South Carolina History - Role of South Carolina after the Revolution

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As a colony, South Carolina was a trailblazer for other colonies.  South Carolina opted for an independent constitution and government in March 1776, which was four months prior to when the Continental Congress declared independence. 

South Carolina's constitution was also adopted before the Declaration of Independence was signed.   South Carolina wanted to have a governing body in place during the time of rebellion. This Constitution of 1776 created South Carolina's first independent government, the Provincial Congress. 

This government of South Carolina renamed itself the General Assembly (Meeting) and discussed their grievances with Great Britain and outlined their new government in the Constitution. This constitution was to serve as the foundation of government in South Carolina until the feud with Great Britain was concluded.

The seeds for an independent government had begun years earlier at a General Meeting in Charleston on July 6, 1774.  At that time, those attending  elected five delegates to the First Continental Congress in Philadelphia, and then elected the Committee of 99, which soon became, in fact (de facto), the government of South Carolina.  The Committee of 99 had the following people:  15 merchants, 15 artisans, 69 planters. 

Even though Charleston still had a royal governor at this time, the people of Charleston obeyed the Committee of 99 instead of the royal governor.  So the people of Charleston in fact (de facto) chose the Committee of 99 to obey rather than the law (de jure), which was the royal governor. 

In November 1774, at a General Meeting, there was a call for an election of delegates to a Provincial Congress for South Carolina.  The Lowcountry had the largest number of representatives by a huge margin.  It was the job of this Provincial Congress to raise an army, issue currency and enforce nonimportation. It also commissioned the writing of the Constitution which was approved as the Articles of Confederation in 1776. 

The Constitution had a two-house legislature.  The lower house would be elected by the people, and then the lower house would elect people to the upper house.  The President was to be elected by the legislature and would have the ability to veto laws.  The Lowcountry had a disproportionately greater number of representatives than the Backcountry did. 

After the Declaration of Independence was signed, a second Constitution for South Carolina was written, but it only had a few changes. The main changes were: The president would now be the governor, representatives would now be a little-more equal, and South Carolina would no longer have the Church of England as the official, state-supported church. 

The people in the Backcountry were not happy with this government nor its policy on nonimportation.  The role in creating the new government, or the Committee of 99, was unbalanced and the people of the Backcountry did not feel a part of the government.  A delegation was sent to the Backcountry by the provincial government in an attempt to make peace.

The Backcountry agreed in the Treaty of Ninety-Six that they would remain neutral in the fight against Great Britain. This treaty was signed at a camp near the town named Ninety-Six.  A few years later, the first land battle in the south would be fought here.  The Provincial Congress sent a militia force that was outnumbered by the Tories.  Both sides had soldiers killed and the battle ended in a truce.

The fact that South Carolina already had their own Constitution, and had changed into a self-government before the Revolutionary War, allowed the men of South Carolina to take an active role in the formation of the new national government.  The Continental Congress was the first acting government of the United States.  Out of the thirteen colonies, South Carolina was the only state which totally met its financial obligation to the new government. 

Henry Laurens, from South Carolina, served as president of the Continental Congress. Later on he would also serve on the committee that negotiated the Treaty of Paris under the Articles of Confederation for the government.  The Treaty of Paris ended the Revolutionary War and was signed in Paris by Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, and John Jay.

The Articles of Confederation were written after the signing of the Declaration of Independence to officially establish the new government for the United States.  South Carolina was the first state to ratify the Articles (make it valid by confirming it), but the other states did not ratify the Articles until a compromise was reached over ownership of the western lands.  The Treaty of Paris had established American sovereignty over the land between the Appalachians and the Mississippi, however some states claimed the same land and other states were afraid of some states being too big.

A compromise was reached when these lands were ceded to the government and, finally, the Confederation government could begin.  Each state, under the Articles of Confederation which had been modeled after the Continental Congress, was given one vote. 

The problems with this type of government quickly became evident once the need to defeat Great Britain was over.  When there was a common enemy to defeat, ie Great Britain, all agreed, but now the different states had different opinions and it was no longer easy to govern.  Disagreement occurred over interstate trade, currency and taxes. 

South Carolinians understood these problems because they had economic problems of indebtedness and depression after the Revolutionary War.  The United States government, under the Articles of Confederation, were of a similar economical basis. The Confederation government was too weak to be able to handle all the needs of a growing new government and nation. 

Charles Pinckney of South Carolina wanted to see a stronger national government.  He advocated (strongly in favor of) this need for a stronger government through the different committees on which he served. Pinckney chaired a committee of the Confederation Congress which urged amendments that would make the government stronger under the Articles of Confederation. He also served on another committee that was attempting to get other states to pay what they owed to the national government in the same way that South Carolina had. 

When Shay's Rebellion occurred in Massachusetts' backcountry, that was enough for other states to fear insurrection, and a meeting was called in Philadelphia to amend the Articles in order to strengthen the national government. 

Shay's Rebellion was a rebellion of farmers, many of whom had served in the Continental Army without pay, against tax collections and judgments for debts which were excessively high.  Due to economic depression and bad harvests, many farmers were facing the possibility of losing their homes and farms, and rebelled against paying such high taxes to the government.  It was money they simply did not have.

The most serious rebellion occurred in Massachusetts and had—for its leader—Daniel Shays, a former captain in the Continental Army.

Original Release: Jun 27, 2015

Updated Last Revision: Jun 02, 2016

1) Unknown, Constitution of the State of South Carolina, 1776, Teaching American History in South Carolina Project, Jun/18/2015, Jun/18/2015, http://www.teachingushistory.org/lessons/1776Constitution.htm
2) History.com Staff, South Carolina approves new constitution, History.com, Jun/18/2015, Jun/18/2015, http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/south-carolina-approves-new-constitution
3) Gibbe, Robert W. , © 2012 Taylor & Francis The Treaty of Ninety - Six, Taylor & Francis, Jun/18/2015, Jun/18/2015, http://cw.routledge.com/textbooks/9780415895613/data/Treaty%20of%2096.pdf
4) Unknown, Local History, 96Revolutionary, Jun/19/2015, Jun/19/2015, http://www.townofninetysixsc.com/?page_id=62
5) White, David, Treaty of Paris of 1783, Social Studies for Kids, Dec/31/1969, Jun/19/2015, http://www.socialstudiesforkids.com/wwww/us/treatyofparis1783def.htm
6) Unknown, Difference between Articles of Confederation vs Constitution, http://www.differencebetween.net/, Jul/02/2014, Jun/19/2015, http://www.differencebetween.net/language/difference-between-articles-of-confederation-vs-constitution/
7) History.com Staff, Shays’ Rebellion, History.com, Jun/19/2015, Jun/19/2015, http://www.history.com/topics/shays-rebellion
8) Unknown, Grade 8 Support Document, Dept of Education Social Studies, Jun/20/2015, Jun/20/2015, https://ed.sc.gov/agency/ccr/Standards-Learning/documents/Grade8SupportDocument.p

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