Today In Charleston History: May 29


Charles II was born at St. James’s Palace in London. He was to become the namesake of Charleston, SC. 

Charles II

Charles II

Charles II arrived in London on his 30th birthday and restored the English monarchy. He granted amnesty to most of Cromwell’s former supporters, including Baron Anthony Ashley Cooper. Fifty people, however, were excluded from the King’s amnesty; nine were hanged, drawn and quartered, and the rest were given life imprisonment. Charles II extended baronages to thirteen loyal gentlemen of Barbados, including Sir John Colleton and Sir John Yeamans, who became early leaders of the Carolina colony.

1787-Constitutional Convention-Pinckney’s Draught
Charles Pinckney

Charles Pinckney

At the Convention, Charles Pinckney presented a complete outline of a constitution. James Madison wrote in his diary:

Mr. Charles Pinkney [sic] laid before the house the draught of federal Government which he had prepared to be agreed upon between the free and independent States of America.

Pinckney’s Draught (as it came to be known) included thirty-one of the provisions of the Constitution as finally adopted. They included:

  • A strong central government consisting of three separate and distinct branches
  • Legislative branch divided into a Senate and a House of Delegates, elected proportionate to the white population; blacks would be counted as three-fifths.
  • Control of the President over the military
  • Federal power to order militia into any State
  • House with powers of Impeachment.
  • “No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the authority of the United States.”
  • The president should annually report on the “condition of the United States” – a state of the union address.

Pinckney reminded the delegates that the citizens were watching the Convention:

From your deliberations much is expected. The eyes, as well as hopes of your constituents are turned upon the convention; let their expectations be gratified. Be assured, that, however unfashionable for the moment your sentiments may be, yet, if your system is accommodated to the situation of the Union, and founded in wise and liberal principals, it will, in time, be consented.

Albert Herter's painting of the Constitutional Convention.

Albert Herter’s painting of the Constitutional Convention. Charles Pinckney is seated to the left of the table, pointing.  John Rutledge (SC) is standing to the left in green coat, next to Benjamin Franklin.

Today In Charleston History: May 18

Sir John Yeamans

Sir John Yeamans

Lord Anthony Ashley Cooper, one of the Lords Proprietors, sent Joseph West a patent making him a Landgrave, and gave him the commission as Governor of Carolina. The Proprietors had received numerous letters of complaints about Governor Sir John Yeamans, 


Joseph Morton of Barbados replaced Joseph West as Governor. According to the Proprietors the change was due to West’s involvement in Indian slave trading. In reality, it was most likely a move to encourage more immigration from Barbados and other islands.

Today In Charleston History: April 23


King Charles II bestowed upon Anthony Ashley Cooper the titles, Earl of Shaftesbury and Baron Cooper of Paulet.  

1780-The Siege of Charlestown.
Siege of Charlestown

Siege of Charlestown

The British were close enough to “easily throw a stone” into the American line trenches north of Boundary Street.  Rifle fire was added to siege, in addition to the artillery barrage. 


Capt. Joseph Vesey returned to Haiti with another cargo of slaves. He was informed that his former “pet”, Telemaque, was suffering from “epileptic fits” and a doctor had “certified that the lad was unwell.” His sale was “thereupon cancelled,” meaning that Vesey was forced to repurchase the boy, and was surprised to find that within a few months, the boy had become proficient in the French language.

Vesey put Telemaque back to work again as his cabin boy and miraculously, the epileptic fits ceased as soon as they sailed from Haiti. Vesey must have seen this as more proof of the boy’s intelligence and cleverness, and decided he would be more valuable as his personal servant.

1840 – Marriage

Mary Boykin Miller married James Chesnut, Jr., who was from one of the wealthiest families in the South. The Chesnut family owned 448 slaves and plantations totaling nearly five square miles.


Today In Charleston History: April 19

1672 – Politics
Sir John Yeamans

Sir John Yeamans

Sir John Yeamans was proclaimed Governor at Charles Town. In the commission letter the Proprietors praised Joseph West’s service, but noted

the nature of our government … required that a Landgrove (titled landowner) should be preferred to any Commoner.

1672 – Move to Oyster Point

Ashley Cooper also gave notice that the settlement should permanently move from Albemarle Point to Oyster Point. The Albermarle settlement did not adhere to the “Grand Modell” specified by the Proprietors. The peninsula, formed by the confluence of the Ashley and Cooper Rivers, also created natural harbor, perfect for a commercial port. Lord Ashley ordered that the new town be:

layd out into regular streets … six score squares of 300 feet each … the great street should not be less than 100 or six score feet broad; the lesser streets none less than sixty; alleys eight or ten feet.

Each owner of a lot was required to “build a house of two stories in height and at least 30 feet by 16 feet.” One could make the case that this plan of wide, regular streets, laid out in “broad and straight lines” was influenced by Sir Christopher Wren’s checkerboard plan for rebuilding London after the 1666 fire.

1732 – First Concert

The first advertised concert in Charlestown appeared in the Gazette as a “consort [concert] of Musick at the Council Chamber, for the Benefit of Mr. Salter.

1770 – Slavery

An advertisement appeared in the South Carolina Gazette for this runaway slave:

CAESAR: Absented himself from my Plantation . . . plays well on the French horn. 

Today In Charleston History: March 10


Lord Ashley Cooper

A deed of transfer was registered by Lord Ashley Cooper by which the Cassoes ceded “the great and lesser Cassoe [River]” between the Ashley, the Stono and the Edisto for cloths, hatchets, beads, and other manufactured goods.


Henry Peronneau was one of sixty-three petitioners who were granted “the rights and privileges of citizenship.”

1780 – The Seige of Charlestown  

Lt. Colonel William Washington’s regiment joined forces with the remnants of the 1st Continental Light Dragoons at Bacon’s Bridge (20 miles north of Charlestown) to reconnoiter, screen and disrupt the advancing British troop. They felled trees across roads, burned bridges and boats in an effort to slow the march toward Charlestown.

Today In Charleston History: January 21

1683 – Deaths 

Lord Anthony Ashley Cooper died in Amsterdam.

anthony ashley cooper profile

1813 – Births

John C. Fremont was born in Savannah, Georgia, the illegitimate son of Mrs. Ann Pryor and her French tutor, Charles Fremon. As a young man, John Fremont attended the College of Charleston and in 1838 he was appointed second lieutenant in the Corps of Topographical Engineers of the U.S. Army. He assisted and led multiple surveying expeditions through the western territory of the United States and beyond. Due to his extensive explorations Fremont was nicknamed “The Great Pathfinder.”

Frémont_1856In 1842 Fremont met frontiersman Kit Carson for the first time on a Missouri steamboat in St.  Louis. The two men then led a five-month journey into present-day Wyoming. During a second expedition Fremont and Carson mapped the second half of the Oregon Trail, from South Pass to the Oregon Country, following a route north of the Great Salt Lake, down the Snake River to the Columbia River and into Oregon.

They came within sight of the Cascade Range peaks and mapped Mount St. Helens and Mount Hood. Rather than continue west through the Columbia River gorge to Fort Vancouver, the party turned south and followed Fall Creek to its headwaters near the present-day northern border of California. They ventured into the Sierra Nevada, becoming some of the first Americans to see Lake Tahoe.

Upon his return, Frémont produced a new map, using data gathered during the first expedition to update an earlier map by Gibbs.  Congress published Frémont’s “Report and Map”; it guided thousands of overland immigrants to Oregon and California from 1845 to 1849 which helped guide the forty-niners through the California Gold Rush. 

Fremont later served as a General in the U.S. Army during the Civil War, one of the few Southerners who did not join the Confederacy. He created a controversy when given command of the Department of the West by President Abraham Lincoln. Always an independent-minded man, Frémont made decisions without consulting Washington D.C. or President Lincoln. In 1861 Frémont issued an emancipation edict that freed slaves in his district, and was relieved of his command by President Lincoln for insubordination. Lincoln claimed that Fremont “should never have dragged the Negro into the war.” Two years later, Lincoln would issue his own Emancipation Proclamation and be forever celebrated. Ironically, the first Federal official to free slaves during the War was a Southerner who was reprimanded for his actions. 

In 1856 Fremont was the first Republican to be nominated as a Presidential candidate.

Today In Charleston History: November 1


Ashley Cooper wrote to Captain West and Governor Sayle ordering that the settlement, Albemarle Point, be renamed “Charles Town.”

1765 – Stamp Act.

The Stamp Act went to effect. Ships could not get clearances to leave Charlestown harbor and courts could not conduct any legal business without stamped paper.


Jacob Ramos was convicted of inciting a slave to commit a robbery of Mr. William Sommerfall. The Negro slave was hanged, and Ramos was sentenced to “stand in the pillory for an hour, pay a fine of $350, and receive 39 lashes.” During the time in the pillory Ramos was “most severel & incessantly pelted by an enraged Populace; who nevertheless were so orderly, as to not use any other Materials than rotten eggs, Apples & Onions.”

1775 – American Revolution.

Second Provisional Congress was hastily called into session in to deal with the threat the two British war ships in Charlestown harbor. William Henry Drayton was voted President of the Congress. In anticipation of Lord Campbell sailing up the Cooper River to meet with Loyalists living in the back country, Drayton ordered the blocking of Hog Island Channel by the sinking of four hulks.

1777 – American Revolution

 Upon John Hancock’s retirement due to ill health, Henry Laurens was elected President of the Congress and served until December 9, 1778. 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.

dayton and laurens

William Henry Drayton and Henry Laurens


 The South Carolina Institute Fair opened. It was open to all – white and black – from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Tickets were twenty-five cents, with more than 12,000 visitors in one day. Inside the hall visitors could see exhibits featuring the most modern agricultural equipment, sewing machines and steam engines. The main building for the South Carolina Institute Fair was on the site of the present day Citadel softball stadium. The building was 300 feet long by 80 feet wide by forty feet tall, had 154 windows and fourteen doors.The Charleston Daily News wrote:

Charleston will do her part in the grand work of building up South Carolina, and extends a cordial welcome to all her visitors, whether they come from North or West or South. There is no sectionalism in commerce, and we can promise to all who now pay our city a visit a hearty and generous reception.


Born Today: John Locke

John Locke, born in Wrington, Somerset, England, He became a highly influential philosopher, writing about such topics as political philosophy, epistemology, and education. Considered one of the first of the British empiricists, his writings influenced Voltaire and Rousseau, many Enlightenment thinkers, as well as the American revolutionaries. His contributions to classical republicanism and liberal theory are reflected in the United States Declaration of Independence. Detractors note that (in 1671) he was a major investor in the English slave-trade through the Royal African Company. In addition, he participated in drafting the Fundamental Constitutions of Carolina which established a feudal aristocracy and gave a master absolute power over his slaves.


John Locke

Locke’s father was a country lawyer and military man who had served as a captain during the English civil war. Both his parents were Puritans and Locke was raised that way. In 1647 he enrolled at Westminster School in London, where Locke was named a King’s Scholar, a privilege that went to only select number of boys and paved the way for Locke to attend Christ Church, Oxford in 1652.

At Christ Church, Oxford’s most prestigious school, Locke immersed himself in logic and metaphysics, as well as the classical languages. After graduating in 1656, he returned to Christ Church two years later for a Master of Arts, which led in just a few short years to Locke taking on tutorial work at the college. In 1668 he was elected a fellow of the Royal Society in 1668. He graduated with a bachelor’s of medicine in 1674.

Early in his medical studies, Locke met Lord Anthony Ashley Cooper, who was to become Earl of Shaftsbury. The two grew close and Shaftsbury eventually persuaded Locke to move to London and become his personal physician. As Shaftsbury’s stature grew, so did Locke’s responsibilities. He assisted in his business and political matters, and after Shaftsbury was made chancellor, Locke became his secretary of presentations.

Shaftsbury became one of the Proprietors of the Carolina Colony and Locke assisted in writing the Fundamental Constitutions of the Carolina, an intriguing mixture of liberal and feudalistic ideas, spanning from then modern concepts of representative government and partial religious freedom to preservation of pre-Enlightenment institutions of serfdom and slavery.

Fundamental_Constitutions_of_CarolinaOne of the goals of the Fundamental Constitutions was to create an orderly society controlled by a titled, landed gentry in Carolina and ultimately by the Lords Proprietor in England. The two major ranks in the Carolina nobility would be the Landgraves, with 48,000 acres, and the caciques with 24,000 acres . The Fundamental Constitutions envisioned a society that would also include both serfs (called “leetmen”) and slaves. The unicameral parliament would be permitted to debate only those measures that had previously been approved by the Lords Proprietors, thus ensuring that the proprietors maintained control over colonial affairs.

Locke also wrote Article 97 of the Constitutions which established the most radical form of religious freedom in the 17th century – “any seven or more persons agreeing in any religion, shall constitute a church or profession, to which they shall give some name, to distinguish it from others.”


Lord Ashley Cooper, Earl of Shaftsbury

Shaftsbury’s influence on Locke’s professional career and his political thoughts cannot be understated. As one of the founders of the Whig party, which pushed for constitutional monarchism and stood in opposition to the dominant Tories, Shaftsbury imparted an outlook on rule and government that never left Locke. In Locke’s landmark, Two Treatises of Government, he put forth his revolutionary ideas concerning the natural rights of man and the social contract. Both concepts not only stirred waves in England, but also impacted the intellectual underpinnings that formed the later American and French revolutions.

In 1679 Shaftsbury was tried for treason and cleared, but the Earl decided to flee England anyway to escape further persecution. He fled to Holland where William and Mary ruled but had some claim to the English throne. Owing to his close association withShaftesbury, Locke also fled fled to Holland in 1683.  Locke composed “An Essay Concerning Human Understanding,” another ground breaking work of intellectual might that spanned four books and took on the task of examining the nature of human knowledge.

He returned to England in about 1688 when William and Mary were invited to retake the reign of England in what historians call the Bloodless Revolution. Eventually Locke returned to Oates in Essex where he retired. He lived there until his death in 1704.

Natural Rights

Locke wrote and developed the philosophy that there was no legitimate government under the divine right of kings theory. The Divine Right of Kings theory, as it was called, asserted that God chose some people to rule on earth in his will. Therefore, whatever the monarch decided was the will of God. When you criticized the ruler, you were in effect challenging God.

Locke disagreed. He believed the power to govern was obtained from the permission of the people and that purpose of government was to protect the natural rights of its citizens – that natural rights were life, liberty  and property, and that all people automatically earned these simply by being born. When a government did not protect those rights, the citizen had the right and maybe even the obligation of overthrowing the government.

All of these ideas were incorporated into the Declaration of Independence by Thomas Jefferson.