navigation bar Houghton Mifflin Social Studies United States History: Early Years
Biographies Unit Biographies

Eliza Lucas Pinckney 1722-1793
Agriculturist

When Eliza Lucas Pinckney was just a teenager in South Carolina, she spent much of her time experimenting with indigo seeds. These seeds came from the West Indies. She found a way for the indigo seeds to be turned into a valuable blue dye. She shared her findings with planters in South Carolina. These planters, guided by Pinckney, were able to make a huge profit from their indigo plants.

From 1745 to 1746, only about 5,000 pounds of indigo were exported from South Carolina. That number grew to 130,000 pounds within two years. England was very interested in the indigo plants Pinckney helped planters grow. By 1754, South Carolina was exporting more than 1,000,000 pounds each year. Pinckney's experiments helped keep South Carolina's economy strong until the Revolution.

Comprehension Check

What did Eliza Lucas Pinckney's experiments with indigo do for the planters in South Carolina?

Critical Thinking

During the time that indigo dye was a success in South Carolina, how do you think Pinckney was viewed by people in this state?