Today In Charleston History: May 16


Angelina Grimke Weld gave a lecture at Pennsylvania Hall to the Anti-Slavery Convention of American Women, a gathering of mixed-race abolitionists, amid a hostile atmosphere on the streets of Philadelphia, packs of mobs parading through the streets protesting the “amalgamation” of people inside the hall. 

As Angelina took the podium bricks and stones were thrown through the windows, with jeering from the outside easily carrying inside the hall, but she lectured for more than an hour, addressing the mob outside the hall:

What is a mob? What would the breaking of every window be? Any evidence that we are wrong or that slavery is a good and wholesome institution? What if that mob should now burst in upon us, break up our meeting and commit violence upon our persons – would this be anything compared with what the slaves endure? 

The next day a mob stormed Pennsylvania Hall and burned it to the ground. The city’s official report concluded that the fire and riots were the fault of the abolitionists, saying they had upset the citizens by encouraging “race mixing” and inciting violence.

Pennyslvania Hall burning

Pennyslvania Hall burning


Edmund Thorton Jenkins

Edmund Thorton Jenkins

Edmund Thornton Jenkins was awarded the Charles Lucas Prize for Composition at the Royal Academy. Jenks ( as he was called) was the son of Rev. Daniel Jenkins, of the Jenkins Orphanage House in Charleston. The Jenkins Band had been performing at the Anglo-America Expo in London, but the outbreak of World War I caused the Expo to shut down. Jenks remained in London and enrolled at the Royal Academy of Music.

During his fifth year at school Will Marion Cook’s Southern Syncopated Orchestra played at London’s Philharmonic Hall. Jenks looked upon Cook as the type of musician he aspired to be – a serious black musician.

Today In Charleston History: May 15


  Angelina Grimke Weld gave the closing speech at the convention of the American Anti-Slavery Society titled “Address to the Soldiers of our Second Revolution” in which she said:

This war is not, as the South falsely pretends, a war of races, not of sections, nor of political parties, but a war of Principles; a war upon the working classes, whether white or black, a war against Man, the world over … The nation is in a death-struggle. It must either become one vast slaveocracy of petty tyrants, or wholly the land of the free …

1864-Bombardment of Charleston.  

Gus Smythe, serving in the Confederate Signal Corps in Charleston wrote:

Just at the corner of Tradd & the Bay, as I was going to step on one end of a cellar door, a shell fell thro’ the other end, not three ft. from me, & burst down in the cellar, covering me with dirt & smoke, but leaving me unharmed.

Gus Smythe

Gus Smythe

Today In Charleston History: May 14

General_Monck, by David_Loggan, 1661, National Portrait Gallery, London

General Monck, by David Loggan, 1661, National Portrait Gallery, London

With the military support of General George Monck, governor of Scotland and Duke of Albemarle, Charles II was proclaimed king of England. For his service, Monck was named one of the original Lords Proprietors of Carolina in 1663.

1729 – Royal Colony

King George bought out the Lords Proprietors, finalizing South Carolina’s transformation into a Royal Colony. The agreed payment was £2500 sterling ($250,000) and £5000 sterling to cover incidental expenses.

1802 – Aaron Burr

Vice President Aaron Burr dined at the Carolina Coffee-House at 120 East Bay Street in the company of Captain John Blake. Eighteen toasts were drunk during the evening. Burr was in Charleston to visit his daughter, Theodosia, on the occasion of the birth of her son. 

1838 – Marriage

In Philadelphia, Angelina Grimke of Charleston married Theodore Weld, editor of the abolitionist newspaper The Emancipator.  The ceremony was attended by eighty mixed race guests. Their wedding cake was made by a Negro confectioner, using only “free sugar” – sugar not harvested and manufactured by a slave system.

1863 – Abolition

 Angelina Grimke Weld attended the national convention of the American Anti-Slavery Society. She gave a speech titled “Address to the Soldiers of our Second Revolution” and stated:

My country is bleeding, my people are perishing around me, but I feel as a South Carolinian, I am bound to tell the North, go on! go on! Never falter, never abandon the principles which you have adopted. 

Angelina Grimke Weld

Angelina Grimke Weld


Today In Charleston History: April 20

1780The Siege of Charlestown

Gen. Lincoln convened the council of war in Charlestown. He informed his officers that the Continental garrison had ten days of provisions left and discussed offering terms of capitulation to British general, Sir Henry Clinton – surrendering the city. His terms were:

  • The American army withdrawing from Charlestown within thirty-six hours, keeping their arms, artillery and all stores they were able to transport.
  • Sir Clinton was to allow the Americans ten days “to march wherever Gen. Lincoln may think proper … without any movement being made by the British troops.”
  • Security to the persons and property of the citizens

Clinton rejected the terms, considering the offer “insolence.” At 10:30 pm the British resumed their bombardment, firing more than 800 rounds into the city.

1789 – Charleston First.
Ramsay's petition to Congress. National Archives

Ramsay’s petition to Congress. National Archives

Dr. David Ramsay filed a petition with the House of Representatives asking Congress to pass a law to grant him the exclusive right of “vending and disposing” of his books within the United States. The Congressional committee approved his petition on April 20, 1789 – the first private citizen granted a copyright.


Angelina Grimke wrote in her diary:

Today is the last time I expect to visit the Presbyterian Church – the last time I expect to teach my interesting class in Sabbath School. I saw Mr. McDowell day before yesterday … and told me that he pitied me sincerely for that I certainly was under the delusions of the arch adversary…

She began to attend the Quaker Meeting House which had two members – two elderly men who never talked to each other. Angelina discovered that one of the men was a slaveholder and had cheated the other man out of a sum of money. When she tried to facilitate a reconciliation by telling them “Christians ought to be gentle and courteous to all men,” they called her  “busybody in other men’s business.” 

1864-Bombardment of Charleston. 

Gen. Samuel Jones

Gen. P.G.T.Beauregard was relieved from the Charleston command and replaced by Major General Samuel Jones, Beauregard’s former major of artillery at Manassas.  Jones was not considered a good officer. He had not impressed Gen. Robert e. Lee, who had him transferred to Charleston. Beauregard wrote, “I hope he will do, but from what I hear I fear not.” Beauregard had longed complained about the quality officers assigned to Charleston, calling it the “Department of Refuge.”

1903 – Washington Race Course  

The city of Charleston donated the four gateposts of the Washington Race Course to August Belmont of New York, who was planning to build the largest horse-racing facility in the country – Belmont Park. The posts were made of brick and weighed ten tons each. During their removal one of the columns slipped from a wire and William Mosimann had “the life mashed out of him.”

The “gift” to a Yankee millionaire was not universally popular among the people of Charleston. A letter to the editor in the News and Courier complained:

It seems to me that we have relics to burn … too much history and too many landmarks. We should be glad that Mr. Belmont has accepted the brick pillars and we might give away the old City Wall, the old Postoffice [sic], the Powder Magazine and a score of other relics that hamper our progress.  

 Other editorials described the pillars as “valued souvenirs of past peculiarities of a peculiar people” and “relics of a glorious past.”

Today the brick pillars are located at the automobile entrance of the Belmont Park clubhouse in New York. The bronze plaque on the left pillar reads: 

Pillars at Belmont Park

Pillars at Belmont Park

Presented to Belmont Park May 1903 by the Mayor and Park Commissioners of the City of Charleston SC.  At the suggestion of B. R. Kittredge Esq. and through the good offices of A. W. Marshall Esq. These piers stood at the entrance to the grounds of the Washington Course of the South Carolina Jockey Club Charleston SC. Which course was opened Feb. 15th 1792 under presidency of J. E. McPherson Esq. and was last used for racing in December 1882. Theo. G. Barker Esq. being then president.

Today In Charleston History: February 21 – Charleston Firsts


 Angelina Grimke addressed a Committee of the Legislature of the State of Massachusetts, the first time a woman was invited to speak before a legislative body. She spoke against slavery, and also defended women’s petitioning both as a moral and religious duty and as a political right. Abolitionist Robert F. Wallcut stated that “Angelina Grimké’s serene, commanding eloquence enchained attention, disarmed prejudice and carried her hearers with her.”

By this time she was an accomplished orator, having spoken publicly eighty-eight times to an audience of approximately 40,000 people. Her appearance created a furor. Most people believed a women’s place was in the home, NOT in the public, and certainly not being a public speaker, and certainly not on such an inflaming topic – slavery. Angelina later wrote:

I never was so near fainting under the tremendous pressure of feeling. My heart almost died within me. The novelty of the scene, the weight of responsibility, the ceaseless exercise of the mind thro’ which I had passed for more than a week – all together sunk me to the earth. I well nigh despaired.


The Fifty-fifth Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, led by Col. Charles Fox, triumphantly marched into Charleston. The 55th was the sister regiment of the renowned Massachusetts 54th Volunteers. The enactment of the Emancipation Proclamation by United States President Lincoln on January 1, 1863 had opened the way for the enlistment of free men of color and newly liberated slaves to fight for their freedom within the Union Army. As the ranks of the 54th Massachusetts quickly reached its full complement of recruits, an overflow of colored volunteers continued to pour in from several other states outside Massachusetts-many of whom simply had not arrived in time-prompting Governor John Albion Andrew to authorize yet another regiment of colored soldiers sponsored by the Commonwealth. Thus, the 55th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry came into being.


Today In Charleston History: February 20


t. pinckneyThomas Pinckney became the thirty-sixth governor of South Carolina

1787-Constitutional Convention

The Legislature chose five men to attend the Constitutional Convention:

  • John Rutledge
  • Charles Cotesworth Pinckney (older brother of the governor)
  • Henry Laurens, who declined to serve, citing health concerns
  • Charles Pinckney (Cotesworth Pinckney’s 2nd cousin)
  • Pierce Butler.
grimke, angelina

Angelina Grimke

Angelina Grimke was born in Charleston. Along with her older sister, Sarah, she became on the most famous abolitionists in America.

1865 – Federal occupation

Rev. Howe refused Col. Bennett’s order to pray for the president of the United States at St. Paul’s Church. 

The offices of the Courier were turned over to George Wittemore and George Johnson, Northern correspondents who arrived with the army. They were “authorized to issue a loyal union newspaper.”

Miles Brewton House, at 27 King Street, became Federal army headquarters.

miles brewton house

Miles Brewton House, 27 King Street


Today In Charleston History: January 20


Secretary Dalton wrote that the number of colonists transported to Carolina by this date was 337 men, 71 women and 62 children – 470. Sixty-four had died, leaving a population of 406.


James Oglethorpe and Col. William Bull explored the territory around the Savannah River together, scouting for a good location for a permanent settlement. They decide on Yamacraw Bluff on the river, where Savannah sits today.


Joel Roberts Poinsett, dined with Czar Alexander at the Palace in Russia. During the meal Alexander attempted to entice Poinsett into the Russian civil or military service. Poinsett was hesitant, which prompted Alexander to advise him to “see the Empire, acquire the language, study the people,” and then decide. Poinsett spent the next several months traveling across Russia.


Angelina and Sarah Grimke began a six-week series of successful lectures about slavery in a New York City Baptist Church.

grimke sisters

Today In Charleston History: December 14


George Lucas was named Lt. Royal Governor of Antigua. He realized that he would never live in Carolina again. He sent his oldest son, George, to Carolina to bring his family back to the island. His daughter, Eliza, who was running her father’s plantation in his absence wrote to a friend, “We expect my brother George very shortly … His arrival will, I suppose, determine how long we shall continue here.”

Eliza was horrified about leaving Carolina. She had built a successful life and did not want to leave.

1782 – British Occupation.

The British Army evacuated Charlestown.

Wholesale looting by British troops began weeks before the withdrawal, private property from houses. More than 5000 slaves were taken by enterprising British officers, who contracted transport to the West Indies where the slaves were re-sold. Major Traile of the Royal Artillery, took down the church bells of St. Michael’s and carried them away as being British property.

As significant as the material losses were, perhaps the loss of people was more devastating in the long run. Approximately, 3800 whites and 5300 blacks joined the British exodus, resettling in Jamaica, Bermuda, England and St. Lucia. However, hundreds of British soldiers deserted and remained in South Carolina.

The Continental Army entered the city that afternoon. At Gov. Rutledge’s invitation, Gen. Green made his headquarters on Rutledge’s house on Broad Street. The thirty-month nightmare occupation was over, with bitterness lingering between both sides.

british evacuate

British evacuate Charlestown


The Best Friend locomotive pulled two fourteen-foot coaches with forty men at twenty miles per hour.

Best Friend of Charleston

Best Friend of Charleston

1839 – Births.

Angelina Grimke Weld gave birth to a son, Charles Stuart.

Today In Charleston History: September 19


 A new election law was passed, dividing the representation of Carolina into parishes. It remained that way until the Revolutionary period.


The chapel at the Charleston Orphan House opened. Designed and constructed by Gabriel Manigault, the Gentleman Architect, it was completed in less than one year. Baptist minister, Rev. Richard Furman, preached the dedication sermon.

Charleston Orphan House Chapel, 13 Vanderhorst Street

Charleston Orphan House Chapel, 13 Vanderhorst Street


A letter by Angelina Grimke, decrying the mob violence against abolitionist literature, was published by William Lloyd Garrison in his paper, The Liberator.

I can hardly express to thee the deep and solemn interest with which I have viewed the violent proceedings of the last weeks. The ground upon which you stand is holy ground: never – never surrender it. If you surrender it, the hope of the slave is extinguished. If persecution is the means by which God has ordained for the accomplishment of this great end, EMANCIPATION; then … I feel as if I could say, LET IT COME, for it is my deep, solemn deliberate conviction, that this is a cause worth dying for.

Understanding that the publication of this letter had burned all her Southern bridges, Angelina later wrote in her diary:

To have the name of Grimke associated with that of the despised Garrison seemed like bringing disgrace upon my family, not myself alone … I cannot describe the anguish of my soul. Nevertheless I could not blame the publication of the letter, nor would I have recalled it if I could.