Home » Confederate Charleston » Today In Charleston History: January 18

Today In Charleston History: January 18

1788 – U.S. Constitution

The Assembly, at the urging of John Rutledge, Cotesworth Pinckney and Charles Pinckney, agreed on a holding a ratifying convention for the Constitution. It was scheduled for May 12 at the Exchange Building.

1865 – Civil War
Andrew Gordon Magrath

Andrew Gordon MacGrath

South Carolina governor, Andrew Magrath, pleaded with Confederate President Jefferson Davis to protect Charleston. There was great and reasonable fear that Sherman’s troops, breaking their Christmas camp in Savannah, were next heading for Charleston. 

Magrath is most famous for resigning his judgeship when Abraham Lincoln was elected  president in 1860. In U.S. District court on the day after Lincoln’s election, November 7, 1860, Magrath rose from the bench and said:

In the political history of the United States, an event has happened of ominous import to fifteen slaveholding States. The State of which we are citizens has been always understood to have deliberately fixed its purpose whenever that event should happen … So far as I am concerned, the Temple of Justice, raised under the Constitution of the United States, is now closed. If it shall be never again opened, I thank God that its doors have been closed before its altar has been desecrated with sacrifices to tyranny.

Magrath was active during the Secession Convention and served as Secretary of State for South Carolina. As the War was coming to a conclusion, Magrath was appointed governor by the S.C. Legislature in December 1864. He served for less than a year as governor, was arrested by the Union Army on May 25, 1865 and sent to Fort Pulaski for imprisonment. Magrath was released in December and resumed the practice of law in Charleston. He died on April 9, 1893, and was buried at Magnolia Cemetery.

1908 – Murder!

One chain gang inmate was hanged in Charleston for the murder Captain Herman Stello. The captain was killed when his throat was slit by the inmates during an escape attempt from the Seven Mile Stockade at Ashley Junction.

The inmates feigned illness in order to remain at the stockade while the other prisoners worked on the chain gang for the Drainage and Sanitary Commission. One of the inmates asked Captain Stello for water and when he opened the door to deliver it he was attacked. He was struck over the head with the bucket before one of the inmates cut his throat with a knife.

 Captain Stello was placed into their cell along with two other inmates who refused to participate in the escape. Then the three subjects fled the camp. The man who cut Captain Stello’s throat was arrested a short time later. He was convicted of Captain Stello’s murder, sentenced to death, and subsequently executed by hanging on January 18th, 1908.

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