Unique South Carolina August 27, 1715 Act Note for "Raising forces" to Quell the Native American Uprising Extremely Significant and Earliest Confirmed Southern Colonial BillSouth Carolina August 27, 1715 Act 4 Pounds Fr. SC-17. PCGS Fine 15 Apparent.
South Carolina Colonial currency features some of the most fascinating, historical issues from the entire genre. This is due to this colony's unusual history commencing with the rule of the Lords Proprietors after Charles II's 1663 Carolina Charter, officially becoming a Royal Crown colony under King George II in 1729 (at the same time as North Carolina), and culminating with the Revolutionary War period, under King George III. Nearly every series of notes issued by South Carolina had unique features, emblems, mottos, or nuances.
This 1715 Proprietary period Bill of Credit is equal in stature to the most significant Colonial notes known. It is the earliest confirmed southern Colonial bill. Due to its direct use for military funding at the onset of the Yamassee War and other engagements with Native Americans, it is comparable to the 1690/91 Massachusetts bills used to pay for the unsuccessful military expedition to Quebec. Under proprietary rule, the Colony was loosely governed by the aristocratic elite whose commercial aims were to expand territory, increase agricultural output (particularly rice), and facilitate commerce. The British traded widely with the Native Americans, who engaged in selling them captured slaves from rival tribes (whether for monetary gain or to pay off escalating debts with British traders) in addition to goods such as deerskins. As further land was needed for rice production, the British expanded more aggressively into Yamassee territory, and trading practices with these Native American "allies" became more predatory. The resulting atmosphere of discontent and mistrust led to the 1715-1717 Yamassee War. On April 15, 1715, the Yamassee attacked and killed trade officials in Pocataligo. A week later, Governor Craven responded with military force. Other tribes across the southern region rose up (some in solidarity, and others because they were no longer confident of the British keeping their promises), attacking colonists and killing hundreds including most of the traders. Like King Philip's War in New England, the Yamassee War outcome would be a key event in the survival of the Colony, where much already had been invested in the slave economy and development of ports like Charles Town (Charleston). The last major battle occurred in July 1715 (although skirmishes would last until 1717). The Yamassee began moving south the following month, after the Colony received replenishments of supplies, an act funding a large militia was passed, and ten forts were erected. The war contributed to the Lords Proprietors eventually losing influence and South Carolina becoming a Crown colony.
This unique indented note is printed on laid paper in a large rectangular format. Where the note was printed is a mystery since printing did not commence in Charleston until 1730. Floral scrollwork and vases are at the left end. To the right, below the text, is a double-headed eagle emblem in a cartouche. The obligation specifies "an Act for Raising forces to [?] and to [missing?]..." at the top. Besides the loan funding for military purposes, the note was receivable for taxes. Signed by Robert Tradd, T. Hepworth (elaborately penned), and C. Hathaway. The blank back shows what appears to be a historic endorsement : "For carrying on [and?] defraying the charges / of this War against [_____] Indian Enemies and / their Confederates [___] for payment of the Army / Charles Crav[en] Esq. Governor / Ratified M[___] 24th 17 15/16." A long paper strip, used to reinforce the note for continued circulation, obscures some letters, but the endorsement appears contemporary. The language of the endorsement indicates it was penned by officials as an addition to the engraved obligation on the face.
This is the Newman plate note illustrated on page 407 of the fifth edition of The Early Paper of America. The note is a little rough, and there is piece missing from the center of the left indented area. Noted with "Splits, Tears, and Edge Damage; Repair on Back." However, those faults are meaningless when considering its immense historical significance. This note is a tangible artifact of the Yamasee War, a pivotal point in early South Carolina history. It is one of the most impressive currency notes from the entire Newman Collection. Priceless, and worthy of being a standard bearer in the next cabinet of American paper currency it joins. Many superlatives come to mind, but this is a treasure.
Ex: Eric P. Newman Numismatic Education Society
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