The Marine Anti-Britannic Society was founded in 1783 at Charleston. The society was created to oppose the easing of restrictions on British merchants and the liberties granted by the General Assembly to returning Loyalists. Prominent members included Alexander Gillon, Dr. John Budd, James Fallon, William Logan, John Ash, John E. Poyas, Jr., and John and Peter Horlbeck.
Led by Gillon, the society fueled anti-British sentiment and unrest during the summer of 1783 and was closely associated with civil disturbances that wracked Charleston in 1783 and 1784. The society was influential in uniting native merchants, mechanics, and artisans in opposition to the oligarchy that controlled the city. In an effort to quell the unrest, the General Assembly incorporated the city of Charleston in August 1783. The act shifted the society’s ire from Tories to the assembly and the new city incorporation. Society members felt that they were “menaced by aristocrats who would return essentially to the old order and rob them of the fruit of their labors and suffering in the ‘grand old cause.’”
The Marine Anti-Britannic Society faded from prominence after Gillon lost a bitterly contested election for intendant (mayor) of Charleston in 1784. The society’s agitation had a lasting effect, however, in that the prewar oligarchy was no longer able to dominate the politics of Charleston as it once had. The organization changed its name to the South Carolina Marine Society and was incorporated by the General Assembly in 1809 to aid impoverished seaman and their families.
Nadelhaft, Jerome J. The Disorders of War: The Revolution in South Carolina. Orono: University of Maine Press, 1981.
Walsh, Richard. Charleston’s Sons of Liberty: A Study of the Artisans, 1763–1789. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1959.