The town of Camden was one of the first official settlements to be laid out in the interior of South Carolina in the 1730s. Settlers flooded into the backcountry during the quarter century of peace between France and England, after the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713 ended Queen Anne's War in the colonies. Between 1716 and 1740, the population of South Carolina as a whole grew from 16,000 to 45,000 people. Along the coast, much of the increase came from the growing numbers of African-American slaves needed to raise the profitable rice crop. Many of the newcomers in the backcountry were Germans or Scots-Irish. Colonial officials in Charleston feared both the possibility of slave rebellion and of attack from Native Americans where this rapid expansion had outpaced governmental organization and protection. So in 1731, Governor Robert Johnson introduced a township plan, calling for the creation of an arc of towns in a radius of 80 to a 100 miles from Charles Town.
To encourage Europeans to settle, the colony promised to pay their passage and made them eligible to receive a 50 acre headright for each family member. Eight townships were laid out between 1733 and 1735, of which Fredericksburgh, later renamed Camden, was one. Germans settled into Saxe-Goth, Orangeburg, and Amelia Townships, but Pennsylvania Quakers first colonized Fredericksburgh. An energetic Charlestonian, Joseph Kershaw, moved to the district in 1758, opened flour and saw mills, indigo works, a distillery and brewhouses, and a tobacco warehouse. It was he who, in the aftermath of the Stamp Act controversy, persuaded the legislature to change the name of the town to Camden in honor of Lord Camden, who had stood up in Parliament for colonial rights. This plat map is the result of a 1798 act "to establish the boundaries of the town of Camden."
Courtesy of the South Carolina Department of Archives and History.