Let’s pick up the story in early December 1782, when the end of the long war was quite literally in sight. Most of the American army in South Carolina, consisting of several hundred men under the leadership of General Nathanael Greene, was camped on a number of plantations on the west side of the Ashley River.
In the autumn of 1927, Susan Dart Butler opened a free library in a building known as Dart Hall in downtown Charleston, and the present Dart Library is hosting a celebratory event this Saturday to commemorate ninety years of service to the community
At the turn of the seventeenth century, England was very keen to get involved in the European real estate bonanza in the New World. By that time, Spain and Portugal had already claimed nearly the entire continent of South America, the southern parts of North America, and most of the islands known as the West Indies, or Caribbean Islands.
It’s Thanksgiving season again, and for most people that means a day of rest, relaxation, and feasting with close friends and family. As a historian working in an old city, I have learned that Thanksgiving also includes at least ten people asking me the same question: “When was the first Thanksgiving in Charleston?” I don’t mind the question at all, but the answer is generally more complex than most people care to hear. If you don’t mind a quick stroll through the historical record of...
If you pick up any book about the origins of South Carolina in the late 1600s, you’ll be sure to find references to the island of Barbados and the great influence it exerted on our early history. Nearly 350 years later, in November 2017, a number of Lowcountry residents are collaborating with officials in Barbados to commemorate the cultural ties that continue to bind our two communities together.
When Charles II of England granted the colony of Carolina to a group of Lords Proprietors in 1663, the province included all the land between English Virginia and Spanish Florida. On paper, at least, the southern border of Carolina included the northern part of Florida, all the way down to what is now Jacksonville. Conversely, Spain considered the northern boundary of Florida to extend as far north as Saint Helena Sound, in modern Beaufort County, South Carolina.
At the close of the year 1856, the City of Charleston was just wrapping up the extensive repairs to the High Battery seawall and White Point Garden made necessary by the destructive hurricane of 1854. Immediately to the west of these expensive public projects, jutting out into the Ashley River, stood a series of rather unsavory private wharves, which the city viewed both as a nuisance and a potential liability to the public park.
I think it’s important to look back at the many generations of labor that led to the creation of the present “High” and “Low” battery seawalls. Our brief journey begins nearly 300 years ago, when the entire area in question was just a bit of underwater, imaginary real estate.
It’s time for our annual ShakeOut.! No, I’m not talking about some retro-themed dance contest, I’m talking about the Great Southeast ShakeOut of 2017, which is sponsored by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to promote earthquake awareness in seismically-active areas–like Charleston.
Philadelphia Alley is not the shortest or narrowest thoroughfare in the city of Charleston, but it is sufficiently small to escape the attention of many residents and tourists. For those who have stumbled into its entrances on Queen and Cumberland Streets in the past, they have discovered a picturesque yet historically mute piece of Charleston.
The story of Dutch Town begins in the middle of the eighteenth century, but I’d like to begin our tour of the neighborhood in the 1670s. Why? Because the physical location of Dutch Town is rooted in a series of mathematical errors made long before the first Germans arrived in South Carolina.
The location of the recent sinkhole in front of 215 East Bay Street is not directly related to the old creek that became Market Street two hundred years ago, nor is it directly related to the colonial-era fortification called Craven Bastion on the opposite side of the street. Rather, the recent sinkhole occurred on natural high ground (or at least a relatively high spot) that may have been the southern end of an old feature called Governor’s Bridge. Not familiar with the story of...
I’d like to share with you a little mystery that I’ve been trying to solve recently. Late one evening in early May 1822, a group of four men gathered on a Charleston street, under the cover of some overhanging tree branches, to discuss a secret plan. Three of the group, Frank, Monday, and Jack, were enslaved men of African descent, while the fourth, Denmark Vesey, was known as a “free negro.”
Hurricane season brings its share of anxiety, so I’d like to offer a bit of distraction from our current weather uncertainties. At the risk of adding to your stress, let’s turn back the calendar to early September of 1811, when a tornado measuring approximately one hundred yards in diameter churned diagonally across the city of Charleston, leaving a swath of death and destruction in its furious wake.
For the first 180 years of Charleston’s existence—from the arrival of the first settlers, through the entire colonial era and the American Revolution, through the War of 1812 and the Nullification Crisis, right up to the middle of the nineteenth century—Charlestonians rode their horses and drove their carriages on the left side of the road. Why?