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Today In Charleston History: July 17

1755 – Slavery

Henry Laurens described what he most desired in a slave cargo for maximum profits:

Two thirds at least Men from 18 to 25 years old, the other young Women from 14 to 18 the cost not to exceed Twenty five pounds Sterling per head … There must not be a Callabar [region in Africa, present-day Nigeria] amongst them. Gold Coast and Gambias are best, next to them the Windward Coast are prefer’d to Angolas. Pray observe that our People like tall Slaves best for our business & strong withall.


Angelina Grimke debated John Page about slavery – the first public debate between a male and female. Angelina asked Page to refrain from calling her as his “fair opponent,” adding that she wished to be judged on her intellect rather than her gender.

These debates created a controversy, with many people complaining about the prominent role the Grimke sisters were taking in a public issue, unseemly for ladies. 

Robert Smalls

Robert Smalls

Robert Smalls was elected to Congress, the first of five terms.  His most important legislation while in Congress was a bill that led to the creation of Parris Island Marine Base in South Carolina.

To read more about Smalls, click here – Robert Smalls: A Traveling Exhibition.

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