A candidate for S.C. governor, who has spoken fondly of the Confederacy, says she was unaware her ancestor owned dozens of slaves at the time of the Civil War.
The Greenville News reports census records show Catherine Templeton’s ancestor, Hiram Clark Brawley, was a “substantial” slave owner in Chester County in 1860.
Templeton often has talked about her pride in South Carolina’s Civil War history and her family’s role in it. Templeton, a Mount Pleasant attorney and former state agency director under then-Gov. Nikki Haley, is the direct descendant of a Confederate veteran.
In a Feb. 1 speech, the GOP candidate told listeners, “I think it’s important to note that my family didn’t fight because we had slaves. My family fought because the federal government was trying to tell us how to live. We didn’t need them to tell us how to live way back then, and we don’t need them to tell us how to live today.”
Asked about the records by the Greenville News last week, Templeton told the paper, “This campaign is about the future, not about the past,” adding, “I embrace my family, warts and all.”
Campaign spokesman Mark Powell later said, “Catherine Templeton is completely focused on fixing the problems we face today — corruption running rampant in Columbia and a bloated state government that costs taxpayers too much.”
At Hiram Brawley’s death in 1862, probate records show he owned 66 people valued at $32,200, the equivalent of about $900,000 in today’s dollars.
Asked in 2017 whether South Carolina should remove Confederate-era monuments, Templeton said she would not attempt to “rewrite history.”
“I’m proud to be from South Carolina,” she said. “I’m proud of the Confederacy.”