Renaissance and Depression
- Grand Strand Weekend
- South Carolina for Kids
- South Carolina Bar-B-Que
- A Midlands Weekend
- Civil War Adventures
- South Carolina Waterways
- Three Days in Horse Country
- South Carolina for Seafoodies
- South Carolina Kitsch
- Gullah and African American History
- Upstate Weekend
- South Carolina’s Top Ten for Golfers
- South Carolina’s Offbeat Festivals
- Southern Comforts
- Lowcountry Romance
While the aftermath of the Civil War was painful, it was by no means bereft of activity or profit. The reunion of the states marked the coming of the Industrial Revolution to America, and in many quarters of the South the cotton, lumber, and naval stores industries not only recovered, but exceeded antebellum levels.
A classic South Carolina example was in Horry County, where the town of Conway exploded as a commercial center for the area logging industry. By 1901 the first, modest resort had been built on nearby Myrtle Beach, and the area rapidly became an important vacation area—a role it serves to this day.
The textile industry ramped up as well, and the Upstate became the new world center of the trade—gaining a certain amount of regional revenge by taking business from the once-dominant New England textile industry.
For some parts of South Carolina, it was specifically an influx of Northern money after Reconstruction that heralded a mini-boom of sorts. The classic example of this is in Aiken, where the heralded “Winter Colony” was responsible for much of the affluent, equestrian culture that reigns there even now.
The Spanish-American War of 1898 was a major turning point for the South. For most Southerners, it was the first time since the Civil War that they were enthusiastically patriotic about being Americans. The southeastern coast felt this in particular, as it was a staging area for the invasion of Cuba. Charlestonians cheered the exploits of their namesake heavy cruiser the USS Charleston, which played a key role in forcing the Spanish surrender of Guam.
A South Carolinian himself, Wall Street financial wizard and presidential advisor Bernard Baruch would make many Americans more familiar with the state’s natural beauty. After his acquisition of the old Hobcaw Barony near Georgetown in 1905, he hosted many a world leader there, including President Franklin D. Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill.
Charleston would elect its first Irish-American mayor, John Grace, in 1911. Though it wouldn’t open until 1929, the first Cooper River Bridge joining Charleston with Mount Pleasant was the child of the Grace administration, which is credited today for modernizing the Holy City’s infrastructure (as well as tolerating high levels of vice during Prohibition) and making possible much of the civic gains to follow.
A major change that came during this time is rarely remarked upon in the history books: This was when South Carolina became a majority white state. With thousands of African Americans leaving for more tolerant pastures and more economic opportunity in the North and the West—a move known as the Great Migration—the demographics of the state changed accordingly.
The arrival of the tiny but devastating boll weevil all but wiped out the cotton trade on the coast after the turn of the century, forcing the economy to diversify. Naval stores and lumbering were the order of the day at the advent of World War I, the combined patriotic effort for which did wonders in repairing the wounds of the Civil War, still vivid in many local memories.
© Jim Morekis from Moon South Carolina, 4th Edition