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Beech Island in Aiken County, South Carolina — The American South (South Atlantic)
 

Redcliffe Plantation

State Historic Site

 
 
Redcliffe Plantation Marker image. Click for full size.
By Mike Stroud, July 2008
1. Redcliffe Plantation Marker
Inscription.
About Redcliffe Plantation State Historic Site Redcliffe Plantation was the home of James Henry Hammond (1807-1864) and three generations of his descendants. Hammond whose political career included terms as a United States Congressman, Governor of South Carolina and United States Senator, was perhaps best known during his lifetime as an outspoken defender of slavery. In an 1858 speech to the United States senate he coined the famous phrase "Cotton is King." Governor Hammond was a successful cotton planter and designed Redcliffe to be an estate for relaxation, entertaining and agricultural experimentation. The 1859 Greek revival mansion became the physical and emotional center for four generations of Hammonds. The Governor's great-grandson. John Shaw Billings (1898-1975), known for his position as managing editor of Time & Life magazines, restored Redcliffe's mansion in the 1930s.

South Carolina State Park Service Mission
To encourage people to discover South Carolina's state parks by providing resource-based recreational and educational opportunities that emphasize the conservation, protection and interpretation of the state's natural and cultural resources.

Redcliffe Plantation State Historic Site Mission Statement
To preserve the historic structures, collections and landscape
Redcliffe Plantation Marker image. Click for full size.
By Mike Stroud, 2008
2. Redcliffe Plantation Marker
of Redcliffe Plantation, the 1959 home of South Carolina Governor James Henry Hammond; and to interpret the cultural history of the plantation from 1855 to 1975 for the public via interpretive programs, exhibits and special events.
 
Erected by South Carolina State Park Service.
 
Location. 33° 24.921′ N, 81° 51.953′ W. Marker is in Beech Island, South Carolina, in Aiken County. Marker is on Redcliffe Road. Click for map. Follow Hammond Road and signs to the parking lot. Marker is at or near this postal address: 181 Redcliffe Rd, Beech Island SC 29842, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 10 other markers are within 6 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Historic Church (approx. 0.6 miles away); Downer Institute & School / Downer School, 1924–1986 (approx. 0.6 miles away); Beech Island Agricultural Club (approx. 0.6 miles away); Beech Island Baptist Church (approx. one mile away); Silver Bluff Baptist Church (approx. 1.5 miles away); Savannah Town / Fort Moore (approx. 3 miles away); Signal Corps Aviation School (approx. 5.5 miles away in Georgia); Jefferson High School / Rev. Austin Jefferson, Sr.
Redcliffe Plantation Marker, Right side picture image. Click for full size.
By Redcliffe Plantation Marker
3. Redcliffe Plantation Marker, Right side picture
(approx. 5.7 miles away); Storm Branch Baptist Church (approx. 5.7 miles away); Jacksonville School / Jacksonville Lodge (approx. 6 miles away). Click for a list of all markers in Beech Island.
 
Regarding Redcliffe Plantation. Current status – In 1973 the property was deeded to the South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation, and Tourism. It is open to the public.

Timeline:
1857 – Construction of house began – supervised by Hammond's sons.
1859 – House completed.
1886 – Hammond's son Harry removed the porches and replaced them with a one-story, 12-foot wide L-shaped porch that extended along the south and east sides of the house. The stairway was placed at the eastern end of the south porch.
1930 – House restored by John Shaw Billings.
1973 – Property donated to the state.

************
National Register of Historic Places:
Redcliffe ** (added 1973 - Building - #73001671)
Historic Significance: Event, Architecture/Engineering, Person
Architect, builder, or engineer: Berckman,Louis
Architectural Style: Greek Revival
Historic Person: Hammomd,James,Henry,et al.
Significant
Redcliffe Plantation image. Click for full size.
By Mike Stroud, July 2008
4. Redcliffe Plantation
The National Register
of Historic Places

South Carolina
Department of Archives
and History
REDCLIFFE
Year: 1973, 1857
Area of Significance: Social History, Agriculture, Conservation, Literature, Architecture, Landscape Architecture
Period of Significance: 1875-1899, 1950-1974
Owner: Private
Historic Function: Agriculture/Subsistence, Domestic
Historic Sub-function: Agricultural Outbuildings, Single Dwelling
Current Function: Domestic
Current Sub-function: Single Dwelling
 
Also see . . .
1. James Henry Hammond. James Henry Hammond (November 15, 1807 – November 13, 1864) was a politician from South Carolina. (Submitted on July 26, 2008, by Mike Stroud of Bluffton, South Carolina.) 

2. Redcliffe. Redcliffe is representative of the architectural styles in the South during the early nineteenth century. (Submitted on March 15, 2009, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.) 

3. Redcliffe Plantation – Beech Island – Aiken County. (Submitted on March 15, 2009, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.)
4. Redcliffe Plantation State Historic Site. "Cotton is King!" Those words resounded through Congress and then the nation in a fiery speech by South Carolina Sen. James Henry Hammond in the years leading up to the Civil War. (Submitted on March 15, 2009, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.) 

5. Plantation workers are humanized. A program at Redcliffe Plantation State Historic Site puts names
Redcliffe Plantation National Register Plaque at right image. Click for full size.
By Mike Stroud, 2008
5. Redcliffe Plantation National Register Plaque at right
and faces to the generations of black families that worked at the plantation as slaves and later as paid staffers. (Submitted on March 15, 2009, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.) 

6. Redcliffe State Park. Redcliffe Plantation State Historic Site is a state park in South Carolina, USA. (Submitted on March 15, 2009, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.) 

7. Redcliffe: The Double Life of a Plantation Popultation. Life on a 19th-Century plantation was good and not so good. (Submitted on January 9, 2011, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.) 

8. The Hammonds of Redcliffe by Carol K. Rothrock Bleser. Book preview. (Submitted on January 9, 2011, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.) 

9. John Shaw Billings Photograph Albums, 1875-1939. The series of photograph albums document the time that John Shaw Billings (1898-1975) and his extended family spent at the Redcliffe plantation in Aiken County, South Carolina. (Submitted on January 9, 2011, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.) 
 
Additional comments.
1. James H. Hammond
As a congressman before his election as governor, James Hammond had made headlines by advocating the death penalty for abolitionists to keep their ideas out of the state and away from slaves.

Hammond theorized that slavery was appropriate for
Redcliffe Plantation Southeast corner image. Click for full size.
By Mike Stroud, 2008
6. Redcliffe Plantation Southeast corner
National Register of Historic Places: Redcliffe ** (added 1973 - Building - #73001671)
blacks because, among other reasons, it controlled their otherwise untamed carnal instincts, an irony in light of his own inclinations. He had sex with his wife, his wife's sister's four young daughters, his slave mistress sally Johnson, her twelve-year-old daughter Louisa, at least two white men according to historian Martin Duberman, and perhaps other women and male slaves. Nevertheless he was a stern moralist toward his slaves. If a slave couple wanted to divorce they had to convince him that sufficient cause existed; even then, each got a hundred lashes and could not marry for three years...His reputation for cruelty lasted more than a century in the black community. (Source: Lies Across America by James W. Loewen, pg 249-251.)
    — Submitted March 15, 2009, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.

2. Redcliffe
Redcliffe, begun in 1857 by James Henry Hammond, is a two-story house of wooden construction. Originally, the house stood nine feet above the ground. Double decked porches were built on all four sides. Only the front and back porches had steps down to the ground. Large French windows in all rooms opened onto the porches, upper and lower. n enclosed cupola or observatory, consisting almost entirely of windows, was built on the roof between the two chimneys.
Redcliffe Plantation House image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, circa 1993
7. Redcliffe Plantation House
Each floor consisted of one central hall with two rooms on either side. The flooring was done in heart pine. Local sycamore trees furnished the wood for the doors, mantels, and banisters. Bookcases of sycamore were made for the library by a German craftsman.

The first major change came immediately after the Hammond family moved into the house. Chilling winds swept through the open space under the house. To control the chill factor, the under area was bricked around the nine feet walls. Later the basement was partitioned off with brick walls into four rooms to match the other floors. Brick soon replaced with sand floors.

In 1886, another major change altered the appearance of Redcliffe. The flat open porches had been damaged greatly, due to the lack of proper drainage. Harry Hammond, son of the builder, removed the upper porches bringing the main steps down from the corner of the new single piazza. This charge marred the classic symmetry of the house. In July 1901, the observatory on the roof was removed as a fire hazard. A widow's walk replaced the former cupola.

A young landscape architect, Louis Berckman, from Belgium, planned the grounds at Redcliffe. An avenue of magnolia grandiflora was planted. The open fields near the house were used for scientific experiments with vineyards and fruit trees.

Significance
Redcliffe is representative
Redcliffe Plantation Avenue of Magnolia Trees, once- formal entrance image. Click for full size.
By Mike Stroud, 2008
8. Redcliffe Plantation Avenue of Magnolia Trees, once- formal entrance
of the architectural style in the South during the early nineteenth century. Built on brick pillars like many of the Lowcountry houses, Redcliffe maintained the pattern of a central hall with four rooms, so characteristic of the Carolina Upcountry. Originally Georgian in style, the house now features many Greek Revival elements. Two slave quarters remain, illustrating the pattern of life prior to the War Between the States.

The builder of Redcliffe, James Henry Hammond, was born on November 15, 1807, at Stony Battery, Newberry District in South Carolina. In 1825, he graduated from the South Carolina College. After reading law in Columbia, South Carolina and Augusta, Georgia, he was admitted to the bar in 1828. He was elected to the United States Congress in 1834, several years after his marriage to Catherine Fitzsimons. Hammond was elected Governor of South Carolina in 1842. During his first two terms as Governor, he secured the transformation of the arsenal at Columbia and the Citadel into military academies. He became a United States Senator in 1857. In the troubled days before the War Between the States, Hammond realized the importance of cotton to the agricultural South. "Cotton is King" he declared in the Senate chambers. Hammond was greatly interested in the improvements of farming methods. In the 1840s he promoted the use of marl. Ahead of his time in social awareness,
Redcliffe Plantation Stables image. Click for full size.
By Mike Stroud, 2008
9. Redcliffe Plantation Stables
he provided hospital care for his workers and gave nursery care to the children of working mothers. In December 1855, he was interested in the organization of the Beech Island Agricultural Society. Due to his interest in agriculture, he was visited by Richard Lamb Allen, who in 1842 founded the American Agriculturalist.

The present owner of Redcliffe is John Shaw Billings, a descendant of Hammond. Educated at Harvard, Billings later went to Time, then Maneging Editor of Life. At one time, Billings was called the editorial prime minister of Time/Life, Inc. An important figure in American journalism, John Shaw Billings had a front seat in American history. (Source: National Register nomination form.)
    — Submitted January 9, 2011, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.

 
Categories. Notable BuildingsNotable PersonsNotable PlacesPolitics
 
James H. Hammond<br>1807-1864 image. Click for full size.
10. James H. Hammond
1807-1864
U.S. House of Rep S.C. 1835–1836
Gov of S.C. 1842–1844
U.S. Sen from S.C. 1857–1860
It was Hammond who popularized the phrase that "Cotton is King" in an 1858 speech to the Senate.
 
 
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Mike Stroud of Bluffton, South Carolina. This page has been viewed 3,665 times since then and 12 times this year. Photos:   1. submitted on , by Mike Stroud of Bluffton, South Carolina.   2. submitted on , by Mike Stroud of Bluffton, South Carolina.   3, 4, 5, 6. submitted on , by Mike Stroud of Bluffton, South Carolina.   7. submitted on , by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.   8, 9. submitted on , by Mike Stroud of Bluffton, South Carolina.   10. submitted on , by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina. • Kevin W. was the editor who published this page. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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