Confederate History and Heritage Month: Lest we forget John Ferrars Townsend, Sr., signer of the South Carolina Ordinance of Secession

John Ferrars Townsend, Sr., Charleston, South Carolina. About 1860.
(Image courtesy of

Far too often during Confederate History and Heritage Month we concentrate only on the soldiers who fought a war against their own countrymen to uphold slavery, but overlook the men who made it all possible. Let's all take a moment now to celebrate just one of those wonderful men, John Ferrars Townsend, Sr., signer of the South Carolina Ordinance of Secession.

The South Carolina Ordinance of Secession. Signed by John Ferrars Townsend, Sr.. (Image courtesy
of the South Carolina Department of Archives and History)

Such fun times they were, now weren't they? Do you recall why South Carolina seceded? Here, let's let them tell us themselves:

"The ends for which the Constitution was framed are declared by itself to be "to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity." 
These ends it endeavored to accomplish by a Federal Government, in which each State was recognized as an equal, and had separate control over its own institutions. The right of property in slaves was recognized by giving to free persons distinct political rights, by giving them the right to represent, and burthening them with direct taxes for three-fifths of their slaves; by authorizing the importation of slaves for twenty years; and by stipulating for the rendition of fugitives from labor.
We affirm that these ends for which this Government was instituted have been defeated, and the Government itself has been made destructive of them by the action of the non-slaveholding States. Those States have assume the right of deciding upon the propriety of our domestic institutions; and have denied the rights of property established in fifteen of the States and recognized by the Constitution; they have denounced as sinful the institution of slavery; they have permitted open establishment among them of societies, whose avowed object is to disturb the peace and to eloign the property of the citizens of other States. They have encouraged and assisted thousands of our slaves to leave their homes; and those who remain, have been incited by emissaries, books and pictures to servile insurrection.
For twenty-five years this agitation has been steadily increasing, until it has now secured to its aid the power of the common Government. Observing the *forms* [emphasis in the original] of the Constitution, a sectional party has found within that Article establishing the Executive Department, the means of subverting the Constitution itself. A geographical line has been drawn across the Union, and all the States north of that line have united in the election of a man to the high office of President of the United States, whose opinions and purposes are hostile to slavery. He is to be entrusted with the administration of the common Government, because he has declared that that "Government cannot endure permanently half slave, half free," and that the public mind must rest in the belief that slavery is in the course of ultimate extinction. 
This sectional combination for the submersion of the Constitution, has been aided in some of the States by elevating to citizenship, persons who, by the supreme law of the land, are incapable of becoming citizens; and their votes have been used to inaugurate a new policy, hostile to the South, and destructive of its beliefs and safety.
On the 4th day of March next, this party will take possession of the Government. It has announced that the South shall be excluded from the common territory, that the judicial tribunals shall be made sectional, and that a war must be waged against slavery until it shall cease throughout the United States.
The guaranties of the Constitution will then no longer exist; the equal rights of the States will be lost. The slaveholding States will no longer have the power of self-government, or self-protection, and the Federal Government will have become their enemy.
Sectional interest and animosity will deepen the irritation, and all hope of remedy is rendered vain, by the fact that public opinion at the North has invested a great political error with the sanction of more erroneous religious belief.
We, therefore, the People of South Carolina, by our delegates in Convention assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, have solemnly declared that the Union heretofore existing between this State and the other States of North America, is dissolved, and that the State of South Carolina has resumed her position among the nations of the world, as a separate and independent State; with full power to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and to do all other acts and things which independent States may of right do."

Oh yes, of course. It's all coming back to me now. Slavery. Those wild and crazy Secession Convention Delegates. Of course, not many of the Delegates knew as much about the "peculiar institution" as ol' Johnny did.

(Image courtesy of RootsWeb)

You see, Johnny was the proud owner of multiple Low Country plantations. The thing about owning a plantation is, there is an awful lot of work to be done. Well, good thing there was an ever-ready supply of cheap African labor to be had. I know what you're probably thinking. But you're wrong. Slaves were not inexpensive tools. They cost the slaveowners of the day enormous amounts of money. I mean, dirt floors? Those don't come cheap. And just think about the maintenance costs for all of that farm equipment. I mean, they probably had to feed them and everything. I know, crazy, right? Well, as I was saying, no one knew more about the hardships of slavery then Johnnyboy. That's because he owned more than 200 human beings. I mean, in the great scheme of things, that's like next to nothing when you consider how much he valued their lives. Here, let's have a look at the 1850 US Census Slave Schedules which enumerated Johnny and his many happy slaves:

(Images courtesy of

Alright. Not bad. Not bad. But Johnny really started to kick things up a notch the closer he got to secession. Have a look at the 1860 US Census Slave Schedules enumerating all of Johnny's farm equipment on the eve of the Civil War:

(Images courtesy of

Alright! Now he's cookin' with gas! So, I guess you could say that slavery really wasn't that much of a primary concern to Johnny around the time of secession. I mean, what does he care anyway? He's already got more than he needs, right? But remember folks, when you own that much farm equipment, it's going to cost you an awful lot of money to maintain, and that's going to cut into your profit. I know, terrible, isn't it? Instead of six plantations, you might only be able to afford three. Dreadful! Let's see how Johnny was doing in 1860 in the area of personal finances:

(Image courtesy of

Well my word. In 1860 Townsend was only able to cobble together about $240,000 in real estate and $320,000 in his personal estate? According to calculations on the Inflation Calculator at, those damned slaves nearly bankrupted poor Johnny.

(Images courtesy of

I don't know about you, but that makes me extremely angry. I can imagine that a monetary loss that enormous could be extremely stressful. It's a good thing Johnny had hobbies to distract him from all of that hardship. Do you know what Johnny's favorite thing to do to pass the time was while those slaves were putting him in the poor house? Well, write of course, what else? Johnny was quite the writer. Let's check out some samples of his work. 

An excerpt of "The South Alone, Should Govern the South and African Slavery Should Be Controlled by Those Only, Who Are Friendly to It" (Images courtesy of 

An excerpt of "The Doom of Slavery". (Image courtesy of Google)

An excerpt of "The Doom of Slavery". (Image courtesy of Google)

Ah yes, quite the writer he was. He really had a way with words, now didn't he? All the more reason that we should take time out of our busy month to pay our respects to this hero of the Confederacy. Here's looking at you John Ferrars Townsend. Lest we forget is right! Read more about John Ferrars Townsend:

Restoring the honor!


  1. Those dang Confederates, putting their thoughts onto paper... really makes it difficult for neo-Confederates today to deny slavery and uphold the noble Lost Cause.

    1. I really enjoy Confederate History and Heritage Month. It's never been so quiet in the comments section. LOL!


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