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DELIVERED BEFORE THE
South Carolina Historical Society,
MAY 18TH, 1880,
JOSEPH W. BARNWELL,
DUAL GOVERNMENTS IN SOUTH CAROLINA.
In the history of South Carolina, which extends over a period of two hundred and ten years, there have been three occasions when rival Governments have contended within her borders for the mastery of the State: in 1719, when the inhabitants of the Colony overthrew the Government of “The True and Absolute Lords Proprietors of the Province of Carolina;" in 1776, when they, in turn, cast off that of his “Most gracious Majesty, King George;" and again, in 1876, in the memorable contest for the Governorship between Hampton and Chamberlain, resulting in the restoration to power of the white race and the subversion of the rule of the barbarian and the stranger.
I propose to go over, this evening, the story of these two former revolts of the people, to compare the causes which led to them, the means taken to accomplish them, and the results which flowed from them. If the story is not a new one its repetition will still, I trust, be of value should it serve to contrast the struggles of the last century with that of our own day, with whose events we are familiar. It will, at least, remove the surprise so often expressed three years ago that a “Dual Government' should exist for many months in South Carolina without bloodshed, for it will recall the fact that the self-control and determination displayed in the latest uprising against misgovernment also characterized the two former contests. It will remind us that the capacity to work out successfully and with deliberation our own deliverance from tyranny, the common inheritance of the English-speaking race, is more nearly derived from an American source-from men whose blood was warmed by a Carolina sun, and who learned the lessons of manhood upon her soil.
In the year 1719 the Province of Carolina contained a population numbering at most nine thousand freemen and twelve thousand slaves, about the population in 1870 of the county of Laurens. Its inhabited territory, though stretching many leagues along the coast, extended inland scarcely thirty miles from the
Charlestown, its only port, the seat of its government and the centre of its trade, was an insignificant village, confined by fortifications which occupied substantially the lines of the present Water street, Meeting street, Cumberland street, and East Bay. This feeble Colony, which but four years before had been threatened with extinction by the Indians in the Yemassee war, and which during this very year (1719) had been in serious danger from the Spanish fleet, was now suffering from all the accumulated evils which could be brought down upon it by fifty years of subjection to one of the feeblest of governments-the government of the “True and Absolute Lords Proprietors."
The grant of the lands of the State, including the whole territory from Virginia to Florida, from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific, to these “Proprietors,” eight of the courtiers and politicians of the reign of Charles II, though carefully expressed to be in consideration of their “laudable and pious zeal for the propagation of the Christian faith," was in reality an example on a magnificent scale of what in the political language of to-day would be called a division of “spoils” among the “victors." The subsequent settlement of the Province by the grantees, the Duke of Albemarle, Lords Clarendon, Craven, Ashley, and Berkley, Sir George Carteret, Sir William Berkley, and Sir John Colleton, was in the nature of a speculation in lands. And I fear that the fine phrases of the Carolina charter as to civil liberty and religious toleration had probably a pecuniary object, that of filling up the Colony with emigrants, of attracting to its settlement that large, dissatisfied part of the people of Great Britain and Ireland who were hostile to their government and dissenters from the Established Church. In this respect, however, the settlement of our State is not to be unfavorably contrasted with the founding of older American Colonies. Said the great common lawyer, Sir Edward Coke, in attacking the patentees of Massachusetts Bay: “The ends of private gain are concealed under cover of planting a Colony;" and his words are applicable to them all. They were English Colonies, and the motives of their founders were English motives. Honor and profit, glory and gain were mingled and combined as they usually are in the enterprises of that great nation of fighting shopkeepers and trading soldiers.
But though the motives of the founders of Carolina were practically the same as those of the promoters of other settlements, there was considerable difference in the character of the Proprietors, themselves, and the manner in which they attempted to effect their object. Our proprietory Government was not vested in a corporation as in Virginia or Massachusetts, nor in sole proprietor as in Pennsylvania or Maryland.
The Proprietors were instead eight busy public men, having few interests in common and deeply immersed in more important affairs. Their number was too large for consistent action, too small for the growth of esprit de corps, and they attempted to accomplish by elaborate contrivances planned in the closet the work which personal supervision and personal experience of the necessities of the Colony could alone hope to perform. The attempt was of course a signal failure, and of this their Lordships had early experience.
The “Fundamental Constitutions” prepared by Lord Shaftesbury and John Locke, the philosopher, as the “sacred and unalterable form and rule of government" for Carolina, were duly signed and sealed by the Proprietors and forwarded with the first ship which sailed for subscription by the Colonists.
And yet the Colonists of Carolina could never be induced to adopt them.
Four times, between 1670 and 1693, did their Lordships alter their unalterable rules—but in vain. The whole system with its "seignorys," its "baronys," its "Precincts" and its "Colonys, its electoral and judicial colleges, its eight Supreme Courts before which it was to be a “base and vile thing to plead for money or reward," and all its other provisions for avoiding the “erecting of a numerous democracy," was resolutely rejected, and at length reluctantly abandoned by the Proprietors themselves.
It was not that the Colonists who had come together here were incapable of appreciating an orderly administration of affairs. Their conduct was, it is true, not always wise and temperate, yet they were, said Mr. John Lawson, who visited Charlestown in 1700, "a genteel sort of people that were well acquainted with trade and had either money or parts to make good use of the advantages that offered." They may certainly be pardoned for their contempt for the sham titles of "Landgrave" and "Cacique'' provided for in the "Fundamental Constitutions," and for their