January is usually accompanied by warm wishes for peace and prosperity in the new year. We in Charleston enjoy many blessings, not the least of which is a general sense of security and stability. Thanks to a stable government and a robust criminal justice system, we have liberty to engage in what our forefathers aptly called the “pursuit of happiness.” This month, let’s pause for a moment to consider life in South Carolina without such security. I guarantee you that a glance back at our state’s distant past will help you better appreciate the prosperity we now enjoy.
The Grand Skedaddle: Refugee Conditions in Civil-War South Carolina
The movement of Federal troops through our state during the years 1861-1865 displaced thousands of people and disrupted traditional food production and distribution networks. Starting with the Federal capture of the Port Royal area of South Carolina in November 1861, the condition of thousands of war-torn refugees became the subject of national scrutiny. As the war raged on and drove tens of thousand of citizens away from the coastline, many people struggled to find the basic necessities of life. Price gouging and black-market trading became a scourge that well-meaning entrepreneurs sought to defeat. If you’d like to learn more about the lives of non-combatants during our nation’s Civil War, please join me for a discussion of the civilian conditions related to South Carolina’s largest refugee crisis.
- Tuesday, 12 January at 11:15 a.m., John’s Island Regional Library, 3531 Maybank Highway, Johns Island, SC 29455 (with students from Haut Gap Middle School)
- Wednesday, 13 January at 6 p.m., Charleston County Public Library, 2nd Floor Classroom, 68 Calhoun Street, Charleston SC 29401
Keeping the Peace in Early Charleston
The methods of law enforcement and criminal punishment in early South Carolina represent a continuation of English practices dating back to the 13th century, with a bit of modification to suit local conditions. Round-the-clock police protection didn’t arrive in Charleston until the 1840s, so citizens were required to be on their guard during daylight hours. If you witnessed a crime, you were required to give a “Hue and Cry” and assemble a posse comitatus to apprehend the criminal. Once tried, criminals convicted of a wide range of felonies faced death by hanging. Sound intriguing? Join me for an eye-opening overview of the primitive methods of keeping the peace and the “bloody code” for dealing with convicted criminals.
- Wednesday, 27 January at 6 p.m., Charleston County Public Library Auditorium, 68 Calhoun Street, Charleston SC 29401
Questions? Drop me a line at butlern[at]ccpl.org or call 843–805–6968 for more information.