The Whitner Family Pt II: Joseph Newton Whitner, Sr., the Father of Anderson

Part one of the series on the Whitner family covered the life of Joseph Whitner, the founder of the family. Orphaned at an early age and alone on the streets of Charleston, South Carolina, Joseph Whitner educated himself, led troops during the American Revolution, and amassed a fortune in the Pendleton District. Politically, Joseph Whitner was an anti-federalist, fearing a strong, centralized federal government and believed that the states were best at governing themselves. These beliefs were passed on to his three sons, Benjamin Franklin, John, and Joseph Newton. Of these, it is Joseph Newton Whitner, Sr., who bears the title “Father of Anderson.”

Joseph Newton Whitner, Sr., was born April 11, 1799, near Pendleton. He was the youngest son and fourth child of Joseph and Elizabeth Whitner. He attended school in Union, South Carolina, and there are tales of his run-ins with the law. In one incident, Whitner was visited by the deputy sheriff on some relatively minor matter. Unbeknownst to the deputy, Whitner carried a pistol to school. When the deputy tried to arrest Whitner, he pulled out his pistol and told the officer that he would not go willingly. Whitner was joking, according to his own later recollection, but the deputy did not take it so and shots were nearly fired when the deputy got off his horse.

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Joseph Newton Whitner (Anderson County Museum)

After finishing his schooling in Union, Whitner graduated from South Carolina College in 1818, and despite his earlier misbehavior, learned the law by reading it. He returned to the Pendleton District where he built a successful legal practice in just a few years. Whitner took an interest in politics and served in the South Carolina House and Senate from the 1820’s to 1835, representing his home district.

He is most remembered legislatively for authoring a plan to divide the Pendleton District. Before even Pendleton District was created, the land had been used by the tribes of the Lower Cherokee as hunting ground. There were no permanent settlements in what is today Anderson County, Cherokee or otherwise, until after the Revolutionary War. The land had been ceded to the State of South Carolina in 1777 by a treaty with the Cherokee, but the war prevented any real settlement policy from being developed and employed. Soon after the war ended, however, Revolutionary War veterans bought up tracts of land in the region, many for a very cheap price and the upstate was soon divided into districts for government. Each district had a courthouse town which was the center of local government.

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Map Showing Outline of the Original Pendleton District and the Subsequent County Divisions. Although shown on the map, Oconee County was not created until 1868.

The area of South Carolina west of Greenville and north of Abbeville Counties was named the Pendleton District (and the Washington District for a short period of time) from 1790 to 1826. The courthouse was located at Pendleton. The district covered nearly two thousand square miles, and with the growth in settlements had become nearly ungovernable. Its courthouse was far from many of its key towns, and new settlers were continually moving in.

As a young representative, Whitner had an idea. He proposed breaking up the district into two smaller, more manageable units. In his legislation, Whitner proposed naming the units after two local heroes of the Revolutionary War: Generals Robert Anderson and Andrew Pickens. Anderson and Pickens Counties were created by an act of the General Assembly on December 20, 1826.

The former courthouse town of Pendleton was not abandoned, however. A new courthouse, called Anderson, was established near the center of the new county. A small frame courthouse was built, businesses began began to establish themselves around the county square, taverns and inns opened, a gridwork of streets were laid, and lots were for sale.

During the late 1820’s, Whitner married Elizabeth Hampton Harrison, the daughter of James Harrison, Jr., and Sarah Earle, a granddaughter of Elias Earle, U.S. Congressman and one of the earliest settlers of Greenville County. Between 1830 and 1845, Joseph and Elizabeth had nine children, all born in Anderson.

  • Joseph Newton Whitner, Jr., born November 14, 1830, died July 13, 1882. C.S.A. Wounded at First Manassas. Married Amelia Mellvina Howard and had issue.
  • Sarah Frances Whitner, born March 21, 1832, died January 24, 1924. Unmarried.
  • Elizabeth Teccoa Whitner, born March 1833, died July 8, 1906, in Warm Springs, Virginia. She married Col. Thomas Jamison Glover, Sr., who died on August 31, 1862, from his wounds at Second Manassas. Emmala Reed recorded in her diary that Mrs. Glover was forced to play the piano for the “entertainment” of Union troops during Anderson’s occupation after the war.
  • James H. Whitner, born November 3, 1833, died May 2, 1886, in Greenville, South Carolina. C.S.A. Died unmarried of heart disease.
  • Benjamin Franklin Whitner, born February 22, 1835, died January 14, 1919. Married Anna Pleasant Church, December 21, 1858, and had children five children, including William Church Whitner, the man who brought electricity to Anderson.
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    Monument Dedicated to Elias, Rebecca and Samuel Whitner, erected by their siblings at First Presbyterian Church (author’s collection)

    William Henry Whitner, born November 10, 1836, died February 16, 1872. C.S.A. Married twice but no children. Served on the staffs of Gen. Roger A. Pryor, Gen. Micah Jenkins, and Gen. Bushrod Johnson. Later moved to Madison, Florida, where he died.

  • Dr. Elias Eugene Whitner, born November 22, 1839, died March 21, 1872. Died unmarried of caused unknown, the second Whitner child to die in 1872. He had just recently moved his practice to Greenville and bought a home.
  • Rebecca E. Whitner, born November 1, 1843, died May 29, 1845. Rebecca died just a few weeks after the Anderson fire.
  • Samuel Earle Whitner, born April 26, 1845, died September 29, 1845. Samuel was the second child of the Whitners to die in 1845.

Shortly after his marriage, Whitner and his wife moved from Pendleton to Anderson. He purchased a house from William Moses Chamblee, Sr., two miles west of downtown. The house over looked a wide creek to the east. Elizabeth covered the grounds with roses and the home was known as Rose Hill. According to a nearby historical marker, the house was built around 1794. Whitner lived at Rose Hill for the remainder of his life, and he dedicated much of his years to the development of the town he had founded.

On April 6, 1831, Whitner presided over a dinner of Pendleton’s leading men that was held to congratulate Vice President John C. Calhoun on his “clear and conclusive vindication.” There had been a split politically between Calhoun and President Andrew Jackson over the growing power of the federal government. Less than two months later, Calhoun gave his famous Fort Mill Address in which he laid out his legal and moral defenses for the Theory of Nullification, which argued that states could nullify acts of Congress that they deemed out of line with the Constitution. Whitner was a strong Calhoun supporter and believed him when Calhoun said,

“The States…formed the compact, acting as Sovereign and independent communities. The General Government is but its creature; and though, in reality, a government, with all the rights and authority which belong to any other government, within the orbit of its powers, it is, nevertheless, a government emanating from a compact between sovereigns…”

Whitner resigned from his state Senate seat in 1835, after being elected Solicitor of the Western District of South Carolina, a position he held until January 26, 1850, when he was elected a law judge, serving until his death. Whitner was opposed to drinking strong liquor, and as solicitor, he often gave temperance speeches and lectures at district courthouses in his circuit. His demeanor on the bench was less confrontational and he was considered “a lawyer’s dream come true.” As a judge, Whitner was conscientious, patient, kind, and courteous to the attorneys appearing before him.

He was named a lifetime trustee of South Carolina College in 1837. Others appointed that year included future governors Wade Hampton III and George McDuffie, and James Louis Pettigru, famous for his statement upon the state’s secession in 1860, “South Carolina is too small for a republic and too large for an insane asylum.”

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First Presbyterian Church, Anderson, South Carolina (author’s collection)

Although his father had been born a Lutheran, the Whitners converted to Presbyterianism after they settled in Pendleton. Joseph Whitner had been a major contributor to the Old Stone Church and his son would also be a founding force for another congregation. Whitner donated a large tract of land in 1837 to the local Presbyterian community for use as a church. Anderson Presbyterian Church, now known as First Presbyterian, was organized September 23, 1837.

There were thirteen charter members of the church, including Whitner and his family. Whitner remained a member of the church his entire life. The first frame structure was completed in 1839 and it was in this building that Whitner worshiped. Adjacent to the church was the city’s first public cemetery, although the property belonged to the church, the final resting place of many of the early Whitners. Anderson’s first Sunday School was organized at First Presbyterian in 1855. A historical marker was erected at the church site in 1968 by the board of deacons.

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Joseph Newton Whitner

The year 1845 was a difficult year for the Whitner family. Whitner maintained an office at the Benson House, a large hotel in downtown Anderson, in which he stored his personal records, library, and papers. A fire swept through the western side of Anderson in April 1845, destroying many of the wooden buildings. Whitner was able to save his library and papers, but the office was not so lucky. Whitner also owned a large building, previously called Archer’s Hotel. It too was totally destroyed by the fire. The fire destroyed all of the early history of the town. The newspaper office, which stored many of the records was burned to the ground. Within a few months of the fire, Whitner lost his youngest two children, Rebecca and Samuel, just months apart.

Whitner had adopted many of his father’s political beliefs but he took them a step further. He was a zealous advocate of the States’ Rights Doctrine, and the Theories of Nullification and Secession, and a life-long supporter of John C. Calhoun. As such, Whitner was often a delegate to several like-minded conventions such as the Southern Cooperative Rights Convention in Nashville, Tennessee, June 3, 1850; the 1852 Southern Rights Convention; and the South Carolina Secession Convention, December 1860. It was at the state’s convention where he signed the secession ordinance as one of five delegates representing Anderson County.

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Joseph Whitner’s Signature on the South Carolina Secession Ordinance

Whitner was a slave owner. According to the 1850 federal Slave Census, he owned nearly eight slaves. They ranged in ages fifty five to less than a year. Their names are not recorded in the census but based on the ages given there appeared to be several family groups.

It was during this decade that Whitner turned his attention south for a business venture. Like many other members of his family, the prospect of developing land in Florida was too much to avoid. Whitner purchased ninety acres in Leon, Florida, for development. Although the investment paid off, Whitner later remarked that he would have made more had been there to over see the operation, adding “you can’t run a plantation from afar.”

By 1860, Whitner was a very wealthy man. According to the census for that year, he real estate was valued at $30,000 and his personal estate at $150,000. In today’s dollars, his real estate would be worth nearly one million and his personal estate over four million. His wealth, however, could not help Whitner fight on the battlefield for his cause. He was simply too for active service during the Civil War. His five surviving sons, however, all served in the Confederate Army.

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Joseph Newton Whitner Tombstone (find-a-grave)

Joseph Newton Whitner died on March 31, 1864, and was buried at First Presbyterian. He is remembered in Anderson by a street and a creek that bear his name. These intersect near his home. Rose Hill remained in the Whitner family for several years before being purchased by William W. Humphreys. It was later a country club and museum. Sadly, Rose Hill has not survived. It was town down in the 1960’s.

Anderson, the town that Whitner founded was destined for greater things. It would emerge from the Civil War and Reconstruction, and see a period of economic growth during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. It would fall to his grandson, William Church Whitner, to light the way.


The Whitner Family Pt I: Josef Weidner the German Orphan

The Whitner family plays a significant role in the history of Anderson and Anderson County. While most in Anderson know of William Church Whitner from the statue of him in downtown and the stories of his hydroelectric plants, his grandfather and great-grandfather also were instrumental in shaping the community. The Whitner family did not start out successful. In fact, their story begins with a German orphan and who had an unstoppable drive to succeed in his new home.

January 1765. Hundreds of German immigrants arrived in Charleston as part of a wave of migration to the South Carolina colony. Many of them eventually settled in the township of Londonborough, a twenty-five thousand acre tract of land that had been set aside for them. The township was mostly located in today’s McCormick and Edgefield Counties with a small portion in southern Greenwood County, and was one of several such locations set aside for specific ethnic and religious groups that were being brought to the colony. The hope was that these townships would stimulate growth in the back country of South Carolina, but few of them survived for more than a few years, with the exception of the Camden Township.

Among those Germans arriving in Charleston as part of this wave, was the family of Johan Georg Weidners, age sixty-five. Weidners was traveling with his wife, Anna Maria Dullen, age forty-five, and their three children: Christian, age fifteen, Catherine, age eleven, and Josef, age ten. Within a few months of arriving, Josef was the only member of the family left, the rest having died from disease and fever.


German Friendly Society Headquarters, Charleston, South Carolina (author’s collection)

The young Josef was now an orphan in a strange land. He had no family or anyone to care for him. He was placed in a school in Charleston where he remained, presumably under the care and protection of the German Friendly Society of Charleston, a charitable organization which offered aid and assistance to the growing German population in the city. The young Joseph received an education and was greatly influenced by the Patriot ideas which were spreading through the colonies.

The German community of Charleston strongly supported the Patriot cause during the Revolutionary War. In May 1775, the German Fusiliers was formed, the first native German military unit to be formed in the colonies. On January 12, 1778, at the age of 18, Joseph joined the ranks of the Patriot army. His name appeared in military records as “Joseph Whitener” and “Joseph White.”


Francis Marion (James Dabney McCabe (1876) The Centennial Book of American Biography, P. W. Ziegler & Company, Philadelphia)

During his first year, Whitner served under the command of General Francis Marion, the famed “Swamp Fox.” Whitner participated in the failed and devastating Siege of Savannah (September 16 – October 17, 1779). Afterwards, he was reassigned to the Pendleton District, where the Cherokee, incited by the English, were committing grave depredations on colonial settlements. He was given a command under Colonel Benjamin Roebuck’s battalion of the Spartan Regiment, which had been established in July 1780.

Whitner participated in many of the key engagements during 1780 and 1781 including Kings Mountain (October 7, 1780), Blackstocks (November 20, 1780), Cowpens (January 17, 1781), and the sieges of Augusta (April-Jun 1781) and Ninety Six (May 21 – June 19, 1781). A contemporary, Col. John Clark Kilpatrick, Sr., once remarked that that “[Whitner] never sent his men into battle, but always led them.” Whitner wrote an account of his experiences in the Revolutionary War.

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The Pendleton District Outlined in Black

At the close of the war, Whiter settled in Pendleton and became a surveyor and planter. He had become familiar with the territory during his military service and believed that it was ready for development and growth. He purchased land “above ancient boundary line on Eighteen Mile Creek, branch of the Savannah River” from David Waters of Abbeville County on October 5, 1791. Waters had received the land from Charles Steele in 1787, who had been granted the land by William Moultrie on July 4, 1785. Whitner also held the deed to Altamont Plantation, but he did little to improve the land. He later sold it to Col. Thomas Pinckney, Jr., around 1800.

Whitner was hired by Judge Lemuel James Alston in 1786, to survey a tract of land for a courthouse for the newly created Greenville County. His survey was completed on August 19, 1786, and included seventy-four acres of former Cherokee territory on the Reedy River which eventually became the center of downtown Greenville.

In 1789 he married Elizabeth Shackelford, daughter of William Shackelford, a Revolutionary War Patriot from Hanover County, Virginia. After his marriage, he changed his name to Joseph Whitner. Joseph and Elizabeth had five children:

  1. Benjamin Franklin Whitner, Sr., born September 22, 1971. His family eventually settled in Florida and became pioneers in the state’s citrus industry.
  2. John Whitner, born about 1795. He served during the War of 1812 and died in New Orleans in 1812.
  3. Rebecca Whitner, born January 10, 1795. Died unmarried in 1832 and buried at Old Stone Church.
  4. Joseph Newton Whitner, Sr., born April 11, 1799. The “father of Anderson.”
  5. Sarah Shackelford Whitner, born July 8, 1804. Married Dr. Frederick W. Symmes, a noted physician and planter in Pendleton.

There are reports of two other daughters, Elizabeth and Jane, but no additional information is known about them.

While his family grew, so did Whitner’s fortune. On January 26, 1796, he sold to Charles Rice thirty acres on the west side of Eighteen Mile Creek, part of 190 acres transferred from Jacob Rame to Whitner. In March 1797, Whitner accompanied Benjamin Hawkins, Gen. Andrew Pickens and Col. Kilpatrick on an expedition to mark the lines between the Native American lands and the United States.

Although Whitner held the deed to Altamont Plantation, he did little to improve the land. He eventually sold it to Col. Thomas Pinckney, Jr., around 1800.

Whitner’s household, according to the 1800 Federal Census, consisted of himself, his wife, their sons, Benjamin, John, and Joseph, and their daughter, Sarah. As a land owner, Whitner also owned slaves. In 1800, he owned seven.

In 1802, the construction of the Old Stone Church in Pendleton (then called Hopewell-Keowee) was completed. Although born a Lutheran, Whitner had converted to Presbyterianism, and his name appears in the church records as one of the principal contributors.

On July 4, 1812, Whitner was appointed by General Andrew Pickens to a commission that was responsible for drafting “certain resolutions” regarding the actions of the British navy which led to the War of 1812. Other members of the commission included leading figures of the Pendleton District: Dr. Edward D. Smith, Col. John B. Earle, Col. Andrew Pickens (son of General Pickens), Maj. John Taylor, Dr. William Hunter, Col. Obadiah Trimmier, John Wilson, Capt. David Sloan, and Maj. Michael Dickson.

Whiter, on December 1, 1812, was appointed by the state House of Representatives, along with Robert Anderson, Samuel Cherry, James C. Griffin, and Samuel Taylor, as a “commissioner to appropriate the securities hereafter to be given by sheriffs and other officers in Pendleton District.”

Whitner requested compensation from the State Committee on Claims on December 13 1813, for two horses that were lost in military service during the Revolutionary War. A week later, he was appointed to a commission by the General Assembly that was tasked with altering the western boundary of the public square of Pendleton to establish a circulating library for the community. The others appointed to the Commission of the Pendleton Circulating Library Society were Robert Anderson, Samuel Cherry, Joseph B. Earle, James C. Griffin, John L. North, Andrew Pickens, Jr., and John Taylor.

In 1818, Whitner became a member of the Pendleton Farmers’ Society, a local association of prominent farmers and plantation owners. The society, which had been formed in 1815, would hold regular meetings where they would discuss improvements pertaining to agriculture.

These appointments coincided with the growth of his influence in the Pendleton community. In 1820, the Federal Census recorded that his household included himself and his wife, three daughters (presumable these include Elizabeth and Jane referenced earlier), and eighteen slaves. The slaves included five males and seven females under the age of fourteen, two males and one female between the ages of 14 and 25; and one male and two females between the ages of twenty-six and forty-four.


Joseph Whitner’s Tombstone (author’s collection) Inscription reads, “Sacred to the memory of Joseph Whitner, a native of Germany, who died of apoplexy, April 12, 1824, aged 67 years. Left, by the death of his parents, an orphan child in a strange land, wholly destitute of property and kindred, he was mercifully preserved to bear a part in the struggle of his adopted State for Independence, to live many years in the enjoyment of the blessing of liberty, an example of probity and sincerity in his relations as citizen, friend, father and husband, and to die after twenty years in the Presbyterian Church, in the faith of pardon through the blood of the redeemer. His children have placed this tablet over his grave.”

Joseph Whitner died April 12, 1824, of apoplexy.

In the words of John C. Whitner, a grandson of Atlanta, Georgia:

“Thrown upon his own resources when but a youth, trained in the school of bitter experience, along and unaided, Joseph Whitner struggled against adverse circumstances and conquered them; deprived, when a child, of softening influences of home life, it is no wonder he was regarded as an austere man, but beneath that severe exterior there was a heart as warm as ever beat in human breast.”

Whitner was buried at Old Stone Church. From his humble beginnings as an orphan on the streets of Charleston, Whitner lived an amazing life. He fought in battles and surveyed the wilderness of South Carolina. He founded a family that would impact the history of the United States in ways that he could have never dreamed. His eldest son, Benjamin Franklin Whitner, had moved to Florida several years earlier. His other surviving son, Joseph Newton Whitner, remained in Pendleton, and he would become the “father of Anderson.”

Elizabeth Shackelford Whitner remained in Pendleton and outlived her husband for another thirteen years. She died on October 21, 1837. Her father was Second Lieutenant William O. Shackelford of the Fourteenth Virginia Regiment. Shackelford fought at the Battle of Germantown (October 4, 1777), and died the following month on November 23 of wounds he received. Elizabeth was laid to rest beside her husband at Old Stone Church.


Wade Hampton, the Red Shirts, and Anderson – Part IV: Anderson’s Red Shirt Reunions

After Wade Hampton’s election as South Carolina’s governor in 1876, the Red Shirts had fulfilled their primary mission. They were also active during the Hampton’s 1878 reelection campaign, but not to the same level and the group seemed to dissolve. After several decades of silence, the Red Shirts again came to the attention of many in 1908 when the first of four annual reunions were held in South Carolina. The first two were held in Anderson County. These were large gatherings, and were largely propaganda to change the view of the Red Shirts from that of a violent and racist organization to something more benign that would only use violence when necessary. They might have succeeded too, had it not been for a speech delivered by Benjamin Tillman at 1909 reunion.

By the end of the 19th century, the South Carolina Democratic Party had completely adopted white supremacy as its standard policy. In the words of John C. Watkins, Sr., the acting party chairman in Anderson County, printed in the Anderson Intelligencer, October 16, 1890:

“…we hereby call every Democrat in the County, who is willing to help save his race and protect the helpless women and children from Negro domination to meet in mass-meeting at Anderson Courthouse…Don again the red shirts, the emblem of white supremacy; “Old Reformer” is ready to again raise his voice for liberty. Let the state, the world, if necessary, see and understand that the white people in Anderson County are true to their principles of Democracy and the supremacy of the white race…let every Democrat vote, and vote the regular ticket. In doing so you are not voting for men, but for the regular Democracy and white supremacy.”

“Old Reformer” is a cannon that was bought to the upstate during the War of 1812. It is believed to have been brought to Charleston by German emigrants in 1764. The cannon made its way to Anderson in the 1850’s, and it was used fired at important occasions such as Hampton’s campaign announcement and the announcement of his win. For decades it was visible at the courthouse, but today, it is housed at the Anderson County Museum.


Augustus J. Sitton (

The Red Shirts were introduced in Anderson by Augustus J. Sitton during Hampton’s campaign. Sitton was the quartermaster of his regiment during the Civil War. He was unable to bear arms due to a wound he received at First Manassas so he served in clerical and administrative roles. According to Ellison Capers, Sitton was a member of Hampton’s staff, “and was the originator of the red shirt as a campaign uniform, which was an important factor in ridding South Carolina of the carpet-bag and Negro government in 1876.”

The association between the Red Shirts and their racial past was something that many wanted to change. In fact, there were Freedmen who were members of the Red Shirts. In 1900, a former slave named James Minor of Williamston died at his home at the age of 75. His obituary states that he “took an active part in the red shirt campaign of 1876” and often gave speeches extolling the white man as the best friend of his race. His funeral was attended by a large number of whites and blacks.

The First Reunion


A Maid of the Foot-Hills by J.W. Danial

There was a renewed interest in the Red Shirts in Anderson County during the early 1900’s primarily because of one man and two books. The man was Jesse C. Stribling. He was the first lieutenant of the Pendleton Red Shirt Company. He was a supporter of Hampton in 1876 and after the election devoted himself to his farm and local politics.

The two books were John Reynold’s Reconstruction in South Carolina and a novel by J.W. Daniel, A Maid of the Foot-Hills, set in Anderson County. Both books were published in 1905. Reynolds was a noted author and the library for the state Supreme Court His Reconstruction began as a series of articles printed in The State. They were collected in book form in 1905 and trace a chronological history of Reconstruction, ending with Hampton. Daniel’s Maid was a fictionalized account of Reconstruction with Anderson legend Manse Jolly serving as the inspiration of his hero. Daniel portrayed the Red Shirts in a very sympathetic light, much like the Klan received in the film The Birth of a Nation.

Stribling had a keen interest in the region’s past, and he wanted to remind people of what the Red Shirts had accomplished. Like many of his day, the white supremacy of the Red Shirts was not a negative thing, and it had led to a South Carolina that was prosperous, settled, and without racial violence. To accomplish this, he began planning a reunion, using the annual Confederate veteran reunions as his model. Invitations were mailed to other chapters in the state asking them to gather together to recall their glory days. On August 14, 1908, the first Red Shirt Reunion in South Carolina was held in Anderson County where they had been originally been organized, Pendleton, SC.

Stribling’s intention for the reunion was to educate the current generations on the accomplishments of the Red Shirt and to pass on their beliefs of white supremacy. A parade was held that was reserved for Red Shirt members and their sons. Local Pendleton boys organized themselves into a junior Red Shirt company and were responsible for dragging the Peacemaker cannon through the streets in the parade. One speaker encouraged the boys to “learn of the trials their fathers endured and the struggles they made to insure white supremacy for their children.”

For Stribling and the other former Red Shirts, there was a distinction between their work and that of the Ku Klux Klan. The Klan used violence to solve all problems and acted outside the law under the cover of darkness with their faces covered. The Red Shirts operated in the open, and would use violence only as a last resort, when the circumstances forced them. This was the message of the first reunion.

The Second Reunion

The first Red Shirt Reunion in Pendleton was such a great success, that plans were made for another reunion the following year. This time it would be moved to Anderson, and it was a much larger and more inclusive event. Held on August 25, 1909, the second Red Shirts Reunion began with a lavish parade of approximately 2,000 people, including veterans of the Red Shirts, Spanish-American War veterans, brigades of firefighters, speakers, the Orr Mill Band, and 50 members of the Daughters of the Confederacy. The parade made its way through the center of Anderson’s on Main Street, and ended at University Hill, the site where Hampton made his campaign announcement in 1876.


Benjamin R. Tillman (Library of Congress)

The keynote speaker of the 1909 reunion was none other than Benjamin R. “Pitchfork” Tillman, an early member and ardent supporter of the Red Shirts. Tillman had backed Hampton as a Red Shirt, but be became disillusioned with Hampton soon after the election. This division eventually led to a split with the state Democratic Party eventually split and Tillman became the leader of his own faction called the Tillmanites. A popular politician across the state, he was elected governor of South Carolina (1891-1894) and U.S. Senator (1895-1918).

Tillman’s speech in Anderson was entitled “The Struggles of 1876: How South Carolina was Delivered from Carpet Bagger and Negro Rule,” and it destroyed forever the façade of Red Shirt restraint and non-violence that had been fostered in the first reunion. Tillman was known for speaking in overly racial terms and would proudly proclaim himself a white supremacist when given an opportunity. He used the second Red Shirt reunion as an opportunity to discuss perhaps the most infamous of the Red Shirt actions: the Hamburg Massacre.

Covered in a previous post, the Hamburg Massacre was a pivotal moment in race relations in South Carolina. Over 90 men were indicted in the deaths in the massacre, including Tillman, but none were ever tried for their crimes. The bulk of Tillman’s speech consisted of a detailed account and defense of the massacre, and he relates the events with a cold matter-of-fact manner that does not hide his racism and support for white supremacy. None of this was surprising. Tillman was known for bragging in public speeches and on the Senate floor about the violence he had perpetrated against blacks in his early days.

To the thousands standing before him in Anderson, Tillman delivered a long speech that runs over 30 printed pages. These were among his words:

“The purpose of our visit to Hamburg was to strike terror, and the next morning (Sunday) when the Negroes who had fled to the swamp returned to the town (some of them never did return, but kept on going) the ghastly sight which met their gaze of seven dead Negroes lying stiff and stark, certainly had its effect…

“It was now after midnight, and the moon high in the heavens looked down peacefully on the deserted town and dead Negroes, whose lives had been offered up as a sacrifice to the fanatical teachings and fiendish hate of those who sought to substitute the rule of the African for that of the Caucasian in South Carolina.

“We have in truth waved the bloody shirt in the face of the Yankee bull and dared him to do his worse. It is needless to say that this daring act on the part of the whites served to intensify the fears of the Negroes, while among the whites the bond of race drew us closer together.”

The Red Shirts simply could not escape their racial past from this speech. Although there were a few more reunions interest in the group disappeared by 1911, and they ceased to gather together, gradually swept into the proverbial dustbin of history.


The key figures in the Hampton campaign all continued their political careers past the turbulent events of 1876.

Daniel Henry Chamberlain, the last of the Reconstruction Governors, returned to New York and practiced law. He was a constitutional law professor at Cornell University from 1883 to 1897. After retiring, he traveled extensively in Europe before moving to Charlottesville, Virginia, where he died in 1907. He was buried at Pine Grove Cemetery in West Brookfield, Massachusetts. His tombstone makes no mention of his term as Governor of South Carolina, but he is called a “scholar, patriot, soldier, lover, jurist, and statesman.”

Wade Hampton III was elected to a second term as governor in November 1878, but he resigned February 26, 1879, after being elected by the state Senate to the United States Senate. Hampton was not a candidate for the position and he did not want it, but he took the seat and remained in the U.S. Senate until 1891. Hampton was appointed by President Grover Cleveland as United States Railroad Commissioner in 1893, and remained in the post until 1897 with he retired from public life. Hampton died in 1902, and was buried at Trinity Episcopal Church in Columbia, SC.


Martin Witherspoon Gary’s Tombstone (Old Tabernacle Cemetery, author’s collection)

Martin Witherspoon Gary commanded the Red Shirts in their implementation of the Mississippi Plan. He made his headquarters at Oakley Park in Edgefield. Today, the house is the property of the Town of Edgefield and the United Daughters of the Confederacy, and is the home of The Red Shirt Shrine and Museum. Gary was elected to the state Senate in 1876 where he served two terms. His was a long time ally and supporter of Hampton, going back to the Civil War, but that ended when Hampton failed to appoint him to the U.S. Senate in 1877 and 1879. Gary retired from politics in 1881, and died at his home in Cokesbury, South Carolina, later that year. He was buried at the old Tabernacle Cemetery near Cokesbury.

Rutherford B. Hayes served for two terms as President of the United States from 1877 to 1881. He declined to run for a third term and retired. During his administration, Hayes promoted civil service reforms, attempted to reconcile the differences in the nation that remained after Reconstruction, and believed in a government that was color blind. Despite being the man who ended Reconstruction, Hayes is often regard as among the best of the worst presidents in United States history. He died at his Ohio home in 1893, and was buried on Oakwood Cemetery in Freemont, Ohio.

Benjamin Ryan Tillman, the firebrand speaker, white supremacist, Red Shirt leader, friend of the farmer, and education advocate, was elected governor of South Carolina in 1890 and he served two two-year terms. During his four years as governor, 18 blacks were lynched in the state, and the South Carolina Constitution of 1895 was drafted which disenfranchised most of the voting blacks in the state. He was instrumental in the growth of Clemson and Winthrop. Tillman was elected by the state Senate to the United States Senate in 1895, as proscribed by the United States Constitution. He would hold his seat until his death in 1918. Tillman was buried at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Trenton, SC. His tombstone includes the following inscription: “He was the friend of leader of the common people. He taught them their political power and made possible for the education of their sons and daughters.”

Both Hampton and Tillman have been honored at locations across South Carolina. Each had a monumental statue on the statehouse grounds. Because of his backing of the higher education, buildings at Clemson and Winthrop bear Tillman’s name. To honor the “Savior of South Carolina,” a new county was carved out of the northern part of Beaufort County by the General Assembly in 1877. Governor Hampton signed the bill on February 18. 1878, naming it Hampton County.

The lives of Hampton, Tillman, Chamberlain, and the others involved in the campaign of 1876 ended decades ago. The Red Shirts no longer exist, and although their are groups motivated by hate and racism, the idea of white supremacy as a legitimate political idea is no longer accepted as mainstream. Justified or not, the legacy of the 1876 election and the men who fought it remains with South Carolina over 140 years later.

Wade Hampton, the Red Shirts, and Anderson – Part III: Two Governors

The corruption of South Carolina’s Reconstruction Governors resulted in Wade Hampton’s 1876 gubernatorial campaign, spearheaded by the promise to reform and save South Carolina. Along with Hampton’s campaign came the rise of the Red Shirts, the racist paramilitary arm of the state Democratic Party that was loyal to Hampton. This was also a presidential election year, and the results of that race would have a profound impact on South Carolina for over a century. This is the story of how South Carolina once had Two Governors, and of the beginning of Redemption.

The Choices

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Daniel Henry Chamberlain (

In 1876, the choices for the governor’s seat were clear. Chamberlain, whether deserved or not, had come to symbolize all that was wrong with Reconstruction. He epitomized the “Carpetbagger” of Southern folklore, the Yankee who moved to the South and profited off the backs of poor Southerners. Chamberlain was hardly this, but he had lost complete control of the state government and was forced to depend on federal troops just to maintain peace during the election. By contrast, Hampton spoke to large crowds and was greeted with thunderous applause at every gathering. His theme was consistent: only he and the Democratic Party can save the state from the ruin that surely awaited it under Chamberlain and the Republicans.

The stakes were high for Chamberlain. At risk was not only his political career but Reconstruction itself. Chamberlain believed in its tenants and but the corruption in the Republican Party overshadowed its accomplishments. He acknowledged this in 1876 when he wrote, “We have tried for eight years to uphold Negro rule in the South officered by carpetbaggers, but without exception it has resulted in failure and almost ruin in our party.”


Wade Hampton III (Library of Congress)

Hampton believed, as a Bourbon Democrat, in an aristocratic power base. He wanted to restore the old South Carolina families to the place of power they had prior to the war. While this appealed to the old planter class, it was not enough to win him an election. What Hampton needed was a cause that would attract poor farmers and everyday South Carolinians who were fed up with the Republican leadership but had no one to speak for them. He won them over by placing the blame for the corruption squarely on Chamberlain. Corruption and Reconstruction went hand in hand in Hampton’s mind because power in the state was given to a class of people unsuited for the job and who had mismanaged the state’s funds, and this was a direct result of Reconstruction.

Once the old Democratic base was rebuilt, Hampton had to ensure that the black votes supporting Chamberlain were suppressed. Under the command of his chief lieutenant, Martin Witherspoon Gary, the Red Shirts targeted Freedmen communities and individuals with bribery, terror, violence, and murder to ensure they did not vote or that their votes were never counted. During the course of the 1876 election, nearly 200 lives were lost in political violence, most of them Freedmen, and many of the events involving the Red Shirts. Democratic majorities were created in districts were they did not exist. In Edgefield County, for example, 2,000 more votes were counted than were registered in the county. The same thing happened in Laurens County. Threats of retaliation were made to Freedmen who voted Republican. Anyone who doubts the tactics of the Red Shirts need only look to an 1896 speech delivered by then Senator Benjamin R. Tillman on the floor of the U.S. Senate. Tillman had been a member of the Red Shirts and was indicted in the Hamburg Massacre.

“We set up the Democratic party with one plank only: that this is white man’s country and white men must govern it. Under this banner we went to battle. It was then that we shot them. It was then that we killed them. It was then that we stuffed ballot boxes…once we decided to take the state away from them, we stopped at nothing…I do not ask anybody to apologize for it. I am only explaining why we did it. I want to say now, that we have not shot any Negroes in South Carolina on account of politics since 1876. We have not found it necessary.”

“Who is the Governor of South Carolina?”


Anderson Intelligencer, November 9, 1876

The election was held on Tuesday, November 7, 1876. Four days later, The Anderson Intelligencer asked “Who is the Governor of South Carolina?” When the votes were finally counted, Hampton received 92,261 to Chamberlain’s 91,127. The difference of 1,134 remains the closest gubernatorial vote in South Carolina’s history. The chart to the right shows the breakdown of Anderson’s precincts, which were overwhelmingly in Hampton’s favor. The Republican dominated Elections Commission refused to verify the votes from Edgefield and Laurens. The state Supreme Court held the commission members in contempt and they were placed in jail until they were released by a federal judge.

Hampton delivered a victory speech in Columbia on Friday, November 10 thanking, “the whole people of South Carolina, for having done their work so honestly and well.” He continued:

“We can now look back to our victory untarnished by any ignoble act. You have, by your ballots, in spite of fraud and bayonets, declared what your will has been. We have certainly won the victory, though it may be wrestled from our hands. Do not let yourselves by led away by enthusiasm. Try to seek peace and ensure it. Do everything for peace, and your redemption is sure…Make yourselves worthy of victory; show that you are not fighting for party, but your mother land.”


Anderson Intelligencer, November 9, 1876. The paper called the Presidential election for Tilden.

Not surprisingly, the Intelligencer had sided with Hampton and they were quick to report on November 16 that “the Radicals, carpetbaggers or rogues, whichever suits them best, are defeated, and no one knows it any better than they do.”

Chamberlain was not about to let go of what little power he had. On November 28, he ordered two companies of federal troops under the command of General Thomas H. Ruger to the statehouse to prevent the recently elected Democratic members from taking their seats. Two years prior, the Democrats held no seats in either house of the South Carolina General Assembly. Now, the once broken party had taken 64 of the 128 seats in the House, holding a clear majority; they had won 15 of the 33 seats in the Senate, a two seat minority. The Democrats left the statehouse, reconvening in the nearby Carolina Hall, where they established a rival one-party General Assembly. South Carolina now had two General Assemblies, one Republican and one Democrat.

With the support of the federal troops, the Republican General Assembly elected Chamberlain governor on December 5, 1876. The commission never certified the Edgefield and Laurens County votes so Chamberlain had a majority. On the following day, the state Supreme Court declared William H. Wallace, a Democrat, was the new Speaker of the House. Chamberlain was inaugurated on December 7, 1876. A week later, on December 14, the Democrat General Assembly elected Hampton governor. He took his oath of office the same day and South Carolina now had two single-party governments.

Both governors tested their powers by issuing pardons. Chamberlain issued his on December 14, but it was later overturned by a judge on the grounds that he was not the legal governor. Hampton issued a pardon on February 9, 1877, but it was not recognized by the director of the state penitentiary because he did not recognize Hampton as the legitimate governor.

Hampton made a bid to financially starve the Chamberlain government. He pleaded with the citizens not to send any more tax revenue to the Chamberlain government. Instead, Hampton was asking for all people to contribute 10% of the previous year’s bill to his government, and money began poured in to Hampton’s coffers. A list of names of citizens who had paid the tax was printed on April 12, 1877, by the Intelligencer. The list ran into the hundreds with several names marked “c” to denote “colored.” The state could no longer be allowed to operate in this manner. On March 7, 1877, the state Supreme Court declared Hampton to be the legally elected governor.

A broken, but not defeated, Chamberlain had one card remaining. He still had the two companies of federal troops stationed at the statehouse. Chamberlain argued in a letter to President Rutherford B. Hayes dated March 31, 1877, that “the withdrawal of the troops from the State House will close the struggle in defeat to the large majority of the people of the State.” He listed four consequences he believed would result from the withdrawal of federal troops.

“First: It will remove the protection absolutely necessary to enable the Republicans to assert and enforce their claim to the government of the State.

“Second: It will enable the Democrats to remove all effective opposition to the illegal military forces under the control of my opponent.

“Third: It will place all the agencies for maintaining the present lawful government of the State in the practical possession of the Democrats.

“Fourth: It will lead to the quick consummation of a political outrage against which I have felt and now feel it to be my solemn duty to struggle and protest so long as the faintest hope of success can be seen.”

He concluded with “the Republicans of South Carolina have carried on a struggle up to the present moment for the preservation of [the Freedmens’] rights. Their hope has been that they might continue to live under a free government.”

Chamberlain’s request fell on deaf ears. His fate had already been determined in Washington, and he was sacrificed on an altar already dedicated to removing Reconstruction. On April 3, 1877, President Hayes ordered all federal troops to leave the south, ending Reconstruction. This decision was mired in the outcome of the Presidential Election of 1876. This election, one of the most disputed in the history of the United States, had a dramatic impact on the futures of all of the former Confederate states.

The Election of Rutherford B. Hayes


Rutherford B. Hayes, Library of Congress

The Republican ticket was led by Rutherford B. Hayes, Governor of Ohio. The Democratic were represented by Samuel J. Tilden, Governor of New York. The 1876 election had the highest voter turnout in United States’ history. Nearly 82% of registered voters cast ballots. Tilden received the majority of the popular vote, 4.29 million, compared to Hayes who received 4.03 million. Hayes, however, carried more states, 21. Tilden only carried 17. Neither reached the number of Electoral College votes needed, so the election was determined by the United States House of Representatives. Hayes needed 20 elector votes in order win, and he cut a deal with the House: he agreed to end Reconstruction if elected President. The House, tired of twelve years of strife over Reconstruction, delivered the votes. Hayes was awarded the electoral votes of Florida (4), South Carolina (7), Louisiana (8), and one vote from Oregon. Hayes now had 185 elector votes to Tilden’s 184. Rutherford B. Hayes was the new President of the United States, thanks to what has come to be known as the Compromise of 1877.

The End of Reconstruction


Anderson intelligencer, April 6, 1877

The withdrawal of federal troops left Chamberlain with no choice. He fled to New York where he practiced law, but he was forever remembered in South Carolina as the “debaucher of the State.” Wade Hampton III was now the sole South Carolina’s governor. The two General Assemblies combined into one. Reconstruction was over and Hampton, the “savior of South Carolina,” became the de facto leader of the state’s Redeemers.

The end of Reconstruction had several impacts on the South Carolina, many of which Chamberlain predicted in his letter. First, it instituted a century of Democratic control. Beginning with Hampton’s election, there was an unbroken line of Democratic governors in South Carolina until James B. Edwards took office 98 years later on January 21, 1975. In the 1878 election, the Democratic Party obtained a majority of seats in both houses, and grew more powerful after Reconstruction than before the war.

Single party rule produced a disastrous civil rights record. The Democratic Party ruled largely unchecked as Republicans held small minorities, and their social policies caused the second impact: the mistreatment of and racially motivated laws enacted against the now vulnerable Freedmen. Without federal protection, the Freedmen were at the mercy of the newly installed Democratic power base.

A third impact was the rise of populism among the Democrats. The actions of the Red Shirts had inspired many in the white population, but the aristocratic nature of the Bourbons put them out of touch to most. The party eventually split into two factions: the Bourbons and the Tillmanites, named after their leader, Benjamin Tillman.

Anderson County had overwhelmingly supported Hampton during the campaign and as governor. He delivered a speech in Anderson in 1876 declaring his candidacy, and a street in the city was named in his honor. In the 1900’s, over two decades since Hampton’s first election, there would be a series of annual Red Shirt reunions in Anderson. These reunions and Tillman’s fiery speech at the final gathering will be the topic of the fourth and concluding part in this series.

Wade Hampton, the Red Shirts, and Anderson – Part II: The Hampton Campaign of 1876

The rule of the Reconstruction Governors left South Carolina weak and deep in debt. As crippling as the financial crisis in the state funds was, however, many advancements had been made in race relations. Due to the implementation of Reconstruction by Republicans, former slaves (or Freedmen) were holding public office at local, state, and national levels. None of these were popular with Wade Hampton and his supporters. They believed that the time had come for the state Democratic Party to take power again. They were ready to fight, and what a fight it would be. By the end of 1876, there were two separate governments in the state, each with a governor and a General Assembly, and it would take intervention by Washington to determine the final fate of South Carolina. The drama of the South Carolina Election of 1876, began in Anderson, South Carolina.

The state Democratic Party during Reconstruction was virtually non-existent. Although there were local Democratic clubs, the party was crippled during the period. At the beginning of Daniel Henry Chamberlain’s term as governor in 1874, there were 124 members of the South Carolina House, 91 Republicans, and 33 independents/other parties. In the state Senate, there were 33 members, 26 Republicans and 7 independent/others. Democratic politicians, therefore, were forced to run under other party names, and there were no Democratic candidates for governor. All this changed in 1876, when the Period of Reconstruction ended, and the Period of the Redeemers began.

The Hamburg Massacre


Hamburg Riot, Harpers Weekly, August 1876 It was the coverage of the massacre by Harpers Weekly that promoted a Congressional investigation into what happened.

If there was one event that encapsulated the level of dissatisfaction felt by many in the state, Freedmen and whites, with the Republican Party, it was the Hamburg Massacre. On July 4, 1876, two white farmers were driving a cart along the main road in Hamburg, South Carolina, when they were blocked by a unit of the state National Guard who were drilling in the area. Many of the guardsmen were Freedmen. What led to the verbal altercation between the two farmers and the company is in dispute, but the farmers drove through the guard unharmed. Two days later, the farmers appeared in court and charged the militia with obstructing a public road. A hearing was scheduled for July 8. On the day of the hearing, but the courthouse was swarmed by a mob of over 100 armed white men. As more armed men approached Hamburg, and fearing for their safety, the militia sought refuge in the armory near the Charlotte, Columbia, and Augusta Railroad Bridge crossing the Savannah River. The mob surrounded the armory and gunfire ensued. A local white farmer, McKie Meriweather, was killed.

When the militia learned that a canon had been brought from Augusta and was aimed at the armory, they slipped away under the cover of darkness. Many of them escaped, but around 2:00 a.m. on the morning of July 9, two dozen guardsmen were captured by the mob. A “circle of death” was formed around the guardsmen by the mob, four men were picked at random, and executed. Their names were: Allan Attaway, Albert Myniart, David Phillips, and Hampton Stephens. There was outrage in Columbia and although 94 indictments were handed down, no one were ever prosecuted for the four murders. Among the members of the white mob were a group called the Red Shirts, and among their members was a man who would later be a thorn in Wade Hampton’s side, Benjamin Tillman.

The Hamburg Massacre demonstrated the complete inadequacy of the state Republican leadership. Whites, tired of the corruption in state government, viewed the Freedmen as symbolic of the government’s corruption, and the Freedmen realized that the Republican Party was powerless to protect them from a new menace, the Red Shirts.

The Red Shirts

Many Confederate veterans joined local Ku Klux Klan chapters after the war, and over time so did their sons and grandsons. The Klan operated as a quasi law enforcement body, but it also racially motivated in favor of the minority white population. The passage of the federal anti-Klan laws in 1870 and 1871 led to the demise of the Klan, but it was soon replaced in many parts of the South, including South Carolina, with groups know as “rifle clubs.” Unlike the Klan, the rifle clubs were not secret organizations. Members of rifle clubs could not hid under sheets. They were required to with the state, and their membership rolls were public.

Because of Hampton’s defense of former Klan members in 1870 and 1871, the rifle clubs expressed an intense, almost religious, loyalty to Hampton, who realized that he had his fingertips a force that could help him secure the governor’s seat. Over time, the rifle clubs began calling themselves the Red Shirts, and they were the paramilitary arm of the state Democratic Party, a racist terrorist organization, and Hampton’s own private army.

In local news, the Anderson Intelligencer of August 31, 1876, reported that a rifle club was organized on August 26 in Pendleton with A.J. Sitton, Captain; J.C. Stribling, First Lieutenant; J.W. Simpson, Second Lieutenant; and G.G. Richards, Third Lieutenant. Their uniforms consisted of red shirts or jackets, and their number was reported to be over one hundred. The Pendleton Rifle Club made their first public appearance on September 2 at the Anderson County Democratic Party’s Grand Ratification Meeting.

The Ratification Meeting


Anderson Intelligencer, September 2, 1876

To describe the Democratic meeting as a “big deal” would be a gross understatement. The meeting was called to honor Samuel Jones Tilden and Thomas Andrew Hendricks, respectively the Democratic nominees for President and Vice President. More importantly, the meeting would ratify the nomination of Wade Hampton and William Dunlap Simpson as the state Democratic Party nominees for Governor and Lieutenant Governor, the first Democratic nominees to the offices since 1868.

The entire event was planned by the county’s Democratic Clubs and began on the morning of September 2 at 9:30 at the old Fair Grounds. The procession stretched two miles long, and it included several groups: the Pendleton Cornet Band; twelve carriages with the speakers; Major William W. Humphreys, the Chief Marshall and his staff; the members of the Democratic Clubs; the Anderson Cornet Band; and 1,500 mounted men. The procession ended at the Carolina Collegiate Institute, locally known as University Hill, on South Main Street.

Wade Hampton III (Library of Congress)

There were 12 speakers scheduled to appear at the meeting, which lasted most of the day, but it was the first speaker that everyone really wanted to hear. When General Wade Hampton III arose and walked to the podium, a deafening storm of enthusiastic applause began which lasted for several minutes. After thanking the citizens of Anderson for a warm reception, he accepted the Democratic Party’s nomination for the governor’s seat. In a lengthy speech, he laid out his plan for reforming the state’s government, concluding, that “the Republicans cannot reform their party, for it is impossible for the stream to rise higher than the fountain….the Democratic Party must succeed in this state, and with its success reform will come.” Hampton’s nomination was confirmed at the state Democratic convention in Columbia a few weeks later.

In addition to the thousands in the procession, thousands more had gathered to hear Hampton on that warm and sunny afternoon. Among the crowd were hundreds of armed men wearing red jackets and shirts. These Red Shirts of Anderson County would later unity with other chapters across the state and form a private army dedicated to electing Hampton as governor. Red Shirt chapters were also formed in North Carolina, the location of the Hampton summer home, and in Mississippi, where he still owned plantations.

William Dunlap Simpson, Hampton’s running mate and successor (

While the crowd before Hampton was mostly white, he did have some supporters among the Freedmen who had grown disillusioned with the Republican Party and its failure to live up to the ideals of Reconstruction. One Benjamin Collins, described as a “colored Democrat” and barber in Anderson by the Intelligencer, attended the rally. Afterwards, he spotted one of the speakers, Col. D. Wyatt of Aiken, standing with several others on Granite Row. Collins approached the colonel and asked if he could purchase some lard. Wyatt was surprised and told Collins that he had better try one of the stores. Collins replayed, “Oh. I thought as you had just slaughtered a hog, perhaps you would be able to supply me with a few pounds.” The reference was to Wyatt’s speech in which he eviscerated the state’s Republican leadership. Wyatt, Collins, and the other standing by all laughed heartily at the joke.

Hampton’s Campaign

Martin Witherspoon Gary (Library of Congress)

Hampton was not only a Democrat, he was a Bourbon Democrat, a faction of the national party which functioned as the Southern wing of the Redeemers movement. The Bourbon’s primary goal was to reverse the policies of Reconstruction. Their leadership was usually made up of wealthy landowners and businessmen with conservative views. In order to win, the Bourbons had to change the voting structure in the state, and to do that they had suppress the Freedmen vote. This task was given to the Red Shirts. Martin Witherspoon Gary, a chief lieutenant of Hampton’s and a brigadier general in the Confederate Army, begin the implementation of the Mississippi Plan. Developed in Mississippi in 1875, the plan outlined a two-prong attack on the Republican Party: first, financial bribery to Freedmen and white Republicans to switch parties; and second, political violence, used as necessary, to suppress the Freedmen vote.

Once Hampton was nominated by the Democrats, and with no prosecution of the accused in the Hamburg Massacre, the Red Shirts began to actively and openly harass Freedmen and supportive whites across the state. Violence continued after Hamburg. From September 15 to 21, in Ellenton, over 100 Freedmen and one white were killed. In October, in Cainhoy, near Charleston, one Freedman and several whites were killed. In both instances, the violence was led by the Red Shirts.


1872 Cartoon Depiction of a Carpetbagger

Hampton campaigned across the state, the Red Shirts were careful never to connect their actions directly with Hampton, but even if they had, there was nothing the state government could do to stop them. Governor Chamberlain admitted as much when he signed a document dated October 5 that declared he had no effective control over the state government and was entirely depended in Federal troops to main order. President Ulysses S. Grant responded by sending federal troops that arrived on October 17 and remained through the election. Despite his attempts at reforming the government, Chamberlain had become the personification of the Carperbagger, a “Yankee” who moved to the South after the war, and reaped financial gain at the expense of Southerners.

Despite the violence and bloodshed during the campaign, Election Day, November 7, 1876, went by with just a few instances of minor disturbances. The troops sent by President Grant were in place to ensure safe and fair voting, and that Freedmen were unmolested. Votes were counted and declarations of victory were made by both sides. What followed was a four month period in which South Carolina had two governments.

Wade Hampton, the Red Shirts, and Anderson – Part I: The Reconstruction Governors

Lieutenant General Wade Hampton III is one of the most revered and reviled Civil War figures in South Carolina. Volumes have been written on his life, and there are numerous buildings, highways, schools, and monuments named for him across the state, including a street in Anderson, South Carolina. This series of articles focuses on his campaign for the governorship of South Carolina and the key role the city and county of Anderson played. The first part examines the background events leading to Hampton’s campaign.

Wade Hampton

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Wade Hampton III (Library of Congress)

Wade Hampton III was the scion of a powerful Southern family with roots that go back to the Revolutionary War. He was born in 1818 in Charleston, the son of Colonel Wade Hampton II, a veteran of the War of 1812 and a grandson of General Wade Hampton I of the Revolutionary War. During the Civil War, Hampton III was a Lieutenant General and commanded the Hampton Legion, despite not having any military experience. His rank was due to his status as a wealthy planter and a member of the state government. His legion originally consisted of six infantry companies, four cavalry companies, and one artillery battery. What remained of Hampton’s Legion was present at Lee’s surrender at Appomattox.

At the start of the war, it is believed that Hampton was the wealthiest man in the South and the largest slave holder. The Hampton family had grown wealthy since the Revolution, and owned plantations in South Carolina and Mississippi, and maintained a summer home in western North Carolina, High Hampton. At the war’s end Hampton was broken. The slave labor that fueled his fortune was at an end, and although he maintained ownership of his plantation, he found it difficult to turn a profit in the new economy.

Hampton was extremely popular in South Carolina, and he was urged by many to run for the governor’s seat in 1865. Hampton, however, refused, believing that it would be suspicious for a former Confederate general to be governor of a southern state so soon after the war. In 1868, he became chairman of the South Carolina Democratic Party’s central committee, but he was not directly active in politics until 1876 when he finally ran for the governor’s seat.

The twelve years after the war are known as Reconstruction. From 1865 to 1877, the governments of the former Confederate states were managed under the Reconstruction policies implemented by Congress. Hampton usually maintained a neutral stance on political issues, but he became involved in the defense of the Klansmen in 1870. Due to the rise of Klan activity in the south, Congress passed anti-Klan legislation in 1870 and 1871. Although there is no evidence of Hampton being directly involved in Klan activity, he did raise fund for the legal defense of Klan members. Because of the new laws, Klan chapters began to vanish across South Carolina, but they were soon replaced by “rifle clubs” which acted as law enforcement bodies. These would clubs would prove useful to Hampton in the years ahead.

The Reconstruction Governors

At the end of the Civil War, Andrew Gordon Magrath was the 71st governor of South Carolina. As a Confederate governor, he was removed from his office and replaced by an appointee of President Andrew Johnson. Benjamin Franklin Perry, a unionist from Greenville, was the 72nd governor from June 30, 1865, until the November elections. His successor was James Lawrence Orr of Anderson, the 73rd governor, and the first governor of South Carolina to be popularly elected. Since the Revolution, the governor was elected by the General Assembly, save for Perry. Orr served as governor from November 29, 1865 to July 6, 1868. The next three governors were South Carolina’s Reconstruction Governors.


Robert Kingston Scott (Library of Congress)

Robert Kingston Scott, 74th Governor of South Carolina from July 6, 1868 to December 7, 1872. Scott was the first governor of the state to be elected to two consecutive terms. He was a former Union general and native of Pennsylvania. He moved to South Carolina in 1865 and served as assistant commissioner in the Freedmen’s Bureau until 1868. With no previous political experience, he was nominated by the state Republican Party and elected South Carolina’s first Republican governor with a staggering 75.1% of the vote. He was reelected in 1870 with 62.3% of the vote. In both elections, the majority of Scott’s support came from thousands of Freedmen, many of who were voting for the first time. Scott’s administrations were marked by scandals that involved the mismanagement of funds. He was charged by the legislature with over issuing state bonds, but the pending impeachment was dropped when Scott delivered a speech justifying his actions. His second election was mired in charges of voter fraud and corruption. This was a direct cause of the formation of the Ku Klux Klan. It was under Scott’s administration that the General Assembly, now under total Republican control, passed legislation that funded, at tax-payers’ expense, a full time saloon and restaurant, an example of the gross overspending that would characterize the Reconstruction Governors. Under Scott’s administration, the state debt tripled, and he became the archetype for the Carpetbagger.

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Franklin Israel Moses, Jr. (

Franklin Israel Moses, Jr., 75th Governor of South Carolina from December 7, 1872 to December 1, 1874. Nicknamed the “Robber Governor,” Moses was a native of South Carolina, unlike his predecessor, and had served in the General Assembly as Speaker of the House. He was a supporter of secession before the war, but took a tone of reconciliation after and was well known for hosting African-Americans at his home both before and during his time as governor. He supported the establishment of a black militia to provide protection to Freedmen and pushed for the integration of the state university. In 1873, Henry E. Hayne became the first African-American admitted to the school. As the state’s second Republican governor Moses continued the spending trend established by his predecessor. He purchased the Preston mansion in Columbia for $40,000 to serve as the governor’s residence and spent another $40,000 on living expenses during his two year term as governor, all while receiving a salary of only $3,500. He was charged with fraud in 1874, but the state Supreme Court ruled that he could not be charged with a crime while governor, only impeached. (Incidentally, his father, Franklin Israel Moses, Sr., was the Chief Justice of the court.)

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David Henry Chamberlain (

Daniel Henry Chamberlain, 76th Governor of South Carolina from December 1, 1874 to December 14, 1876. The last of the Reconstruction governors, Chamberlain was actually the best of the three in terms of scandal. He was a Union veteran and had moved to South Carolina in 1866 to tend to the affairs of a deceased relative. He took an interest in local politics and held several offices before his election as governor in 1874. Chamberlain was part of a growing faction that sought to reform the Republican leadership in Columbia. Spending had gotten out of control as the state’s debt increased year over year, and Chamberlain saw the writing on the wall. Clean up the party or lose control. Chamberlain instated drastic reforms. He slashed public wages by one-third, vetoed many tax increases passed by the General Assembly, and called for replacing university professors with school teachers. Despite his reforms, Chamberlain became a symbol of the corruption of the Republican government that had controlled the state for over a decade.

The legacy of the three Reconstruction Governors is mixed. Positive steps were taken for recently franchised Freedmen as they began holding local and state offices, but tensions smoldered as many South Carolinians were infuriated by the overspending of the Republican government and the mounting debt that resulted. Radical Reconstruction had gripped South Carolina for twelve years, and it had failed to live up to its lofty ideals. A change was coming in the government, a change that would have effects for nearly a century, and it would begin in Anderson, South Carolina in the Campaign of 1876.

American History: Not Designed for Safe Spaces

On June 17, 2016, Dylan Roof shot and killed nine people in Charleston, South Carolina. Investigators revealed that Roof wanted to start a race war, and a photo of him holding a Confederate flag circulated. If you need any further proof that this war has begun, nay has been going on for some time, I give you Charlottesville, Virginia, where three people are already dead after yesterday’s events.

I visited nearby Fredericksburg just a year ago. I walked along her historic streets and toured the battlefield. I gazed over the National Cemetery where Confederate and Union dead lay buried. The sacredness of these places can be clearly felt. These places are important. They are worth remembering and preserving. But it is these places that are the battlefields in Roof’s race war. The removal of monuments in response to the Mother Emanuel murders had provoked intense responses from both sides of the debate with each side guilty of misrepresenting and/or willfully ignoring history. Did anyone seriously think you could just start tearing down monuments and no one would get upset?

The far left groups seek to remove the monuments in the name of decrying racism. This is an affront to many in the United States who see the monuments as something else with no racial connection. Rather than come together and agree to disagree, elected officials have decided to side with the small but vocal groups seeking to remove the monuments. Vandalism and damage has occurred to many monuments, including graffiti and the destruction of burial sites. At this date, dozens of Confederate monuments have been removed across the country, and names of buildings such as schools are being changed.

These fired shots have awakened several far right groups. These groups are responding by rallying around monuments that remain or are in danger, often times using racial and provocative actions. Appealing to the anger many have felt because of the removals, the far right groups filled a void that should have been filled by more moderate historical preservation societies. But alas, those groups, the historians, the ones with the most to lose, were mostly silent. When medical issues are debated by legislative bodies, medical associations often speak for or against. In this debate, the voice of the historian, the few times it was heard, has been drowned out by the mob.

As a historian I am shocked and appalled by the bastardization of history that is being conducted by the extreme groups represented in this “debate.” ANTIAF, BLM, KKK, Unite the Right, call them what you will, they are all the same to me. One type of hate is no better than the other. They have taken our history, the history of the people of the United States, and perverted it into something that, I fear, we may never get recover from. Our history is not pretty. It is not perfect. It includes ups and downs, successes and failures. It is a great example of the old adage “life is not fair.” There are heroes and villains and those who walk in between. Most importantly, United States history is NOT designed for people who need safe spaces.

There was always a chance for a better United States: freedom for slaves, the right to vote expanded to all, safe working conditions for laborers, civil protections in courts of law. These were not easy victories, it took a long struggle to get there, and the job will never be done. But that is what makes our history unique. While it is mostly populated by people whose names and lives will never be known outside their circle, every once in a while, a person risen above their station and leaves a mark for us to see. They propel us forward by their good and bad actions. Robert E. Lee led the Confederate armies and did not own a single slave. Ulysses S. Grant led the Union armies and owned several. Who was the better man? Whose monument is being removed? Who face on the $50.00 bill? It takes a brave person to study United States history. It takes a coward to ignore it.

The far left and far right groups do not speak for the vast majority of us, and yet they are being allowed to frame the debate. They have a right to speak, without question. But we have a choice as to whether or not we will listen, and that is how you silence them. The people of the United States, of all races, colors, beliefs, sexualities, religions (indeed whatever label society forces us to use) need to stand up and say enough is enough. If for no other reason than for the sake of Our History.

William Wirt Humphreys and the Anderson County Confederate Monument – Pt 2

“It matters not, though they sleep ‘neath the solemn Southern pines or the stately hemlocks of the North, on the sloping hills of fair Arlington, beneath the shadows of the clouds, careless of storm or sunshine, we have but one sentiment for these sleeping soldiers – ‘tis that we honor and remember them.” Elizabeth Bleckley


Anderson County Confederate Monument (Author’s collection)

The statue atop the Anderson County Confederate Monument is of a soldier standing at parade rest. The soldier’s likeness is of William Wirt Humphreys, although he was not alive to see it unveiled. The story of his life was told in a previous post. This is how the monument came to be.


By most accounts, the movement to dedicate a Confederate monument for the veterans of Anderson County began on Decoration Day in 1886. However, a search of the Anderson Intelligencer for that period had turned up no mention of this. This is not to suggest that such a meeting did not take place, but there was a movement spearheaded by Leonora Conners “Nora” Hubbard, a local school teacher and head of the Anderson Home School, to raise funds for a monument.

For over fifty years, Miss Hubbard taught in Anderson schools and she was a well known and respected educator both in the community and across the state. If the project was to succeed, it would be Nora Hubbard who would see it happen. She began planning the monument in 1891. In June, the Home School gave a public commencement which raised $135 from ticket sales. This was the first major contribution to a monument.

In 1893, James A. Hoyt delivered a eulogy at the service of his longtime friend and co-editor, William W. Humphreys calling for a monument to be dedicated to Confederate veterans. Hoyt wanted the monument to be erected in the city cemetery at Old Silver Brook, but this location was not to be. Five years later, in April 1895, Miss Hubbard organized the Ladies’ Memorial Association of Anderson County and was elected its first president.

The first task of the association was to raise money. Over the next few years, they hosted a series of events including bake sales, cake walks, suppers, silver teas, and baby showers, just to name a few. These raised $2500.00 for the monument, enough to secure a contract. The next step was to design one, and this task was given to the design committee was named, consisting of representatives of the steak holders:

  • Miss Nora Hubbard, Mrs. Elizabeth Bleckley, and Miss Ditma Gilmer, representing the Ladies’ Memorial Association
  • Charles S. Sullivan, representing the Robert E. Lee Chapter, U.D.C.
  • J.M. Patrick, representing the Dixie Chapter, U.D.C.
  • Milledge L. Bonham and J.F. Clinkscales, representing the county’s Confederate veterans

Bonham was the son of General Milledge Bonham. Clinkscales was a sergeant in Company C, 4th South Carolina Volunteer Regiment, which next became Company E, 13th South Carolina Battalion, and, finally, Companies I and K of The Hampton Legion.

Oscar Hammond, a sculptor from Greenville, was commissioned to create the monument. He designed a four-part monument made of Tennessee gray marble. The first part is a triple base with levels that decrease in size. The second part consists of two four-sided dies separated by rough stone. Each side of the die bears inscriptions by William A. Todd. The inscriptions on the monument not only memorialize the veterans of Anderson, but each branch of the Confederate military. Two versions of the Confederate flags are also inscribed on the die.


Anderson County Confederate Monument (Author’s collection)

  • North

    North Side Inscription (Author’s collection)

    North Side: On the upper die is inscribed a Palmetto tree over crossed swords overtop a laurel wreath, representing the Confederate Cavalry. On the lower die is a depiction of the Battle Flag and the following from Father Ryan’s poem “The Conquered Banner:”

“Though conquered, we adore it!

Love the Cold, dead hands that bore it!”

  • West

    West Side Inscription (Author’s collection)

    West Side: On the upper die is inscribed “CSA” and an unfurled Stainless Banner over cannon wheel, cannon balls, and cannon swabs, representing the Confederate Artillery. On the lower die is inscribed a list of the great battles of the war: 1st Manassas, Williamsburg, Seven Pines, Gaines’ Mill, Frazier’s Farm, 2nd Manassas, Boonsborough, Sharpsburg, Fredericksburg, Chickamauga, the Wilderness, Spottsylvania (misspelled on the monument), Chancellorsville, Malvern Hill, Petersburg, Gettysburg, Franklin, Atlanta, and Appomattox.

  • South

    South Side Inscription (Author’s collection)

    South Side: On the upper die is a wreath and an unfurled Stainless Banner, over D.C. 61-65, over an anchor and a ship’s wheel, representing the Confederate Navy. On the lower die is more from “The Conquered Banner:”

“The World shall yet decide, in Truth’s clear, far-off light,

That the soldiers who wore the gray, and died with Lee, were in the right.”

  • East

    South Side Inscription (Author’s collection)

    East Side: On the upper die is inscribed “CSA” over three stacked bayoneted rifles, a canteen, and a cartridge pouch over top a laurel wreath, representing the Confederate Infantry. On the plinth between the upper and lower dies, “Our Confederate Dead” is inscribed in raised letters. On the lower die us the following inscription:

The spirit of chivalry was not dead in 1861, when the soldiers of the Confederacy went forth to battle for the love of home and country, and for the preservation of Constitutional liberty. How well they acted their part in the gigantic drama of war which for four years convulsed the American continent and held the attention of the world, let the truthful and impartial historian tell. Let him record how they wrestled victory from foes who far surpassed them in numbers, in excellence of arms and equipment, and in all the provisions and munitions of war, and who were supported by the material, moral and political power of almost the entire civilized world; let him record with what courage they met death and danger, with what fortitude they endured sickness and imprisonment, with what unflagging cheerfulness they sustained privations and sufferings; and above all let him record with what endurance they met defeat, and how in poverty and want, broken in health, but not in spirit, they have re-created the greatness of the South, and made it again the sweetest land in earth. In grateful acknowledgement of their prowess in war, and their achievements in peace, this monument is erected, that it may teach the generations of the future the story of the matchless, unfading and undying honor which the Confederate soldier won.

The third section is a column consisting of fourteen blocks, alternating smooth and rough.

Standing on top of the column is the fourth section, a seven foot, six inch tall statue of a soldier standing at parade rest. When Hammond proposed a statue, the design committee could have easily chosen one of several common designs but they elected to use the likeness of a local man. The decision of whose likeness to use was easy. One man had represented the best among the Confederate veterans in Anderson County; one man had stood with them and helped organize the annual reunions; he had served as intendent and as the Grand Master of the state’s Freemasons. He was William Wirt Humphreys.


Anderson County Confederate Monument (Author’s collection)

The Anderson County Confederate Monument was dedicated during the chilly afternoon of Saturday, January 18, 1902. Thousands turned out for the unveiling ceremonies, and one hundred and fifty Confederate veterans were in attendance. People began to assemble at the courthouse at a very early hour and continued to arrive until noon. The courtroom was the location of the speeches, and it was filled to capacity. Most were waiting outside for the unveiling. The courtroom was tastefully and appropriately decorated. A large painting of General Robert E. Lee, especially hung for the occasion, overlooked the gathering. The program order was as follows:

  • “Maryland, My Maryland,” played by the Clemson Band
  • Welcome by General Milledge L. Bonham of the United Confederate Veterans and Master of Ceremonies
  • Invocation delivered by the Reverend J.D. Chapman, pastor of First Baptist Church
  • “Dixie,” sung by a children’s choir directed by Zula Brock
  • tolly

    Mayor George F. Tolly (Jake Phillips, Hiram Lodge)

    Speech delivered by Mayor George F. Tolly, Confederate veterans and member of the Palmetto Riflemen

  • Reading on the history of the monument by Mrs. Elizabeth Bleckley
  • Speech delivered by Thomas W. Carwile, a decorated Confederate soldier from Edgefield
  • Instrumental music played by the Clemson Band
  • Recitation of “Music on the Rappahannock,” by Mrs. A.P. Johnson
  • Speech by James Armstrong, Jr., the famed “Irish Orator” of Charleston, introduced by General Bonham
  • “My Country ‘Tis of Thee,” sung by ladies of the Robert E. Lee and Dixie Chapters, U.D.C.
  • Speech delivered by Colonel Samuel W. Wilkes of Atlanta, a native of Anderson, and whose father had been a member of the 4th South Carolina Volunteers and died in the war; introduced by General Bonham
  • Resolution introduced by the Confederate Veterans, read by Adjutant L.P. Smith of Camp Stephen D. Lee, and unanimously passed, expressing profound gratitude to the Ladies’ Memorial Association for their work in erecting the monument
  • “The Conquered Banner,” sung by Mrs. Cora Ligon (known as “Aunt Cora”) with music written by Mrs. Emily Reed Miller, and a tattered Confederate flag held by Miss Nellie Humphreys, General Humphreys’ daughter
Confederate Monument - First Street Light Erected

Anderson’s first street light being raised with the Confederate Monument in background

The veterans then led a march out of the courthouse and formed a circle around the base of the veiled monument. Nora Hubbard made her way through the crowd, carrying a folded Confederate flag in her arms, and stood at the monument’s base. James Hoyt delivered a few words and then, after holding Hoyt her flag and with great pride, Miss Hubbard pulled the string to unveil the monument. The string, however, broke. A young boy from the crowd seized his opportunity, and climbed the monument and lowered the veil. The crowd erupted in applause and cheers as the Anderson Rifles fired three salutes. The Clemson Band played “Taps,” and the ceremony ended.

Unlike other Confederate monuments in South Carolina, the Anderson County monument is in its original location, situated between the historic and “new” courthouse. It was once the centerpiece of a downtown park, crisscrossed with walkways and dotted with shade trees.


Anderson County Confederate Monument (Author’s Collection)

Leonora Hubbard died November 2, 1933. She was laid to rest in Old Silver Brook Cemetery. On her tombstone is inscribed the following: “For more than fifty years she was a teacher in the schools of the City of Anderson. Others wrought in brick and stone; she sought to shape the lives of men.”


William Wirt Humphreys and the Anderson County Confederate Monument – Part 1


William W. Humphreys (Jake Phillips, Hiram Lodge)

There are dozens of Confederate veteran’s monuments in South Carolina bearing statues but only five are known to be likenesses of historic figures. Anderson County’s Confederate Monument is one of those. The statue atop the monument is in the likeness of General William Wirt Humphreys. This is his story.

William Wirt Humphreys was born October 30, 1836, in Anderson County in the vicinity of Roberts Presbyterian Church. He was the first child of Rev. David Humphreys, a noted Presbyterian clergyman, and Rebecca Cunningham. Both his parents were natives of South Carolina, and his paternal grandfather, David Humphreys, had arrived in Virginia in the 1700’s. Rev Humphreys was the pastor of Good Hope and Roberts Presbyterian Churches for nearly fifty years, and is buried in the Roberts churchyard.


Advertisement for Humphreys’ Law Practice (Anderson Intelligencer August 1860)

For their time, the Humphreys were fairly well off. According to the 1850 census, Rev. Humphreys’ real estate was valued at $9,000, approximately $262,000 in today’s money. This afforded his son an excellent education. After attending the Anderson schools, he graduated in 1857 from Centre College in Danville, Kentucky. He passed his bar exam in 1859, and set up a practice in Anderson.


First “Edited By” Line Showing Humphreys (Anderson Intelligencer, February 21, 1861)

After about a year of practice, Humphreys took on an additional career: editor. His name first appeared as an editor of the Anderson Intelligencer in the February 21, 1861, issue along with James A. Hoyt. Underneath the new “Edited By” line appeared a South Carolina flag. This was an indication of a new direction for the weekly paper. Humphreys was a strong states rights supporter, and the editorial pages and tone of the articles reflected that position. He took no time in expressing these views, in fact. In the same paper appeared these words praising the newly formed Confederacy.

“The sovereign people of seven States have, from sufficient cause, exercised the right of secession from the Federal Government, which had become oppressive in its course and perverted from its channels – they have, in addition, proceeded to establish a more perfect union for mutual protection, safety and happiness, and now the experiment is fairly begun, with every prospect of a pleasing solution.”

He went on to offer an invitation of sorts for other like-minded states looking for a new political home:

“For ages to come, slavery as it now exists must be profitable and beneficial in the Cotton States. Yet, if not sooner, the remaining slave States must unit with us in a few years, and it is wise and proper to devise means whereby we can make their union perpetual and place a check upon the growth of abolition sentiment in their borders.”

The Anderson Intelligencer ceased publication in the spring of 1861 due to the financial constraints of its owners and their involvement in the Palmetto Riflemen. Both editors fought in the war. Humphreys volunteered for and helped to organize Company C, nicknamed the Palmetto Riflemen, of the Palmetto Sharpshooters Regiment, commanded by Colonel Micah Jenkins. The Palmetto Sharpshooters were assigned to General James E. Longstreet’s Second Division of the Army of Northern Virginia. The Palmetto Riflemen was composed entirely of men from Anderson County. Humphreys was promoted to captain of Company C in May 1861. He led his company in several engagements including First Manassas (the opening battle of the war, July 21, 1861), Williamsburg (May 5, 1862), Seven Pines (May 31-June 1, 1862), Gaines’ Mill (June 27, 1862), and Frayser’s Farm (June 30, 1862), where he was seriously wounded by a ball in the shoulder. The Sharpshooters, in fact, suffered heavily at Frayser’s Farm. Of the 375 engaged in the battle, sixty-eight percent died.


William W. Humphreys in Uniform (Jake Phillips, Hiram Lodge)

Unfit for duty, Humphreys suffered for months as he slowly recovered from his wound, nearly dying several times. After healing he reenlisted and was promoted to Major of the Palmetto Sharpshooter Regiment, S.C. Volunteers. He held the rank of major until the end of the war, and fought in the battles of Spotsylvania Courthouse (where he received a slight wound, his second in battle, May 8-20, 1864), Second Cold Harbor (May 31-June 12, 1864), Bermuda Hundred (May 1864), the siege of Petersburg (June 9-March 25, 1865), and finally at the surrender at Appomattox (April 9, 1865). His leadership was admired by his men, and he was often in command of the picket and skirmish lines.

Upon returning home to Anderson, he found his town devastated not by war but by Union invaders. From May 1-3, 1865, Anderson was occupied in an unprovoked invasion by Union troops. They ransacked the city, tortured leading citizens, and nearly burnt the town down. Anderson had never been a military target during the war, and this attack, three weeks after the surrender, stoked a real hatred in the hearts of the many of its citizens. Humphreys resumed his legal practice and editorship of the Anderson Intelligencer.

The Palmetto Riflemen were remembered often and fondly in Anderson. The first event honoring the company was a barbecue held in their honor on July 29, 1865, at the farm of J.C. Keys, located about two miles outside of Anderson. This was but one of the honors and celebrations held for this unit for the next few decades. Humphreys was always present at the reunions and celebrations. He was also a leader in the Riflemen veterans group.

His reputation from the war and his status as the editor made Humphreys a likely candidate for public office which he accepted but only on a local level. From 1865 to 1882, he held two positions, which were basically the same function. He was elected Commissioner of Equity from 1865 to 1868. The title changed to Probate Judge in 1868, and Humphreys was reelected, serving until he resigned in 1882.

On February 27, 1868, Humphreys married his wife, Anna Josephine McCully. She was the daughter of an Irish immigrant called Stephen McCully who was one of the early settlers in the Anderson District. They had two sons and three daughters. He was also appointed a brigadier and a major general in the State Militia.

While he was probate judge, Humphreys was also elected intendent of Anderson in August 1878. The position is the equivalent of today’s mayor. He served for one two-year term. In 1882, Humphreys was appointed President of the Savannah Valley Railroad which ran from McCormick to Anderson. The railroad was a major accomplishment for the time. It also resulted in some changes. Ten miles south of Anderson was a small village named Twiggs. The new railroad would pass through the town so its name was changed to Starr, in honor of one of the railroad engineers.

Humphreys was, throughout his life, a mason and a longtime member of the Hiram Lodge No. 68. In 1877, he was appointed Worshipful Master, and from 1883 to 1884, he was the Grand Master of the Ancient Free Masons of South Carolina.

For several weeks before his death on October 6, 1893, Humphreys’ health had been in decline. About two weeks before he died, he went north for treatment, but after making the journey and hearing of the surgical procedure needed, he decided to return home. He had no confidence that the procedure would help him and he wanted to be near his family. He knew in his heart it was time. By the time he reached Anderson on Wednesday, October 3, he was in a semi-conscious state. He never regained full consciences and died on Friday.

The funeral services were held at First Baptist Church on Sunday. Even though Humphreys was not a member, the church offered the sanctuary because the seating offered more that at Roberts where he was a member. The service was standing room only. The entire sanctuary plus the Sunday school rooms were filled to capacity.


William Humphreys’ Tombstone, Old Silver Brook Cemetery (Author’s collection)

Humphreys’ body was escorted by fourteen members of the Hiram Lodge. As the body was brought into the church, a soloist sang “Nearer My God to Thee,” followed by the choir singing “In the Sweet Bye and Bye.” After a short address and another hymn, the congregation was dismissed and the body was taken to Old Silver Brook. James A. Hoyt, longtime friend and co-editor of the Anderson intelligencer, delivered a heartfelt eulogy for his friend at the graveside. Hoyt emphasized two aspects of Humphrey’s life: his dedication to his Masonic brothers, and his devotion to his fellow Confederate soldiers. Humphreys, Hoyt recalled “was born a soldier, endowed by nature with a martial spirit and with an ear attuned to the call of duty.”


Restored Iron Cross, placed in 2013 (Author’s collection)

Humphreys and his wife share a large monument which bears their names and dates on opposite sides. On May 6, 2013, an iron cross was placed by the ladies of the Emmala Reed Miller U.D.C. Chapter 2694, to replace the missing cross.

While delivering the eulogy, Hoyt also called for a monument to be erected in Old Silver Brook. This monument was to be dedicated to the Confederate dead of Anderson County. “What more appropriate service can we render to them,” he asks, “than to rear a marble shaft in lovely Silver Brook as a testimonial to the gallant dead of Anderson County?” The cemetery seemed the appropriate place since it was the city’s new public burial ground, and there were already a number of Confederate veterans buried there.

As history would have it, such a monument was never erected in Old Silver Brook, but rather in downtown Anderson. The story of the monument to Anderson’s Confederate Dead is told in Part Two.

George McDuffie, the Mad Governor

Many of the streets in Anderson, South Carolina, were named for famous locals: Whitner, Benson, Orr, and Murray to name a few. One prominent street, however, was named for a man who never lived in Anderson, although he did visit on occasion. He was born dirt poor, grew wealthy in business, fought in a duel,

Photo 1

George McDuffie (Library of Congress)

held numerous public offices, had racial views that were extreme even for his time, and died insane. His name was George McDuffie, and this is his story.

George McDuffie was born in Columbia County, Georgia, August 10, 1790. Unlike many politicians of his day, McDuffie was not born into a well-to-do family. He was one of at least nine children born to parents who had emigrated from Scotland. It was his intellect set him apart from everyone in his family.

McDuffie took his first job at the age of twelve at a country store owned by a man named Hayes. From there he secured a position with the mercantile establishment of Wilson & Calhoun in Augusta, Georgia. James Calhoun, a brother of John C. Calhoun, was one of the owners. In 1807, the business failed and William Calhoun, another brother, came to help settle the affairs. He noticed the young McDuffie and offered him room and board as long as he was in school. McDuffie was so poor, that all of his belongings, including clothing, fit into a small blue box. While he did not realize it, his life of poverty would soon be behind him. Calhoun sponsored his education at Moses Waddel’s famous Willington Academy, where many of South Carolina’s political leaders, such as John C. Calhoun, received their education. McDuffie soon came under the influence of John C. Calhoun, and he looked to him as a mentor.


Site of the law building used by Simkins and McDuffie, located in Edgefield, South Carolina. The marker lists the names of men who practiced law at the site: Eldred Simkins (congressman and lieut. governor), George McDuffie (congressman, governor, U.S. senator), Francis W. Pickens (congressman, governor, minister to Russia), Francis H. Wardlaw author of ordinance of secession), John C. Sheppard lieut. governor, governor), and James O. Sheppard (lieut. governor). (Author’s collection)

McDuffie excelled at the academy and developed an outstanding reputation among his peers. His graduation speech was entitled “Permanence of the Union,” and it was printed at the request of the students. He later attended South Carolina College, graduating in 1813. He was admitted to the bar in 1814 and entered a partnership with Colonel Eldred Simkins in Edgefield, South Carolina. Simkins introduced him to the cream of Edgefield society and it was not long before McDuffie began his rise.

His political career began in 1818, when he was elected to the South Carolina House of Representatives from the Edgefield District. He was also named a Trustee of the South Carolina College in the same year. In 1821, McDuffie published a pamphlet which denounced a strict states’ rights approach. Within ten years, McDuffie would become transformed into one of the great “nullifiers” of the 19th century, largely by the influence of Calhoun. He held this seat for one term, ending on November 27, 1830.

McDuffie was next elected to the United States House of Representatives from two districts. He first represented the 6th District from March 4, 1821 to March 3, 1823. A year into his term, McDuffie, still not a supporter of nullification, got into a very public argument with Colonel William Cumming over the issue. Cumming was a veteran of the War of 1812, was well known nationally, and supported nullification. In short, nullification is the political theory that holds that individual states can nullify acts of Congress by declaring them to be null and void within their boundaries. While nullification is not the same as secession, the former can lead to the latter.

The argument between McDuffie and Cumming escalated into a feud, and the two first met June 2, 1822, near the Savannah River in Georgia. Traditional dueling pistols were the selected weapons. McDuffie fired his shot into the ground; Cumming fired at McDuffie and hit him in the rib cage. The ball lodged itself near his spine. Physicians determined that it would be too dangerous to remove it, so the ball remained for the rest of his life. This caused damage to McDuffie’s spine, and he walked with a limp the rest of his life. A second duel was fought in late November, and this time McDuffie’s arm was broken by a shot from Cumming. Both men declared themselves satisfied.

The 6th Congressional District was renamed the 5th Congressional District in 1823, and McDuffie represented it from March 4, 1823 to 1834. McDuffie had originally been a supporter of Andrew Jackson, but in 1824, he delivered a twenty-four page speech on the floor of the House against Jackson and his banking policies. More importantly, McDuffie threw his support behind nullification.

In 1829, he married Mary Rebecca Singleton, daughter of Colonel Richard Singleton, but the marriage was short lived. The new Mrs. McDuffie died less than a year later, shortly after giving birth to a daughter, Mary Rebecca. Later in life, she married Wade Hampton III and was the First Lady of South Carolina. McDuffie sent his only the child to her grandparents who raised her. He would never remarry and threw himself into his political career.


1832 South Carolina Nullification Convention Document (Author’s collection)

McDuffie was a leader of the 1832 South Carolina Nullification Convention and wrote its official address to the citizens of the United States. The convention was one part of South Carolina’s response to the Nullification Crisis which took place from 1832 to 1837, during the presidency of Andrew Jackson. The crisis was brought about by the Tariff of 1828, known as the “Tariff of Abominations” by its detractors. Enacted during the administration of John Quincy Adams, it was roundly detested in the South, and for good reasons. The South imported much of their goods, and the tariff set a 62% tax on 92% of the goods the South imported. Of the sixty-eight House members from Southern states, sixty-four voted against the tariff. It was up to Adams’ successor, Andrew Jackson, to deal with the fallout, and many expected him to lower the tariff. When he failed to do so, his vice president, John C. Calhoun, resigned on July 14, 1832. Calhoun ran for a senate seat and began to fight for nullification through legislative means.

As a compromise, Jackson signed into law the Tariff of 1832 which restored the tariff levels to pre-1828 levels. South Carolina, which had borne the brunt of the harm from the 1828 tariff, was still not pleased. At a convention held on November 24, 1832, an Ordinance of Nullification was adopted, declaring the Tariffs of 1828 and 1832 unconstitutional and unenforceable in South Carolina, effective February 1, 1833. Congress responded by passing two bills on March 1: the Force Act which authorized the president to use military forces against South Carolina, and the Compromise Tariff of 1833 which was agreeable to South Carolina, and the nullification ordinance was repealed two weeks later.

Photo 3

Monument erected in honor of George McDuffie, located in Edgefield, South Carolina, on the Ten Governors Rail Trail. The monument emphasizes McDuffie’s importance in the Nullification Movement. (Author’s Collection)

In 1834, McDuffie was elected the 55th Governor of South Carolina and made a major general of the South Carolina Militia. The chief executive of the state was not popularly elected, but selected by the South Carolina Senate until the election of James Lawrence Orr in 1865. The position was usually given to one of the Assembly members for a term of two years. On some occasions members would serve two terms. McDuffie served as governor from December 9, 1834 to December 10, 1836. As governor, McDuffie was de facto President of the Board of Trustees of South Carolina College. In 1835, he completed a total reorganization and modernization of the college which had been struggling for several years.

Regarding the question of slavery, in a message to the General Assembly in 1835, McDuffie had this to say:

“No human institution, in my opinion, is more manifestly consistent with the will of God, than domestic slavery…That the African negro is destined by Providence to occupy this condition of servile dependence…is marked on the face, stamped on the skin, and envinced by the intellectual inferiority and natural improvidence of this race.”

McDuffie’s racial views were demonstrated in the new laws passed by the General Assembly.

  • The legal rights of free blacks were restricted
  • Any free black returning to South Carolina to be sold back into slavery
  • Port officials were to arrest any free blacks serving aboard vessels docked in South Carolina harbors
  • Slaves from north of the Mason-Dixon Line were barred from entering the state

McDuffie resigned from the governor’s office at the end of his term, ostensibly for his health. For six years, he was not politically active, but he answered his state’s call and represented South Carolina in the United States Senate from December 23, 1842 to August 17, 1846, upon the resignation of his predecessor William C. Preston. McDuffie was the junior senator to his longtime mentor, John C. Calhoun.


George McDuffie in his later years

Despite only being in the Senate for three years, he had several leadership roles. He was instrumental in drafting the legislation outlining the annexation of Texas; however, he strongly opposed the annexation of Oregon. It was said that his reason for not supporting Oregon was that he did not believe that the territory could be effectively governed from 3,000 miles away. He was had a key role in the passage of the Tariff of 1846.

McDuffie resigned at the close of the session and was seldom seen outside of his home Cherry Hill in Willington. The plantation was begun by the Noble family but after a fire destroyed the main house, the property was bought by McDuffie. He build a grand two-story home and enlarged the plantation to over five thousand acres. Today, the only remain of Cherry Hill is the Noble family cemetery. The plantation overlooked the Savannah River and was run using the labor of over two hundred slaves. A historical marker is located near the site.


Cherry Hill Marker, Willington, South Carolina (Author’s collection)

McDuffie’s health had begun to worsen during his years as governor. The old bullet wound caused his health to rapidly deteriorate. and McDuffie fell into a deep depression which eventually drove him insane. He died at his home March 11, 1851. He was buried in the Singleton Family Cemetery, Wedgefield, South Carolina.

Due to his prominence in state and national affairs, the leaders of Anderson felt it was appropriate to honor him and so McDuffie Street was born. Originally known as East Boundary Street, it is one of Anderson’s original streets. From its earliest days, the street was dedicated to grand residences and was a jewel for young town. Many of the older homes on the street once belonged to business leaders who helped build Anderson. Sadly, only a handful of these remain.

The date on which the street was named McDuffie is not known, but it took place prior to 1860. The Anderson Intelligencer noted the improvements being made to the street and the Methodist church on September 18, 1860, which indicates that the street had been so named for some time. The Intelligencer described McDuffie Street in glowing terms, saying, “[that] there is no street within our corporate limits better adapted by nature for handsome display of art.” Early residents on McDuffie were the Wilhites, the Brocks, and the three sons of Samuel Brown: John Peter Brown, E.W. Brown, and Samuel Brown, Jr.


Historical Marker at McDuffie’s Birthplace

In addition to McDuffie Street in Anderson, George McDuffie was also honored by his home state when McDuffie County, Georgia, was created on October 18, 1870. A historical marker stands at his birthplace.