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: July 27

1669-Carolina Expedition

Mr. Joseph West was appointed Governor and Commander-in-chief of the Carolina expedition until its arrival at Barbados, or until another Governor was appointed.

1772 – American Revolution – Foundations

Governor Montagu, in attempt to break the stalemate in the Assembly over the Wilkes Fund appropriation, announced that in October, the Assembly would meet in Beaufort, not Charleston. He hoped that the distance might keep some of the more radical Charlestown members from attending, so some necessary legislation could be passed. He also hoped the implied threat of moving the capital from Charlestown would intimidate some of the members to moderate their views. It backfired.

1781-British Occupation – Issac Hayne

The British issued an official statement:

The adjutant of the town will be so good as to go to Colonel Hayne in Provost Prison and inform him that in consequence of the court of enquiry held yesterday and the preceding evening Lord Rawdon and the commandant Lieutenant Colonel Nisbet Balfour have resolved upon his execution on Tuesday the thirty-first instant at six o’clock, for having been found under arms raising a regiment to oppose the British government, though he had become a subject and had accepted the protection of that government after the reduction of Charleston.

Judge Waties Waring

Judge Waties Waring

 Waties Waring was born in Charleston. He was the scion of the prominent Waring and Waties families and a son of a Confederate veteran. he would later become a leader in Democrat politics and a Federal judge. He became a controversial figure in South Carolina when he divorced his Southern wife in 1945 and almost immediately married a twice-divorced “Northern” woman, Elizabeth. When Judge Waring began issuing court rulings against South Carolina’s segregationist policies, Waring and Elizabeth became hated figures in the state. Congressman Mendel Rivers (D-SC) led a campaign for Waring’s impeachment which was unsuccessful.   

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.


 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: July 5


The vestry of St. Philip’s Church signed a tax-list for £1000, authorized to use for the relief and maintenance of the poor.


Charles Pinckney, was admitted the South Carolina bar.

1770-American Revolution – Foundations. Charleston Firsts 

The statue of William Pitt was dedicated at Meeting and Broad Streets – the first commemorating a public figure in America – and placed upon a pedestal. A flag with “Pitt and Liberty” was raised. Members of the Club Forty-five led the crowd in three “hurrahs!” That evening Club Forty-five hosted a party at Mr. Dillon’s Tavern where forty-five toasts were drunk.

pitt statue

TOP: Map of Charles Town illustrating location of Pitt statue, Broad and Meeting Streets BOTTOM: Pitt statue in Washington Park. RIGHT: Pitt statue today, in the lobby of Charleston County courthouse










1781-British Occupation

Col. Issac Hayne led 100 horsemen of his militia unit and captured General Andrew Williamson, known at the “Benedict Arnold of the South.” Williamson was an American who had joined the British after the capture of Charles Town. In fear that Williamson would be hanged, Lt. Col. Balfour sent out men to attempt a rescue.


Frémont_1856John C. Fremont, who was suspended from the College of Charleston three months short of graduation on a morals charge, was appointed second lieutenant in the Corps of Topographical Engineers


Susan Petigru King and her sister Caroline Carson traveled to Sharon Springs, New York to spend the summer at a health resort, looking for a cure of Caroline’s tumor. In Charleston, the women’s long absence away from their husbands and children provoked gossip. They were:    

Susan Petigru King Bowen, in later life

Susan Petigru King Bowen, in later life.

two young women without their husbands, & far from all those upon whom they have any claim … their situation is dreadful … calculated to excite the suspicion of all discreet people.

Today In Charleston History: September 23

1745 – Births.

Issac Hayne was born at Pon Pon Plantation. He later became a martyr to the Patriot cause when he was hanged by British authorities. 

1761 – French and Indian War

A treaty with the Cherokee was signed by Lt. Gov. William Bull at Ashley Ferry Town. The treaty provided:

  • for the Cherokee to surrender all English property
  • the right for the English to build forts anywhere
  • the exclusion of all Frenchmen
  • prompt execution of murderers of white men
  • the restoration of trade between the English and the Cherokee


The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess closed on Broadway after 322 performances, making it the longest production of Porgy and Bess ever staged. This production starring four-time Tony-award winner Audra MacDonald, but, like most productions of Porgy and Bess, it was not without controversy. The producers changed some of the story and music to make it more appealing to modern audiences. The operatic-styled recitatives were replaced by spoken dialogue. Eight-time Tony winner, Stephen Sondheim, also complained that the new title completely ignored Dubose Heyward’s significant contribution to the work.

The production was nominated for ten Tony Awards in 2012 and won the Best Musical Revival. MacDonald won a fifth Tony-award for her performance as Bess.

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.