbados in 1627, and by 1645 there were 11,200 farms and plantations on the island. In just 18 years sugarcane had become an extraordinarily profitable crop, but one that required lots of land and slave labor.

Land, of course, was limited on Barbados, and many planters decided to sell their property and invest in the newly formed colony of Carolina, where land and the opportunities it provided seemed unlimited.
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