Learn more about the plantation system, politics, and culture of antebellum South Carolina.
- Sarah Grimke
Sarah and her sister became active abolitionists who spoke out against slavery.
- Henry Du Pre Bounetheau
Explore miniature portraits painted by this Charleston artist.
- Andrew Jackson and the Trail of Tears
Read the slides to find out more about our 7th president.
- John C. Calhoun
Find out more about John C. Calhoun, a politician and vice-president from present-day McCormick County.
- The Brooks-Sumner Affair
What led a House of Representatives member from South Carolina to brutally beat a Senator with his cane?
See also the section on Slavery for more information about slavery and the plantation system.
- The Pre-Civil War South
Read about the South’s economy and politics in the years leading up to the Civil War.
- The Cultural Landscape of the Plantation
Read the words of former slaves as they tell about slave life on plantations.
- A Portion of the People: 300 Years of Southern Jewish Life
Jewish South Carolinians have been living in Charleston since the founding of the Carolina colony.
- Catalogue of the trustees, faculty, and students of the South Carolina College, January, 1834
In 1834, there were only 50 students and 8 teachers at the school now known as the University of South Carolina.
- Midwives and Herbal Medicine
Before the pharmacy and aspirin, find out what herbs and plants people used to treat illnesses.
- Charleston's Free People of Color
In 1850, 33% of the state's free black population lived in Charleston.
- South Carolina Plantations
Learn more about the plantation homes in your community.
- South Carolina Governor’s Mansion
Many artifacts and furniture in the Governor’s Mansion are from antebellum South Carolina.
- The Mann-Simons Cottage
The Mann-Simons Cottage in Columbia was originally built in 1825-30 and was one of a few houses in South Carolina owned by free blacks.
Excerpt of 1833 South Carolina transportation map showing 136 mile route of rail road from Charleston to Hamburg, built and operated by the South Carolina Canal and Rail Road Company. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress.
- Antebellum Maps
Maps from around the state show where people lived and gathered.
- Removal of Southern Indians, 1830-1834
See where Indian tribes from Southern states were relocated.
- War of 1812 and the Seminole War
Many South Carolinians fought in these two wars. See a coat worn by Major General William R. Butler in the War of 1812.
- War of 1812 and and the Battle of New Orleans
Major General Andrew Jackson led the American forces, who defeated the British in the final major battle of the War of 1812.
- The Mexican War
The Mexican War was fought from 1846-48 and many of the soldiers became leaders and generals in the Civil War.
- South Carolina in the Mexican War
Learn more about the Palmetto Regiment that fought in Mexico. The first flag to fly over Mexico City was the regimental flag of the Palmetto Regiment.
- The Best Friend of Charleston
Running for less than a year in 1830-1, The Best Friend of Charleston was the first steam locomotive in the US used for regularly scheduled passenger service.
- South Carolina Railroutes, 1856
By 1856, there were established railroad routes throughout South Carolina.
- South Carolina & Georgia Railroad
Take a look at the timetable and maps for this railroad, which opened in 1833.
- The South Carolina Canal and Rail Road Company
The South Carolina Railroad was the first large-scale steam railroad in the world. It carried cotton and passengers from Charleston to Hamburg.
Explore with Discus*
* Requires access to the Discus databases. Learn more here.
- King Cotton
King Cotton was an expression popularized by Senator James Hammond in 1858, saying “You dare not make war on cotton-no power on earth dares make war upon it. Cotton is king.”
- History of Cotton
Read about the history of cotton in the United States.
- Jacksonian Democracy
President Andrew Jackson became a symbol of the political power of the common people. The power of the national government was strengthened while he was in office at the expense of states’ rights.