George Washington Papers

[Diary entry: 29 April 1791]

Friday 29th. We left Doctr. Flaggs about 6 oclo[ck] and arrived at Captn. Wm. Alstons’ on the Waggamaw to Breakfast.

Captn. Alston is a Gentleman of large fortune and esteemed one of the neatest Rice planters in the state of So. Carolina and a proprietor of some of the most valuable grounds for the Culture of this article. His house which is large, new, and elegantly furnished stands on a sand hill, high for the Country, with his rice fields below; the contrast of which with the lands back of it, and the Sand & piney barrens through which we had passed is scarcely to be conceived.

At Captn. Alstons we were met by General Moultree, Colo. Washington & Mr. Rutledge (son of the present Chief Justice of So. Carolina) who had come out that far to escort me to town. We dined and lodged at this Gentlemens and Boats being provided we [left] the next morning.

William Alston (1756–1839), a veteran of Francis Marion’s partisan brigade, bought 1,206 acres on the Waccamaw River in 1785 and developed it into the prosperous plantation that he called Clifton. Below his two-story mansion, his marshy rice lands were cultivated by work gangs from his force of 300 slaves, the largest holding in All Saints Parish and one of the largest in the state (GROVES description begins Joseph A. Groves. The Alstons and Allstons of North and South Carolina: Compiled from English, Colonial and Family Records with Personal Reminiscences; Also Notes of Some Allied Families. 1901. Reprint. Easley, S.C., 1976. description ends , 53; LACHICOTTE description begins Alberta Morel Lachicotte. Georgetown Rice Plantations. Columbia, S.C., 1955. description ends , 22–24; HEADS OF FAMILIES, S.C. description begins Heads of Families at the First Census of the United States Taken in the Year 1790: South Carolina. 1908. Reprint. Salt Lake City, 1978. description ends , 50).

William Moultrie (1730–1805), William Washington (1752–1810), and John Rutledge, Jr. (1766–1819), came to Clifton to escort GW not just to Georgetown but to their own city, Charleston. Moultrie, hero of the defense of Charleston harbor against a British fleet in June 1776, became a Continental major general before the end of the war and served as governor of South Carolina 1785–87 and 1792–94. GW’s kinsman William Washington was also a war hero. Born in Virginia, he distinguished himself as an infantry captain in the Virginia line during the northern campaign of 1776. Switching to the cavalry, he rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel and in Dec. 1779 was ordered to take his dragoons to the Carolinas where he proved his personal bravery in a succession of skirmishes and battles. In 1782 he married a South Carolina heiress and settled in an elegant Charleston town house. Young Rutledge, recently returned from a long gentleman’s tour of Europe, was representing his father John Rutledge, Sr. (1739–1800), who, having been elected chief justice in February of this year, was now obliged to attend the court’s spring circuit (John Rutledge, Sr., to GW, 15 April 1791, DLC:GW; see entry for 3 May 1791). John Rutledge, Jr., later became a controversial Federalist politician, serving in the United States Congress 1797–1803 (COMETTI description begins Elizabeth Cometti. “John Rutledge, Jr., Federalist.” Journal of Southern History 13 (1947): 186–219. description ends , 186–219).

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