Historic Markers Across South Carolina

"Old Reformer" Cannon

Marker ID:  
Location: 202 East Greenville Street, Anderson, SC
County: Anderson
Coordinates: N 34° 30.601    W 082° 38.957
  34.51001666    -82.64928333


"Old Reformer" Cannon
ca. 1764

The history of the brass cannon reflects the history of the Upstate of South Carolina during some of its most critical eras of conflict and change. The "Old Reformer" is also one of the oldest artifacts in the Upstate, since it arrived here before the town of Anderson Court House or the County existed. The artillery arrived in the Upstate in 1814, when the cannon was transported from Charleston to the Upstate to protect the settlers during the War of 1812. The cannon was thought to have been brought to the Americas in 1764 by German emigrants settling in Charleston.

In the years following the War of 1812, the cannon was forgotten until it was moved to Anderson in the late 1850s. One legend states that the name "Old Reformer" became its nickname at this time. The artillery piece was fired to announce the signing of the Ordinance of Secession in 1860 and possible on a few other wartime occasions. By this time, its original carriage was gone due to neglect and age.

In 1876, the cannon made another appearance during the South Carolina gubernatorial campaign of Wade Hampton. His political movement, known as the "Red Shirts," fired the cannon off during political speeches throughout the Upstate and announced his election win.

About this time the cannon, now just the barrel, disappeared from history until it was found buried in the ground near the Anderson freight depot on South Fant Street. It was placed in the garden of the Hubbard House on Calhoun Street for a few years until it was rescued by members of the Cateechee Chapter of the Daughters of American Revolution in 1905-06. The barrel was then placed on cement supports at the intersection of North Main and Orr Street across from Central Presbyterian Church.

Within a few years it had become a traffic hazard. In 1920, Mayor Foster Fant had a make-shift carriage built for the "Old Reformer" and a plaque attached. The cannon was then placed on the Plaza near the Confederate Monument. The new Anderson County Courthouse was completed in 1991, and the "Old Reformer" was placed on a brick alcove on the newly designed plaza. In June 2010, the cannon was moved to the Anderson County Museum for its continued preservation.

2010 by Anderson County Museum.