George Washington Papers

[Diary entry: 22 May 1791]

Sunday 22d. Rode about 21 Miles to breakfast, and passing through the village of Granby just below the first falls in the Congaree (which was passed in a flat bottomed boat at a rope ferry) I lodged at Columbia, the newly adopted Seat of the Government of South Carolina about 3 miles from it, on the No. side of the river, and 27 from my breakfasting stage.

The whole Road from Augusta to Columbia is a pine barren of the worst sort, being hilly as well as poor. This circumstance added to the distance, length of the Stages, want of water and heat of the day, foundered one of my horses very badly.

Beyond Granby 4 miles, I was met by sevl. Gentlemen of that place & Wynnsborough; and on the banks of the River on the No. Side by a number of others, who escorted me to Columbia.

Breakfast may have been at Lee’s Stage Tavern near present-day Batesburg and Leesville (SALLEY [2] description begins A. S. Salley. President Washington’s Tour Through South Carolina In 1791. Columbia, S.C., 1932. In Bulletins of the Historical Commission of South Carolina, no. 12. description ends 25).

Granby, called Congarees before the Revolution, began in 1718 as an Indian trading post and was at this time the seat of Lexington County. Eclipsed by its newer neighbor, Columbia, the village later disappeared (GREEN [2] description begins Edwin L. Green. A History of Richland County. Columbia, S.C., 1932. description ends , 15–22).

GW crossed the Congaree River, a major branch of the Santee, at Friday’s ferry, which was started in 1754 by Martin Fridig (Friday) and was purchased in 1785 by Wade Hampton and one of his brothers. On 10 Feb. 1791 the General Assembly authorized the Hamptons to build a toll bridge at the ferry, a project that was to have been completed before GW’s arrival, and provided that the president of the United States should cross without paying the toll. Work was begun promptly, but a flood destroyed the bridge as it neared completion (GREEN [2] description begins Edwin L. Green. A History of Richland County. Columbia, S.C., 1932. description ends , 113–21).

It was “about sun set” when GW reached the ferry. Nevertheless, “the banks of the river at that place were lined with the neighbouring inhabitants, who anxiously waited for the President’s arrival.” The gentlemen from Granby and from Winnsboro, a town about 28 miles north of Columbia, met GW before he reached Granby and escorted him without stopping through the village to the ferry. The Winnsboro group was headed by Brig. Gen. Richard Winn (1750–1818), the revolutionary soldier for whom the town was named when it was incorporated in 1785 (Dunlap’s American Dailey Adv. [Philadelphia], 24 June 1791).

As GW approached the statehouse in Columbia, a body of light horse commanded by a Captain Kershaw “formed on the left, near the edge of the woods, and saluted him with much respect; he was then conducted to a house commodiously prepared for his reception, where a few gentlemen, and the officers of the troops were introduced” (Dunlap’s American Daily Adv. [Philadelphia], 24 June 1791).

Columbia was ordered laid out as the new state capital by the General Assembly in 1786, and the executive offices were moved there in late 1789. The General Assembly first met in the new statehouse 4 Jan. 1790 (GREEN [2] description begins Edwin L. Green. A History of Richland County. Columbia, S.C., 1932. description ends , 146–55).

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