Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 12.djvu/183

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Reconstruction in South Carolina. 1 73

The Last Chapter in the History of Reconstruction in South Carolina. By F. A. Porch liK, Preside7it South Carolina Historical Society.

administration of d. h. chamberlain. Paper No. i.

[We deem ourselves fortunate in being able to present the follow- ing- graphic picture of " Reconstruction," so called, in South Carolina, from the pen of the accomplished President of the South Carolina Historical Society, who writes of what he himself saw, and knew, and felt. We only regret that we are compelled to divide this inter- esting and valuable paper into several numbers :]

The history of South Carolina during the period of Reconstruction, from the passage of that act of revengeful hatred, until the liberation of the State by the election of Governor Hampton, is a story so full of horrors that it is not easy for the mind to imagine its reality; and even though one might faithfully report the enormities which were perpetrated under the name of law, (and the bare mention of them would fill a volume) no pen can portray the inner life of the people, the bitter mortification, the painfully suppressed indignation, the harrowing fears which daily and hourly pressed upon them and made them wonder what had become of the dear and gallant old State. The corruption and outrages, which, in happier times, were never imagined by a sane mind, had now become so familiar that they ceased to make any vivid impression. All hope was extinguished, save in the mysterious providence of God; even the faith which dared indulge in such hope was feeble and timid, and ashamed to acknowledge itself. Relief came at last, it came from our own efforts aided by the blessing of God; and now that the evil is behind us, now that we can again feel that we are men, and freemen, that our country is our own, the memory of the past is like a hideous dream. We can scarcely persuade even ourselves that it was a sad reality, and unless well attested, positively will never believe that the story we are about to relate is a sober truth. I propose to devote this paper chiefly to the administration of Chamberlain, the last chapter in the history of Reconstruction. It alone, to be properly done, calls for an amount of details so great as to exclude the paper from this maga- zine ; to other hands, therefore, must be committed this whole history