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Today In Charleston History: December 17


The Grand Council voted that Charles Town should move to Oyster Point.

Joel Gascoyne map 1682

Joel Gascoyne map 1682

Governor West and the Grand Council wrote the Proprietors:

We are informed that this Oyster Point is not only a more convenient place to build a town on than that formerly pitched on by the first settlers, but that the people’s inclinations turn thither; we let you know that Oyster Point is the place we do appoint for the port town of which you are to take notice and call it Charles Town.

1765 – SLAVERY.

A possible slave revolt was suspected when slaves were heard on the streets shouting “Liberty!” Henry Laurens thought the threat was exaggerated. In his opinion he believed the slaves merely “had mimck’d their betters by crying out ‘Liberty!’”

Lt. Gov. Bull ordered 100 militia out “to guard the city” and for sailors to stand nightly sentinel duty on the wharves during the holiday season. Whether the slave revolt threat was real or not, it did act as a calming influence on Gadsden and Timothy, as leaders of the mob actions. As Henry Laurens wrote, the hotheads:

did not slacken in their opposition to the introduction of Stamps, but except for a little Private cruising along the Waterside at Nights to see if anything is moving among the Shipping they are pretty quiet & I have been assur’d that more than a few of their Brethren declare their repentance …

1803 – SLAVERY.

Foreign trade was reopened; more than 40,000 slaves would be imported into South Carolina during the next four years.


Moultrieville on Sullivan’s Island was incorporated.


The Medical College of South Carolina was chartered.

1860,  Secession Convention Opens. And Adjourns.  

At noon, 169 delegates gathered at the First Baptist Church in the South Carolina capital, Columbia. Included among the delegates were four former governors, four former U.S. Senators, judges, and more than 100 planters.

first baptist columbia

First Baptist Church, Columbia. Library of Congress

To the disappointment of Barnwell Rhett, David J. Jamison was chosen chairman of the convention. Jamison, a planter of 2,000 acres and seventy slaves opened the convention by quoting Georges-Jacques Danton, leader of the French Revolution, urging the delegates “To dare! And dare again! And without end dare!” The fact that Danton was beheaded for his radical leadership went unacknowledged by the delegates.

A resolution was agreed upon that “South Carolina should forthwith secede” and an ordinance be drafted “to accomplish this purpose” was passed. After that, the members began to clamor for adjournment and move the convention to Charleston. Historically, the reason given has always been of a small pox outbreak in Columbia. However, many of the delegates complained about the “meager accommodations in Columbia.” Charleston, however, offered luxurious hotels and the opulent homes of friends. As John A. Inglis, a delegate from Chesterfield County exclaimed, “Is there any spot in South Carolina more fit for political agitation?”

John Archer Elmore, the Alabama Secession Commissioner, told the crowd:

There should be no hesitation – no faltering and no delay upon the part of this Convention. [South Carolina’s] Ordinance of Secession should take effect at once! … [giving] strength not only to Alabama, but in other states united with her in sentiment.

Charles Hooker, Mississippi’s Commissioner followed Elmore to the podium and declared that South Carolina should:

Snatch her star from the galaxy in which it has hitherto mingled and plant her flag earliest in the breech of battle, sustaining revolution by the bold hearts and willing arms of her people.

While the argument about moving the convention was being held, Charleston delegates had already wired home, and given orders to secure Institute Hall, and as many rooms at the Mills House that could be procured. William Porcher Miles, however, thought that moving after a day was a mistake. He told the delegates, “We would be sneered at. It would be asked … is this chivalry of South Carolina? They are prepared to face the world, but they run away from the smallpox.”

However, the delegates voted to adjourn and make the seven-and-one-half hour train trip to Charleston together. The Columbia-based newspaper, South Carolinian, the next day published this story:

Charleston Police Look Out!

By a letter from New York, there is reason to apprehend that the Lincoln men have been gathering up all the rags they can find from the small-pox hospital, and intend an incursion in the South, to chase the secession conventions and legislature from place to place until they are made powerless.   


The Coterie of Friends at the London Academy of Music performed a concert at Wigmore Hall in London. The publication West Africa described the concert as a tribute to the greatest musical composer of the African race, Samuel Coleridge-Taylor.

Mr. Edmund T. Jenkins will be the first coloured conductor, other than Coleridge-Taylor himself, to render his work before a British audience. Miss Coleridge-Taylor, the late composer’s daughter, will contribute a musical monologue, set to music by her father.

Edmund Thorton Jenkins

Edmund Thorton Jenkins

Edmund Jenkins was the son of Rev. Daniel Jenkins, founder of the Jenkins Orphanage in Charleston. Jenks (as Edmund was called) had grown up playing with the Jenkins Band and attended Morehouse College in Atlanta to study music. He had traveled to London in 1914 with the Jenkins Band to perform at the Anglo-American Expo. When the Expo was shut down by the events that led to World War I, Jenks convinced his father to allow him to remain in England and enroll in the Royal Academy.


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