Today In Charleston History: March 28

1683   
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Aerial photo of Middleton Place

Arthur Middleton received 800 acres from the Proprietors. Arthur was active in public life and became president of the convention that overthrew the Lords Proprietors in 1719. His son, Henry, married Mary Williams whose dowry included the property which is now called Middleton Place, a National Historic Landmark. 

Henry’s son, Arthur, was a signer of the Declaration of Independence.

1769

In a public letter in the South Carolina Gazette and Country Journal, Rev. Charles Woodmason expressed the outrage of the back country people of the most recent election. He publically ridiculed Christopher Gadsden as the “Scriblerus of the Libertine” and claimed he and the Sons of Liberty were hypocrites – protesting British taxation without representation yet turning around and taxing the back country without allowing them fair representation. Woodmason wrote:

Lo! Such are the Men who bounce and make such Noise about Liberty! Liberty! Freedom! Freedom! Rights! Privileges! and what not … and these very Scribblers and Assembly Orators … keep under the lowest Subjection half the Inhabitants of this Province … These are the Sons of Liberty!

1778 – American Revolution

Legislation was passed that ordered all males sixteen or older to swear allegiance to South Carolina and agree to defend the state against George III. This precipitated the first mass exodus of Tories from Charlestown, making the city a predominant Patriot stronghold.

1818- Births

Wade Hampton III was born in Charleston, in the William Rhett house. His grandfather had created one of America’s largest fortunes from cotton. Although opposed to secession, Hampton remained loyal to his state and rose to the rank of Lt. General during the Civil War, seeing action at the First Battle of Bulls Run, the Peninsula Campaign and Gettysburg. After the War Hampton became one of the most prominent men who popularized the “Lost Cause” movement across the South. He was elected governor in 1876.

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LEFT: Wade Hampton. RIGHT: 54 Hasell Street (William Rhett House, 1712), Hampton’s birthplace. Currently a private residence in Charleston

1900

Mayor J. Adger Smyth and the Charleston City Council endorsed the plans for an Exposition in Charleston. The newly organized South Carolina Interstate and West Indian Exposition Co. had already raised more than $40,000 and chosen Captain F.W. Wagner as the company’s chairman.

Not everyone was confident of the Exposition’s success. W.D. Parsons wrote in the Inter-State Journal, “The audacity of this little town in sandwiching in an exposition between the great fairs of Buffalo and St. Louis is truly great.”

Today In Charleston History: November 5

1718 – Piracy. 

Early this morning off the Charles Town bar, Governor Johnson’s fleet was waylaid by a sloop, the Eagle, which raised the black flag and called on the ships to surrender. Johnson raised the King’s standard, threw open his ports and delivered a broadside which swept the deck of the pirate ship. The Eagle surrendered.

Johnson discovered the ship was not that of Christopher Moody, but the captain was Richard Worley who had captured the Eagle in Virginia. Worley had been killed by the broadside, but his crew of twenty-four were arrested. The cargo included 106 convicts and covenant servants, thirty-six of whom were women, bound as settlers in Maryland.

1768 – Backcountry
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Rev. Charles Woodmason

Rev. Charles Woodmason presented a petition to the Assembly which argued that the leaders of the low country (Charlestown planters and merchants) treated the inhabitants of the back country worse than their slaves. He pointed out that the area along the coast had forty-four representatives in the Assembly, while the back country only had six – despite containing two-thirds of the white population of South Carolina.

1779 – Births

 Washington Allston was born on a rice plantation on the Waccamaw River near Georgetown, South Carolina. He would grow up to pioneer America’s Romantic movement of landscape painting. 

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Washington Allston, self portrait

 

 

Today In Charleston History: September 12

1718 – Pirates!

Charles Town had been thrown into terror at reports of pirate ships off the coast. Governor Johnson Colonel gave a commission to Colonel William Rhett to organize an expedition to protect Charles Town against  Charles Vane, rumored to be in the area. Two sloops were pressed into service, the Sea Nymph (eight guns and seventy men) and the Henry (eight guns and sixty men.)

1743 – Religion. Slavery. 

Dr. Alexander Garden opened a free school for “educating Negro children,” with more than sixty pupils.

 

1766 – Backcountry

woodmason journalRev. Charles Woodmason returned from England, and was assigned to St. Mark’s Parish on the South Carolina frontier. It was rough country. The parish had a growing population, yet had few roads and even no amenities. Woodmason’s circuit included 26 regular, periodic stops in the parish. In two years he traveled 6,000 miles. He found very little in backcountry life to his liking. The people lived in open cabins “with hardly a Blanket to cover them, or Cloathing to cover their Nakedness.” Their diet consisted of “what in England is given to Hogs and Dogs” and he was forced to live likewise. He wrote:

They are very Poor – owing their extreme Indolence for they possess the finest Country in America, and could raise by ev’ry thing. They delight in their present low, lazy, sluttish, heathenish hellish Life and seem not desirous of changing it. Both Men and Women will do any thing to come at Liquor … rather than work for it – Hence their many Vices – their gross Licentiousness, Wantonness, Lasciviousness, Rudeness, Lewdness and Profligacy. They will commit the grossest Enormities, before my face, and laugh at all Admonition.

1925 – Culture

porgy_dustjacketDubose Heyward’s novel Porgy was published. The story of a crippled beggar on the streets of Charleston was notable because it was one of the first major novels written by a white Southerner through the viewpoint of black characters.  

During a dice game, Porgy witnesses a murder committed by a rough, sadistic man named Crown, who runs away from the police. During the next weeks, Porgy gives shelter to the murderer’s woman, the haunted Bess, in the rear courtyard of Catfish Row, a rundown tenement on the Charleston waterfront. Porgy and Bess fall in love. However, when Crown arrives to take Bess away Porgy kills him. He is taken in by police for questioning for ten days. He is released because the police do not believe a crippled beggar could have killed the powerful Crown. When Porgy returns to the Row, he discovers that while he was away Bess fell under the spell of the drug dealer Sportin’ Life and his “happy dus’.  She has followed Sportin’ Life to a new future in Savannah and Porgy is left alone brokenhearted.

1926 – Death. Culture. 

jenks001Edmond Thornton Jenkins died in Paris at age 32 from pnemonia, due to complications from surgery. The son of Rev. Daniel Jenkins, founder of the Jenkins Orphanage, Jenks (as he was called) had graduated from the Royal Academy of Music, was living in Paris as a musician, playing in jazz clubs and working as a composer.

Jenks’ former music professor at Morehouse College Benjamin Brawley stated:

Let us remember this: he not only knew music but at all times insisted on its integrity. For him there was no short cut to excellence. He wanted the classic and he was willing to work for it. He felt, moreover … that there was little creative work in the mere transcribing of Negro melodies. For him it was the business of a composer to compose, and he did so … The music of the Negro and of the world suffered signal loss in the early death of Edmund T. Jenkins of Charleston, South Carolina.