The cultivation of rice in early South Carolina had a tremendous impact on the development of Lowcountry culture and history.  It inspired the forced migration of thousands of people from West Africa, created a wealthy elite, and dominated the economy and culture of our state for many generations.  In an effort to raise awareness about the local story of this humble grain, I’ve assembled a list of what I consider the most significant facts about Lowcountry rice history that form the basis for our community’s shared heritage.

  1. Rice defined early South Carolina.
  2. The origins of South Carolina’s rice are obscure.
  3. Plantation owners capitalized  on African rice knowledge.
  4. There were two types of rice cultivation: inland rice and tidal rice.
  5. To control the flow of water on rice fields, enslaved people in South Carolina moved a volume of earth comparable to that of the pyramids in Egypt.
  6. Rice cultivation was hard work, but it wasn’t all done by hand.
  7. Rice generated a polarized pair of cultural identities in South Carolina.
  8. Rice formed a staple part of the South Carolina diet.
  9. The rice industry in South Carolina continued after the Civil War, and ended before World War II.
  10. Rice is again being commercially grown in South Carolina.

Listen, savor, and digest.  Bon appetit!

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