South Carolina has a long and storied history from one of the the original plantation colonies to the 8th state to join the union as one of the 13 original colonies. Later it was the first state to secede from the union and the last to surrender in the Civil War. More than anything though, South Carolina is a study in contrasts.
Strong and proud, South Carolina has been committed to a way of life based on the plantation system ever since it was implemented here in the 1600's. When that way of life was threatened with the potential outlaw of slavery, South Carolina was the first to stand it's ground and secede unwilling to compromise or settle in any way shape or form. In fact it's no surprise that the first shots of the Civil War were fired at Fort Sumter in Charleston harbor, igniting the bloodiest war that pitted this country against itself threatening to split it in two. At the end of the war, South Carolina was also the last to surrender holding on to the bitter end. As we drove around the state, we saw an unusually high number of purveyors of fireworks and we found it an interesting metaphor. South Carolina's spirit is explosive and hot headed in many ways.
And yet there is a certain gentility and southern charm that goes against the grain of that hot tempered stubborn nature. Visiting Charleston left us with the completely opposite impression. Charleston is full of charm and grace and southern hospitality. Charleston exudes a loveliness we rarely see in our travels and was at one time the center of the Neo-classical movement in the decorative arts. That contrast came into sharp focus as we stood before the Confederate flag on the state capitol grounds in Columbia. Whether defending agricultural interests and the plantations systems that brought enormous wealth, or pouring on the charm defining design and aesthetic culture that would influence the rest of the country, one thing is for sure, whatever South Carolina does, it does with gusto.