The Challenging Environment of Colonial South Carolina

While reading through Taylor’s American Colonies and Weir’s Colonial South Carolina, I was particularly interested in how both men describe the environment of South Carolina at that time. The environment of South Carolina, as any person would know from being in the state, is one of extremes and frequent changes. There are many annoyances such as mosquitos, humidity, and frequent carolinamap_1729flooding. All of these things that are bothersome to us today made settling the Carolinas a very difficult endeavor.

For my research, I would like to focus on the environment of colonial South Carolina and its effects on the colonists’ settlement and health. One of my sources is a letter from Thomas Ashe titled “Carolina, or a Description of the Present State of that Country,” written in 1682. The letter goes into vivid detail of what the environment and climate is of South Carolina at that time. Ashe describes an abundance of fertile land and the various fruits and vegetables that were available, but he also goes on to describe the challenges the colonists faced with the clay-filled and sand-filled dirt of the lowcountry, and the drastic changes in climate from day-to-day and from one part of the colony to another.

My other source is a bit more random, but it provides both a direct, scientific account of the environment and climate of South Carolina, as well as some social accounts. “The South-Carolina Almanack, for the Year of our Lord 1755” is quite simply an almanac. However, it is particularly james-riverinteresting to see the constant temperature changes in the colony that Ashe mentions, as well as historical events such as the flooding of Charlestown.

Together, these two sources give an interesting perspective on life in colonial South Carolina at a time where all modern luxuries were non-existent. We Southerners of today believe that we can relate to the Carolina colonists who faced extreme heat and humidity, mosquitos, and downtown flooding, but we cannot even begin to imagine facing these obstacles without our technological conveniences.

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