Evolution of a Federalist: William Loughton Smith of Charleston (1758-1812)

By George C. Rogers | Go to book overview

X
THE NEW FEDERAL GOVERNMENT

A FTER A SUFFICIENT NUMBER of states had ratified the Constitution, Congress adopted a set of resolutions calling for elections to be held in the winter. Governor Thomas Pinckney called the state legislature into session in October and presented these resolutions along with the journals of the ratification convention. The procedures for holding the first federal elections in the state were then adopted. South Carolina was divided into five Congressional districts ( Charleston, Beaufort and Orangeburg, Georgetown and Cheraw, Camden, and Ninety Six), and the elections scheduled for November 24 and 25.1

The major concern of this short session was with petitions from the backcountry asking the legislature for help for debtors.2 These petitions were referred to a large committee of which William Smith was a member.3 The committee reported unanimously "that there is an indispensable necessity for the further interposition of the legislature between creditors and their debtors." However, it reserved the right to report any plan that might offer a solution. Three plans were reported: one suggested a law to set a value on all property seized in execution; another, to extend the installment law to five years; a third, to emit more paper money.4

The valuation bill was first brought forward on October 16 and was ordered to be read a second time on the 21st. As George Miller, the British consul, wrote to the Marquis of Carmarthen, "this bill was so strongly characteristic of the Sheriff's sale bill, passed in 1785, well known by the name of 'the pine barren Law,' -- leaving nothing optional with the creditor respecting choice of property, and being expressly contrary to the 4th Article of the Treaty of Peace, and to the interests of the British Creditors, by that Article

____________________
1
JHR, XLVIII, 312. SC Statutes, V, 84-86.
2
JHR, XLVIII, 324, 329, 330, 332, 337, 341, 343.
3
JHR, XLVIII, 324, 325.
4
JHR, XLVIII, 345. George Miller to Carmarthen, November 30, 1788, FO, VI, 693-699. The basic laws in each category were: an act for regulating sales under executions, passed October 12, 1785, to run to the end of the next ensuing session, SC Statutes, IV, 710-712; an ordinance respecting suits for the recovery of debts, passed March 26, 1784, allowing suits in four installments beginning January 1, 1786, for debts contracted before February 26, 1782, SC Statutes, IV, 640-641; an act to establish a medium of circulation by way of loan, passed October 12, 1785, SC Statutes, IV, 712-716.

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