Fourth General Assembly convened, 18 Jan 1782
Where: 32.7701776 -80.4545473 Jacksonboro
Maps: [map notes]
- South Carolina General Assembly, Journal of the Senate, 16 Feb 2007
Members Of The South Carolina General Assembly
Commemorating The Fourth Session
Of The South Carolina General Assembly
In January And February Of 1782
Convening A Statewide Legislative Day
By Meeting In Joint Session
Friday, February 16, 2007
At The Pon Pon Chapel Of Ease
Jacksonboro, South Carolina
The Fourth General Assembly convened here in Jacksonborough on January 18, 1782 as a result of Governor John Rutledge's call to begin the restoration of sovereign civil government in South Carolina. Those elected met here, very near these sacred grounds. To meet in Charles Town would have meant suicide as it was occupied, held by British forces under the command of Lord Cornwallis. But South Carolina, by that time thankfully, was all but liberated.
As an interesting aside, General Andrew Pickens is a direct ancestor of our Senator Danny Verdin of Laurens. Neither man looks like Mel Gibson.
The roster of the 4th Assembly reflected a "Who's Who" of South Carolina, and included Pickens, General Thomas Sumter, Colonel Hugh Horry, Colonel Wade Hampton I, General Francis Marion, and Colonel Thomas Taylor (owner of the plantation that is now Columbia).
Prior to the election by the 4th Assembly of Continental Congressman John Matthews as the South Carolina governor, the Assembly elected Christopher Gadsden, who had recently returned to South Carolina after spending more than a year in a St. Augustine dungeon and aboard a British prison ship. He declined the election and did not serve. Our own Senator John Matthews will speak with us later. John, I'm afraid we won't be electing you governor today, however.
This was the first General Assembly wherein the membership was equally divided between the Lowcountry and the Upcountry. It didn't matter. Governor Matthews was from Charleston. The Lowcountry/Upcountry political divide was present even then.
The last battle of the American Revolution was fought on November 14, 1781 at Dill's Bluff on John's Island. It was the last of 137 battles here. South Carolina's patriots fought more skirmishes than did men in all in the other colonies combined. Noted South Carolina historian, Dr. Walter Edgar notes "[The British] strategy backfired. Cornwallis' grand plan of rolling up the Carolinas to Virginia began to unravel in the backcountry of South Carolina."
If not for the bravery and dedication of South Carolina patriots, there would have been no American independence.
- Terry W. Lipscomb, "South Carolina Revolutionary Battles, Part Ten", unpublished, p.33
When civil government was finally restored to South Carolina by the convening of the Jacksonborough Assembly in January 1782, some of the more
sober-minded legislators were not optimistic over the prospects for an early re-establishment of law and order. The amount of bloodletting that had been carried on at the local level during the Revolution provided ample grounds for the misgivings expressed by Representative Aedanus Burke in a letter of January 28, 1782:
46. Aedanus Burke to Arthur Middleton, January 25, 1782, SCHM, vol. 26, p. 192.
"One of our Members of this present Assembly kept a tally of the number of men he has killed on the barrel of his pistol, and the notches amount to twenty-five.
I know another who has killed his fourteen, &c. &c.
And thus has our country been depopulated almost. And the few that are left cannot possibly be brought back to order and tran-quility without much trouble, & address." 46
- Terry W. Lipscomb, Names in South Carolina, XXVII, "South Carolina Revolutionary Battles, Part Eight", English Dept., Univ. of South Carolina, Winter, 1980, p.18
On January 8, 1782, the General Assembly convened for the first time since the fall of Charleston.12 With the capital still in enemy hands, the legislature met at Jacksonboro on the Edisto River, and hence this meeting is known as the Jacksonborough Assembly. As this session began, General Greene's primary concern was the potential threat to the safety of the legislators posed by the nearby British garrison on Johns Island. The enemy had about four or five hundred troops at this place, commanded by Major James Henry Craig from his headquarters at William Gibbes's plantation on the eastern end of the island. On the night of January 12, an American expedition under Lieutenant Colonels John Laurens and Henry Lee, supported by the main army under Greene, forded New Cut at low tide under cover of darkness in an attempt to effect the surprise and capture of the entire British force. This plan, although carefully and cleverly thought out, ended in a fiasco when the second column of the expedition missed the turnoff to the ford and became lost trying to find its way through the countryside. The following day, General Leslie became aware of Greene's design, and ordered all British troops off the island. The evacuation was carried out on January 13 and 14, and Craig occupied a position at Perroneau's on James Island, where the British engineers had constructed a set of redoubts. Laurens crossed to Johns Island on the 15th, but was able to accomplish no more than the capture of a few stragglers. His troops fought a spirited small arms duel with a schooner in the river, which was carrying off the British baggage and military stores, but without a field piece they were unable to capture it. As General Greene observed, '.'We have got territory but we missed the great object of the enterprise.13
12. 'The Assembly convened on the 8th. but it was not umil the 18th that
both houses obtained a quorum to do business.
13. Greene to John Rutledge. January 16, 1782. Greene Letter Books.
Library of Congress; Greene to the President of Congress. January 23, 1782.
Continental Congress Papers, Item 155; British Headquarters Papers,
document 4088: Johnson. Life of Greene. Vol. 2. p. 278-81: Lee p'. 526,
528-36. Greene's letter to Rutledge is indispensable for dating this affair.
Lee's Account is highly inaccurate on details. hut is extremely vivid.
RevWar75 Not applicable.
Confidence level:: See above.