Circular Letter from William Henry Drayton Accusing Moses Kirkland of Violating the Public Peace, 1775


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In July 1775, the newly-formed South Carolina Council of Safety sent five men including William Henry Drayton into the backcountry to monitor and encourage loyalty to the Patriot cause.  The Council had already organized successful raids against the British in Charleston, but support for these actions was low in the backcountry.  This circular letter chronicles a problem with Moses Kirkland, a Tory who assembled men and arms in order to stop a public meeting. Drayton writes that they were forced to cancel the meeting for fear that it “should furnish Occasion for civil Bloodshed,” and calls for all men who join with Kirkland to be labeled “publick Enemies to be suppressed by the Sword”

The situation in the South Carolina backcountry was extremely tense throughout 1775.  In November, the Tory militia attacked Patriot troops after some Tory leaders were imprisoned. This violence in the backcountry was the first bloodshed of the Revolution, and South Carolina remained an important proving ground for Patriots, Tories, and the British throughout the war.


William Henry Drayton, Printed Circular Letter accusing Moses Kirkland of violating the public peace. Robert W. Gibbes Collection of Revolutionary War Manuscripts. Folder 55, Box 1. S213089. South Carolina Department of Archives and History. Columbia, South Carolina.

Correlating SC Social Studies Academic Standards:

Standard 3-3: The student will demonstrate an understanding of the American Revolution and South Carolina’s role in the development of the new American nation.

Indicator 3-3.1 Analyze the causes of the American Revolution--including Britain's passage of the Tea Act, the Intolerable Acts, the rebellion of hte colonists, and the Declaration of Independence--and South Carolina's role in these events.

Indicator 3-3.2 Summarize the key conflicts and key leaders of hte American Revolution in South Caroina and their effects on the state, including the occupation of Charleston by the British; the partisan warfare of Thomas Sumter, Andrew Pickens, and Francis Marion; and the battles of Cowpens and Kings Mountain.

Standard 4-3: The student will demonstrate an understanding of the conflict between the American colonies and England.

Indicator 4-3.1 Explain the political and economic factors leading to the American Revolution, including the French and Indian War; British colonial policies such as the Stamp Act, the Tea Act, and the so-called Intolerable Acts; and the American colonists' early resistance through boycotts, congresses, and petitions.

Indicator 4-3.2 Summarize the roles of principal American, British, and European leaders involved in the conflict, including King George III, George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Thomas Paine, Patrick Henry, and the Marquis de Lafayette.

Indicator 4-3.3 Explain the major ideas and philosphies of government reflected in the Declaration of Independence.

Indicator 4-3.4 Summarize the events and key battles of the Revolutionary War, including Lexington and Concord, Bunker (Breed's) Hill, Charleston, Sartoga, Cowpens, and Yorktown.

Standard 8-2: The student will demonstrate an understanding of the American Revolution--the beginnings of the new American nation and South Carolina's part in the development of that nation.

Indicator 8-2.2 Compare the perspectives and roles of different South Carolinians during the American Revolution, including those of political leaders, soldiers, partisans, Patriots, Tories/Loyalists, women, African Americans, and Native Americans. (H, G, P, E)

Standard USHC-2: The student will demonstrate an understanding of the establishment of the United States as a nation.

Indicator USHC-2.1 Summarize the early development of representative government and political rights in the American colonies, including the influence of the British political system, the rule of law and the conflict between the colonial legislatures and the royal governors. (P, H)


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