Date of Award

Spring 2024

Degree Type



Moore School of Business

Director of Thesis

Dr. William Hauk

Second Reader

Dr. Douglas Woodward


The state of South Carolina existed as a British colony from its founding in 1663 until it declared independence in 1776. During this period, South Carolina operated as a plantation-based, cash-crop economy relying on two primary exports: rice and indigo. The colony displayed nearly complete specialization in its exports of these crops while importing different goods. The theory of comparative advantage in trade relationships crafted by British economist David Ricardo in the 18th century concludes that gains from trade emerge when trade partners specialize in the production and exportation of the goods of which they have the lowest opportunity cost. In building out the Ricardian model in the context of South Carolina’s trade relationship with Britain during the colonial period, the trade patterns exhibited by South Carolina can be justified. An analysis of data surrounding the production capabilities of both trade partners supports the observed trade patterns in this trade relationship during the mid-1770s, with South Carolina holding a comparative advantage in cash crops and Britain having a comparative advantage in manufactured products.

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