A state of the southeast United States bordering on the Atlantic Ocean. One of the original Thirteen Colonies, it was explored by the Spanish in the early 1500s but was granted by Charles II of England to eight of his principal supporters in 1663. The territory was divided into the colonies of North Carolina and South Carolina in 1729. South Carolina ratified the United States Constitution in 1788. It was the first state to secede from the Union (1860), thus precipitating the Civil War. Columbia is the capital and the largest city.