Quaker memories

     This August 17th marks the 315th anniversary of John Archdale’s appointment as governor of Carolina(which was not divided until 1710). It is significant because Archdale was a Quaker in a colony founded by English Anglicans, and benefitted from Carolina’s rare colonial practice of religious liberty. The Fundamental Constitutions of the colony were the work of eminent English philosopher John Locke, who was a firm believer in the right to choose one’s on beliefs. His exceptional document even provided for the right to be atheist – quite a step from those being burned at the stake up in New England, where ironically, dominant Quakers were far less open-minded.

      Archdale was a pragmatist, however, and was among the first colonial officials to welcome Jews to Carolina – largely for their commercial acumen and the fact that many were families originally from the Iberian peninsula, and proved valuable as interpreters in negotiating with Spanish-speaking Indians to the south.
     The Archdale name is still an historic street in the old city where two of the oldest churches – St. John’ Lutheran the Unitarian Church – represent the first of those congregations in the South. Ironically, the former Friend Street, named in honor of the Quaker congregation, was changed to become part of Legare Street.
     The 18th century Quaker Meeting House burned in the great Charleston fire of 1861, and the original congregation no longer exists. A city parking garage now stands on the old site at King and Queen streets, which was formerly the northwest corner of what was Archdale Square.


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