The Coming of Revolution

South Carolina’s long friendship with the mother country was reflected in trade benefits the colony realized under the Navigation Acts and in protection provided to it by the strong British navy. However, public sentiment in the colony was transformed by the Stamp Act, the Townshend Acts, and by British political claims. South Carolinians—Christopher Gadsden, Henry Laurens, and Arthur Middleton—were leaders in the movement for independence, and in Mar., 1776, an independent government of South Carolina was set up with John Rutledge as president.

In the American Revolution the British failed to take Charleston in June, 1776, but Sir Henry Clinton successfully besieged the town in 1780. In the ensuing Carolina campaign the British were ultimately forced to retreat, although they held Charleston until Dec., 1782. In 1786 the site of Columbia was chosen for the new capital; its central location mollified the up-country population. South Carolina ratified the federal Constitution in May, 1788, and replaced the royal charter with a state charter in 1790. Complete religious liberty was established and primogeniture was abolished, but property qualifications for voting and office holding was retained, ensuring planter control of the legislature.

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