The Rollin Sisters | Sisterhood: SC Suffragists - Episode 2


The Civil War brought an abrupt change to the Rollin Family, ending a period where, according to Frances Rollin, “free people of color were at the zenith of their prosperity”. The Rollin family’s wealth became decimated by the Civil War, and the Rollin sisters are forced to remain in the north with family and friends. When the sisters return home, they are enthusiastically determined to embrace the new world which post-Civil War and Reconstruction brought to South Carolina.  Frances Rollin takes a teaching post at the American Missionary Association’s Freedman’s School; later, the Penn Center in Beaufort. It was during her trip to the Penn Center when the Pilot Boy incident occurred. Frances is assisted during her lawsuit by Major Martin DeLaney, the highest ranking African American soldier in the Union Army. DeLaney is so taken by Frances’ determination and abilities, that he engages her to write his biography.

In 1867, Frances Rollin travels to Boston, where she writes her book on Martin DeLaney. The book is written under the pen name “Frank A. Rollin”. While in Boston, Frances becomes acquainted with abolitionists William Lloyd Garrison and Wendell Phillips, as well as intellectuals like William Nell, and Richard Greener. Kate and Lottie Rollin return to Charleston to establish a day school for colored boys and girls, which operates for only eighteen months. The sisters move to Columbia, where they teach at the Freedmen’s Bureau’s school, and pick up positions in South Carolina’s fledgling Reconstruction government, where they gain influence in the Republican controlled state.


More in this Series