William Bull, Sr.

Royal Governor of South Carolina Province 1737 to 1738

 

1683-1755 
 

Oglethorpe and a shipload of colonists, chiefly recruited among the London poor, reached Charles Town without incident on January 13, 1733, and recuperated there before going on to Beaufort. Leaving the Colonists there, Oglethorpe sailed along the coast in a small boat with Colonel William Bull (later to be governor of South Carolina), seeking a site for his new colony. 


A trained surveyor, William Bull assisted General James Oglethorpe in the laying out of the Georgia Colony and lent his skills to the plan for Savannah as well. From 1738 until his death in 1755, he served as Lieutenant Governor of South Carolina and between 1737 and 1743, Bull also served as acting Governor.

Governor William Bull House - 35 Meeting Street, Charleston, South Carolina - The house is believed to have been built in 1720 by the first Lieutenant Governor of SC, William Bull. His son, William was the first native South Carolinian to recieve a medical degree and like his father, also served as Lieutenant Governor.


Savannah, Georgia - On the square is also a sundial dedicated to Colonel William Bull. Bull was a South Carolinian who came with Oglethorpe to find a suitable site for the new colony and it was he who suggested the city's current site, after Oglethorpe rejected Tybee Island as being too marshy. Bull also helped implement Oglethorpe's design for the city and Bull Street, the Historic District's east-west dividing line, was named for him as well.
In a letter dated October 5, 1739, less than a month after the Stono Rebellion, Lieutenant Governor William Bull reported to Britian's Board of Trade, informing them of the revolt and updating them on the status of the rebels. Bull, who had personally spread the alarm regarding the revolt, also requests that rewards be offered to Indians who would help recapture the slaves. Click Here to read his 1739 letter.
The Stono Rebellion of 1739 tested the militia's ability to respond to domestic insurrection. The rebels began with a successful attack on a militia arsenal, and then, well armed with guns and ammunition, the slaves set off for Florida and freedom. But the blacks were completely unfamiliar with firearms, and their defense crumbled before Lieutenant Governor William Bull's first charge.

A dozen insurgents were quickly killed and most of the rest taken prisoner. The colony spared no expense in pouring the militia onto the roads and into the swamps of South Carolina in search of escaped rebels, and even hired local Indians to help put down the uprising. Such sustained efforts contrast dramatically with the feeble earlier responses to local white insurrections. Slavery touched the way most whites lived in a manner that politics never could.


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