South Carolina: A Short History, 1520-1948

By David Duncan Wallace | Go to book overview

CHAPTER V
CONFLICTS AND PROBLEMS--WESTS FIRST ADMINISTRATION, 1671-1674

The Profit-Seeking Proprietors. --Although a final verdict upon the Proprietary government must await the remaining account of that experiment, it can hardly be denied that under the existing conditions such a plan secured the earlier establishment and the necessary help through infancy of an English outpost in the South. To say that the government should have undertaken these duties instead of squandering a vast belt of the national domain on court favorites is merely to call attention to one of the particulars in which the government was asleep to its opportunities and duties.

The Proprietors' dominant motive was to make money. From the complaint in one of their earliest letters that their ship took timber to Barbados for the settlers' account but none for the Proprietors', to the end of the chapter, their correspondence is full of injunctions to reserve for them the best lands and the richest Indian trade and to keep strict account of the debts of the settlers, with interest at eight or ten per cent, for advances of food, clothing, and tools, and if the debts were paid in labor, the agent was to take care that the wages be "moderate." As months rolled into years with large outlay and small returns, even Shaftesbury fell into threats to cut off further help to those he testily described as "idlers living at our expense."

Fortunately there was among the Proprietors one man of strong and liberal mind, and among the colonists one so "moderate, just, pious and valiant" as to command general confidence. Shaftesbury in England and West here may almost be called the creators of South Carolina. Joseph West, who on the death of Sayle was unanimously elected by the Council temporary governor, was to receive that mark of confidence three times and to be commissioned twice by the Proprietors in thirteen years.

Governor Yeamans. --"We have always had some differences in this colony,"West wrote, September 1, 1671. The arrival of Sir John Yeamans about July 1, 1671, with almost fifty of his fellow-Barbadians, again raised "broils and heats." He made now no claim to the governorship, but felt out opinion. Finding the people hostile, he retired in disgust to

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