If you’re in downtown Columbia, one of the more pleasant places to stroll is the grounds of the SC State House. Placed throughout the grounds are various statues of figures from South Carolina History. Below is a brief walking tour of some of them, starting at the corner of Gervais and Sumter Streets with the statue of: James F Byrnes.
Byrnes is one of the outstanding figures in SC history. serving as Solicitor, Congressman, U.S. Senator, U.S. Supreme Court Justice, “Assistant President” under Franklin Roosevelt, Secretary of State under Harry Truman and, finally, as Governor of South Carolina. Situated in a shady grove, it surely is one of the coolest spots on the grounds on a summer day. Walking west toward Assembly Street, our next stop is just beyond the Confederate Monument, the statue of "Pitchfork Ben" Tillman.
Benjamin Ryan “Pitchfork Ben” Tillman (1847-1918): Tillman served as governor and U.S. senator and was the architect of “Jim Crow” segregation in the late 19th century. It was Tillman who rewrote the State Constitution institutionalizing segregation. In the early 20th century, he served in the U.S. Senate and was Chair of the Naval Affairs Committee. Walking to the opposite side of the building, we come upon the statue of Strom Thurmond.
Senator Strom Thurmond (1902-2003), perhaps one of South Carolina’s best known personalities, was the oldest person to serve in the U.S. Senate, stepping down at the ripe old age of 100. In his youth he also served as Governor. A lifelong fanatic of physical fitness, Thurmond is portrayed strolling resolutely south. The inscription on the statue had to be changed in 2003 to reflect the acknowledgement of Thurmond’s daughter, Essie Mae. A short distance east (towards Sumter Street) is the statue of Wade Hampton III.
Wade Hampton III (1818-1902), was a general in the Civil War as well as serving as Governor and U.S. Senator. He was the first post-reconstruction governor of South Carolina. After losing a power struggle with “Pitchfork Ben” Tillman, Hampton served in the U. S. Senate. Heading toward Sumter Street, our last stop will be The African-American Monument.
The African-American Monument is first of its kind in the country, and traces the history of African-Americans from the coming of slave ships to the present day. Included are several panels tracing that history as well as a depiction of a slave ship.
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