South Carolina Education

South Carolina Education 1701 to 1800

The year of 1701 began much as 1700 had ended, with respect to education in the province of South Carolina. There were still no formal schools, of any kind, in the province. However, the population was steadily increasing, and more and more children were now part of the growing citizenry. With a well-established town - Charles Town - the enlightened townfolk had already realized that education was important enough to establish a Provincial Library (in 1698 - see previous section herein), and those in the countryside were already satisfying their ecclesiastical needs by first establishing parishes, then small parish churches in these new parishes. Therefore, it is understandable that this growing population soon began to realize the need for erecting and staffing small "free schools" to "help the needy" in their communities.

What began with the deaths of one or two fairly wealthy and generous men bequeathing a substantial portion of their estates for the endowment of schools in their respective communities, eventually evolved into small groups of fairly wealthy and generous men recognizing that the smart way to approach education in South Carolina was to incorporate specific societies, with trustees appointed, to manage these new societies and their objectives of building and staffing decent schools in the many small communities all across the province.

In the meantime, the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts (SPG), was launched in 1701 under Royal Charter as an overseas missionary organization within the Church of England (also known as the Anglican Church).

In 1700, Henry Compton, Bishop of London (1675–1713), requested the Rev. Thomas Bray to report on the state of the Church of England in the American colonies. Rev. Bray, after extended travels in the colonies, reported that the Anglican Church in America had "little spiritual vitality" and was "in a poor organizational condition". Under Rev. Bray's initiative, the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts was authorized by convocation and incorporated by Royal Charter on June 16, 1701. King William III issued a charter establishing the SPG as "an organization able to send priests and school teachers to America to help provide the Church's ministry to the colonists." The new society had two main objectives: Christian ministry to English people overseas; and evangelization of the non-Christian races of the world.

By 1710, the SPG's charter had expanded to include work among African slaves in the West Indies and Native Americans in North America. The SPG funded clergy and schoolmasters, dispatched books and supported catechists through annual fundraising sermons in London that publicized the work of the society's mission. Queen Anne was a noted early supporter, contributing her own funds and authorizing in 1711 the first of many annual Royal Letters requiring local parishes in England to raise a "liberal contribution" for the Society's work overseas.

On April 8, 1710, Governor Edward Tynte signed the first known Act to create a Free School in what soon became South Carolina.

This was the first of forty (40) known Acts pertaining to education passed by the South Carolina General Assembly during the 1700s.

This first Act of 1710 was ultimately repealed and replaced by another Act entitled "An Act for a Free School in Charlestown," passed on December 12, 1712 by Governor Charles Craven.

During the remainder of the Colonial period and prior to the American Revolution, the legislature of South Carolina authorized schools in:

- 1724 - Dorchester (probably didn't happen)
- 1733 - Childsbury (some historians say this did not happen, others say it did)
- 1734 - Dorchester (indicates the earlier Act was not fulfilled)
- 1751 - Charlestown via the South Carolina Society
- 1754 - Charlestown Library Society authorized to build a new Academy in Charlestown
- 1757 - Winyaw Indico Society authorized to build a school in Gerogetown

During the American Revolution, the new State Legislature passed five (5) Acts pertaining to education. All five (5) Acts were to incorporate new societies with the specified goals of building and managing public schools:

- 1777 - Mount Sion Society - Public School in the Camden District (Winnsborough)
- 1778 - Catholic Society - Public School in the Camden District east of the Wateree River
- 1778 - Salem Society - School and Seminary of Learning in the Ninety-Six District between the Catawba and Savannah Rivers
- 1778 - St. David's Society - Seminary of Learning in the Cheraws District
- 1779 - John's Island Society - Seminary of Learning in St. John's, Colleton Parish

After the American Revolution and before the turn of the century, the South Carolina General Assembly passed three (3) Acts to create five (5) new colleges within the state:

- 1785 - Winnsborough, Charleston, Cambridge (in the Ninety-Six District)
- 1795 - Beaufort
- 1797 - Alexandria College (in the Pinckney District)

During this same period, the South Carolina General Assembly passed nine (9) Acts to authorize newly-created societies to build and manage schools:

- 1786 - Beaufort Society and St. Helena Society - Free School in Beaufort and a Free School at St. Helena
- 1788 - Camden Orphan Society and Friendly Cambridge Society - Public School in Camden and Promotion of Education at Cambridge College
- 1789 - Claremont Society - Seminary of Learning in the town of Statesburg
- 1791 - Beaufort District Society - Public Schools in Beaufort District
- 1797 - Spartanburgh Philanthropic Society - Academy in the town of Spartanburg
- 1798 - St. Andrew's Society - School for Orphans and the Poor in Charleston
- 1798 - Clarendon Orphan Society - Public School in Clarendon County; Trustees named to create a Public School in Orangeburg
- 1799 - Upper Long Cane Society - Public School(s) for Orphans and the Poor in Abbeville District
- 1799 - Multiple Societies - Public School in Lancaster County; Public School in Colleton District; escheated property to go to several schools
- 1799 - Agricultural Society to establish a school in honor of Dr. John DeLa Howe in Abbeville District.

During this same period, the South Carolina General Assembly also passed two (2) Acts to directly incorporate new academies within the state:

- 1795 - Columbia Academy
- 1795 - Williamsburgh Academy

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