In 1860, the city was the location of the South Carolina Secession Convention, which marked the departure of the first state from the Union in the events leading up to the Civil War.In May 1540, a Spanish expedition led by Hernando de Soto traversed what is now Columbia while moving northward.The expedition produced the earliest written historical records of the area, which was part of the regional Cofitachequi chiefdom.

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Columbia is the capital of and largest city in the U. state of South Carolina, with a population of 129,272 as of the 2010 United States Census. The city serves as the county seat of Richland County, and a portion of the city extends into neighboring Lexington County. The name Columbia was a poetic term used for the United States, originating from the name of Christopher Columbus.

As of July 1, 2015, the city's population was estimated to be 133,803 (U. It is the center of the Columbia metropolitan statistical area, which had a population of 767,598 as of the 2010 United States Census, growing to 810,068 by July 1, 2015, according to 2015 U. The city is located approximately 13 miles (21 km) northwest of the geographic center of South Carolina, and is the primary city of the Midlands region of the state.

It lies at the confluence of the Saluda River and the Broad River, which merge at Columbia to form the Congaree River.

Columbia is home to the University of South Carolina, the state's flagship and largest university, and is also the site of Fort Jackson, the largest United States Army installation for Basic Combat Training.

State Senator John Lewis Gervais of the town of Ninety Six introduced a bill that was approved by the legislature on March 22, 1786, to create a new state capital.

There was considerable argument over the name for the new city.

According to published accounts, Senator Gervais said he hoped that "in this town we should find refuge under the wings of COLUMBIA", for that was the name which he wished it to be called.

The Congarees, a frontier fort on the west bank of the Congaree River, was the head of navigation in the Santee River system.

A ferry was established by the colonial government in 1754 to connect the fort with the growing settlements on the higher ground on the east bank.

Like many other significant early settlements in colonial America, Columbia is on the fall line from the Piedmont region.

The fall line is the spot where a river becomes unnavigable when sailing upstream and where falling water downstream cannot power a mill.