Suvarna Garge (Editor)

South Carolina Code of Laws

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Record of Law in the Colonial Period

The English Royal Charter of March 1663 that handed the eight Lords' Proprietors of Carolina the land composing of modern-day North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia spurred an actual colonizing expedition and the drafting of a founding constitution. In 1670 Proprietor Lord Anthony Ashley Cooper and famed philosopher John Locke combined to realize the first revised colonial constitution accepted by the body Proprietorship. The importance to legal history of this first constitution is that it actually banned legal practice as a profession and sought to simplify legal dictates so that under educated nobles could run the colony effectively. The 1670 constitution banned legal commentary and established eight administrative courts whose aristocratic members composed part of a Grand Council that would prepare legislation produced in the colony's parliament. The journal of the Grand Council would, due to that body's power, become the first legislative record of the Carolina colony but also contains judicial rulings and executive actions undertaken due to the Council's fiat. Chief Justice Nicholas Trott compiled the first comprehensive record of parliamentary statutes in 1712 which covered all the preceding years from 1682, with the majority being English common law statutes that could still apply in a vastly different environment. The collection of South Carolina colonial and state laws released by Judge John Grimke in 1790 includes the record from before Trott's time in office up until the formation of the United States.


Record of Law between Independence and the American Civil War

The next compendium of South Carolina law would be gathered and edited by legal reformer Dr. Thomas Cooper. Cooper acted under a resolution passed by the General Assembly in December 1834 to "compile under his direction the statute law of the state, now of force". Cooper commented of his task,

"I am required to compile an edition of the Statute Law of South-Carolina: Is it to be an imperfect and mutilated edition of our public Law, or one that will answer the description of the 'Statutes at Large'? I have preferred the latter: because, it is better to insert somewhat too much than somewhat too little: because, the reasons for a present law, are often derived from, and the law itself elucidated by, the imperfections it is meant to supercede -".

Cooper died before the fifth volume went to the publisher leading to the appointment of Dr. David James Mccord by Governor Patrick Noble to finish the project. The tenth and final volume, an index, was published in 1841. Legislative year books published by the General Assembly would continue to proliferate, covering the time period from Mccord's work through the American Civil War. Volumes in the format seen of The Statutes at Large would have to wait until after the massive upheaval of the 1860s, to be added for the collective educational benefit of South Carolina's legal community.


South Carolina Code of Laws Wikipedia

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