Among the various causes of the revolution was the British atteetude (as we say in Philly.) Many of our Founders, including George Washington, James Otis, and Benjamin Franklin, became turned off by the arrogant way in which many of the British nobles treated their American brethren.
Our signer of the day, Thomas Heyward, is one of these. At England, where he studied law, he noticed that the British looked down upon those from the American Colonies. As a proud member of the South Carolinian gentry, this was bound to rankle.
South Carolina, as we have already discussed, saw themselves as separate and apart from the other colonies. After British reacted to the Boston Tea Party by closing the ports of Boston, South Carolina, fearful that England might act in a similar fashion with them, was quick to react by kicking out the Royal Governor and setting up a new government with a new Constitution. Despite such seemingly dramatic reactions, they were not among those colonies who immediately supported Independence. Perhaps, they reasoned, it could all be worked out without resorting to a costly war.
However, when it became evident that the vast majority of those in congress supported independence, they reversed their vote – on July 2nd – and voted with the majority, understanding that unity would be necessary.
Heyward served as a captain in the militia and was wounded in the attack of the Port Royal Island on the South Carolina coast. Heyward was captured, released, and then, when the British changed their minds, placed again into custody. While imprisoned, Heyward wrote songs to pass the time, one of which is said to have been written to the melody of God Save the King that was changed to God Save Our Thirteen States. Doesn’t have the same ring to it, somehow.
After he was finally released for good, Heyward spent the bulk of his time on rebuilding his plantation, which was destroyed during the war. He lived until 1809, dying at the age of sixty-three.
To hear stories like this regarding the signers, join us for a Bow Tie Tours this fall.