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Today In Charleston History: September 14

1769 – American Revolution – Foundations

The Gazette reported that, excluding Royal officials, only thirty-one inhabitants of had refused to sign the pledge and join the “Association.” The names of the thirty-one were published in the paper and they quickly discovered themselves unable to sell merchandise.

The “Association” was a group of Charles Town men who pledged to support non-importation of any products of Great Britain, and denounced anyone who did not sign within a month. Many of the aristocratic leaders were upset by the surge of the mechanics (carpenters, etc …) in politics, usurped by men they considered their inferior.

william henry draytonWilliam Henry Drayton condescendingly wrote in the Gazette:

No man who could boast of having received a liberal education would consult on public affairs with men who never were in any way to study, or to advise upon any points, but rules how to cut up a beast in the market … cobble on old shoe … or to build a necessary house.

Christopher Gadsden pointed out that Drayton was exempted from labor to make a living due to his “marriage to a rich heiress rather than from any merit of his own.”

The rally cry of the “Association” became “Sign or die!” Over the next several weeks Drayton and Gadsden published dueling letters in the Gazette, with the attacks becoming more personal rather than an exchange of ideas.

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