Plantation-owners Biographies


As I researched further, I became fascinated at the differences between the largest plantation owners. To castigate all plantation owners as racists bent on preserving their personal fortune at any cost is misguided. I celebrate the resourcefullness of Adelicia Acklen (no incapacitated grieving widow was she!); the willingness for emancipation of Joseph Acklen; the love of a slave woman by Elisha Worthington; the feminism of Sue Petigru King; the unpopular pro-Union stance of James Petigru and Stephen Duncan; the writings of Fanny Kemble. Oh, there are those to despise too, such as "Simon Legree" Meredith Calhoun; the perpetrator of "The Weeping Time" Pierce Butler; and the continued anti-Union stance of John Manning. The fact that so many of the largest South Carolina plantation owners were pro-slave-trade is noteworthy. The slave trade had been outlawed in 1808 nationally, over 50 years previously. Even the Confederate State of America constitution kept the slave trade illegal. To me, this is a strong indication of how retro particularly these South Carolina plantation owners (and "fire-eaters") were, as a whole, and how much they wanted to increase slavery; I do not believe they would ever have consented to work towards emancipation, even in another 50 years.

The Civil War permanently changed South Carolina more than any other state -- by 1911 there was virtually no rice production there. The emancipation of the slaves had a huge economic impact on the vast fortunes of the plantation owners, but that alone was not the cause of the downfall of all of them; some had been on a downward course, squandering their fortunes, long before the Civil War (Pierce Butler below or John Allston in "Them Dark Days"); the rice-planters who remained were ravaged by falling rice prices, workforce issues, and devastating natural disasters (1886 earthquake and 1890s hurricanes). I must admit that when I think of the waste of 500,000 lives lost in the War, the untold millions of dollars ($300 million alone in debts to the North not paid by the South in 1861), and the ~250 years of faceless servitude forced on millions, I feel little sympathy for the loss of "capital" the plantation owners suffered in the 1860s by emancipation. -- Donna Hay 2011

A fascinating look at the differences between Boston and Charleston elite in the 1850s is provided by the dissertation of Sara Melissa Pullum-Pinon, Ph.D. in 2002, discussing not only the similarities but also the deep differences engendered by the "peculiar institution" of slavery. (Online pdf)

slave cabin at Drayton's Magnolia Plantation
Finally, it would not be right for me to overlook the majority of low-country residents -- the millions of slaves. The slave experience varied dramatically by area of the country, as well as by the fortunes and compassion of the slave-holder and overseer. Thus there is no true summary to be made, and there are thousands of authoritative books about slave experiences. How in a few words could I ever do justice to the unmeasurable suffering of so many? That said, there was a particular distinction to the SC & GA low-country rice-workers -- the Gullah African Americans who are known for preserving more of their African linguistic and cultural heritage than any other African-American community in the United States. They speak an English-based creole language containing many African loanwords and significant influences from African languages in grammar and sentence structure, and is related to Jamaican Creole, Barbadian Dialect, Bahamian Dialect, and the Krio language of Sierra Leone in West Africa. Gullah storytelling, cuisine, music, folk beliefs, crafts, farming and fishing traditions, all exhibit strong influences from West and Central African cultures. Most of the Gullahs' slave ancestors were brought to the port of Charleston, widely accepted as the port of half of all enslaved Africans. A great majority of the remaining flowed through Savannah, which was also active in the slave trade. Most of the Gullah came from the West African rice-growing region, centered in Sierra Leone through the most slave castle "Bunce Island." Africans had cultivated rice in this part of West Africa for thousands of years, and SC and GA rice planters called this region the "Rice Coast." Once it was discovered that rice would grow in the southern U.S. regions, planters desired skilled African slaves from these rice-growing regions -- it is estimated that 80% of the African slaves were from this region. The slave trade was so extensive in the late 1600s and early 1700s that South Carolina's population was predominantly Black by 1708. When Union forces arrived on the Sea Islands in 1861, they found the Gullah people eager for their freedom, and eager as well to defend it; Gullahs served with distinction in the Union Army's First South Carolina Volunteers.

The stories of the individual slaves are as varied as those of the planters. Their hope and resiliency in the face of such unending and overwhelming oppression is inspirational. The inequity of their dangerous and unpaid labor while the planters lived like kings is unconscionable. And overlaying all this is the immoral attitude from White America that Blacks were less than human, and the Whites were doing them a favor to support them as slaves. To not describe the lives of individuals is the same as the census not mentioning names. I have included but two narratives below from slaves of Jere Brown; they are not meant to be representative of the entire experience in any way. I am humbled when I celebrate my ancestors' difficult voyages to the New World, when it was their choosing and their plan; I cannot fathom making the voyage when ripped from your life and facing a lifetime of uncertain servitude. ...just as I cannot fathom the horrors of the Holocaust in WWII, and they lasted but four years instead of a lifetime. To brush off Kemble's impressions as those of a "greenhorn" underscores how the Southern Whites would not examine the morality of the "peculiar institution" of slavery. I applaud attempts to personalize victims of slavery just as we have tried to personalize victims of the holocaust.

The Charleston Slave Market, constructed in 1859 (after laws passed prohibiting public auctions).
Slave auctions were held in this building until the Union Army's occupation in 1865.
It has been a museum since 1938
I applaud especially the efforts at the Magnolia Plantation (previously owned by the Drayton family) and Low County Africana to preserve the slave history as well as the planter history, as well as the publication of the 2300 slave narratives by Bruce Fort of UVA. I excoriate the traffic in slave artifacts by planter descendants such as Bill Grimke-Drayton who was paid $60,000 by the College of Charleston for 18th and 19th century papers (see Luckie Daniels). What is our heritage from all of this? Is restitution deserved by the slave descendants? I think non-monetary restitution is long-overdue, and needed for us as a country -- we need to embrace this part of our past and firmly repudiate it; I speak not as a Yankee but as a 21st century American. We need to realize that slavery is not just a history lesson -- there are still 12-27 million people in bondage today world-wide, mostly debt-slaves in South Asia who can be in bondage for generations. There is also human trafficking primarily for prostituting women and children. Although slavery is at its lowest level in recorded history, the scourge is still being practised today. As far as monetary restitution, that involves stickier questions. Who should pay? How do we calculate a person's worth? How do we locate the right descendants? But I morally object that descendants of planters should make money off the sale of slavery artifacts, genealogical or archeological, passed down from their ancestors; surely would not the donation of this material to LowCountry Americana and/or the Magnolia Plantation have been a better route? Could not you argue that these papers deserved to have been part of the sale of the plantation itself? If I feel I need to apologize for slavery, as a descendant of Union families, why would not plantation-owner descendants? Given that the slave traffic in America was uniquely race-defined, I think that without an overt White Americans apology to Black Americans, we will never put our racial biases behind us. I see the fact that the 50 years between slave-trade outlaw in 1808 and the start of the Civil War in 1861 did not abolish slavery in the Lowcountry; nor did the 50 years between the Civil Rights of the 1960s and today abolish racism. The fact that we have a Lowcountry slave descendant in the White House (First Lady Michelle Robinson Obama) I hope indicates we are making progress. -- Donna Hay, 2011

As I examined the lives of the top 19 slave-owners of 1860, I was struck by two observations: SC is overwhelmingly represented in the top 19 (10/19 lived in SC, and at least five others had SC ties), and the SC slave-owners were more rabidly pro-secession and pro-slavery than those in other states. The close-knit group of SC plantation-owners, who ruled SC politics and whose children intermarried for generations, had been promoting secession for decades, and most wanted to reopen the slave-trade as well. All the SC governors (appointed, not elected, until 1866) were pro-secession as well; it was a very small, very tight-knit group, which wielded absolute power in SC and they wished to keep it that way. Historians agree that SC was the seat of the Southern secessionist movement. (source)



Short biographical sketches of the 19 largest slave-owners of the 1850s.
And information on the (appointed) governors of South Carolina at the end.


Adelicia Hayes Franklin Acklen Cheatham (1817-1887)
Adelicia Acklen - LA/TN (1817-1887)

Adelicia Acklen, "the mistress of Belmont," was one of the wealthiest and most interesting women of the antebellum south. She was the daughter of Oliver Bliss Hayes, a prominent Nashville lawyer, judge, Presbyterian minister, land speculator, and cousin to President Rutherford B. Hayes. Born in Nashville, TN in 1817, she was engaged at age 17 to Alphonse Gibbs when he precipitously died. Five years later in 1839 she married a 50-year old wealthy cotton planter and slave-trader, Isaac Franklin. They were married for seven years with four children (all died in childhood) when Isaac died of a stomach virus while tending to his plantations in Louisiana; the widow Adelicia Acklen was left with an inheritance of $1 million that included seven Louisiana cotton plantations, the two-thousand-acre Fairvue Plantation in Gallatin, Tennessee, more than 50,000 acres of undeveloped land in Texas, stocks and bonds, and 750 slaves.

Adelicia married her second husband, Colonel Joseph A. S. Acklen, in 1849. Joseph, a handsome attorney from Huntsville, Alabama, didn't quite sweep Adelicia off her feet; two days before they were to be married, Adelicia presented Joseph with a prenuptial agreement specifying that she would be sole owner and final authority over all the properties she brought into the marriage. The couple began immediate construction of Belmont (completed in 1853), a twenty-thousand-square-foot summer villa, with 36 rooms, including an art gallery, conservatories, lavish gardens, aviary, lake and zoo. The Acklen's with their four surviving children (two died in childhood) lived a sumptuous lifestyle, traveling between Belmont in the summer and their Louisiana plantations in the winter. The Acklen's entertained such notables as President Andrew Johnson, inventor Alexander Graham Bell, socialite Octavia La Vert, philosopher Thomas Huxley, and soldier of fortune William Walker, as well as numerous Confederate officers and political figures. Joseph was a superb businessman and plantation manager, who gave up his law practice to manage the family businesses, to triple his wife's fortune by 1860.

The Belmont Mansion in Nashville,TN, built in 1850 by Joseph & Adelicia Acklen (she inherited 7 plantations and 659 slaves in LA from her first husband, slave-trader and planter Isaac Franklin)
Joseph died in 1863 at the Angola plantation in Louisiana, age 47, a carriage accident during the Civil War, and shortly thereafter Adelicia journeyed to Louisiana in an attempt to save the nearly 3,000 bales of cotton stranded on the Acklen plantations. She faced financial ruin when the Confederate army threatened to burn her cotton to keep it from falling into Union possession. She hired a gunboat to take her down the Mississippi River, and first negotiated with the Confederate's not to go on a raid to burn the cotton. Next she charmed the Union to release the cotton to her and to take it by wagon to New Orleans. In New Orleans, the bottom fell out of the cotton market price. Discovering that cotton was in high demand in England, she managed to get her cotton on a ship to Liverpool where it was sold to the Rothchilds of London for a reported $960,000 in gold.

In 1865, Robert E. Lee surrendered and the Civil War was over. Three weeks during the summer of 1865, Adelicia and her children sailed for England to retrieve the money made from this cotton sale, after which she took her family on a European Vacation. They went to France and was presented to the court of Napoleon III. In February 1866, she was in Italy where she bought some statues for Belmont Mansion. Sometime later during 1866 came back home. In 1867 the fifty-year-old Adelicia Acklen married Dr. William Archer Cheatham, a respected Nashville physician. Cheatham also signed a prenuptial agreement. The wedding was held at the Belmont mansion and 2,000 people were invited. Napoleon III was on the guest list but couldn't come. Instead he sent Adelicia a gift, a diamond tiara which she wore to the reception. The couple was married for 17 years before the separated for unknown reasons. In early in 1887 Adelicia sold Belmont (now part of Belmont College) and left Nashville. Adelicia relocated to Washington, DC. with her daughter Pauline, her last surviving daughter. She died from pneumonia in New York City on May 4, 1887, while on a buying trip from her new home in Washington, DC, survived by one daughter, and three sons; her son Joseph was a U.S. Representative from Louisiana (and a proponent of women's suffrage).

Joseph Acklen (1816-1863)
Joseph Acklen - AL/TN/LA (1816-1863)

Joseph Alexander Smith Acklen was a lawyer, planter, and veteran of the Texas Revolution, born in Huntsville, Alabama, which was named for his maternal grandfather, John Hunt. Although handsome and dashing, Joseph did not sweep his wealthy bride-to-be off her feet; their marriage did not take place until Acklen signed a marriage contract in which he agreed that Adelicia would remain sole owner and final authority over all the property she brought with her into the marriage, one of the earliest "pre nups" in Nashville's history.

Angola Plantation (the land is now owned by the Angola Penitentiary)*
By the outbreak of the Civil War, Joseph had tripled the value of his wife's million-dollar estate; at one point, the Acklens were the wealthiest family in both Tennessee and Louisiana. In February 1862, Nashville became the first major Confederate city to fall to the Union army. At Adelicia's suggestion, Joseph fled to Louisiana, where he could personally oversee the plantations that were their main source of income. Acklen died on September 11, 1863, apparently of an illness contracted following a carriage accident. According to family tradition, Joseph's carriage plunged into a bayou, forcing him to walk home in wet clothes, which led to him coming down with a fatal fever.

Joseph wrote a monograph on plantation management and was noted for his humanitarian treatment of his slaves. He supported the filibustering schemes of Nashville's "Gray-Eyed Man of Destiny," William Walker, in Central America, probably in the belief that expansion into the Caribbean nations would delay or avoid the Civil War. While Acklen did finance a company of East Tennessee Confederates -- the Acklen Rifles, as they called themselves in his honor -- Acklen himself seems to have harbored ambivalent feelings about slavery. His last surviving letter home indicates his belief that the South had no chance of winning the war and that he would be glad to see the end of slavery, as he had never been much in favor of the "peculiar institution."

*Note on picture at right: although called "Angola Plantation" online, it was not specifically identified as the Acklen LA one

1850 census: ; 1860 census: family in TN!; slaves; 1870 census; 1880 census


William Aiken, Jr. (1806-1887)
William Aiken - SC (1806-1887)

William Aiken, Jr was the only son of the Irish immigrant William Aiken who accumulated a large fortune as founder and president of the pioneering South Carolina Canal and RailRoad Company -- in 1833 the railroad was the longest in the world (136 miles) under one management. When he died suddenly in a carriage accident in 1831 (ironically when a train startled his horse!), his vast holdings were divided between his wife, Henrietta Wyatt, and son William.

Row of double oaks at Jehosee Plantation
William Aiken was one of the state's wealthiest citizens, owner of the largest rice plantation in the state - Jehosee Island - with over 700 slaves on 1500 acres under cultivation, almost twice the acreage of the next largest plantation. At age 25, Aiken bought the property in 1833 from the Drayton family, as he found agriculture more to his liking than commerce. By 1860 Aiken owned the entire Jehosee Island, and the plantation produced 1.5 million pounds of rice in addition to sweet potatoes and corn -- in the middle of the 19th century, rice was king in SC -- of the 10 largest cash crops in 1850, seven were rice, two cotton and one sugar.. After the Civil War, the plantation regained its preeminence, producing 1.2 million pounds of rice. Today descendants of the Aiken family, the Maybanks, still own part of the island, having sold the remainder in 1992 to the US as part of the ACE Basin National Wildlife Refuge.

William Aiken Sr had bought a Charleston mansion, now known as the Aiken-Rhett home, a typical double house, in 1827 just four years before his death. In 1833 William Aiken, Jr renovated the home with his new bride, Harriet Lowndes, to make it one of the most impressive residences in Charleston. William Aiken, Jr., was a SC Represenative in 1838-1842, SC senator in 1842-1844, Governor of SC in 1844-1846, and US representatitve in 1851-1857, where he narrowly missed election as Speaker. In November 1863, Jefferson Davis visited Charleston for the only time during the Civil War and stayed approximately one week as the Aikens' guest. General P.G.T. Beauregard moved his headquarters to the house, which was out of reach of the heavy Federal bombardment of Charleston, in December.

Aiken-Rhett home at 48 Elizabeth StreetAiken-Rhett home interior today
In 1865, Charleston fell to the advancing Union armies. The house was looted, and Governor Aiken was arrested and taken to Washington for trial; he was later released following the intervention of several prominent Northern political leaders whom he had befriended while a member of Congress. William died at his summer home in Flat Rock, North Carolina, in 1887, leaving his property to his wife and daughter; the home remained in the Aiken family until 1975, and has been owned by the Historic Charleston Foundation since 1995.

No Aikens signed the South Carolina Ordnance of Secession.

Peabody Education Fund (established by George Peabody in 1867 for the purpose of promoting "intellectual, moral, and industrial education in the most destitute portion of the Southern States" - for Whites only) memorium: William Aiken was one of the most amiable of men; distinguished, among Southern and Northern statemen alike, for moderation, good temper, and good sense. The results of the Civil War, in which he had taken no active part, fell heavily upon him, depriving him of a large part of a great fortune, and leaving him with but a small fraction for the support of those dearest to him. But he bore his pecuniary reverses, and not a few most trying personal injustices, with cheerful resignation, and was ready to unite at once in any measure for the pacification, conciliation, and welfare of the Southern people, and for the restoration of peace, harmony, and union to our country."

1850 census: ; 1860 census: family; slaves; 1870 census; 1880 census


R. F. W. Allston (1801-1864)
Robert Francis Withers Allston -- SC (1801-1864)

Robert Allston was born in Georgetown District, SC, in 1801, son of Benjamin Allston Jr who died in 1819, two years before Robert graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1821. He was elected to the SC House of Representatives in 1828. Following the end of his term, Allston was elected to the state senate, where he served from 1833 until he was sworn in as governor in 1857.

Nathaniel Russell home at 51 Meeting StreetNathaniel Russell home interior today
He married Adele Petigru in 1832 and they had eleven children -- two miscarriages, four dying in infancy, and five surviving to adulthood. The Petigru family was anti-secession, so vocally so that President Lincoln ordered a special protection order for Petigru property in recognition of the unionism of the family head. The female Petigrus were also strong and opinionated: Adele's sister Sue King (1824-1875) was the "least conventional of the Petigru women" and "coped with the dissatisfactions that wrecked her life by openly criticizing the institution of marriage and fashioning a writing career through frequent trips to the North and on the outer fringes of Charleston intellectual life. Her thirty years of scandalous behavior included two bigamy trials involving her second husband, a Radical Republican congressman, and King's successful entreaties that convinced President Grant to pardon him following conviction in a second trial." -- A Family of Women: The Carolina Petigrus in Peace and War, by Pease.

R.F.W. Allston succeeded equally in business as in politics. A planter and scientific agriculturalist by trade, he was active with the Prince Frederick Church in Plantersville, South Carolina, was a trustee of South Carolina College from 1840 to 1864, presided over the Waccamaw Indigo Society from 1856 to 1861, and was a medal winner for rice culture at the Paris Exposition in 1855 and 1856. Given Allston's substantial fortune, his family was able to maintain two houses in Georgetown and several plantations, including the Allston ancestral home on the Pee Dee River, Chicora Wood -- one of the five plantations Robert Allston owned, with over 900 acres and 600 slaves.

Allston purchased the Russell House in 1857 at the age of 56. His relocation to Charleston just one year into his term as Governor of South Carolina appears to have been politically motivated, as Charleston was a major center of South Carolina politics and culture during the antebellum period. Gov. Allston and his wife, Adele Petigru Allston, had new wallpapers and carpets installed before moving their family into the Russell House shortly before Christmas in 1857.

No Allstons signed the South Carolina Ordnance of Secession.

The Allston Chicora Plantation home, modern photo
At the outbreak of the Civil War, the Allston's eldest son, Benjamin, joined the Confederate forces, serving as a field officer with the 19th Mississippi and 4th Alabama Regiments in Virginia. The remaining family members took refuge in North Carolina during the Union bombardment of Charleston, which lasted for eighteen months. Gov. Allston died in 1864 at the age of 63. At the conclusion of the Civil War in 1865, Adele Allston returned to Charleston with her children to find the Russell House relatively intact despite the three cannonballs that had damaged the house during the bombardment.

As with many wealthy Southern families, the Allstons lost much of their fortune during the economic turmoil that followed the Civil War. In 1866, Adele Allston sought to make a living by opening a small boarding school at the Russell House, "Mrs. R.F.W. Allston's Boarding and Day School for Young Ladies." She and her daughters taught classes in English, French, literature, music and math. The school also provided "moral, intellectual and physical training" to a handful of young ladies. Mrs. Allston closed the school in 1869 and retired to the Allston family plantation, Chicora Wood, owned by the Allstons since 1806. Chicora Wood had 1400 acres, and the crop in Allston's day was rice.

Doubtless, at one time or another, all [Petigru] daughters echoed the sentiments of Sue King's daughter Addy, who died in childbirth at age forty-five in 1889, "indeed all our lives were spoiled by the War" -- A Family of Women: The Carolina Petigrus in Peace and War, by Pease.

1850 census: ; 1860 census: (family; slaves; 1870; 1880


Joseph Blake -- SC (?-1865), son Walter Blake -- SC (~1798-?)
Arthur Blake -- SC ()
Daniel Blake -- SC (~1804-?)

Despite there being three Blake entries on the list of 19 top slave-holders in 1860, there is very little to be found on the internet about this family. These Blakes all are related -- the Blake family was one of the oldest and wealthiest early families of South Carolina, tracing back to Joseph Blake who was Governor of the Carolina Province 1696-1700, who owned a plantation called "Plainsfield" on the Stono River. Note that both Walter and Daniel were born in England, and the Blake family owned slaves and property in both England and America. Apparently more information may be found in the Encyclopedia of American Wealth, which has entries for the following: Joseph Blake - Joseph Blake II - Daniel Blake I of Newington - William Blake - Joseph Blake III - Daniel Blake II - Daniel Blake III - Walter Blake - Arthur Middleton Blake - Francis Blake (jr) - S. Preston Blake - Curtis L. Blake. The South Carolina Historical Magazine also lists a dozen pages for this family: p.1-2, p.3-4, p.5-6, p.7-8, p.9-10, p.11-12, p.13)

No Blakes signed the South Carolina Ordnance of Secession.

Joseph and Walter.

Bonny Hall Plantation today
On the 1860 census, Joseph Blake had 610 slaves on a rice plantation in Beaufort (Prince William's parish); Joseph and his son Walter -- it is known that Joseph had two plantations, one in Prince William's parish and one in St. Peter's parish, with 545 rice slaves on the former and 74 on the latter. The former one was called Bonnie/Bonny Hall, on the Combahee River, south of the town of Yemasse, with 330 acres in 1860 and 1700 in 1897. Walter Blake is listed in the History of Beaufort County as an absentee owner, not visiting for years at a time and living in Charleston (source), however, Joseph is not found on the census, and Walter is found with his family (wife Ann born SC; children Louisa, Walter, Anna, Godfrey, Reginald, Sydney) in Prince William's Parish in Beaufort. It was also stated that "Blake managed his father's huge estate of 610 slaves on Bonny Hall Plantation in Prince William Parish but lived in Charleston and at Hayfield Plantation near Flat Rock, NC" which was considered a resort village in the mountains (source) -- which is where William Aiken's summer home was (see above), in addition to the Heywards, Elliotts, Hamiltons and Rutledges. It is assumed that Walter's wife Ann was the daughter of one of these plantation owners; perhaps as a total guess she was a Heyward as William Heyward is listed on the same page as the Blakes on the 1860 census, and Nathaniel Heyward was the original largest plantation owner in Yemasse. Bonny Hall was apparently first owned by Governor Blake in the mid 1700s, passed down to son William, and eventually to Joseph and his son Walter (source) -- which incontrovertibly confirms a relationship between Joseph, Walter and Daniel; Arthur's relation is uncertain.

On the same page are planters George Mackay, William Heyward, Thomas Gillison, George Elliott, James Frampton, and Hamiton Fripp -- Heyward is the largest and Blake second. However, a history book about Beaufort lists 1. Henry Middleton \ 2. Joseph Blake (d. 1865) had 610 slaves on a rice plantation in Beaufort-Prince William, ranking number eight in all of SC for 1850. 3. Nathaniel Heyward

In 1850, Walter Blake and his family are still in Henderson, NC, with real estate valued at $8,000, and 30 slaves from ages 57 to 0, and 120 slaves in St Peters Parish, Beaufort, SC.

For what the Savannah Morning News described as "about five years during the World War II period," English author William Somerset Maugham (1874-1965) lived in Beaufort County, on Bonny Hall Plantation in Yemassee. Bonny Hall was owned by publisher Nelson Doubleday, who resided in the large plantation house. Maugham's workshop was a separate, one-room cabin facing the Combahee River, a hundred feet away from the bigger house This area is now known as Parker’s Ferry Plantation; Parker's Ferry Plantation originally belonged to Bonny Hall Plantation as part of the king's grant to William Blake. The land's high ground and river access made it an ideal staging area for the milling and loading of rice onto ferry boats destined down the Combahee River. The name came from the sinking of one of John Parker's ferries in an adjacent canal nearly 200 years ago. (source - SavannahNow) It is unknown who the William Blake is, but assumed to be an ancestor of Joseph.

ACE Basin National Wildlife Refuge -- The wildlife refuge, owned and managed by the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), is an important part of the overall conservation project for the lower basin of the Ashepoo, Combahee, and Edisto rivers. The refuge includes six parcels in the NWR. These are Bonny Hall Club (established 1990), Grove Plantation (1991), Bonny Hall Plantation (1992), Combahee Fields (1993), Jehosee Island (1993), and Auldbrass Tract (1995). These six parcels, totaling 11,019 acres, are located in Charleston, Colleton, Beaufort, and Hampton counties. The ACE Basin National Wildlife Refuge is used by the public as a recreational and educational facility. Recreational activities include fishing in the tidal creeks and freshwater streams, a limited hunting program for waterfowl and deer, wildlife observation, photography, nature study, and walking.

JOSEPH BLAKE of Beaufort,SC holding 575 slaves 1860 census: Walter; slaves; 1870 census; 1880 census. $100K/$125K

Daniel Blake - SC (~1804-?)

Daniel was a descendant of the early governor of SC, Joseph Blake, born in England ~1804. His rice plantation was known as Board House Plantation, on the Combahee River in St. Bartholomew's parish in Colleton County, was part of the land grant to Joseph Blake in 1690. The grounds designed by Frederick Law Olmsted (landscape architect who also designed the Biltmore Estate in Asheville and Central Park in New York City). In 1860 he is living in St. Bartholomew's parish in Colleton country, SC, with Ellen (born Canada; second wife?), and children Frederick, Fannie, Henrietta, Arthur. On the same page are planters Nathiel Heyward, W. B. Means, and H. S. Rhett. The main house, known as Blake Place, and outbuilding were destroyed by fire during the Civil War. In 1930 the Blake family sold the 11,000 acre property to the Coe family, who renamed it Cherokee (after the South's wild Cherokee Rose), and a subsequent owner was Robert Evans, head of American Motors, who named the Jeep Cherokee after the plantation. Today the property is 7,000 acres, and is an exclusive hunting preserve and golf community, limited to 25 members.

DANIEL BLAKE of Colleton,SC holding 527 slaves in St. Bartholomew's parish: (family; slaves); $100K/$600K -- he reported the highest personal estate, although an identical value of real estate of the three Blakes.

Arthur Blake -- SC (~1819-?)

Arthur Blake owned Blake's Plantation, near McClellanville in St. James Santee parish of Charleston County on the South Santee River, where he lived in 1860. Original plantation lands were located in what is today the Santee Coastal Reserve managed by the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources. The plantation house was burned by federal troops during the Civil War (Bridges & Williams, p. 280). Blake sold the property in 1898, and it and 11 other former rice plantations became part of the Santee Club, (Bridges & Williams, p.297). In 1858 Arthur Blake filed suit against his friend Henry E. Lane, a merchant in Buncombe county, for repayment of $2000 out of his insolvent estate -- Blake was listed as "a planter in 'easy' circumstances." In 1860 he owned 538 slaves, and listed his personal estate at $350,000.

In 1871, Arthur Middleton Blake of Charleston,SC documented the names of 400 slaves freed from three plantations: Washoe (96), Cape (18) and Oak Grove Plantations (286) (list).

ARTHUR BLAKE of Charleston,SC holding 538 slaves (family; slaves). Arthur was born ~1819 in SC, and appears unmarried.150K/350K


Jeremiah (Jere) H. Brown - AL (1800-1868)

Jeremiah H. Brown Biography, from Northern Alabama Historical and Biographical by Smith & DeLand Chicago: Donohue & Henneberry, Printers and Binders, 1888 p. 219 -- "Jeremiah H. Brown, son of an English father and English mother, was born in Darlington District, SC in 1800. His father Samuel Brown, was a minister in the Baptist Church, and a man of great wealth. J. H. Brown graduated at South Carolina College in 1823 with the highest honors, and soon after studied law and was admitted to the bar, but never practiced the profession because it had no attraction for him, and the management of his interests on his plantations occupied his entire time. At the time of his graduation he found himself ready to start in life with more than sixty field hands and a very large tract of land.

He was married in 1834 to Miss Julia, and in the following year came to Alabama, brought his slaves with him, and settled near Sumterville. In his treatment of his slaves, he is said to have been very kind and indulgent. He gave them every Saturday the entire day for their own, and furnished them with good churches and white preachers on Sunday, and saw that they had a reasonable amount of instruction and religious training. His business increased until he found himself the master of more than a thousand slaves, and a plantation of more than eight thousand acres in the most fertile portion of Alabama. He was a Baptist, and more devoted to his Church than people ordinarily are, and his enormous wealth gave him opportunity for doing a great deal of good. For many years he donated $15,000 every year to the missionary cause. He furnished the means to educate forty young men in Howard College for ministry in his Church. In 1855 he endowed the Brown Theological Chair in Howard College with $25,000; and the treatment of the poor of his neighborhood was in a similar degree of beneficence. In the Baptist Encyclopedia of 1881, he is called a "princely planter, an intelligent and cultivated gentleman of vast influence, and liberal with his money."

Probably no man in Alabama ever did so much good with money as he. During the war he furnished the means to equip and provide for, perhaps, more than a regiment of soldiers, and after the emancipation, so great was his affection of his slaves, that many of them declared that they had no desire for freedom, but preferred to remain in his service. Mr. Brown died at the house of his daughter, Mrs. H. S. Lide, February 10, 1868. He left two sons and one daughter, all of whom are now living."

Sumter County is westernmost of the 10 Alabama counties that comprise the state's "Black Belt", so named because of its rich, alluvial soil and because over 60% of its inhabitants are Black. Sumter County was founded in 1830, when White settlers obtained the land from the Choctaw Indians in the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit; Jere Brown moved to Alabama in 1835. Cotton soon became king, with slaves picking nearly one half million bales of cotton annually prior to the Civil War. By the mid-1800s, the Black Belt counties had achieved the most exalted aristocracy of any section of Alabama, and nowhere is it preserved in a larger area than Sumter County. (I found no pictures online for either Lowden Plantation - or Loudon/Louden - or Jeremiah Brown. But I did find narratives by two of his slaves.)

JERE [Jeremiah] H. BROWN of Sumter,AL holding 540 slaves (family; slaves)("Loudon/Louden Plantation brown"); 1870; 1880


John Burnside - LA (~1810-1881)

John Burnside was born in Ireland and came to this country as a mere boy with 1 dollar and 25 cents in his pocket. He found employment with Andrew Beirne who made Burnside a partner with his son Colonel Oliver Berne. A businessman and a character, Burnside was an avid sportsman who wagered heavily in horse races -- Burnside once secretly purchased a champion thoroughbred back East with the intent of defeating the steeds of fellow local businessmen in a big race. He quietly slipped the racehorse into the billiard room of the Mansion where it was "stabled" until Burnside's surprise was unveiled at the starting line and hailed in the winner's circle. His NY Times obituary states he was taciturn, reserved and morose, with no social feeling, no sympathy and no public spirit. In addition to building a railway to carry his products to market —"The Sugar Cane Train (1862)" — Burnside, a bachelor, is also said to have offered payment to any parents in the parish who would name their sons "John."

John Burnside's Houmas House Plantation aerial shot to display its depth
Burnside bought the Houmas House plantation in 1857 for $1 million. For the next two decades as sugar cane fueled his fortune and sweetened his lifestyle; he was the largest producer of sugar in the country, and Houmas House with its 98,000 acres is apply dubbed the "Sugar Palace." During the Civil War Burnside saves Houmas House from Union Forces with a bluff, claiming British citizenship and immunity from occupation. This successful merchant also spends a large portion of time at Burnside place, his villa in the fashionable garden district of New Orleans.

Houmas House flourished under Burnside's ownership, but it was under a successor, Col. William Porcher Miles (1822-1899, the "fire-eater" son-in-law of Beirne and 1855 mayor of Charleston,SC) that the plantation grew to its apex in the late 1800's when it was producing a monumental 20 million pounds of sugar each year. The plantation survived the Great Depression, levee setbacks, floods, and a new river road and modern industrial complexes.

Burnside Place on Washington Avenue in New Orleans, first part of Newcomb College, then a seminary, then demolished in 1955
At the time of his death, Burnside owned ten of the most valuable plantations in Louisiana. Monroe Watchman Obits - WV Obituary - John Burnside 7/5/1881 - "The Death of John Burnside of New Orleans, formerly of Union, occurred at White Sulpher Springs on Wednesday. The deceased was born up north of Ireland and came to this country as a mere boy. He first found employment in a store at this place owned by Andrew Beirne about 1833 and when he first arrived he had exactly $1.25 in his pocket. Mr. Beirne, seeing his eminent business qualifications rapidly advanced him and when the former went to New Orleans in 1837 he made Mr. Burnside a partner with his son, the present Col. Oliver Beirne in a large mercantile house. At the time of his death, Mr. Burnside owned 10 of the most valuable plantations in Louisiana, his last purchase being made only a few months ago. His entire property is valued upwards of $5,000,000. At the breaking out of the war he had 2,200 slaves. Mrs. Charles Carr, a resident of Buffalo, NY claims to be a first cousin and Mr. Burnside's heir to the estate of the bachelor millionare." (NY Times articles - obit, 1 and 2 about his will.)

J. BURNESIDE of Ascension,LA holding 753 slaves (family; slaves)(sugar); 1870; 1880


planter and spendthrift Pierce {Mease} Butler
actress/author Fanny Kemble
John Mease Butler - PA/GA (1808-1863)
Pierce Mease Butler - PA/GA (~1810-1867)

The Butlers epitomize some of the major problems with slavery -- absentee ownership, deplorable conditions, lack of caring about the welfare of their slaves. They will go down in history as perpetrators of the largest private sale of slaves in American history -- "The Weeping Time."

The Butler Plantation originated with Pierce Butler (1744-1822), Irish-born soldier, planter, and SC statesman, recognized as one of United States' Founding Fathers. He was a man of startling contrasts -- a ranking officer in the British units charged with suppressing the growing colonial resistance to Parliament (a detachment from his unit had fired the shots in the "Boston Massacre" of 1770) Butler later became an officer in South Carolina's militia, organizing American forces to fight the invading Redcoats. In 1771, Major Pierce Butler married Mary "Pollie" Middleton (~1750-1790), the orphaned daughter of South Carolina planter and slave-importer Thomas Middleton, and heiress to a vast fortune. He resigned his commission in the British Army two years later and when he became one of the largest slaveholders in the United States, he defended American slavery for both political and personal motives, though he had private misgivings about the institution, and particularly about the African slave trade. He is reputed to have introduced the Fugitive Slave Clause – Article 4, Section 2 – of the U.S. Constitution. In 1793 he held 500 enslaved African-Americans, who worked on his rice plantation at Butler Island and cotton plantation at St. Simons Island; he also owned property at Woodville on the mainland. He is said to run his plntations like a military institution -- the slaves were not allowed to visit or socialize, or even attend church services. The couple had eight children, but only one son (Pierce Jr, whom he disinherited) survived infancy. Following his wife's death, Butler sold off the last of their South Carolina holdings, investing in Georgia sea island plantations. Pierce left his plantation to his only married daughter, Sarah Butler Mease (~1772-1831) of Philadelphia, to be divided among her three sons with the stipulation they irrevocably change their surnames to Butler -- two did, Pierce and John -- and they inherited the family plantation (Butler's Island) in 1838, including 730 slaves, making them two of the richest men in America.

The Butler Philadelphia mansion at Chestnut & 8th
no photographs or pictures of the event; commemorative plaque in Georgia
Grandson Pierce Butler (renamed from Butler Mease) married the well-known English actress Frances ("Fanny") Kemble in 1834. Kemble's growing abolitionism was a factor in their 1849 divorce (Pierce got the two daughters); her Journal of a Residence on a Georgian Plantation in 1838-1839 reflects both her sense of beauty of the area and her horror of slavery. Kemble brought petitions from the slaves to her husband asking for better conditions for slaves, but Butler refused; he further disallowed the publication of her letters, fearing a revolt among his own slaves. Kemble's book was finally published in 1863, in the middle of the Civil War, and was widely read in Britain.

One of the richest men in the United States, Pierce Butler (Mease) squandered a fortune estimated at $700,000 (over $17 million today), some of which was lost in a stock market crash. He was saved from bankruptcy by the sale of his property -- real and "moveable."

Once the pride of Pierce Butler's grandfather, the Philadelphia mansion sat on the corner of Chestnut and Eighth Streets. When Butler fell on hard times in 1856, the house was put up for sale for $30,000. By then, Butler had taken in boarders and had even attached a sign that read "Butler House" to the side of the neglected and now dilapidated mansion. Pierce's other properties were sold as well, but it was not enough to satisfy his debts.

In March of 1857, the largest sale of human beings in the history in the United States took place at a racetrack in Savannah, Georgia. During the two days of the sale, raindrops fell unceasingly on the racetrack. It was almost as though the heavens were crying. So, too, fell teardrops from many of the 436 men, women, and children who were auctioned off during the two days, ripping families apart; the sale would thereafter be known as "the weeping time." This sale of his "moveable" property -- the slaves -- totaled over $303,000 (in today's money that would be over $6.7 million). Soon after the last slave was sold, the rain stopped, and champagne bottles popped in celebration. Pierce Butler, once again wealthy, made a trip to southern Europe before returning home to Philadephia.

Pierce was briefly imprisoned for treason, August–September 1861, and sat out the American Civil War in Philadelphia. Union forces occupied the Butler plantations beginning in February 1862, and a similar number of slaves owned by his brother John were freed by the January 1, 1863 Emancipation Proclamation. Later that year John died, and Pierce Butler inherited his brother's half of the Butler plantations, but was unsuccessful in managing his grandfather's plantations.

JNO. BUTLER (estate of; he died 1847) of McIntosh,GA holding 505 slaves (1850 census: family; 1860 census: slaves);


Meredith Calhoun - LA (1805-~1866)

Meredith Calhoun was supposedly the model used for abolitionist Harriett Beecher Stowe's despicable slave-owner Simon Legree in "Uncle Tom's Cabin" published in 1852, a best-selling book of the century.

Meredith Calhoun (1805 – ca. 1866) was a plantation owner and a newspaper editor in Grant Parish, Louisiana, known for his editorial activism on behalf of the Democratic Party. Calhoun was born in South Carolina but moved to Rapides Parish,LA about 1830. He married Mary Smith, daughter of William Smith, a member of the Louisiana State Senate. Their children were William Smith "Willie" Calhoun (born ~1835, a state senator) and Marie Marguerite Ada (born ca. 1845). The couple purchased 14,000 acres from Senator Smith, who had acquired the land in 1836. They divided the property fronting the Red River into four plantations on which they grew primarily cotton and sugar cane. The Calhouns established one of the largest sugar mills in Louisiana and their estate was valued in excess of $1 million in the 1860 census,[3] a considerable holding at that time.

Plantations belonging to Meredith Calhoun surrounded the riverboat landing that would one day become the town of Colfax. At the peak of production, the Calhoun plantations employed more than 700 slaves and produced more cotton than any other property in Louisiana.
"Calhoun's Landing," as the principal plantation was called, became an important shipping point on the Red River and the beginning of Colfax, the seat of government of Grant Parish, some 25 miles north of Alexandria, the seat of Rapides Parish and the largest city in Central Louisiana. Calhoun purchased the Red River Democrat newspaper and renamed it the National Democrat. The publication was strongly supportive of the 1860 Democratic presidential nominee, U.S. Senator Stephen A. Douglas of Illinois. Douglas, however, was soundly trounced nationally by the Republican choice, Abraham Lincoln, also of Illinois. Louisiana voted for the outgoing Vice President of the United States John C. Breckinridge of Kentucky, running as the breakway "Southern Democratic" candidate. Calhoun died after the American Civil War had ended, probably in 1866 or 1867; his widow died in 1871.

Reports surfaced long after Calhoun's demise that he had been the model of the cruel taskmaster of slaves, Simon Legree, in Harriet Beecher Stowe's 1852 novel Uncle Tom's Cabin. In 1896, William Hugh Robarts claimed that Stowe, by then deceased, had told him in Boston, Massachusetts, that the Legree character was based on Calhoun. According to Robarts, Stowe never met Calhoun, but she was told of his plantation on the Red River by a Mississippi River pilot originally from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Washington Post 1896 article)

The evidence, however, is contradictory. J.E. Dunn, a Louisiana correspondent for the former New Orleans Times-Democrat, quickly repudiated Robarts' claim that Calhoun was the plantation owner that Stowe had in mind in her caricature. Calhoun was cultured, educated, and a gentleman, with looks that never seemed to age. Legree was uncouth, brutal, and ignorant, characteristics perhaps of one or more of Calhoun's overseers. Calhoun was originally from South Carolina, county not known, but Simon Legree in the novel is a northerner. Robarts claimed that Calhoun had been a bachelor for many years and that there was a considerable age difference between Calhoun and his wife. (Given that Simon Legree was said to be a Red River plantation owner, the chances seem good to me (DLH) that he was indeed based upon stories Stowe heard about Meredith Calhoun.)

LeeAnna Keith's "Passion and Belief: The Story of the Untold Story of the Colfax Massacre" discusses Calhoun's views on slavery, his forced march of a thousand slaves to Louisiana, and how surprisingly his son William, a hunchback, developed a different perspective -- he came to "make his mark as the greatest former slavehold ever to embrace the cause of black equality, and devote his life to the advancement of his family's former slaves." Sparked by the 1872 gubernatorial election, the Colfax Massacre had attracted White militants from parishes within 100 miles of the Calhoun property, including the White supremist organization White Camillia, and resulted in the death of 300 Blacks.

MEREDITH CALHOUN of Rapides,LA holding 709 slaves (family; slaves);


Stephen Duncan

Stephen Duncan -- MS (1787-1867)

Stephen Duncan was the second-largest slave-holder in America in 1860 with 858 slaves. Extraordinarily wealthy and influential, Duncan was a landowner, slaveholder, and financier with a remarkable array of social, economic, and political contacts in pre–Civil War America among elites in both the South and the North. Duncan grew up in a well-to-do Pennsylvania family with strong business ties in Philadelphia. There was little indication, though, that he would become a cosmopolitan entrepreneur who would own over fifteen plantations in Mississippi and Louisiana, collectively enslaving more than two thousand slaves. He was a "hybrid," not fully a southerner or a northerner, and a paradox. Although he put down deep roots in Natchez,MS his sphere of influence was national in scope. Although his wealth was greatly dependent on the slaves he owned, he predicted a clash over the issue of slave ownership nearly three decades before the onset of the Civil War. A product of both North and South, Duncan illuminates how and when the regions were contradictory and when they could be made compatible. Perhaps more than any other planter, Duncan breaks the mold created by historians to explain the southern slaveholding aristocracy. By connecting and contrasting the networks of this elite planter and those he enslaved, Brazy provides new insights into the "slaveocracy" of antebellum America. ("An American Planter: Stephen Duncan of Antebellum Natchez And New York," by Martha Jane Brazy is an assistant professor of history at the University of South Alabama).

Auburn Plantation
In 1808 Dr. Stephen Duncan moved to Natchez,MS from PA, three years after getting his medical degree from Dickinson College (see Jenkins below), and started to practice medicine. He subsequently became very extensively engaged in cotton planting, and was one of the largest cotton planters in the South, having considerable holdings in Issaquena County including Homochitto, Carlisle, Holly Ridge, Oakley, Reserve, Duncannon, Middlesex and Elleslie plantations. He was one of the most successful and thorough business men in the Union, and from a small capital amassed a great fortune, being one of the leading capitalists of the South. He was president of the State bank at Natchez during the most prosperous days of Adams county, and was a man of strong and vigorous mind, rare sagacity, wonderful ability, great enterprise, and was noted for the interest he took in public affairs. He was not alone noted for his acumen as a business man. He was a litterateur of more than average attainments, and he arose to a prominent position in the first rank of physicians. He was twice married, first, to Miss Margaret Ellis, and after her death to Miss. Catherine Bingaman (1801-1868) in 1819, a very intelligent and refined lady.

In September 1860 Duncan wrote a letter which said in part "If the Union is dissolved, I, for one, would be for selling out my possessions immediately. Any man of sense and reflection cannot fail to see that after disunion, we would be in no better condition in any one respect, and almost in all respects infinitely worse. Our taxes alone would consume more than one quarter of our products; for under a Southern republic there would be no premium collected from imports, but all derived from direct taxation and to an enormous extent." In 1863, Dr. Duncan removed to New York where he died in 1867.

Newspaper Article, "THE GRAND TRAVERSE HERALD" Friday Morning, Feb. 15, 1867 (from Kathy D. Cawley 10/2005) DR. STEPHEN DUNCAN, formerly of Natchez, Miss., died at his residence, No. 12, Washington square, in New York, on the 29th, in the 80th year of his age. He was a very prominent man in middle life, and would undoubtedly have been Secretary of the Treasury under Clay, if that statesman had been elected to the White House. (will)

STEPHEN DUNCAN of Issaquena,MS holding 858 slaves (family; slaves);


Charles Heyward
Charles Heyward -- SC (1802-1866)
(Estate of A. Heyward - 303 slaves; James B. Heyward - 339 slaves; N. Heyward - 216 slaves; W. H. Heyward - 133 slaves)

No Heywards signed the South Carolina Ordnance of Secession.

Colonel Daniel Heyward fought Indians and Spaniards in the early eighteenth century and carved an empire from the Southern frontier to become the largest planter in South Carolina and one of the richest men in America. His oldest son, Thomas, signed the Declaration of Independence, and his youngest son, Nathaniel, became one of the leading practitioners of tidal culture rice and the largest slave owner in the history of the South. On the eve of the Civil War, the tentacles of Heyward family wealth stretched from New York to Texas. Nathaniel Heyward's (1766-1851) estate included 45,000 acres on 15 Low Country plantations and over 1,648 slaves.

Charles Heyward received his early education in Charleston and entered Princeton College but did not graduate, moving home to assist his father, Nathaniel. In the winter Charles lived at Rose Hill Plantation on the Combahee river, spending summer in Charleston on Charlotte St (photos not found for either). At his father's death Charles inherited his father's house on the southeast corner of East Bay and Society Street in Charleston along with Rose Hill (rice), Pleasant Hill, Lewisberg (rice) and Amsterdam (rice) plantations (no photos found); the last two had no house built but were working plantations only, and part of the original royal grant to Daniel Heyward.

Heyward-Washington House - home to Thomas Heyward Jr, signer of the Declaration of Independence, and residence of George Washington for his 1791 trip to Chraleston - 7 Church St
"Charles Heyward was an able and successful rice planter and an astute businessman. He kept a diary for 45 years in which he recorded the affairs of his and his father's plantations including the names and the dates of birth and death of the Negroes on the plantations. Given to detail, he illustrated his diary with watercolor sketches of things about the plantations and affairs in general. No decided change in the weather took place which he did not mention. He was punctual to a vice. A story is told in which a lawyer had to ascertain his whereabouts on a certain day and questioned him. Charles Heyward said, 'On the 1st of May I get in my carriage at Combahee and go to Charleston, where I remain until the 1st of December, when I get in my carriage and return to Combahee. This I have done for 25 years.'

In 1858, Charles' son, Edward Barnwell Heyward, bought Goodwill Plantation on the Wateree River, where he lived with his family during the war, and where he sent his slaves from his other plantation. He planted cotton, sweet potatoes, peas, beans, and corn. In July of 1865, Edward Barnwell Heyward prepared a remarkable document: a list of 491 enslaved people who were freed from his father Charles Heyward's Amsterdam, Lewisburg, Pleasant Hill, Rose Hill, Myrtle Grove and Ashley Farm plantations on the Combahee River in Colleton County, South Carolina. The list, dated July 1865, was filed with the estate appraisal of Charles Heyward on March 3, 1866. Freed people are listed by name, age, occupation and plantation. The Heyward family is said to have allowed their slaves relative freedom: to hire out, accept earnings, attend church, leisure activities; this was not universal, as others felt that allowing slaves this much freedom would cause insubordination and deterioration of the institution of slavery. Until the time of Charles Heyward, they were not given meat; this they were expected to provide for themselves.

In April 1865 Edward Barnwell Heyward went to Columbia and returned with a Federal Officer, and, calling all the Negroes together, told them that they were free and could come and go as they pleased. The next day they were persuaded to return to work, being assured that they would be paid for their labor. The crops that had been planted had to be cultivated and harvested for they were all that stood between white and black and starvation. As soon as the crops were harvested and divided, the great majority of the Negroes who had left the Combahee plantations sold their shares and, in a body, returned to the plantations. Edward Barnwell Heyward arranged transportation to the Combahee plantations where they took possession of their former quarters. On leaving Goodwill Plantation many went by the house and told Charles Heyward good by. All said they were going home and would look for him to return soon. This never happened. Broken in health and staggered by the destruction of his world and way of life, Charles Heyward could not recover. He was dead in less than a year. He was Nathaniel's only son that lived to see the destruction of the rice growing empire his father and grandfather had built."

There is a wealth of information contained in a series of letters written by Charles' son Edward Barnwell Heyward (1826-) and his second wife Catherine "Tat" Clinch (1828-1870) from 1862 to 1869, discussing the war, his father and relatives, and how the plantation fared post-war (pdf excerpt.

CHARLES HEYWARD of Colleton,SC holding 491 slaves (family; slaves).


John C. Jenkins
John Carmichael Jenkins - MS (1809-1855)

Dr. John Carmichael Jenkins was born in Pennsylvania in 1809, the son of a wealthy iron manufacturer. He received his medical degree from Dickinson College in Carlisle,PA in 1834, as had planter Stephen Duncan in 1805 (see above). He went to Pinckneyville,MS in 1835 to help his uncle John Carmichael with the cotton business. When the uncle died in 1837, Dr. Jenkins became tied to life in Mississippi as he straightened out the complicated estate left in his care. Jenkins refused to sell the plantation at low market prices to cover debts, so he had to slowly pay the creditors until the estate's distribution was settled in July 1845.

Elgin Plantation
In the late 1830s Jenkins courted Annis Dunbar, the granddaughter of William Dunbar, who experimented with cotton processing and greatly encouraged the crop's use in the South. Their wedding at the Dunbar mansion (Forest) was quite fancy, and the Jenkins' obtained the use of land granted to "Sir William" during the Spanish occupation of West Florida. In 1838 Jenkins began construction on his house, Elgin, where he became a middle-class planter. The following year the and others organized the Agricultural, Horticultural, and Botanical Society of Jefferson College, located in Washington,MS, the state's first agrarian reform movement. In 1842 he co-edited the South-Western Farmer, a weekly newspaper which lasted two years. As Annis Jenkins, or Nan, set up housekeeping at Elgin, John used his scientific background to experiment with new crops and crop varieties, as well as livestock raising. In his attempt to find a supplement to an all-cotton economy, he insisted upon field fertilization, rotation of field use, sometimes leaving fields fallow in order to regenerate, and diversity in planted crops. Jenkins was convinced of Natchez' potential as a fruit-and-nut-growing center. Through tree grafting, he was able to produce bountiful harvests of fresh fruit months after the growing season had ended. He also discovered that feasibility of refrigerated shipping when marketing his fruit creations in the East.

The Jenkins put up a larger Elgin house in the late 1840s, this time with lavish gardens and acres of orchards around the house. Soon Dr. Jenkins owned four plantations: Elgin, river Place, Stock Farm, and Eagle Bottom; these totaled 5,500 acres, most of the profit going to pay off the debt left by his uncle. Dr. and Mrs. Jenkins had at least two sons, John F. Jenkins, Jr., and William Dunbar Jenkins, who became a civil engineer in the 1890s. They also had one daughter, Alice. Dr. Jenkins' medical training was useful during the frequent cholera outbreaks. However, late in 1855, yellow fever, a disease transmitted by mosquitoes, raged through the Mississippi Valley. First, the slaves at Elgin contracted the disease, and shortly afterward, both Annis and John Jr. were stricken, Annis going into a wild delirium before she died. Dr. Jenkins, who had not slept for weeks while tending to his family, became fatigued and he contracted yellow fever as well. He hurried to finish some papers, including his will, before dying about a week after his wife. Elgin stayed in the hands of the Jenkins family until 1914.

J. C. JENKINS (dec'd) of Wilkinson,MS holding 523 slaves (1850 census: family, slaves; 1860 census: slaves);


John Lawrence Manning (1816-1889)
John L. Manning - LA/SC (1816-1889)

John Lawrence Manning was born at Hickory Hill, Clarendon County, South Carolina. He attended Princeton College and in 1836 received a bachelor's degree from South Carolina College, where he later served as a trustee and Alumni Association President and established scholarships. A planter by trade, he served in the South Carolina House of Representatives from 1842 to 1846 and in the South Carolina Senate from 1846 until 1852, when he was selected as the 65th SC governor (1852-1854) (the office of Governor was not an elected position until after the Civil War in 1866). In 1838, John L. Manning married Susan Frances Hampton (1816–1845), daughter of General Wade Hampton I and his wife, Mary Cantey, and half-sister of Colonel Wade Hampton II, who though he alone inherited their father's considerable fortune, shared it equally with her and another sister. She died giving birth to their third child. In 1848 Manning married Sally Bland Clarke and had four children by her. John Manning and his wife, Susan, had Millford Plantation built in 1839 near Pinewood, South Carolina.

Not only did Manning sign the South Carolina Ordnance of Secession, as a supposed "moderate" secessionist, but he was also sent to Louisiana (where he owned another plantation) to encourage their secession -- see more below.

Manning "Millford Plantation in Santee,SCInterior shot
Manning's Millford Plantation's monumental two-story Greek Revival mansion was built in 1839, designed and built by Nathaniel F. Potter of Providence,RI. Its facade features six large carved columns on granite bases that support the portico. Its 2'-thick walls are of brick made on the premises while the granite was shipped from Rhode Island. The central interior feature is an "unsupported flying circular staircase in the central rotunda." John and Susan Manning furnished Millford in the Grecian style including "an enormous quantity of Duncan Phyfe furniture," much of which is still in the house. Millford was threatened with destruction by Union troops on April 19, 1865, but was saved by the intervention of their commander, Brigadier General Edward E. Potter of New York, whose exchange with Governor Manning was recorded as follows:
                Potter: This is a fine structure.
                Manning: Yes, it was built by a man from New England by the name of Potter, and
                                I suppose a man by the name of Potter from New York will destroy it!
                Potter: No, sir. That is not my intention. Your house shall be protected.

Millford Plantation remained in the Manning family until 1903. Although today it is called "South Carolina's finest residential example of the Greek Revival style," it was originally called "Manning's Folly," due to its remote location in the High Hills of Santee section of the state and because of its elaborate details.

Manning was the son of SC Gov. Richard Manning, grand-nephew of SC Gov. James Richardson, cousin of SC Gov. John Richardson II, and uncle of SC Gov. Richard Manning III. Manning owned not only the Millford Plantation in SC but also the Manchester Plantation in Clarendon and was absentee owner of a plantation in LA -- by 1860 he was one of the richest men in SC. Manning was considered a "moderate" secessionist who was sent to LA to encourage their secession. He stated: "no man can tell the consequences of the dissolving of the Union; but a people who is not willing to risk all in defense of constitutional government does not deserve its blessings." He was a member of the South Carolina Secession Convention and a signer of the Ordinance of Secession. During the Civil War, Manning was a colonel on the staff of General P.G.T. Beauregard at Fort Sumter and at the Battle of Manassas in Virginia. Immediately after the war he was elected to the U.S. Senate but, declining to take the oath of allegiance to the United States, he was not seated.

JOHN L. MANNING of Ascension,LA holding 670 slaves (family in SC!; slaves);


John Izard Middleton - Charleston, SC (1800-1877)
D. H. Middleton - 122 slaves; O. H. Middleton 138 slaves.

John Izard Middleton and Williams Middleton signed the South Carolina Ordnance of Secession. The Middletons were staunchly pro-secession, and there have been wreaths of remembrances placed at William Mddleton's tomb on the anniversary of secession.

restored Middleton Place planatation gardens today
part of the swampy landscape today
The southern wing of the Middleton Place plantation
The Middleton Place rice plantation has been called the "crown jewel" of Charleston, located 10 miles from downtown west of the Ashley River, and the Middletons were one of the richest and most influential families in the antebellum south. Successful slave owners, such as the Middleton family from Barbdos, established a system of full-blown, Caribbean-style slavery. The Middletons settled on land near Charlestion, Carolina's main port and slave-trading capital. They took advantage of the fact that at the end of the 17th century, some of the earliest African arrivals had shown English settlers how rice could be grown in the swampy coastal environment. With cheap and permanent workers available in the form of slaves, plantation owners realized this strange new crop could make them rich. ... South Carolina planters, in fact, paid the highest prices for workers from Senegambia (the environs of the Senegal and Gambia rivers), a major center of rice cultivation in Africa. Littlefield argues that, throughout the era of the slave trade, South Carolina merchants and planters showed an increasingly sophisticated knowledge of African regions and ethnic groups; thus it was not only African labor, but also African expertise, that helped generate the wealth of the opulent Carolina Lowcountry.

Middleton Place was built in 1755, and includes the first landscaped gardens in America, described as 65 English-design acres that were both an intellectual and emotional focus for successive generations of Middletons. The first Middletown owner was Henry (1717-1784) who was president of the First Continental Congress and whose son Arthur (1742-1787) signed the Declaration of Independence. His son Henry (1770-1846) was Governor of SC and an Ambassador to Russia, and had increased the slave population to 686 by 1860 (the 7th largest slave-owner in SC). Henry had 11 children -- sons John Izard and Williams both signed the SC Ordinance of Secession, while son Edward served in the U.S.Navy. Older sons Arthur, Henry and Oliver were not signers, but apparently were in agreement with secession as two apparently had sons who fought for the confederacy. Henry Middleton died in 1846 and left all his property to his sons: Arthur, Henry, Oliver Hering, John Izard, Williams, Edward. The six brothers operated their inheritance as a trust, but Old Combahee was more or less owned by Williams Middleton.

John Izard Middleton, on the 1860 census data with 530 slaves, married married Sarah McPherson Alston, and they had eight children -- Henry, Sarah, Mary, John Izard, Thomas Alston, Arthur, Mary, Maria. An avowed secessionist in the 1850s, John was one of the most active and articulate advocates of reopening the African slave trade (see source and Slave Trade). Although his late father had been a prominent member of the Union Party and a younger brother was a life-long United States Navy officer, John and his brother Williams both signed South Carolina's 1860 Ordinance of Secession to removed the state from the Union, leading to the Civil War. Only days after the fall of Charleston in 1865, Middleton Place was first occupied and then ransacked and burned by Sherman's army. The southern wing, originally a gentlemen's guest quarters, suffered the least damage and was restored in 1870.

Williams Middleton married Susan Pringle Smith and had two children: Elizabeth (Lily) and Henry (Hal); Elizabeth inherited Middleton Place in 1900. When Lily died in 1915 she passed the plantation on to her young cousin J. J. Pringle Smith. (1860 census: family) It is unclear why if Williams inherited the plantation, when John Izard is listed with the 530 slaves.

Francis Le Jau, one of the first Anglican missionaries to work in South Carolina in 1706-1715, oversaw a church built on land donated by the Middletons. And like some other of his Anglican colleagues in the plantation colonies of the New World, when he arrived to take up his office, he was absolutely shocked by two things: firstly, by the physical maltreatment of enslaved people, and secondly, by what he considered to be their spiritual mistreatment by their supposedly Anglican masters and mistresses. The denial of Christianity to enslaved people was a constant theme in Le Jau's journals and his letters that he wrote back to London. It never seemed to have occurred to Le Jau, though, that West African peoples might prefer their own religious belief systems to the Christianity that he was trying to offer them.

John I. Middleton (family p.2; slaves)


John Harleston Read - SC (1815-1866)

John Harleston Read Jr was born and died on Rice Hope Plantation, as was his father (1788-1859). The number of acres grew from 690 in 1711 to 3,415 in 1713. At some point after 1754 Rice Hope ended up in the ownership of John Harleston. He willed it to his daughter, Sarah, and her husband, Dr. William Read, who had Rice Hope cleared and banked for tidal rice cultivation. The formal gardens date from 1795. In 1840 the plantation house was destroyed by fire and rebuilt.

Rice Hope Plantation
In 1845 Dr. Read died and left the property to his son, J. Harleston Read, and his sister, Elizabeth Read Parker. By 1846 J. Harleston Read had complete control of the property. Rice Hope now consisted of 1,709 acres of timber and 371 acres of rice fields. J. Harleston Read died and his son, John Jr held the property for just seven years until his death, upon which his son Benjamin Read, inherited the property. Benjamin Read fought for the Confederacy during the Civil War. In 1875 Elizabeth Magwood purchased Rice Hope from Benjamin Read.

44 Montagu St. c.1847 -- This two and one-half story brick villa was built sometime after 1847 by John Harleston Read, grandson of Col. John Harleston whose family developed the suburb of Harleston. This site came from John Harleston through his daughter Sarah who married Dr. William Read. This is essentially a raised cottage with its primary rooms on the second level, designed to take advantage of a suburban site and its proximity to the Ashley River.

Maryville plantation, bordering on both Sampit river and Winyah Bay, was named for Mary Withers, who interited it from an uncle, James Withers. In 1811 Mary married John Harleston Read, bringing her plantation into the Read family, in whose hands it remained until 1939.

The estate inventory (p.1, p.2, p.3) of J. Harleston Read lists the names of 132 enslaved ancestors at Rice Hope Plantation near Moncks Corner, Berkeley County, South Carolina. The inventory was taken 29 November 1859 and filed 20 June 1860. (Lawsuit over will)

Encyclopedia of American Wealth - John Harleston Read - John Harleston Read jr - James Withers Read - Benjamin Huger Read -- unknown if there are actual biographies, or just a listing of these names. Little information was found online for this family. No Reads signed the South Carolina Ordnance of Secession.

J. HARLESTON READ of Georgetown,SC holding 511 slaves (family; slaves);


John Robinson - MS (~1811-1870s?)

One of these grand old homes is beautiful, stately Anandale, the antebellum home of the Johnsons. It stands near old Livingston in Madison county, and is a proud monument of the time when it was the home of culture, refinement and wealth. Around the little village of Livingston were clustered some of the largest and wealthiest estates of that time. It was there that John Robinson lived in princely style and dispensed true loving hospitality to the beauty and culture of the State. His beautiful home was called "Cottage Place," and it still stands as a silent, sorrowful reminder of golden days that are forever gone. It was a true, typical home of a wealthy cultured Mississippi planter, and the lavish, courtly and kindly hospitality of Mr. Robinson made it the center of a highly cultured circle of men and women. The prevailing type of the Mississippi planter in those days was proud, bighearted, broad, liberal and brave. The men of that time had and enjoyed the good things of life, their lives were worth living, and good cheer, brightness and good humor came with their coming.

... In conducting the details of business he was not a success. He took a small part in the actual management of his farming operations. He was generally lord of all he surveyed as he stood and gazed on his beautiful cotton fields whitening in the morning light. He lived near to nature and his soul was in harmony with the peaceful rest and joy of a God-favored land. He associated labor and slavery together, hence he looked upon physical toil as a degradation and beneath the dignity of a gentleman. He modeled his life after that of the Virginia planter of the old school, and religiously followed the teachings of the old feudal aristocracy of England. ...more -- "Plantation Life in Mississippi Before War" by Dunbar Rowland -- manuscript was published in 1900 in the Mississippi Historical Society publications, vol. 3, pages 85-97. [Widely acknowledged as a glamorized and not factual representation of plantation life.]

There is no information online about this family. The census data seems to indicate that John was born in MS ~1811, had 50 slaves in 1850 and 550 in 1860, married Sarah (Unknown maiden name) who died in the 1850s after having three children: John, Nancy and Sarah.

JNO. ROBINSON of Madison,MS holding 550 slaves in 1860 (cotton) -- 1850 census: family, slaves; 1860 census: family, slaves; 1870


Joshua J. Ward (1800-1853)
Joshua John Ward -- SC (1800-1853)

Joshua John Ward, of Georgetown, South Carolina, was the largest American slaveholder, dubbed "the king of the rice planters". In 1850 he held 1,092 slaves, and in 1860 his heirs (his estate) held 1,130 slaves.

Prospect Hill Plantation - now Arcadia - visited by President James Monroe
9' statue of Ward at Brookgreen Gardens
Ward was born November, 24 1800 at Brookgreen Plantation, South Carolina, son of Joshua Ward and Elizabeth Cook. He was married on March 14, 1825 to Joanna Douglas Hasell, and they had ten children: Penelope (Flagg), Joshua, Joanna (Pyatt), Georgeana (Flagg), Catherine (Hasell), Maynam, Benjamin, Alice (Weston), Anne, and Margaret (Porcher). Joshua Ward was Lieutenant Governor of South Carolina 1850-1852, and died February 27, 1853 at Brookgreen Plantation.

Originally, what is now Brookgreen Gardens was four rice plantations -- The Oaks, Brookgreen, Springfield, and Laurel Hill. The current Brookgreen gardens and surrounding facilities lie completely on the former Brookgreen Plantation, which was owned by Joshua John Ward; only a handful of relics survive, including the Allston cemetery -- see Theodosia Burr Allston memorial.

Rice was South Carolina’s chief agricultural product through most of the 1800s (producing 1/2 of America's rice); the Georgetown District in the forefront of rice production, and Joshua Ward was its largest planter. Ward, as did other rice planters, enlarged his holdings by acquiring other plantations, including Springfield, Alderly, Longwood, Oryantia, and Prospect Hill in addition to Brookgreen. In the year 1850, Ward controlled six large plantations and produced 3.9 million pounds of rice. Ward was able to produce so much rice because he owned 1092 slaves, a full 5 percent of the slaves in the whole district. Ward was considered the greatest and most experimental of the antebellum rice planters, who developed his world famous long grain version of Carolina Gold -- during the brief twenty year period from 1840 to 1861 when that variety was cultivated, it commanded this highest price of any rice on the world market in Paris and London (more). Ward was also involved in politics, serving in both houses of the state legislature and as lieutenant governor in 1850. At his death in 1853, his holdings were divided between his three sons, Prospect Hill being given to Benjamin Huger Ward and Alderly to Mayham Ward.

No Wards signed the South Carolina Ordnance of Secession.

By 1880, S. M. Ward was planting many of the same plantations that his grandfather had planted. And, over time, he also became the largest rice planter in the state. Around the turn of the century, however, rice planting began to decline. Foreign competition began to put pressure on the smaller planters, whose fields were bought up by the larger ones. Some large planters even tried to plant rice under a corporate model, an idea which involved the combination of a number of plantations under the operation and financial control of a joint-stock company. Around 1900, S.M. Ward and Company was formed by S.M. Ward, St. Julian M. Lachicotte, and A.A. Springs, for the purpose of growing rice on a corporate scale. These rice-planting corporations were short-lived, as rice prices continued to decline and a series of hurricanes destroyed the elaborate system of dikes and canals needed for irrigation of the rice fields. By 1911, the industry had collapsed and there was virtually no rice being grown in South Carolina at all.

JOSHUA J. WARD (dec'd) of Georgetown,SC holding 1,130 slaves (1850 family; slaves) (rice plantation);


Elisha Worthington -- AR (~1808-1873)

Elisha Worthington of Chicot County was the state’s largest slave owner, and one of the wealthiest men in the South, holding more than 500 slaves on the eve of the Civil War. At the height of his power, Worthington owned over 12,000 acres in Lake Village as well as some 540 slaves. He had bought the Sunnyside Plantation, with 2200 acres, 42 slaves, and a variety of outbuildings in 1840 for $60,000, and an agreement to provide the previous owner with 250 bales of cotton annually for a decade. Under Worthington's ownership, Sunnyside expanded and prospered. He added, among other improvements, a landing on the Mississippi River.

Sunnyside cotton gin ~1890s
His personal life was not as smoothe. Born ~1808 in Kentucky, he returned there in 1840 to marry Mary (Unknown maiden name). She moved to Sunnyside with her new husband, but less than six months later she returned home. She claimed her husband was an adulterer, and the marriage was annulled in the Kentucky legislature in 1843. Worthington was in fact in love with a female slave who bore him two children. He never married the woman, but evidence indicates their relationship lasted for years, at which their neighbors were aghast. The children, James W. Mason and Martha W. Mason, were raised at Sunnyside and both attended Oberlin College in Ohio. James also studied in France.

Despite the vehement disapproval of his neighbors, Worthington became one of the most influential planters in Arkansas due to the sheer volume of his wealth. During the 1850s, Worthington acquired several thousand acres of additional lands, all located in the Lake Chicot region. By the 1860s, he owned a total of over 12,000 acres and 550 slaves.

In the last months of 1862, Worthington left Arkansas, taking most of his slaves and livestock to Texas. His two children remained at Sunnyside to oversee and manage the plantation, and saw much battlefield action on their family estate. After the war, Worthington returned to the plantation. He was pardoned by President Andrew Johnson for his involvement in the Confederate Cause. Labor shortages and a financial collapse of the cotton industry caused money problems, and those with his health issues caused Worthington to sell in 1868, fittingly first to the Pepper family who sold to the Calhoun family, who sought to bring the former slaves back as tenant farmers. (source; also reference: "Shadows over Sunnyside : An Arkansas Plantation in Transition, 1830-1945" by Whayne)

After the war, James Mason was appointed postmaster of the Sunny Side Post Office in 1867, and served in the state senate, 1868-1869 and 1871-1872; as county judge, 1871-1872; and as county sheriff, 1872-1874. He died in 1875. His sister Martha Mason successfully sued the administrators of her late father's estate for a portion of his assets after Elisha Worthington died intestate in 1873. The verdict was appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which decided the case in her favor in 1880. (source). Curiously, his former wife sued for alimony after her annulment, remarriage and widowhood, and was denied (source)

It is speculated that the institution of sharecropping grew out of the emancipation of slaves, and their desire to have a share in the crops they harvested (source). There are articles and books written about Sunnyside Plantation.

ELISHA WORTHINGTON of Chicot,AR holding 529 slaves (family; slaves) ("Sunnyside");



South Carolina Governors

James Hamilton Jr. (1786-1857) - 1830-1832 - planter and lawyer; Robert Young Hayne (1791-1839) - 1832-1834 - lawyer (Isaac Hayne signed the South Carolina Ordnance of Secession); George McDuffie (1790-1851 at Cherry Hill Plantation) - 1834-1836 - lawyer (below); Pierce Mason Butler (1798-1846) - 1836-1838 - banker (not above); Patrick Noble - 1838-1840 (Edward Noble signed); Barnabus Kelet Henagan - 1840; John Peter Richardson - 1840-1842 (John R. Richardson and F. D. Richardson signed); James Henry Hammond - 1842-1844 (Andrew J. Hammond signed); William Aiken - 1844-1846 (above); David Johnson - 1846-1848 (William D. Johnson signed); Whitemarsh Benjamin Seabrook - 1848-1850 (E. M. Seabrook and George W. Seabrook signed); John Hugh Means - 1850-1852 (John Hugh Means signed); John Lawrence Manning - 1852-1854 (above) (John L. Manning signed); James Hopkins Adams - 1854-1856 (James H. Adams signed); Robert Francis Withers Allston - 1856-1858 (above); William Henry Gist (1807-1874) - 1858-1860 (William H. Gist signed); Francis Wilkinson Pickens (1805-1869) - 1860-1862; Milledge Luke Bonham (1813-1890) - 1862-1864 - planter, lawyer, brigadier General of the Confederate Army; Andrew Gordon Magrath (1813-1893) - 1864-1865 -lawyer; the last governor elected by a secret ballot by the General Assembly (changed to a popular election) (A. G. Magrath signed)

George McDuffie (1790-1851) The following viewpoint is taken from a speech presented to the South Carolina legislature in 1835 by George McDuffie, Democratic governor of South Carolina 1834-1836. In this speech, McDuffie strongly attacks Northern abolitionists, stoutly defends the institution of slavery as a positive good rather than a necessary evil, and states that slavery is a moral institution that benefits both the slaves and society as a whole -- ideas central to the Southern defense of slavery.

No human institution, in my opinion, is more manifestly consistent with the will of God than domestic slavery..... Under both the Jewish and Christian...religion, domestic slavery existed with the...sanction of its prophets, its apostles, and finally its great Author. The patriarchs themselves, those instruments of God, were slave holders. .....the African Negro is destined by Providence to occupy this condition of servile dependence.....It is marked on the face, stamped on the skin, and evinced by the intellectual inferiority...of this race. They have all the qualities that fit them for slaves, and not one of those that would fit them to be freemen. They are utterly unqualified, not only for rational freedom but for self-government of any kind. They are, in all respects, physical, moral, and political, inferior to millions of the human race..... In all respects, the comforts of our slaves are greatly superior to...millions of paupers.....There is not upon the face of the earth any class of people, high or low, so perfectly free from care and anxiety. They know that their masters will provide for them, under all circumstances..... In a word, our slaves are cheerful, contented, and happy, much beyond the general condition of the human race..... It is clearly demonstrable that the production of cotton depends, not so much on soil and climate as on the existence of domestic slavery.....every practical planter will concur in the opinion that if all the slaves in these states were now emancipated, the American crop would be reduced the very next year from 1,200,000 to 600,000 bales.

William Henry Gist -- 1858-1860 -- In the days following the election of President Abraham Lincoln, South Carolina Gov. William H. Gist was characteristically blunt: “The only alternative left, in my judgment, is the secession of South Carolina from the Federal Union.” On December 20, 1860, Gist signed the Ordinance of Secession and resigned his office. Known as the “Secession Governor,” Gist had risen from modest beginnings to own a plantation with 100 slaves, and believed that South Carolina could protect slavery only by withdrawing from the Union.

Francis Wilkinson Pickens, 1860-1862 -- Pickens did not sign the Ordnance of Secession (although he was staunchly pro-secession); as Governor he authorized SC troops to fire on the "Star of the West," a Union ship, in the first military engagement of the Civil War on January 9, 1861 as well as the subsequent bombardment of Fort Sumter on April 12.

Other incendiary SC pro-secessionists: John C. Calhoun, is called "the father of SC's secession movement." Edward Bryan procleaimed: "Give us slavery or give us death!" John S. Preseton stated "Slavery is our King - Slavery is our Truth - Slavery is our Divine Right," and argued that the election of Lincoln meant the "annihilation" of Southern Whites.

As the Chicora Foundation states: "The Convention that voted to abolish the Union in South Carolina was carefully picked by the legislature. Of the 169 delegates almost all were slave holders -- and nearly half owned 50 or more slaves. This group represented the elite of South Carolina's political and slave-holding class: five former governors, 40 former state senators, 100 former state representatives, 12 clerics, and many lawyers. This was no cross-section of South Carolina (remember that only 47% owned slaves, only 9% of the slave owners held 50 or more slaves, and only about 4% of all of South Carolina's families held 50 or more slaves). This group had a vested interest in making sure that slavery continued unmolested." (website)

Reconstruction notes: In 1865 SC passed the Black codes (Jim Crow laws), designed by to eliminate black people's newfound freedom. The Constitution of 1865, passed only a few months after the Civil War ended, failed to grant African-Americans the right to vote. It also retained racial qualifications for the legislature. Consequently, black people had no power to combat the unfair laws. Some of the Black Codes that were passed around this time stated: "No person of color shall migrate into and reside in this state, unless, within twenty days after his arrival within the same, he shall enter into a bond with two freeholders as sureties;" "Servants shall not be absent from the premises without the permission of the master;" Servants must assist their masters "in the defense of his own person, family, premises, or property;" and No person of color could become an artisan, mechanic, or shopkeeper unless he obtained a license from the judge of the district court – a license that could cost $100 or more.

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