Bratton served as a regimental commander in Sumter’s Brigade until the end of the Revolution. After the war, he served as a justice of the peace for York County, sheriff of Pinckney District, and a state legislator in both the House of Representatives (1785–1790) and the Senate (1791–1794). He also operated a small store, was a successful planter and businessman, and owned several slaves. Read the Entry »

One of the myriad organizations that gave structure to the free black community and functioned primarily as a mutual aid association. During its early history, free blacks received minimal benefits from public services and had to provide for their own needs. Beginning in the late nineteenth century, some members were college-educated professionals. Affiliation with the society became a marker of aristocratic status within Charleston’s black community. Read the Entry »

After white church officials in Charleston reduced the control that black Methodists heretofore exercised over their church affairs, Brown led most of them from the denomination in 1817 in protest. They formed an African church, and Brown traveled to Philadelphia, where in 1818 he was admitted as an elder in the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church. His Charleston church, which had grown to more than three thousand members, affiliated with this northern black denomination. Read the Entry »

Brown was among the most notorious Loyalist commanders in the South during the Revolutionary War. In one of David Ramsey’s histories of the war, Brown wrote an impassioned defense of his conduct in reply to charges of cruelty. Brown died on his St. Vincent Island plantation on August 3, 1825. Read the Entry »

During the 1770s Bull’s political views grew increasingly out of step as South Carolina and other colonies moved toward radical opposition to the crown. Lord William Campbell, the last royal governor, arrived at Charleston on June 18, 1775, and took office, but his term lasted only three months. On September 15 he was forced to flee the city for refuge on a British warship in Charleston harbor. The revolution was under way, and Bull’s position was an impossible one. He resigned from the Royal Council and retired to his Ashley Hall plantation. In 1777 he refused to take the oath of allegiance to the revolutionary government and was banished from the state. Read the Entry »

Burke was elected as an anti-Federalist to the First Congress of the United States, commencing service in New York on March 4, 1789. He served on thirty-three committees and was instrumental in crafting bills that led to the judiciary act and the creation of the Library of Congress, the postal system, and the patent system. His congressional service was marked by an incident with Alexander Hamilton, whom Burke felt had slighted southern soldiers when Hamilton eulogized General Nathanael Greene. Read the Entry »

In April 1865 Confederate First Lady Varina Howell Davis and her family stayed in the Burt home for twelve days after they fled Richmond. They left Abbeville two days before Jefferson Davis, Secretary of War John C. Breckinridge, and the Confederacy’s senior military advisers arrived. On May 2, 1865, at Burt’s house, the leaders held their final council of war. On advice from his advisers, Davis agreed that further resistance was impossible and that the Confederate cause was lost. Read the Entry »

Butler is perhaps best remembered for his role in the attack on Charles Sumner—even though he was not present for one minute of it. On May 19 and 20, Sumner launched into a speech entitled “The Crime against Kansas.” His villain was Butler, who was absent. Butler was “the Don Quixote of slavery,” and his mistress in this morality play, “though ugly to others, is always lovely to him; though polluted in the sight of the world, is chaste in his sight . . . the harlot, Slavery.” Sumner then compounded the insult by mocking Butler’s habit of spitting when he spoke. On May 22, in an incident that some historians view as a critical turning point toward civil war, Butler’s cousin Preston S. Brooks avenged his kinsman by caning Sumner on the floor of the Senate. Read the Entry »

Although Butler served in the General Assembly from 1776 to 1789, his most significant political accomplishments came at the national level. In 1787 the legislature elected Butler to both the Confederation Congress and the constitutional convention scheduled to meet later that spring in Philadelphia. In the constitutional debates, Butler generally supported proposals for a strong central government, a single executive, and wealth rather than population as the basis of representation. He also championed South Carolina interests, especially slavery, and vigorously opposed the three-fifths compromise, arguing that slaves represented property wealth and should be counted fully for purposes of representation. Read the Entry »

Butler discovered that various state political leaders were seeking to elect him governor. He emphatically stated that he would not actively seek the office but would accept only as a “point of honor.” On December 19, 1836, the General Assembly elected Butler to the governorship. In his inaugural address, Butler called on South Carolinians to forget divisive issues and pledged to revitalize the state’s militia system. Read the Entry »