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Today In Charleston History: May 10


Governor Joseph West signed an act for “suppressing idleness, drunkenness, and profanity.”

1740 – Slavery

In reaction to the Stono Rebellion, a new Slave Code was enacted by the Assembly. It provided the following:

  • levied a penalty of £5 upon any person who employed a slave on the Lord’s Day.
  • Selling of liquor to slaves was prohibited.
  • Slaves were to be provided sufficient clothing, food and shelter.
  • Slaves could work no more than 15 hours a day between March 25-September 25, no more than 14 hours the other half of the year.
  • Imposed a tax on newly purchased Negro slaves by height.
1775 –American Revolution – Continental Congress

The Second Continental Congress met in Philadelphia. Representing South Carolina was Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch and Arthur Middleton.


James Louis Pettigrew was born near Abbeville, South Carolina. He later changed the spelling of his last name to “Petigru.”


In celebration of his 60th birthday, James Petigru’s daughters hosted a party in his new elegant office building at 8 St Michael’s Alley. Sue and Caroline, “in their usual high spirits,” presided over an afternoon feast “of cold meats, strawberries and cream, ice cream and an abundance of champagne & punch.”  

1899 – Confederate Reunion

A story from the Associated Press, printed in the Los Angeles Herald. 

Charleston, S. C.,—Fully 25,000 visitors and Confederate veterans are here today attending the annual reunion of the Confederate Veterans’ Society. Every hotel and boardinghouse in the city is filled, and cots were today placed in the public buildings. The feature of the day was the parade of the veterans, succeeded by the reunion exercises at the new auditorium. Ten thousand veterans were in line when the procession moved, shortly before 3 o’clock. The divisions in each department were arranged in the order of the dates of succession, followed in the order by those which did not leave the Union, placed in the order of their joining the United Confederate Veterans… When General C. L. Walker called the first session of the reunion to order with the gavel used at Secession Assembly, in 1800, over 75OO people were in the auditorium. Thousands were turned away. Governor Ellerhee could not attend the reunion, on account of illness and the ad>dress of welcome was delivered by Lieut. Governor McSweeney. Mayor J. A. Smyth followed. His reference to South Carolina and Charleston as the cradle of the secession brought forth the rebel yell. The yell was caught up by the crowd on the outside and passed along for blocks. At 11:30 General Walker introduced General John B. Gordon, Commander-in-Chief of the United Confederate Veterans. The audiences arose and for several minutes shouted like demons. Hats were thrown in the air and the band played “Dixie.” Every sentence pf his speech was applauded. General Gordon closed his speech with these words: “I feel power by your confidence to send to every patriot in every section and State the fraternal greetings of this convention and of the whole people, and to pledge in the name of every Confederate and son or daughter of Confederates of the South’s eternal loyalty to every cause for the uplifting of manhood, the perpetuity of American freedom, the unity of the American people, that by all these agencies we may accelerate the upward march of the republic in its benign mission to humanity.” It was several minutes after he had taken his seat before quiet could be restored. When order was secured General Gordon said: “I want every comrade to stand and sing ‘Praise God from whom all blessings flow.’ ” Mrs. Stonewall Jackson was introduced by General Gordon. As Mrs. Jackson appeared, the veterans went wild with enthusiasm. “I am going to shake her hand, comrades,”‘ cried General Gordon. “I am going to hug her,” and he caught her in his arms and pressed her to his bosom. 

reunion badge

A conservative estimate places the number of visitors here at between 23,000 and 35,000. When John B. Gordon, the commander-in-chief, appeared before the convention he received a tremendous ovation. The old Confederate chieftain was presented by General Walker, and delivered an eloquent address. When he closed, General Gordon led Mrs. Stonewall Jackson to the front of the stage, and she was enthusiastically applauded. The parade of the veterans occurred this afternoon, and they marched through a dense crowd of cheering people, led by Generals Gordon and Wade Hampton, along the line of grizzled old warriors. At intervals along the line the fluttering of a war-worn and shot-torn flag called forth cheers, while many heads were bared as the frayed emblems of a dead cause gleamed over some organization whose name is a household word to the south. Hampton and Gordon were cheered vociferously at every step, and rode almost the entire route with bared heads. The absence of General Wheeler in the line was a source of considerable disappointment. He reached the city early today, but did not participate in the parade.

Thompson Auditorium, built for the Confederate Reunion and later became the Charleston Museum. It later burned, with only the columns remaining in Cannon Park.

Thompson Auditorium, built for the Confederate Reunion and later became the Charleston Museum. It later burned, with only the columns remaining in Cannon Park.

1919 – Charleston Riot – Red Summer 

In the words of the Navy investigation,

“a disturbance which assumed the nature and proportions of a race riot took place in the city of Charleston, South Carolina, on the night of May 10-11, 1919, between the hours of 7:00 p.m., and 3:00 a.m.”

race riotAt the time, Charleston’s population was 80,000, more than half of whom were black.  On one side of the conflict were black civilians, and on the other was “a mixed crowd of whites” including mostly sailors, along with civilians, and “a scattering of soldiers and marines.” The incident started when an unidentified black man allegedly pushed Roscoe Coleman, U.S. Navy, off the sidewalk. A group of sailors and civilians chased the man, who took refuge in a house on St. Philip Street. A fight then took place there, with both sides throwing bricks, bottles, and stones. The crowd dispersed when one of the black civilians “drew a revolver and fired four shots without injuring anyone.” There followed “wild rumors and stories of a sailor having been shot by a negro” and general rioting. Beginning near Harry Polices’ Poolroom at the corner of George and King streets, rioting spread to other parts of the city and continued with varying intensity until about 3:00 a.m.  

Charleston’s Mayor Hyde requested assistance in restoring order. The Charleston Navy Yard sent a detachment of soldiers and marines to help.“Bluejackets” were rounded up by the Marines and either taken back to the Navy Yard or held at the police station. All blacks were told to get off the streets.

During the riot, both sides used firearms. Sailors stole thirteen 22-calibre rifles from the shooting galleries of H.B. Morris and Fred M. Faress. Rioters robbed and vandalized W. G. Fridie’s barber shop at 305 King Street and James Freyer’s shoe shop, both black-owned businesses. Eighteen black men were seriously injured, as were five white men. Three black men, William Brown, Isaac Doctor, and James Talbot, died of gunshot wounds.

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