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William McGeorge Circular Letter

Circular letter, 9 March 1869, of William McGeorge, Aiken, "To My Friends in Poughkeepsie and Other Places," details events since McGeorge sold his property in New York and "made up my mind to look for a cheaper home and one in a milder climate." The document comments on the position, climate, industries, labor, soil, prices, and people of Aiken, his new home, where McGeorge took up residence on 14 January 1869. Obviously impressed with the health and climate of Aiken, McGeorge writes—"In Aiken there is no fever and ague, no malarious disease…it is a district where the sick become well." Furthermore, he reports—"grounds have been purchased and a charter obtained for the building of a large Sanatarium for the sick alone, and a strong effort has been made by the Rev. J.H. Cornish and others to establish here a home for invalid clergymen….The most of the people, who are living here, came sick, and do not dare, or do not wish to return home when they are cured."

Local industries mentioned by McGeorge include the Vaucluse and Graniteville textile mills, the Bath paper mill, the porcelain factory at Kaolin, and the Rose Mill Manufacturing Company. Agricultural advantages are discussed, as well as the abundance of hourly laborers—"Every day almost some one comes to me for work, not only blacks but whites too, and some who have seen better days. This one and that asks me for sewing, washing and so on….This cheap, abundant and good labor is worth more than can be easily told to a man of small means. The politeness, the good nature and the willingness to labor, shown by the working class gives me more comfort and satisfaction than almost all the other advantages of the place." McGeorge suggests that land near Aiken could be purchased at from one to forty dollars per acre and reports—"The village of Aiken is…quiet and orderly….You can see as few drunken people in it and hear of no more fights and brawls….The people….receive Northern men, who come to settle among them, with open arms. There are some 1500 people in the township of Aiken. I can see 5 Churches from the upper floors of my house, while at the same time you could find a school on almost every corner of the streets."

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