Congress was growing more frustrated with the way the Administration was handling the economic turmoil and its failure to use economic sanctions to receive concessions from the British. A faction within Congress called the War Hawks became even more outspoken in their demands for stronger and more decisive actions with Britain. On June 1, 1812 President James Madison sent a war message to Congress containing American grievances with Britain: impressing of sailors into the British Navy, the British Orders in Council, and the British stirring up Indian warfare on the western frontier. By a narrow margin Congress chose to declare war with Britain and on June 18, 1812 President Madison signed the Congressional war measures into law. Not everyone supported the war. The division was down party lines: the Republicans for and the Federalists against.
On July 18, 1812, a group of Darlington County residents gathered to discuss the declaration of war. The following is a transcription of an article published in the City Gazette, September 11, 1812, found in the Darlington County Historical Commission’s Collection, which contains the results of that meeting.
Darlington Public Meeting
At a meeting of a respectable number of the citizens of Darlington District, at Darlington Court-House, on the 18th day of July, 1812, Col. LAMUEL BENTON, was called to the chair, and Col. WILLIAM ZIMMERMAN, was appointed Secretary.
And the following gentlemen, to wit :-James Ervin, Major George Bruce, Cornelius Mandaville, Major William Williams, Moses Sanders, Josiah Cantey, Albert Fort, Andrew Hunter, Benjamin Skinner, John Norwood, (?) William Whiddon, John Huggins and Jeremiah Belk, were appointed a committee to draught a preamble and resolutions, approbatory of the declaration of War against Great Britain, who reported the following, were unanimously adopted.
To avenge insult and repel injury is characteristic of a great and magnanimous people; to suffer them with impunity, bespeaks pusillanimity and invites a repetition. Great Britain, compeled to acknowledge us independent, has always manifested toward us a spirit of hostility. No sooner had she signed the treaty of eighty-three than she determined to evade it; she retained the posts on the lakes contrary to the express stipulation thereof, in order to let loose the savage hordes upon us; repress the extension of our frontier settlements, and if occasion presented, to be in a situation to make an easy descent upon these states; the carrying trade, which promised much gain, we were forbid to enjoy in its full extent; whilst she traded direct from the West-India Islands to the continent of Europe and her own dominions, we were obligated after purchasing in those Islands is said from thence to the United States, pay a specified duty and re-ship the commodity before we could carry it to Europe, by means of which restriction she expected that her merchants would have been enabled to undersell us in the European market; but. Not withstanding these difficulties the activity and enterprize of our merchants soon surmounted all obstacles, and wealth in a few years afterwards, was pouring her abundance on our land. Great Britain, under the influence of a selfish policy, grew alarmed at our growing prosperity, and determined on its destruction. The opinions of Sheffield and Stevens were reduced to practice and ridgedly enforced. The doctrines of her navigation laws, merely municipal regulations, were enlarged, and an effort was made to abrogate the laws of nations and to make theme a substitute. She styles herself the mistress of the ocean, and arrogantly assumes to herself the supremacy thereof. By her O in Council, the whole coast of our continent is blockaded without the semblance of a force to effect it, and our commerce is forbid to approach it. The next year we are insultingly told that we many be permitted to trade to places interested by her orders, but we must, under penalty of condemnation, tough at her ports, pay the charges thereof and purchase at immense cost increase from her to do so. Her rapacity not yet satisfied, the license is now withheld and condemnation awaits every American sail that whitens the ocean. Our vessels are not taken, carried into her ports and condemned, and with the same papers, or some that are forged, ordered to their places of original destination. Not content with making spoliations upon our commerce, our personal rights are infringed, our seamen torn from the service of their employers-forced on board British ships of war, and obliged to fight against their country; almost every wind that blows wars from seas far and near, the plaints of our countrymen but cruelly enslaved; frequently our government have interfered to effect their liberation, but in in fain; few or none-have been released; and unhappy men if ever they dare appeal to Britain justice to regain their liberty, their complaints are answered not by consolation, but with stripes and with insults. They not only injure us abroad but approach our own coast-come within our waters, and regardless of the laws either of nations or hospitality harass our coasting trade-stop our vessels-send some to Halifax for adjudication-fire upon others and murder our citizens. The murder of Pierce-hes(sic) unatoned and unrevenged; a mere mockery of trial was had upon Whitby, the perpetrators of the dead in which justice was insulted and the just expectation of our government disappointed, and Whitby so far from receiving a punishment adequate to the flagrant outrage, was acquitted, honored and advanced. In time of peace, national armed vessels are regarded as part of terra firina, and as such held myiolable. Not withstanding this received and established opinion; in profound peace and in the midst of professions of friendship, the Chesapeake, a national armed vessel, was attacked by a British armed vessel of superior force-our citizens were murdered, and on degrading spectacle, our seamen serving on board said vessel; were upon beat of drum and by order of a British officer, paraded on board our own vessel and several of them were forcibly taken from our service. Had Great Britain paid a just regard to her own character, and had promptly not only disavowed authorizing the deed, but had tendered to this government a compensation and apology in some measure commensurate with the insult and injury, the transaction might have been regarded as the unauthorized act of an individual; but the want of a manifestation of such conduct on her part induces a presumption that Humphries acted on that occasion by her orders.
To this black catalogue of insults and injuries our government has manifested a moderation unparalleled in the history of nations. Sensible that a state of neutrality was most compatible with the happiness and prosperity of these states, is has uniformly practiced it, and under the influence of arrardent(sic) desire for the maintenance of peace, have made frequent advances to the British government for the continuance of so desirable an object-presented to her attention the extent of our rights and have remonstrated for years, though in vain, against their frequent infraction.
To such representations she has at some times insidiously opened the door of negotiation, (as in the case of Erskine’s arrangement) until she had obtained her wishes, then would disavow the deed-triumph to her degredations, and smiles at our credulity in her plighted faith. At other times she would treat such advance and representations with marked indifference and insulting silence: And it is now in proof, that amidst all these professions of friendship and regard for our national welfare, she was perfidiously plotting our distruction in the very bosom of our country. Her secret agent Henry endeavored to effect resistance to the laws of the land-set father against son-son against father, and stir up among us that worst of all national evils, civil war, in which nothing but faction, outrage and discord would reign triumphant; and in which some aspiring chief might take advantage of the times, triumph over the liberties of the people and ascend to empire. The yell of the savage mingled with the sighs of widows and orphans, is heard from beyond the mountains: Tis Britain’s deed; more cruel than the savage foe, she excites them to murder our defenseless women and children; And finally we are told that unless we compel France not only to rescind her decrees as they affect our commerce, but as they relate to other neutral states, so as to afford her an opportunity to send her manufactures to the French empire, we must not expect a repeal of her Orders in Council, A conduct so fraught with insult and injury we can bear no longer. Our patience is exhausted, and we are forced to resistance. Our honor and our interest demands war. And our constituted authorities have decreed it against Great Britain and her dependencies. Therefore,
1st. Resolved, That honorable war is preferable to the dishonorable and ruinous peace which we have suffered, and although we much deprecate the evils which will necessarily result from war, as highly approbate the conduct of the General Government in having declared it.
2d. Resolved, That in our opinion the attack upon the frigate Chesapeake was a just cause of war; it was war on the part of Great Britain, for we know of no name but that of war with which to characterize the conduct of a nation that will attempt by force of arms to obtain from another a real or imaginary right.
3d. Resolved, That the plea of justification by Great Britain of her Orders of Council, that she was obliged to injure us, an innocent and unoffending neutral, for the purpose of affecting her enemy, was as insulting to our understanding as injurious to our interest.
4th. Resolved, The unless France does us the justice which we have a right to expect, we hope that our Government will assume as firm a stand against her as Great Britain, for the purpose of obtaining a redress of the grievances which we have received from her and that the voice of prejudice and calumny may no longer dare impeach the purity and impartiality of our councils.
5th. Resolved, That we are determined to support our Government in its prosecution of the war against Great Britain, and if required, against France.
6th. Resolved, That James Madison, President of the United States, his in the whole tenor of his administration manifested a firmness and integrity of character worthy the chief magistrate of a great people.
7th. Resolved, That we highly approve of the firm and patriotic conduct of the On. DAVID R. WILLIAMS, Esq our Representative in Congress.
8th. Resolved, That these Resolutions be printed in the Carolina Gazette, a Copy sent to the President of the United States, and one to our Delegate in Congress.
Chairman of said Committee
The above Resolutions were delivered to the Honorable Colonel David R. Williams, on his arrival at Darlington Court-House, by Col. Lamuel Brenton, chairman of committee, accompanied by the following Address:
My Dear Sir,
It is with great pleasure I discharge a duty assigned me by a respectable body of my fellow-citizens, (among whom are many old revolutionary characters) assembled at Darlington Court-House for the purpose of expressing their sense of the measures recently adapted by our General Government, approving of our Executive and the majority of both houses of Congress, the Representation from South Carolina, and the manly decided and firm stand of our immediate Representative in particular.
We expected to have transmitted this faint testimony of our esteem for your patriotic services to you, in your seat in Congress, but your arrival in health (after a tedious and important session) to the bosom of your family and friends, we rejoice sincerely to have in our power personally to congratulate you.
To which Colonel Williams returned an appropriate and pathetic reply.
 Col. Lamuel Benton was born October 23, 1754 in Grantham County, North Carolina. As a young man he moved to St. David’s Parish, settling in Society Hill. He married Bestey Kimbrough (March 2, 1756- November 9, 1819), the daughter of Major John and Hannah Kolb Kimbrough, on November 20, 1773. He was Major of the Cheraw Regiment in 1777 and served under General Francis Marion in the Revolutionary War. He was promoted to Colonel in 1781 and resigned his commission in 1794. On April 26, 1783, he was elected to a Standing Committee of the St. David’s Society and worked to get a copy of the society rules, if available, or to draw up a new set. On May 4, 1786, he was elected Vice President of the St. David’s Society and after one year left, never to have any further connection with the Society. He was a member of the South Carolina House of Representatives from 1781-1784 and also in 1787. He was County Court Justice for Darlington County in 1785 and 1791. He was a delegate to the State Constitutional Convention at Columbia in 1790. He was elected as a Democrat to the 3rd through 5th Congresses (March 4, 1793-March 3, 1799). In 1811 he led the Darlington District’s push in the General Assembly to provide a system of free schools in South Carolina. In 1812 he served as Chairman of the Darlington Citizens Committee. He died May 18, 1818 and was buried on his estate “Stony Hill” near Darlington, SC.
 Col. William Zimmerman was born in 1762. He married Mary Ann Dozier (died October 1, 1815) and had seven children. He was a veteran of the Revolutionary War, Representative from 1798-1800 (elected in 1800 but resigned); Sherriff from 1800-1802; Ordinary; Justice of the Quorum; and Senator from 1808-1812. In 1811 he was a part of the group in Darlington District petitioning the General Assembly to provide a system of free schools in South Carolina. In 1812 he served as Secretary of the Darlington Citizens Committee. He died October 12, 1815 at his residence in Darlington.
 Col. James Robert Ervin was born Nov. 5, 1788 to Col. John and Jane Witherspoon Ervin on his father’s plantation in the Aimwell Community on the Pee Dee River in Marion District SC (now Florence County). He entered the law offices of his cousin John Dick Witherspoon at Society Hill, SC in 1805 and read law under his tutelage until 1809 when he was admitted to the South Carolina Bar. He settled immediately in Marlboro District, SC (Marlboro County). He was a member of the House of Representatives shortly before his twenty-second birthday and remained in that position until 1830. Then he moved to Cheraw in Chesterfield District and stayed there for the rest of his life. He married Elizabeth Powe (d. June 8, 1832), the daughter of General Erasmus Powe of Chesterfield, SC, and had six children. In 1812 he served on the Darlington Citizens Committee. He later moved back to Marlboro District and became a Senator. On January 2, 1834 he married Ann Davis Vereen and had a daughter. He died June 26, 1836.
 Maj. George Bruce married Elizabeth Benton on January 10, 1799 and had two children. On December 18, 1805 the House of Representatives elected him as a Justice of the Peace for Darlington District. In 1811 he was part of the group in Darlington District petitioning the General Assembly to provide a system of free schools in South Carolina. In 1812 he served on the Darlington Citizens Committee. On May 27, 1814 Governor Joseph Alston made him Commissioner in Equity for Cheraw District and the Legislature elected him to this position again in 1818. In 1824 he was a manager for the Darlington Academy Lottery. He died October 10, 1826.
 Cornelius Mandaville was born January 15, 1758 in Ulster County, New York. He served in the New York Militia during the Revolutionary War. He married Frances McCall (October 30, 1772-July 14, 1854) on September 10, 1792 and had twelve children. It is uncertain when he moved to Darlington District, though he was drawn for jury duty in 1807, 1809, and 1813. In 1812 he served on the Darlington Citizens Committee. He died September 9, 1831 in Darlington District.
 Maj. William Williams was born in 1754 in St. Mark’s Parish, Clarendon County, SC to David and Catherine Williams. He married Selah Fort, the daughter of Elias and Lucy Fort, around 1780 and after her death, he married Martha/Patsy Prestwood (born about 1790), daughter of Thomas Prestwood, around 1817. He had seven children, though it is unclear which wife bore them. He served in the militia during the Revolutionary War and afterward became a planter. In 1802 the Governor of South Carolina made him Coroner of Darlington District. In 1812 he served on the Darlington Citizens Committee and was foreman of a grand jury. In 1817 he was a constable for Darlington County. He was made a Major in 1819. He died May 17, 1829.
 Moses Sanders was born on November 16, 1775. He married Hannah Murphy (February 12, 1776-April 13, 1847). He was a merchant and a Representative of Darlington District from 1808-1810. In 1811 he was part of the group in Darlington District petitioning the General Assembly to provide a system of free schools in South Carolina. In 1812 he served on the Darlington Citizens Committee. He was active in the Methodist Church and granted the “church preachers of the said circuit and the Pee Dee Mission the sum of Eight Thousand Dollars good and lawful money to be selected by the Trustees of said church out of my papers the said Eight Thousand Dollars to be put to Interest forever and the Interest to be paid annually and to be distributed by said Trustees according to the necessities of said Church Preachers and Mission”. He died February 20, 1839.
 Josiah Cantey married Arabella Kelley, daughter of James and Arabella Kelley of Camden District, and had one child. He served in the Revolutionary War as a first lieutenant in Col. John Marshal’s Regiment. He was appointed Surveyor of Camden District in 1786 and Commissioner of Locations for Darlington District on Aug. 17, 1811. In 1812 he served on the Darlington Citizens Committee. He died June 1817.
 Albert Fort was born Aril 1, 1758 in Tarborough, on the Tar River, NC. When he was eight he moved with his father to Kershaw District, SC where he lived ten years and then moved to Darlington District where he lived the rest of his life. He married Sarah Teel on December 13, 1792 and had one child and married Margaret Norwood (May 4, 1782-July 22, 1850) on December 6, 1796 and had four children. He served in the Revolutionary War as a substitute for his father under Captain John Chesnut of the Militia. He then marched in a regiment commanded by Joseph Kershaw. In 1781 he served as a drafted militia man in Gen. Marion’s army on High Hills of Santee in Lt. Boykin’s Company. In late 1782 he served at Jeffries Creek Bridge under Capt. Connel, Col. Baxter being the highest officer. He was made a Justice of the Peace for nearly forty years and was a Representative for Darlington County from 1801-1802, filling the unexpired term of Col. William Zimmerman who had been elected District Sheriff. In 1812 he served on the Darlington Citizens Committee. He died on April 5, 1843.
 Andrew Hunter was born in 1737 to David and Martha Hunter in Virginia. His family moved to South Carolina in 1749. He married Caroline Matilda Hickman, daughter of Isaac and Elizabeth Hickman, in 1765 and had eight children, Susannah Cannon in 1805 and had one child, and Mary Andrews on February 10, 1819 and had six children. Mary and Andrew had six children. He served in the Revolutionary War, in 1786 he was elected as Representative for St. David’s Parish in the Legislature, Elected Representative for Darlington County in October 1796. In 1812 he served on the Darlington Citizens Committee. He died 1823.
 Benjamin Skinner was born between 1746 and 1750 to William Skinner Jr. in Chowan County, North Carolina. He married Priscilla ? and had eleven children. After Pricilla died, he married Mrs. Mary James Andrews (died 1836) and had no children with her. He carried supplies during the Revolutionary War (November and December 1776). He is shown to be in Darlington, SC in the 1790 Census. He bequeathed slaves to all of his children except Esther and William, who received $150.00 each. In 1812 he served on the Darlington Citizens Committee. He died in 1828.
 Capt. John Norwood was born between 1751 and 1757 in Society Hill, SC to Theophilus and Margaret Dawson Norwood. He married Mary Warren (born around 1755-August 2, 1831), daughter of John and Martha Dubose Warren of Lynches Creek, on April 12, 1774. He enlisted in Captain Elias Dubose’s Patriotic Militia the summer of 1775. The next year he patrolled the Pee Dee River under Capt. Robert Lide in his Volunteer Militia. After the fall of Charleston, Gen. Francis Marion reorganized his men on Snow Island and John and his brother Samuel were there. He received his commission as Captain in 1782. He was appointed in 1799 to represent Darlington County in running out the dividing line between Darlington and Chesterfield County. In 1812 he served on the Darlington Citizens Committee. He died in 1829.
 William Whiddon was born between 1755-1760 in Irwin County, North Carolina. He married Mary Davis (died 1830), the daughter of Benjamin Davis of Darlington District, SC, on May 9, 1806 and had eight children. His father-in-law granted him the land which are Kalmia Gardens today. In 1812 he served on the Darlington Citizens Committee. Around 1815 he relocated to Georgia where he acquired lands and farmed until his death in 1818.
 Capt. John Huggins was born in the year January 12, 1748 at Christ’s Church Parish to George and Hannah King Huggins. During the American Revolution he was a member of Col. Hugh Giles Regiment of General Francis Marion’s Brigade. He served as sheriff of Claremont County, SC in the 1790’s before that county was absorbed into Sumter District, SC. After he settled in Darlington District, SC, he served as a member of the South Carolina Legislature and was a Justice of Quorum. He married Elizabeth White Simmons in 1774 and had eight children. Elizabeth died before 1806. He married Clarissa Mundine in 1808. In 1812 he served on the Darlington Citizens Committee. He was a founder of “Huggins Meeting House” that later became New Hope Methodist Church. He died July 13, 1825 and is buried in the cemetery at New Hope Methodist Church.
 Jeremiah Belk married Anna Mixon and had six children. He was a constable for Darlington District in 1805 and 1807 and deputy sheriff in 1806. He was Grand Jury Foreman October term 1819. He was trustee for Mt. Elon Baptist Church in Lydia in 1827. In 1812 he served on the Darlington Citizens Committee. He died 1844 and at the time of his death, he was a member of Old Cypress Church and owned 1380 acres.
 David Rogerson Williams was born March 8, 1776. He lived in Society Hills. He married Sarah Power (1770-1803) on August 14, 1796 and had two children. Then he married Elizabeth Witherspoon (1784-November 17, 1840) on November 2, 1809 and had no children with her. He was a Congressman 1807-1809, Brigadier General in the War of 1812, Governor of South Carolina 1814-1819, State Senator 1824-1828, planter, and manufacturer. He also introduced the mule into southern agricultural use. He died November 17, 1830 and is buried in the Williams Family Cemetery.
The Darlington County Historical Commission’s Collection contains additional information on the men mentioned above, as well as military files on the Darlington County residents who fought in the War of 1812. These include muster rolls, pension files, Bright Williamson’s Regimental Journal, and other papers pertaining to the war.
204 Hewitt Street
Darlington, SC 29532-3214
John Henry (1776 Dublin-1853 Paris(?)) immigrated to the United States in 1796. He edited a newspaper, managed a wine business in Philadelphia, ran a farm in Vermont, studied law, and gave speeches and wrote articles for the Federalist cause. He was said to be tall, charming, and handsome. He gained connections with leadership in Lower Canada through social gatherings and writing letters. On October 1807, he wrote Lower Canada’s civil secretary Herman Witsius Ryland telling him that war with Britain would lead to a “dissolution of the Confederation”. He would later write telling the political opinions in Vermont, Boston, and other parts of New England.
He was hired by Governor Sir James Henry Craig on February 6, 1809 to inform him of the strengths and weaknesses of the two political parties in the United States, Republicans and Federalists, and the public opinion concerning the possibility of war with Britain. He was to determine if the Federalists in the eastern states would separate from the Union and look to England for help. By this time President Thomas Jefferson had enacted an embargo on British goods which had seriously affected the U.S. economy in a negative way. From February 14, 1809 to May 22, 1809 Henry wrote fourteen letters. He tried to use them and his espionage work to gain high paying positions in the Canadian government, but failed.
He became close friends with a conman named Soubiran who was posing as Édouard, Comte de Crillon, knight of Malta and a member of a prestigious Spanish and French mixed family. Soubiran convinced him to sell his letters, the instructions given him by Governor Craig, and two memorials he had written to the Lord of Liverpool to President James Madison. Soubiran played the role of Henry’s representative and President Madison agreed to buy the documents for $50,000.
He doctored and rewrote some of the documents, adding insinuations that he had been
part of Federalist secession plots and removed the names of his Federalist friends. President Madison presented the papers to Congress, believing that this would be the final incentive to go to war. Congress believed the papers and word spread throughout the nation about the British “plot” to undermine the U.S. However, it did not drive the nation to war at that time. When it was finally proven that Henry’s papers were false and the entire secret service budget had been blown paying Henry, President Madison and his administration ended up looking like fools. John Henry had left the country before the papers were released and moved to Europe. Supposedly he died in Paris in 1853, but this cannot be substantiated.
“Biography – HENRY, JOHN – Volume VIII (1851-1860) – Dictionary Of Canadian Biography”. 2018. Biographi.Ca. Accessed June 12 2018. http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/henry_john_8E.html
“Founders Online: From James Madison To John G. Jackson, 9 March 1812”. 2018. Founders.Archives.Gov. Accessed June 12 2018. https://founders.archives.gov/documents/Madison/03-04-02-0245
“Founders Online: From James Madison To Congress, 9 March 1812”. 2018. Founders.Archives.Gov. Accessed June 12 2018. https://founders.archives.gov/documents/Madison/03-04-02-0244
“Founders Online: From James Madison To Thomas Jefferson, [9 March] 1812”. 2018. Founders.Archives.Gov. Accessed June 12 2018. https://founders.archives.gov/documents/Madison/03-04-02-0246
“Full Text Of “THE HENRY-CRILLON AFFAIR (War Of 1812)””. 2018. Archive.Org. Accessed June 22 2018. https://ia801704.us.archive.org/33/items/HenryCrillonAffair/Henry-Crillon_Affair.pdf
David Montagu Erskine was born in England in 1776 and died in England on March 19, 1855. His father was Thomas Erskine, the Lord High Chancellor of England. He was educated at Eton and Cambridge. In 1799 he married Frances Cadwalader, the daughter of General John Cadwalader, commander of the Pennsylvania troops during the American Revolution. In 1802 he became a barrister at law and returned to parliament for Portsmouth on February 24, 1806.
In July 1806 Foreign Secretary of Great Britain George Canning made him the plenipotentiary to the United States and Erskine stayed in that position until 1809. A plenipotentiary is a person given full power to act on behalf of their government (Webster’s Dictionary). Over the next three to four years he was in constant communication with Thomas Jefferson’s Secretary of State James Monroe, who was adamant in addressing British ships taking U.S. ships and sailors for their own use.
The correspondence between David Montague Erskine and James Madison was extensive.
On June 27, 1807 the HMS Leopard attacked the U.S. frigate Chesapeake, causing a major international incident. The Embargo Act was passed in December 1807 which banned American ships from exporting to or carrying goods for other nations. This prevented both Britain and France, who were at war with each other at the time, from getting supplies. It was supposed to be a form of economic coercion, as well as a way to keep U.S. ships from harm. On January 23, 1809 Erskine was informed by Foreign Secretary Canning that the Orders in Council would be lifted if the U.S. lifted its embargo. However, there were three conditions to Britain lifting the Orders:
Erskine knew the U.S. government would not agree to these and keeping in what he viewed as the “true spirit” of his instructions, removed the conditions. President Madison and Congress accepted his offer, but no one knew Foreign Secretary Canning would refuse to ratify Erskin’s arrangement. In April of 1809, the British government issued a new Orders in Council, which removed the one of 1807 and reestablished the blockade of Holland, France, and Italy. Since Canning had acted without hearing back from Erskine, the U.S. government wondered if he had any authority to open the ports of Holland to the U.S. as he promised. Erskine worked feverishly to reassure the U.S. government the new blockade would not affect the recent negotiations.
But Foreign Secretary Canning rejected Erskine’s negotiations and replaced him with Francis James Jackson who took a hard line with the U.S. and reasserted the original three conditions. He also accused Erskine of fraud and trickery by leaving out the conditions. Erskine was proved right for the conditions were rejected by the U.S. Any control Foreign Secretary Canning had in U.S. negotiations was gone for Jackson spoke in what President Madison considered extremely disrespectful and he would accept no more communications from Jackson. Jackson, in turn, tried to get the American people on his side by publishing what he deemed to be charges against the U.S. government. Only some radical Federalists repeated his words while every patriotic American was outraged.
“1809 James Madison – Erskine’s Arrangement “. 2018. Stateoftheunionhistory.Com. Accessed June 18 2018.
America, History. 2008. “History Of The United States Of America: Henry Adams : Free Download, Borrow, And Streaming : Internet Archive”. Internet Archive. Accessed June 22 2018. Pgs. 66-132, 154-157. https://archive.org/details/historyunitedst39adamgoog
“Documents Upon The Continental System 1806”. 2018. Napoleon-Series.Org. Accessed June 18 2018.
“ERSKINE, Hon. David Montagu (1776-1855), Of Butler’s Green, Suss. | History Of Parliament Online”. 2018. Historyofparliamentonline.Org. Accessed June 12 2018. http://www.historyofparliamentonline.org/volume/1790-1820/member/erskine-hon-david-montagu-1776-1855.
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“Founders Online: From James Madison To William Pinkney, 23 October 1809”. 2018. Founders.Archives.Gov. Accessed June 12 2018. https://founders.archives.gov/?q=Francis%20James%20Jackson%20Author%3A%22Madison%2C%20James%22&s=1111311111&r=10
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The incident between the USN Chesapeake and the HMS Leopard was set in play by the desertion of four men. William Ware, Daniel Martin, and John Strachan, three Americans who had been pressed into service by the British Navy, and Jenkin Ratford, a British sailor, deserted from the HMS Halifax and HMS Melampus as they patrolled off the coast of Norfolk, Virginia. The ships were looking for the French ships Sybelle and Patriot who had sought safe harbor after being damaged in a hurricane in 1806. The men stole a boat and rowed ashore where Ratford boasted that he had escaped to “the land of liberty”.
Desertion was common. Vice Admiral George Cranfield Berkeley, commander in chief of the British ships stationed on the St. Lawrence River, along the coast of Nova Scotia, the Island of St Johns and Cape Breton, the Bay of Funday, and around Bermuda and Somers Islands, heard about these desertions. He ordered all captains to look for deserters from the Belleisle, Bellona, Triumph, Chichester, Halifax, and Zenobia the moment they found United States ships at sea to board them and seize any deserters. They were also to allow the commander of the Chesapeake to search the British ships for their own deserters.
The four men joined the crew of the USN Chesapeake, flagship of Commodore James Baron; Ratford had joined under a different name. The Chesapeake was a 36-gun frigate weighing around 1244 tons. It had been built at the Gosport Navy Yard in Portsmouth, Virginia. On June 22, 1807, the Chesapeake sailed from Norfolk to the Mediterranean. With its decks littered with cargo and its guns stowed, it was the perfect target when the
HMS Leopard intercepted it off the coast of Norfolk. Captain Salusbury Humphreys, commander of the Leander, requested permission to board to look for deserters. Commodore Baron investigated his men and found the suspected men were Americans. He did not know Ratford was a British deserter due to the false name and he refused to muster his crew for inspection. The Leopard opened fire with a barrage of broadsides, killing three American sailors and wounding eighteen. The British then boarded and took two African Americans, one white American, and Jenkin Ratford.
The American public was infuriated and war fever thundered along the coast of the United States. Thomas Jefferson claimed the event had left the country more exasperated than any other time since the Battle of Lexington Green, which started the Revolutionary War, and “even that did not produce such unanimity”. Both Republicans and Federalists clamored for a response and war seemed likely. But there was nothing the ill prepared United States could do since its small navy was in the Mediterranean fighting Barbary pirates and the army had been reduced by Republicans wanting to reduce government spending. President Thomas Jefferson passed the Embargo Act and made a proclamation that all armed British ships were to leave U.S. waters.
Commodore Barron was court martialed and found guilty of “neglecting on the probability of an engagement, to clear his ship for action”. He was suspended from the navy without pay for five years.
On August 31, 1807 Jenkins Ratford was tried by court martial for mutiny, desertion, and contempt toward a British naval officer. He was sentenced to death and was hung from the fore yardarm of the HMS Halifax, his former ship.
The Naval Chronicle for 1807 contains documents relating to the Chesapeake incident, an extract of a letter from a man who was on the HMS Leopard, resolutions passed in a meeting in New York on July 2, 1807 with De Witt Clinton as the chair, Thomas Jefferson’s proclamation, letters between the mayor of Norfolk and Captain Douglas of the HMS Bellona, and William Cobbett’s perspective of the U.S. response to the attack on the Chesapeake on pages 116-130.
“Embargo Of 1807”. 2018. Monticello.Org. Accessed June 18 2018. https://www.monticello.org/site/research-and-collections/embargo-1807#Embargo_of_1807
“Founders Online: Search “Thomas Jefferson and Chesapeake From June 22, 1807 On”. 2018. Founders.Archives.Gov. Accessed June 18 2018.
“Founders Online: Proclamation Re British Armed Vessels, 2 July 1807”. 2018. Founders.Archives.Gov. Accessed June 18 2018. https://founders.archives.gov/documents/Jefferson/99-01-02-5863
“Founders Online: To James Madison From David Montague Erskine, 13 July 1807”. 2018. Founders.Archives.Gov. Accessed June 18 2018.
“Founders Online: To James Madison From David Montague Erskine, 1 September 1807”. 2018. Founders.Archives.Gov. Accessed June 18 2018.
“Founders Online: From James Madison To David Montague Erskine, 13 September 1807”. 2018. Founders.Archives.Gov. Accessed June 18 2018. https://founders.archives.gov//documents/Madison/99-01-02-2129
“Founders Online: To James Madison From David Montague Erskine, 14 September 1807”. 2018. Founders.Archives.Gov. Accessed June 18 2018.
Petch, Alison. 2018. “HMS Leopard 1884.54.44”. Web.Prm.Ox.Ac.Uk. Accessed June 12 2018.
“Summer 1807: The British Attack The USS Chesapeake And Remove American Sailors (U.S. National Park Service)”. 2018. Nps.Gov. Accessed June 12 2018. https://www.nps.gov/articles/chesapeake-leopard-affair.htm
“The Atlantic Monthly”. 2018. Google Books. Accessed June 18 2018. https://books.google.com/books?id=qfg3AQAAMAAJ&pg=PA592&dq=Captain+Lewis++and+Captain+Whitby+of+the+Leander&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjhw6jr5c7bAhXB2lMKHXnODHQQ6AEIJzAA#v=onepage&q=Captain%20Lewis%20%20and%20Captain%20Whitby%20of%20the%20Leander&f=false
“The Mariners’ Museum: Birth Of The U.S. Navy”. 2018. Marinersmuseum.Org. Accessed June 12 2018.
“The Naval Chronicle: Containing A General And Biographical History Of The Royal Navy Of The United Kingdom With A Variety Of Original Papers On Nautical Subjects.: Free Download, Borrow, And Streaming: Internet Archive”. Internet Archive. Accessed June 12 2018. Pages 116-130.
“William Cobbett | British Journalist”. 2018. Encyclopedia Britannica. Accessed June 18 2018.
Three British warships parked in U.S. territorial waters around Sandy Hook, New Jersey
outside New York. They searched every vessel entering the harbor for what they determined to be contraband and illegal commerce. The HMS Leander, captained by Henry Whitby, attempted to stop an American vessel. They fired a warning shot, trying to get the ship to stop so they could board it. The cannonball struck and killed seaman John Pierce. The incident was called murder and there was rioting in New York where the goods destined for the British ship were given to the poor instead.
President Thomas Jefferson, due to the lack of a strong U.S. navy, made a proclamation calling for the arrest of Henry Whitby and the immediate withdrawal of the warships from U.S. waters. Whitby was able to evade an American trial and he was acquitted by a British court-martial.
John Pierce was given a huge public funeral and both Republicans and Federalists publicly condemned what had happened. The press took the story and soon every paper in the nation reported the incident as an “atrocious murder” and Pierce was made an object of songs and toasts on the Fourth of July. He became a national hero and a rallying point for the United States against Britain. He was later mentioned in a long poem written by Philip Freneau for Thomas Jefferson’s retirement party.
“The Atlantic Monthly”. 2018. Google Books. Accessed June 12 2018.
“Founders Online: To Thomas Jefferson From Dewitt Clinton, 28 April 1806”. 2018. Founders.Archives.Gov. Accessed June 12 2018.
“Founders Online: Enclosure: Philip Freneau’S Poem On Thomas Jefferson’S Retirem …”. 2018. Founders.Archives.Gov. Accessed June 12 2018.
“Free Trade And Sailors’ Rights In The War Of 1812”. 2018. Google Books. Accessed June 12 2018. Pg. 153.
“The Naval Chronicle: Containing A General And Biographical History Of The Royal Navy Of The United Kingdom With A Variety Of Original Papers On Nautical Subjects.: Free Download, Borrow, And Streaming: Internet Archive”. Internet Archive. Accessed June 12 2018. Pages 72-82.
“Thomas Jefferson: Proclamation—Ordering The Arrest Of British Citizens Henry Whitley, John Nairn, And Slingsby Simpson For The Murder Of John Pierce”. 2018. Accessed June 12 2018.
The War of 1812. This event is often overlooked completely or given a cursory glance by the public and in the educational setting. Yet it was a pivotal moment in United States history that effected the entire country. But what was the war all about? What led up to it and how did the people of Darlington County, South Carolina respond to the declaration of war? In this series of blogs, we will lay some of the framework because all history is a tapestry of events leading up to the main event and the events following after. Nothing happens in a vacuum. Everything is being affected by everything else. We will end this series with the transcription of resolutions drafted by the Darlington Citizens Committee in response to the declaration of war in June 1812.
While the fledgling United States was striving to grow as a nation, all was not well in Europe. The French Revolution through the Napoleonic Wars (1789-1814) had created a state of constant war, especially between France and Britain. The British Navy had
succeeded in destroying the French Navy at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805 and had turned its attention to decimating France’s economy. They attacked French ships and blockaded French sympathetic ports. Britain put restrictions on trade so that France would not be able to receive foreign goods. Anyone wishing to trade with Europe had to follow these restrictions or their ports were blockaded, their ships attacked and boarded, and their goods and sailors taken by the British. France retaliated with restrictions of their own, attacking and refusing access to ports of any ships friendly to Britain. The two went back and forth, issuing one decree after another and making life miserable for any nation wanting to trade in Europe.
To make matters worse, the British Navy was in need of sailors and they sent out press gangs, taking experienced seamen off the streets and forcing them to work in the navy. They went a step further and attacked all types of vessels and pressed sailors into service. Needless to say, this did not sit well with the United States, who was experiencing its own naval problems with Barbary Pirates in the Mediterranean.
These pirates were attacking US ships, taking their crews, and then forcing the U.S. to pay exorbitant ransoms to get them back. At first the United States did its best to pay the ransoms. But with trade being limited, the government did not have the funds to continue paying ransoms. So they sent their tiny navy into the Mediterranean to combat the pirate threat. Pressures escalated on all sides and with rising pressures, these, and a host of other events, led to the events on the following posts.
“Barbary Pirate”. 2018. Encyclopedia Britannica. Accessed July 12 2018. https://www.britannica.com/topic/Barbary-pirate
” Barbary Pirates, Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1911 “. 2018. Penelope.Uchicago.Edu. Accessed July 12 2018. http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Gazetteer/Topics/history/American_and_Military/Barbary_Pirates/Britannica_1911*.html
Benner, Dave, Brion McClanahan, Michael Arnheim, and Joe Wolverton. 2016. “Jefferson And The Barbary Pirates | Abbeville Institute”. Abbevilleinstitute.Org. Accessed July 12 2018. https://www.abbevilleinstitute.org/review/jefferson-and-the-barbary-pirates/
“The Mariners’ Museum : Birth Of The U.S. Navy”. 2018. Marinersmuseum.Org. Accessed July 12 2018.
The Historical Commission is pleased to announce that Brian Gandy, Director of the Commission and County Historian has been elected to serve on the University South Caroliniana Society’s Executive Council! Brian is excited to represent the Darlington County Historical Commission through this new opportunity. The South Caroliniana Library and Archive is a valuable resource in South Carolina and the Society Board is a wonderful opportunity to network Darlington County with the State at large. “I believe that I have a lot to offer the Society and that my role at the Commission will be strengthened by this opportunity.”
THE PHOTOGRAPHIC CAREER OF JOHN A. JAMISON
In 1935, I opened a small ill-equipped photographic studio, during the pit of the Depression, on the Public Square above the then Deluxe
Café, where the smell of frying eggs and stale grease lent very little attraction to my few customers. I had a large unwieldy early, really antique camera and stand, formerly owned by Mr. Angus Gainey, musician, merchant, teacher, and man of all work, who ran the “Old Barn” on North Dargan Street (Main?). Few people know that Sears Roebuck and Company began in the middle of the last century as a photographic equipment house, and my camera was one of their early products. It was built for use of wet plates but Mr. Gainey later adapted it for the use of glass and later, plastic plates. I still have it. The lens is a brass barrel of superb quality.
I took pictures of many people in the Darlington area, including our recent Chief Justice J. Woodrow Lewis and his bride, also Dr. G.B. Edwards, Mayor, but did very little outside commercial work except for school pictures. I later moved the studio to the South side of the Public Square, where I also operated the small job printing business of Mr. A.R. McIver who started the business about 1890. The Depression was getting worse instead of better and I closed the business in August of 1938.
As for my training, I was an apprentice under Mr. Gainey after school during my senior year at St. Johns and completed a correspondence course from the American School of Photography in Chicago, which really helped me a great deal.
The trustees of Welsh Neck High School converted their institution into a non-sectarian Baptist college. It opened September 30, 1908, as “Coker College for Women,” founded by James L. Coker. Baptist control ended in 1944, and in 1969, the college became co-educational. The Governor’s School for Science and Mathematics opened on the campus in 1988. Throughout its history, Coker has emphasized liberal arts.
Born in Pinopolis, South Carolina, William “Bill” Cain graduated from the University of South Carolina, where he later received a master’s degree in education. He came to Darlington in 1934 when he began his teaching career at St. John’s High School, where, later, he served as principal from 1947 until his retirement in 1972. After retiring from St. John’s, he also taught English at James F. Byrnes Academy for more than a decade.
In addition to being a topnotch educator, Cain was an avid tennis player. He coached the tennis at St. John’s for a number of years, and he was the chairman of the S.C. Closed Tennis Tournament, which was held, for a time, in Darlington. He actually won the State Men’s Doubles Championship, and in 1984, he was inducted into the S.C. Tennis Hall of Fame.
We here at DCHC are dedicated to promoting the rich and varied history of Darlington County. So if you enjoy our posts, please Like us on Facebook by clicking here. And, by all means, follow our blog as well.
Father Stephen Presley was born a slave in 1820. He was owned by Boykin Witherspoon, a prominent planter from Society Hill. Presley was a carpenter by trade. He married another slave by the name of Phyllis McIver Presley. Welsh Neck Baptist Church records indicate that the couple fellowshipped there as slaves but were dismissed in October 1854.
Witherspoon, like many other Darlington District residents, migrated west in search of fertile ground ideal for planting. They settled in a then virtually unoccupied area of Desoto Parish, Louisiana, which was previously inhabited by the Caddo Indians, bringing with them over 200 slaves.
As a carpenter, Presley along with other slaves helped with the building of Witherspoon’s “Buena Vista Plantation,” which was designed by Architect, M. Robbins in 1859 and was used a Confederate Hospital during the Civil War.
After slavery, Presley founded, built, and served as pastor for 3 churches in Desoto Parish, including Bethel Baptist Church in Frierson, Morningstar Baptist Church in Gloster, and Mechanicsville Baptist in Caspiana. The latter was named for the church and town in his native Darlington District, South Carolina.
All of the churches he founded in Louisiana are still serving the community over 100 years after his death in 1904. His many descendants gather every other year for a reunion to celebrate his legacy and their Louisiana/South Carolina roots. His great-great-great grand-daughter, Karen Burney, a genealogist from California has made visits to Society Hill to research and honor her ancestors.
We here at DCHC are dedicated to promoting the rich and varied history of Darlington County. So if you enjoy our posts, please Like us on Facebook by clicking here. And, by all means, follow our blog as well.
Col. Benton (1754-1818) served as Colonel of the Cheraw Militia during the Revolutionary War, was a member of the South Carolina Legislature, Sheriff of Cheraws District, and a member of Congress (1793-1799). He is said to be buried in an unmarked grave on the premises at Stoney Hill.
We here at DCHC are dedicated to promoting the rich and varied history of Darlington County. So if you enjoy our posts, please Like us on Facebook by clicking here. And, by all means, follow our blog as well.