Chapter 3 – Revolution and Readjustment

The transition from province in the British Empire to stay in the American Union was not accomplished in South Carolina without a complete disruption of the normal course of life. The revolution brought war and with war came invading armies. The presence of the enemy, the supreme need a resistance forced a suspension of ordinary pursuits. To make matters worse the people were not united in the face of this crisis. On the question of separation from the mother-country they divided into two parties. The majority came in the end to support the movement for independence; but a minority, not inconsiderable in number and influence, steadily opposed it. This division of sentiment not only aggravated the situation during the period of hostilities but also seriously complicated the problems of readjustment which follow.1

Charles Town experienced these difficulties in full measure. Twice, in 1776 and again in 1779, it successfully withstood an attack, only to be taken in the next year after a destructive siege of months duration. From May 12, 1782 December 14, 1782 – more than two and a half years – it lay in the hands of the enemy, the life of its citizens regulated by a hostile military authority. 2 Under such conditions regular habits, customs of long-standing were, of necessity, set aside. Here, as elsewhere in the state, the people were divided on the great issue of the day. The division followed no regular lines. The members of clubs and societies found themselves split into factions. In the same family there might be a Loyalist father and a Whig son or brothers of different persuasions. Under these circumstances social intercourse was impossible as long as the war continued. After the war it was difficult to bring the two groups back into harmony.

The St. Andrew’s Society did not escape the vexing problems of this critical period.  It was inevitable that its activities would be interrupted in the confusion which prevailed from time to time in the city. It was equally inevitable that its members would take different positions on the question of revolution. For these troublous years the data is again far from satisfactory. A few papers – not more than a score – are all that survive. For the five years from 1775 to 1780 the is nothing but a list of members who attended the meeting on November 30, 1775, and order on the treasurer dated 1776, and meager treasurer’s report covering the whole period. For the next two years (1780 and 1781) there is ample evidence; then the record dims again until 1787.3

The circumstances which forced John Stuart to leave Charles Town on June 2, 1775 deprived the St. Andrew’s Society of its president.4 Did the members “Met at their next quarterly meeting” elect a new president “in his room” as the rules required in the case of the removal of an officer from the province?  Or did they delay with the thought that Mr. Stuart would be able to explain his conduct to the satisfaction of the Secret Committee – that his removal would not be permanent?  These questions cannot be answered with certainty. The evidence which is available does not give the name of another president until 1780 when the office was held by James Simpson.5  Was was Mr. Simpson the next president after John Stuart or was there a president between the two whose name has been completely forgotten?  It appears that in 1773 David Deas was vice-president of the Society. He may have continued as such until Mr. Stuart’s departure, have attended, in accordance with the rules, to the duties of the president, and then have been elected to that position. In 1774 Mr. Simpson was the assistant, and on April 20, 1776 he signed, as vice-president, and order upon the treasurer.  It may be that he succeeded Mr. Deas sometime between 1776 and 1780; or it may be that Mr. Deas was not made president at all and that Mr. Simpson directly succeeded Mr. Stuart. There is the still further possibility that some other member served as president in the interval between 1775 and 1780. Of this there can be no certainty.

Concerning the activities of the Society during these five years (1775-1780) there is equal uncertainty. There was a meeting on St. Andrew’s Day of 1775, but it was attended by only fourteen members, and apparently no more than £36 10s was voted to charity.7  It is improbable that there was another before 1780. In 1776, however, the treasurer paid out to charity and “sundries” something over £90; in 1778 John Wells was loaned on his bond £2000, and £75 was given to “sundry charities;” and the treasurer reported cash in his hands in January 1779 to the extent of £2736 17s.8  For the same period a treasurer’s report shows the following receipts: “July 9, 1777 – By Principal and Int. on Andw. Reid’s [or Reed’s] Bond be going out of the state obliged me to receive it – £1736;” “June 7, 1778 – By Principal and Int. received R. Rowand Forreser’s Bond from R. Rowand going out of the state – £539;” “Dec. 24th, 1778 By 4 years Int. received on Mr. Heyward’s Bond to 26 July last £320;” and “Jany. 13, 1779 By principal & Int. received from John Wells amot. his Bond £2136.” From this it would appear that although its meetings were, in all probability, discontinued, the Society did not entirely cease to function in this period.  The noticeable decline in its activities may have been altogether due to the conditions in the city, but there was probably another, perhaps a more important, cause.

In 1775 the membership of the Society was made up, for the most part, a Scotchmen – some natives, others the sons and grandsons of natives, of Scotland. Of the rest the greater number seem to have been Englishmen likewise of the first, second, and third generations in South Carolina.

Both must have cherished to some degree the memory of her native lands. Some of them held offices from the British crown. Others are merchants who would lose heavily by the interruption of commerce with Great Britain – a certain result of the revolution. Practically all held property which would be endangered by revolt. Some of them, on the other hand, must have shared the dissatisfaction with British rule which was then hastening forward the movement for independence. For such men it was not easy to make a decision. When a decision became imperative, as it might be expected, some decided one way, some the other. Under ordinary circumstances a difference of opinion on a political issue, however important it might be, need not have disrupted the harmony of the group united for benevolent and social purposes, but this was no ordinary occasion. War was the outcome. Men of one party found it difficult or impossible to tolerate those of the other. It would not be remarkable if the members of the Society, finding themselves seriously divided on the question gave up for the time being their effort “to maintain a good Understanding and acquaintance with one another.”

On the whole the Loyalist element in the St. Andrew’s Society stands out more clearly than the Whig.  At the beginning of the Revolution there were no less than 109 members on its rolls?9  Of these at least thirty-two committed themselves in one way or another to the cause of the King before the end of the war.10  among these were the three officers – John Stuart, president; James Simpson, assistant or vice-president; Alexander Hewatt; William Holliday; and Robert Wells, who have become printer to the Society. Some of these members who remained loyal to British authority of prominent parts in the effort to put down the revolution in South Carolina. John Stuart’s part has already been discussed. James Simpson was made Intendant of Police in Charles Town during the British occupation. At the same time George Roupell became Postmaster and Sir Egerton Leigh Attorney General under the Royal Government. John, the son of Robert Wells, carried on his father’s newspaper in this period under the name of the “Royal Gazette.”  Of the Whigs on the other hand it has been possible to identify fifteen may direct contribution to the struggle for independence. Most outstanding among these were the three Moultrie brothers, William, patriot leader subsequently became governor of the state, Thomas who was killed in the defenses before Charles Town, and Alexander who served with William in the Continental Army. In addition to were such men as Alexander Alexander, the schoolmaster, who applauded Christopher Gadsden when he addressed the revolutionists under the Liberty Tree; Lachlan McIntosh, the general in command of the militia during the last siege of Charles Town; James Parsons, who served the revolutionary government of the state in several important capacities; and John Matthews, a delegate to the Continental Congress from South Carolina. Whatever the attitude of the other sixty-two members might have been, whether they were in the main Whigs and thereby gave that party a majority of the whole membership of whether the reverse was true, it is certain that the presence of as many as thirty-two Loyalists was sufficient to introduce discord and probably because a discontinuance of the meetings of the Society.12

 
Snuff Mulls
 

There is further reason for the belief that the Loyalist was the most outstanding element in the Society during the Revolutionary period. In 1780 Charles Town fell into the hands of the British. The position of the Loyalists was considerably altered. Some who had left the city return. Others who had remained, not infrequently in the face of the disapproval of their Whig neighbors, welcomed the overthrow of Whig control. Many were raised to positions of authority under the military regime. Under these circumstances some of the Loyalist members of the Society, it would seem, determined to revive its activities. They resolved to follow a practice of long-standing, to extend the privileges of membership to some of the military officers resident in the city. Accordingly they, or their committee, met at the King’s Head Tavern on November 15 and laid their plans for a celebration on the approaching St. Andrew’s Day.  Stewards were appointed. A list of new members was prepared. Mr. Thomas Coram, the engraver, was ordered “to boil and burnish the place” and strike from it 150 impressions of the certificate of membership. Mr. William Holliday was authorized to prepare a “handsome entertainment” for a hundred gentlemen.13 

On the appointed day the meeting was held. Twenty attended and no less than sixty-four candidates for membership presented themselves and were admitted. Of the new members at least twenty were military officers, among them the Right Honorable Lord Dunglass, Sir Patrick Houston, and Col. Nisbett Balfour, the commander of the city. Among those of lesser right was Captain John Stuart, son of the former president, a promising young officer who later became a lieut.-general in the British army.14 The others seem to have been private citizens. One may be quite sure that there were no Whigs among them. There was a business session. The following officers were elected: James Simpson, president; Major Montcrief (sic) vice-president; Charles Johnston, treasurer; Robert Philp, Dr. Robert Wilson, Charles Johnston, William Carson, Alexander Rose, and James Brisbane was appointed “for settling the charity and examination of St. Andrew’s Accts. at some future day.” At lease four petitions for charity were received. One of these came from Robert Mantoss who described himself as a “Poor Distrest Scotchman” who had been in “Service of King George the Second and King the third for ten years in the Royal Regiment of Highlanders” and had always been loyal. There is no record of the action of the Society on this request; but he was probably granted, for the treasurer subsequently reported that £28 8s 9d had been given to charity on November 30, 1780. After the business session there was a dinner representing, no doubt, the very best that Mr. Holliday could do under the circumstances. Among doubtless many features of the entertainment was music prize by the “Hassian [evidently Hessian] Band.”15

The Society for us auspiciously reorganized did not long remain active. Begin celebrated Andrew’s Day in 1781 when officers were elected as follows: James Moncrief, president; George Roupell, vice-president; Robert Philp, assistant; Charles Johnson, Treasurer; and James Brisbane, secretary.16  Twenty-four new members, including several more military officers, were admitted in a small sum voted to charity. There is no record of the meeting on the next St. Andrew’s Day. Before that day rolled around the British government was beginning to abandon its efforts to suppress the revolution. By August 7, 1782, the army of occupation was making preparation to evacuate Charles Town. This was finally completed on December 14th. With the army with many Loyalists. They, too, must have been making preparations in those last few weeks of royal government in the old city.  There was probably little time or inclination for a meeting of the St. Andrew’s Society.17

During the following six years (1782-1786) it does not appear that there were any meetings of the Society. Charles Johnston, the treasurer, evidently continued in custody of the funds, however, as his reports, subsequently rendered to the Society, show payment of small sums to charity in 1782 and 1783.18 After that all activity seems to have been discontinued. These were years of reconstruction in the city and state. The most urgent problems at first consideration. In 1787 the first steps were taken toward reviving the Society. The undertaking was probably initiated by a few members who wish to see it restored to his former usefulness. They spoke of the plan to others who agreed. It was then resolved that the next St. Andrew’s Day should be the


General William Moultrie 

(President, 1787-1790)
 

occasion for the revival. Accordingly the following notice was published in the newspaper:

The Members of the Old St. Andrew’s Club, now in Charleston, and those who wish to become Members of the same, are requested to give him their names at the Bar of William’s Coffee-House, on or before Tuesday the 20th instant, that the number of those who mean to celebrate this Anniversary of the Saint may be known.

It is earnestly requested the old Members will give their attendance on the evening of the 20th instant, at 7 o’clock, on particular business respecting the Club, at the above Coffee-House.”19 

When this group of members set themselves about the task of reorganization, they must have had some misgivings. No doubt they gave thought to the problem of bringing the Loyalist and Whig again into harmony. Some of the Loyalist members had left the state, but many had remained. Some who had gone into exile for time were now returned. With the Whigs forgive the Loyalists for what they had done in 1780?  Would be past the forgotten?  Could good fellowship be restored?  These doubts were dispelled at the first meeting. “Friday last,” runs the account in The Columbian Herald, “being the anniversary of St. Andrew, tutelary Saint of Scotland, a large company of respectable gentleman dined at William’s Coffee-House to commemorate the day. The hon. General Moultrie resided at the feast.”20 The Honorable General, who had been the most conspicuous figure among the Whig members, was elected president, but the Society saw fit to re-elect among the other officers George Roupell and Charles Johnston, two former Loyalists.21 It is true that the names of many of the old members do not appear on the lists after 1787, but at least there were some of each of the two factions. Doubtless this was but an instance of a larger reunion of Loyalists and Whigs which was then taken place in the city and state.

But there were other problems. The war had sadly reduced the funds of the Society. In 1780 the Loyalist treasurer attached the following note to his report: “Finding it destructive to lend out money & have it repaid thought it prudent by the advice of friends and for the interest of the Club to invest the above (£2736 17s) in Old Money which was done at 4 for one and now in my hands.” 22 Perhaps one of these friends was President Simpson who, it is said, “framed a table in which the depreciation of the paper currency, at different periods, was ascertained, and by which the Loyalists, who has sustained losses by payment in that currency, were induced to hope for compensation. 23 At any rate the funds diminished in the financial confusion of the war. At the time of the reorganization they amounted to only £311 8s 7d.

Still another problem was that of recovering the records and regalia. What had become of the “strongbox” to which the rules had so carefully provided? Enquires being made, it was discovered that it had been last in the hands of Mr. Brisbane, the secretary in 1781. The Mr. Brisbane was a Loyalists and had left the state. A letter was dispatched to him in ample time to bring a response before the reorganization on meeting, but it had not arrived on St. Andrew’s Day. Mr. Brisbane at length, however, wrote the following reply:

 

               “Nassau, Dec. 9, 1787 

Dear Sir 

Your favor of the 12th ult. I received the 26th past, too late to answer is to present Effect, but I announce it down to inform you that when I left Charleston I had no idea of continuing anyway but thought I should be able to return in a few Months or as soon as satisfactory Retaliation has been obtained to some Worthy Characters who had been sent away by Coll Balfour. I am therefore put all the Regalia into the Trunk with Books Papers &c. gave the Key to Mrs. Br with request that if Mr. Ch. Johnston should arrive there before me to deliver the Trunk up to him and till I got yours I took it for granted the society was in full Possession of the same.  I enquired of Mrs. Br if she had not done what I requested. She had not but could not tell what was done with it unless it went amongst many other Things my property unjustly ordered away by A. B. out of my House to a Mr. John Smiths. I therefore recommend to you to make enquires after it Mrs. Hibben or some of that Family for tho’ I have been applied to, to get them away I wish the society there antiently fixed and established my in preference enjoyed the local seal &c &c… I am now reduced after living an independent life for upwards of 25 years to ply behind a Counter for subsistence being deprived of my all by my Countrymen for no fault but addressing when many you know were received back in their Properties restored who did by no Means merit the attention of either Party.  I twice while Prisoner on Ship Board saved the lives of the Guards from being cutt off and a vessel richly loaded from being taken off, by my Interference and threats of discovering their Plots unless given up which succeeded however its now all over & I must make the best of it. Please make my Compliments to all such Members of St. Andrew’s as you think they may be acceptable to, and receive my best wishes for the Health & Happiness of you and yours, I am 

Your most humble servant 

               James Brisbane” 24 

 

So in 1788 the Society bought another strong box, a plate for printing certificates of membership, and a new seal. Then suddenly in a most unexpected manner the old box with all of its contents turned up. It was accompanied by a letter to make clear what Mr. Brisbane had been at loss to explain:

 

“George Town, July 31, 1789 

Gentlemen, 

You will receive by Mr. William Collins, the Bearer of this, a black Trunk containing Sundries the property of your Society. 

It may appear somewhat strange to you this Trunk getting here into my Possession; I think it proper to give you some Information how this happened: A relation of mine living in Charleston about the year 1784 & 85, had it left in their Hands by a Gentm. Who in a very short time after Died. I believe his name was Brisbane; some of his Friends were acquainted with it, but never would send for it, and the relation of mine moving out of Chas’ton, thought it best to send the Trunk to me, with a View of having it safe; it is now about Eighteen Months since I rece’d it, and being desirous of finding the Owners or Persons who would take charge of it, I never would open it until about Six Days ago, when I found that the Contents were Papers &c of Consequence to you – I have only two requests that you will pay the Freight down and give Mr. Collins 4/8 for the Charge of bringing it up here area 

And with real Sentiments a regard I remain 

Gentm. 

               Your most servant 

                  Isaac Delesseline” 25 

 

When these problems were once overcome, however, the society rapidly developed. The membership steadily increased. In the first 10 years after the reorganization no less than 239 new members were admitted. 26 Its income increased accordingly, in the Society was soon able to resume his policy of aiding the poor and the distressed. Among his earliest benefactions was the gift of £50 toward the erection of the present Charleston Orphan Home.  The meetings began their popularity. That on St. Andrew’s Day once more became a social event of great importance. Old customs formerly observed on these occasions were revived, but new ones were introduced. One of these which seems to have appeared at this time was to have the bells of St. Michael call the attention of the public to the day of St. Andrew. According to the following note this practice was being observed as early as 1792:

“December 1st, 1792 

Adam Tunno 

Dear Sir 

The Bearer Thomas informs me that he begun early yesterday Morning to time the bells of St. Michaels Church to usher in St. Andrew’s day & that he continued to do the same from twelve at Noon till Six in the Evening. 

You will therefore please to give him what some you may think proper & charge it to the Society.  I hope that you have got the better of your Yesterday’s Fatigue & wishing that you may enjoy many returns of St. Andrews Day. 

     I am with respect 

        D Sir 

     Your most obt etc 

            Jo. M. Troup” 27 

 

In 1790 General Moultrie resigned the presidency, and Dr. Alexander Baron was elected in his place. Dr. Baron was a popular and highly esteemed physician of the city described by a contemporary as “the model of an accomplished physician and polite gentleman.” He continued as president for the next twenty-nine years. He was deeply interested in the welfare of the Society.  A member years later remembered that “when even in advanced age he led the way in the ‘home born verse’ of his native country by his favorite song, ‘The Lass of Patie’s Mill,’ there was something so delightful in his manner, so exhilarating, and yet so remote from levity, in his mirth, that gravity itself seemed pleased, the young gave freer scope to the merriment, and the old almost bought that they were young again.”28

In 1796 the rules of the Society, which had remained unchanged since 1730, were considerably revised and altered. 29 The principle alteration involved the policy of distributing the charity. This reflects in a measure the change which had taken place in the city since the establishment of the Society. In 1729 the sources of relief to the poor were few. No other benevolent Society had come into existence. Under those conditions it was the policy to apply the charity to any worthy object. Since that time several other benevolent societies – the St. George’s, the South Carolina, the Fellowship, and the German Friendly – had been founded.30 The community as it developed was increasing its charitable agencies. In view of this and the diminishing demand for general charity the St. Andrew’s Society determined to devote its efforts to one particular object. The new rules provided or a school to educate the children of “poor and indigent parents.”  At the same time, however, provision was made for extending the aid of the Society to any of its own members “who may have fallen into indigent circumstances” and to the “widows and orphan children of deceased members.”  But, the rule continues, no more than one-fourth part of the annual income of the Society shall be used in this way until the school is built, nor one-third afterwords. To hasten the time when the school might be built the members agreed that the admission fee, which was then $8, should be increased $2 each succeeding year until it reached $30. The annual dues were to be $5. And these revised rules the name of St. Andrew’s Society of Charleston was substituted for the former designation, St. Andrew’s Club of Charles Town.

Two years later (1798) the Society was incorporated under the laws of South Carolina. 31 It was made “a body politic and corporate” capable among other rights of holding property in its name to the extent of $30,000.  In 1804 this is renewed in the value of the property which the society might hold increased to $80,000. Finally in 1817 a perpetual right of incorporation was granted.

 

 

NOTES TO THE TEXT 

III. REVOLUTION AND READJUSTMENT

  1. 1.        Cf. Ravenue, Mrs. St. Julian, Charleston, The Place and the People.  Pp. 325-327. 
  2. 2.        Cf. McCrady, Ed., South Carolina in the Revolution, 1780-1783
  3. 3.        For further discussion of these papers see bibliographical note. 
  4. 4.        Ch. II, note 32. 
  5. 5.        A secretary’s report of the meeting of 1780 gives the names of the officers elected, Filing Box No. 1
  6. 6.        For such evidence as there is see Filing Boxes Nos. 1 and 2
  7. 7.        Secretary’s report of 1775 and treasurer’s report of 1780,Filing Box No. 1
  8. 8.        Treasurer’s report of 1780, Filing Box No. 1. 
  9. 9.        I have arrived at this figure by means of an alphabetical list of members of 1775, Filing Box No. 1, and Roster of Members
  10. 10.     I have identified these Loyalists by means of Lorenze Sabin’s Biographical Sketches of Loyalists of the American Revolution, and Edward McCrady’s two volumes on the Revolution in South Carolina; cf. Wilson, Robert, Address at the Annual Banquet of 1890 (1892), pp. 114-117. 
  11. 11.     Sabin, L. op. cit., index. 
  12. 12.     I have identified these Whigs by means of McCrady’s two works cited above.  It is always a possibility that there were two persons of the same name.  I can only say positively that men of these names were members of the Society. 
  13. 13.     Filing Boxes No. 1 and 2
  14. 14.     Roster of Members; Lee, S. (ed.), Dictionary of National Biography, LV, pp. 98-101. 
  15. 15.     See papers of 1780, Filing Boxes Nos. 1, 2, and 3
  16. 16.     Concerning James Moncrief see Wilson, R., op cit., pp. 115-116.  I cannot decide whether this is the Col Moncrieff (sic) mentioned in McCrady, Ed., South Carolina in the Revolution, 1780-1783, pp. 661-674. 
  17. 17.     Ravenel, Mrs. St. Julian, op. cit., ch. 16. 
  18. 18.     Treasurer’s report of 1787, Filing Box No. 1. 
  19. 19.     The Columbian Herald (Charleston, S. C.), November 19, 1787. 
  20. 20.     Ibid., December 3, 1787. 
  21. 21.     Officers of the St. Andrew’s Society since 1787, rules of 1892, p. 26. 
  22. 22.     Treasurer’s report of 1780, Filing Box No. 1. 
  23. 23.     Sabin, L., op. cit., II, P. 304. 
  24. 24.     Filing Box No. 6. 
  25. 25.     Ibid. 
  26. 26.     List of members, printed rules of 1892. 
  27. 27.     Filing Box No.6. 
  28. 28.     King, M. Address of 1829, pp. 66-67. 
  29. 29.     For these rules see Roster of Members. 
  30. 30.     McCrady, Ed., South Carolina under the Royal Government, 1719-1776, pp. 530-531. 
  31. 31.     For the acts of incorporation see rules of 1892. 

Officers 2010

2011 Tentative Meeting Dates

Jan 31 - Mon

Feb 28 - Mon

Mar 31 - Thurs

Apr 28 - Thurs

May 31 - Thrus

Jun 30 Thurs

Sep 29 - Thurs

Oct 27 - Thurs

Ladies Night

Nov 29 - Tues

(Pending Chas Place Contract)

Dec 29 - Thurs

2012 Tentative Meeting Dates

Jan 31 - Tues

Feb 28 - Tues

Mar 29 - Thurs

Apr 30 - Mon

May 31 - Thurs

Jun 28 - Thurs

Steak Cookout CYC?

Sep 29 - Thurs

Oct 30 - Tues

Nov 29 - Thurs

Noon business meeting and evening banquet pending Chas Place availability.

Dec 29 - Thurs