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Buzzing Around the SC Statehouse: Brigadier General Richard Richardson

Posted by Ryan Morgan on January 08, 2013 at 12:00 PM

All roads lead to the Statehouse, and they all used to dead-end there as well. The SC legislature renamed Richardson street as Main Street (leading south towards the University of South Carolina) and placed a marker on the grounds in honor of the street's former namesake, South Carolina Legislator and Revolutionary War Brigadier General Richard Richardson.

Richard Richardson first emerged in South Carolina in the 1730's from Virginia and began working as a planter at Big Home plantation in Clarendon County. He served in the militia in 1757 and fought in the Cherokee War of 1760-1761. He joined the American forces in the Revolutionary War and commanded the Snow Campaign of 1775, an effort in which the Americans unified rural feelings against the local Tories and towards George Washington's rebels, helped quell the insurrection at Ninety-Six in 1775, and aided in the defeat of the British Navy at Charleston in 1776. On March 25, 1778, Richardson was appointed Brigadier General.

His military career is only one aspect of Richardson's service to the state of South Carolina. He repeatedly represented his peers as a member of the colonial assembly, served as a delegate to the First Provincial Congress of January 1775 where he assisted in forming the first Republican Constitution of South Carolina. In March 1776, he returned to service and acted as a member of the Second Provincial Congress and the first Legislative Council.

Richardson retired from the army in 1779 at age 76, and was soon approached by Lord Cornwallis who sought to buy Richardson's allegiance. Richardson replied:

I have from the convictions of my mind embarked in a cause which I think righteous and just; I have knowingly staked my life, family, and property all upon the issue. I am prepared to suffer or triumph with it, and would rather die a thousand deaths than betray my country or deceive my friends.

Soon after, Richardson was arrested and imprisoned in St. Augustine, Florida. He fell ill, and was allowed to return to Big House under house arrest. He died soon after his return, and was buried in Richardson Cemetery near Rimini. General Sr. Banastre Tarleton and his forces occupied Big House, and disinterred Richardson's body, believing that the Brigadier General had been buried with the family plate (Tarleton was unable to procure the plate). The British forces burned the house in a desire to make the ashes the "funeral pile of the widow and her three young rebels."

Richardson's descendants have continued his legacy of service to South Carolina. The Richardson family has been responsible for 6 Governors, including Richard RIchardson's son, James Burchell Richardson, who served from 1802 to 1804. John Peter Richardson (founder of the Citadel), John Peter Richardson, Jr., Richard I. Manning, John L. Manning and Richard Manning III all led South Carolina from the Governor's mansion (the final three descending from Susannah Richardson, Richard Richardson's daughter, who married Laurence Manning).

The Richardson's were known for their dancing skills and usually played their family's waltz at gatherings. In 1985, Mary Richardson Briggs formally documented the waltz on paper and in a video recording, and was officially adopted as the South Carolina state waltz in 2000.

As adopted by the SC Legislature on July 21, 2000:

The Richardson Waltz was designated as the official State Waltz by Act No. 389 in 2000. This waltz, a beautiful and soulful melody, is a memento of the musical tradition of the Richardson family, descendants of General Richard Richardson, and has for many generations played an unofficial but important role in the musical history of South Carolina. It was handed down from one family member to another in the family of General Richard Richardson for more than 200 years in Clarendon County.



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