South Carolina: A Short History, 1520-1948

By David Duncan Wallace | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XXIX
THE BATTLE OF FORT MOULTRIE, 1776

WHILE South Carolina was committing herself more and more deeply by overt acts, the Continental Congress was even more boldly plunging into courses that would, according to the outcome, attaint them of treason or crown them as the founders of a new nation. But all were still fighting for their rights as Englishmen. The idea of independence, peering out of the future, was as yet a dread shadow instead of a bright hope.

The Second Provincial Congress reconvened on February 1, 1776, and on the third received from the Continental Congress copies of captured letters from royal officers in the South to General Gage and others revealing the plan of bringing the Indians upon the frontier. During January, February, and March the Revolutionary movement was strengthened by the defeat of the Scotch loyalists at Moore's Creek, North Carolina, and by the seizure of Governor Wright by the Georgia Council of Safety and the assertion of the authority of the latter, supported by some 300 South Carolina troops under Stephen Bull, against the British vessels and the powerful loyalist element in Georgia.

The Constitution of 1776. --While "everything was running into confusion," the Continental Congress, at the request of New Hampshire and South Carolina, advised those colonies on setting up a government. The "Convention of South Carolina" was recommended "to call a full and free representation of the people" for establishing a form of government to "effectually secure peace and good order in the colony, during the continuance of the present dispute between Great Britain and the colonies." The constitution of New Hampshire, adopted in January, and that of South Carolina in March, 1776, were both intended merely for the temporary administration of public order until the regular royal government should function constitutionally.

The South Carolina Provincial Congress, with its apportionment accidentally arranged for a temporary purpose, itself assumed the duty of framing a constitution, as did similar bodies in two other colonies.

A written constitution was the natural development from colonial conditions. In a royal colony the King's instructions to the Governor outlined the frame of government and defined the duties, powers, and

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