South Carolina: A Short History, 1520-1948

By David Duncan Wallace | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XXXVII
THE SECTIONAL COMPROMISE OF 1808 ON REPRESENTATION

WE HAVE thus in the South Carolina of 1790 to 1800 two contrasted and in many respects hostile societies. The rich slaveholders definitely feared the possible hostility of a non-slave-owning democracy toward their most vital interest. The revelation of the census of 1790 that the "upper division" contained four times the white population of the lower intensified the determination of the former to remedy the injustice of having the smaller section hold a majority of both houses of the legislature. Therefore they formed the Representative Reform Association, whose leaders included Wade Hampton, Robert Goodloe Harper, Ephraim Ramsay, Abraham Blanding, and John Kershaw. In 1794 the Association issued a pamphlet '"address" to the people of the State written by Robert Goodloe Harper, but signed "Appius."1

The existing representation had originated for the temporary purpose of organizing the First Provincial Congress in 1774, and, somewhat modified, had later been imbedded in the Constitution. In 1790 St. Stephen's parish, with 226 white inhabitants, elected three representatives and one senator, the same as Edgefield with 9,785 whites or Pendleton with 8,731. The entire "upper division," with 111,534 whites, elected 54 representatives and 17 senators, while the "lower division," with 28,644 whites, elecited 70 and 20.

The legal term "upper division" means the judicial districts of Cheraws, Camden, Orangeburg, and Ninety Six; the "lower division" those of Georgetown, Charleston, and Beaufort. This legal distinction continued until 1865. Until the plantation system penetrated toward the fall line, the terms up country (or generally upper, or back, country) and low (or lower) country were frequently employed as synonymous with the terms upper and lower division; but after the assimilation of so much of the middle country to the civilization of the lower division, the term low country was understood to include the territory up to the

____________________
1
The celebrated letters of Appius written by Robert Goodloe Harper," said Abraham Blanding, himself active in the movement, before the Clay Club of Charleston, August 22, 1844.--R. Yeadon's newspaper scrapbook, University of South Carolina.

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