time period

Antebellum

As horrendous as the enslavement of African people was in terms of how men, women and children were treated inhumanely, its role in stabilizing European (French, Spanish and English) settlements was based on it being a system of great economic advantage for whichever country utilized it. Building empires on the backs of the less powerful has roots throughout human history, but distinct differences emerged in the ways “New World” slavery not only defined bondage by color of skin, but also as a permanent status to assure keeping a multi-generational unpaid labor force. According to South Carolina historian, Walter Edgar, “Money/profit was at the root of the system.”

1815
Jehu Jones, Sr. establishes Jones Hotel, described as ‘the finest hotel in Charleston’ until 1833.
1822
The Denmark Vesey Plot was led by Denmark Vesey, an African Methodist Episcopal (AME) church leader who purchased his freedom for $600. The well-planned and widespread rebellion involved about 9,000 people. However, two enslaved house servants informed their owners about the planned date. Vesey, who refused to reveal any names, was hanged with five other freedom fighters. Ironically, they were killed two days before white locals celebrated their American Independence Day festivities. The Citadel is built in reaction to the plot, increasing military control over the “Black majority."
1829
Daniel Payne, a free Black man, opens a school for free Blacks. The school is forced to close in 1835 when the state legislature makes it unlawful to teach any people of color to count, read or write. Payne had to flee Charleston or face imprisonment. He became a Bishop in the AME Church, and later served as Wilberforce University’s first president.
1850
Alonzo Jacob Ransier, son of free Haitian immigrants, works as a shipping clerk whose employer has to pay a daily fine and court costs for breaking the law against hiring a person of color for such a position. He later serves as lieutenant governor of the state and as its U.S. Congressman. The enslaved in South Carolina account for 57.6% of the state's population.

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