History of Camden, South Carolina and Historic Camden

Camden, South Carolina’s oldest inland town has a storied history. Geographically situated on the head of the navigable Wateree River, Camden was the home of the Native American Cofitachequi civilization and one of the eleven townships decreed by King George II in 1730. First called Fredericksburg, then Pine Tree Hill in 1758 when a young Joseph Kershaw established a branch office of a Charleston mercantile firm.

Ten years later, Kershaw would change the name of the young town to Camden, in honor of Charles Pratt, Lord Camden, an early advocate of the colonies in Parliament. As a patriot of his fledgling country, Kershaw is the namesake of Kershaw County and Camden its county seat.

Camden, South Carolina – Est. 1730

By the time of the Revolution, Camden was the economic and cultural center of the backcountry of both North and South Carolina and was so important that almost immediately after Lord General Cornwallis’ capture of Charleston in 1780, Cornwallis established Camden as the garrison and principle supply post for all the British operations in the South.

“Here [in Camden] began the first link in a chain of evils that followed ... until they at last ended in the total loss of America.” - Sir Henry Clinton, Commander in Chief of British Revolutionary War forces

Camden contributed six generals to the Confederate cause and General James Chesnut’s wife, Mary, would later chronicle the war years her Pulitzer Prize winning Diary from Dixie, much of it written here in Camden.

Notables such as Nathanial Greene, Horatio Gates, Casmir Pulaski, Francis Marion, Thaddeus Kosciuszko, Light-Horse Harry Lee, Thomas Sumter, Marquis de Lafayette, Andrew Jackson, Johann de Kalb, and George Washington spent time in Camden.

Historic Camden welcomes you to join the cultural crossroads that have existed here in Camden for thousands of years.

Historic Camden Foundation

Historic Camden emerged as one of the first major preservation initiatives in Kershaw County thanks to the vision of a group of very special local citizens from a project begun by the Kershaw County Chamber of Commerce in 1966 in anticipation of the 1976 Bicentennial. 1n 1967, Mr. and Mrs. Richard Lloyd, local residents, contributed seed money to establish the Camden District Foundation, (now the Historic Camden Foundation), to start the project and be a major source of funding for the museum. Today Historic Camden is a 107+ acre outdoor museum with a collection of historic structures serving to protect, preserve and celebrate Camden’s extraordinary Colonial and American Revolutionary War history.

Learn more about the Historic Camden Foundation