The Hanging of Issac Hayne

Saturday August 4th marks one of Charleston’s most somber anniversaries – the hanging of Col. Isaac Hayne. A rice planter from Colleton County, Hayne was commissioned as an office in the South Carolina forces fighting for independence against the British. Hayne was among the thousands of soldiers trapped in Charleston during the second British siege in 1780, and was captured and paroled. Under the terms of parole, an officer was allowed to return to his home under the condition that he not take up arms again, under the punishment of death.
But Hayne, who was an accomplished soldier with outstanding leadership, was put in an awkward position by the British in 1781, as fortunes were turning in favor of the Revolutionary cause in South Carolina. The English demanded that Hayne take up arms for the British, or be subjected to house arrest at his Walterboro plantation. Hayne chose the threat of death rather than change his convictions, and considered the British offer tantamount to violating the terms of parole, once again joining the American ranks. He was captured again, and held in the basement of the Exchange building at the foot of Broad Street that still stands today.
Found guilty of treason, he was marched through the streets of Charleston to the gallows at White Point, encountering sobbing citizens along the way who begged the British not to hang one with such honorable standing in the city. Hayne’s hanging not only helped inspire South Carolina’s patriots to drive the British out within the year, it also gave rise to a famous ghost story.
According legend, Hayne passed the house of his sister on the way to the gallows, and she called out to him to please come back to her. Her supposedly promised that he would return, and there have been claims that his boots can be heard marching down Broad Street at the dead of night.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *