The Tillman Movement in South Carolina

By Francis Butler Simkins | Go to book overview
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CHAPTER II
EARLY LIFE OF TILLMAN

The District of Edgefield in 1847, the year in which Benjamin Ryan Tillman was born, had certain characteristics which distinguished it from the ordinary county of interior South Carolina. It was settled a decade before the Revolution by English families from Virginia and a few German, Scotch-Irish, and French immigrants.1 The introduction of cotton transformed its leading inhabitants from a simple pioneer folk, "who ate from pewter dishes and cut the forests for themselves," into a slave-holding aristocracy of town dwellers devoted to law, politics, and agriculture.2 In 1814 a weekly newspaper, The Bee Hive, was established. A careful observer3 in 1824 found the village of Edgefield4 to have three hundred houses, a library of three hundred volumes, a male academy which attracted students from the nearby districts, and a progressive agricultural society.

____________________
1
John A. Chapman, History of Edgefield, pp. 6, 8, 28.
2
In 1790 the whites outnumbered the blacks two to one; in 1820 the blacks were one and one half times as numerous as the whites.
3
Robert Mills, Statistics of South Carolina, p. 525.
4
The village was incorporated in 1830. Acts and Joint Resolutions, 1830, p. 19.

-23-

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