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generally in control of the state government, but was in chronic dread of defeat at the ballot-boxes. In the opposition there was a body of clerks, artisans and other white laborers in Charleston, much inclined at times to assert democratic doctrine, and there was a large population of farmers in the distant uplands, non-slaveholding in the eighteenth century, disposed to co-operate with the submerged Charleston democracy on occasion, but rendered partly helpless by a lack of leaders and organization. The control by the planters, furthermore, was safeguarded by a constitutional gerrymander which gave their districts (the lowlands) a more than proportionate representation in the legislature; and this advantage was jealously guarded by the planters, who feared unsympathetic administration, if no worse, by the democracy. The planters were large producers on a capitalistic basis, analogous to factory owners of more recent times, and often they operated on credit. They were generally disposed to be conservative in business, anxious. to keep their credit good and to maintain friendly relations with the commercial powers.1 In addition, these men, who were residents among and rulers of a dense negro population, could not afford to accept and propagate such socially disturbing ideas as the doctrine. of the inherent freedom and equality of men. The danger of fomenting servile discontent was too great.
In most of its problems except where the negroes were concerned the South Carolina ruling class found its interests to be harmonious with those of the Northern sea-board; and the problems of negroes and slavery furnished no overt issues in that period which could not be speedily patched up. The more obvious problems before the whole country were such as to promote little antagonism between North and South. All states and sections had similar tasks of rehabilitation after the war, similar needs of establishing an effective central government, similar difficulties of finance and commerce, similar danger from the French agitation in the Genet period, similar problems in general of maintaining a suitable equilibrium between social compactness and personal liberty and between national unity and local self-government. In nearly all the ques
The importance of commercial relations to the plantation interests may be gathered from the statistics of exports. For example, in 1791 the exports of South Carolina were valued at 2.9 million dollars, as compared with 3.8 from Pennsylvania, 3.5 from Virginia, 2.9 from Massachusetts and 2.5 from Maryland. In 1800 they were, from South Carolina 10.6 million dollars, from New York 14, from Maryland 12, from Pennsylvania 12, from Massachusetts 11.3, from Virginia 4.4.
tions of the period the issues lay between classes of people differentiated by temperament, occupation and property-holding, rather than between sections antagonized by the pressure of conflicting geographical conditions and needs. The temperament of the South in general was more impulsive than that of the North, and therefore. its views were likely to be the more democratic in that period of democratic agitation; but there were many reasons why the dominant class in a state like South Carolina should keep firm hold upon its emotions. The traditions of the South, too, laid greater stress upon individualism and local autonomy; but the special needs of the period counteracted this tendency also among a large element who wanted most a stable régime and leaned toward constructive policy.
As in many other cases in American history, the first phase in South Carolina party development in the Federalist period was the rise of local factions differing over local issues.
Each of these
provided itself with more or less definite party machinery, and attracted to its membership the persons of appropriate economic interests, social affiliations and personal points of view. Finally each of the local parties sought alliance with parties in other states in the Union, with a view to exerting influence upon the common federal government.
A beginning of the Federalist frame of mind may be seen as early as the movement of revolt from Great Britain. This movement in South Carolina was controlled by the aristocracy, and had little concern with the doctrine of natural rights. It was merely a demand for home-rule, with few appeals to theory of any sort. It was, furthermore, a movement for home-rule in Anglo-America as a whole, and not for the independence of the separate commonwealth of South Carolina. As an illustration of this, Christopher Gadsden, whose work of leadership in South Carolina corresponds to that of Samuel Adams in Massachusetts, wrote as early as 1765, "There ought to be no New England men, no New Yorkers, etc., known on the Continent, but all of us Americans."2 Gadsden, furthermore, was so conspicuously artistocratic in his general attitude that he was charged by a leading Democrat in 1783 with having originated "nabobism" in Charleston.3 As might be expected accordingly, the experience of this commonwealth during the whole
* Letter of Christopher Gadsden, Charleston, December 2, 1765, to Charles Garth, agent of the colony of South Carolina at London. R. W. Gibbes, Documentary History of the American Revolution, chiefly in South Carolina, 1764-1776, p. 8.
Letter of Alexander Gillon, South Carolina Gazette, September 9, 1783.
revolutionary period failed to emphasize either democratic theory or state-rights doctrine as much as did the agitations in numerous other states.
The divergence of parties upon local issues began during the war, if not before. The stress of the war times was extremely severe. The capture of Savannah in 1778 and of Charleston at the beginning of 1780 enabled the British forces to overrun the whole countryside and lay waste large tracts as far distant as the middle of the Piedmont region. Some of the inhabitants opposed the invaders by enlisting in the Continental army, and some by serving in partisan bands under Marion, Pickens and Sumter. Others came out openly as loyalists, giving aid to the British. Finally, a number of well-to-do citizens of the Charleston district, after experiencing for some months the distresses of invasive war, discouraged at the gloomy local prospects, and believing now that the country was grasping at the shadow of liberty and losing the substance of prosperity and happiness, ceased their more or less. active assistance to the "patriot" cause, accepted protection from General Cornwallis, and assumed neutral status. In January, 1782, the state legislature in its session at Jacksonborough, while the British still held Charleston, passed acts confiscating the property of loyalists and amercing a number of citizens listed as having accepted British protection and having deserted the American cause. This led to much subsequent controversy.
At the close of the war, the country lay devastated, the fieldgangs and equipment of plantations were depleted, markets impaired, and the British bounty lost which had sustained the indigo industry. Worse than all this, the body politic was torn by factional
W. H. Drayton, it is true, in 1778 denounced the Articles of Confederation, then before the state for ratification, on the ground that they would strip the several states of powers with which they could not safely part and would create a central government of enormous and dreadful powers Niles, Principles and Acts of the Revolution, pp. 98-115; Tyler, Literary History of the American Revolution, I. 491, 493. But this fantastic apprehension held by Drayton shortly before his death seems to have been sporadic and to have made no lasting impression unless upon a few men like Rawlins Lowndes, mentioned below.
E. g., the case of Rawlins Lowndes as explained by Judge Pendleton in the Charleston Evening Gazette, October 27, 1785. See also, letter of Ralph Izard, April 27, 1784, to Thomas Jefferson, in the South Carolina Historical and Genealogical Magazine, II. 194, 195.
For treatment of this general theme, see McCrady, History of South Carolina in the Revolution, passim.
'For a belated statement of considerations operating pro and contra in the debates at Jacksonborough, see the discussion in the Assembly, February 21, 1787, reported in the Charleston Morning Post, February 22, 1787.
spirit, and the leaders of opinion, though somewhat dazed by the magnitude and complexity of the problems to be handled, began clamoring in support of a great diversity of policies.
The first issue was upon the treatment of loyalists and other obnoxious persons. Most of the substantial citizens favored such toleration for these as the British treaty required; but a group of radicals undertook, without the formality of law, to administer discipline to selected persons, and to drive them from the state. It was doubtful for a twelvemonth whether mob law or statute law would prevail. Judge Edanus Burke in his charge to the grand jury at Charleston, June 9, 1783, expressed fears that the people, rendered boisterous by the war times, might turn against one another in factions. Four men, said he, had been killed in Charleston since the British army departed, and numerous others in the country. He deplored the retaliatory spirit, tending to beget feuds and factions, and he urged the grand jury to take steps to crush all violence. In spite of this, a number of men gathered on the evening of July 10, whether as a mob or as an organized company, and "pumped" four or five persons whom they thought obnoxious to the state. Next day a number of men of official status, principally members of the legislature, waited upon the governor and asked him to safeguard the good name of the city and state by suppressing this spirit of violence. The governor at once issued a proclamation denouncing the disorder, declaring that future breaches of the peace would be punished, and appealing to the judges, peace officers and all good citizens to aid in discouraging conduct of such alarming tendency.10
Order was restored by this measure; but the spirit of persecution still lived, to break out again in the following year. Meanwhile the men who most strongly cherished this hostility organized themselves as a force to be reckoned with. The prime mover in this appears to have been Alexander Gillon, a Charleston merchant who had been commissioned as commodore by the state of South Carolina in 1780 and sent abroad to obtain and operate a navy for the state. His achievement then was to hire a frigate from the Duke of Luxemburg, to equip it with a French crew, and send it out, after months of delay, to prey upon the British merchant marine. This frigate was soon captured by the British navy, and its cost added a very large item to South Carolina's Revolutionary debt.
South Carolina Gazette and General Advertiser, June 10, 1783.
Ibid., July 12, 1783.
Gillon saw no maritime service, but remained a titular commodore. His principal colleague in the leadership of the Charleston radicals. was Dr. James Fallon. Their followers appear to have been mostly of the city's unpropertied class.
There was at this time a club in Charleston named the Smoking Society, of a convivial character, or as said by its critics, bacchanalian. Gillon and Fallon had themselves made president and secretary respectively of this club, changed its name to the "Marine Anti-Britannic Society ", and devoted it to the championship of radical causes in politics. An indication of the strength of the faction which he headed lies in Gillon's election by the Privy Council to the lieutenant-governorship of the state, August 22, 1783,12 just a month after the "pumping" episode. This action by the Council may have been due to its having a majority of radicals among its members, or perhaps as probably to the desire of the conservatives to pacify the radicals by placing their leader in a position of dignity but of harmlessness in the administration. That Fallon also was zealously active is shown by a letter in the Georgia Gazette, October 16, 1783, written by a Georgian signing himself "Mentor" and apologizing for his interference by saying, “I cannot be happy when a sister state is fomented by intestine broils ". The writer warned the people of Charleston against Fallon as a demagogue and against the anarchy which mob action would bring: "The common people of Charleston, though liable to be misled, are still open to conviction. . Tell them ", he urged upon the leading men of the city, "that the advantages resulting from the preservation of government are Freedom, Unanimity, Commerce, and National Reputation; point out to them that the damnable evils which eternally spring from the anarchy they have aimed at are Suspicion, Dissension, Poverty, Disgrace, and Dissolution".
One of the Charleston papers printed in September a memorial of citizens of Northumberland County, Virginia, urging conservatism in public policy, liberal treatment towards foreigners, the refraining by public officers from the abuse of their powers, and the general toning up of political morality and manners.13 Aside from
11 Announcement of the annual dinner of the society to commemorate the evacuation of Charleston by the British on December 14, 1842. Gazette of the State of South Carolina, November 27, 1783. Letter signed Another Patriot ", South Carolina Gazette and General Advertiser, May 8 to 11, 1784.
12 South Carolina Gazette and General Advertiser, August 23, 1783.
13 Memorial by 69 inhabitants of Northumberland County to their delegates South Carolina Gazette and General
in the Virginia Assembly, June 10, 1783.
Advertiser, September 16 to 20, 1783.