This article explores the rural poor relief system of colonial South Carolina. It finds that\ud poor relief was substantially more generous and more readily available in rural areas of South Carolina than\ud elsewhere in British North America, or indeed in the entire Anglophone world. It suggests that this was\ud because elite vestrymen had deep-seated concerns about the position of the white poor in a society that\ud was dominated by African slavery. Generous relief of adult paupers was therefore a public demonstration of\ud the privileges of race to which all whites were entitled. Elites in rural South Carolina also made considerable\ud efforts to provide a free education for pauper children that would inculcate industry and usefulness among\ud those who might become future public burdens. The serious attention paid to the situation of the white poor in\ud colonial South Carolina was therefore part of an effort to ensure the unity of white society by overcoming the\ud divisions of class
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