Today In Charleston History: June 4

1770

During the celebration of King George III’s birthday, Peter Timothy noted that, in comparison to the celebration over the John Wilkes affair and the arrival of the William Pitt statue:

few [houses] were illuminated because the People are not Hypocrites. They will not dissemble Joy, while they feel themselves unkindly treated, and oppressed.

1772-Slavery

The South Carolina Gazette, ran this advertisement: 

RUN AWAY: Dick, a mulatto fellow . . . a remarkable whistler and plays on the Violin.

1773

Henry Laurens was unhappy with the level of education available in England for his sons. He wrote about Oxford and Cambridge saying:

The two universities are generally, I might say universally censured. Oxford in particular is spoken of as a School of Licentiousness and Debauchery in the most aggravated heights.

1774-American Revolution

The First Provincial Congress adopted the American Bill of Rights and the Articles of Confederation. On that same date, the First Provincial Congress authorized the issue of £1,000,000 in paper currency for military defense of the Province, and appointed thirteen new members to the Council of Safety, with power to command all soldiers and to use all public money in the Province. No military person could now sit on the Council of Safety.

The Congress ordered that 1500 special troops be raised to

go forth and be ready to sacrifice our lives and fortunes against every foe in defense of the liberty outraged in the bloody scene on the 19th of April last near Boston.

1831   

The final route of the Charleston & Hamburg Rail Road was confirmed. It was designed with nine turnouts – a parallel track joined to the mainline, an amazing innovation at that time. There were also twelve pumps/watering places for the locomotives.

Map of the rail road route.

Map of the Charleston & Hamburg rail road route.

 

Today In Charleston History: May 20

1758

Charles and Eliza Pinckney returned to Charlestown from London, with their ten-year old daughter Harriot. Their sons, Charles Cotesworth and Thomas, remained in England to attend school. Charles contracted malaria soon after their arrival.

1767   
Henry Laurens

Henry Laurens

Henry Laurens sent his schooner, Wambaw, loaded with provisions, to his Georgia plantation without clearing Charlestown customs. The Wambaw offloaded her cargo and took on 50,000 cypress shingles as ballast and sailed back to Charlestown. Customs Collector Moore refused to allow the ship legal clearance of the harbor and seized the vessel.

1780-British Occupation. 

Most of the American militia were given parole and allowed to return to their homes. Many of the important men, stripped of their property, had little recourse than to pledge loyalty to the Crown.

John Wells of the South Carolina and American General Gazette quickly swore allegiance to the King to save his property. He was allowed to resume publication in July.

Peter Timothy’s paper, the South Carolina Gazette, was seized by the British and given to the Tory Robert Wells.

miles brewton house

Miles Brewton House, 27 King Street

The Miles Brewton home at 27 King Street was made headquarters for Gen. Henry Clinton, and later Lt. Col. Nisbit Balfour, commandant of Charlestown, and Lord Rawdon, supreme commander of British troops in South Carolina.

Rebecca Brewton Motte, with a sick and invalid husband, refused to give up her brother’s home to the occupying force. Although she was at the mercy of her “guests”, she always “sat at the head of her table in the large drawing-room and commanded the respect, at least, of his lordship and followers.” The officers “showed her the greatest courtesy and referred to themselves as ‘her guests’.”

Rebecca’s main concern was the safety of her three daughters and the care of her husband. The Motte family was crowded into a small area of the house on the third floor while the British lived in comfort in the large rooms on the lower floors.

1835-Deaths

Capt. Joseph Vesey died at the age of eighty-eight. Vesey was a notorious figure in Charleston. His former slave, Denmark Vesey, had been executed in 1822 as the leader of a large slave insurrection. 

Today In Charleston History: March 27

1780 – The Siege of Charlestown.

From St. Michael’s steeple, Peter Timothy reported over thirty British flatboats along the Wappoo Cut “skulking in the marsh.”

St. Michael's Church

St. Michael’s Church

During the months leading up to the British siege of Charlestown, St. Michael’s steeple was used as a lookout tower to report on troop movements outside the city. Peter Timothy, editor/publisher of the South Carolina Gazette was a Revolutionary and published passionate pro-Patriot stories. After the British successfully captured Charlestown, Timothy was one of thirty-three patriots arrested and placed in the provost dungeon of the Exchange Building.

During their passage to exile in St. Augustine, Timothy was “lost at sea” according to British reports. 

Today In Charleston History: March 8

1770 – American Revolution – Foundations

In the Gazette, Peter Timothy reported that British merchants had lost £300,000 sterling just in the loss of slave trading, an unreasonable sacrifice in an attempt to raise £13,000 sterling. 

1773

During his visit to Charleston, Josiah Quincy wrote in his diary of his evening at the Miles Brewton House, 27 King Street:

Dined with a large company at Miles Brewton’s, Esq. a gentleman of a very large fortune – a most superb house, said to have cost him £8000 sterling. The grandest hall I ever beheld, azure blue satin window curtains, rich blue paper with gilt … most elegant pictures … a most elegant table, three courses, jellies, preserves, sweet meats, etc … After dinner, two sorts of nuts, almonds, raisins, three sorts of olives, apples, oranges … by odds the richest wines I ever tasted.

Miles Brewton House

Miles Brewton House

Today In Charleston History: February 15

1780-The Seige of Charlestown.

Peter Timothy, editor of the South Carolina Gazette, took the post in the steeple of St. Michael’s Church to report on British land and sea movements. He could see smoke from the British encampments on John’s Island and numerous ships off the Charlestown bar.

The British army crossed the Stono River from John’s Island to James Island, giving them a staging area and view of Charlestown across the Ashley River. They settled in to wait for the British navy to cross the Charleston bar to reinforce and re-supply the army. Over the next five weeks, Clinton’s army seized corn, oxen, cattle, horses, pigs and other supplies from dozens of plantations in the area.

1792

The first Race Week was held at the new Washington Race Course, won by Fox Hunter, owned by Mr. Lynch.

WashingtonCourse_650x650

1857 view of the grandstand, published in John Beaufain Irving’s the South Carolina Jockey Club.

 

Today In Charleston History: November 13

1773. American Revolution – Foundations.

Peter Timothy announced in the South Carolina Gazette that “300 chests of tea were on their way to Charles Town.” He urged the citizens to “band together to take the necessary steps to prevent the landing” of the cargo.

Earlier in the year, Parliament had passed the Tea Act, which allowed the East India Company to export tax-free tea into the American colonies in an effort to help the company recover from near bankruptcy. It was also an attempt to undercut the price of illegal tea smuggled into the North American colonies. The Act was supposed to convince the colonists to purchase Company tea on which the Townshend duties were paid, thus implicitly agreeing to accept Parliament’s right of taxation. Most of the American colonies disagreed.

 

gazette masthead

 

Today In Charleston History: October 15

1764

Peter Timothy of the Gazette requested that all people who owed him money pay their debts as soon as possible. He pointed out that in thirty-three years he had never resorted to a summons or an attorney to collect a bill, but such measures may be forthcoming.

1863 – Civil War. H.L. Hunley sinks

Horace Hunley and seven crew members boarded the submarine, H.L. Hunley, at Adger’s Wharf. There was a small crowd assembled on the dock to watch a demonstration of the Hunley’s capabilities, a dress rehearsal for an actual attack.  They were to submerge beneath the Confederate ship Indian Chief and surface on the other side.

The crowd watched the Hunley cruise away from the dock, submerge but … it never resurfaced. The next day, the Charleston Daily Courier posted this notice:

Melancholy Occurrence – On Thursday morning an accident occurred to a small boat in Cooper River, containing eight persons, all of whom drowned.

General P.G.T. Beauregard ordered that the submarine be raised and then grounded. So far, the Hunley had killed thirteen Confederate volunteers and not a single Yankee. “It is more dangerous to those who use it than the enemy,” he said.

Due to weather conditions in Charleston harbor, it took more than a month for the recovery. It was 60-feet below the surface, its nose buried in silt. On Saturday, November 7, several divers, including Angus Smith who had worked on the first recovery, managed to wrap enough chains around the vessel to raise it. When the Hunley was finally on the dock at Mt. Pleasant, the grim task of removing the eight corpses was begun.

Beauregard wrote, “It was indescribably ghastly. The unfortunate men were contorted into all kinds of horrible attitudes.”

1866

Several different companies started horse-drawn streetcar services in Charleston. No one from the Charleston Animal Society complained about the abuse of horses being forced to carry people around the streets. chas trolly cars