The Royal Colony of South Carolina

Overview of the Royal Period

On December 21, 1719, a popular uprising in Charles Town led to a rebellion against the Lords Proprietors and the ejecting of Governor Robert Johnson, who refused an offer by the people to continue to serve as governor under the direct control of the Crown. Upon his dismissal of this idea, the colonists elect James Moore, Jr. as their first elected governor of South Carolina and he agreed to only serve in the name of King George I and to no longer serve the interests of the Lords Proprietors. He remained in office until May 29, 1721, when Sir Francis Nicholson was appointed as the first Royal Governor of South Carolina by the Crown.

On May 14, 1729, the Crown officially took over ownership of the colony of South Carolina. King George II had taken the Crown merely two years earlier, and he would live until 1760, when his son, George III, ascended to the throne. King George III lived until 1820 and he watched as all of his American colonies evaporated and became the independent nation of the United States of America in 1783.

The system of Landgraves, Cassiques (Caciques), and Baronets that had been in place during the rule of the Lords Proprietors is never mentioned again during the Royal Period. The last acknowledgement of them is around 1715, but they most likely continued until the Lords Proprietors finally signed over their interests in the Carolinas in 1728.

During the Royal Period, South Carolinians observed a minimalistic royal management of their colony, with very little interference from the Crown and the British Parliament until the mid-1760s, at the end of the French and Indian War (1756-1763). Britain had borrowed great sums from the Dutch to finance this war and many in the home country felt that the colonists should contribute a greater portion to repay the debt since it was the colonists that reaped most of the rewards.

In the mid-1760s, this homeland sentiment was quickly adopted by those in power and Parliament passed many laws that the American colonists truly believed were unjust. These new laws affected each American colony in different ways since each colony had their own separate economies as well as their own interests. For example, the Sugar Act (1764) dealt a terrible blow to Massachusetts, however, this new law had virtually no impact on either of the Carolinas.

External influences were not as significant as had been experienced during the rule of the Lords Proprietors. King George's War (1739-1748) brought with it a prolonged harassment by French and Spanish privateers along the South Carolina coast, but rarely did this harassment result in the loss of its citizens' lives.

During the Royal Period, South Carolina added nine (9) new parishes, which were usually created several years behind the westward expansion that occurred during the entire period. The settling of South Carolina was not merely east to west, nor was it consistent or evenly distributed. Most of the coastal inhabitants did not want to go west; they were quite content where they were.

Newcomers found little land available along the seacoast during the Royal Period, except for the very early years when there were still some lands along north of the Santee River area. These were quickly taken in the1730s.

In 1730, Governor Robert Johnson created a "township scheme" to purposefully entice settlement of the interior - mostly to serve as a buffer against the increasing hostilities of the Native Americans that were just beginning to resurface after the Yamassee War (1715-1716) had dealt them a crippling blow. With this new "scheme," nine (9) large tracts were set aside for towns and one large tract was set aside along the Great Pee Dee River for the Welsh, who had petitioned for their own lands.

The nine new townships defined in 1730 were: Amelia, Congaree, Edisto, Fredericksburg, Kings Town, New Windson, Purrysburg, Queensborough, and Williamsburg.

Fredericksburg Township was settled by Quakers and Scots-Irish from Virginia, and they established the first inland town of Camden (first called Pine Hill) in 1732 - although Camden really didn't take off until around 1758. Purrysburg Township was settled in 1732 by Swiss immigrants, mostly German and a good number of French. Amelia Township was also settled in 1732 by Reformed Swiss. Congaree Township was renamed to Saxe-Gotha Township in 1735, when it was first settled by German Lutherans. Kings Town Township was first settled in 1734 by Scots-Irish from Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Maryland.

Queensborough Township was settled in 1735 by Scots-Irish and Welsh from Pennsylvania and Delaware. Williamsburg Township was also settled in 1735 by Scots-Irish from Pennsylvania and Delaware. Edisto Township was renamed to Orangeburgh Township in 1735 and first settled by 250 Swiss immigrants of German and French heritage. New Windsor Township was first settled in 1737 by 200 Swiss immigrants also of German and French heritage.

In 1739, the Stono Rebellion brought the first large-scale slave revolt in the history of the British colonies. It was quickly squelched and new laws increased the restrictions upon the large black population of the colony that continued all the way to the American Civil War.

Although the 1740s brought a massive wave of immigration into North Carolina down the Great Wagon Road, South Carolina did not receive the benefit of this road until the 1750s, when this colony's "great migration" actually began, a few years behind North Carolina. There were newcomers to South Carolina in the 1740s, just not as many as came to North Carolina in that decade.

In the 1750s, the major north-south roads were beginning to make their way along the interior of South Carolina, and from this time until the end of the Royal Period the colony tripled its population from approximately 60,000 (including approximately 40,000 slaves) in 1729 to approximately 174,000 (including approximately 104,000 slaves) in 1775.

The French and Indian War (1756-1763) was called the Cherokee War in South Carolina, and it brought about much turmoil in the burgeoning colony during the late 1750s and early 1760s. In 1755, the Cherokee ceded much of their lands in South Carolina to the British, and this opened up the "backcountry" for settlement. And, that's just what happened. Instead of the coast, the backcountry was quickly becoming the "center of gravity" for South Carolina. The government and the power firmly remained in Charles Town, but the other coastal areas were losing their tight grip on all the political machinations that were constantly in play in the colony.

The "midlands" soon filled up with Scots-Irish, Germans, French Huguenots, Welsh, a handfull of Quakers, and of course, the ubiquitous English. By the end of the Royal Period in 1775, settlement had made its way to the base of the Appalachian Mountains in the far west. All areas were not always heavily populated, but the "bare patches" on the ground were becoming fewer and fewer.

In 1761, a second "township act" brought about the creation of three new townships in the South Carolina backcountry. Boonesborough Township was established and settled in 1762 by Scots-Irish Presbyterians from Virginia. Hillsborough Township was established and settled in 1764 by 212 French Huguenots. Londonborough Township (also known as Belfast Township, but this was not used by many nor on many maps thusly) was established and settled in 1765 by 300 Swiss immigrants, mostly German, with a good number of French.

As mentioned earlier, the British government pretty much left everyone alone until after the expensive French and Indian War when the government needed to raise money to pay off its war debt. In the mid-1760s, the new laws made it very clear to the people of South Carolina that they much preferred to govern themselves, therefore the seeds were sown that certainly led to the American Revolution just a decade later.

Internally, the people were exhausted. With the constant threat of Indian hostilities that lasted almost a decade and all of the newcomers arriving and taking lands "next to mine" led to many conflicts among the new settlers. Most of these conflicts were between themselves - the newcomers - but, some were conflicts with the "older, more-established," coastal folks. These two groups never got along. In the 1760s, a wild bunch of newcomers arrived that were - quite simply - nothing more than brigands and thieves.

This group traversed the newly-settled areas looking for easy targets, and it never took long to find opportunities. Soon however, the law-abiding newcomers took it upon themselves to solve this problem, and a small group became known as The Regulators - those who enforced the laws on their own hunted down and captured many of the petty thieves. Of course, this vigilante group caused more problems. The Regulators of South Carolina were not as powerful as those in North Carolina, and it didn't take a battle to get them under control as it did in the northern colony.

With the exploding population in the backcountry, it was not long before the newcomers wanted better and easier access to "their government." In 1768, the District Act reorganized the entire colony, eliminating all of the old counties and putting into place seven (7) new "districts." The original Act was nullified by the British Parliament, but in 1769 the final Act was approved - it was not fully implemented until 1772, however. The colony would never be the same.

At the beginning of the Royal Period in 1729, there were six permanently-settled towns in what is now South Carolina - Charles Town, Dorchester, Mt. Pleasant, Willtown, Beaufort, and George Town (just barely). By 1775, there were twenty-two (22) added, for a total of twenty-eight (28) permanently-settled towns in the province.

Camden (as Pine Hill), Amelia, and Purrybsurg were established in 1732; Kings Town (later shortened to Kingston, after the Revolution changed to Conwayborough, then shortened after the Civil War to Conway) was established in 1734; Queensborough (later shortened to Queensboro), Orangeburgh (later shortened to Orangeburg), and Saxe-Gotha were established in 1735; New Windsor and Kingstree (in Williamsburg Township) were established in 1737.

Jacksonborough was established in 1744.

The 1750s brought the towns of Ninety-Six (1750), Cheraw (1750), Moncks Corner (1753), and Lancaster around 1756.

Long Bluff was established in 1760; Boonesborough Township was established in 1762; within the Hillsborough Township the two french towns were established - New Bordeaux (1764) and New Rochelle (1766); the town of Granby and the Londoborough Township were established in 1765; Statesburg was founded in 1767; and McCrea's Crossroads (later to become Lake City) was founded in the 1760s in Williamsburg Township.

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