South Carolina: A Short History, 1520-1948

By David Duncan Wallace | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XI
ASPECTS OF CULTURE AND LAW, 1698-1736

SOUTH CAROLINA entered after Queen Anne's War the most prosperous years of the Proprietary period. Governor Charles Craven, who assumed office early in 1712, was a natural leader of noble and generous character. Commanding respect without arrogance, he was firm without harshness, devout without sanctimony or intolerance, and brave without violence. His influence went far to close the long era of religious contention and political factionalism that had vexed the relations of Governor and Assembly since 1700. The Commons maintained the position of importance they had won, but they now carried their privileges with a respecful moderation that constituted an acknowledgment of Governor Craven's dignity and strength.

Governor Craven was distinctly a man of business. Instead of the long controversial messages between the two houses, we have communications brief and to the point, sometimes consisting of a single sentence. The first year of his administration is one of the most fruitful of important legislation in our history. In this his talent for facilitating business played a large part.

Schools and Libraries. --Private tutors are found as early as 1694. Before 1696 Richard Morgan left part of his estate in trust for a free school. The Rev. Mr. Thomas opened a school at Goose Creek in 1704. Boone brought two Dissenting ministers and a Scotch Presbyterian schoolmaster from Britain in 1703. The law of 1712 promised for each parish £12 to help build a school and £10 a year for any master opening a school, provided he was approved by the vestry.

The "free school" act of 1710 was ignored by the more elaborate act of 1712. The purpose was in part to provide care for educational legacies already made. The term "free school" meant that the master should teach at public expense a few pupils while collecting fees from others. The master had to be able to teach Latin and Greek and be of the Church of England. In 1712, apparently only in St. James Goose Creek was there a school of the approved religion outside of Charles Town.

Irrespective of the number of schools in the early period, there was a high degree of educated intelligence in the province, as public and private papers prove, both by their excellent composition and sound sense, and frequently by their beautiful hands. The Court of Ordinary

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