Landmarks from Palmetto State’s past, such as Eliza Lucas Pinckney and Robert Mills, were brought to life in a presentation given by Scott Stephens of the South Carolina Historical Society (SCHS) at the reunion. of October 18 from the Rotary Club of Summerville. at the Hilton Garden Inn.
The keynote speaker recounted the origins of the SCHS in 1855 resulting from a group of men determining that South Carolina was neglected as far as its position and influence in building the United States.
This movement was led by James Louis Petigru (1789-1863), a former South Carolina attorney general, who was described as something of a diplomat for his ability as a Unionist to have civil discourse with the secessionists of the United States. ‘era.
“They were able to talk openly and openly discuss different issues, talk about their differences, and really respect each other’s opinions,” Stephens recounted while describing Petigru, made famous by his quote stating, “South Carolina is too small to to be a nation and too big to be an insane asylum.”
Petigru at the time found himself trying to promote his home state and South Carolina’s history as the state tried to secede from the Union and that, according to Stephens, had no meaning for the politician and jurist who played a major role in the recodification of state law.
Thus began the Historical Society’s task of collecting artifacts, with its fundamental mission to “collect, preserve, and disseminate information relating specifically to the history of the state in all its departments”.
Since then, Stephens has estimated that his group has compiled over two million items in its collection, many of which can be viewed at the SCHS fireproof building at 100 Meeting Street in Charleston. Some relics date back to the mid-1600s.
Mentioning some of the valuable features of the organization, the SCHS Vice President of Development highlighted a collection of manuscripts from Eliza Lucas Pinckney (1722-1793), a botanist who at the age of 16 years, developed a strain of indigo that grew in the Lowcountry. She had actually taken responsibility for three plantations in the area and would then go on to grow another variety of indigo in the upstate.
Indigo would become the colony’s third-largest export crop by the mid-1700s.
Stephens went on to fill Summerville Rotarians on Pinckney’s notable lineage, as she was the mother of Charles Coatesworth Pinckney, who signed the Declaration of Independence and Thomas Pinckney, one of the state’s first governors and the first ambassador to Britain.
His son, Thomas Pinckney Jr (1780-1842) settled just outside of Clemson and formed the first Farm Bureau to lay the foundations of agriculture in that part of the state.
Another notable touched by Stephens was Robert Mills (1781-1855), a native of Charleston, who designed the SCHS fireproof building, as it was the first fireproof building in the country. Mills also designed the first and second Washington Monuments in Baltimore and DC respectively.
“If you drive through the woods of South Carolina,” Stephens claimed, “you’ll find a building that Robert Mills designed in almost every county.”
Sharing a side story about Mills, the former president of the Rotary Club of Greenville noted that when the legendary design master courted his wife, he was looked upon with great derision by his future father-in-law, who – like many in the era – viewed architects as of lower social status, lower than that of a garbage collector.
Stephens invited Rotary members to tour the Fireproof Building and marvel at Mills’ cantilevered staircase, tall windows and 20-inch walls. An upcoming SCHS tour on Nov. 11 will take the public through six to seven churches in downtown Charleston.
For those wishing to delve into history books, Stephens recommended that they go to the Addlestone Library at 205 Calhoun St, where there are approximately 7,000 manuscript collections and more than 8,000 first edition books, as well as 10,000 original images.
A powder horn that once belonged to “Swamp Fox” Francis Marion is one of many notable artifacts in the way it was personally decorated to the finest detail.
“South Carolina has a rich history. Now you can argue that there are a lot of things in our history that we shouldn’t be proud of, but there are a number of things that we should be proud of. Look history for what it is and learning that history,” Stephens assumed.