South Carolina: A Bicentennial History

By Louis B. Wright | Go to book overview

4

Hope of Prosperity: Indian Trade
and Products of the Land

FROM the time of the first settlement at Jamestown, Virginia, until the establishment of Georgia, last of the thirteen original colonies, the mother country had dreamed of finding a source in the New World of all those products that she had been forced to buy from other countries. For example, the principal suppliers of cochineal and indigo, used to dye army uniforms, were France and Spain, England's inveterate enemies. By the early eighteenth century, England's annual bill for silk was something on the order of £500,000— money down the drain in the eyes of mercantilist economists of that day. All those silken garments affected by both men and women of the upper class cost hard money that financial experts thought England could ill afford to spend with other nations. King James I himself had written a preface to a book by a Frenchman describing silk culture and had commanded Virginia colonists to read the book, follow its instructions, and made silk.

Because South Carolina was situated in a latitude believed favorable to tropical products, colonial authorities in London were hopeful that it would become a source of silk, olive oil, sugar, wine, oranges, lemons, dates, figs, and other exotic products. For decades after the arrival of the earliest colonists in South Carolina, hope ran high that this new region would become a

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