19th Century engraving of a slave auction in South Carolina. Wikimedia Commons.
The cash crop economy of South Carolina relied on the slavery of African Americans.
Overview of Slavery
- Slavery Timeline
See key events in the history of slavery in America.
- Slaves in South Carolina: 1525-1865
Read more about the selling of slaves, the life of a slave, and black revolts in South Carolina.
- A Year in the Life
Read the entries from a plantation account book to learn more about the life on a plantation.
Read selections from letters and first-person narratives from former slaves.
- African Passages, Lowcountry Adaptations
Explore this online exhibition series about the history of slavery, plantations, and the trans-Atlantic slave trade from the Atlantic World to Charleston and the South Carolina Lowcountry.
- Voyage of the Echo: The Trials of an Illegal Trans-Atlantic Slave Ship
This online exhibition examines the illegal trans-Atlantic slave trade through the voyage and capture of the slave ship Echo in 1858.
In Their Own Words
- Born in Slavery: Slave Narratives from the Federal Writers’ Project, 1936-1938
Read the first-person accounts of slavery from former slaves.
- Recollections of Slavery by a Runaway Slave
This slave narrative was published in The Emancipator in 1838.
Slavery in the Colonies
- Contract of Indenture
This contract specified a three year period of indenture for labor in exchange for transportation and a sum of money.
- Eighteenth Century Overseer Site
Learn more about the culture, life, and hardships of overseers in South Carolina in the eighteenth century.
- Slave Code of South Carolina, May 1740
South Carolina’s Slave Code of 1740 was a series of laws aimed at controlling the population of enslaved African Americans.
- The Stono Rebellion
The Stono Rebellion was the largest slave uprising in the British Colonies until the American Revolution.
- The Gullah Creole Language
The Gullah language has influences in African dialects, West Indian languages, and English.
- Early African American Religion
African religious customs blended with Christianity as slaves held secret religious meetings and sang spirituals with double meanings of salvation and freedom from slavery.
- Negro Spirituals, 1867
Read the lyrics of many spirituals sung by former slaves and written down for the Atlantic Monthly magazine in 1867.
Images & Artifacts
- Cast in Bondage
Copper neck tags from Charleston highlight the experience of slaves hired out as laborers.
- Beyond Face Value: Depictions of Slavery in Confederate Currency
Explore Confederate currency that featured images of slavery.
- Slave Collar
Slave collars made of iron were used to punish and identify slaves who had tried to run away.
- Charleston Slave Passes
In Charleston, slaves needed permission notes to be away from their master’s property.
- Church on John’s Island
This 1797 watercolor shows an independent black congregation on John’s Island near Charleston.
Abolitionist Sarah Moore Grimk (1792-1873). Image courtesy of Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.
- Sarah Grimke and her sister Angelina became ardent supporters of the Abolitionist movement.
- Breaking the Chains: The End of the Transatlantic Slave Trade
Read more about the end of slavery in Britain and the Americas.
- Petition from Pennsylvania Abolition Societies asking South Carolina to Abolish the Slave Trade, 1795
This petition was sent to the South Carolina Assembly asking to end their involvement in the slave trade and prepare slaves for eventual freedom.