Today In Charleston History: July 28


Christopher Gadsden married Jenny Godfrey in Charlestown. During this time he also owned a store on Shute’s Wharf.

1769Slavery. Executions

Dolly, belonging to James Sands, and Liverpoole, a slave doctor belonging to William Price, were burned at the stake on the green in front of the workhouse. Dolly was convicted of poisoning her master and his child, while Liverpoole was convicted of providing the poison.

Dick, a former slave who had been freed, was “accused as instigator of these horrid crimes.” He initially escaped but was eventually retaken and given “twenty-five Lashes…at four different Corners and the same Number last Tuesday, in all 100 each Day, and to lose his Right Ear.”

1856 – Duelling

 Col. Cunningham and editor Hatch met on the Washington Race Course to settle their differences with a duel.

On July 21 the Charleston Evening News published an editorial by Col. John Cunningham, which prompted a response from L.M. Hatch, the editor of the Standard. Cunningham charged Hatch with a “studied and wanton personal insult” and demanded satisfaction. He appointed his friend William Taber, editor of the Charleston Mercury, as his second – to negotiate the details of the duel.

The two exchanged shots with no injury to either man.

Washington Race Track - 1857. A one-mile loop around what is present day Hampton Park. Library of Congress

Washington Race Track – 1857. A one-mile loop around what is present day Hampton Park. Library of Congress

Today In Charleston History: June 10


Sam Dodson, master of the ship Katherine lodged an official protest with Governor Robert Quarry. According to the document written by Quarry, Dodson:

proved by oaths of himself and others that appeared having dispatched all his business and cleared and taken out his dispatches for his return to London; Hon. Landgrave [and former governor] Joseph Morton not ignorant but maliciously intending to hinder the voyage prohibited the pilot William Watson to convey the ship and did send William Popell, Provost Marshall, with several armed men on board the vessel who broke open the hatches and afterward on 10 June did cut the hoops of several casks and carry away and damage goods and merchandise of several merchants ensuing much damage … and passengers who may suffer for the detaining of the ship.


“A wicked and barbarous plot” was uncovered which terrified the white population. A group of blacks outside the city were said to have plotted “to destroy all the white people in the Country and then take the town.”

More than a dozen slaves were captured “and burnt … hang’d and banished.” The town watch was given more power to deal with blacks. A well-armed force of twenty-one men patrolled the streets nightly to “Quell any … designs by Negroes.”


Martha Laurens Ramsay died.

As a child, Martha was thought to have succumbed to smallpox and was laid out for burial when an ocean breeze revived her. As a child Martha Laurens demonstrated great eagerness for learning. She could read easily at age 3 & soon learned French, English grammar, geography, arithmetic, & some geometry.  Her father approved of her studious habits but cautioned her that a knowledge of housewifery was the 1st requisite in female education.

Martha Laurens Ramsay

Martha Laurens Ramsay

Her father, Henry, a merchant and planter, was one of the richest men in America.  Their family supported the Revolution’s promises and struggled through its postwar uncertainties. During the American Revolution her father, Henry Laurens, was president of the Continental Congress and later, after capture at sea, languished in the Tower of London as Britain’s highest-ranking American prisoner. Martha’s brother, John Laurens, achieved legendary status for his military gallantry in the war and his controversial proposal that slaves be liberated and armed to help fight for American freedom from England.

During the war, Martha lived in France, caring for her ailing uncle, and then, caring for her father after his release by the British. After the war, in 1787, Martha married Dr. David Ramsay of Charleston, a patriot-politician, and one of the first historians of the American Revolution, Martha bore eleven children. After her death in 1811, her husband edited and published a memoir from her writings, including portions of her diary.

Eight of her 11 children survived childhood.

Today In Charleston History: June 4


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.


The South Carolina Gazette, ran this advertisement: 

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


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.


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.









The Francis Marion Hotel opened for business.  Named for the Revolutionary War hero Francis Marion, the “Swamp Fox,”, it was built by local investors at a cost of $1.5 million from plans by noted New York architect W.L. Stoddard. when it opened the Francis Marion was the largest and grandest hotel in the Carolinas. The 1920s was the Golden Age of railroads, radio and grand hotels, and the Charleston Renaissance was in full bloom and the Francis Marion Hotel was “the place to be”.

evening post, june 4, 1924

Charleston Evening Post, June 4, 1924

Today In Charleston History: June 2

1670- Slavery

The Three Brothers returned from Virginia with three enslaved Africans on board named John, Sr., Elizabeth and John, Jr.

 1762 – Mepkin Plantation Purchased

Henry Laurens

Henry Laurens returned from the war against the Cherokee and purchased the 3000-acre Mepkin Plantation in the Monck’s Corner area on the Cooper River for £8000 currency.  

Today it is Mepkin Abbey, a community of Roman Catholic monks established in 1949. Founded by the monks of Gethsemani in Kentucky, the brothers of Mepkin belong to the worldwide Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance popularly known as Trappist.

1834 – Test Oath Case

The South Carolina Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 on the “test oath” case, M’Cready v. Hunt. The “test oath” pledged that the state militia must pledge “faithful and true allegiance” to the State of South Carolina. Attorney Robert Barnwell Rhett, argued for the test oath with the support of state Governor Robert Y. Hayne. He was opposed Charleston Unionist attorneys, James L. Petigru and Thomas S. Grimké.

The “Nullifiers” immediately called for the impeachment of the two jurists who voted against the oath. “Nullifier” legislators responded to the decision by calling for a constitutional amendment to legalize the test oath and assert the primacy of allegiance to South Carolina.

1866 – St. Michael’s Bells

The bells of St. Michael’s arrived at the Whitechapel Bell Foundry to be recast by Messrs. Mears and Stainbank in London. The bells had been taken out of the church and sent to Columbia for safekeeping, but were damaged during the burning of Columbia by Sherman’s troops.