S.C. Statehouse Report
Sunday, Jan. 14, 2007
VIEW: http://www.statehousereport.com/columns/07.114.carolina.htm

Remember patriots with Carolina Day state holiday
By Andy Brack, Publisher

JAN. 12, 2007 -- Our proposal of the day would give state employees, and maybe even other workers in the state, the choice of being Civil or Revolutionary.

When millions of tourists visit South Carolina every year, they hear a lot about the Civil War. They know about the first shots fired on Fort Sumter in 1861. They learn about the Hunley submarine. They hear all sorts of stories in carriage rides.

But what most visitors to the state don't realize is that if South Carolinians didn't play such an important role in the Revolutionary War, there might not be a Civil War even to discuss. Consider the following:

  • The Battle of Sullivan's Island
    (Image courtesy S.C. Historical Society)
    In June 1776 on Sullivan's Island, patriots won the first major American battle of the Revolutionary War by turning back a flotilla of more than 20 British ships that wanted to take Charleston, the second-richest city of the colonial era. More than 2,900 Redcoats faced a colonial force of about a fourth its size. But due to British mistakes and colonial tenacity, the patriots carried the day, June 28. When news reached Philadelphia, colonial leaders may have found a little extra courage in signing a truly revolutionary document, the Declaration of Independence.

  • The president of the Continental Congress was Henry Laurens of South Carolina. During the war, Laurens was captured at sea by the British and sent to the Tower of London. There, he helped arrange important financing from the French and others to keep the patriot cause alive.

  • There were more battles and skirmishes in South Carolina than any other state. According to history books, about a third of all encounters were in South Carolina. Had state heroes like Francis Marion not stretched out British supply lines over the eight years of the war, the British likely would have been able to dampen a Northern-only insurrection.

  • In May 1780, patriots suffered a terrible defeat when the British captured Charleston after a siege. Some 3,000 colonial troops surrendered to the British - - the largest American surrender until the Battle of Bataan in World War II, according to historians.


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This list can go on and on. The point is that South Carolina's participation in the colonial cause was vital. If Montgomery, Alabama is the "cradle of the Confederacy," Charleston surely is the "womb of the Revolution."

But South Carolina's ardor and passion during the Revolution is little recognized today. Undoubtedly, part of the reason is that "Yankee" historians after the Civil War conveniently forgot about many of the contributions of Southerners during the founding of the nation.

It's time for South Carolinians to remember formally. In years past, Palmetto Day was recognized informally in June to remember the 1776 victory at Sullivan's Island.

"There is not a single state holiday that commemorates anything that is solely ours," noted USC historian Walter Edgar wrote last year. "Somehow there is a public sense that we Carolinians haven't our own events worthy of a state holiday - - when the opposite is clearly true."

State employees currently get 12 holidays: New Year's Day, Martin Luther King Day, President's Day, Confederate Memorial Day, National Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Veterans Day, and two holidays each at Thanksgiving and Christmas.

A few years back, employees got Election Day and an optional holiday that they could take. A compromise in taking the Confederate flag off the Statehouse dome led to getting rid of those holidays and replacing them with King Day and Confederate Memorial Holiday.

With South Carolina now being home to many people from "off," some may not take too kindly to celebrating a Confederate holiday.

So let's give them a choice. Perhaps state lawmakers should keep King Day, but go back to one optional holiday. Then let employees pick to honor our revolutionary past by celebrating "Carolina Day" on June 28 or to honor our Confederate past by taking off Confederate Memorial Day on May 10.

It wouldn't really cost anything, but it would honor true patriots like Marion, Laurens, Pinckney, Rutledge, Moultrie, Jasper, Sumter and Pickens. And it would give us a holiday of our own.

Send your comments to Andy Brack at brack@statehousereport.com. His book of commentary, Bugging the Palmettos, is available for $15.00. Click here for more.

Recent commentary

lighter side
On everything made in China

Another great cartoon from Bill McLemore:

1/9: Better health care needed

To the editor:

I didn't see any thing about state lawmakers bringing health insurance companies into 21st century in South Carolina. And make them cover Medical and Prescription Costs a LOT BETTER THAN THEY DO!

-- R.L. Hagerty, Florence, S.C.

1/1: Fund bullying prevention

To the editor:

The New Year marks the effective date of the new statewide mandate requiring schools to establish policies, procedures and programs to prevent bullying.

Research shows that simply creating policies won't work. Please take a look at www.StopBullyingNow.org and click on "What Adults Can Do." It takes a systematic approach which includes involving students in the prevention effort.

Will there be an effort to put some money behind this mandate to provide adequate staff, and purchase of training and materials? One can figure a cost of about $2,000 per school in order to implement a "evidence-based" program called for in the legislation.

Besides reducing the incidence of bullying, effective programs have been proven to raise academic achievement. So it is a win-win, and can help to save the next generation from a violent future.

If we are serious about reducing violence in our schools, the legislature must fund this mandate they are imposing on the schools.

-- Dwight Fee, Murrells Inlet, S.C.

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State's education agenda thin
From the paid-subscriber issue of Statehouse Report

JAN. 12, 2007 -- For a state still struggling to get its K-12 students to score somewhere near the national average on standardized tests, there are few serious educational bills on Statehouse agendas this year, a Statehouse Report review of proposed legislation reveals....

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