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|Abstract||Robert F. W. Allston was a rice planter and civil engineer; surveyor general of South Carolina, 1823; member of the General Assembly, 1828-1832; state senator, 1832-1856; and governor, 1856-1858. The collection is a letter, 5 September 1843, apparently written by the Rev. Alexander Glennis of Waccamaw, S.C., to Robert Francis Withers Allston of Society Hill (Darlington District), S.C. In the letter Glennis discusses an epidemic of croup among children in his neighborhood and other sickness in the area; church business (presumably Episcopal), including an inquiry from the Rev. Edward J. Stearns of Richmond, Va.; and offers Allston spritual counsel.|
|Creator||Allston, Robert F. W. (Robert Francis Withers), 1801-1864.|
|Curatorial Unit||University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Library. Southern Historical Collection.|
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Robert Francis Withers Allston (1801-1864) was the son of Benjamin Allston and Charlotte Anne Allston, who were second cousins. The fifth of six children, Allston was born at Brookgreen Plantation in All Saints' Parish, South Carolina. He received his early education at Waldo's School in Georgetown. At the age of sixteen, he entered the United States Military Academy and graduated in June 1821. He was appointed lieutenant in the 3rd Artillery and assigned to duty with the Coast Survey. After taking part in the survey of the harbors of Plymouth and Provincetown, Massachusetts, and the entrance of Mobile Bay, he resigned his commission in February 1822, in order to assume the management of the plantation of his now widowed mother.
Allston continued his profession of civil engineer and was elected, in 1823, to the office of surveyor general of South Carolina. In 1828, after two terms as surveyor general, he was elected from the parish of Prince George, Winyah, to the lower house of the General Assembly. In the legislature, he acted with the States-Rights Party, which was then evolving the doctrine of nullification. In 1830, he was reelected as a candidate of that party, but was defeated in 1832 by a Unionist. In the next month, however, he ran successfully for the state senate. Allston was regularly returned to this body until his election as governor in 1856, and, from 1847 to 1856, he was its presiding officer. He continued in his support of states rights principles, but was inclined to favor cooperation on the part of the slaveholding states in preference to separate state action. During the nullification controversy, he was made colonel of the militia and, subsequently, deputy adjutant-general. In 1842, he was nominated, against his wishes, to oppose J. H. Hammond in the election for governor. In 1850, he was a delegate to the Nashville Convention. His term as governor, 1856-1858, occurred in one of the rare intervals of comparative quiet in the political history of ante-bellum South Carolina. He worked toward the development of railroads, improvement of agricultural methods, and correction of the inefficient public-school system.
In 1832, Allston married Adele Petigru, sister of James Louis Petigru. He became one of the foremost planters and slave-owners in the state and was one of the last rice barons of the low country. In the reclaiming of swamp land, in the ditching and diking of rice-fields, his knowledge of engineering served him well. The results of some of his experiments were set forth in two treatises, A Memoir of the Introduction and Planting of Rice in South Carolina (1843), and "An Essay on Sea Coast Crops" (1854). At the time of his death, he was engaged in cultivating his lands in order to contribute foodstuffs to his Confederate countrymen.
(Excerpts adapted from the sketch of Robert Francis Withers Allston by J.H. Easterby in the Dictionary of American Biography, Vol. 1, pp. 223-224).Back to Top
One letter, dated 5 September 1843, and apparently written by the Reverend Alexander Glennis of Waccamaw, S.C., to Robert Francis Withers Allston of Society Hill, Darlington District, S.C. In the letter, Glennis described an epidemic of croup among children in his neighborhood and other sickness in the area; wrote of church business (presumably Episcopal), including an inquiry from the Reverend Edward J. Stearns of Richmond, Va.; and offered Allston spiritual counsel.Back to Top