Colonial South Carolina

Colonial South Carolina: A Political History, 1663-1763

M. EUGENE SIRMANS
Foreword by Wesley Frank Craven
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5149/9780807838488_sirmans
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Colonial South Carolina
    Book Description:

    This absorbing appraisal of colonial South Carolina political history is developed in three parts: "The Age of the Goose Creek Men," covering 1670-1712; "Breakdown and Recovery"--in which the central dispute was over local currency--1712-43; and "The Rise of the Commons House of Assembly," 1743-63.

    eISBN: 978-1-4696-0063-5
    Subjects: History, Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. FOREWORD
    (pp. vii-x)
    Wesley Frank Craven

    Marion Eugene Sirmans, Jr., was born in Moultrie, Georgia, on January 27, 1934. He died in Atlanta on August 30, 1965. His many friends will remember him for the good company he repeatedly gave them, and even more for his extraordinary courage. Despite the knowledge he had after 1957 that his life was likely to be short, Gene sustained a remarkably buoyant view of life and spent the time allotted to him working in his chosen field. He experienced no defeat.

    Mr. Sirmans had graduated from Emory University in June 1955, had enrolled at Princeton University in the following fall...

  3. PREFACE
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  4. Table of Contents
    (pp. xv-2)
  5. CHAPTER I ENGLISH BACKGROUND 1663–1670
    (pp. 3-16)

    In the sultry dog days of August 1669, three ships rode at anchor in the Downs off the southeastern coast of England. There were two frigates, the flagship Carolina and the Port Royal, and a sloop, the Albemarle, all waiting for a favorable wind to carry them to the Carolina coast. The fleet’s commander, Captain Joseph West, had orders from his employers, the True and Absolute Lords Proprietors of Carolina, to sail by way of Barbados to a harbor in Carolina called Port Royal. There Captain West and the fleet’s passengers planned to found a new colony, a settlement to...

  6. PART I THE AGE OF THE GOOSE CREEK MEN, 1670–1712

    • [PART I Introduction]
      (pp. 17-18)

      Very soon after the first settlement of South Carolina the government of the colony came to be dominated by a group of men known eventually as the Goose Creek men—immigrants from Barbados who had settled near Goose Creek, a tributary of the Cooper River. Representing the largest immigration into the colony during its first decade, and contemptuous of less experienced colonists, they undertook to retain control of the provincial government and so determined the course of South Carolina’s politics for almost half a century. The Goose Creek men, who belonged to the Church of England, quickly encountered political opposition...

    • CHAPTER II THE RISE OF THE BARBADIANS 1670–1682
      (pp. 19-34)

      For seven months the colonists who landed at Port Royal in March 1670 had been continuously at sea, except for short layovers at Ireland, Barbados, and Bermuda. Nor was the stay at Port Royal long, for on the advice of friendly Indians they immediately moved northward to Albemarle Point on the west bank of the Ashley River, where they began to build the town which the proprietors named Charles Town.¹ It had been a wearying experience, but the settlers turned to the tasks of colonizing with optimism. “Though we are (att present) under some straight for want of provision …...

    • CHAPTER III THE FAILURE OF PROPRIETARY REFORM 1682–1694
      (pp. 35-54)

      The Carolina proprietors in the early 1680’s confronted the problem of a colony that returned neither profits nor obedience to its owners. The proprietors met the challenge by launching two campaigns in 1682, one to recruit new immigrants and the other to reform the government of the colony. They persuaded hundreds of families, mostly religious dissenters, to settle in South Carolina, but their political reforms succeeded only in stirring up an anti-proprietary faction in the province. This Goose Creek party, named for the area where many of its leaders lived, was composed mostly of Barbadians. The ensuing conflict between the...

    • CHAPTER IV PEACE AND PROSPERITY 1695–1700
      (pp. 55-74)

      The colony of South Carolina had known little else besides political discord and economic hardship since its founding. For all the idealism of Shaftesbury and Locke, the proprietors had failed to create a colony that was either stable or profitable, while the colonists had failed to find an easy route to economic success and had divided into constantly bickering factions. Yet within a few years the colony changed dramatically. The introduction of rice culture and expansion of the Indian trade set the colony on a firm economic foundation, while the dedicated efforts of Governor John Archdale did much to settle...

    • CHAPTER V THE RENASCENCE OF FACTIONS 1700–1712
      (pp. 75-100)

      During the first thirty years after the founding of South Carolina, religious factionalism remained a relatively minor matter in provincial politics. Although the proprietors had announced their preference for the Church of England, they also wished to establish a haven of religious toleration, and for eighteen of the thirty years they accepted dissenters as governors of their colony. The absence of organized congregations in the early years, the remoteness from religious antagonisms in England, and common grievances against the proprietors led the settlers to subordinate religious animosities to other issues in the colony. Although the religious differences between Anglican and...

  7. PART II BREAKDOWN AND RECOVERY, 1712–1743

    • [PART II Introduction]
      (pp. 101-102)

      Beginning in 1712 South Carolina entered one of the most unsettled periods in its history. First, the colony suffered heavy losses in the Yamasee War of 1715, and the Indians continued to threaten the existence of the colony for five years after the war had supposedly ended. Then, when the proprietors, who were misinformed about the gravity of the Indian danger, refused to send any substantial aid to South Carolina, the colonists rebelled, overthrew the proprietary government in 1719, and persuaded the Crown to send over a royal governor. Although Francis Nicholson, the first royal governor, restored order for a...

    • CHAPTER VI THE OVERTHROW OF THE PROPRIETORS 1712–1719
      (pp. 103-128)

      Relations between the True and Absolute Lords Proprietors of Carolina and the people of South Carolina had always been uneasy, and in the second decade of the eighteenth century they were finally strained to the breaking point. Regulation of the Indian trade broke down completely, and the ensuing Indian wars plunged the colony into a state of economic and political chaos. The proprietors misjudged both the situation and the temper of the people, however, and the fear that the proprietors had abandoned the colony to its enemies drove South Carolina to open revolt.

      When the South Carolina assembly convened for...

    • CHAPTER VII THE COLLAPSE OF THE PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT 1720–1730
      (pp. 129-163)

      The Revolution of 1719 caught the British government by surprise. The Board of Trade opposed proprietary colonies as a matter of policy, and thanks to the work of South Carolina’s agents in England the Board was well aware of the colony’s exposed position. Immediate action was necessary, but to make South Carolina a royal colony was to countenance rebellion. The Board of Trade postponed a final answer and advised the Privy Council to take over the administration of South Carolina on a temporary basis. The Privy Council accepted the Board’s proposal on the grounds that the Crown should protect England’s...

    • CHAPTER VIII THE EXPANSION OF SOUTH CAROLINA 1731–1737
      (pp. 164-192)

      Governor Robert Johnson was the most remarkable politician in the colonial history of South Carolina. As governor throughout the Revolution of 1719 he had managed to keep the good will and respect of the people of the colony, even when he had tried to restore the proprietary government. He had next shown himself to be a man of vision by drawing up his township scheme, a plan which sketched a blueprint for settling the crisis of the 1720’s. When Johnson resumed the governorship in 1730, he again proved his practical ability by making his scheme work. Using his township plan...

    • CHAPTER IX WARS AND RUMORS OF WARS 1737–1743
      (pp. 193-222)

      After the death of Lieutenant Governor Thomas Broughton in 1737, South Carolina politics cooled off again under a new acting governor, Colonel William Bull. The colony’s politicians adjusted most of their disputes between 1737 and 1740, but their compromises did not represent a new departure in provincial politics. Instead, Colonel Bull and other leaders reconstructed the political settlement that Governor Robert Johnson had negotiated in the early part of the decade. Although the compromises of Bull’s administration opened the way to a period of internal stability, South Carolina’s time of troubles was not yet over. In 1738 the colony became...

  8. PART III THE RISE OF THE COMMONS HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY, 1743–1763

    • [PART III Introduction]
      (pp. 223-224)

      Governor James Glen’s long-delayed arrival in South Carolina in 1743 marked the end of an old era in the colony’s political history and the beginning of a new one. Prior to the 1740’s provincial politics had followed a roughly rhythmical pattern of chaotic disputes and compromise settlements. The normal political cycle had seen a period of violent internal dispute resulting in near anarchy followed by a period of adjustment and relaxation of tensions. Thus, the controversy over the establishment of the Church of England had been followed by Charles Craven’s peaceful administration, and the currency disputes of the 1720’s had...

    • CHAPTER X THE COLONY AT MID-CENTURY
      (pp. 225-255)

      By the middle of the eighteenth century South Carolina had grown up as a colony. The frontier outpost of 1670 or even of 1700 had long since disappeared and been replaced by a more sophisticated and more complex society. Indeed, South Carolina’s society and economy had reached an advanced stage of maturity that did not change markedly again until after the American Revolution. The colony had built up a prosperous economy based on a variety of staple products. In turn, economic prosperity had given many white Carolinians the opportunity to improve their social positions and the time to enlarge the...

    • CHAPTER XI TINKERING WITH THE CONSTITUTION 1743–1749
      (pp. 256-277)

      Throughout the twelve-year administration of Governor James Glen, the political history of South Carolina pivoted upon the constitutional struggles involving the governor and both houses of the assembly. The first half of Glen’s tenure, from 1743 to 1749, found each of the rivals contending against both of its competitors. The Commons House of Assembly attacked the governor and the council, Glen fought the council and the Commons, and the council defended itself against the lower house and the governor. Generally speaking, the Commons House tried to encroach upon the prerogatives of its competitors, Glen attempted to regain some of the...

    • CHAPTER XII THE DECLINE OF GOVERNOR GLEN 1750–1753
      (pp. 278-294)

      The constitutional debate in South Carolina turned to the office of governor in 1750, and for four years James Glen found himself under attack from three different directions. A revived and reformed Board of Trade began to reduce the governor’s autonomy by insisting on a literal obedience of its instructions. Next, the council undertook an investigation of Glen’s handling of the Choctaw revolt, and it again raised the issue of the governor’s right to sit in on its legislative sessions. Finally, the Commons House of Assembly tried to encroach upon the governor’s prerogatives in several different areas. Only an exceptionally...

    • CHAPTER XIII THE FALL OF THE COUNCIL 1754–1756
      (pp. 295-314)

      Constitutional developments in general and the rise of the Commons House of Assembly in particular continued to dominate the politics of South Carolina in the mid-1750’s, as the lower house persisted in its efforts to accumulate power at the expense of governor and council. The house turned away from the governor in 1754 and shifted its attention to the council, the second obstacle in its path. The attack began with a commonplace disagreement over control of the provincial agent, but it soon expanded into a full-dress constitutional debate. Both houses redefined the provincial constitution in terms that differed radically from...

    • CHAPTER XIV FRICTION WITHIN THE EMPIRE 1756–1761
      (pp. 315-342)

      When Great Britain declared war on France in May 1756, the Anglo-French contest for the Ohio Valley expanded from an American struggle into a world war. The British government had never defined precisely the degree of colonial subordination to the Crown, and the pressures of war revealed a divergence of interpretation between South Carolina and Great Britain about the status of the colonies within the empire. When the Crown called upon the colonies for assistance during the war, it found that the colonial assemblies could not be forced to comply and that they often interpreted pleas for cooperation as attempts...

    • CHAPTER XV THE FRUITS OF WAR 1761–1763
      (pp. 343-358)

      With the ratification of the Cherokee peace treaty in December 1761, South Carolina returned to the sidelines of the French and Indian War. Although the war did not end formally until 1763, South Carolina was at peace for all practical purposes, and peace forced the political leadership of the colony to disinter a set of problems it had postponed for the duration of hostilities. Each of the problems was related to the basic question of South Carolina’s relationship to the Crown, and with the exception of a further reorganization of Indian affairs, each of them added to the growing tension...

  9. BIBLIOGRAPHICAL ESSAY
    (pp. 361-376)
  10. INDEX
    (pp. 379-394)
  11. [Map]
    (pp. None)