1737. Culture. Scandal
It was not unusual for husbands to place notices in the Gazette announcing their wayward wives, as a means of shaming them to society. However, Issac Simmons placed the following announcement in the Gazette about his wife, lured by the theater life:
This is to give notice to all people in Charles-town or elsewhere, not to credit harbor nor entertain Mary Simmons, the wife of Issac Simmons, which has made an elopement from her said husband especially to be employed in the Playhouse in Charles-Town, it being entirely against the said Mr. Simmons’ request.
The Assembly received a petition of Thomas Miles for reimbursement for his slaves Venus and Kitt who “were tryed for Poisoning and condemned to be executed pursuant to the directions of the ‘Act for the better ordering and governing of Negroes and other Slaves in this Province.’” Kitt was executed but Venus was “pardoned, and was afterwards sent off the Province.”
The most profitable commodity in the lowcountry was African slaves – to work the rice fields, construct casks and barrels and build and maintain the boats that transported the rice down river from plantation to port. Two skilled slaves represented a substantial financial investment for a planter. In present-day economics, their value would approximately be $15,000 – $20,000. The Carolina planters’ appetite for new slaves was so strong that one merchant wrote that “Negroes are the proper bait for Catching a Carolina Planter, as certain as Beef to catch a Shark.”
Lt. Governor Bull estimated there were 57,253 Negroes in South Carolina, about 15,000 adult males. He also noted that with only about 6000 white males this “must raise in our midst many melancholy reflections.”