Today In Charleston History: August 6


In failing health and constant pain, and suffering from depression, Theodosia Burr Alston wrote her last will and testament. The birth of her son had resulted in debilitating medical problems which were untreatable in her time. It left Theodosia to live out the rest of her married life infertile and battling recurring bouts of illness. She made trips to Saratoga, New York and Ballston Spa in an effort to restore her health, but with no lasting effects.

Theodosia Burr Alston by John Vanderlyn - New York Historical Society

Theodosia Burr Alston by John Vanderlyn – New York Historical Society

Today In Charleston History: August 5

1749 – Births.

Thomas Lynch, Jr.

Thomas Lynch, Jr.  was born in Georgetown. He would later sign the Declaration of Independence for South Carolina.

1776 – American Revolution.

The Declaration of Independence arrived in Charleston. Maj. Barnard Elliot read it to a large, enthusiastic crowd under the Liberty Tree.

Liberty Tree marker on Alexander Street

Today In Charleston History: August 4

 1781 – British Occupation.Issac Hayne Executed

At 5:00 p.m. Col. Issac Hayne “was escorted by a party of soldiers to a gallows erected within the lines of the town with his hands tied behind, and there hung up till he was dead.” David Ramsay reported:

The military escort consisted of three hundred men. The place of execution was just without the city-lines, near Radcliffe’s Garden, nearly in front, and within a stone’s throw of the present Orphan House building. The troops formed a hollow square around the scaffold, the British troops occupying the front and rear, the Hessians on the right and left.

During the march through the city “the streets were crowded with thousands of anxious spectators.” Someone in the crowd called to Hayne “Exhibit the example of how an American can die!” Hayne replied, “I will endeavor to do so.”


Today In Charleston History: August 3

 1674 – Deaths.

Sir John Yeamans

Sir John Yeamans

Sir John Yeamans died in Carolina.  He was one of original landgraves of the Carolina colonial and became governor. In 1674 Yeamans was removed from office, and at once sailed for Barbados, where he soon afterward died. Robert Weir wrote: 

Yeamans epitomized the enterprising Barbadians who played a large part in settling South Carolina. That some, like him, resembled pirates ashore probably both promoted and retarded development of the colony; it certainly contributed to political factionalism endemic during the early years.

1769 – American Revolution – Foundations.

William Henry Drayton was a twenty-seven year old planter who refused to join the Association. Educated in England, Drayton had expensive tastes and his fondness for gambling left him deeply in debt. He was described as “a rather frivolous young lightweight, unable to get his life in order.”

When Drayton discovered there was no market for his plantation goods, he attacked the Association in the Gazette. The publication of his name was “an infringement of individual rights” and “only the legislature could brand a man an enemy of his country.” He contemptuously called Gadsden: “either traitor or madman who looks upon himself as a monarch … the ruler of the people …[who should be] locked in an insane asylum until the change of the moon.”

1776American Revolution – Continental Congress.  

Most of the members of the Continental Congress officially signed the Declaration of Independence on this day. They then turned their attention to creating a union of the thirteen colonies. South Carolina signers were: Edward Rutledge, Arthur Middleton, Thomas Heyward, Jr. and Thomas Lynch, Jr. 

South Carolina signers of the Declaration of Independence

South Carolina signers of the Declaration of Independence.

1781 – British Occupation.

A group of citizens meet Lord Rawdon at the Miles Brewton House to plead for Issac Hayne’s life. Col Hayne’s son, William Hayne wrote:

I recollect also going with my brother Issac & sister Sarah in Company of my Aunt Peronneau to Lieut. Col. Balfour … and on our knees presenting a petition to him in favor of my father but without effect. 


The trial of Aaron Burr began before a packed house. His daughter,Theodosia Burr Alston, sat in the courtroom next to her Charleston husband, Joseph Alston, during the trial. It was written about her:

There is nothing in human history that is more touching than her devotion during this ordeal. Beautiful, intelligent far beyond the average woman of her time, she was the center of admiration throughout the trial.

1836 – Religion.
Angelina Grimke Weld

Angelina Grimke Weld

Angelina Grimke was moved to speak at a silent prayer at the Orange Street Quaker Meeting in Philadelphia. She was interrupted by Jonathon Edwards, suggesting that she stop speaking. This convinced Angelina that she could no longer live in Philadelphia, since the Quakers were not supportive of her abolitionist views.  She wrote, “The incident has proved the means of releasing me from those bonds which almost destroyed my mind.”

     She became a full-fledged public abolitionist.

1864 – Bombardment of Charleston.

In the North Channel just outside the Charleston harbor during the morning, Union officers were exchanged for an equal number of Confederate officers.  

Today In Charleston History: August 2


From Emma Holmes diary: 

Two young men, members of the W.[ashington] L.[ight] I.[nfantry, Horsey & Walker, have been lately shot for insubordination. The former wrote and published a very mutinous and very improper letter in regard to the alleged treatment of the officers of the [Hampton] Legion. Col. Hampton ordered him arrested & he drew a pistol on him. 


From Emma Holmes diary: 

I walked this afternoon amidst whole streets in ruin to visit our old home; found some soldiers encamped on the spot, so did not go quite to it. But sat for some time on the foundation of Mr. Bull’s iron fencing sadly recalling the memories of the past … The pillars and tall iron steps of Mr. Bulls’s porch still remained, with vines climbing here & there, bringing vividly to mind our pleasant tableaux & oyster parties & the many many changes in the merry girls and youths there and them assembled.

Emma Holmes

Emma Holmes

Emma Holmes was born in 1838 in Charleston, South Carolina, to a plantation owner. During the Civil War, from February 1861 until March 1866, Emma kept a diary of her life in Charleston, the affairs of her family and history as she observed it. A true Confederate, like many others, she believed the war would be over within a few months.

Four of Emma’s five brothers served in the Confederate Army. Her oldest brother Henry was a doctor. Fortunately, all of her brothers survived, although many of her friends and relatives did not.

Today In Charleston History: August 1

1714 – England

George I became King of Great Britain.

1736 – Slavery. Religion
John Wesley

John Wesley

John Wesley, at the request of Reverend Alexander Garden, preached the Sunday sermon at St. Philip’s Church with

about three hundred present for Morning Service … about fifty for the holy communion. I was glad to see several Negroes at church; one of whom told me, she was there constantly; and that her old mistress (now dead) had many times instructed her in the Christian religion.

1776 – American RevolutionReligion.

Rev. Robert Cooper, who supported the King, was removed as minister of St. Michael’s Church, and ordered out of the parsonage.


Theodosia Burr Alston wrote to her father, Aaron Burr, living in self-imposed exile in Europe:

I witness your extraordinary fortitude with new wonder at every new misfortune. Often, after reflecting on this subject, you appear to me so superior, so elevated above other men, I contemplate you with such a strange mixture of humility, admiration, love and pride, that very little superstition would be necessary to make me worship you as a superior being …


A “riot” occurred at the Charleston Orphan House. According to the commissioners’ minutes, some boys created a “tumultuous uproar in the year and house.” After leaving the dinner table the boys:

commenced a great noise … they ran about the yard hooping and hurrahing with a most tumultuous clamor. One boy beat a kettle with a stick, and others raced past him shouting at the top of their lungs. Boys climbed over the pump near the Boundary Street gate and vigorously forced water into the yard.

orphan house postcard

Charleston Orphan House, postcard.

1864 – Bombardment of Charleston
Gen. Samuel Jones

Gen. Samuel Jones

Gus Smythe wrote about the new Charleston commander, Samuel Jones:

We have not very much confidence in Jones. They say he was sent here as this was the easiest place, the work being done, & they had no place else to send him.