Today In Charleston History: November 30


Landgrave Thomas Smith, one of the richest men in Carolina, was commissioned to be Governor.  

1706 – Religion

The Council received word that Queen Anne had repealed the Establishment Act (November 1705). They promptly passed a new Church Act, establishing the Church of England as the official church of South Carolina, dividing the colony into ten parishes. Six of the ten parish names duplicated those in Barbados.

The Act also stipulated that the rector of St. Philip’s was to receive £150 a year and other rectors £50 a year for three years, then £100 afterward. A registry was to be kept of marriages, births, christenings and burials of all white people within the parish.


Stede Bonnet, the Gentleman Pirate, ran into another pirate fleet in the Leeward Islands, commanded by Edward Teach, Blackbeard. The two pirates decided to join forces.  Captain Hume of HMS Scarborough reported on “a Pyrate ship of 36 Guns and 250 men, and a Sloop of 10 Guns and 100 men.”

Sixteen-year old, red-haired Anne Cormac started frequenting the waterfront taverns of Charles Town. She quickly picked up a reputation as a drinker and fierce brawler, quick to anger. It was reported “That once, when a young fellow would have lain with her against her will, she beat him so that he lay ill of it a considerable time.”

bonnet and bonny


St. Andrew’s Society was organized due of a growing presence of Scots in Charlestown. The hall on Broad Street became part of the social life of upper-class Charlestonians. It was used for balls, banquets, concerts, and meetings of organizations like the South Carolina Jockey Club and the St. Cecilia Society.

st. andrews society hall

St. Andrews Society Hall

1830 – Charleston & Hamburg Rail Road

By this date, five miles of railed road had been laid from Line Street to San Souci, a small community north of Charleston.

1831 – Charleston & Hamburg Rail Road

The Charleston & Hamburg Rail Road began delivering mail from Charleston to the 12 Mile House, where it was transferred to horse-drawn mail stages. Expansion on the line was slowly progressing at about three-quarters of a mile of track per month, due the swampy land the crew was building on.



Today In Charleston History: November 29


William De Brahm presented his fortification plan to Gov. Glen and the bill for his services. The Assembly, upset they had not been consulted, refused to pay the fee. Glen paid De Brahm out of his own pocket.

1765 – Stamp Act

The Assembly adopted a report by Christopher Gadsden which reflected the sentiments of the Stamp Act Congress, that taxes should only be enacted by the Assembly of each province. It also said:

Sincerely as we are attached to his Majesty, we insist that we are entitled to all inherent rights and liberties of his natural born subjects within the Kingdom of Great Britain.

The Gazette published that day on plain paper with the headline: No Stamped Paper to be had.

1782 – American Revolution

Henry Laurens arrived in Paris from Vigan, France, to help negotiate a peace treaty between the United States and Great Britain. The next day he signed the preliminary articles with John Jay, Benjamin Franklin and John Adams.


Benjamin West’s painting of the delegations at the Treaty of Paris: John Jay, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Henry Laurens, and William Temple Franklin. The British delegation refused to pose, and the painting was never completed.


1864 – Bombardment of Charleston

Seventy-four shots landed in Charleston overnight, proving that the Federal authorities outside Charleston were willing to ignore the six-day old order to cease the bombardment. Paroled Federal prisoner Robert Sneden, traveling through Charleston on his way back up north, wrote:

During the night our forces … shelled Charleston … until daylight. I could see the trail of the burning fuses on the sky, and heard plainly the bursting shells, and the dull roar of the falling walls in Charleston. Two or three small fires were burning at the same time. King and Queen Streets seemed to have been favored … and no place is esteemed safe in the city … I kept indoors as much as possible.

broad street shelling

Broad Street shelling. Harper’s Weekly


Today In Charleston History: November 28


The land between the Combahee and Savannah Rivers was set aside as a reservation for the Yemassee tribe.            

1757 – French and Indian War.  

The Assembly stopped paying for the rent of the British officers quartered in private homes. Outraged, Lt. Col. Bouquet ordered his officers to keep their rooms and refuse to pay their rents.

1765 – Stamp Act.

The stamps were brought to the docks from Ft. Johnson. A crowd of about 7000 read a pledge not to act until Parliament had acted on their petition for all of America. Merchants pledged not to use the stamped paper.

1775 – American Revolution Continental Congress.

Christopher Gadsden was one of seven members of the Marine Committee responsible for outfitting the Navy.


Theodosia Burr Alston

Dr. Timothy Ruggles Green, an old friend of Aaron Burr, arrived in Charleston to accompany an ailing Theodosia to New York to visit her father. At this time she was most likely dying of uterine cancer with recurring infections and discharges.


Today In Charleston History: November 27


Ashley Cooper wrote about Sir John Yeamans, “If to convert all things to his private profit be the marke of able parts Sir John is without a doubt a very judicious man.”

 1886- Natural Disaster – Charleston Earthquake.

The Stockdell Report released detailed information about 8000 damaged Charleston structures. The report would help form the basis of which buildings could be repaired and which were beyond restoration. 

eq - exchange

Exchange Building, earthquake damage

eq - harpers illustrations

Earthquake relief efforts. Harper’s Weekly



Today In Charleston History: November 26

1733- Philadelphia

Upon the news of Thomas Whitmarsh’s death in Charleston, Lewis Timothy arranged with Benjamin Franklin to take over the publishing of the South Carolina Gazette weekly newspaper on a six-year franchise contract.


Williamson Willis was hanged for “stealing a Negro.”

1792 Births.

grimke, sarah

Sarah Grimke was born in Charleston, daughter of Judge John Grimke, planter, slaveholder, lawyer and politician. She later moved to Philadelphia. She and her younger sister, Angelina, became prominent abolitionists. 


St. Michael’s held its first service following the conclusion of the War. 

meeting street 1858

St, Michael’s Church, 1858. Circular Church visible in the background. Harper’s Weekly.


Today In Charleston History: November 25


An advertisement for Henry Laurens’ business in the South Carolina Gazette read:

JUST IMPORTED in the Billander London Cap. Youn from Bristol and Capt. Allenby from Lancanshite, Oznabrugs, Irish shirting and sheeting, Linnen, sheat lead, bullets, shot, bottled beer and cyder, writing paper, paving stones, grind stones and millstones, Cornish tiles, white lead, tobacco plugs, iron pots, all sorts of nails, striped duffils, Tarrington rugs, linseed oil, Gloucestire, Lancashire and Cheshire cheese, butter, fine mould tallow candles, currans and raisins in small jars, earthen ware, best sail cloth, crown glass 8 by 10 and 9 by 11, empty quart bottles and coals – also imported, a parcel of muscavado sugar in barrels and three negro men to be sold by Austin and Laurens.


Henry Laurens Pinckney, son of Charles Pinckney, was elected to the South Carolina House at age twenty-two. He had graduated as valedictorian at South Carolina College (now the University of South Carolina) four years before.

citadel yearbook 1920 - cornerstone

Citadel Yearbook -1920.

With much pomp and pageantry, the cornerstone of the new Citadel campus was laid on Thanksgiving Day. Samuel T. Lanham, head of the Masonic Lodge of South Carolina, laid the stone, wearing a piece of jewelry that Marquis de Lafayette had given the Masons during his 1825 visit.

Today In Charleston History: November 24

1681 – England.

Anthony Ashley Cooper

Ashley Cooper’s trial for treason was held. The government’s case was particularly weak – most of the witnesses brought forth against Shaftesbury were witnesses whom the government admitted had already perjured themselves, and the documentary evidence was inconclusive.

 This, combined with the fact that the jury was handpicked by the Whig Sheriff of London, meant the government had little chance of securing a conviction.

The case against Shaftesbury was ultimately dropped and the announcement prompted great celebrations in London, with crowds yelling “No Popish Successor, No York, A Monmouth” and “God bless the Earl of Shaftesbury!

94 Church St (2)_220x220

94 Church Street, Charleston

Theodosia Burr arrived home from New York with her son. Her husband, Joseph, had just been elected to the South Carolina legislature representing Christ Church Parish in present-day Mt. Pleasant. In Charleston Theodosia lived at 94 Church Street.

Today In Charleston History: November 23

1730 – Births

wm moultrieWilliam Moultrie born in St. John’s Berkeley Parish.

1749 – Births.

Edward Rutledge, last child of Dr. John and Sarah Rutledge was born.


Langdon Cheves

Vice President Elbridge Gerry died. The office of President pro tempore of the Senate was vacant which meant Charleston’s Langdon Cheves, Speaker of the U.S. House Representatives was next in line for the Presidency. This ended two days later, when Senator John Gaillard was chosen President pro tempore.

1864 – Bombardment of Charleston.  

Army chief of staff, Gen. Halleck, ordered the suspension of the Charleston bombardment.

“This is not to prohibit the throwing of occasional shell into Charleston, if circumstances should require. The object is to economize ordinance stores.”

Today In Charleston History: November 22

Charles Pachelbel

Charles Pachelbel

Pachelbel organized a concert of vocal and instrumental music in Charleston to celebrate St. Cecilia, patroness of musicians.

Charles Theodore Pachelbel (baptized Karl Theodorus) arrived in Charlestown, April 1736. Born in Germany in 1690, he was the son of the famous Johann Pachelbel, composer of the popular Canon in D. Pachelbel initially migrated to Providence, Rhode Island to install an organ in Trinity Church in 1733. Three years later he arrived in Charlestown and lived here until his death.

1737 – Death.

Lt. Governor (and acting governor) Thomas Broughton died. William Bull, as President of the Council, assumed the role of Lt. Governor.

Thomas Broughton was probably born in England; in about 1683 he married Anne Johnson, whose father Nathaniel Johnson would become governor (1703) of South Carolina. By the mid-1690s Broughton and his wife had come to South Carolina from the West Indies. Thomas Broughton was an Indian trader, and served in the Commons House of Assembly. He was also appointed to the Grand Council in 1705, as deputy to proprietor John Carteret. When Governor Edward Tynte died in June 1710, Robert Gibbes cheated Thomas Broughton out of the interim governorship. Broughton and his armed supporters marched on Charleston in protest, but were unsuccessful. Gibbes retained the position.

In 1731, Thomas Broughton was named South Carolina’s first lieutenant governor. He became acting governor when his brother-in-law, governor Robert Johnson, died in May 1735. Broughton died in office November 22, 1737. William Bull succeeded him as lieutenant governor and acting governor.


butlerSt. Cecilia Society was established to provide musical entertainment. Their annual ball, held on November 22, became the leading social event in South Carolina.

Some claim that 1762 was the founding year, but first newspaper notices about its activities appear in 1766. The destruction of its early record due to the 1861 fire, has lead to detailed research about the Society’s founding.


All of the issues regarding ownership of the Fort Sumter were cleared up as the Federal Government was granted title to 125 acres of harbor “land” recorded in the office of the Secretary of State of South Carolina.

Today In Charleston History: November 21

1773- American Revolution – Foundations … Club Forty-Five

Club Forty-Five, which included the Rutledge brothers, John and Edward, met at the Liberty Tree where they swore to defend against the tyranny of Great Britain. The tree was decorated with forty-five lights and forty-five skyrockets were fired. Forty-five men then paraded from the Liberty Tree down King Street to Broad to Dillon’s Tavern. Forty-five lights were placed on the table, along with forty-five punch bowls and forty-five bottles of wine … all of which were consumed.

wilkesThe number “forty-five” became an important symbol to the American Patriot movement, and was associated with John Wilkes. Wilkes, a member of Parliament, political agitator, friend of freedom, demagogue, wit, libertine, pornographer, and shameless self-promoter. He belonged to the Knights of St. Francis of Wycombe, better known as the Hellfire Club or the Monks of Medmenham Abbey. The members of this secret society dressed in Franciscan robes and parodied Roman Catholic rituals to engage in ribaldry and drunken orgies, often with prostitutes dressed as nuns. Wilkes in particular was noted for his wicked humor. When the Earl of Sandwich, a sometime friend, told him that “you will die either on the gallows, or of the pox,” Wilkes said, “That must depend on whether I embrace your lordship’s principles or your mistress.”

On April 23, 1763, Wilkes wrote his most vicious essay yet. The North Briton No. 45 appeared April 23, 1763. In No. 45 Wilkes overtly attacked and mocked King George III: 

A despotic minister will always endeavour to dazzle the prince with high flown ideas of the prerogative and honour of the crown. I wish as much any man in the kingdom to see the honour of the crown maintained in a manner truly becoming Royalty. I lament to see it sunk even to prostitution.I am so ignorant that I cannot tell a King from a knave.

Wilkes was arrested and claimed parliamentary privilege: as a member of the House of Commons, he was immune from arrest for anything short of treason or breach of the peace.Emboldened by his popularity, Wilkes reprinted No. 45 and began printing a pornographic poem he wrote with his friend Thomas Potter, An Essay on Woman. Twelve incomplete copies were struck, and those have been destroyed, but fragments survive. This parody of Alexander Pope’s dignified Essay on Man, loaded with attacks on prominent politicians, was extremely obscene . The government again decided to prosecute him, but the ministers had learned a lesson: since they could not proceed against a member of Parliament, they expelled him from the House of Commons before charging him with blasphemous libel. He fled the country, living in exile for four years on the donations of wealthy Whigs.


Statue of John Wilkes, London. Photo by author

Colonial newspapers buzzed with information about the persecuted friend of liberty. American support was not universal—Benjamin Franklin said Wilkes was “an outlaw . . . of bad personal character, not worth a farthing”—but to many Americans he was a hero. Petitions and letters in his favor were signed by John Adams, Samuel Adams, and John Hancock. 

When news of Wilkes’s release from prison reached Charleston, Club Forty-Five met at 7:45, drank forty-five toasts, and adjourned at 12:45. They also recited Britannia’s Intercession for the Deliverance of John Wilkes, Esq., from Persecution and Banishment which was an imitation of the Apostle’s Creed:

I believe in Wilkes, the firm patriot, maker of number 45. Who was born for our good. Suffered under arbitrary power. Was banished and imprisoned. He descended into purgatory, and returned some time after. He ascended here with honour and sitteth amidst the great assembly of the people, where he shall judge both the favourite and his creatures. I believe in the spirit of his abilities, that they will prove to the good of our country. In the resurrection of liberty, and the life of universal freedom forever. Amen.