Today In Charleston History: May 21


A fort was completed at Albemarle Point. Even though plans were well underway to moving the colony to Oyster Point, security against the Spanish was still a major consideration.

1721-Bloodless Revolution  
Sir Nathaniel Johnson

Sir Nathaniel Johnson

Former Governor Nathaniel Johnson, with the assistance of Colonel Rhett and Nicholas Trott, assembled members of his former Proprietary council and a group of about 120 armed men, including the Captain Hildesly and the crew of the H.M.S. Flamborough. They marched into Charlestown and demanded the Revolutionary Assembly surrender.

Governor James Moore II announced that he was prepared to defend the colony “in the king’s name” and fired three cannon into Johnson’s forces. Moore then presented official British government documents that recognized Moore and the Commons House of Assembly.

In the new administration, Rhett was allowed to keep his positions:

  • Comptroller of the King’s Customs
  • the Proprietor’s Receiver General
  • Overseer of the Repairs and Fortifications of Charles Town.
 1771-American Revolution – Foundations

At a meeting under the Liberty Tree, a group of citizens decided that no tea should be imported while the tax on it remained.

Today In Charleston History: October 3

1650 – English Civil War, Foundations of Carolina.

Parliament passed an act which prohibited trade between England and Barbados. During the English Civil War Barbados became an asylum for Royalists seeking to avoid the conflict. After the execution of Charles I, Parliament sought to punish Barbados for remaining loyal to the King by restricting their trade. This eventually created an economic crisis on the small island.

Twenty years later, the Carolina colony became the “promised land” for many Barbadian merchants and planters.

1718 – Piracy

Half Moon Battery

Col. William Rhett triumphantly returned to Charles Town with two vessels which had been captured by the pirate Stede Bonnet, the Fortune and the Francis. Rhett delivered Bonnet and his men to the Provost Marshal of Carolina, Capt. Nathaniel Partridge, who placed them in the watch-house at the Half Moon battery to await trial.

Stede Bonnet remained in the custody of Capt. Partridge at the latter’s residence under armed guard. David Herriot and boatswain Ignatius Pell were also kept in Partridge’s residence, as they had agreed to give evidence for the Crown.

Stede Bonnet imprisoned in Charles Town.


Henry Laurens confronted Gov. Daniel Moore and rebuked him over his behavior. When Moore responded with an insult Laurens grabbed him by the nose and twisted it before a crowd of people. Laurens and other Charlestown merchants filed several lawsuits against Moore charging him with illegal extortion of fees. Moore quickly sailed to London to present his case to the Royal authorities.

1769  – Backcountry

In a letter to Lord Hillsborough, Lt Gov. William Bull complained about those:

backcountry inhabitants who chose to live by the wandering indolence of hunting than by the more honest and domestic employment of planting … little more than white Indians.


A grand jury in Charlestown recommended:

 that Jews and others may be restrained from allowing their negroes to sell good in shops, as such practice may induce other negroes to steal and barter with them … a profanation of the Lord’s Day.

1793 – Slavery, Haitian Rebellion

The ship Maria, bearing refugees from Haiti, docked in the city’s harbor.

1833 – South Carolina Railroad

The Charleston & Hamburg Railroad began to run two passenger-only daily trains from Line Street to Ridge Road, located between Cypress Swamp and Four Hole Swamp. The first train left Charleston at 6:00 a.m. and returned at 9:00 a.m. The second train left at 1:00 p.m., returning at 3:00 p.m.  For the first time, people could visit to Charleston and return home 30 miles away in one day.

best friend

Today In Charleston History: September 27

1671 – Indian Uprising.

Governor West and the Grand Council declared war against the Kussoes Tribe, living up the Combahee River. The Kussoes declared themselves allied with the Spanish and began raiding English properties. Within seven days, the English had defeated the Kussoes, killing some, and enslaving many, selling them to the West Indies.

1718 – Piracy.

Pirate battle

Col. William Rhett sailed up the Cape Fear River from Charles Town with two ships, the Henry and the Sea Nymph. He was on a mission to root out pirates along the Carolina coast. In the late afternoon Rhett spotted a suspicious ship named the Royal James floating at anchor. The vessel tried to sail toward the open sea, but the Henry intervened and was able to maneuver the Royal James onto a shoal. In the process, both the Henry and Sea Nymph ran aground as well – all three ships were stuck and the tide was receding. The crews of all three vessels spent the overnight hours preparing for battle when the tide turned and daylight arrived.

col rhett and bonnet

Stede Bonnet stands before William Rhett

The Henry was within firing range of the Royal James and as the tide gradually came in, the ships fought fiercely for two hours, cannons booming and muskets blazing. Rhett’s ships floated free first and they moved into position. The Charles Town men stormed the Royal James and overpowered the crew of thirty-five. Upon boarding the ship, Rhett discovered Stede Bonnet – wanted for the Blackbeard blockade four months before.

The Carolinians suffered eighteen dead and twenty-eight wounded. The pirates lost nine of their crew with two wounded. Most of the surviving pirates were hanged in Charles Town in November.

1805 – Deaths.

Gen. William Moultrie died at the age of 74 and was buried outside Charleston in what is now North Charleston in the family cemetery on his son’s property at Windsor Hill Plantation off Ashley Phosphate Road. His body was later reinterred at Ft. Moultrie.

moultie image

Today In Charleston History: September 15


Judge Trott wrote in defense of the Church Act: “The reason why we passed the Act to exclude them (Dissenters) from being chosen was because they never did any good there nor never do any.”

1718 – Piracy

Col. William Rhett’s expedition left searching for Charles Vane. Information indicated that the pirates had sailed up the Edisto River. However, the search was in vain. Rhett found no trace of the pirates and sailed north to Cape Fear to continue his patrol.


The Commissioners of Fortification reported they had “viewed the fortifications on White Point and find the whole in ruinous condition and some parts broke through by the sea …”

1775 – American Revolution. Charleston First

Lord William Campbell was injured on June 28, 1776 during the battle of Sullivan’s Island on board the HMS Bristol. He later died of his wounds.

Lord William Campbell discovered that Patriot leaders learned of his coordinating with back country Loyalists. Fearing attack from Revolutionaries in Charlestown, Campbell fled his house on Meeting Street in the early morning hours to HMS Tamar. This effectively ended British rule in South Carolina.

Almost immediately, Colonel William Moultrie led a local militia unit with Captain Francis Marion, seized Fort Johnson and its twenty-one guns, with no resistance from the British. Lord William Campbell, on board the Tamar, considered this action an overt act of war. The fact that this was done in plain view of two British warships, practically under Campbell’s nose, made it particularly insulting.

Moultrie was then directed by the Council of Safety to devise a flag. He chose the blue of the 1st and 2nd Regiments and the silver crescent which adorned their hats. This flag was raised over Ft. Johnson – the first American flag to replace the Union Jack. 

1832 – Nullification Crisis

 The Union and Nullifier Parties signed a formal agreement to prohibit late night meetings and abolish free liquor to all supporters. They set a 10:00 p.m. curfew for all meetings to end. This was an attempt to limit the number of drunken brawls and shootings that had plagued the city during the run-up to the election.


Wreck of the Central America

The S.S. Central America sank in a hurricane off the Charleston coast. It was a 278-foot steamer sailing from Panama to New York City carrying 30,000 pounds of California Gold Rush-era coins and ingots – giving rise to the name Ship of Gold. Four hundred and twenty-five passengers and crew were lost. At the time of its sinking, Central America carried gold then valued at approximately $2 million. The loss shook public confidence in the economy, and contributed to the Panic of 1857.

On September 11, 1988. The ship was located by the use a remotely operated vehicle (ROV). The total value of the recovered gold was estimated at $100–150 million. A recovered gold ingot weighing 80 lb sold for a record $8 million and was recognized as the most valuable piece of currency in the world at that time. Currently only “5 per cent of the ship has been excavated. 

Read an August 2014 story from Newsweek about the excavation.

Today In Charleston History: September 4


William Rhett was born in London, during the Great Fire.  Thirty-two years later he would move to Carolina and become one it’s most prominent citizens.

1766 – Stamp Act.

Thomas Lynch, Christopher Gadsden and John Rutledge sailed for New York on the Carolina Packet to attend the Stamp Act Congress. At age twenty-six, Rutledge was the youngest delegate in attendance.

1786 – Births. Slavery

The building that once housed Jehu Jones’s hotel on Broad Street.

Jehu Jones, Jr., a mulatto, was born in Charleston as a slave. He would later become a successful tailor and gain his freedom in 1798. He operated a successful hotel on Broad Street (next to St. Michael’s church) for many years. 


In one of the stranger events, a shower of warm stones fell from the sky on the offices of the News and Courier – twice! The shower of stones occurred at 7:30 a.m. and the second shower at 1:30 p.m. Coming four days after the devasting earthquake, this event increased the unease of a shocked population.