The Tillman Legacy: Erase The Structure, Not The Symbols

SOUTH CAROLINA NEEDS TO “START OVER” || By FITSNEWS || In our ongoing coverage of the controversial legacy of “Pitchfork” Ben Tillman – a nineteenth century South Carolina politician with a burning hatred of black people – we’ve consistently noted his “other” major flaw was saddling the Palmetto State with an…


|| By FITSNEWS || In our ongoing coverage of the controversial legacy of “Pitchfork” Ben Tillman – a nineteenth century South Carolina politician with a burning hatred of black people – we’ve consistently noted his “other” major flaw was saddling the Palmetto State with an antiquated, dysfunctional form of government.

Tillman’s 1895 Constitution continues to hold South Carolina back to this day, splintering accountability and enabling our state’s “leaders” to evade responsibility for chronic academic, economic and quality of life failures.

Making this point?  Columbia, S.C. attorneys Todd Carroll and Kevin Hall.

In a piece for The (Columbia, S.C.) State newspaper, Carroll and Hall wrote …

During his inauguration as governor in 1890, Tillman announced his intentions for South Carolina: “The whites have absolute control of the State government, and we intend at any and all hazards to retain it.” Five years later, after his tenure as governor had concluded, Tillman lorded over a constitutional convention that upended South Carolina’s government. His goal was simple: to ostracize minorities — who were defined as anyone having “one eighth or more negro blood” — and, just in case a black man was ever elected governor, to dilute power within and deflect authority away from the executive branch.

Tillman got his way, and after his perverse vision for South Carolina’s government was ratified, he closed the 1895 convention with this rant: “If we were free, instead of having negro suffrage, we would have negro slavery. Instead of having the United States government, we would have the Confederate States government.” He concluded: “And no matter what shall betide us in the future, I believe we can meet any fate, and nothing can go amiss with us unless we forget that we are white men, Carolinians and Democrats.” According to the convention’s journal, this repugnant declaration drew “prolonged applause.”

It is remarkable that Tillman’s loathsome vision is not some mere relic of history. His poisonous prescription for our state remains with us today and every day that the Constitution of 1895 continues to rule our state.

Indeed …

This is why we’ve spent the better part of the past decade proposing reforms aimed at undoing this ridiculously backward government structure.

So … what should be done about Tillman’s legacy?

Eight years ago, we called for Tillman’s statue on the S.C. State House grounds to come down in light of his racist past, but following last week’s removal of the Confederate flag from those same grounds (a move which we supported) – we’ve revisited the issue.

Carroll and Hall’s view?

They cut right to the chase …

“The best way to remove Tillman’s racist stain on our state is not to remove his statue. It’s not to vandalize his portrait. It’s not to rename buildings at our state universities,” they wrote.  “Instead, we ought to revisit and repair the entire structure of our state government in a way that rejects Tillman’s guiding principles. To amend our constitution in a way that empowers and consolidates, rather than cripples and diffuses, the executive branch. To restructure our state government in a way that provides meaningful balance among the three branches. To reclaim our government — and, indeed, South Carolina’s future — from the dead hand of an unapologetic racist.”

Damn straight.  Removing the symbolism of Tillman isn’t what’s important here – it’s removing the sorry system of government he stuck us with.  It’s time for South Carolina to scrap its nineteenth century constitution and start over.


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euwe max July 19, 2015 at 4:48 pm

The structure of the monument?

a face in the crowd July 19, 2015 at 5:15 pm

I had always heard that Clemson had 7 lifetime trustees, out of a total of 13, to make sure a Black majority could never exist, provided lifetime trustees could choose their successors. Was that a Tillman structure?

CNSYD July 19, 2015 at 6:14 pm

As usual face is either ignorant or feigning ignorance. What you “heard” was not correct (assuming you really heard it from other than the voices in your head). The ratio was part of a compromise worked out between Clemson’s will and the SC legislature in order to get the Act of Acceptance passed.

a face in the crowd July 19, 2015 at 6:24 pm

Heard it from a Clemson administrator.

a face in the crowd July 19, 2015 at 6:43 pm

Also detailed in this book, which explains how Tillman helped to set up a Board that would make sure African American students would not be admitted to Clemson.

CNSYD July 19, 2015 at 8:08 pm

Oh well, excuse me. A book from tar hole u. They have a fine academic record up there. Just don’t ride thru with your window rolled down unless you want them to toss a diploma in African American studies in your car.

CNSYD July 19, 2015 at 8:22 pm

Unless you heard it directly from Dr. Jerry Reel, don’t count on it.

vicupstate July 20, 2015 at 9:33 am

So what is the truth? I know they do have a least some lifetime trustees.

CNSYD July 20, 2015 at 9:49 am

There are 7 life or successor trustees as called for by Clemson’s will. There are 6 trustees appointed by the SC GA. The 6 were part of a compromise worked out in order to pass the Act of Acceptance.

Plumb Line July 20, 2015 at 11:16 am

Dear Face in the Crowd, You are absolutely correct about the fact that Clemson’s board of trustees is comprised of seven life trustees and six appointed by the General Assembly. Every two years, the General Assembly has the opportunity to elect three trustees to the Board of Trustees at Clemson to serve for four years. The seven Life Trustees, however, are self perpetuating. No political body or government official of South Carolina names any of the Life Trustees who hold the majority number of seats. Only life trustees select and name life trustees. The will of Thomas Green Clemson stands as the document that established this procedure. Mr. Clemson wished to bequeath his estate to the state for the purpose of establishing an institute of higher learning, but he distrusted politicians and their bureaucracies, so his bequest had strings attached. Its governance structure and all other terms were non-negotiable. Mr. Clemson was emphatic that his bequest never be under the control of the General Assembly. Because the life trustees are self-perpetuating the structure ogovernance for Clemson makes it one-of-a-kind in the world of public universities. Clemson’s will was enacted into law by the S.C. General Assembly in 1889 without compromise and the legislation is known as “The Act of Acceptance”. It states: “…said State [South Carolina] shall accept … [Clemson’s property and bequest] … upon the terms and conditions of the said will; …” The current Life Trustees argue that Clemson’s
will is not “regular legislation” because it is a charitable trust which means that it cannot be changed by subsequent legislation. They are wrong. Ironically, the Act of Acceptance is impacted by Ben Tillman’s changes to the state constitution in 1895. The constitution of 1895 specifically states that all prior legislation not in accordance with the 1895 constitution be changed. The Constitution of 1895 outlaws all life appointments for South Carolina public officials. Clemson’s Life Trustees are public officials.

a face in the crowd July 20, 2015 at 12:49 pm

Thanks for sharing that information. Confirms much of what I had understood to be the case.

CNSYD July 20, 2015 at 2:24 pm

The “life” trustees are now referred to as “successor” trustees. That is because they have board rules whereby they step aside at age 75.

Plum Line July 20, 2015 at 2:47 pm

The step-aside-at-75 notion is not a board rule.The board has never made any such rule. It is simply a gentleman’s agreement between the life trustees which they have have changed several times themselves when it appeared they were all functioning okay. The idea was originally put in place when they once faced the unpleasant task of having to deal with one of their own who was severely senile and did not possess the good grace to recognize that he should step down.None of the other life trustees wanted the job of telling him it was time to leave. That’s when they decided to pledge to each other to leave at a specific age. The first age limit was 70; then it was 72. Now it is 75. They could change it to 80 today in an instant. After all, to their way of thinking, they answer to no one.

CNSYD July 20, 2015 at 4:53 pm

And who has not stepped aside at 75? And yes, they do ask successor trustees to step aside for reasons other than age. It has occurred before.

Speak D Truth July 19, 2015 at 5:35 pm

I agree. We need to reform the structure of State Government and we need to accurately tell our history not erase it or hide it. Telling people about Tillman doesn’t mean that we approve of his actions.

Terry July 19, 2015 at 5:58 pm

So as I understand the best way to solve the problems of our state is to hand more power to the Governor, and take away power from the people and those who answer directly to them. I.E. less democracy more autocracy. Yes, I can see conservatives wanting that. Even it its the exact opposite of what they want at the national level. But I will chalk that up to Republicans just want what is best for them, period.

CNSYD July 19, 2015 at 6:16 pm

Folks tells us what a disaster Haley is as Governor yet he wants to increase the power of the Governor. Maybe he is preparing for his wished for return of Sanfraud as Governor.

Bible Thumper July 19, 2015 at 6:21 pm

Separation of powers. The legislature should not be exercising executive powers through agency appointments and legislative delegation appointments or repeated election of judges whom they then argue cases before.

Our elective representives face great risks opposing house or senate leadership because of there committee appointment power.

The people elect the Governor to be the executive and is on the job the year around. The House and Senate leaders never face the entire state electorate and are not on duty managing there appointments year around.

erneba July 19, 2015 at 6:10 pm

Reforms in (state) government will probably go awry because we move from a Constitution composed, written, and approved by a small cadre of self-interested government snarks in 1890 to a Constitution composed, written, and approved by a small cadre of self-interested government snarks in 2015.
Any Constitutional Convention should be completely open to the public, all meetings conferences, and secret meeting should be not be tolerated. There should be more average citizens than government officials at the meeting and their vote counts more than any government employee or office-holder.
The proposed Constitution should be passed out of the convention and the citizens should have one year before a public vote(all registered voters), that vote is a yes/no and shall be the deciding factor for adopting the New Constitution.

Bible Thumper July 19, 2015 at 6:23 pm

I wonder if Ben was mean before he lost his left eye.

Pitchforks R Us July 19, 2015 at 7:34 pm

He lost his eye when he was 18. I’m guessing he may have been a nice teenager.

In June 1864, still not yet 17, he withdrew from the academy, making arrangements to join a coastal artillery unit. These plans were also sidetracked when he fell ill at home. A cranial tumor led to the removal of his left eye, and it was not until 1866, months after Confederate forces had disbanded, that Ben Tillman was again healthy.

luke July 19, 2015 at 6:59 pm

I agree w/Carroll/Hall. Not many of the 4 million people, heck, I would guess about 1 million can neither read nor write and another million function below a 6th grade level in SC, know anything about the structure of SC’s government where its power rest in the legislature. There is not a balance of power among the Governor, the legislature and the Supreme Court. Tillman made this possible. However, when things go wrong or neglected its the Governor’s fault as Governor Haley has received during her tenure. If the roads, education, social welfare, etc. are bad, it’s her fault cause the State Paper and other medial outlets rail daily about the “conservative” governor not meeting her responsibilities. If the governor was a “liberal democrat” then the media would perhaps look to the “conservative” legislature to blame. But, as Carroll and Hall so eloquently wrote, Tillman’s 1895 State constitution needs to be reviewed and updated. South Carolina is the only one among our many states whereby the Governor does not a realistic (one third) power.

vicupstate July 20, 2015 at 9:23 am

North Carolina’s Governor use to be very weak. It had broad appointive powers but no ability to veto a bill. That has changed significantly over the years, but they still can’t veto all legislation, some things still can’t be vetoed by the Governor.

Soft Sigh from Hell July 19, 2015 at 7:18 pm

What are the chances that given the powers that now be we could ever get an appreciably better constitution? Different, sure, but better?

Pitch Forks R US July 19, 2015 at 7:26 pm

Tillman, Tillman, bomillman banana fanana mofillman fee fi fo fillman, TILLMAN!

Soft Sigh from Hell July 19, 2015 at 7:40 pm

“Pitchfork, Pitchfork, watcha gonna do? Watcha gonna do when we come for you?”

blah blah blah July 19, 2015 at 8:11 pm

what the fuck do you think you can do here? nothing.

Soft Sigh from Hell July 19, 2015 at 8:18 pm

Back in your hole, cheese eater.

blah blah blah July 19, 2015 at 8:42 pm

seriously you said you were coming for him, so what can you do other than act bad and comment on a blog?

euwe max July 19, 2015 at 9:00 pm

Dimwit unaware of “Cops” jingle – vaguely reminiscent of Trump suing to prove his mother was not a Orangutan.

Getting sleepy July 19, 2015 at 9:07 pm

Zzzzzzz. Zzzzzzz. Zzzzzzz

euwe max July 19, 2015 at 9:18 pm

The sleep of the dead comes to some while the heart is still beating.

Getting sleepy July 19, 2015 at 9:08 pm

Did you just call Soft Sigh a monkey? Wow talk about racist.

euwe max July 19, 2015 at 9:17 pm

There is a vast difference between the somnambulistic and slovenly rankling of a cretin blustering : “that’s what he is, but what am I?,” and the fineness of the wordsmith’s edge that separates the head from the body, still standing.

Soft Sigh from Hell July 19, 2015 at 11:16 pm

unaware of “Cops” jingle
He would have been shot in the night jungles of Guadalcanal, not knowing who the Dodgers were..

I want to see his green card.

euwe max July 19, 2015 at 8:42 pm

Plague carrying carrion eater.

swing July 19, 2015 at 8:43 pm

oh so its name calling then. that’s all you got?

euwe max July 19, 2015 at 8:43 pm

I got more – lots more. What you got?

and a miss July 19, 2015 at 8:45 pm

Im sure you think you do

euwe max July 19, 2015 at 8:54 pm

A knave, a rascal and glutton of rotten meats; a base, proud, shallow, beggarly, three-hundred-pound, filthy, worsted-stocking sniffer; a snitbegone whore’s son; a grass-grazing, lice ridden rat turd; pandering, snot-nosed lumbering elephant buggerer: one whom I shall beat into sobbing, prostate, puerile whining should he but deny the least syllable of my description.

Made my point July 19, 2015 at 9:04 pm

So again just words? That’s what I thought tough guy

euwe max July 19, 2015 at 9:22 pm

I have much more than words – I have wit – you have not even words.. Your writing skills are outmatched by outhouse builders and stall shovelers… indeed – as is your wit.

join Eharmony July 19, 2015 at 9:30 pm

you are an idiot that desperately needs to finally get a girl. pop some pimples, take a shower, dry off, and just go say hi. the worst that could happen is she says no and you are still a virgin.

euwe max July 19, 2015 at 9:33 pm

A filthy street urchin hawking greasy dating advice from his stinking “office” in the sewers of Calcutta.

Sticks Stones July 19, 2015 at 9:05 pm




euwe max July 19, 2015 at 9:21 pm

Ah… so, you can call forth the demons of definition from the dictionary’s fiery abyss – yes, of course – so can I – and so can any man…

…but when *you* call, do they *come*?

The Buzzman July 19, 2015 at 9:39 pm

You shoulda put “beslubbering”, “hell-hated” and “tardy-gaited” in there someplace.

euwe max July 19, 2015 at 9:40 pm

I blame haste.

In retrospect.. rottenheaded, foolbegotten, brazenthroated, pernicious spitcrackle crashmagurgle would have been a fitting coda.

South Carolina Parliament July 19, 2015 at 7:39 pm

Nebraska has a unicameral legislature. I suggest South Carolina adopt a parliamentary system of government, it would for people other than the two main parties to get elected. I would be interested to see how it would play out with debates, and if we would influence other states in to trying something different.

shifty henry July 19, 2015 at 8:40 pm

I like true debates where the candidates stand toe-to-toe where they can smell the other’s sweat and feel the heat….

euwe max July 19, 2015 at 8:41 pm

chain-cage death match is my preference.

shifty henry July 19, 2015 at 9:29 pm

….. and probably with that weird dog named “Hillary” that you mentioned earlier today.

euwe max July 19, 2015 at 9:38 pm

of course… I would want the Republican challenger whimpering, maimed and broken… quivering on its back by the end of the match.

Bible Thumper July 19, 2015 at 9:27 pm

When Cameron has to go before Parliament for “question time”
I could see Haley stomping Quinn, Pitts and Sandifer.

Squishy123 July 19, 2015 at 10:24 pm

Some of the midwest state legislatures meet every two years for 3-4 months, pass two yearly budgets, and resolve current issues. South Carolina legislatures meet damn near year around and can’t pass a single year budget until the last day. Start paying legislators for 3 months a year, anything past that is on their dime… I bet the screwing around and back slapping would go away quickly.

Squishy123 July 19, 2015 at 7:44 pm

Like this state doesn’t have any current issues that need to be resolved. All politicians and media (such as FitsNews) can report on is sensationalism. Both politicians and reporters need to get their heads out of their ass and deal with issues that will make a difference. Statues, racial issues, and who disrespects who doesn’t resolve a single fucking issue plaguing this country.

shifty henry July 19, 2015 at 8:38 pm

Squishy, they can’t handle the truth…..

Limbaughsaphatkhunt July 19, 2015 at 11:14 pm

Interesting…that’s not what they said (thought) back in 1860…and look how that turned out.

Vichapte July 20, 2015 at 4:05 am

Super media job 680.98$/day


http://www.World Media Point Network//Digital //Money

Limbaughsaphatkhunt July 19, 2015 at 8:31 pm

What’s the most enduring image of the ultimate Nazi defeat…the blowing up of the giant Swastika on top of the Reichstag by the Russians.

Should they have just left that there then?

Bible Thumper July 19, 2015 at 9:21 pm

That’s an idea. Film the statue being blown up.

Squishy123 July 19, 2015 at 10:21 pm

Does that include the gaudy African American monument?

ISIS doesn’t like the ancient monuments in Iraq and Syria and has blown up and bulldozed them… is that okay? Destroying artifacts of any kind proves nothing… instant gratification and then it’s gone forever.

Limbaughsaphatkhunt July 19, 2015 at 11:23 pm

Lol….so racist.

The Buzzman July 19, 2015 at 9:35 pm

In case anyone missed an obvious point:

Haley, widely touted as a “double minority”, has extremely limited power as Governor, precisely because of the way Tillman structured the constitution of the state. And he did that to keep a minority governor (though he defined “minority” in a different way) from having too much power.

Much as I dislike Nikki Haley, Will is right, and so are the authors quoted above. This constitution needs to be radically changed.

Bible Thumper July 19, 2015 at 9:41 pm

Yep, Haley would’ve passed the “one eighth or more negro blood” rule. Buzzman, I think it was only because of that rule our ancestors claimed to be Indian.

The Buzzman July 20, 2015 at 1:40 pm

We don’t know that. People claim it to be true. That’s all. In Haley’s case, the dusky hues of her parents’ skin, more than her own, would have landed the family in the “Negro” category.

As for the Lumbee, I can only go by my own experience with them, most of which has been trough an Indian aunt having married one. The offspring certainly appeared to be predominantly Indian, with “kinky hair” being present in only one of them. The Lumbee elders that I worked with as a talent agent and as talent in movies in this area involving Indians were the most traditional Native Americans I’ve ever know, and only two of them appeared to have “Negro” features.

Not enough of a sampling of Lumbee has tested. An even smaller sampling of Tuscarora in NC and NY have tested, and many Lumbee have true Tuscarora roots, from before there was a split. (Simply stated. Very involved issue.)

The Cherokee have done their best to discredit the Lumbee, and have used slander and defamation in the process. The only Federally Recognized tribe in SC (in which I have kin) acknowledges them as NA, though.

The “one drop” rule, along with “Jim Crow” and the Nazi-affiiated Eugenics movement of the early 20th Century have combined to screw this all up royally. But at the heart of it, it is about culture, and not “race.”

nitrat July 20, 2015 at 9:58 am

Haley has more power than any governor since 1895 because Mark Sanford left 600+ vacancies on agency boards and commissions.
That means she controls non-cabinet agencies like SCDHEC – remember the Savannah River Sellout? – and the SC Ethics Commission.
And, how many more? Help me out here, people. Those two are so public and so important, they just jumped to mind.
What “The State” totally failed to consider in its ‘Power Failure’ series is that if a governor actually made appointments to boards and commissions as they occurred, they could control the non-cabinet agency and who was hired agency director.

21stconfed July 20, 2015 at 8:55 am

agreed. however what exactly do we want? more power in the governor’s hand instead of committees? why even have a senate if it and the house are apportioned by population (we cannot apportion by region or county since the feds said that was a no no in the 60s)? a parliamentary system would allow smaller parties to have greater participation but does not have the same level of checks and balances. I think the only big thing we can do is get rid of the 5 (now 4) quasi executive state branches

vicupstate July 20, 2015 at 9:29 am

During the ’80’s there was a big push to give the Governor more power and over the years that has succeeded, but not to the level originally pushed by the media, particularly ‘The State’ newspaper.

Overall, I would say the results have not been better. A big part of the reason is that we have had mediocre or worse Governors since then. ‘The State’ always argued that the Governor could be replaced if they did a bad job, but that is not true in a state where one party is so dominant. Agencies now are being run by political contributors, rather than seasoned long-time bureaucrats that had moved up through the ranks.

nitrat July 20, 2015 at 9:48 am

Oh, yes.
We have done such a great job electing governors since the ‘reorganization’ rage of 1992, as demonstrated by the cabinet scandals of the Sanford/Haley era, that we should certainly invest more power in the executive…and, watch as we go deeper down into the pits of organizational hell.
It’s like the supporters of executive power have this dream that their idea will set everything straight and they totally ignore what their lying eyes have shown them about how it’s worked out in reality.
I would love for others like me, who worked for cabinet agencies about 15 years pre-reorganization and about 15 post-reorganization, to speak up, maybe we need to write op-eds, and discuss whether your agency improved or tanked after it went cabinet.
I don’t have any doubt that the vast majority will report that their agency, agencies that most of them cared about, got much worse after political hacks rather than professionals in their fields started being appointed agency heads who, in turn, appointed more hacks to the top levels of management.
These cabinet agencies have not only had their heads torn off, they have had their hearts ripped out.
Yes, let’s spread that throughout state government.

ELCID July 20, 2015 at 1:03 pm

One Big fact left out of this article.
Tillman was a MURDER!

He shot dead the Editor of The State Newspaper on the corner of North Main Street and Gervais Street. Right outside of the main hotel and across the street from the State Capitol. The Editor, Gonzalez, and written the truth about the bastard. So when Tillman saw him on the street he shot Gonzalez one time right in front of a number of Tillman Supporters. Gonzalez cursed Tillman and called him a rotten person and a rotten shot.

So, Tillman shot him again: killing him. At trial, the Tillman loaded court ruled he was innocent. It was justifiable homicide. Gonzalez has a monument to him right across the street from the Capital on the corner of Senate Street.

Tillman’s statue on the State House Grounds is an affront to every South Carolinian regardless of race of heritage. It should be removed, chopped into gravel and used as road fill. Clemson should look long and hard at itself about having a historic building on campus named after a Rotten Murder, and Racist who ruined SC’s State Government operations even until today.

CharlieChan July 20, 2015 at 2:09 pm

He was a MURDER?!? Holy schnikeys, does that mean he could burst into crows at any given moment? That’s a damn good way to win an argument.

“Excuse me Mr. Tillman, I think you’re a loathsome and-”

*bursts into crows and flies away*

“What the f…?”

Soft Sigh from Hell July 20, 2015 at 4:48 pm

A published news tweet during the flag doings at the statehouse referred to scrum of political reporters. Perfect image.

Facts July 20, 2015 at 4:22 pm

Let’s try this again.

Lt. Governor James H. Tillman, the nephew of Gov. Ben Tillman committed the murder of Narciso Gener Gonzalez on the afternoon of January 15, 1903.

South Cakalacky Edumacation, riight der.

Soft Sigh from Hell July 20, 2015 at 4:45 pm

And beat the rap. A Lexington County jury I believe. Certainly believable. “Them laws ain’t for our kind.”

CNSYD July 20, 2015 at 4:49 pm

ELCID=The Citadel

Lone Ranger July 20, 2015 at 6:30 pm

Dear God…the next time reprobate Will Folks lies about
sleeping with Haley and then seeks to tell South Carolina about ethics as well

We KNOW You will do what You said You would do in Your Word
and send the unrepentant liberal nutjob right straight to… !!!


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