Today In Charleston History: June 30

1665

A second charter was drafted to the Lords Proprietors of Carolina to settle several legal issues in the original 1629 Heath grant.

1702-Births

Elizabeth Villin was born in Amsterdam. She would later marry Lewis Timothy and move to Charles Town in 1731.

1812

Theodosia’s son, Aaron Burr Alston, died of a summer fever. Theodosia’s health deteriorated to the point she was unable to travel to visit her father. Joseph Alston wished to reunite his wife with her father. However, as brigadier general of the state militia, it was impossible for him to leave during a state of declared war.

1865

President of the United States, Andrew Johnson, issued a proclamation establishing a provisional government for South Carolina. He appointed Benjamin F. Perry, a South Carolina native as provisional governor because of the strong unionist views he had held prior to the war.

Benjamin Franklin Perry

Benjamin Franklin Perry

Perry was directed by the president to enroll voters and to lead the state in the writing of a new state constitution. The delegates at the constitutional convention largely followed Perry’s guidelines for the constitution, but they strayed by adopting the black codes to prevent black suffrage. President Johnson urged the granting of suffrage to blacks while also including a property qualification clause. A property qualification would essentially disenfranchise all blacks without giving the appearance of impropriety towards blacks and prevent the imposition of harsh terms by the Radical Republicans. 

Benjamin Franklin Perry said in 1865:

The African has been in all ages, a savage or a slave. God created him inferior to the white man in form, color, and intellect, and no legislation or culture can make him his equal… His hair, his form and features will not compete with the caucasian race, and it is in vain to think of elevating him to the dignity of the white man. God created differences between the two races, and nothing can make him equal.

Upon the completion of the constitution, elections were called and Perry sought election to the U.S. Senate. He was elected along with John Lawrence Manning, but the Radical Republicans in charge of Congress refused to seat them. In 1872, he unsuccessfully ran for the 4th congressional district House seat against Republican Alexander S. Wallace. His son, William Hayne Perry, did successfully gain election to the House and was a member from 1885 to 1891.

1934

The Spartanburg Herald-Journal  posted this story about George Gershwin at Folly Beach.  

GERSHWIN, GONE NATIVE, BASKS AT FOLLY BEACH.
Charleston, June 30.

Bare and black above the waist, an inch of hair bristling from his face, and with a pair of tattered knickers furnishing a sole connected link with civilization, George Gershwin, composer of jazz music, had gone native. He is staying at the Charles T. Tamsberg cottage at Folly Beach, South Carolina.

“I have become acclimated,” he said yesterday as he ran his hand experimentally through a crop of dark, matted hair which had not had the benefit of being combed for many, many days. “You know, it’s so pleasant here that it’s really a shame to work.”

Two weeks at Folly have made a different Gershwin from the almost sleek creator of “Rhapsody in Blue”  and “Concerto in F” who arrived from New York City on June 16. Naturally brown, he is now black. Naturally sturdy, he is now sturdier. Gershwin, it would seem intends to play the part of Crown, the tremendous buck in “Porgy” who lunges a knife into the throat of a friend too lucky at craps and who makes women love him by placing huge black hands about their throats and tensing their muscles.

George Gershwin

George Gershwin

The opera “Porgy” which Gershwin is writing from the book and play by DuBose Heyward, is to be a serious musical work to be presented by the Guild Theater early next year, is an interpretation in sound of the life in Charleston’s “Catfish Row”; an impressionistic dissertation on the philosophy of negro life and the relationship between the negro and the white.   Mr. Heyward, who is staying at Lester Karow’s cottage at the beach, spends every afternoon with the composer, cutting the score, rewriting and whipping the now-completed first act into final form.

“We are attempting to have an opera that is serious and dramatic,” Mr. Gershwin said.  “The whites will speak their lines, but the negroes will sing throughout. I hope the audience will get the idea. With the colored people there is always a song, see? They always find something to sing about somewhere. The whites are dull and drab.”

It is the crap game scene and subsequent murder by Crown which may make the first act the most dramatic of the production. A strange rhythm and an acid, biting quality in the music create the sensation of conflict and strife between men and strife caused by the rolling bones of luck.

“You won’t hear the dice click and roll,” he said. “It is impressionism, not realism. When you want to get a great painting of nature you don’t take a camera with you.”

Jazz will rear its hotcha head at intervals through the more serious music. Sporting Life, the negro who peddles “joy powder” or dope, to the residents of Catfish Row, will be represented by ragtime.

“Even though we are cutting as much as possible, it is going to be a very long opera,” Mr. Gershwin said. “It takes three times as long to sing a line as it does to say it. In the first act, scene one is 94 pages of music long and scene two is 74.”

There is only one thing about Charleston and Folly that Mr. Gershwin does not like. “Your amateur composers bring me their pieces for me to play. I am very busy and most of them are very bad – very, very bad,” he said.

George Gershwin rented the Tamsberg cottage for his visit to Folly Beach in 1934. It was completely destroyed in a hurricane in 1940. Dorothy and DuBose Heyward lived in the cottage now known as The Porgy House which will be open for tours again after December 8th.

Sketch of Gershwin’s cottage by his cousin, Henry Botkin. George Gershwin rented the Tamsberg cottage for his visit to Folly Beach in 1934. It was completely destroyed in a hurricane in 1940.
Dorothy and DuBose Heyward lived in the cottage which is now known as The Porgy House. Courtesy of The Gershwin Estate

Today In Charleston History: June 29

1767-American Revolution-The Townsend Acts

The Townshend Acts were passed by Parliament, placing new duties on paper, paint, lead, glass, and tea that were imported into the colonies – items that were not produced in North America and that the colonists were only allowed to buy from Great Britain.

1769

The Gazette announced that the “mechanics of Charlestown are desired to meet under the Liberty Tree on Monday next at four o’clock.”

1776-Battle of Ft. Sullivan

 Early in the morning the British set the grounded Actaeon afire and abandoned it. The Americans sailed out to the burning ship and fired several of its guns at the departing Bristol.

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The South Carolina soldiers searched Sullivan’s Island and “gathered up more shot, from 24-pounders down to the smallest size, that they had fired.” The British shot had destroyed almost all of the island’s huts and trees but Ft. Sullivan stood almost undamaged. Parker and Clinton evacuated the area in late July and began to blame each other for their defeat.

President Rutledge visited Ft. Moultrie to congratulate the garrison. He presented his sword to Sergeant Jasper for heroic actions and gave the men a hogshead of rum. Col. Moultrie was promoted to general, and Rutledge announced the Ft. Sullivan was to be renamed Fort Moultrie.

It is difficult to over-emphasize the importance of the June 28 victory at Sullivan’s Island. When word reached the other American cities, it was seen as an early sign of the American capacity to oppose the British at arms.

It was important to get the news to the Continental Congress as quickly as possible. Normal dispatches often took two or three weeks to travel to Philadelphia. Seventeen-year old Daniel Latham, “a very athletic young man” who was a distiller at 1 Hasell Street, set out early in the morning on horseback toward Philadelphia, spreading news of the victory everywhere he went. Within two weeks he arrived and announced to the news of the Sullivan’s Island victory.

1776-American Revolution – Continental Congress.

Edward Rutledge, at the Continental Congress in Philadelphia, expressed his reluctance to declare independence from Britain. Contrary to the majority of his Congressional colleagues, Rutledge advocated patience with regards to declaring independence.

1864 

Charles Prioleau

Charles Prioleau

Charles K. Prioleau was a native Charlestonian and senior partner of Liverpool merchants and bankers Fraser, Trenholm and Co, Read more about Prioleau’s life. Today he wrote to George Trenholm, ten days after the CSS Alabama was sunk at Cherbourg by the Federal navy.

We are much depressed at the loss of the ‘Alabama’ particulars of which you will have received etc this through the newspapers.  It was certainly a gallant act, but to unprofessional eyes looks a very unnecessary one.  However Capt Semmes probably knew best and there is no help for it now.  On the other hand the political effect has been good and the most profound sensation and sympathy has been produced by the action both in France and England.

We continue deeply anxious for the result of the continued bloody & momentous struggle in Virginia but have so far every occasion for profound gratitude for the position held by our armies and our light loss compared with that of the enemy. 

    With much affectionate regard from all to all

Yours most sincerely CKP

During the War, Prioleau served as unofficial banker to the Confederate States government in England. The Confederacy deposited funds with his company and the firm financed the purchase of ships, arms, ammunition and other materials for the war effort. Prioleau also acquired and outfitted sixty-five ships which were subsequently engaged in blockade running and disrupting Northern shipping. 

Early in the War he took an option on ten, large steel-hulled ships available for two million pounds sterling. Prioleau’s proposal to Gen. Beauregard to use these ships to blockade Boston and possible win the War was never accepted. 

Today In Charleston June 28

1758-Marriage

Rebecca Brewton married Jacob Motte.

1769-American Revolution – Foundations.
William Henry Drayton

William Henry Drayton

An “Association” was published, pledging non-importation of any products of Great Britain, and denouncing anyone who did not sign within a month. Many of the aristocratic leaders were upset by the surge of the mechanics (merchants and tradesmen) in politics, usurped by men they considered their inferior. William Henry Drayton condescendingly wrote in the Gazette:

No man who could boast of having received a liberal education would consult on public affairs with men who never were in any way to study, or to advise upon any points, but rules how to cut up a beast in the market … cobble on old shoe … or to build a necessary house.

  Christopher Gadsden pointed out that Drayton was exempted from labor to make a living due to his “marriage to a rich heiress rather than from any merit of his own.” The rally cry of the “Association” became “Sign or die!”

1776-American Revolution

Rev. Robert Cooper, a Loyalist, prayed from St. Michael’s pulpit that “the King might be strengthened to defeat his enemies.”

1776-Battle of Ft. Sullivan

The first major naval battle of the Revolution took place in Charlestown.  At 10 a.m. eleven British warships under Sir Peter Parker attacked Ft. Moultrie.

British fleet in Charlestown

British fleet in Charlestown

Commander Col. William Moultrie termed the situation “one continual blaze and roar, with clouds of smoke curling over…for hours together.” Although greatly outnumbered, and with vastly inferior armaments, the South Carolina troops kept the British fleet from entering the harbor. At the same time the 400 men, managed to hold The Breach, thwarting the British efforts to cross and land troops on Sullivan’s Island.

 In the midst of the battle, a British projectile broke the fort’s flagstaff. Sgt. William Jasper “leapt over the ramparts” and,

Sgt. Jasper replacing the flag

Sgt. Jasper replacing the flag

shouted, “Don’t let us fight without a color!” In the words of Captain Horry:

Jasper deliberately walked the whole length of the fort, until he came to the colors on the extremity of the left, when he cut off the same from the mast, and called to me for a sponge staff, and with a thick cord tied on the colors and stuck the staff on the rampart in the sand. The sergeant fortunately received no hurt, though exposed for a considerable time, to the enemy’s fire.

As American shot bombarded into the British men-of-war, one round landed on the Bristol’s quarterdeck and rendered Sir Peter Parker’s “Britches…quite torn off, his backside laid bare, his thigh and knee wounded.” The Acteon was grounded and severely damaged.  By 9 p.m. Parker withdrew and the reports came in:

  • British: 78 dead, 152 wounded. Lord William Campbell was wounded during the battle and later died of his wounds.
  • American: 12 dead, 25 wounded.
Battle of Fort Moultrie

Battle of Fort Moultrie

1777

The Palmetto Society was organized to celebrate Palmetto Day, June 28, 1776.

1822-Denmark Vesey Rebellion

Denmark Vesey was found guilty and sentenced to hang on July 2. Lionel Kennedy read a prepared statement for the record:

The Court were not only satisfied with your guilt, but that you were the author, and original instigator of this diabolical plot. Your professed design was to trample on all laws, human and divine, to riot in blood, outrage, rapine and conflagration, and to introduce anarchy and confusion in their most horrid forms. Your life has become, therefore, a just and necessary sacrifice, at the shrine of indulgent Justice.

As Vesey stood listening to his sentence, a single tear “trickled down his cheek. He glared at his accusers and muttered, “The work of insurrection would go on.”

That night, Vesey was visited by Rev. Richard Furman who suggested they pray together so that Vesey could die repentant. Vesey refused, telling Rev. Furman that it “was a Glorious cause he was to die in … it is no use to say any thing more.”

1978
William Moultrie grave, Ft. Moultrie

William Moultrie grave, Ft. Moultrie

The remains of Gen. William Moultrie were re-interred on Sullivan’s Island near the water at the Ft. Moultrie Visitor Center.  Today, William Moultrie’s grave is marked by a flagpole and a tombstone enclosed by iron fencing. The grave is seen by thousands of people each year.

Today In Charleston History: June 27

1712-Epidemic.

The Assembly passed an act “for the more effectual Preventing the Spreading of Contagious Distempers” and appointed Gilbert Guttery the first health commissioner. He was empowered to board any ship coming into the harbor and order anyone quarantined in the “pest house” on Sullivan’s Island, under penalty of fine or whipping for leaving.

1723 – Politics. 

     By the order of the Lords Justices the “Act for the Good Government of Charles Town” was repealed. Some folks say “good government” never returned.  

1767 – Revolutionary War.

The sloop Active was seized by Capt. James Hawker of HMS Sardoine. This was the initial incident that sparked a major contest between British authorities and the Carolina merchants – all because of the Townshend Acts and the sugar tax levied against the colonies.

1822-Denmark Vesey Rebellion.

Monday Gell was arrested at his harness shop.

1864- Bombardment of Charleston

Gus Smythe wrote:

The Yankees are shelling as usual but nearly all their shells have fallen short. Yesterday, only two or three came in & they burst on the Bay.  There was also considerable firing at Sumter … the Yankee prisoners are in Mr. O’Conner’s house at the corner of Broad & Rutledge Sts. It is a splendid house & a delightful situation. They have a large yard & empty lot to walk in & the other day the Govt. sent round & had gas fixtures put up so that they might have light all at the expense of the Confederacy. Have plenty of money which they spend for coffee & sugar etc. It seems a shame to treat them so well.

 

O'Conner House, Broad Street

O’Conner House, Broad Street

 

Charleston’s Connection To “Amazing Grace”

newton, john

Today In Charleston History: June 26

1742-Births
Arthur Middleton

Arthur Middleton

Arthur Middleton, son of Henry Middleton, was born on the family plantation “The Oaks” in Goose Creek.

1773-American Revolution – Foundations.  

More tea arrived in Charlestown and was stored in the Exchange basement. A “mob of several hundred men” chased Capt. Maitland from his ship, which was moved from the wharf in fear of it being burned. 

1786

Mr. Godwin, formerly of the David Douglass Company of Comedians, built Harmony Hall north of Boundary Street. Since it was outside the city limits Godwin did not have to pay the £100 license fee the city charged theater owners. However, his theater drew a rougher crowd than the usual aristocratic patrons in town, bringing condemnation from most city officials.

1822-Denmark Vesey Rebellion.

Denmark Vesey was put on trial. William Paul, Joe LaRoche, Frank Ferguson and Rolla Bennett testified against Vesey.

Today In Charleston History: June 25

1670

Governor Sayle wrote a letter to Ashley Cooper appealing for a clergyman.

1745-Births

Future Patriot physician and U.S. Treasurer Thomas Tudor Tucker was born to a prominent family in Port Royal, Bermuda.

Thomas Tudor Tucker

Thomas Tudor Tucker

After completing medical studies at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, Tucker opened a practice in Charleston. He was elected to the state assembly in 1776, where he took the Patriot side. Dr. Tucker served the Southern Department of the Continental Army as a hospital surgeon and continued in that capacity until 1783. Tucker was elected to the Continental Congress in 1787 and 1788.

Although Tucker was an anti-Federalist who believed that the Constitution gave the central government too much power,he nonetheless held prominent positions in the new national government.

1750-Marriage

Henry Laurens married Eleanor Ball, daughter of a wealthy rice planter. Laurens was on his way to becoming one of the most successful men in Charlestown. A hard worker, he rose an hour before daylight and usually worked until midnight, sleeping about four hours a day. He demanded the same worth ethic in his employees.

1787-Constitutional Convention

Charles Pinckney gave a speech, refuting Alexander Hamilton’s claim that solutions to certain issues at the Convention could be found using the British system of government. Pinckney passionately disagreed:

The people of the United States are perhaps the most singular of any we are acquainted with. Among them are fewer distinctions of fortune and less of rank than among the inhabitants of any other nation. Every freeman has a right to the same protection and security … None will be excluded by birth and few by fortune.

1914

Queen Alexandra, the sixty-nine year old widow of King Edward VII, visited the Anglo-American Expo in London with the Empress Marie of Russia and Princesses Royal and Maud. The Jenkins Orphanage Band played a special performance at the Court of Honor for the dignitaries. Queen Alexandra must have been impressed by the boys’ performance, because within a few weeks, King George V scheduled a visit to the Expo, and remarked that he was anxious to hear the “Famous Pickaninny Band.”

JOB1914London_Green_CJI