Southern Colonies > Province of South Carolina

Province of South Carolina


The change from proprietary to royal government scarcely affected at all the constitutional development of the province. The popular branch of the assembly continued to encroach upon the powers of the governor and council. By 1760 the council had almost ceased to exercise any real control over legislation. They rarely initiated or amended a bill of any kind, never a revenue measure. Public officials chosen nominally by the General Assembly were really the nominees of the lower house. In the conduct of his executive functions the governor found himself constantly hampered by committees of the Assembly.

In other words, whether they were conscious of the fact or not, the South Carolinians throughout the colonial era were tending towards independence. The demands of the British government after 1760 were not especially unreasonable or tyrannical, but they were made upon a people who were too long accustomed to having their own way. As the spirit of rebellion developed the sentiment in favour of colonial union gained in strength. Thomas Lynch (c. 1720-1776), Christopher Gadsden (1724-1805), and John Rutledge (1739-1800) attended the Stamp Act Congress of 1765, an inter colonial committee of correspondence was appointed in 1773, and delegates were sent to the Continental Congress in 1774 and 1775. A council of safety appointed by a Provincial Congress practically took charge of the government in June 1775.

The Assembly was formally dissolved on the 15th of September, Governor William Campbell (d. 1778) fled from the town, and royal government came to an end. In the conflict with the mother country the people had the advantage of long experience in fighting. There had been wars with the Spanish in 1686, 1702-04, 1740, with the Spanish and French in 1706, with pirates in 1718, with the Yemassee Indians in 1715 and the Cherokees in 1760-61, and a slave uprising in 1739. The state suffered severely during the War of Independence, the numbers and influence of the Loyalists serving to embitter the conflict.

In the summer of 1776 the British, under Sir Henry Clinton and Sir Peter Parker attempted to capture Charleston and summon the South Carolina Loyalists to their standard, but on the 28th of June the fleet was repulsed in an assault on Fort Moultrie. Clinton returned, however, early in 1780, and, as he surrounded the city on all sides with an overwhelming force, General Benjamin Lincoln, who was defending it with about 7000 men, surrendered (May 12) to avoid certain destruction.

The British thereupon overran the whole state, and until near the close of the war a new American army, first under Horatio Gates and later under Nathanael Greene, was engaged in driving them out. The principal engagements fought within the state were Camden (Aug. 16, 1780), King's Mountain (Oct. 7, 1780), Hobkirk's Hill (April 25, 1781), and Eutaw Springs (Sept. 8, 1781).

Thirteen Colonies


Primary Sources

Secondary Sources

1911 Encyclopædia Britannica, Volume 25

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