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Today In Charleston History: September 3

1700 – Disaster. Religion.

The Rising Sun arrived from Scotland, with several hundred Presbyterians, led by Rev. Archibald Stobo. Members of the White Meeting House met Rev. Stobo and invited him ashore to preach the next day. Stobo, his family and twelve other passengers disembarked.

The next day, a fierice hurricane hit Charles Town causing extensive damage to the waterfront fortifications being constructed and destroying the Rising Sun, killing its crew and passengers. Stobo viewed the event as God’s judgment. He wrote that “the ship’s crew were so filled with wickedness that they could hold no more; they were ripe, they must be cut down with the sickle of His wrath.”

Edward Hyme, a newly arrived immigrant, described the catastrophe to his wife in England:

On Tuesday September 3 here happened a most terrible Storm of Wind or Hurricane with continual Rain; which has done great Damage to ye Country. Thousands of Trees have been torn up by ye Roots, many Houses blown down & more damnified; much Rice Corn & c spoiled; but ye greatest Mischief fell amongst ye Shipping of which about a Dozen Sail (of all sorts) were riding at Anchor before ye Town, some of which were driven on Shoar & broke all in Pieces, some were carryed a great Way up into ye Two Rivers into Ashley River, in her way breaking down a Pair of Gallows (from which 8 Pirats at once were hanged since my coming here) some were turn’d Bottom upwards & lost. but ye greatest and most deplorable loss of all was that to a great Scotch Ship called ye Rising-Sun, which having lost all her Masts in a Huricane in ye Gulf of Florida was riding at Anchor with out our Bar, wth Designe to come in here & refit; but being a Ship of 800 tons & 60 guns she durst not venture in with out lightening to which Purpose One Sloop has already been on board her, but waiting for another, ye Storm rise & she foundred at Anchor, ye Captain (Gibson) & all ye souls on board (being about 100) misearbly perishing…

Rev. Stobo settled in Charles Town and became renowned for his oratory skills, with sermons lasting more than four hours. Church officials asked that he divide his sermons into two sessions so that members could break for dinner. Stobo refused, claiming that Charleston’s spiritual reservoir needed filling. The next Sunday, Solomon Legare left the service at the two hour mark. Rev. Stobo called out, “Aye, aye, a little petcher (pitcher) is soon full!” Legare called back, “You’ve said enough to fill all the cisterns in Charlestown.”

1749 – Religion.
KK BETH ELOHIM, 1812 John Reubens Smith

Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim, c. 1812 by John Reubens Smith. Note: This building was destroyed by the 1838 fire but the smaller building pictured in the drawing survived and stands today on Hassel Street.

The first Jewish meeting in Charlestown took place. According to Jewish practice there must be a minyan, or ten males over the age of thirteen, for services to take place. They adopted the name Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim – holy Congregation of the House of God. They used a small wooden house on Union Street (now State) for their worship services until 1750, when the purchased land on Hasell Street. 

1780 – Laurens Captured

During Henry Laurens’ return voyage from the Netherlands, the British frigate Vestal intercepted his ship, the continental packet Mercury, off the banks of Newfoundland. Laurens tossed his dispatches overboard, but they were retrieved by the British, who discovered the draft of a possible U.S.-Dutch treaty, prompting Britain to declare war on the Netherlands. The British charged Laurens with treason and transported him to England for trial.

1783 – Treaty of Paris

Treaty of Paris was signed by Benjamin Franklin, John Jay and John Adams. Henry Laurens of Charleston, who had participated in the negotiations for the Americans, left Paris before the signing ceremony. In a letter to his wife Abagail, John Adams stated:

I have the Satisfaction to inform you that the definitive Treaties were all Signed yesterday, and the Preliminaries with Holland were Signed the day before. Dr. Franklin has fallen down again with the Gout and Gravel … Mr. Laurens , has a Brother declining, so that he will go to the south of France, untill he knows his Brother’s Fates.

1820 – New Intendent

James Hamilton was elected Intendent (mayor) of Charleston.

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