When Rice Was King - Excerpt
The cultivation of rice in South Carolina began in the late 1600s. By the time of the American Revolution, it had created the largest concentration of wealth in the American colonies. The knowledge and labor of slaves from Africa’s Windward Coast were major factors in the making of this wealth. However, South Carolina’s rice culture experienced heavy tolls due to the Civil War, emancipation and hurricanes. Its passing, along with that of the grand cotton plantations, ended a way of life. The economic and social impact of the state’s rice culture created a legacy that remains today. This excerpt from ETV's documentary When Rice Was King looks at rice culture in the Georgetown area of the state.
From US Park Service Teaching with Historic Places Lesson Plans:
The introduction and successful cultivation of rice was the most significant development in colonial South Carolina. South Carolina rice commanded an excellent price and was exported in great quantities by the 1730s. From the 1750s to the late 19th century, South Carolina was the nation's leading rice producer. Rice cultivation, which required intensive labor, provided the basis for a flourishing slave-worked plantation economy. Although the production of cotton eventually surpassed that of rice in South Carolina in the first half of the 19th century, rice culture had a significant impact on the landscape, economy, and society up to the Civil War.
Georgetown County produced more rice than any other area of South Carolina. Much of the physical evidence of rice culture in the county has disappeared due to both the passage of time and modern development along the coast. Many resources remain, however, such as plantation houses, slave cabins, rice barns, rice mills, and rice mill chimneys which help illustrate the growth and development of rice culture in the area. In addition, agricultural features associated with rice cultivation including canals, dikes, and trunks (small floodgates), built to regulate the flow of water from the river on and off the rice fields, generally have been maintained since rice production ended in the area.
Full Article and Lesson Plan: When Rice Was King