Did you know that pirate John Thurber has been considered as the person who introduced rice to America? He brought the first shipment of rice to America on his return voyage from Madagascar.
In 1685, John Thurber’s ship was damaged in a storm and blown off course. He stopped in Charleston, South Carolina for repairs where he met doctor and explorer Henry Woodward. In exchange for Woodward’s hospitality and assistance, Thurber gave him a bag of seed rice from Madagascar. Woodward then planted the rice and found out how well it flourished in the marshy Carolina soil.
Within a few years, rice became the colony’s primary crop and remained so into the modern era. White planters were obsessed with rice. They called it “Carolina Gold”. They imported more Africans to work their fields and created plantation infrastructure that forced tens of thousands of enslaved people to work from sunrise to sunset.
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