South Carolinians met here at the First Baptist Church in Columbia on December 17, 1860, determined to end their membership in the United States in protest against the election of Abraham Lincoln, a Republican sworn to end the expansion of slavery into the territories. A case of smallpox across the street led to their adjournment to Charleston. At Institute Hall, where only that summer the Democratic National Convention had met so abortively, they signed the Ordinance of Secession on December 20. Of this Columbia church, the staunch South Carolina Unionist, James L. Petigru (see James Louis Petigru) said, "It looks like a church, but it's now a lunatic asylum; go right there and you will find 164 maniacs inside." Quoted from Lewis P. Jones, "South Carolina, A Synoptic History." Photograph taken in 1905.
Courtesy of the South Caroliniana Library.