Visit of Mrs. Ann Royall To Columbia in 1830

Among the acquisitions of the University of South Carolina library is a battered copy of the second volume of Mrs. Anne Royall’s Southern tour, or second series of the Black Book of Mrs. Anne Royall, author of Sketches of History, Life and Manners in the United States by a Traveler in three volumes. Vol. 2, Washington, 1831.

Anne Newport Royall was born June 11, 1769, in Maryland. She married a Revolutionary veteran, for whom she kept house, but little of whose property she inherited on account of the action of his relatives. In 1824 Mrs. Royall started traveling and writing to defray her expenses. She was avowed pro-Mason and anti-clerical. The Presbyterians, whom she bitterly attacked, had her indicted and convicted as a common scold. After this she took up editing and conducted successfully two papers, Paul Pry and The Huntress, from 1831 to 1854, almost to the day of her death, October 1, 1854. She was a vigorous editor, noted for her ability to uncover graft in any department of the government. She attained a kind of uneviable fame throughout the country, making many enemies and a few staunch friends. Her tirades against enemies were long and often grossly personal and for her friends she had praise in similar measure. “She is always readable and nearly always reliable.”

In the Spring of 1830 Mrs. Royall visited the South, coming to Columbia from Camden, with which she fell in love. In Columbia she was agreeably disappointed as she had unfavorable reports about the town. She stopped at the United States hotel, which stood at the southeast corner of Main and Lady street and was run at the time by Pardee and an assistant named Taylor, of whom she wrote that they were both real gentlemen, and for the honor of New England both Yankees, adding that “Pardee is the best man and the best tavern keeper I ever met with.” To give her account of her reception: ” A very genteel man led me in and taking me to the second story left me in the largest and most splendidly furnished parlor, I was ever in in any part of the Union. It wanted little, if any, of being equal to the east room in size or beauty! More costly or more highly finished furniture I never at any time saw in a public house equally matched, and a third remark is no less due, the barkeeper was equally accomplished. I surveyed the room in astonishment and in a few minutes a chambermaid came into set my table for tea. after which to my infinite joy she showed me in a elegant chamber adjoining my parlor. One of my greatest luxuries is to have a chamber near my parlor, where when weary with my pursuits I can retreat and come forth merely by opening a door. Thus I was blessed and though I had not half the splendor.”

The young gentleman who were to go ahead of her, a Mr. Clifton, who lived in Columbia, and Mr. Clark, did not reach Columbia until the following day. “I suspect,” she surmised, “that they called to see every pretty girl on the road.” of her trip from Camden she recorded that she “stopped to change horses and stage at a small village and an indifferent tavern. But the women were fat, kind and friendly.” On the old Camden road Holliday had a tavern, at which George Washington had breakfasted at an “indifferent house” near Blaney; another tavern was near Messer’s Mill.

Columbia she described as “a beautiful town on the Congaree, a smooth, sweet flowing stream navigable for steam boats to this place and uniting with the Wateree, 60 miles below, forms the Santee, the largest river in South Carolina. Columbia is one of the most beautiful towns in the Union. For health or beauty it is not excelled by any town I have met with in my travels. It stands on high ground with a gentle descent on all sides. Viewed from any point the whole town can be seen; all the streets are wide and straight and cross at right angles. The public buildings are showy, large and well built, mostly of brick, and the suburbs are equally beautiful; it is doubtless the handsomest site of a town in the state.”

Mrs. Royall visited various public buildings and the bridge over the Congaree, going with Hugh McLean and James O’Hanlan. The former was a brother of John McLean, who owned the stage line from Fayetteville, N. C. to New Orleans. He married a daughter of William Briggs, builder of the bridge just mentioned. Scott says that he was always engaged in “running a rig” on some one and Mrs. Royall says that O’Hanlan was the special object of his fun, so that the trip around the town with these two was full of laughter. Maj. James O’Hanlan (O’Hanlon) is described by her as pale looking, neither handsome nor the contrary-gentle, modest; “he is a very amiable man, though a Methodist.” Scott tells a story that while O’Hanlon was a member of the house of representative the clerk of the house gave a note to the messenger with instructions to give it to the ugliest man in the house, and that he delivered it to Major O’Hanlon as the one who best answered to the description.

The greater part of her story of her visit to Columbia is taken up with the men who came to call on her. Women did not come. “I suspect,” said she, “they were at church, for notwithstanding this is the residence of the celebrated Doctor Cooper, the blue-skins are here thick as yellow-jackets.” She gives a few lines to every one of her visitors. Colonel (nearly every one of any pretension was a colonel), mayor, or intendant, of the town came to welcome her. He is described as a young man of middling height, with an oval face and a piercing black eye, mild and winning in his manner, in every was a pleasant man. “I shall,” she declared “never forget Joseph A. Black, Esq., a greater quiz never lived – all good nature and at once a perfect Southron.” There came Colonel Brown, middle aged, noble looking; Mr. Hughes, who son had recently been rejected by the Charleston faculty; David W. Sims, editor of The Telescope; S. J. McMorris, editor of The Southern Times; Col. W. J. Taylor, good height, round, full handsome face, sparkling black eye; John Clifton, “one of the hot spurs I saw in Camden, all soul of honor and scarcely any body. I suspect he gets little practice. John Bryce and Henry K Corbet, both amiable; Isaac S. Cohen, another whole-souled mam; Theodore Stark of lofty and genteel manners; Augusts Fitch, M. D., a very gentlemanly man; and likewise W. J. Middleton of the bank, P. M. Butler, Samuel Weir, James Henry, T. Bunam (Bynum), Andrew McLaughlin. Also Captians WIlliam Clarke and James T. Goodwyn, Messrs. Palen, Barkely, William Finn (or some such name), Rowland Keenan, Sparks, Miller, Wm. T. Ellerbe, George Davis, McClintic, Wilson, Wm. Lowry. “I shall see those dear people again.”

For Dr. Samuel Green, the post master, she had no use; “he was rather loath to pay his respects, nor would it have stopped any of the planets, had he never done so. Mighty Methodist before the Lord.”

“A propos,” she cries, “you might have expected President Cooper would have waited upon me; not he indeed, how mortifying – but I saw his pony, next thing to himself; it was saddled and bridled, about the size of a stout goat, and stood tied before a store door, where I suppose the owner was. But to return to Doctor Cooper; he is at the head of everything in South Carolina and is reckoned a great man, and doubtless he was better employed. I forgive him for his bold and manly stand against the copperheads., as the Presbyterians are often called. This will immortalize his name, without the aide of my feeble pen, and it might be he is a woman-hater.”

Mrs. Royall did not visit the college as she had not been invited: but “I say nothing good or bad of it. I was indeed invited by some of the citizens, but from the conduct of the president I felt a delicacy on the subject and declined the invitation.” The lunatic asylum received her highest praise as superior to anything of the kind. She climbed to the top, where she lingered enjoying the view. From here she was shown the house of the wealthy Wade Hampton, the wealthiest planter in America – said to be quite childish. The house, she said, was common wooden structure.

Of the men generally she remarked that were all respectables, by a long way plainer in their dress and manners that the people of the North, but more elevated in manners and have more warmth of heart. There is a carelessness in the dress of the men of the South unknown to the Northern and Middle states. A half worn hat and half worn frock coat is a common dress, and their manners are equally plain. “I saw,” she added, “but one fine dressed man in Columbia, and who do you think he was? He was no less than one of the “Hope I see you’s in sleek broadcloth, ignorant and conceited, but will not tell his name for his friends.”

The labor of receiving and talking with so many was, she complained, very fatiguing. “The only rest I have is in the stage (I write in the steamboats) and two or three hours (sometime not one) of sleep.

“I was, however, sufficiently honored and highly gratified in Columbia,” was her verdict on her visit.

University of South Carolina.

September 4, 1938  State (published as The State)  Columbia, South Carolina
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