Today In Charleston History: July 8

1779-American Revolution. Slavery

The legislature rejected “with horror” a Congressional recommendation that South Carolina “raise three thousand black soldiers.” Christopher Gadsden wrote that this “dangerous and impolitic Step … much disgusted us.” 

1781-British Occupation
Issac Hayne

Issac Hayne

Col. Issac Hayne was arrested by the British who came to rescue General Williamson. Lord Rawdon, living at Miles Brewton’s house on King Street, decided to make an example out of Hayne – to send the message to other men who swore allegiance to the British, but continued to fight for the Patriots. Without an official court martial, Rawdon ordered Hayne’s execution.

Hayne was held prisoner in the Provost dungeon of the Exchange building.

1864-Bombardment of Charleston   

Gus Smythe wrote to his mother:

The shells that are coming to us are the large ones, & they do make a pretty noise when they burst. Not every close to the Steeple however. The nearest have been in Chalmers St. This [St. Michael’s Church] is quite a lion now of the city, & every young lady who comes to town, must go up the Steeple. The view up here is beautiful, besides the interest one naturally takes in looking at the various batteries.

1903

 The Board of Park Commissioners approved the name of the new park on the site of the Exposition. It was to be named in honor of Wade Hampton, former Civil War general and South Carolina governor.

Today In Charleston History: April 9

1894 – Births.

Lena Jenkins gave birth to a son, Edmund Thornton.

Edmund Thorton Jenkins

Edmund Thorton Jenkins

Edmund Jenkins (who was called “Jenks”) was the son of Rev. Daniel Jenkins, founder of the Jenkins Orphanage in Charleston. He grew up playing with the Jenkins Orphanage Band, but longed to play “serious music.” He took piano lessons in Charleston and attended Morehouse College in Atlanta.

In 1914 the Jenkins Band was invited to perform at the Anglo-American Expo in London and Jenks performed with the band until the outbreak of World War I closed down the Expo. Jenks was admitted to the Royal Academy of Music in London where he studied composition. 

His piece, “Charlestonia” was written while he was a student, and later expanded into a finished piece before his death. To learn the entire story of Jenks’ life and the Jenkins Orphanage Band, read my book Doin’ the Charleston.

1906 – Hampton Park

  John Olmsted, the nephew and adopted son of Frederick Olmsted, who designed Central Park in New York City, arrived in Charleston to work on the design of Hampton Park.  He immediately noted that the bandstand, leftover from the South Carolina Exposition that was still in place in the formal garden, should be the most notable presence in the park.

Scene in Hampton Park Charleston, SC

Today In Charleston History: December 9

1773 – Charleston Firsts. Chamber of Commerce

On December 9, 1773, the Charlestown Chamber of Commerce was organized at Mrs. Swallows’ Tavern on Broad Street.

The formation of the Chamber can be traced back to the economic stress the British Empire suffered after the Seven Years’ War (the French and Indian War). The victory over the French had come at a high cost, so Parliament passed the 1764 Sugar Acts and the 1765 Stamp Act in an attempt to pay the debt run up during the war. The Stamp Act required that most printed materials in the colonies be produced on “stamped paper” – an embossed revenue mark. Those included newspapers, legal documents, playing cards and magazines.

It was within this volatile atmosphere of political upheaval and business uncertainty that a group of Charleston businessmen met at Mrs. Swallows Tavern and organized the Chamber of Commerce. Today it is called the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce.

1777 – American Revolution.

Henry Laurens’ term as President of the Continental Congress ended. He was elected after John Hancock’s retirement due to ill health. During his term, Laurens dealt with the conspiracy to replace George Washington as commander-in-chief, perpetuated by several members of Congress and the military.

1806 – Elections

Charles Pinckney was elected to his third term as governor.

1911

John Olmsted delivered a set of plans for Hampton Park.

John Charles Olmsted was the nephew and adopted son of Frederick Law Olmsted, was an American landscape architect. With his brother, Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr., he founded Olmsted Brothers, a landscape design firm in Brookline, Massachusetts. The firm is famous for designing many urban parks, college campuses, and other public places. John Olmsted’s body of work from over 40 years

John Olmsted

John Olmsted

as a landscape architect has left its mark on the American urban landscape, carrying his design philosophy of integrated park systems into new cities such as Portland, Maine; Portland, Oregon; Seattle, Spokane, Dayton, and, f course, Charleston. In these cities, he pioneered his comprehensive planning philosophy of integrating civic buildings, roads, parks, and greenspaces into livable urban areas.

Olmsted also designed individual parks in New Orleans; Watertown, New York; and Chicago. His work in park design led to commissions for numerous institutions such as school campuses, civic buildings, and state capitols, as well as designs for large residential areas, including roads and schools. His work in comprehensive planning for the communities surrounding industrial plants and factories is considered especially noteworthy.

Today In Charleston History: September 10

1785

Henry Laurens wrote about the wasteful use of live oak trees across South Carolina. The words come across as eerily prophetic in more ways than just environmental responsibility:

The day is not distant in the long tract of Time, when we shall be stripped of that essential article [live Oaks]. The Europeans will laugh at us, our Children will rue the folly of their Fathers.  For every live Oak you cut down you ought to Plant ten young trees … but few of us Southern Americans have patience to look forty years forward, we are for grasping all the golden Eggs at once. 

1903

Scene in Hampton Park Charleston, SCTrolley cars made their first run on the new Hampton Park loop. Hampton Park had just opened to the public and was drawing huge crowds of people from downtown Charleston. At this point two Charleston trolley companies were operating 30 horse-drawn trolley cars daily.

Hampton Park was built on the site of (and out of the dismantling of) the Expo Grounds that had closed the year before. 

Trolley-On-Rutledge-Avenue-North

Trolley car on Rutledge Avenue. This route ran all the north to Hampton Park.