Richland County was probably named for its "rich land." The county was formed in 1785 as part of the large Camden District. A small part of Richland later went to Kershaw County (1791). The county seat is Columbia, which is also the state capital. In 1786 the state legislature decided to move the capital from Charleston to a more central location. A site was chosen in Richland County, which is in the geographic center of the state, and a new town was laid out. Columbia subsequently became not only the center of government but an important trade and manufacturing center. Cotton from the surrounding plantations was shipped through Columbia and later manufactured into textiles there. Columbia is also known for its educational institutions,particularly the University of South Carolina, which was founded in 1802. General William T. Sherman captured Columbia during the Civil War, and his troops burned the town on February 17, 1865. The U. S. Army returned on more friendly terms in 1917, when Fort Jackson was established. Confederate general, governor, and United States senator Wade Hampton (1818-1902) was a resident of Richland County, and President Woodrow Wilson (1856-1924) lived in Columbia as a boy. Other prominent residents include artist William Harrison Scarborough (1812-1871), poets Henry Timrod (1829-1867) and James Dickey (1923-1997), civil rights leader Modjeska Monteith Simkins (1899-1992), religious leader Cardinal Joseph Bernardin (1928-1996), and astronaut Charles Bolden.
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