The city of Georgetown, South Carolina, is situated along the Atlantic coast where the Sampit River feeds into Winyah Bay. The early wealth of the area through 1865 was derived from an agricultural economy built on the backs of slave labor. This economy and the institution of slavery collapsed with the emancipation of the black population after the Civil War. During the latter half of the nineteenth century, however, Georgetown remained marred with inequalities between blacks and whites despite efforts to achieve a racial and cultural balance. In Trial and Error, Tom Rubillo explores the volatile case of John Brownfield—a black man tried for shooting a white policeman in the 1900s—and the Jim Crow mentality that was imbedded in the turn-of-the-century South. The result is a stirring narrative that examines the history of race relations in Georgetown, the trial of John Brownfield and the impact of the trial through the twentieth century to the present day. With meticulous research and engaging prose, Rubillo reconstructs the case and trial that became a watershed for race relations in Georgetown. Trial and Error is an essential volume in the history of Georgetown, the South Carolina Lowcountry and indeed the South as a whole.
Tom Rubillo has lived and practiced law in Georgetown, South Carolina, for a quarter of a century. During this time he has served as mayor of the city of Georgetown and senior attorney in the 15th Judicial Circuit's Solicitor's Office. He continues to represent individuals in civil rights cases and victims of violent crimes. This is his first book.