Just about everybody likes a good comeback story. It seems that Americans in particular like to build people up just so they can tear them down and then build them back up again, particularly in the world of politics.

Some people are so charismatic that nothing seems to damage their reputation (example: JFK). Bill Clinton, who engaged in the most salacious activities, lied about it and got impeached while enduring worldwide ridicule, is once again hanging ten while riding the wave of sentiment and popularity.

It’s even likely that President George W. Bush, who is essentially devoid of personal scandal but is probably one of the most unpopular of all presidents, will experience a resurgence of sorts if for no other reason than keeping America safe after 9/11.

I’d say Americans are generally willing to forgive or favorably re-evaluate almost anyone as long as they aren’t outright criminals, sociopaths, child molesters or egregiously fallen members of the cloth. People like O.J. Simpson, Jim Bakker and others aren’t going to experience a Clintonian-like rise in the popularity ranks anytime soon.

As an aside, I’ve heard it said that Clinton is just unbelievable when it comes to making a one-on-one charm impression. That is to say, no matter how much you think you don’t like the guy, no matter how much negative bias you might harbor, that it all goes out the window with a handshake and few brief moments of conversation. You’re just completely snowed over like an avalanche. Hillary knows it. That’s why she watches him so closely.

Will it work?

Be that as it may, it will be interesting to observe to what extent voters, particularly female, are willing to give former Gov. Mark Sanford a “pass” on the May 7 congressional election. Sanford has never lost an election, and the question is whether he can hang on and win this one.

He’s hauling around so much baggage, though, that perhaps not just a few women seem unable to abide him anymore. I know several who are staunchly conservative and staunchly Republican and who will do the remarkable by voting for Elizabeth Colbert Busch purely on the basis of moral principle. And the same thing applies to men, although not as many.

Significant? We’ll see. It’s pretty clear that he’s in trouble and the electorate may not be ready for a comeback, at least not yet.

Preserving history

On the preservation front, there’s a movement afoot to have the Old Georgetown Road placed on the National Register of Historic Places. The approximately 12-mile section between the South Santee River and Buck Hall is one of the longest remaining unpaved stretches of the original King’s Highway that ran between Boston and Charleston.

Haven’t driven it? Well, it’s an absolutely beautiful area, so pristine and remote that people transported in time from 200 years ago wouldn’t be able to tell much of a difference.

According to language in an actual application submitted to the National Register, the original road was an Indian trading path known as the Sewee Broad Path and associated with the Sewee Indians who lived on the 30-mile strip between Charleston Harbor and the Santee River. Washington described it as “sand and pine barrens, with very few inhabitants” in his diary as he traveled the road during his 1791 tour of the Southern states.

S.C. poet laureate Archibald Rutledge sang thusly of the c. 1768 St. James-Santee “Brick” Church in the middle of the proposed conservation area as “a shrine in the wilderness, flanked on three sides by the immense loneliness of the pine forest.”

Many notable American patriots would have traveled this historic thoroughfare, including Rebecca Motte; also political and military leaders such as Thomas Lynch, Jr. (of Peachtree Plantation) and Edward Rutledge, both of whom signed the Declaration of Independence; Revolutionary War Brig. Gen. Francis Marion and Gen. William Moultrie; and Govs. John Rutledge and Thomas Pinckney.

The area also would have been traversed by Lord Cornwallis and British Army Col. Banastre Tarleton (“Bloody Ban”).

French Huguenots would settle in or about the area following Louis XIV’s revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685, which previously had allowed Protestants limited worship rights.

There are early references to names such as “Eugee” (later Huger), Gaillard and Horry. These and others became prominent South Carolina names and helped lay the groundwork for the burgeoning rice industry that evolved into an economic powerhouse.

But it was time and labor intensive. After harvesting rice, enslaved Africans used mortars and pestles to separate the rice grain from the hull and the bran in small quantities at a time. Upon his arrival from England, millwright Jonathan Lucas invented a mill used in the area that harnessed water power to turn millstones and process rice in much greater quantities and much more quickly than had been possible through strict manual labor. The first one went up at Peachtree in 1787.

These are just a few of the historical tidbits affiliated with Old Georgetown Road. But see it for yourself. Take a drive up there and enjoy an unspoiled area that’s home to history and the wanderings of one’s imagination.

Edward M. Gilbreth is a Charleston physician. Reach him at edwardgilbreth@ comcast.net.