ANDERSON DAILY PHOTO

August 7, 2007

Reform from one man’s perspective

Filed under: Downtown, Historic District, Markers, & Flags — lessie @ 2:58 pm

Old Reformer

Alas, again my photography skills don’t equal my enthusiasm. 🙂 I decided to use this picture in spite of its flaws because I don’t know when I’ll take another picture of this historical marker called “Old Reformer” and the piece by Mayor Fant, leader of Anderson from 1918 to 1922.

This plaque is tucked away, almost hidden, mounted on its equally unobtrusive marker on the new courthouse grounds. It’s paradoxical to think of the marker as inconspicuous — it’s a CANNON, after all, but it is not in a prominent place on the grounds, and appears almost pushed to the side. I can’t help but mention that I’m happy with its position. It’s a part of our history and should be acknowledged, however sheepishly. And yet, it is no longer the symbol of pride the plaque makes clear it once was. It is called Old Reformer — an understandable name, as are the emotions that precipitated it, coming as they were from inhabitants of a land occupied by seemingly foreign troops — and yet the “reform” it signaled has been renamed with the perspective of time and conscience as an age of Jim Crow and Strange Fruit.

It is true that injustice for Andersonians still exists, as does the need to speak out for those without a public voice. But when I read the plaque on Old Reformer, now almost hidden within the tree branches, I’m reminded how very far we’ve come toward justice for all. And I’m grateful.

Mayor Fant’s prose reads as follows:

Though not engaged in actual warfare since the Revolutionary War, when it was used by both the American and the British Army, this old cannon has had much to do with the making of South Carolina history. It came into this section first in 1814, in charge of the military forces of this district and was later used with great enthusiasm in general and camp musters.

In 1860 it was used with wonderful effect in spreading the news of South Carolina’s secession and in rallying the manhood of this section for the cause so dear to the Southern heart.

In 1876, when the Democrats of the state determined to wrest political control from the carpetbaggers, this old piece was again called into service, and with it, the shot was fired that reverberated from the mountains to the sea, in truth, it was during those trying days that it was christened “Old Reformer.” For the service it then helped so nobly to perform it is hoped that is may be preserved. Foster Fant, Mayor of Anderson 1918-1922

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