Saturday, May 22, 2010

Under a Palmetto Moon

Magnet # 248:  South Carolina Palmetto Tree with Moon

Material:  Clay

Purchased By:  Me

It was on this day in 1788 that South Carolina became the 8th state to be added to the Union.  Although the Spanish were the first Europeans to reach the area, the English would eventually gain control of it, naming it the Province of Carolana after King Charles I.  Eventually, the spelling changed, but England was careful to increase its control over the region to halter the spread of the French and Spanish. In 1663, King Charles II chartered control of Carolina to eight of his close friends, who became known as Lords Proprietors.  They, in turn, sent settlers to establish South Carolina's first permanent settlement - Charles Town, or later Charleston.  By 1710, tensions had increased so that the territory was split into north and south portions.  It's not known exactly what necessitated this split, but suggestions ranging from Indian wars to corrupt politicians have been offered. What is more clear is that South Carolina received far less land from the split than North Carolina.  While that state is ranked 28th in the United States in terms of area, South Carolina is 40th.  And North Carolina also cuts across the western border of the state, taking away what might have been a mountainous region of the state.  Regardless, South Carolina continued on, joining with the other colonies to fight for independence in the Revolutionary War.  Charleston became an important battlefield during the conflict, attacked both by land and sea.  They managed to fight off the British on two occasions before bring taken in 1780.  Although the gained control of most of the colony, the American victory at Battle of the Cowpens in South Carolina was critical in winning the war in the South.  By 1782, the British had left Charleston and only small battles took place in South Carolina after that.  And soon, South Carolina was able to claim its place among its fellow states. During the war, Colonel William Moultrie successfully defended Sullivan's Island and nearby Charleston with the aid of a palmetto log fortress.  As these trees have no rings, the cannonballs the British fired at the walls were unable to break through.  In honor of its importance in protecting the state, the palmetto tree was made the state tree, featured on its flag, along with a crescent moon, and the state even became known as the Palmetto State.  So this Clay Critters magnet is basically their version of the symbols on the state flag, and is a great version at that - the moon even glows in the dark!

Given the Palmetto State's close proximity to Savannah, I've been there a fair amount of times and I even have coworkers who live there and travel over each weekday.  When I was growing up, I visited the town of Charleston  with my family.  We met a particularly friendly local who gave me a couple of very unusual pods that I ended up using for a project in a college art class.  Nowadays, I mostly go over to shop at the Tanger Outlet Malls in Beaufort, which is on the way to Hilton Head Island, one of the most popular tourist destinations in the state.  A friend of mine lives near the shopping center, and I visit her there from time to time.  She even helped me find the best places to shop for magnets on Hilton Head, which made for a fun afternoon.  There are still a couple of places I'd like to see in the state, like Myrtle Beach, which is home to Apache Pier, the East Coast's longest pier, a boardwalk packed with tourists, and plenty of miniature golf courses.  Sounds like a great place to pick up magnets.  And the capitol building in Columbia sounds pretty interesting - it was attacked by Sherman and his troops during the Civil War.  There are even has six bronze stars marking the spots on its walls where the cannonballs struck.  Plus, it might be fun to revisit Charleston as an adult.  Sure, Georgia and North Carolina may have taken the mountain areas that the state might have otherwise gotten, but there is still plenty of beautiful places left to be seen in the Palmetto State, and I always enjoy a trip up there.

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