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date: 06 August 2020

Charleston, South Carolinalocked

Port city in southeastern South Carolina that was the center of the American slave trade in the 1700s and 1800s.


The first Africans came to the region of present-day South Carolina as slaves with a Spanish expedition in 1526. Nearly 150 years later, another group of Africans arrived in Charleston—or Charles Town, the name by which it was first known. Approximately 1,000 Akan and Asante people arrived as slaves to the English settlers from Barbados who established Charles Town as the first permanent settlement in South Carolina in 1670. Beginning in the 1690s, slaves from present-day Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Liberia provided the labor force and expertise for growing rice in the colony. There were also Bantu-speaking slaves from Kongo and Angola, the ancestors of the Gullah communities that thrived for centuries in the Sea Islands near Charleston. By 1700, African slaves and their African American children had become the majority of Charleston's population.

In the eighteenth century Charleston became the most active center ...

A version of this article originally appeared in Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African and African American Experience.

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