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"T” is for Test Oath Controversy (1832-1834)

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"T” is for Test Oath Controversy (1832-1834). A dispute between supporters and opponents of nullification over state loyalty oaths, the Test Oath Controversy erupted into violence as nullifiers sought to guarantee that only those who shared their views on state sovereignty could serve in certain state offices or as militia officers. In 1833 the legislature passed a test oath requiring all militia officers to swear “true allegiance” to South Carolina. Unionists could not take the oath in good conscience. Unionist militia refused to obey orders of anyone who took the oath. A series of legal disputes ended up in the state Court of Appeals—that ruled the oath unconstitutional. The 1834 legislative elections led to mob violence in Charleston. When the legislature convened in December 1834, a compromise was worked out that satisfied both sides.

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Dr. Walter Edgar has two programs on South Carolina Public Radio: Walter Edgar's Journal, and South Carolina from A to Z. Dr. Edgar received his B.A. degree from Davidson College in 1965 and his Ph.D. from the University of South Carolina in 1969. After two years in the army (including a tour of duty in Vietnam), he returned to USC as a post-doctoral fellow of the National Archives, assigned to the Papers of Henry Laurens.