Perspective, Place and Propaganda in Revolutionary South Carolina

Christine Fritz Lloyd, Mount Pleasant, South Carolina

DESIGN LEVEL: Middle School-High School


This lesson asks students to consider how the perspective of a person living in Revolutionary South Carolina was influenced by where in the state they lived, and how propaganda can be used during war.



Students will:

  1. Compare and contrast perspectives of patriots and loyalists/tories living in Revolutionary South Carolina.
  2. Analyze primary source documents for bias.



  • The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Print Collection, The New York Public Library. “The Battle of the Waxhaws, May 29th, 1780.” New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed August 30, 2019.
  • Herman Moll, Carolina (London, 1736). The Society of the Cincinnati, The Robert Charles Lawrence Fergusson Collection.
  • David Ramsay, South-Carolina and parts adjacent, shewing the movements of the American and British armies (Trenton, N.J., 1785). The Society of the Cincinnati, The Robert Charles Lawrence Fergusson Collection.
  • Alexander Chesney, Autobiographical journal: prospect in Mourne, County Down, Ireland, 1795-1819 (1795-1819). The Society of the Cincinnati, The Robert Charles Lawrence Fergusson Collection.
  • Alexander Chesney, The journal of Alexander Chesney: a South Carolina loyalist in the revolution and after (Columbus: The Ohio State University, 1921).
  • Eliza Wilkinson and Caroline Howard Gilman, Letters of Eliza Wilkinson: during the invasion and possession of Charleston, S.C., by the British in the revolutionary war (New York: published by Samuel Colman, 1839).
  • Charles Cornwallis, First Marquis Cornwallis, Extract of a letter from Lord Cornwallis to Lieut. Colonel Nisbet Balfour, Commandant at Ninety-Six (1780). The Society of the Cincinnati, The Robert Charles Lawrence Fergusson Collection.

Recommended Time

One 60-minute class period.

Five Minutes:

Share the maps Carolina and South-Carolina and parts adjacent shewing the movements of the American and British armies with students and remind them they are continuing a study of South Carolina’s role in the Revolution. Students should turn and talk to review material from prior lessons on tensions between the lowcountry and the backcountry upstate during the colonial period. Unit vocabulary to be reemphasized at this time will include: patriot, loyalist, Tory, planter, lowcountry, backcountry, upstate, Continental Army, Battle of Cowpens, Battle of Kings Mountain, Battle of Eutaw Springs, Battle of Camden, Fort Moultrie, Thomas Sumter, Andrew Pickens, Francis Marion, Continental Congress, Stamp Act, Tea Act, Intolerable Acts, Declaration of Independence.

Five Minutes:

Share the image The Battle of the Waxhaws, May 29th, 1780 and ask students to answer the following questions in their notebooks:

  1. How would you describe what is happening in this image?
  2. Who do you think created this image and why (patriot or British soldier, winner or loser of the battle)?
  3. How does where someone lives influence their perspective/point of view? Think of an example from today’s world.


Five Minutes:

Raise the following questions for class discussion:

  1. What do you think is happening in the image?
  2. Who do you think is winning?
  3. Who do you think created this image?
  4. This is the Battle of the Waxhaws, which was called a massacre by the patriots—does that change your perspective?
  5. The American soldiers called this a massacre during the war, but later many officers of the Continental Army disagreed. Why do you think soldiers may have exaggerated the event?
  6. Do you think this is an accurate portrayal of what happenedwhy or or why not?
  7. We know that the Continental Army did not use cannon during this battlewhat does that tell us about this image?
  8. How does where someone lives influence their own view of how things happen? Can you share an example from today’s world?


Seven Minutes:

Ask the class to make predictions about what point of view (patriot or loyalist) two South Carolinians (one from the lowcountry and one from the backcountry) will have using the following limited, geographically-based background information:

ELIZA WILKINSON: Eliza was born near Charleston in 1757 to a wealthy plantation family. During the Revolutionary War, she lived on a plantation on Yonges Island. What is your prediction?

ALEXANDER CHESNEY: Read the first page of Alexander’s autobiographical journal (original manuscript and published version). What is your prediction?


Take a tally of which side students believe each person fought. Challenge students to defend their answers. Ask students to point out on either the Moll or Ramsay maps where Wilkinson and Chesney lived.

As a class, read Alexander Chesney’s obituary. Remind students that an obituary is a family’s chance to define what they believe are their loved one’s greatest accomplishments in life. Working with a partner, have students discuss and answer the following questions:

  1. How does Alexander Chesney’s family view his time spent fighting for the British?
  2. What occurred during the battle of Kings Mountain?
  3. Does anything surprise you about this obituary? What does it say about how the British view veterans of the Revolutionary War?


Thirty-Five Minutes:

Ask students to read the selected letters of Eliza Wilkinson and answer the following questions:

  1. How did Eliza’s view of the British change during the course of the war?
  2. What rights did Eliza believe the British were taking from the colonists?
  3. How did the British treat Eliza and her family?
  4. What did Eliza’s mother war the British about? Do you think she was correct in her prediction?


Ask students to read the “Cornwallis” letter after telling them that although the letter states it was written by British General Cornwallis it was actually a fake—created by an American patriot as a form of war propaganda circulated around South Carolina. The letter states that anyone found fighting for the patriot cause would be executed, which was against British policy and untrue. Ask students to answer the following questions:

  1. Why would the patriots want a fake letter like this circulated to South Carolinians?
  2. If you were living upstate and found out this information (that the British would kill enemies instead of taking them prisoners), would this make you angry and more likely to fightwhy or why not?


Three Minutes:

Debrief as a class by exploring the following questions:

  1. Why would someone knowingly pass around a forged letter?
  2. Do you think the propaganda worked?
  3. Do you think it is okay to use propaganda?
  4. How can what someone reads or where someone lives influence their perspective?



Students will write in their journals from the perspective of a South Carolina patriot or loyalist, using historical detail and making it clear where they live, which side they are on, and how they came to support either the patriot or loyalist cause.


Standards Addressed

COMMON CORE: English Language Arts StandardsHistory/Social StudiesGrade 6-8
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.6-8.8 Distinguish among fact, opinion, and reasoned judgement in a text.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.6-8.6 Identify aspects of a text that reveal an author’s point of view or purpose (e.g., loaded language, inclusion or avoidance of particular facts).

Grade 8 South Carolina and the United States
Grade 4 United States & South Carolina Studies Part I
Themes: Civic Participation, Cultural Interactions, Geographic Relationships, Interactions Among People, Physical Geography and Natural Resources
Deconstructed Skills: Comparison, Causation, Context, Evidence
8.2.CO, 8.2.CE, 8.2.CX, 8.2.E, 4.1.E, 4.2.CO, 4.2.CX, 4.2.E