A Lady of the High Hills – Natalie Delage Sumter


By: Thomas Tisdale

ISBN: 157003415X
6×9, 188 pages, hardcover

From her birth at the palace at Versailles to her death on a South Carolina plantation, Natalie Delage Sumter (1782–1841) lived a life riveted by escape, adventure, grandeur, and hardship—a saga that spanned several tumultuous decades of French history and included her residence on three continents. The godchild of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette and a member of the French nobility, Nathalie de Lage de Volude fled to New York at age eleven at the height of the French Revolution. She lived for eight years in the household of politician Aaron Burr and became a confidante of his daughter, Theodosia. On her return voyage to France, Delage fell in love with Thomas Sumter Jr., a diplomat to France and the son of South Carolina’s Revolutionary War “Gamecock.” The couple enjoyed a celebrated shipboard romance, and with their subsequent marriage, Natalie Sumter entered the world of the southern planter aristocracy.

A Lady of the High Hills follows the epic events that took Sumter from continent to continent–to Brazil, back to France, and ultimately to plantation life in Stateburg, South Carolina. Thomas Tisdale describes Sumter’s adjustment to life in the South Carolina backcountry, her role as the matriarch of the Sumter family, and her constant financial worries despite her husband’s vast landholdings. Tisdale also recounts Sumter’s efforts to overcome religious and intellectual isolation in Stateburg, including her creation of a lending library, education and religious instruction of the family’s slaves, and sponsorship of the Roman Catholic Church in South Carolina.