|Drie’s map of Columbia, |
South Carolina (1872).
Everyone who teaches Reconstruction knows the powerful significance of the federal troops in Columbia. Indeed, the idea that President Rutherford B. Hayes removed the troops from the South in 1877, an “event” that many Americans believe ended Reconstruction, is based on the Columbia troops. That Hayes removed the troops from the South in 1877 is incorrect. What he did was to order the U.S. troops stationed in Columbia to move away from the South Carolina State House, where they had been protecting the Republican governor from mobs determined to install Redeemer Wade Hampton in the governor’s chair. The troops pulled away, Hampton became governor, and Republican rule in post-Civil War South Carolina was over.
|From The Highland Weekly News, |
May 03, 1877, Ohio, p. 1.
Until I actually saw the proximity of the State House to the parade ground, I really didn’t understand just how small the scale of this event was. In the 1870s, you could all but throw a stone from the troop barracks to the State House, and the four blocks between the two were mostly fields. When the president “removed the troops,” they simply marched back down the street. It probably took less than ten minutes.
On this wonderful 1872 map, the State House is obvious in the lower right corner; the parade ground is to the left of the number 30, which is the army barracks. The map can be expanded and manipulated. Doing so makes it hit home just how small a town we’re talking about when we talk about the fight over the South Carolina State House during Reconstruction.