The sword of state is the South Carolina Senate’s symbol of authority. The sword rests in the customary rack on the Senate rostrum in front of the President’s chair during the daily sessions and is carried by the Sergeant-at-Arms on all state occasions. The present Sword of State was presented to the Senate February 20, 1951, as a personal gift to South Carolina by Lord Halifax, former British ambassador to the United States. The sword was fashioned by master craftsmen of the Wilkinson Sword Company of London, England. The sword has a pointed straight blade, the upper portion of which is etched with a design containing the state flower, the yellow jessamine. One side of the design is centered with the state seal. The sword has a golden curved guard and a handle wrapped with gold braid.
The original sword of state is first mentioned in official records on Friday May 5, 1704, when money was allocated by the South Carolina Assembly for its purchase. Evidence indicates that this first sword was made in Charleston, South Carolina. It was stolen from the Senate rostrum in 1941. It was replaced by a cavalry sword on March 5, 1941, as the Senate Journal of that date relates: “Mr. Means, on behalf of the Charleston Museum, which is the oldest like institution in the U.S., presented to the Senate a cavalry sword made in 1800 and used in the War of 1812 and in the War of the Confederacy, to replace the Sword of State recently stolen from the Chamber.” The cavalry sword was returned to the Museum of Charleston after the present sword was presented to the Senate.