True Blue Plantation
Updated: Nov 26, 2022
Now that you know something about True Blue’s beginnings, I thought I’d mention a few details. South Carolina is the only state in the nation that has five rivers that are subject to the tide. What does that mean? It means that twice a day, the incoming tides literally force the freshwater rivers to reverse course and back up in their beds. The result is higher freshwater levels during high tides and lower freshwater levels during low tides.
The planters of rice took full advantage of this twice daily occurrence. Rice is a tedious crop to grow. Unlike other crops, it cannot be grown without periodic flooding. Today growers flood their fields at the flip of a switch. During plantation times the planters had to depend upon the tidal surges of the rivers. During high tide, flood gates were opened to allow freshwater from the river to pour into thirsty fields; during low tide, the flood gates were again opened, this time to let the freshwater escape the fields and rejoin the river.
Since rice couldn’t survive without this ongoing source of freshwater, it was only grown along the river’s edge in the sticky “pluff mud” that defined the wetlands. Cattle couldn’t work in the wetlands, their cloven hooves were too narrow to negotiate the mud. Oxen, with hooves the size of dessert plates were required, instead. And humans, of course. Humans have always had the task of planting and tending to rice, right up to this very day.
For obvious reason, the planters purchased long narrow strips of land skirting the rivers. That’s why I included these early plats. The first is a plat of True Blue’s fields on the western side of the Waccamaw River. It’s difficult to read, but you can see the outline of the fields. A plat of the plantation’s eastern holdings (where the plantation house and outbuildings were) has sadly never surfaced.
The Crown sold the land for paltry amounts, but the buyers were required by law to build a dwelling house; support buildings such as barns, mills and roads and bridges. Within a given period of time they were required to plant a cash crop approved by the British Government (cotton, rice or indigo) and to live on the property half of the year.The Crown was willing to spend years building its colonial empire because it resulted in a rock-solid tax base and trading partners loyal solely to the British Crown. It was genius. The British passed on standardized weights and a monetary system; language; mapping and exploration; culture; education; a court system, economic and military security and an ARROGANCE OF SUPERIORITY that has ramifications to this day.
More about the colonial system later. I promise it won't be boring. The colonial system was an economic marvel. It’s just that it created unimaginable wealth for the seafaring super powers of the day: the British, Dutch, Portuguese, French and Spanish, at the cost of oppression for everyone else on the planet.