The next Galivants Ferry Stump will take place Monday, September 16th at Pee Dee Farms General Store (125 West US Highway 501 in Horry County). The event begins at 5 PM.
While the political gathering, now in its 143rd year, has historically hosted democratic candidates in the spring of each general election year, two stumps will take place during the 2020 presidential cycle – one in the spring of 2020, as normal, and one in the fall of 2019, in advance of South Carolina’s Democratic Primary on February 29, 2020.
Long an important river crossing, the community of Galivants Ferry on the Little Pee Dee River is named for Richard Gallevan, the man who was granted ferry rights in 1792. The community that developed around the ferry took its name. In 1852, J.W. Holliday leased 9,000 acres along the Waccamaw River and grew pine timber for the turpentine industry. When his business was destroyed during the Civil War, Holliday relocated to nearby Gallivants Ferry, a rural tobacco-farming community somewhat isolated in western Horry County.
There, Holliday opened a farm supply store along the Little Pee Dee. An innovator as well as a successful merchant and tobacco farmer, Holliday also developed the flue-curing method of drying tobacco. Flues can be seen in historic tobacco barns throughout the Pee Dee, including the Lake City Pole Barn. Though rich in agricultural history, Galivants Ferry is best known today as the site of the Galivants Ferry Stump, a biannual political rally for the Democratic Party faithful.
During the 1876 gubernatorial election, General Wade Hampton delivered a speech at Galivants Ferry that helped propel him to the office of governor, though that year’s election is widely regarded as the most corrupt in South Carolina history. In 1880 Holliday invited candidates to return to the town and deliver their points from his store, and a tradition was born. The Galivants Ferry Stump remains an opportunity for locals to hear candidates speak, which they did while standing on a tree stump so they could be seen and heard by the crowd. This practice, common in our country’s early days, is the origin of what we now know as a “stump speech.”
Candidates still come to Galivants Ferry, and locals gather along with prominent Democrats from the state and nation to hear the stump speeches. The event continues to be hosted by the Holliday family, which also operates Holliday Farms across the street. In 2006, Joe Biden was the keynote speaker for the event; other well-known “stumpers” include former governors as well as senators Fritz Hollings and Strom Thurmond. Modern candidates make their speeches from the porch of a country store, seen below. The store sits adjacent to an older store which dates to 1922.
Bucking the trend in which political events strive to employ the most up-to-the-minute media tools, the decidedly low-tech atmosphere at the Galivants Ferry Stump remains a blend of carnival and church picnic, complete with plenty of food, music, and balloons – plus lots of hand-shakin’, back-slappin’, and baby kissin’. When the speeches are over and the crowds have dispersed, Galivants Ferry goes back to being a rural farming community along the Little Pee Dee. The below photo was taken from a boat landing near the original ferry crossing at United States Highway 501.