The first explorers of South Carolina were Spanish, beginning in 1521. An attempt to establish a colony was made in 1526, but disease and other factors drove the settlers to give up and return to Santo Domingo in the Caribbean. Similar problems frustrated a French attempt at colonization later in the century.
England claimed all of North America on account of John Cabot's explorations in 1497. In 1663, Charles II granted Carolina to eight aristocrats who were known as the lords proprietors. The first settlers arrived in 1670. They established Charles Town in 1680. The name was changed to Charleston in 1783.
The promoters of Carolina published a pamphlet, extolling the virtues of the place as a potential home for immigrants. It stated in part:
Carolina is a fair and spacious province on the continent of America. ... The land is diverse sorts as in all countries of the world. That which lies near the sea is sandy and barren, but bears many tall trees, which make good timber for several uses; and this sandy ground is by experienced men thought to be one cause of the healthfulness of the place. But up the river about twenty or thirty mile, where they have made a town, called Charles Town, there is plenty of as rich ground as any in the world ...
The woods are stored with deer and wild turkeys, of a great magnitude, weighing many times above 50 lb a piece, and of a more pleasant taste than in England, being in their proper climate; other sorts of beasts in the woods that are good for food, and also fowls, whose names are not known to them.
North Carolina was divided from South Carolina in 1730. In 1732, it was divided again with Georgia being formed from the southern portion of its territory. South Carolina's population grew as settlers arriving from Pennsylvania and Virginia moved into the interior's higher elevations.
During the War of Independence, South Carolina successfully defended Charleston against two British assaults, but finally capitulated in 1780. The British then held most of South Carolina until nearly the end of the conflict. South Carolina became the eighth state to ratify the Constitution in 1788.
South Carolina was the first state to secede from the Union just before the Civil War, declaring its independence on December 20, 1860. The first shots of the conflict were fired against Fort Sumter on April 12, 1861. During the war, South Carolina's coast was blockaded by the United States Navy. Charleston was burned by General William T. Sherman in 1865.