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Clemson in Pickens County, South Carolina — The American South (South Atlantic)
Fort Hill
 
Fort Hill Marker Photo, Click for full size
By Brian Scott, July 24, 2008
1. Fort Hill Marker
 
Inscription.
Home of
John C. Calhoun
1825-1850
----- • -----
United States Congressman 1811-1817
Secretary of War 1817-1825
Vice President of the United States 1825-1832
United States Senator 1832-1843
Secretary of State 1844-1845
United States Senator 1845-1850
Home of
Thomas G. Clemson 1872-1888
Son-in-Law of
John C. Calhoun
(Marker Number 39-2.)
 
Marker series. This marker is included in the National Historic Landmarks marker series.
 
Location. 34° 40.715′ N, 82° 50.331′ W. Marker is in Clemson, South Carolina, in Pickens County. Marker is on Fort Hill Street, on the right when traveling west. Click for map. Marker is on the grounds of Fort Hill, located near the center of the Clemson University campus. Marker is in this post office area: Clemson SC 29631, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 10 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Site of the First Meeting of the Board of Trustees of the Clemson Agricultural College (here, next to this marker); Fort Hill Plantation Office (here, next to this marker); a different marker also named Fort Hill (within shouting distance of this marker); Walter T. Cox, Jr. (about 500 feet away, measured in a direct line); First Woman Graduate (about 600 feet away); Quercus lyrata (Overcup Oak) (about 700 feet away); Integration with Dignity, 1963 (about 700 feet away); Military Heritage Plaza (about 800 feet away); Thomas Green Clemson (approx. 0.2 miles away); Memorial Park / The Scroll of Honor (approx. 0.2 miles away). Click for a list of all markers in Clemson.
 
Fort Hill Marker Photo, Click for full size
By Brian Scott, July 24, 2008
2. Fort Hill Marker
 

 
Also see . . .
1. Fort Hill (Clemson, South Carolina). Fort Hill, also known as the John C. Calhoun Mansion and Library, is a National Historic Landmark in South Carolina which was once the home of John C. Calhoun. (Submitted on July 3, 2009, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.) 

2. Fort Hill. Fort Hill was the home of John C. Calhoun, South Carolina's pre-eminent 19th century statesman, from 1825 until his death in 1850. (Submitted on July 25, 2008, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.) 

3. Heart of the University. Before there was a Clemson University, before there was the dream of a “high seminary of learning, as its founder would pen in his famous will, there was a home called Fort Hill. (Submitted on July 3, 2009, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.) 

4. Fort Hill. Fort Hill (John C. Calhoun Mansion & Library), the plantation home of John C. Calhoun during the last 25 years of his life is today well-maintained in the center of Clemson University campus. (Submitted on July 3, 2009, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.) 

5. Fort Hill Plantation – Clemson – Pickens County. Named for Fort Rutledge that had been built on the property during the Revolutionary War. (Submitted on July 3, 2009, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.) 

6. Reproduction wallpaper for "Fort Hill" Home of John C. Calhoun. Fort Hill was the home of John C. Calhoun, South Carolina's pre-eminent 19th century statesman, from 1825 until his death in 1850. (Submitted on July 3, 2009, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.) 
 
Fort Hill Marker with House in Background Photo, Click for full size
By Brian Scott, July 24, 2008
3. Fort Hill Marker with House in Background
 

7. Fort Hill Plantation at Clemson University. One of the state's most famous historic homes has undergone a meticulous restoration. (Submitted on July 3, 2009, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.) 

8. John E. Colhoun. John Ewing Colhoun (1750 – October 26, 1802) was a United States Senator and lawyer from South Carolina. (Submitted on July 3, 2009, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.) 

9. John C. Calhoun. John Caldwell Calhoun (March 18, 1782 – March 31, 1850) was the 7th Vice President of the United States and a leading Southern politician from South Carolina during the first half of the 19th century. (Submitted on July 3, 2009, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.) 

10. South Carolina Exposition and Protest by John C. Calhoun (1828). The South Carolina Exposition and Protest, also known as Calhoun's Exposition, was written in 1828 by John C. Calhoun, during the Nullification Crisis. (Submitted on July 3, 2009, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.) 

11. Disquisition on Government by John C. Calhoun (1849). In order to have a clear and just conception of the nature and object of government, it is indispensable to understand correctly what that constitution or law of our nature is, in which government originates; or, to express it more fully and accurately — that law, without which government would not, and with which, it must necessarily exist. (Submitted on July 3, 2009, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.) 
 
Fort Hill Photo, Click for full size
By Brian Scott, July 24, 2008
4. Fort Hill
 

12. A Discourse on the Constitution and Government of the United States by John C. Calhoun (1849). Ours is a system of governments, compounded of the separate governments of the several States composing the Union, and of one common government of all its members, called the Government of the United States. (Submitted on July 3, 2009, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.) 

13. Floride Calhoun. Floride Bonneau Calhoun (February 15, 1792 – July 25, 1866) was the wife of prominent U.S. politician John C. Calhoun. (Submitted on July 3, 2009, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.) 

14. Thomas Green Clemson. Thomas Green Clemson, (July 1, 1807 – April 6, 1888) was an American politician and statesman, serving as an ambassador and the United States Superintendent of Agriculture. (Submitted on June 18, 2012, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.) 

15. Anna Maria Calhoun Clemson. Anna Maria Calhoun Clemson (1817–1875) was the daughter of John C. Calhoun and the wife of Thomas Green Clemson, the Founder of Clemson University. (Submitted on June 18, 2012, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.) 

16. African Americans at Fort Hill: 1825-1888. African Americans were a vital force in the operation and economy of Fort Hill, the home of John C. Calhoun from 1825 to 1850 and Thomas Green Clemson from 1872 to 1888. (Submitted on January 20, 2011.) 
 
Additional comments.
 
Fort Hill - <br>Front (North) Entrance Photo, Click for full size
By Brian Scott, July 24, 2008
5. Fort Hill -
Front (North) Entrance
 
1. Fort Hill - National Register Nomination Form
Description
Fort Hill's white columned "Big House" and the one-room plantation office, situated on a small hill in the midst of about five acres, are all that remain of the 1,100 acre plantation that was John C. Calhoun's home from 1825 until 1850. The mansion and office have been well preserved with little alteration, and contain many valuable original furnishings as well. Although located in the center of the Clemson University Campus, the Calhoun Mansion is screened from much of the modern development surrounding it by large trees and shrubs, many planted by Calhoun himself. The university is required to maintain the Calhoun mansion by the terms of the will of Calhoun's son-in-law, Thomas Clemson, who bequeathed the land and funds to establish the school.

The land upon which the mansion was erected was originally granted by the state to Robert Tate in 1784. At that time, the 600 acres was called the Fort Hill Tract, named for a fortification built there in 1776. Late in the eighteenth century the estate became the property of John Ewing Calhoun, who was to be the father-in-law of John C. Calhoun. In 1802 the Fort Hill Tract was deeded to the Reverend James and Elizabeth McElhenney and about this time a modest house, used as a rectory, was built by the minister and named "Old
 
Fort Hill -<br>Northeast Corner Photo, Click for full size
By Brian Scott, July 24, 2008
6. Fort Hill -
Northeast Corner
 
Clergy Hall."

The architecture of this house was very simple, consisting of four main rooms, two on the first floor, two on the second. The house was approximately 38 feet long and 18 feet wide. A large fire-place and hearth and a deep Dutch over are still interesting features of the room to the right of the north entrance hall. The west end of this room was partitioned off to enclose a staircase leading to the two rooms above. The main entrance was on the north and the front door opened into a hall-way which occupied the center of the house. There is evidence that there was a shed room on the south side which was later enlarged to form the present bedroom.

After the death of Mr. McElhenney, the estate was owned by Mrs. John Ewing Calhoun, who was a cousin of John Caldwell Calhoun and became his mother-in-law when he married her daughter, Floride. In 1825, following his decision to locate permanently in the South, John Calhoun moved his family from Washington, D.C. to Clergy Hall, which he rented from his mother-in-law. Clergy Hall was located about five miles form the small town of Pendleton, in a district then developing into a socially and politically important plantation area in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Mrs. John Ewing Calhoun died about 1836 and John C. Calhoun gained personal ownership of the estate the same year, and shortly thereafter
 
Fort Hill -<br>Walkway Leading to North Entrance Photo, Click for full size
By Brian Scott, July 24, 2008
7. Fort Hill -
Walkway Leading to North Entrance
 
changed the name to Fort Hill. Calhoun acquired adjoining tracts of land until the estate comprised 1,100 acres of forests, uplands and valleys.

Additions were made to the old house as the needs of the family, which included nine children, increased. Supposedly, Mrs. Calhoun was consistently remodeling the house and gardens, often while her husband was away in Washington. This explains the informal arrangement, unexpected steps and sudden turnings of the interior, which eventually contained fourteen rooms. The exterior of the two-story gable-roofed frame house is painted which the has a large central entrance portico supported by four Tuscan columns and two story porches with similar columns on the east and south. These large columns are plastered brick, expect for the southwest colonnade whose columns are solid wood, but later cement was substituted. The wood used in the construction of the house is probably cedar, which was prevalent on the estate. The interior woodwork is of red cedar.

The Calhouns used the east colonnade as the main entrance. Double doors open from it into a small hall, from which steep winding stairs ascend to the second floor. The house was heated by fireplaces in every room, each with a different carved mantel imported from Charleston. The ceiling were low and the floors are made of wide pine planks.

On the first floor, to the south
 
Entrance to Fort Hill's Underground Photo, Click for full size
By Brian Scott, July 24, 2008
8. Entrance to Fort Hill's Underground
 
of the main entrance is the parlor. To the north is the formal dining room, while the room on the western side of the original section was probably the family dining room for the Calhouns. Most of the bedrooms were located on the second floor, with dressing rooms adjoining several of them. The nursery was connected to the west end of the master bedroom, which is next to the dining room, and the quest room was above the parlor.

An article about Fort Hill in Scribner's Magazine of 1881 substantiated the belief that the Calhoun's kitchen was not in the main portion of the house: "At the western side of the house begins an extension one story in height and about one hundred feet long. This held the kitchen and house servants' rooms, and it was half screened from view by a row of cedars."

Another source, (the housekeeper of the subsequent owner), said that the extension on the west end contained four rooms, each about 18 by 25 feet, and one served as kitchen, another as laundry. They were built of wood, the walls were of rough plaster, and the floors were made of stone.

Apparently the smoke-house was located a few feet south of this extension and a "double-room house" for the house servants was built near the west end of it. Beneath the brow of the hill, to the north of the mansion less than 100 feet, was an abundant spring and a large arched chamber
 
Historical Photograph of Fort Hill<br>Thomas Green Clemson on North Porch Photo, Click for full size
By Brian Scott, circa 1880
9. Historical Photograph of Fort Hill
Thomas Green Clemson on North Porch
 
built of stones, described as an "semi-subterranean" spring-house. Also close by were the dairy and pigeon house.

The west extension of the mansion was removed after the Calhouns died, but in 1938 a one-room detached kitchen was reconstructed on that site. The spring and springhouse were restored in 1950, and except for the library, all of the other many out-buildings of the plantation are gone.

The one-room library or plantation office is located about fifty feet south of the mansion. According to the nineteenth century description of the office: "The library has its sides filled with bookshelves, and these are packed with volumes of every description, though largely the literature of law and rostrum. Calhoun's own speeches appear in several editions, and there are many books that bear the marks of his pen."

These books were put in the college library for safe-keeping and they were lost in a fire in 1894. Today the building houses a collection of early maps and some Calhoun furnishings, including his chair from the Senate and a carved roll-top desk which he used when Vice President. The white frame structure, ca. 1825, has a columned porch in front and a fireplace on the south side. The exterior is oak-paneled, with fairly high ceilings. The walled excavation under the building was used as an ice house.

Fort Hill Plantation in Calhoun's time
 
Black and White Rendering of a Watercolor by<br>Mrs J.H. Mitchell Showing Fort Hill Plantation Photo, Click for full size
By Brian Scott
10. Black and White Rendering of a Watercolor by
Mrs J.H. Mitchell Showing Fort Hill Plantation
 
consisted of over 1,100 acres, 450 being in cultivation. The cotton fields were large -- one of them covered 120 acres. Calhoun also experimented with Bermuda grass and terraced the hillsides of his land. He raised purebred horses and experimented with cattle breeding as well as silkworm production. The large gardens were filled with a great variety of fruits and vegetables and he collected many interesting trees to landscape his estate.

In relation to the present Clemson University campus, the vegetable garden was where the Trustee House and Chemistry buildings now stand. There was a terrace to the west side of the rose garden where a grape arbor extended to it from the outside kitchen. Beyond the gardens were the apple, peach and pear orchards.

The house servants' quarters extended from the west end of the mansion, beyond the outside kitchen. The slave quarters were located a short distance from where the present Architectural building now stands. The slave houses were built of stone and were joined together in a continuous range over 200 feet long, each house with a back and front yard. The stables were some distance away, as were the cotton press, granaries and the mills for grinding corn and wheat.

Many Clemson University buildings are located on what was once the lawn of Fort Hill, and the front gate of the plantation was where Sikes Hall how stands.
 
John Ewing Calhoun<br>1750 – October 26, 1802 Photo, Click for full size
By Brian Scott
11. John Ewing Calhoun
1750 – October 26, 1802
S.C. House of Rep 1778-1800
S.C. Sen 1800-1801
U.S. Sen 1801-1802
 
The driveway to the mansion wound through a line of trees by the present Administration building to the east front of the house; some of the original trees are still standing. The spacious lawn was landscaped with oaks, locusts, cedars, elms, willows, wild orange, and fig trees. A fenced-in yard surrounded the house and the gate was where the Trustee House is now located. Gift trees, a varnish tree from Madagascar from Commodore Stephen Decatur, a hemlock from Daniel Webster, and an arborvitae from Henry Clay, still grace the lawn.

In 1850 Calhoun died and Thomas G. Clemson, his son-in-law, eventually inherited the estate. He lived in the mansion for many years and he willed the estate to the state of South Carolina for the establishment of an agricultural and mechanical college, with a provision to provide for the preservation of the Calhoun mansion. Clemson's will stated in part: "It is my desire that the dwelling-house of Fort Hill shall never be torn down or altered; but shall be kept in repair with all of the articles of furniture and vesture which I herewith give for that purpose, and shall be always open for the inspection of visitors..."

The college was established in 1889 with $80,000 and 814 acres bequeathed by Clemson, as a land grant college. Fort Hill is presently maintained by Clemson University and with gifts and a per capita tax on members of the
 
John C. Calhoun<br>March 18, 1782 – March 31, 1850 Photo, Click for full size
Wikipedia, circa 1845
12. John C. Calhoun
March 18, 1782 – March 31, 1850
U.S. House of Rep from S.C. 1811–1817
U.S. Sec of War 1817–1825
V.P. of the U.S. 1825–1832
U.S. Sen from S.C. 1832–1843
U.S. Sec of State 1844–1845
U.S. Sen from S.C. 1845–1850
 
South Carolina division of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, who supervise preservation and conduct tours of the house.

Significance
Fort Hill, the plantation home of John C. Calhoun during the last 25 years of his life is today well-maintained in the center of Clemson University campus. When he moved to the house in 1825 Calhoun was Vice President of the United States, at the height of his career, having gained national recognition as one of the "War Hawks" in the Twelfth Congress and as Secretary of war under James Monroe. He long aspired to the presidency, without success, but he did serve another cabinet position, as Secretary of State under John Tyler in 1845, and he died in Washington, D.C. in March 1850, still very much involved in representing the Southern viewpoint in the Great Compromise debate in the Senate.

Though his political career kept him away much of the time, Calhoun returned to Fort Hill whenever the opportunity offered and he wrote some of his most important political speeches and essays there, probably in his one-room library. During the Congressional recess of 1828, with a crisis brewing in his native state, Calhoun returned home to write his famous "South Carolina Exposition," embodying the doctrine of nullification. When nullification became a fact four years later, Calhoun hurried to South Carolina to guide proceedings,
 
Floride Bonneau Calhoun<br>February 15, 1792 – July 25, 1866 Photo, Click for full size
By Brian Scott
13. Floride Bonneau Calhoun
February 15, 1792 – July 25, 1866
Wife of John C. Calhoun
 
subsequently giving up the vice-presidency to enter the Senate in support of his doctrine.

During the first part of Polk's administration he retired to private life at Fort Hill, when he was not asked to remain as Secretary of State, but soon returned to the Senate because of the Oregon and Texas controversies. During his last summer at Fort Hill in 1849, Calhoun finished writing his "Discourse on the Constitution of the United States," and his famous essay "A Disquisition on Government," in which he presented his theories of state sovereignty, the concurrent majority and of the nature of the union.

John Caldwell Calhoun was born March 18, 1782 in Abbeville District, South Carolina. After graduating from Yale University in 1804, he studied law in South Carolina and Litchfield, Connecticut and was admitted to the bar in 1807. He was elected to the South Carolina Legislature in 1808, to the United States Congress in 1811. Until his death on March 31, 1850 in Washington, D.C., Calhoun was one of the most influential and dominant political figures in the country.
    — Submitted July 3, 2009, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.

2. John Caldwell Calhoun (1782 - 1850)
John Caldwell Calhoun (cousin of John Ewing Colhoun and Joseph Calhoun), a Representative and a Senator from
 
Thomas Green Clemson<br>July 1, 1807 – April 6, 1888 Photo, Click for full size
By Brian Scott, circa 1885
14. Thomas Green Clemson
July 1, 1807 – April 6, 1888
U.S. charge d'affaires to Belgium
1844 - 1851
Superintendent of Agriculture
1860 - 1861
 
South Carolina and a Vice President of the United States; born near Calhoun Mills, Abbeville District (now Mount Carmel, McCormick County), S.C., March 18, 1782; attended the common schools and private academies; graduated from Yale College in 1804; studied law, admitted to the bar in 1807, and commenced practice in Abbeville, S.C.; also engaged in agricultural pursuits; member, State house of representatives 1808-1809; elected as a Democratic Republican to the Twelfth and to the three succeeding Congresses and served from March 4, 1811, to November 3, 1817, when he resigned; Secretary of War in the Cabinet of President James Monroe 1817-1825; elected vice president of the United States in 1824 with President John Quincy Adams; reelected in 1828 with President Andrew Jackson and served from March 4, 1825, to December 28, 1832, when he resigned, having been elected as a Democratic Republican (later Nullifier) to the United States Senate on December 12, 1832, to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of Robert Y. Hayne; reelected in 1834 and 1840 and served from December 29, 1832, until his resignation, effective March 3, 1843; Secretary of State in the Cabinet of President John Tyler 1844-1845; again elected to the United States Senate, as a Democrat, to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of Daniel E. Huger; reelected in 1846 and served from November 26, 1845, until his
 
Anna Maria Calhoun<br>February 13, 1817 - September 22, 1875 Photo, Click for full size
By Brian Scott
15. Anna Maria Calhoun
February 13, 1817 - September 22, 1875
Wife of Thomas Green Clemson
Daughter of John C. Calhoun
 
death in Washington, D.C., March 31, 1850; chairman, Committee on Finance (Twenty-ninth Congress); interment in St. Philip’s Churchyard, Charleston, S.C. (Source: Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.)
    — Submitted June 18, 2012, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.

 
Credits. This page originally submitted on July 25, 2008, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina. This page has been viewed 1,850 times since then. Photos:   1. submitted on July 3, 2009, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.   2. submitted on July 25, 2008, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.   3. submitted on July 26, 2008, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.   4, 5, 6. submitted on July 25, 2008, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.   7, 8, 9, 10, 11. submitted on July 3, 2009, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.   12. submitted on March 17, 2009, by Mike Stroud of Bluffton, South Carolina.   13, 14. submitted on July 3, 2009, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.   15. submitted on June 18, 2012, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina. • Craig Swain was the editor who published this page.
 
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