The Gullah of the Lowcountry and Carolina Gold:
The People and the Grain That Made South Carolina Rich

The Gullah of the Lowcountry and Carolina Gold Standards and Indicators

The Gullah Geechee people of South Carolina are descendants of enslaved people brought to Charleston and sold throughout the Carolinas from the “rice coast” of Africa, the west coast of the continent. Today, Gullah Geechee people trace their lineage back to places such as Sierra Leone, Senegal, and Liberia.

During slavery, enslaved Africans cultivated crops like indigo, cotton, and rice that were then sold by wealthy plantation owners for a great deal of money. The cultivation and sale of these crops ultimately made the region one of the richest in the nation. At one time, the city of Charleston was the richest city in America!

After slavery ended, many African Americans—the Gullah Geechee included—left the farms and plantations where they worked in search for better lives. From 1915 to the late 1970s, millions of African Americans left the south, including South Carolina, for places up north and out west for new opportunities. This period is called the Great Migration. In doing so, they left the agricultural subsistence behind and joined the masses of European immigrants in places such as Philadelphia and New York who learned and adopted new ways to make money and support their families, which included factory work and railroad porters. Unfortunately for African American women, work was often harder to find. In fact, many found domestic work as housekeepers, childcare providers, and cooks when they made it north.

Carolina Gold

 Carolina Gold rice is a strain of long-grain rice that was cultivated by enslaved Africans in Georgia and South Carolina. It was a staple and the foundation upon which pre-war Southern wealth was built. In general, rice is a grain originally from Africa and Indonesia.

 

Taste

Light, textured and aromatic.


Reconstruction

Reconstruction Standards and Indicators

 

Did you know that before Reconstruction , enslaved Africans were forbidden from learning to read and write? Plantation owners feared that educating their enslaved populations would encourage them to yearn for freedom and devise daring plans for escape. Those plantation owners were right! Many enslaved Africans were able to secure their freedom by forging their own manumission papers, documents that certified their freedom if they were ever stopped by authorities or slave catchers during their flight to freedom.


Freedmen ’s Bureau

Freedmen’s Bureau Standards and Indicators

 

Anyone would consider freedom better than slavery, right? But for the millions of newly freed Black people during and after the Civil War, many of them had doubts and insecurities regarding their new status. Where do I live? How do I get a job? What is a fair wage? How can I learn what I need to know? The Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen , and Abandoned Lands, better known as the Freedmen’s Bureau, was established by the War Department in 1865 as a temporary agency where the newly freed and displaced could go for answers. The Freedmen’s Bureau contributed many vital staples and services such as food clothing, refugee camps, and medical care. They also provided legal assistance, including representation in court and reviews of employment contracts to make sure they were fair and enforced. Perhaps popularly known, however, is the Freedmen’s Bureau goal of settling the formerly enslaved on abandoned and confiscated land as well as giving the families animals to help them work it. This policy is commonly known as “Forty Acres and a Mule” .

 


Robert Smalls: From Slavery to Congress

Robert Smalls: From Slavery to Congress Standard and Indicator

 

In the wee hours of the morning on May 13, 1862, the CSS Planter, a Confederate transport ship, made course up the Charleston Harbor. The captain of the ship, draped in his full uniform, alerted his fellow soldiers at the Fort Sumter Confederate compound of his passage with a toot of the ship’s whistle. As the vessel sailed clear of the fort, it headed straight for a Federal blockade. This, however, was not an act of war by the Confederate transport and its captain, but rather an act of surrender by a crew of enslaved persons among a stolen ship. The captain who navigated the boat and the families aboard to their freedom was Robert Smalls, a man who had been born into slavery in Beaufort, South Carolina on April 5, 1839. Smalls went on to become a co-founder of the South Carolina Republican Party and was elected to the United States House of Representatives, the South Carolina House of Representatives, and the South Carolina Senate over the course of twenty years. Smalls would live until the age of 75 in his hometown of Beaufort, where he died in 1915. The South Carolina History Bugle honors Robert Smalls, the Pilot to Freedom.

 


Questions to Consider

 

For further research, click on the photographs to be linked to a web resource related to the topic or discover more on the SCBHB Educator Resource Page.
Standards: K-4, 3-4, 4-6, 8-5, WG 1, WG-4, WG-5, USHC 4-8, USG 1-4
Indicators: K-4.1, K-4.3, K-4.4, 3-4.1, 3-4.2, 3-4.5, 3-4.6, 4-6.1, 8-5.1, 8-5.2, 8-5.3, 8-5.4, 8-5.5, 8-5.6, 8-5.7, 8-5.8, WG-1.1, WG-1.2, WG-1.5, WG-4.1, WG-4.2, WG-4.3, WG-5.1
The Gullah are African Americans who live in the Lowcountry region of the U.S. states of Georgia and South Carolina, in both the coastal plain and the Sea Islands (including urban Savannah and Charleston). They developed a creole language, the Gullah language, and a culture rich in African influences that makes them distinctive among African Americans. Historically, the Gullah region extended from the Wilmington, North Carolina coast south to the vicinity of Jacksonville on Florida's coast.
Standards: 3-4, 4-6, 5-1, 8-4, 8-5, WG 1, USHC 4-8, USG 1-4
Indicators: 3-4.1, 3-4.2, 3-4.3, 3-4.4, 3-4.5, 3-4.6, 4-6.1, 4-6.2, 4-6.3, 4-6.5, 5-1.1, 5-1.2, 5-1.3, 5-1.4,   8-4.2, 8-4.3, 8-4.4,8-4.6, 8-5.1, 8-5.2, 8-5.3, 8-5.4, 8-5.5, 8-5.6, 8-5.7, 8-5.8, WG-1.1, WG-1.2, WG-1.5
The period between 1865 and 1877 that focused on the rebuilding of a country torn apart by the Civil War
The release of someone from servitude or slavery; usually done on an individual level
Freedmen—The newly freed populations after the Civil War
Standards: 3-4, 4-6, 5-1, 8-2, 8-4, 8-5, WG 1-8, USHC 4-8, USG 1-4
Indicators: 3-4.1, 3-4.3, 3-4.5, 3-4.6, 4-6.2, 4-6.5, 5-1.1, 5-1.2, 5-1.3, 5-1.4,8-4.4, 8-4.6,
The newly freed populations after the Civil War
The Freedmen Bureau policy of settling formerly enslaved persons on abandoned/confiscated lands and giving the families animals to help them work it. This policy was only enacted in the South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida Lowcountry.
Congress—A formal meeting of lawmakers
Standards 3-4, 4-6, 5-1, 8-2, 8-4, 8-5, WG 1-8, USHC 4-8, USG 1-4
Indicators: 3-4.1, 3-4.2, 3-4.3, 3-4.4, 3-4.5, 3-4.6, 5-1.2, 5-1.3, 5-1.4, 8-4.6, 8-5.1, 8-5.2, 8-5.3, 8-5.4
Republican Party—The Republican Party was established in Jackson, Mississippi in 1854 to thwart the Kansas-Nebraska Act, which sought to spread of slavery throughout the region. Also known as the “Grand Old Party” or GOP, it would win Abraham Lincoln in the presidential election of 1860. The Republican Party, led by Lincoln would secure the abolition of slavery in 1863. The party was largely comprised of Northern white people, including Christians and businessmen, and free Black people.