George Washington Papers

[Diary entry: 25 May 1791]

Wednesday 25th. Set out at 4 ’Oclock for Cambden (the foundered horse being led slowly on). Breakfasted at an indifferent house 22 miles from the town (the first we came to) and reached Cambden about two oclock, 14 miles further where an address was recd. & answered. Dined late with a number of Gentlemen & Ladies at a public dinner. The Road from Columbia to Cambden, excepting a mile or two at each place, goes over the most miserable pine barren I ever saw, being quite a white sand, & very hilly. On the Wateree with in a mile & half of which the town stands the lands are very good—the culture Corn Tobacco & Indigo. Vessels carrying 50 or 60 Hhds. of Tobo. come up to the Ferry at this place at which there is a Tobacco Warehouse.

An address from the citizens of Columbia, Granby, and vicinity, bearing today’s date, was presented to GW before he left town by Alexander Gillon (1741–1794), a wealthy merchant and early revolutionary leader who had been embroiled in much controversy as a commodore in the South Carolina navy during the war. Gillon was one of the original commissioners of Columbia, a member of the General Assembly 1783–91, and a member of the United States Congress 1793–94. The address and a copy of GW’s reply are in DLC:GW.

The welcoming address from the citizens of Camden and vicinity apparently was presented to GW by the town’s intendant and patriarch, Col. Joseph Kershaw (c.1723–1791), a militia veteran of the Revolution. The address and a copy of GW’s reply are in DLC:GW.

GW, according to local tradition, lodged in Camden at the house of Adam Fowler Brisbane (1754–1797), a Lancaster County justice, and the public dinner was probably at the house of Col. John Chesnut (1743–1813), a veteran of the South Carolina line and prominent indigo planter, who discussed agriculture at some length with GW during his stay in town. A month later GW sent Chesnut a drill plow from Mount Vernon to try in sowing indigo seed (GW to Chesnut, 26 June 1791, anonymous donor). At the dinner GW “was introduced to the ladies individually. The ladies rose after the 2d or 3d toast, and the President sat till near twelve o’clock” (Md. Journal [Baltimore], 17 June 1791). In all there were 17 toasts, including 2 given after GW retired for the night (KIRKLAND AND KENNEDY description begins Thomas J. Kirkland and Robert M. Kennedy. Historic Camden: Part One, Colonial and Revolutionary. Columbia, S.C., 1905. description ends , 307–12, 351–52; REYNOLDS AND FAUNT description begins Emily Bellinger Reynolds and Joan Reynolds Faunt. Biographical Directory of the Senate of the State of South Carolina, 1776–1964. Columbia, S.C., 1964. description ends , 186, 196–97, 251).

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