Duke Bernhard’s 1825 Visit

Lafayette’s 1825-1826 ‘Friend of the Nation’ tour of America was the most sensational event of the decade. Lafayette went out of his way to pass through almost every state of the Union, in a giant loop starting in the Northeast, through the South, to New Orleans, upriver to St. Louis, and up the Ohio back to where he started. Millions cheered him wildly at every place along the way. Lafayette, refusing no invitation, probably shook almost that many hands. He visited Hamburg and Augusta, unfortunately his secretary’s record is skimpy. Of course most of their journals were lost in the Ohio River when their riverboat hit a snag and sank in the middle of the night.

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Newspapers

Old newspapers take a lot of careful reading, which is probably not for everyone. But they are are a great – maybe even the best place to discover local history. Shultz appears regularly in both the Augusta Chronicle and the Edgefield Advertiser with Sheriff’s sales of Hamburg property, reports of Hamburg anniversary celebrations, and  melancholy articles by Shultz condemning his latest injuries (or outlining a new plan to escape them).

Newspapers

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Cotton to Charleston

Augusta existed to collect cotton, and get the cotton to a seaport. The most available seaport for Augusta was Savannah, 231 river miles away. Hamburg existed to collect cotton, Augusta’s cotton if possible, and get the cotton to a South Carolina seaport. That was Hamburg’s drumbeat, to keep South Carolina commerce at home, which was part of the deal for support from the state legislature. So Hamburg boats routinely sailed right past Savannah, and beat their way another 101 miles behind the sea islands to Charleston.

hamburgtocharlestonroutes1833_rr002990

Steamboat and Rail routes from Hamburg to Savannah. The sea islands route from Savannah to Charleston is only my guess. From 1833 Tanner Map of SC, Library of Congress rr002990

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Holes In the Head

In Random Recollections of a Long Life, the priceless Edwin J. Scott plainly states that Shultz took his life in his hands after a court ruling against his ownership of the bridge. “In a fit of desperation… he attempted to commit suicide by discharging a loaded pistol in his mouth, but it happened to range upwards and outwards, so that the load came out between his eyes, frightfully mutilating him for the time, and leaving indelible marks of the powder in his face, yet, strange to say, he recovered, with his eyesight unimpaired….

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Bridge Builder, Lewis Cooper

“DIED, on Sunday last [28 September 1817], Mr. LEWIS COOPER. He was an ingenious mechanic, and the principal architect who constructed the bridge which now proudly ornaments our river. He has left an amiable wife and children to regret his loss.” (Augusta Chronicle, 1 October 1817.)

Lewis Cooper headstone

Lewis Cooper headstone at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Augusta, Georgia. ‘In veneration of his Character & as a tribute of Respect to his Memory this Stone is erected by his disconsolate widow and surviving Children, to mark the spot where lie the Remains of LEWIS COOPER, A Native of Newark (New Jersey) who died Sept. 28, 1817; Aged 32 years.’

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Images of the Augusta Bridge

Augusta Bridge 1816

The Augusta Bridge 1816 as depicted on a Bridge Bill, with prominent toll booths and heavy traffic. (Courtesy Carl A. Anderson and David Marsh, Georgia Obsolete Currency)

The new wonder crop, cotton, gave upcountry South Carolina a product to sell rather than simply eat. Cotton had to be delivered to a cash market, either Charleston on the coast, or the fall line port of Augusta. But Augusta was on the wrong side of the Savannah River, and as described by Henry Shultz himself, at least two previous attempts to build a bridge there had failed.

“. . . . in the year 1791 the Legislature of the State of South Carolina granted to Wade Hampton the power to build a Bridge across the Savannah River from the State to the City of Augusta Georgia, at his own expense . . . . the said Wade Hampton built two bridges, one after the other at great expense both of which were swept away by the flood of the river, after which this great enterprize was abandoned as altogether impracticable and so remained, until 1813 . . . “

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