Page images

massacre of the white people along the seaboard. The news had been carried from the scene of destruction by a swift-footed seaman, who broke through the lines of the furious savages, ran ten miles, and swam one, and told the dreadful tale to the settlers at Port Royal. There was consternation and dread everywhere. People fled in canoes and in a ship, and carried the first intelligence of the sad event to Charleston.

For days a stream of terror-stricken planters and their families was pouring into the city, and it was thought that the capital was in danger. The governor acted promptly and with efficiency in the emergency He took measures to prevent men leaving the colony. He placed the province under martial law; took measures to secure all arms and ammunition to be found, and called upon the citizens to prepare to fight valiantly for their lives and prosperity. Even the negro slaves, or those who had proved faithful, were armed; and with the motley army of white men, Indians and negroes, twelve hundred strong, he marched to meet the savages, who were approaching from the interior, spreading death and devastation as they came.

Twenty miles east of the Savannah River, the governor met the oncoming band of savages, and a sharp fight followed, which lasted for three hours with doubtful results. Each party fell back from

the field; but the governor, rallying his forces before the Indians expected him, dashed with implacable fury on them. They retreated, and the Carolinians, with their motley allies, drove the Yammasees across the Savannah River and through Georgia, giving them no rest, until they found it under the protection of the Spanish cannon at St. Augustine.

Not only were the Yammasees punished, but the warriors from the north were driven back into the forests, and the Cherokees and their neighbors, who had not yet taken up the hatchet, retired to their hunting grounds, deeply impressed by the strength and prowess of the white people.

So completely were the Indians humbled, that they were willing to sue for peace, and so in the beautiful month of May, in the year 1715, a treaty was made, which brought peace and sunshine once more to unhappy South Carolinia.

The storm and tempest over, the people began once more to look about them and prepare for advancement. The little cabin home, which had been so long neglected that weeds and bushes had begun to grow about the door-step where the children played, was once more opened. The blackened and long disused chimney once more emitted the blue smoke, and all was peace, tranquillity and progress. Once more the woodman's



heard echoing throughout the forest, and the crash of falling timber made music less terrible than the crack of rifles and war-whoop of savages.

Proprietary government in South Carolinia was nearing its end. From the beginning, it had been a heavy burden on the colonists. The governors appointed by the proprietors, being independent of the people, and conceiving themselves infinitely above them, had often been haughty and exacting, rather irritating than conciliating the popular mind. While the colonists were laboring to build up a permanent and prosperous state, the proprietors refused to assist them in times of danger or to reimburse their expenses incurred in defending the domain from invasion. The people were compelled to bear the whole expense of the late war with the Indians, although the proprietors enforced their claims for quit-rents more remorselessly than ever.

“What care they for the people?” asked Roger Stevens, a grandson of Philip Stevens of Virginia. Roger Stevens had served as an officer in the Indian trouble, and bad also been a member of the assembly. He was a well-to-do planter and a man of unbounded influence among his fellow-men. When questions of deep import came up for discussion, the opinion of Roger Stevens was sought. Being thoroughly indignant at the proprietors, he spoke with a boldness, which, in any other man, would

[ocr errors]


have been treason. “In times of war,” continued Stevens, we are left to fight our own battles and defend the homes which we cannot call our

What have they done toward making our lot in life easier or our condition more happy? Verily, nothing. We are tenants of suffrage paying quit rents for lands which we have cultivated, wrested from the wilderness and bought with our own blood. They seek to deprive us of every liberty dear to man. We are not even permitted to worship God according to the dictates of our own conscience, but must yield our religious consciences and liberties to the Church of England. Such slavery ill becomes the children of men who braved dangers of the wilderness."

Many of the colonists shared the opinions of Roger Stevens; but few were as outspoken as he. They saw no way to cast off their chains, but by revolution, and no security for the future, but in royal rule and protection. So they resolved to revolt. Their popular assembly declared they would have nothing further to do with the proprietors, and asked governor Johnson to rule in the name of the king. This he refused to do.

“Let us call a convention of the people," said Roger Stevens, “and choose a governor for ourselves.” That would be treason,” one declared.

“No; it would be patriotism. We owe no allegiance to a corporation—a monopoly that seeks to enslave us.

There was a large assembly of men at an old meeting-house which had not been used for years as a house of worship. The men in attendance at this public meeting were typical frontiersmen of the south. Many wore the coon-skin cap and carried their rifles with them.

Fire-arms had greatly improved, the last fifty years. The match-lock was scarcely ever seen. The old wheel-lock had given place to the snaphance or flint-lock, which had been improved. In attending all public meetings, men carried their guns from force of habit. The woods were filled with wild game, and their rifles frequently supplied their tables.

At the meeting, where Stevens had uttered what, by the royalists, was construed into incendiary remarks, it was determined to call a convention of the people and choose a governor for themselves.

The first day of December was appointed by Johnson as a time for a general review of the militia of the province. The same day was chosen by the convention as the time for the election of a popular governor. On learning what the intention of the people was, Johnson countermanded the order for the review, and ordered the arrest of

« PreviousContinue »