Thursday, September 10, 2009

Pettigru was right

We've had Confederate flag flaps and wandering romantic governors, and now a congressman insults the president during a speech in the halls of Congress. It appears that former congressman James L. Petigru was correct when he said in 1860 that "South Carolina is too small for a republic and too large for a lunatic asylum!"


Carlos said...

I love this historic anecdote; you've got to tell me the history behind it!

By bringing the town hall vitriol into the halls of Congress, Joe Wilson dramatized for the American people how the President can't work with a Republican Party that is in the grip of right wing extremists.

Peter said...

Pettigru was a congressman from S.C. and he, an opponent of secession, made that statement after his state withrew from the union in December 1860.

South Carolina had a unique colonial history. In its founding, it was closely linked to the planter economy of Barbados. The crops produced in and the climate of South Carolina involved a much higher percentage of slave labor than elsewhere throughout the south. At times, slaves were 90% of the colony/state's population. Hence, the white minority imposed the harshest of slave codes and became the most radicalized in defense of slavery, particularly after Denmark Vesey's uprising in 1822.. (guessing, approximate.)

It is not a coincidence that SC was willing to risk civil war in the nullification crisis with Andrew Jackson and was the first to both secede and to fire upon the U.S. government. That gives you the "asylum" reference.