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Ever wonder why the color of the South Carolina state flag is blue?
Well, not blue exactly. Indigo.
A color somewhere between deep-sea cerulean and royal purple, indigo's rich and complex history began in the 18th century and played a central role in the development of South Carolina.
A plant that was made into a dye, indigo was grown in huge quantities all over the state. In 1775, more than a million pounds of indigo were exported from colonial South Carolina to England.
Andrea Feeser explains the importance of the crop and the color in her latest book "Red, White and Black Make Blue." Told from her researcher's point of view, the book explores how indigo became the most popular color of the 18th century. It colored the silks worn by the social elite as well as the rough woolen fabrics worn by the slaves who made it. Feeser pays special attention to the ways indigo shaped the relationships among white plantation owners and the black and native people they enslaved.
"I have always been interested in the history of place," said Feeser, who is an art history professor at Clemson University. Feeser previously taught at the University of Hawaii and moved to South Carolina 11 years ago.
The Revolutionary War ended South Carolina's indigo boom, as independence cost the colony its primary purchaser of blue dye. During the war, Colonel William Moultrie and members of his Second South Carolina Regiment defended Charleston against the British. They wore indigo uniforms with white crescents on their caps. Today that same pattern can be seen somewhere else: Flying atop the State House.
Article: Erin Shaw
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