Loading Events

« All Events

  • This event has passed.

A Tumultuous Narrative of SC ~ “The Grim Years” by Dr. John J. Navin

April 2 @ 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm

In keeping with a subject matter close to our hearts, we are pleased to host Dr. John J. Navin for a personal account of his 2020 debut: The Grim Years: Settling South Carolina, 1670-1720. With extraordinary detail and analysis, Navin reveals the hardships that were experienced by people of all ethnicities and stations in life during the first half-century of South Carolina’s existence, through a graphic account of our state’s tumultuous beginnings when calamity, violence, and ruthless exploitation were commonplace. 


$10 – Members or $15 – General Admission

NOTE: If you are unable to attend the program, and wish to secure a signed copy (or copies!), please pre-order through Buxton Books by calling (843) 723-1670.


From South Carolina’s founding in 1670 through 1720, a cadre of men rose to political and economic prominence, while ordinary colonists, enslaved Africans, and indigenous groups became trapped in a web of violence and oppression. Navin explains how eight English aristocrats, the Lords Proprietors, came to possess the vast Carolina grant and then enacted elaborate plans to recruit and control colonists as part of a grand moneymaking scheme. But those plans went awry, and the mainstays of the economy became hog and cattle ranching, lumber products, naval stores, deerskin exports, and the calamitous Indian slave trade. The settlers’ relentless pursuit of wealth set the colony on a path toward prosperity but also toward a fatal dependency on slave labor. Rice would produce immense fortunes in South Carolina, but not during the colony’s first fifty years. Religious and political turmoil instigated by settlers from Barbados eventually led to a total rejection of proprietary authority.

Using a variety of primary sources, Navin describes challenges that colonists faced, setbacks they experienced, and the effects of policies and practices initiated by elites and proprietors. Storms, fires, epidemics, and armed conflicts destroyed property, lives, and dreams. Threatened by the Native Americans they exploited, by the Africans they enslaved, and by their French and Spanish rivals, South Carolinians lived in continual fear. For some it was the price they paid for financial success. But for most there were no riches, and the possibility of a sudden, violent death was overshadowed by the misery of their day-to-day existence.


As a specialist in early American history, Dr. John Navin as served as a member of the History department at Coastal Carolina University since 1999 with previous positions at Brandeis and Pfeiffer universities. Navin earned his Master’s degree at Boston College and his Ph.D. at Brandeis University.  His Master’s thesis was a comparative study of Civil War era holdings in the Charleston Library Society and the Lancaster (MA) Public Library.  His 865-page doctoral dissertation, directed by David Hackett Fischer, focused on the search for community in Plymouth Plantation.  In the 1970s and 1980s Navin managed the marketing communications departments for five major companies in the Boston area.  He now lives in Conway, SC and spends summers in western Maine.  In addition to releasing The Grim Years: Settling South Carolina, 1670-1720 (USC Press 2020), he has two U.S. patents for four-player chess and is an aspiring but unlikely candidate for the PGA tour.


Charleston Library Society
164 King Street
Charleston, SC 29401 United States
+ Google Map
View Venue Website