South Carolina: A Short History, 1520-1948

By David Duncan Wallace | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XLVI
INTELLECTUAL LIFE AND INSTITUTIONS, 1783-1860

THE PUBLIC paid for the instruction of a few poor children in the so-called "free schools" of the province from 1710, but private enterprise long antedated public, and for a much longer time supplied a far superior service. "If ever a Carolinian has reason to blush for his country," wrote Chairman Richard Hutson of the Mount Zion board, "it must be, when he considers that it has advanced upwards of a century in age, before it has one academy of any reputation in it." The gentlemen who formed the Mount Zion Society in 1777 had conducted a flourishing school at Winnsboro until it was ruined by the Revolution, but had now, Hutson wrote in 1784, engaged as master a graduate of the College of New Jersey and were taking subscriptions. In 1785 the legislature chartered three colleges, one at Winnsboro on the Mount Zion foundation, one at Cambridge near the present Ninety Six, and one at Charleston. Considerable donations were divided among the three, all of which went into operation. That at Charleston began in 1790, though not until 1825-27 did it attain college rank. The present Winnsboro High School is the descendant without break of the Mount Zion College.

General Sumter and Dr. Richard Furman advertised on May 4, 1786, that the seminary of learning designed for Stateburg was now open, and that the gentleman who would preside brought remarkable testimonials from America and Europe. In 1795 Beaufort College was incorporated, and in 1797 the College of Alexandria near Pinckneyville, the now extinct court town for four counties, in the northeastern corner of Union County. The former opened in 1804 and became an important academy; the latter was apparently never organized. The "free school" existing in Columbia apparently from 1792 or earlier is evidently the same as the Academy incorporated in 1795. John De La Howe's legacy in 1796, at first primarily for illegitimate children (later broadened to serve poor children of any sort), originated the first manual labor school in the United States.

Dr. Waddel's Willington. --The most famous of the early academies was that of Dr. Moses Waddel ( 1770-1840). When his young brother- in-law Calhoun was put to his school, then in Georgia, the few schools

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