On April 2, 1776, two South Carolina Provincial Congress members were commissioned “to design and case to be made a great seal of South Carolina.” Those two members were William Henry Drayton and Arthur Middleton. The design of the state seal included two phrases in Latin, “Animis Opibusque Parati,” meaning “Prepared in Mind and Resources,” and the other, “Dum Spiro Spero,” meaning “While I breathe, I hope.” Little did Arthur Middleton know that those two phrases would take on different meanings throughout the landscape of his ancestral home, Middleton Place.
Fast forward to November of 2022, the descendants of Middleton Place took their collective minds and resources to bring each other together for a weekend. And the end result of the weekend was a sense of continued hope. Since the last reunion in 2016, members of our community have survived a global pandemic, unprecedented racial reconciliation, and, undoubtedly, moments of personal adversity that were not covered in the headlines. However, that sense of hope was further cemented at the Saturday night dinner. Together the descendants of Middleton Place raised $31,000 for the Middleton Scholars Education Assistance Fund, which will be generously double-matched by Frank and Catherine Middleton and an anonymous donor, bringing the total contribution to the Fund to over $90,000. This fund provides financial assistance to African American descendants of Middleton Place seeking post-secondary education.
News coverage by the Post and Courier allowed the greater Charleston area to hear more about how the Middleton Place Foundation brings together our larger descendant community. Reporter Adam Parker covered the story and articulated an excellent point made by Julie Pinckney, an African American descendant, that these reunions show that a “transformation is happening,” and “it all depends on people with open hearts.”
On Sunday, Rev. Kylon Middleton led the descendants who were gathered for a service of Thanksgiving under the Middleton Oak in a song of praise with the poignant words, “We’ve come this far, find no fault, I feel like moving on.” The Foundation was honored to be part of this historic gathering and the continued focus on unity and moving toward positive change.
Capturing the 2022 reunion photo via aerial drone.