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Settling the Backcountry: South Carolina's Colonial Expansion and Population Growth

WebQuest Teacher Guide for 8th Grade United States History Designed for Teaching American History in South Carolina US Department of Education, Office of Innovation and Improvement Award #S215X010282-01.


English settlers founded Charleston in the late 17th Century, establishing an American colony, which grew in prosperity and influence. Of course, wealthy British-born rice planters dominated political and economic life in the colony, but South Carolina was hardly a homogenous lot. English settlers encountered a myriad of native Indian cultures long established in the Carolinas. Planters imported vast numbers of African slaves-highly influential in developing the rice culture, which fueled the colony's economic engine. Lastly, South Carolina's backcountry settlement plan attracted disparate European groups including Germans who settled the South Carolina Midlands.

Settling the Backcountry takes an in-depth look at South Carolina's backcountry settlement plan as it applies to the establishment of the old Saxe Gotha Township, which grew into Lexington County. Taught in the context of South Carolina colonial history, Settling the Backcountry provides rich guided inquiries of primary and secondary sources. Activities involve students with primary source maps, population census data, and historical scholarship aimed at stimulating complex thinking skills.

South Carolina Standards

Settling the Backcountry aligns with the following South Carolina content and process standards:
* 8.2.1 Explain the influence of physical geography on South Carolina history.
* 8.2.3: Compare and contrast early European settlements in South Carolina and the American colonies, including political, economic, and social institutions.
* Establish chronological order in constructing one's own historical narratives.
* Utilize visual and mathematical data presented in charts, tables, pie and bar graphs, flow charts, Venn diagrams, and other graphic organizers.
* Identify the author or source of the historical document or narrative.
* Interrogate historical data.
* Employ quantitative analysis.
* Construct sound historical interpretations with evidence.
* Communicate in written form using appropriate writing standards.

Student Challenge Tasks

Settling the Backcountry includes challenges, which emphasize the type of historical inquiry professional historians do. Specifically, students complete three directed tasks:
1. Adventures in Footnotes.
2. Lexington County Map Challenge
3. Lexington County Population Trends Challenge.

Adventures in Footnotes: Finding Saxe Gotha

Finding Saxe Gotha introduces students to the wonderful world of historical scholarship. Adventures in Footnotes takes students behind the scenes to where history is really brought to life. Through a series of four activities using primary source maps, surveys, and other colonial records preserved in the South Carolina Department of Archives and History, Finding Saxe Gotha helps students construct historical interpretations from primary source "facts."

Map Challenge

Lexington County map challenges take students back in time to Lexington County as it grew from a backcountry settlement to a modern South Carolina county. Map challenges expose students to a series of primary source maps. Students analyze maps to examine change over time; they look for clues on the maps to place them in chronological order; they also read primary source documents, locating references on the map. Students can find the map challenge as they study Lexington County's colonial history.

Population Trends Challenge

With the Population Trends Challenge, students analyze simple population statistics from Lexington County's Colonial settlement to the present. Population Trends includes three tasks: 1) Line Graphing, 2) Speculating About Missing Data, and 3) Researching Missing Data.

Ask Cosmo

Encourage students to be very curious about what they learn. Students should also be very critical about what they read, asking questions about the reliability of historical resources, about the validity of historical conclusions and interpretations. As students learn more about South Carolina's backcountry expansion, they should think about questions they have. First, students should talk to their colleagues about their questions. If students cannot determine the answers to their questions, or if they want to challenge interpretations made in Settling the Backcountry, then they should Ask Cosmo.

Submit e-mail questions to Cosmo who will reply in 24-48 hours with answers. Students should be informed, though, that sometimes Cosmo may not have all the answers. He will tell students as much as he knows, and will give students clues about how to learn more. Quite frequently, Cosmo will return question for question. Hopefully, Cosmo's questions and answers will encourage deeper thinking from students.