State song. South Carolina’s oldest official song is “Carolina,” with words by Henry Timrod (1828–1867) set to music by Anne (Annie) Custis Burgess (1874–1910). The General Assembly adopted it as the official state anthem on February 11, 1911.
Henry Timrod was a Charlestonian who became one of South Carolina’s most beloved poets. “Carolina” was one of his most popular patriotic Civil War poems, in which the poet called on the people to rise up and defend their state against the Northern invaders until “all thy fields and fens and meres / Shall bristle like thy palm with spears.”
Anne Custis Burgess was born in Mayesville, Sumter County. She earned a degree in music from Converse College and taught music in Summerton, Williamston, and at Winthrop College. She also wrote and published poetry. Her setting of Timrod’s “Carolina” received its first public performance in 1905 and was published the following year.
In 1911 the South Carolina Daughters of the American Revolution presented a memorial to the General Assembly asking that “Carolina” be adopted as the official state song and observing that Anne Burgess’s composition had been praised by noted American professors of music and other leaders, including Charleston’s respected former mayor William Ashmead Courtenay. The opening lines of the song are “Call on thy children of the hill, / Wake swamp and river, coast and rill, / Rouse all thy strength and all thy skill, / Carolina! Carolina!”
“Carolina—The Hymn of the Palmetto State.” Columbia State, March 26, 1911, p. 25.
Hladczuk, John, and Sharon Schneider Hladczuk. State Songs: Anthems and Their Origins. Lanham, Md.: Scarecrow, 2000.
Wauchope, George. Writers of South Carolina. Columbia, S.C.: State Company, 1910