South Carolina Women of the American Revolution

From, the founding Of the first English settlement in the new world the women of America have bravely and nobly done their part in making our country a great nation. It is true that the pages of history are filled with the stories of the deeds of men, while not many names of women are recorded. The reason for this is that women's work for the most part has been done quietly and inconspicuously. The home has been her kingdom , and until recent years there was no place for her in public life. To men were left the making of wars, the administration of government, and leadership of movements affecting communities and states. But even before she entered public life women's part in the making of our history was very important. Her influence was and is felt everywhere, because in most cases man's deeds or actions are but products of his early training end environment. All down the years of history our country has been a land of happy homes due to the faith, courage and intelligence of the wives and mothers. Our women showed unsurpassed courage and patriotism during the revolutionary War. They often endured hardships at home equal to those of the soldiers in the field. They raised food for the armies, made clothes and bandages for the soldiers, and nursed the sick and wounded, while their hearts were sad and anxious for the safety of husbands, sons, brothers, and other relatives and friends.

Elizabeth Lucas, known as Eliza Lucas, seems to be better known outside our state than any other South Caroline woman of this period.

She was the daughter of Colonel and Mrs. George Lucas. He was governor of Antigua in the West Indies, but his wife was an invalid and the climate was bad for her. He bought the plantation, "Wapoo" near Charles Town and settled his family there. Political disturbances soon called him back to his post, and he had to leave E1iza, his sixteen-year-old daughter, in full charge of "Wapoo" and two other plantations. Having seen indigo in the West Indies and knowing that the dye was very valuable, she began to experiment with it. Her father sent her some seed of the French variety. The first year the plants were killed by frost; the second year they were eaten by worms; but the third year the crop succeeded. Since the preparation of the dye from the plants is a highly skilled process, her father sent her an indigo-maker, Nicholas Cromwell, from the West Indies. He was more patriotic than honest, and purposely spoiled the dye. He feared the competition of the Carolina indigo with that grown in his own islands. He attributed the failure to the climate. Eliza did not agree with this and was not discouraged. She saved the home-grown seed and the next year distributed them among the planters of her section. The next year with the help of Nicholas Cromwell's brother she succeeded in making seventeen pounds of indigo dye. Then her father sent her a Negro who understood the process and the battle was won. Moses Lindo, a Jew in London, also aided the colonists in preparing and marketing the dye. By 1747 the colony was exporting indigo to England. Just before the Revolution, indigo reached its height - the colony was shipping England over a million pounds a year. It was our most valuable crop until after the invention of the cotton gin, when cotton became "king." However, South Carolina women raised patches of indigo for home use until after 1865. Also Eliza really introduced alfalfa into this country, but it was then called lucerne. She was interested in silk, too. When she was presented at court in England, she had four dresses made of home grown silk - one she gave the king, one she gave Lord Chesterfield, one she gave the princess of Wales, and one she wore herself. Eliza Lucas married Charles Pinckney and was the mother of Charles Cotesworth Pinckney. She was a most remarkable woman - an energetic, patient, cheerful, lovable, Christian character.

As one thinks of these noble women, he cannot but think of the countless others whose names and deeds are lost in oblivion. He is forced to remember the immortal lines of Gray:

"Full many a gem of purest ray serene

The dark, unfathomed caves of ocean bear;

Full many flower is born to blush unseen,

And waste its sweetness on the desert air."

References:

The Simms History of South Carolina - Oliphant

South Carolina Reader -Oliphant

Days of the Colonists -Lamprey

The Beginner's History of our Country -Estill

History, Stories, and Legends of South Carolina -E. C. McCants

Benson J. Lossing. The Pictorial Field-Book of the Revolution. NY: Harper & Brothers, 1852. (courtesy of, and thanks to, H. Imrey.)

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