Plantation H*ck: McMaster's House
Let's tour the South Carolina governor's mansion
Continuing our tour of awful plantation-era and plantation-adjacent houses, let’s look at the current residence of South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster.
South Carolina was a plantation regime built on the backs of enslaved laborers to serve the interests of the planter class. For much of the state’s early history, the enslaved population outnumbered the free population, so terrified white people started forming armed slave patrols to put down rebellions. This was the birth of what we now know as “policing” in the United States.
Anyway the state had to train and arm its slave patrols somewhere, so it set up two military academies: The Citadel in Charleston and the Arsenal in Columbia. The Citadel still exists as a public military college and continues to fly a Confederate flag in the chapel and indoctrinate its cadets with the faux wisdom of Robert E. Lee. The Arsenal is mostly gone, except for the former officers’ residence, which now serves as the Governor’s Mansion.
We have Gen. Sherman to blame for the continued existence of this thing. His troops burned the Arsenal to the ground during the Civil War, but for some reason they spared the officers’ quarters. Go figure.
Sorry to get graphic, but this exact shade of tan-yellow is giving me flashbacks to some of my kids’ earliest diapers. Please change this!
You know how sometimes you buy a house and there’s a weird atrium space that you don’t know how to decorate, so you just wander from aisle to aisle at the Home Depot loading up your cart with outdoor lamps and wrought-iron bars? We’ve all been there, and so has the person who got assigned to renovate this part of the governor’s mansion.
Best I can tell, the book on the writing desk here is Heads of Families: First Census of the United States — 1790, South Carolina. Given who was and was not considered a citizen for the purpose of census counts in 1790, putting this book out on display for the camera was … certainly a choice!
There’s a sort of breakfast nook in the mansion where the walls are covered in paintings of the Top-Hatted-White-People-Looking-at-Strangers genre. No idea how old or historically accurate these paintings are, but I did appreciate the continuous paint job on the dimmer switch plates.
I don’t actually have any notes about this, except to say that it’s a striking portrait of disgraced former Gov. Mark Sanford, possibly portraying him on his family’s plantation in Beaufort County.
In case you missed them, here are the previous subscriber-only installments of the Plantation H*ck series: