Social Classes in South Carolina



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Social Classes in

South Carolina



The Antebellum South~ Before the Civil War

Name ___________________________________ Date _________________

The time period before the Civil War was known as the _______________ period.

In Antebellum South Carolina, there were different types of people that made up South Carolina’s population. Analyze the chart to learn more about the antebellum population in South Carolina.



  1. What year’s population is shown on the graph? ______

  2. What group had the largest population? ___________

  3. What group had the smallest population? __________

  4. Were most white people part of the elite? _________

“The Elite Class”



The people who were a part of the elite were extremely

wealthy and lived in fancy houses like this one.

The ________ were the wealthy, upper class, planters who were ______ rich. The elite owned ______ or more slaves and attained their wealth from the _________ and ________ of the cash crops such as ________ and ________. Although the elite had lived only along the coast in colonial times, by the antebellum period they lived in the midlands and the upstate as well. For fun, the elite would read books, went to plays, and hosted big parties.

The children of the elite were often educated by private _______ or at private _________ in South Carolina and other places. The children of the elite learned other languages like Latin and French. They took music and drawing classes.

Most of the government leaders in our state were part of the elite. They were ___________ and __________. They worked to make ________ that served their interests. They wanted laws that protected _________.




The elite made sure they looked their best by wearing nice attire.


“The Middle Class”

The ________ were tradesmen, merchants, shopkeepers, physicians and attorneys. The middle class were not as _______ as the elite, but they had enough money to live in comfort. They were most likely to live in _______ and _______ and had ________ political and social influence in their neighborhoods. They may have owned a few _______ to do household chores.

Children of the middle class were taught to ______ and _______ and might pursue a profession like their fathers.

“The Lower Class”

The __________ adults and children were unskilled and uneducated and often landless. They were sometimes called ____________. Jobs for adults were very limited. They competed with _______ for jobs. Often lower class people squatted on a piece of land and engaged in subsistence farming. This means they used land that did not belong to them and grew their own food to eat themselves. They had _______ social or political influence.

“Independent Farmers”

________________ owned small farms which they worked themselves with the aid of family members. They were not ______. Some independent farmers owned a few _______ but worked side by side with them in the fields.

The children of independent farmers might ________ at home and help their families with ________. The _______ of farming in the state, especially in the upstate, was done by independent farmers. As independent farmers were more successful in growing __________, which are crops that are grown to be sold, and became more prosperous (wealthy), they bought more slaves and increased their social and political standing. Some even became members of the elite.

“Free African Americans”

A small number of black people in South Carolina were _______. Some masters freed their slaves. Some slaves were allowed to by their freedom with the money they had saved from being hired out to work in the towns or cities of the South else instead of on the plantation. African Americans usually had a particular ______, such as carpentry, or a talent, such as music making. This skill led them to be hired out by their masters.

Others were independent farmers. Many stayed in the region because they had family members who were still __________. They worked to earn money to buy the freedom of wives and children.

The children of freed African Americans might be taught to read and write at home but there were _____ public schools provided for them. Free African Americans _________ have political or social equality with other Southerners. They had to pay a special _____ and carry their _________ papers wherever they went. They lived in _______ of being returned to slavery.

Maggie Palm, a free African American during Antebellum.

“Enslaved African Americans”

_________ African Americans worked without being ________. They were _______ and _______ and considered the property of their white masters. Slaves were allowed few personal freedoms and had to carry a _______ issued by their master to travel from one plantation to another. Many slaves also had to wear a tag so they could be identified as a slave.






This was a tag worn by a slave.

Many enslaved African Americans were _____ and _____ on the same plantation where they lived in one- room slave cabins under the strict supervision of their masters.


Others were sold upon the death of their masters, when they were disobedient or when the master needed extra cash. Families were divided by such sales. Slaves, including women and children worked from ________ to _______ in the fields or in the master’s house. They were not paid but were given a few clothes and limited amounts of food by the master.



It was illegal for slaves and their children to learn to ______ and _______ because such knowledge might allow them to _______ their masters. Slaves who disobeyed the rules or tried to escape were punished, sometimes severely.




A slave being punished by his master or overseer.


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