23 June 2017

Celebrate Liberty Days with Free Lecture and Tours at Select Locations

Few people know that South Carolina had the most Revolutionary War military engagements. The textbooks imply that most of the fighting was concentrated in Virginia, around New York, and in Massachusetts and whatever happened in the Southern colonies was a little consequence. How wrong all those textbooks have been. Few people in the South were left untouched by the conflict.
(Beaufort District Collection Print #138)
There was no consensus in the American colonies that independence from Great Britain was the only or even the wisest course of action to remedy the defects of colonial rule by George III and his representatives. 700,000 American residents were not free to conduct their lives as they themselves saw fit in 1776 for there were at least that many enslaved people in the American colonies. Thus the tension between the ideologies of liberty and enslavement was present from the start of this nation and has consequences that we feel even today. For most of the Revolutionary War period, congressional authority rested only on a state's willingness to comply with directives. Particularly troublesome was the economic dislocation caused by the war and the continual fear of slave revolts and social disturbances.

During the war, some of the heaviest fighting took place here. The landscape was ruined. Dr. Lawrence Rowland states: "The Beaufort District was devastated by the Revolutionary War. Most of the major plantations on Hilton Head Island and the mainland of St. Luke's and Prince William parishes were partially or wholly destroyed." (Rowland et al., The History of Beaufort County South Carolina, volume 1: 1514 - 1861) And the war was costly. The war effort cost South Carolinians approximately $120 million. With a white population of less than 100,000 people, South Carolina was the only state to pay its full requisition to the Continental Congress in 1783 but by doing so, it removed specie from circulation and helped fuel inflation. 

The Rev. Archibald Simpson,  a Presbyterian minister from Scotland who once served in churches in Colleton and Beaufort Districts from 1754 - 1772 returned in 1783 to find: 

All ... was desolation ... every field, every plantation showed marks of ruin and devastation ... The British & the American armies having carried off all my fine breed of horses, and Several hundred head of cattle ... Was all day entertained with the account of the most horrid transactions of the British Army & the Loyalists, during the war.

The kickoff event for Liberty Days here in Beaufort and Jasper County is a talk about the Revolutionary War heritage of South Carolina sponsored by the Beaufort County Historical Society and the Beaufort District Collection. Douglas Bostick, Executive Director of the South Carolina Battleground Preservation Trust, will speak in the Beaufort Branch Library Meeting Room on June 28 at 2 pm. 85 seats should be more than enough spots for a summertime library program. If you want the security of knowing for sure that you'll get a seat come early, pick up your ticket, and then browse all that Beaufort Branch Library has to offer. We'll have a display set up of Revolutionary War books and videos you can check out. 85 free tickets will be distributed beginning at 1 pm. Seating will begin at 1:30 pm. The session will be closed when all 85 tickets are taken. Please: Limit of 2 tickets per customer. 

Mary Lou Brewton, immediate past President of the Beaufort County Historical Society, convinced many of the area museums to help the annual Liberty Week commemoration begun by the South Carolina Historical Society as Carolina Day. Now in its 2nd year as a week long celebration of programs and events in Charleston, the South Carolina Historical Society reached out to Beaufort County and the Beaufort County Historical Society led the way. Mary Lou has done a fabulous job (as usual) wrangling the cultural heritage folks into participating. She's coordinated 3 days worth of activities to allow you to join in the celebration. Here's an outline of what's on tap for Liberty Days in our area: 

On Friday, June 30th the following museums are offering free admission from 10:30 am --3:30 pm:

Hilton Head:
            Coastal Discovery Museum, 70 Honey Horn Drive

            Heritage Library: Tours of Fort Mitchel and Zion Cemetery
            Daufuskie Island Historic Foundation: Billie Burns Museum

            Morris Center for Lowcountry Heritage

            Bluffton Historical Preservation Society: Heyward House

Port Royal:
            Historic Port Royal Foundation: Union Church, 11th St.

            Historic Beaufort Foundation: Verdier House, 801 Bay St.

            Beaufort History Museum, 713 Craven St.

On Saturday, July 1st the following museums are offering free admission from 10:30 am – 3:30 pm:

Parris Island:
            Parris Island Historical & Museum Society: Parris Island Museum Please note: Driver's license, vehicle registration and proof of insurance are required to enter Parris Island.

St. Helena:
            Friends of Fort Fremont: Fort Fremont-Land's End 

Port Royal Sound Foundation: Maritime Center, 310 Okatie Hwy, (Hwy 170 at Chechessee River)
Santa Elena Foundation: Santa Elena History Center, 1501 Bay St.

A word of caution: Please check out the website of the organization for details regarding reservations. Some may require reservations to participate.

Partners in Liberty Week include the South Carolina Historical Society, the Beaufort County Historical Society, the Beaufort County Library, the Beaufort History Museum, the Coastal Discovery Museum, the Heritage Library, the Daufuskie Island Historic Foundation, Historic Beaufort Foundation, Historic Port Royal Foundation, Bluffton Historical Preservation Society, Morris Center for Lowcountry Heritage, Parris Island Historical & Museum Society, Friends of Fort Fremont, the Port Royal Sound Foundation Maritime Center, the Santa Elena History Center, and the Sons of the American Revolution. Additional funding provided by the Humanities SC.

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