South Carolina Education

South Carolina Education 1801 to 1900


South Carolina College - c.1850
Click Here for an overview of Antebellum Educational Opportunities provided elsewhere in this website. 
The South Carolina General Assembly passed over 750 Acts and Joint Resolutions during the 1800s pertaining to education. Prior to the American Civil War, the majority of all Acts dealt with the establishment of benevolent societies that were set up to help build private academies, schools for orphans and the poor, and to provide an education for local children. After the American Civil War, the greatest majority of all Acts were for the establishment or modification of a specific school district within a specific county. For the duration of the nineteenth century, many also dealt with the establishment or modification of charters for the state colleges and universities across the State. Click Here to also view all Acts associated with each district/county.
As described above, each Act pertaining to education within a specific district/county can be found in said district/county page. All Acts pertaining to education of a "more general nature" or to be applied across the State are described individually below.
On December 21, 1811, the South Carolina General Assembly passed its first Act to appropriate funds for "Free Schools" all across the state. Each district (county) and/or election district was authorized one school per member of the House of Representatives in each district, and the State would pay up to $300 per year towards each schoolmaster hired. The General Assembly also defined the number of "School Commissioners" to be appointed in each district. However, the citizens had to pay for and to build the allocated number of school houses in their district. Although this was a fairly decent first step, it was by no means a success. Click Here to see a summary of the number of schools authorized and the number of school commissioners to appoint in each election district.
On December 16, 1824, the South Carolina General Assembly passed an Act authorizing the building of "Poor Houses" in each district (county). While this initial Act did not include any language concerning "education," it was not long before subsequent legislation did.
On December 19, 1835, the South Carolina General Assembly passed an Act to provide guidance to those Public Servants as to their responsibilities in the Free Public School system, including the establishment of school districts, school commissioners, school trustees, and provided fines for neglect. 
On December 22, 1859, the South Carolina General Assembly passed an Act to exempt all school masters, professors, teachers, and students of the several schools, academies and colleges of the State from the performance of road duty.
On December 20, 1866, the South Carolina General Assembly passed a Joint Resolution to authorize all Commissioners of Free Schools across the state to receive any sum provided by the U.S. Congress or other donations for the education of colored children, and to apply all funds received to said purpose.
The completely revised SC State Constitution of 1868 significantly modified the State's approach to education. The office of State Superintendent of Education was established to set the agenda for working with each County's Board of Examiners and School Trustees. A new "school tax" was established along with a Poll Tax to pay for Public Free Schools.
On March 26, 1869, the South Carolina General Assembly passed a Joint Resolution to appropriate $25,000, as directed in General Order No. 139, issued by Marjor General Edward R.S. Canby, and bearing the date of December 3, 1867, for the support of free schools. These funds to be apportioned based on the number of students in each county. Per the same General Order No. 139, the South Carolina General Assembly passed another Joint Resolution, dated February 3, 1870, to provide back pay to teachers due to a misunderstanding of the law among the teachers and County School Commissioners.
On February 16, 1870, the South Carolina General Assembly passed its first comprehensive and statewide "School Law" since the ratification of the 1868 State Constitution. This Act included fifty (50) sections with detailed explanation of how the new "System of Free Common Schools" would work and would ensure that colored students received a fair education. A State Board of Education was established with a State Superintendent of Education as its leader, with County School Commissioners, County Board of Examiners, and School Trustees having detailed roles and responsibilities defined.

The next week, on February 24, 1870, the South Carolina General Assembly passed an Act to announce that the salary of each County School Commissioner would begin on November 1, 1869, and that the first official meeting of the State Board of Education would be held on March 16, 1870.

On the same date, they passed another Act to provide for the payment of all teachers for the year of Nov. 1, 1868 to Oct. 31, 1869. They appropriated $50,000 for this based on the average calculated to be five (5) cents per day per student's actual attendance.

On February 28, 1870, the South Carolina General Assembly passed an Act to redefine that new corporations, including those for educational purposes, would be established in the county whereby said corporation was to reside, and the corporation would have to register itself at the county Register of Deeds office. The maximum value of assets authorized would be $100,000.
On March 6, 1871, the South Carolina General Assembly passed an Act, which repealed the above-mentioned Act of February 16, 1870 commonly known as the "School Law," and replaced it with fifty-three (53) sections vs. the earlier fifty (50) sections. This new Act included all of the "big picture" items as the earlier one, but the details were considerably different, with much clarity added.
On March 8, 1871, the South Carolina General Assembly passed an Act to incorporate the R.H. Willoughby & Co., and the terms required said company to pay $1,000 annually for the benefit of the Free Schools in the State. The Author has seen references to other companies having similar requirements.
On March 13, 1872, the South Carolina General Assembly passed an Act to require a uniform system of school records and blank forms for the use of the officers and teachers of the free common schools of the State. The legislature appropriated $7,000 for this.
On February 20, 1873, the South Carolina General Assembly passed an Act to require a "school tax" to be levied and collected each year on all taxable property within the State for the support and maintenance of all Free Common Schools. The State Superintendent of Education was required to appportion these funds to the individual counties based on the number of students.
On February 20, 1874, the South Carolina General Assembly passed an Act to establish certain State scholarships at the University of South Carolina. Each county is allowed one student each year to receive $200 per year towards that scholarship. On June 8, 1877, the South Carolina General Assembly passed another Act to completely repeal the Act of 1874, thereby abolishing all State scholarships at the University of South Carolina.
On January 26, 1878, the South Carolina General Assembly passed a Joint Resolution to amend the State Constitution regarding the Public School Tax and a Tax on Polls in each county. The special school tax shall not be less than two (2) mills on real and personal property and the Poll Tax of one dollar ($1) per poll. The special tax can be increased by the legislature and after each specific county votes in the affirmative.
On March 12, 1878, the South Carolina General Assembly passed an Act to prevent the sale of spirituous liquors within one mile of any church, school house, college or university within the State. This Act does NOT apply to incorporated towns, villages, and cities.
On March 22, 1878, the South Carolina General Assembly passed an Act to significantly alter and amend the existing "School Law," of March 6, 1871 above, which is now repealed. This new Act contained 58 sections.
On December 12, 1879, the South Carolina General Assembly passed an Act to enforce the use of a uniform series of text books in all of the free public schools within the State.
On December 23, 1879, the South Carolina General Assembly passed an Act to authorize the Trustees of the University of South Carolina to accept $191,800 in State stock to be used in establishing a a College of Agriculture and Mechanics for white students. This money originated in a grant from the U.S. Government provided on July 2, 1862 and embraced by South Carolina via an Act dated December 10, 1868. It would be another ten (10) years before these funds were truly used, along with the bequest of Thomas G. Clemson, to establish Clemson Agricultural College.
On December 20, 1881, the South Carolina General Assembly passed an Act to define how "average attendance" was calculated for the Free Public Schools of the State, and how to apportion the "school fund" based on said average attendance. A "school month" was defined as twenty (20) days.
Also on December 20, 1881, the South Carolina General Assembly passed another Act to authorize all of the State Normal Schools to grant certificates and diplomas for individuals to teach in the Free Public Schools. Certificates would be good for no more than three years.
On February 9, 1882, the South Carolina General Assembly passed an Act to define the duties of County Commissioners, County School Commissioners, and County Treasurers for auditing and processing claims and to require annual reports from each of them. On the same date, they passed a Joint Resolution to authorize the State Superintendent of Education to sell extra school books in the State Library and apply the proceeds to the School Fund.
On December 22, 1883, the South Carolina General Assembly passed an Act to limit the ages of pupils in the Free Public Schools to be from the age of six (6) to the age of sixteen (16) years old. On December 26, 1885, the Soouth Carolina General Assembly passed an Act to amend the Act of 12/22/1883, to limit the ages of pupils in the Free Public Schools to be from six (6) to eighteen (18) years old. On December 19, 1892, the South Carolina General Assembly passed another Act to amend the Act of 12/26/1885, by increasing the age limit from eighteen (18) to twenty-one (21) years old.
On December 24, 1883, the South Carolina General Assembly passed an Act to significantly amend Chapter XIX of the General Statutes, which pertained to the Free Public Schools - also known as the "School Law."
On December 23, 1884, the South Carolina General Assembly passed an Act to mandate that it is the duty of all school officers to submit annual school reports to their County School Commissioners, who in turn pass the reports for all schools in his county to the State Superintendent of Education. On the same date, they passed another Act to amend Section 997 of the General Statutes to require the State Board of Examinersto examine all persons who may make application as to their qualification for teaching school in this State, and the certificate will be good for three years.
On December 15, 1885, the South Carolina General Assembly passed an Act to amend Section 997 and Section 1005 of the General Statutes. Section 997 describes how teachers are certified. Section 1005 describes the County Board of Examiners, who certify teachers in their county.
On December 24, 1885, the South Carolina General Assembly passed an Act to amend Section 1090, Title X, Chapter XXII of the General Statutes to exempt all teachers and students of schools and colleges from any road duty within the State.
On December 24, 1886, the South Carolina General Assembly passed an Act to amend the school law: County Commissioners shall hereafter keep an account of claims audited and allowed by them against the several funds appropriated for County purposes; and, the annual reports of County Commissioners and of County School Commissioners to be published in a newspaper is repealed.
Also on December 24, 1886, the South Carolina General Assembly passed another Act to establish two experimental South Carolina Agricultural Farms and Stations, and for the Board to determine the best locations across the State for these experimental farms. The Board is also to determine the best solution for a new Agricultural and Mechanical College in the State.
On December 19, 1887, the South Carolina General Assembly passed an Act to punish cock-fighting within three (3) miles of any chartered institution of learning within the State. Any person found guilty to be fined not exceeding one hundred dollars, or imprisonment not exceeding thirty days.
On December 22, 1888, the South Carolina General Assembly passed an Act to amend the "School Law" to define what each county must do with school funds that were not completely expended during a given school year. Lexington County was exempted because it was so in debt.
On December 24, 1888, the South Carolina General Assembly passed an Act to authorize new School Districts in any city, incorporated town, or village to be created upon approval by voters. Tax not to exceed two (2) mills on real and personal property. On December 18, 1893, the South Carolina General Assembly passed an Act to amend the 12/24/1888 Act, by increasing the special school tax from two (2) mills to four (4) mills on real and personal property.
On December 23, 1889, the South Carolina General Assembly passed a Joint Resolution for the Regents of the State Lunatic Asylum to advertise for proposals from the various counties, communities, or persons to create a suitable Lunatic Asylum for colored in the State.
On December 20, 1890, the South Carolina General Assembly passed an Act to amend Section 997 of the General Statutes relating to the State Board of Examiners - new school teachers will now be certified every two years by examination.
On December 23, 1890, the South Carolina General Assembly passed an Act to authorize the School Trustees across the State to sell any public school property and to apply the proceeds to the school fund in the appropriate school district. Each county School Commissioner must approve beforehand.
On December 24, 1890, the South Carolina General Assembly passed a Joint Resolution to appoint a special commission to confer and correspond with the Governors and Superintendents of Education of other Southern States, in reference to adopting an uniform series of histories and other text books to be used in the free schools of this State, and that they report thereon at the next meeting of the General Assembly.
Also on December 24, 1890, the South Carolina General Assembly passed an Act to amend the General Statutes relating to the assessment and collection of school taxes by adding two new sections known as 229a and 229b. On February 17, 1900, the South Carolina General Assembly passed an Act to amend the Act of 12/24/1890, by requiring County Auditors to provide reports on poll tax and special tax to County Superintendent of Education instead of the School District Trustees.
Also on December 24, 1890, the South Carolina General Assembly passed an Act to amend Subdivision 2d of Section 1012 of Chapter XIX of the General Statutes to ensure that all teachers are certified and to fix their salaries.
On December 22, 1891, the South Carolina General Assembly passed an Act to require County Treasurers to annually provide a report on those who have paid their school taxes and those who are delinquent. These are to be printed in a local newspaper. On December 20, 1892, the South Carolina General Assembly passed an Act to repeal Section 1 of the Act of 12/22/1891, and to amend Section 3 of same Act.
On December 15, 1892, the South Carolina General Assembly passed an Act to require all state institutions of higher learning to report annually to the State Superintendent of Education, including a detailed account of the operations of such institutions and the expenditure of the public monies for the current scholastic year. The Superintendent of Education will include most of these details in his annual report to the legislature.
Also on December 15, 1892, the South Carolina General Assembly passed an Act to amend Section 996 of the General Statutes relating to the State Board of Examiners, for them to prescribe and to enforce, as far as practicable, the use of a uniform series of text books in the free public schools of the State, except in the city of Charleston and special school districts established by special Act of of the Legislature.
Also on December 15, 1892, the South Carolina General Assembly passed an Act to amend Section 1004 of the General Statutes relating to the branches to be taught in public free schools, to include other subjects as deemed appropriate by the State Board of Examiners.
Also on December 15, 1892, the South Carolina General Assembly passed an Act to amend Section 1016 of the General Statutes relating to reports and pay of teachers, to now require all teachers to provide monthly reports of their work in order to get paid.
On December 20, 1892, the South Carolina General Assembly passed an Act to amend Section 1002 of the General Statutes relating to the apportionment of the free public school fund, by clarifying how apportionment is to work, with a few exceptions. On December 20, 1893, the South Carolina General Assembly passed an Act to amend the 12/20/1892 Act, by removing Aiken County from the exception list.
Also on December 20, 1892, the South Carolina General Assembly passed another Act to amend Section 1008 of the General Statutes relating to compensation for dividing counties into school districts, by clarifying that payment is to be made out of the school fund of the school district or districts from which new school districts are formed.
On December 24, 1892, the South Carolina General Assembly passed an Act to require all County School Commissioners and each County Treasurers to keep records of all public school expenditures in their respective counties.
On December 20, 1893, the South Carolina General Assembly passed an Act to provide that all school teachers' first grade certificates issued by the Board of Examiners of the several counties of this State are to be good and valid for the term of five years unless the same is revoked by the County Board of Examiners issuing the same for cause.
On January 4, 1894, the South Carolina General Assembly passed an Act to recognize the Licentiate of Instruction (L.I.) Degree conferred by the University of Nashville, Peabody Normal College, of Nashville, in the State of Tennessee, be, and said degree is hereby, declared to be an evidence of sufficient qualification of the person on whom the same is conferred to entitle such person to teach in any of the free public schools of this State without farther examination in this State.
Also on January 4, 1894, the South Carolina General Assembly passed another Act to fix the salaries of the County School Commissioners of each county, ranging from $300 to $700 per year.
Also on January 4, 1894, the South Carolina General Assembly passed a Joint Resolution to establish a special commission to prepare a study and recommendation about possibly establishing a separate institution for the education of the blind in the State.
On December 21, 1894, the South Carolina General Assembly passed an Act to provide for the teaching of physiology and hygiene in the State's public schools. Must include teaching about the effects of alcohol and narcotics. Failure will result in termination.
In late 1895, another heavily revised SC State Constitution of 1895 provided additional tax funds for Public Free Schools. It also required all Public Schools to be segregated.
On March 9, 1896, the South Carolina General Assembly passed an Act to provide a uniform assessment and levy of taxes for township, school, municipal and other purposes. Also on March 9, 1896, the South Carolina General Assembly passed another Act pertaining to school taxes and the general Sinking Fund.
Also on March 9, 1896, the South Carolina General Assembly passed an Act to completely redo the "School Law" based upon the new 1895 State Constitution, with sixty-five (65) detailed sections. Memminger Normal School in Charleston mentioned. On March 2, 1897, the South Carolina General Assembly passed an Act to amend the Act of 3/9/1896, by deleting the exception of the town of Blacksburg in Section 62 of said Act. On March 5, 1897, the South Carolina General Assembly passed an Act to amend the Act of 3/9/1896, by adding Newberry County as an exception to Section 15. Also on March 5, 1897, the South Carolina General Assembly passed another Act to amend the Act of 3/9/1896, by modifying sections 25, 36, and 62. On February 13, 1900, the South Carolina General Assembly passed an Act to amend the Act of 3/9/1896, by replacing Section 34, which clarified how school districts may elect to levy and collect a special school tax. On February 19, 1900, the South Carolina General Assembly passed an Act to amend the Act of 3/9/1896, by defining how new school districts are to be created or consolidated. Also on February 19, 1900, the South Carolina General Assembly passed another Act to amend the Act of 3/9/1896, by replacing Section 36, which defines how Board of Trustees get elected for school districts. Also on February 19, 1900, the South Carolina General Assembly passed another Act to amend the Act of 3/9/1896, by modifying Section 53 to make it a misdemeanor for anyone to discount a teacher's pay.
On February 17, 1897, the South Carolina General Assembly passed an Act to provide all pupils of the free public schools with school text books at cost. On February 21, 1898, the South Carolina General Assembly passed an Act to amend the Act of 2/17/1897, by changing "empowered" to "required." On February 17, 1900, the South Carolina General Assembly passed an Act to amend the Acts of 2/17/1897 and 2/21/1898, by requiring the County Superintendent of Education in every county to keep his office open one week before and one week after each school term - to sell books to those who want them.
On March 5, 1897, the South Carolina General Assembly passed an Act to amend Section 1053 of the revised General Statutes of 1893 by striking out the words “School Commissioner” and inserting in lieu thereof the words “Superintendent of Education,” and changing the third term to the second term of the Court of General Sessions.
On February 11, 1898, the South Carolina General Assembly passed an Act to require County Superintendents of Education to make monthly apportionments of all monies collected by County Treasurers in the previous month.
On February 16, 1898, the South Carolina General Assembly passed an Act to require all public schools in the state to observe Arbor Day on the third Friday in November of each year.
Also on February 16, 1898, the South Carolina General Assembly passed an Act to authorize the colleges and universities of the State to confer the degree Licentiate of Instruction (L.I.), which will authorize graduates thereof to teach in the State's public schools without examination.
On February 19, 1898, the South Carolina General Assembly passed an Act to exempt college students from road duty or the payment of commutation tax in all towns and cities of the State where the colleges are located.
On February 21, 1898, the South Carolina General Assembly passed a Joint Resolution for the Governor to appoint a five-man commission to collect information as to the cost and feasibility of establishing and maintaining a reformatory for youthful criminals, and the most approved rules and regulations for the government of such an institution, and to provide their recommendations at the next session of the General Assembly.
Also on February 21, 1898, the South Carolina General Assembly passed another Joint Resolution to direct the Comptroller-General to draw warrants in favor of each county for their fair share of the net proceeds from the sale of spirituous liquors across the State.
On February 23, 1898, the South Carolina General Assembly passed an Act to fix the salaries of each County Superintendent of Education in the State. On March 3, 1899, the South Carolina General Assembly passed an Act to amend the 2/23/1898 Act, by increasing the salaries for County Superintendent of Education in six counties: Chesterfield, Florence, Laurens, Lexington, Marlboro, and Orangeburg.
On March 3, 1899, the South Carolina General Assembly passed and Act to fix the time for free public schools and to regulate the disbursement of net income arising from the sale of spirituous liquors. All public schools must be open for at least three months each year.
On March 6, 1899, the South Carolina General Assembly passed an Act to require an annual poll tax of one dollar for each man between 21 and 65 to be used for the general public school fund across the State. The Act also required a $10 fine or 20 days in confinement, if not paid.
On February 17, 1900, the South Carolina General Assembly passed a Joint Resolution to authorize the State Library to distribute among the colleges and historical societies of the State surplus copies of all Act and other publications of the State.
Also on February 19, 1900, the South Carolina General Assembly passed an Act to authorize the purchase of fifty (50) copies of each of the two volumes of the History of the State, by Edward McCrady, Esq., entitled, one, "The History of South Carolina Under the Proprietary Government, 1670-1719," and the other "The History of South Carolina Under the Royal Government, 1719-1776," published by the MacMillan Company of New York. The said books, when so purchased, were to be placed in the libraries and the public institutions and in the colleges of the State, male and female, under the direction of the Secretary of State and of the State Superintendent of Education.
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