December 10, 2010

A RARE PIECE OF HISTORY: The Ordinance of Secession

December 7, 2010: The original handwritten Ordinance of Secession, signed on December 20, 1860, was brought to our meeting by speaker Eric Emerson. In that a mere copy of the document recently sold for $30,000 in NYC, it was understandable that a security guard accompanied it. For decades the south felt that the north had threatened their way of life, but the election of President Lincoln on November 8, 1860 brought it to a head.

A special delegation of 169 SC residents, many of whom had served in the state government, met at First Baptist Church in Columbia to create a document of secession. Said document was unanimously signed and brought to Charleston by train, where a convention was held at 134 Meeting Street. The "Secession Hall" as well as St. Andrews Hall, where the final document was completed, both burned in later major Charleston fires.

The document was signed on parchment and later reproduced by the lithographic process with a copy given to each of the 169 signers. It was carried up the streets along with the large Secession Banner [now on exhibit at the South Carolina Historical Society in Charleston].

A subsequent document was formed to reinforce the Ordinance, noting:
1. A Justification for the Immediate Causes of War.
2. A legal framework for the Ordinance of Secession.
3. An emphasis that the true power of governance rests with the states.
4. An argument position that non-slave owning states had no right to permit escaped slaves to find asylum in those states.
5. A list of grievances noting that other states were seeking to negate the rights of the 14 states who would become the Confederacy.
6. An affirmation of the right to self governance.

On April 12, 1861 the hot war began with the firing on Fort Sumter. Before it was over 620,000 people died, property loss was in the millions and 4 million slaves became emancipated. No one can predict what might have happened without the war, but it is safe to say that the Ordinance of Secession set in motion forces which in later years led to the eventual civil rights movement and the re-emergence of Charleston as one of the finest cities in the world in which to see and live with unprecedented excellent historic preservation. Just imagine that Charleston could just as easily be an eastern transportation hub with dozens of glass towers and no historic homes and buildings!

Reported by Fred Sales, Keyway Committee
Rotary International Eradicating Polio

Nov. 30, 2010: The Historic Charleston Rotary Club was treated to an impressive and memorable review of how Rotary International continues in its time-honored work to combat and eradicate the planet of Polio.

Ed was at ease in his environment given his many connections throughout Charleston and South Carolina. Earlier in the year, he responded to the strong missionary call from within that took him to Nigeria in March 2010, where he helped in the distribution of polio vaccine and the education of the disease in remote parts of that nation.

As we all know, combating polio is the No. 1 humanitarian goal of Rotary. To remind us of the devastating effects of the disease, Ed shared images of polio sufferers from the 1950s and 1960s, enduring the crude support of the Iron Lung machine and those memorable leg-braces, wheel chairs and more.

In 1985, Rotary International launched an aggressive program, PolioPlus, with a goal to eradicate the planet of the disease by 2005. And, while we've not yet fully achieved our goal, the statistics of the battle are impressive:

* To date, $800 million has been raised under PolioPlus.
* More than 2 billion children in 122 countries have been immunized.
* In 2008, nearly 1600 cases were reported; in 2009 we counted 1,424 cases, and to date this year we count 799.

A new goal for Rotary is to raise $200 million by June 2012 that will match the $355 million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Ed provided us a brief tour of his travels through Nigeria, including stirring images of villagers, old and young, living with the disease. Many of us, I'm sure shared the chilling feeling of how easy it is to forget that most of us walk, eat, drink and work without a care for these basic abilities. Many of the sufferers live their lives on the ground, crawling about on their forearms.

He closed by reminding the rapt audience how powerful diversity within Rotary can be and is a signature for our success. Living in support of diversity helps us transcend political, religious and cultural boundaries.

Once again, during this wonderful holiday season, let's remember those less fortunate in our gestures, generosity and prayers. Here's to Service Above Self…

Submitted by Mark Danes, Keyway Committee