Cheltenham Festival 202412 – 15 March 2024

Cane Brake

Cane Brake is a plantation home in Saluda, South Carolina, an historic property of Thomas Green Clemson of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, after whom Clemson University is named.

In 1843, while applying his scientific training to assist his father-in-law, U.S. Vice President John C. Calhoun in a mining venture, as well as in agricultural production at Fort Hill, Clemson bought his own plantation, Cane Brake, in Edgefield, South Carolina. He staffed Cane Brake with help he acquired from his wife’s cousin, Sen. John Ewing Colhoun Jr., who was deep in debt.

At the time, Thomas Clemson wrote that he rejected slavery, “My experience tells me that the Institution of slavery is at all times good for the Negro (no laborers in the world are so well off.) At times good for the master, but very bad for the state,” and soon moved abroad, accepting an appointment from President John Tyler as chargé d’affaires and highest-ranking American ambassador to Belgium. However, Clemson was soon dismissed by Secretary of State Daniel Webster, a political foe.

In 1853, after Clemson came home to the United States, he sold Cane Brake to Alfred Dearing, who died in 1856.

Before Thomas Clemson purchased Cane Brake, the plantation and the big house were owned by Arthur Simkins, who died in 1826.