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Friday, June 15, 2007

Charleston, SC III

The Round Church
Information from Wikipedia:
After Charles II of England (1660-85) was restored to the British throne following Oliver Cromwell's Protectorate, he granted the chartered Carolina territory to eight of his loyal friends, known as the Lords Proprietor, in 1663. It took seven years before the Lords could arrange for settlement, the first being that of Charles Town. The community was established by English settlers in 1670 on the west bank of the Ashley River, a few miles northwest of the present city. By 1680, the settlement had grown, joined by others from England, Barbados, and Virginia, and relocated to its current peninsular location. The capital of the Carolina colony. The settlement was often subject to attack from sea and from land. Periodic assaults from Spain and France, who still contested England's claims to the region, were combined with resistance from Native Americans, as well as pirate raids. Charleston's colonists erected a fortification wall around the small settlement to aid in its defense. The wall was made of Palmetto logs backed by sand. This is why the SC flag has a Palmetto on it. Two buildings remain from the Walled City, the Powder Magazine, where the city's supply of gunpowder was stored, and the Pink House, believed to have been an old colonial tavern. The city was moved to its present location in 1680. St. Michael's Episcopal Church is the oldest church still standing, built in 1752.

By the mid-18th century Charleston had become a bustling trade center, the hub of the Atlantic trade for the southern colonies, and the wealthiest and largest city south of Philadelphia. By 1770 it was the fourth largest port in the colonies, after only Boston, New York, and Philadelphia, with a population of 11,000, slightly more than half of that slaves. Rice and indigo had been successfully cultivated by slave-owning planters in the surrounding coastal low-country.

As the relationship between the colonists and England deteriorated, Charleston became a focal point in the ensuing Revolution. In protest of the Tea Act of 1773, which embodied the concept of taxation without representation, Charlestonians confiscated tea and stored it in the Exchange and Custom House. Representatives from all over the colony came to the Exchange in 1774 to elect delegates to the Continental Congress, the group responsible for drafting the Declaration of Independence; and South Carolina declared its independence from the crown on the steps of the Exchange. Soon, the church steeples of Charleston, especially St. Michael's, became targets for British war ships causing rebel forces to paint the steeples black to blend with the night sky. In 1780, Clinton with 14,000 soldiers came to Charleston. American General Benjamin Lincoln was trapped and surrendered his entire 5400 men force after a long fight, the Siege of Charleston was the greatest American defeat of the war (see Henry Clinton "Commander in Chief" section for more). Several Americans escaped the carnage, and joined up with several militias, including those of Francis Marion, the 'Swampfox,' and Andrew Pickens. The tactics of these militias were hit and run. Eventually, Clinton returned to New York, leaving General Cornwallis with 8000 Redcoats to rally Loyalists, built forts across the state, and demand oaths of allegiance to the King. Many of these forts were taken over by the outnumbered guerilla militias. At one point, the infamous British cavalry leader, Banastre Tarleton said the devil himself couldn't catch the Swampfox (Francis Marion). The British retained control of the city until December 1782. After the British left the city's name was officially changed to Charleston in 1783. By 1788, Carolinians were meeting at the Capitol building for the Constitutional Ratification Convention, and while there was support for the Federal Government, division arose over the location of the new State Capital. A suspicious fire broke out in the Capitol building during the Convention, after which the delegates removed to the Exchange and decreed Columbia the new State Capital.

The invention of the cotton gin in 1793 revolutionized this crop's production, and it quickly became South Carolina's major export. Cotton plantations relied heavily on slave labor. Slaves were also the primary labor force within the city, working as domestics, artisans, market workers or laborers. In 1807 the Charleston Market was founded. It soon became a hub for the African-American community, with many slaves and free people of color staffing stalls.

On December 20, 1860, the South Carolina General Assembly made the state the first to ever secede from the Union. They asserted that one of the causes was the election to the presidency of a man "whose opinions and purposes are hostile to slavery", but there are other numerous causes as well.

Sharon at the Confederate Monument on The Battery.
On January 9, 1861, Citadel cadets fired the first shots of the American Civil War when they opened fire on the Union ship Star of the West entering Charleston's harbor. On April 12, 1861, shore batteries under the command of General Pierre G. T. Beauregard opened fire on the Union-held Fort Sumter in the harbor. After a 34-hour bombardment, Major Robert Anderson surrendered the fort. Officers and Cadets from The Citadel were assigned to various Confederate batteries during the bombardment of Fort Sumter. Although the Citadel continued to operate as an academy during the Civil War, cadets were made a part of the South Carolina military department .
In 1865, Union troops moved into the city, and took control of many sites, such as the United States Arsenal, which the Confederate army had seized at the outbreak of the war. The War department also confiscated the grounds and buildings of the Citadel Military Academy, which was used as a federal garrison for over 17 years, until its return to the state and reopening as a military college in 1882. After the eventual and destructive defeat of the Confederacy, Federal forces remained in Charleston during the city's reconstruction. The war had shattered the prosperity of the antebellum city. Freed slaves were faced with poverty and discrimination.
Charleston in 1865.
In 1886 Charleston was nearly destroyed by an earthquake measuring 7.5 on the Richter Scale that was felt as far away as Boston and Bermuda. It damaged 2,000 buildings. Hurricane Hugo hit Charleston in 1989, and though the worst damage was in nearby McClellanville, the storm damaged three-quarters of the homes in Charleston's historic district. The hurricane caused over $2.8 billion in damage.
The Grand Dames on the Battery







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