A lesser-known American holidays is Ratification Day, celebrated annually on Jan. 14 in remembrance of that date in 1784 when the Continental Congress ratified the Treaty of Paris, officially ending the American Revolution. Though peace talks between the two nations had begun in the spring of 1782, and the Treaty of Paris signed by the countries’ representatives Sept. 3, 1783, it wasn’t until Jan. 14, 1784, that Congress ratified the treaty. Today Ratification Day is a time to remember and honor the Patriots who dedicated their lives to establishing the United States of America as a free and independent nation.
One of those who played a key role in America’s fight for independence in South Carolina was Gen. Thomas Sumter, who led numerous campaigns in both North and South Carolina, eventually helping to drive Lord Cornwallis out of the region and into Virginia. For his bravery and tactical acumen, Sumter earned the nickname “the Fighting Gamecock,” today the mascot of our state university. Yet that is not the only means through which we remember and honor Thomas Sumter today.
In 1829, when construction of a new fort in the middle of Charleston Harbor began, Thomas Sumter was the last surviving general of the American Patriot forces. To honor his contributions to American independence, the new fort, Fort Sumter, was named in his honor. Though he saw construction of the fort initiated, Sumter died June 1, 1832, at the age of 97, long before the exterior of the fort was completed in 1860. Its interior was still under construction when Maj. Thomas Anderson moved his Federal troops there Dec. 26, 1860.