The Constitution of 1868 | History of SC Slide Collection

The Constitution of 1868. Dominated by radical Republicans, the U.S. Congress closed down the South's state governments in 1867 and ordered each state to call a constitutional convention. The Union Army conducted the elections for the conventions according to the conditions set down by the federal Congress. The South Carolina convention that resulted was far different from earlier political bodies. Of the 76 African-American and 48 white delegates, all but four were Republican and 44 were "carpetbaggers," the name given to people from out of state (some of whom brought their belongings in suitcase-like bags made of carpeting). Many of the men of the convention were men of ability, and the Constitution they wrote has been generally recognized as a good one. In general, it is more democratic than earlier documents. Representation in the legislature was based on population alone, not population and wealth. Property requirements for holding office were removed. All men could now vote, and married women were given full control over their own property, regardless of when it was acquired. The governor was given a veto, which could be overridden by a two-thirds majority vote of the legislature. Most significantly, this constitution obligated the state to create a system of free public schools.

Courtesy of the South Carolina Department of Archives and History.