The name of this town, located in western Sumter County in the High Hills of Santee, reflects Stateburg’s raison d’être. A group of speculators headed by Thomas Sumter founded Stateburg in 1783 in hopes that it would be named the new state capital of South Carolina. By the time the General Assembly took up the matter of capital relocation three years later, Stateburg had become a bustling village and seat of the newly established Claremont County. But Sumter lacked the popularity and political connections in the assembly necessary to make his capital dream a reality. Legislators gave Stateburg no serious consideration.
With the creation of Sumter District in 1800, Stateburg lost its status as a county seat, and the tiny town soon stagnated. The rural community that remained, however, prospered. Since the time of the Revolutionary War, wealthy lowcountry planters and their families had summered in the neighborhood. When intensive, inland cotton cultivation became lucrative in the early nineteenth century, some planters became year-round residents and replaced their rustic retreats crowning the hills with fine, permanent homes. The noted architect and engineer Robert Mills wrote in the mid-1820s that “there is not a more desirable place for residence, either for health or society, in any part of the state.” The “affluence and hospitality” of those who resort and reside at Stateburg, he continued, “give to the place a character of ease and dignity.”
For more than a century after the Civil War, Stateburg lost little of its refined, bucolic aura, and in 1971 the Stateburg Historic District was listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Because of its proximity to Shaw Air Force Base and the growing city of Sumter, by the turn of the twenty-first century the community’s pastoral landscape, unprotected by local zoning ordinances, was fast becoming suburbanized.
Gregorie, Anne King. History of Sumter County, South Carolina. Sumter, S.C.: Library Board of Sumter County, 1954.
–––. Thomas Sumter. Columbia, S.C.: R. L. Bryan, 1931. Lockhart, Matthew A. “‘Under the Wings of Columbia’: John Lewis Gervais as Architect of South Carolina’s 1786 Capital Relocation Legislation.”
South Carolina Historical Magazine 104 (July 2003): 176–97. Sumter, Thomas S. Stateburg and Its People. 3d ed. Columbia, S.C.: State
Printing, 1982. Tisdale, Thomas. A Lady of the High Hills: Natalie Delage Sumter. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 2001.