Bob Edmonds has announced the release of a new book, George McDuffie: Southern Orator. Mr. McDuffie, lawyer and planter, was born to Scottish immigrant parents near present-day Thomson on Sweetwater Creek in old St. Paul's Parish, Ga. He played a significant role in state affairs and on the national stage. His finger was on the hot button issues of the day throughout his adult life during the tumultuous antebellum era.
As a teenager, McDuffie studied at Dr. Moses Waddel's academy at Willington in Abbeville District, where he excelled. He graduated from South Carolina College (now the University of South Carolina). He studied law under - and then partnered with - prominent Edgefield attorney and congressman Eldred Simkins.
Mr. McDuffie served as a state representative from Edgefield, a South Carolina governor, and a militia major general. He played a pivotal role on the national scene as a United States congressman and a United States senator. His life was significant to the major events of the time - protectionist tariffs, free trade, states' rights, slavery, nullification, the right of a state to secede, annexation of Texas to the Union, a near war with Great Britain over the Oregon territory boundary dispute.
When Mr. McDuffie became governor in 1834, the enrollment at South Carolina College had dropped to 20 students. During Gov. McDuffie's tenure, the school was restructured and restored to a secure status. Enrollment increased, facilities were renovated and new buildings built, including a new library building.
McDuffie was a pioneer in cotton manufacturing in the South. He founded a textile mill that utilized slave labor on Horse Creek in present-day Aiken County.
McDuffie's Cherry Hill Plantation, located near Willington in present-day McCormick County on the Savannah River, produced cotton on a grand scale during the golden age of King Cotton. Cherry Hill is a unique study in slavery-based plantation structure.
In eulogizing Mr. McDuffie, Congressman Armistead Burt said, "Able and graceful as was his written composition, faultless as was his elocution, majestic as was his intellect, it was his eloquence that gave him his great superiority. The speeches of Calhoun were philosophical and grand; the speeches of Webster were logical, massive, and masterly; the speeches of Clay and Preston were polished and brilliant. But Greece had but one Demosthenes, Rome one Cicero, and America has had but one McDuffie."
When citizens carved a new county out of Columbia and Warren counties on October 18, 1870, McDuffie County, Ga., was named in honor of native son George McDuffie. McCormick County, S.C., might also have been named for George McDuffie.
"McDuffie County" was actually used as the name during the legal process for creating a new county from portions of Abbeville, Edgefield, and Greenwood counties on April 12, 1916. However, Cyrus Hall McCormick's influence won out in balloting.
A medallion on the north facade of the South Carolina State House in Columbia perpetuates the ideals of George McDuffie.
The book is available for $22.50 plus $3.00 shipping from Cedar Hill Unltd., 1000 Cedar Hill Rd., McCormick, SC 29835, www.bobedmondsbooks.com.