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The Wonders of South Carolina

South Carolina reaches from the Atlantic Ocean on the east to the Blue Ridge Mountains on the west, covering approximately 31,000 square miles of beautiful country, with magnificent lakes and rivers. The Spanish explorer de Soto came to the coast in 1514, met the Queen Of Cofitachiqui in 1540 and left without any settlements being established.  Not much is known of the Cofitachiqui indians, since they are extinct now, but when de Soto came and met the Queen, they were thought to be one of the most powerful and civilized tribes in the southeastern U.S.  Huguenot Jean Ribaut tried settling on Parris Island in 1562, but after he left for more people and soldiers, the soldiers left revolted and built a ship to take them back to France. In 1566, Fort San Felipe was built on Parris Island by the Spanish, called it Santa Elena and it became the capital of the La Florida territory. Native Americans captured it in 1576, but the Spaniards took it back the next year and rebuilt it. Sir Francis Drake destroyed St. Augustine in Florida, so the soldiers left Fort San Felipe to build up the fort in St. Augustine, in 1587. Native Americans retook the land and kept it until the English settlement in 1670.

The Carolinas were originally deeded to 8 Englishmen by King Charles II, who brought settlers from the island of Barbados. They also brought the plantation slave economy and the territory was more a copy of that politico-eco system than any other province in the country. Their diseases devastated the Indian nations and caused the Yemassee War of 1715. Since many of the settlers became experienced fighters, they decided they had enough of the English noblemen and bought them out in 1719. Rice and indigo became the main staples of the land and by 1750, the planters and merchants in the area were the wealthiest men in the continent. Still worried about the French and Spanish, the leaders of the territory called for more settlers to come in. By 1790, the white majority was made up of Irish-Scots, Germans and Welsh settlers; but when the economy went from rice and indigo to cotton, the plantations grew and the slaves regained the majority.  South Carolina, considered to be part of the deep south, was one of the 13 original colonies that declared their independence from England at the beginning of the American Revolution. In the beginning, the area was part of the Carolinas, named so because the King of England was Charles I or Carolus in Latin. Settlers from Barbados came to the land in 1670, even though they felt threatened by the French and Spanish to the south; who were Roman Catholics and enemies of the Protestant England. Needing people as soon as they could come, they offered freedom of religion to anyone settling the land. This enticed Jews, Presbyterians, Huguenots, Baptists and Quakers. Jewish settlers were reliable citizens and many came escaping from the Spanish Inquisition. During this period though, most immigrants were actually African slaves, and they made up the bigger part of the settlements. The upper part of the Carolinas were settled mostly by Irish-Scots who migrated there from Pennsylvania and Virginia. The area split up in 1712, becoming North Carolina in the north and South Carolina in the southern areas.

South Carolina was the first southern state to secede from the Union, was also the first to break from England in 1776, and the first to ratify the Articles of Confederation; creating the United States of America, in 1778. The U.S. Constitution was put before the 13 colonies or states in September, 1787 and South Carolina signed it in May, 1788; becoming the 8th state to do so.

An estimated 25,000 slaves migrated, fled or died during the revolution, with many fighting for the English and left when they did.  The state suffered many volatile actions, beginning in 1783, through 1795, then again in 1860 when it seceded from the Union and started shelling Fort Sumter on April 12, 1861. No major battles occurred in the state during the Civil War, although Sherman did march through the state in 1865, burning many plantations and finally coming to Columbia, burned almost the entire city. After the war, the state was overrun with carpetbaggers, scalawags and freedmen as reconstruction began, backed by Union troops. Then again in 1890, with various political movements to make sure that the African freemen weren't involved in the voting process. At one point in 1900, over fifty percent of the state was black and they had no representation in the state congress at all.
During the 20th century, the state had an active textile industry, but by 2007, it was way down. The farmers and growers switched from cotton to more valuable crops, the state received military bases, tourism began to grow and now the state is getting European industries to come.

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South Carolina Tours

Tours in South Carolina

The state has many wonderful National Parks and a few monuments, including: Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail, Charles Pinckney National Historic Site at Mt. Pleasant, Ninety Six National Historic Site in Ninety Six, Congaree National Park in Hopkins, Kings Mountain National Military Park at Blacksburg, Cowpens National Battlefield by Chesnee, Fort Sumter National Monument in Charleston Harbor, and Fort Moultrie National Monument at Sullivan's Island.

In Charleston, you can take a kayak tour down Quenby Creek paddling into the Cooper River, or another that goes along Awendaw Creek into the salt marshes by the ocean and one area that was a settlement of Sewee Indians. The Edisto River, reputed to be the longest free-flowing blackwater river in the world goes through 12 counties and includes a lunch break on a sandbar; here you can wonder about Edisto Indians that lived here many years ago. Another kayak tour is along the Barrier Islands, salt marshes, Indian Shell mounds and enjoy the tranquility of the Cape Romain Wildlife Refuge. If you really enjoy kayaking, then take the Wadboo Creek and Swamp tour that has you going up the creek past beautiful limestone cliffs full of caves and crevices, then turn around in the swamp and paddle down the creek with views of acres of rice fields now empty and into a rice canal. One of the best tours involves going through Mt. Pleasant between shrimp boats, a salt marsh and out to Crab Bank, a small 22 acre island with a multitude of nesting birds. On the island you have a fantastic view of the harbor, Ft. Sumter, Patriots Point and Sullivan's Lighthouse. If you are the more adventurous and athletic, then the Santee River tour is the one for you. At one time this was the longest flowing blackwater river east of the Mississippi, but hydro dams have made it somewhat smaller, although the lower area is definitely still a beautiful sight full of nature and birds.

The state can offer the most unbelievable tours for the excited visitor, including a golf tour on Hilton Head Island, fishing trips, boat tours, carriage tours, bicycle tours, guided walking tours, limo tours, all terrain tours, motorcoach or van tours, painting and photography tour and of course self guided tours.

Did we mention that there are a lot of tours in South Carolina? Over 44 on one site. They even have an adult tour in Charleston for those of you wanting to see the darker side of the city. Also in this eccentric city, are cemetery tours, crime and punishment tours, grave tours, ghosts tours and to lighten it a bit, a Gone with the Wind tour. You can also take a sunset, sightseeing, walking, educational, haunted, plantation, sailing, carriage ride, bus, boat, canoe, historic house and adventure tour. Makes you wonder if they sleep in the jumping city.

In the rich historical city of Charleston, there are over 100 places of interest; with various tours to give you some idea of the 300 year history of this fabulous city. The architectural delights of the homes, building and mansions remind you that this glorious city has seen its share of history, as well as making it. There are guided tours of every venue, within the city and without, and as always plenty of self guided tours for your own personal pace and interest. This vast city is worth a vacation or extended stay on its own merits. Fort Sumter, the first shot that started the bloodiest was in our history was here, where after 34 hours the Union troops surrendered. For four years the Union would try to take it back, but was unable due to the strong fortitude of the soldiers within. There are 2 tour boats that will take you there after passing through Charleston harbor, where you can almost relive the tremendous feelings that must have been happening there almost 150 years ago. Another fort in the area is Fort Moultrie on Sullivan's Island, where the tour starts in the 20th century and as you wander the island leads you back in time to the original area of the old fort; although it has been rebuilt and refurbished a few times. A new exhibit has just opened on the island called African Passages and is on display at the Fort Moultrie Visitor Center. Sullivan's Island was the quarantine point for the slave ships coming to this country between 1707 and 1799, as the ships were notorious for their diseases. It has been estimated that somewhere between 200,000 and 360,000 men, women and children were shanghaied to this country from Africa. The incredible exhibit has charcoal etchings by Thomas Feelings, as well as the Gullah art of Jonathan Green. African objects, leg shackles and an 1803 id badge are some of the relics that are featured. The citizens of this great American city consider this to be a fitting monument to the strength and resilience of the African people forced to leave their homeland and come to a place filled with degradation, filth, shame and poverty above any they had ever known.

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South Carolina Things to do

Things to do in South Carolina

South Carolina is a vacationer's haven. There are so many things to do, see, smell, taste and thrill you; it would take a very long time to do it all. Besides the numerous state parks, there are the fantastic white sandy beaches that span the eastern coast with almost 200 miles of it, the gorgeous countryside, the beautiful architecture of the historic buildings and expansive Gothic mansions spread throughout the state. With the Atlantic on the east, there are waterfalls, lakes and rivers that will delight you and allow you to camp, hike and bike. In Myrtle Beach the Market Common just gets bigger and bigger; the Grand Strand Culinary tours will fulfill your culinary dreams and wishes. A new sight has just arrived at the Charles Town Landing, the 73 foot 17th century replicated ship Adventure. The state parks are celebrating their 75 years of history and are always a fantastic way to spend some quality time with your family.

With a plethora of activities and opportunities, the visitor to South Carolina is going to be wonderfully surprised and overjoyed. Spend a day watching the incredible dolphins, or rent a bike, canoe, kayak, atv, boat, or sailboat. Visit one of the more than 50 professionally designed golf courses, rent adventure equipment and head out for the enchanted woodlands, careful to avoid the really swampy areas; go horseback riding along the beach and make your own memorable movies. You can go your own way with a boat, canoe or kayak, try parasailing or skydiving; broaden your horizons and try snorkeling or scuba diving. They have water skiing, as well as wakeboarding, jet skis, fishing or hunting equipment, and thousands of miles of the most exciting trails anywhere. This is one incredible state and it will fill your time with memories for the rest of your life.

Anyone getting hungry? Well this marvelous state even has food festivals. Not just happy enough to be serving up some great vitals from the rich dark soil, but parades, rides, street dancing, arts and crafts are all part of the festival. Try the Iron City Festival with all of the above in Blacksburg, but only on the weekend after Easter. Also on the same weekend, but in Saint George, the World Grits festival arrives, with its own special delight of rolling in the grits, clogging, live bands, beauty queens, and oh yea, grits; grits grinding, grits meals and of course, grits eating contest. Sounds like a great place for grit lovers! The stripped bass festival is in Manning the same weekend, with some awesome food, especially the bass. This same busy weekend has a Blues and Jazz Fest in Little River, with wine sampling and visits to the vineyard. For the crab lover, the soft shell crab festival in Port Royal will surely get your taste buds tuned. On the last weekend of April, go to Walterboro for the Colleton County Rice Festival, that celebrates the rice heritage of this great county. Rice any way you want it. Moving over to the coast, the Hilton Head Seafood Festival is a one of a kind with 6 local chefs competing in the Iron Chef contest; sounds fishy to me, but worth the tantalizing smells and tastes of some fantastic seafood.

Just imagine biking along roads lined with great oak trees covering your trek keeping the searing heat of the sun off your back; all the while thinking about the thousands, even millions that traversed this same road hundreds of years ago going to a city, a town, or a plantation not knowing what kind of fate destiny held in store for you and your family. Explore the beaten paths through woods and swamps that held unknown terrors for people coming here from colder climates in Europe or the northern states; or the land of Africa. Take a slow tour through mansions that held rich and educated folks that obtained their station and wealth at the expense of another race, another people. Trace the beautiful haunting lines of the mansion and wonder if the ghosts still come here or even live here in hopes of escaping or haunting the next visitor to their home. Ride along the calm rivers looking at the rich vibrant landscape that hosted generations of Native Americans, settlers, slaves and tourists.

Go and visit the Museum of Confederate History in Greenville, also known as the 16th South Carolina Volunteers Museum of Confederate History, containing a marvelous collection of items from the Civil War. Included are currency notes and coins, clothing, flags, newspapers, firearms, letters and photographs; as well as other pieces relating to the military and home. As the wonderful collection continues to grow, examples of Native American, African American, and other ethnic groups will continue to be shown. Included in the museum is an elaborate library dedicated to educating the public about research, issues and genealogy. It also holds reenactments by volunteers. In living memoriam of the 250,000 courageous Confederate soldiers killed in battle, the museum is owned and continued by the 16th South Carolina Volunteers, Sons of Confederate Veterans, and Camp #36.