chapter  11
16 Pages

The Carolinas

Charleston owed its elegance and luster to one thing: the slave trade. Sir John Yeamans may have brought the first African to his Ashley River plantation in 1670—71. The exact number of slaves that entered Charleston during its hey-day may never be known. Before 1790, a complete census was rarely attempted in any of the Southern colonies. Records maintained at the South Carolina State Historical Library in Columbia show thirteen members of the Laurens family in forty transactions involving 443 slaves until 1851. Four years later, this pledge was refined in a constitution drafted by John Locke which guaranteed rights of "heathens, Jues and other disenters." As Sol Breibart, resident archivist at Beth Elohim, points out, not all vendue masters were involved with slave trading, and even those that were may have dealt as a sideline. South Carolina may be Solla-Sallew for Jews today, but that was not the case 100 years ago.