Constitution Thursday – South Carolina
As the ratification process turns to South Carolina, it is clear that the Federalists who run the State favor ratification. It was South Carolina, after all, that teamed up with James Wilson to cement the 3/5th’s compromise and stuck to the deal as the tides of anti-slavery climbed against it.
But it won’t be as simple as that. First, the State Legislature will do something that no other legislature has done – it will openly debate the Constitution “for the sake of informing the country’s members” of the reasons why the Constitution should be ratified.
Then there is a second issue. South Carolina. like Massachusetts, is concerned about the lack of religious tests for holding offices. As it turns out, South Carolina has an official religion, one that is traditional but quickly becoming an anachronism.
Lastly, Mr. Rawlins Lowndes rises in opposition to ratification. A Charleston lawyer, he takes upon himself the mantel of speaking for those “less accustomed to public speaking,” and he outlines the problems that many in South Carolina have with the overall tone of the Constitution. Which is, of course, the one thing that all of the Southern States, South Carolina most of all, fears the Constitution will do – end slavery.
There is strong majority anti-Federalist sentiment in the State, and indeed, there are many in South Carolina who believe that the State should “go it alone” rather than remain joined to the Union. It is Charles Cotesworth Pickney who puts a final rest to that political heresy.
When South Carolina votes to ratify, it is over the objections and the will of the people of the State. but it is the eighth pillar to be raised in the new government…