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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.

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