South Carolina - From Statehood to 1800

The Founding Fathers of South Carolina
Click Here to view/download a very comprehensive slideshow presentation that provides a quick look back at ancient to pre-modern democracies, republics, and constitutions that led to the creation of the provincial representative assemblies in early South Carolina, and how our "founding fathers" learned from these previous attempts to create a viable State government - all while fighting many pitched battles for our collective freedom. Click Here to view/download an Excel spreadsheet with all founding fathers named in alphabetical order.

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Summary of Slides Found Herein

Ancient to Pre-Modern Democracies

500 BC
Certainly the Greeks gave us the word "democracy," the Romans established a "republic," but most are unaware that the Indian sub-continent also gave us an early form of representative government as early as 500 BC.

1066 to Present
As England evolved into Great Britain and the United Kingdom, its government slowly evolved into a "constitutional monarchy," even though the country has no formal written constitution. The 1600s were especially enlightening with many new democratic values introduced, embraced, and passed along to all colonies.

1607 to 1752
The thirteen (13) original colonies were launched via the Crown granting a "charter" to proprietors and/or to companies. Each charter was a "pseudo-constitution" that included "self-rule" as long as all laws enacted conformed to the laws of England. The first "representative government" in the "new world" convened in 1619 in the colony of Virginia.

 SC Colonial Government
1629 to 1775

Charles I granted a charter for "Carolana" to Sir Robert Heath, his Attorney General. Heath did not have the wherewithal to make things happen, so the charter languished and was forgotten soon thereafter, thanks to the English Civil War.

Charles II granted a charter for "Carolina" to eight (8) Lords Proprietors in 1663 to honor their service in helping restore him to the Crown. In 1665, this charter was amended to extend the northern boundary. In each of these years, the Lords Proprietors published written decrees to their constituents settling in Albemarle and soon along the Cape Fear. These written decrees were a "pact" - here's what we'll provide, and here's what we will expect from settlers.

The Lords Proprietors issued the Fundamental Constitutions to the settlers sailing to South Carolina, and provided a copy to the North Carolina settlers in Albemarle. These Fundamental Constitutions contradicted many of the earlier "Concessions & Agreements" and this irritated the existing settlers in North Carolina. South Carolina soon grew to dislike the Fundamental Constitutions as well.

As the original eight (8) Lords Proprietors died, their share of Carolina was bequeathed to sons or sold if no heirs survived. Of the forty-six (46) Lords Proprietors, only four (4) ever actually lived in Carolina.

The eldest of the Lords Proprietors was given the title of "Palatine," and he could appoint all governors and other key posts. The other seven (7) Lords Proprietors could appoint "deputies" to serve as the Executive Council for each appointed governor. Per the Fundamental Constitutions, there was a hiearchy of "nobility" created to induce some influential men to settle in Carolina. These were abandoned before the Crown took over.

Thirty-two (32) executives led South Carolina from 1670 to 1729. Eighteen (18) were appointed by the Lords Proprietors (the Palatine), nine (9) were appointed by the Crown, and seven (7) were "acting governor" since they were President of the Council when a governor died or left the colony. Slide 21 is a depiction of the South Carolina government under the Lords Proprietors. Slides 22-23 provide an overview of Governor Philip Ludwell's government of 1692.

Slide 25 provides an overview of the South Carolina government under the Crown. There were seven (7) Royal Governors and four (4) "acting governors" served by President of the Council.

Slides 27-28 provide an overview of Governor Robert Johnson's government from 1729 to 1735.

The Court Act of 1768 was finally approved by the Crown in 1769 and established seven (7) judicial districts across the colony. This slide also shows when the state's boundary was evenually surveyed.

Slides 30-31 provide an overview of Governor William Campbell's government of 1775. As shown, the 1st Provincial Government met after the 11th session of this general assembly.

SC During the

In 1773, Benjamin Franklin made the first call for the thirteen (13) colonies to discuss the issues with Great Britain. In 1774, the citizens of South Carolina elected one hundred and four (104) representatives to meet in Charlestown. This group adopted resolutions to work with New England, and elected five delegates to represent South Carolina in the upcoming Continental Congress, which met in Philadelphia 9/5 to 10/26. Later in 1774, South Carolina elected delegates to the upcoming Provincial Congress.

1st Provincial Congress convened in Charlestown with one hundred and ninety-three (193) members attending the first session and two hundred and fourteen (214) members attending the second session. This group created three (3) regiments of Provincial Troops, raised the colony's militia, and agreed to stop exporting certain items to Great Britain.

2nd Provincial Congress convened in Charlestown with two hundred and four members attending the first session and two hundred and ten (210) members attending the second session. This group created three (3) more regiments of Provincial Troops, renamed two election districts, elected six (6) new delegates to the Continental Congress, drafted the first State Constitution, then adjourned. That afternoon, the first General Assembly sat.

Slide 50 provides an overview of the South Carolina State Government based upon the first State Constitution. All power resided in the Legislative Branch, which elected officials in the other two branches. The General Assembly was comprised of a House of Representatives and a Legislative Council with thirteen (13) members elected by the House. The General Assembly also elected the Privy Council, all Field Officers of the Militia and Provincial Troops, and all judges/justices. John Rutledge was elected President and Henry Laurens was elected Vice President. This general assembly authorized South Carolina's delegates to sign the Declaration of Independence, and agreed to the demands that six (6) regiments of Provincial Troops be placed on the Continental Line, with two South Carolina officers promoted to Brigadier General. Finally, this general assembly ratified nineteen (19) legislative Acts.

2nd General Assembly convened six (6) times, including four (4) special sessions. Journals of this assembly are lost and the names have been pieced together using newspapers and other sources. Luckily, all legislative Acts have been preserved. The State Constitution was revised and drafted, but it was so hotly debated that it took well over a year to approve. President John vetoed it, then resigned in March of 1778. Rawlins Lowndes was elected the second President and he signed the new State Constitution, which would go into effect for the third general assembly. James Parson was elected the second Vice President and later became the first Lt. Governor, but resigned soon thereafter. Thomas Been was elected to replace him. This general assembly ratified eighty-two (82) legislative Acts, incorporated four (4) private academies across the State, added two new parishes to be election districts, and updated the State's militia law to provide for "brigades" of militia led by brigadier generals.

Slide 70 provides an overview of the South Carolina State Government based upon the second State Constitution. Qualifications for each office were now defined - and qualifications of voters now defined. General Assembly now included a Senate in lieu of the previous Legislative Council. Now eight (8) members in the Executive Branch Privy Council. Brigadier Generals elected by the General Assembly.

3rd General Assembly convened two (2) regular sessions and one (1) special session in Charlestown, now with State Senators and House of Representatives. John Rutledge elected governor, and Thomas Bee elected lieutenant governor. Thomas Bee elected to Continental Congress, then succeeded by Christopher Gadsden as lieutenant governor. State invaded by British Brig. Gen. Augustine Prevost, Charlestown almost captured. Feb. 1780, the British land and begin their assault on Charlestown, which was surrendered on May 12, 1780. The general assembly ratified thirty-one (31) legislative Acts and incorporated a seminary of learning in Colleton County. Hundreds of military me and dozens of the civilian government were sent as prisoners to St. Augustine.

After the Fall of Charlestown on May 12, 1780, the civilian government was inoperable. Gov. Rutledge and three (3) of his Privy Council fled Charlestown and went to Philadelphia then back to Hillsborough in North Carolina. Several leading officers took command of the various militia units and began rebuilding a semblance of control across the State. With the subsequent defeat at the battle of Camden, SC, and with the establishment of many British outposts all across the State, the few militia leaders had a tough time. In December of 1780, Maj. Gen. Nathanael Greene arrived and soon began the long task of forcing the British Army out of the state.

4th General Assembly convened in Jacksonborough with seventeen (17) State Senators and one hundred and eighty-seven (187) members of the House of Representatives for one hurried session. They ratified only sixteen (16) legislative Acts, including the hated "Confiscation Act." Christopher Gadsden was elected governor, but he refused to serve. John Mathews was then elected governor, and Richard Hutson was elected lieutenant governor. On December 14, 1782, the British finally left Charlestown for good.

SC Joins the US Government

Preliminary Articles of Peace signed in Paris on November 30, 1782, news did not reach SC until April 23, 1783. Final Peace Treaty signed on September 3, 1783.

5th General Assembly convened for two (2) regular sessions and one (1) special session. Many calls to move the seat of government and to once again modify the State Constitution, all fail. Strong call for a County Court system and this is agreed to. Benjamin Guerard is elected governor, Richard Beresford is elected lieutenant governor. He resigns and William Moultrie takes his place. This general assembly ratifies sixty-nine (69) legislative Acts, incorporated the city of Charleston, and agreed to define new counties.

6th General Assembly convened for two (2) regular sessions and one (1) special session. They ratified eighty-eight (88) legislative Acts, established three (3) colleges, authorized two (2) free schools, authorized the creation of thirty-four (34) new counties to be established, and authorized the seat of government to be moved to the new city of Columbia. William Moultrie was elected governor, Charles Drayton was elected lieutenant governor.

7th General Assembly convened for two (2) regular sessions and one (1) special session. They ratified ninety-four (94) legislative Acts, appointed four delegates to the upcoming Federal Constitution Convention, and changed the name of the town of Ninety-Six to Cambridge. Thomas Pinckney is elected governor, and Thomas Gadsden was elected lieutenant governor. John Rutledge chaired the committee that drafted the first version of the U.S. Constitution.

8th General Assembly convened for two (2) regular sessions. They ratified fifty-three (53) legislative Acts, established a seminary of learning in Statesburgh, established two new counties/election districts, and authorized a new State Constitution to be considered. Charles Pinckney was elected governor, and Isaac Holmes was elected lieutenant governor. The general assembly also elected two U.S. Senators, and established the districts for people to elect five (5) members of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Two hundred and twenty-seven (227) delegates met to rework the State Constitution for the third time. It was approved on June 3, 1790 and continued, with minor amendments, until the American Civil War.

First U.S. Census indicated that South Carolina included 249,073 souls.

Bonus Slides

Towns established in South Carolina from 1775 to 1800.

South Carolina election districts map of 1791 to 1799.

South Carolina "overarching districts" and counties of 1791, showning recent changes and additions.

South Carolina "overarching districts" and counties of 1792 to 1799, showing recent changes and additions.

South Carolina election districts as of 1800. Term "county" was abolished.

South Carolina election districts changes 1800-1801.


Six (6) primary sources. Two (2) minor sources. All important.

Appendix A

Explanation of who are included as "founding fathers." Total of 1,072 named. Followed by the men named from each "election district" - some moved and are included in more than one district. Plus, South Carolina authorized a person to be elected that did not live in the district. Therefore, a name might be on many pages. The Excel spreadsheet described above helps sort these out.

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