The ordinance is a key piece of Palmetto State history. Signed in December 1860, it signified South Carolina’s departure from the Union and was a key event in the War Between the States.
Lorris’ document is one of just a handful known to exist. According to a story in the Charleston Post & Courier, the Charleston printing firm of Evans & Cogswell made about 200 lithographs of the ordinance in 1861, meticulously reproducing even the random ink spots.
According to the SC Department Archives and History, lithograph copies were distributed to SC Secession Convention delegates in April 1861.
However, it took but seven months for the first copy to fall into enemy hands. In November 1861, US naval forces captured Port Royal Harbor and among the trophies of war was a lithograph copy. This was framed and hung at the Navy Department in Washington, DC.
Additional copies were captured at the end of the war during the fall of Columbia and Charleston. Daniel McWorkman found a copy on the wall of the State House in Columbia in February 1865 and took it home to Iowa.
In 1966, the mayor of Keokuk, Iowa, offered to return it to then-Gov. Bob McNair. It was eventually given to the SC State Museum in 1990.
On March 3, 1865, several members of Company G, 102 US Colored Troops discovered one of the lithographs at a plantation across the Ashley River from Drayton Hall.
The soldiers thought the plantation belonged to South Carolina’s secretary of state and assumed they had the original ordinance. Lieutenant George A. Southworth, the detachment commander, soon returned to his hometown, Leoni, Mich., with the copy.
The original ordinance has been in state possession since it Dec. 20, 1860, when it was signed.
Many of the original 200 copies have disappeared over the years. About 10 are in institutional hands, and an unknown number are owned by private individuals, one of whom recently spent about $40,000 to acquire a copy, the Post & Courier reports.
The society plans to restore the copy donated by Lorris, then put it on display at its location at 100 Meeting Street in Charleston.