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BEAUTIFUL, DRAMATIC, & UNWORTHY

As long as she thinks of a man, nobody objects to a woman thinking. - Virginia Woolf

CHARACTERIZATION

Robert Mackay described his young goddaughter as “elegance itself,” but Charlotte’s actions at her wedding to James Taylor in 1829, were deemed the direct opposite of this estimation and sent Savannah tongues wagging—resulting in the emergence of an inexact depiction.  

CONTEXT

Georgia Gazette, Thursday, May 27, 1802. Notice about Robert Isaac, Second Column, Top

Robert Isaac, a wealthy merchant and business partner of Andrew Low, was married to William Scarbrough’s sister Lucy. Following the failure of the SS Savannah to turn a profit, William Scarbrough was found to be an insolvent debtor and forced to liquidate. Isaac purchased the Scarbrough House and all of its furnishings then allowed the Scarbroughs to remain in the home. As a teenager Charlotte lived with the Isaacs, and upon her uncle’s death she was given the Scarbrough property. This inheritance produced a colossal fracture in the Scarbrough family. Charlotte was accused of “influencing” her uncle’s actions by way of improper behavior. She was then kept sequestered in the Scarbrough home until she agreed to execute a new deed which included ownership by her mother and siblings (William Scarbrough could no longer own property in Chatham County).  Following her compliance, she was forced to write a letter to her father stating her “unworthiness” and current wish to return Scarbrough House to the entire family. She was then made to sign the new deed, unread. (These actions would later prove to be the undoing of the transaction.)

The stress Charlotte was under following her uncle’s death and from the forced surrender of Scarbrough House became manifest at her wedding to James Taylor—which according to her own words, was held under duress.

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