Today In Charleston History: May 21


A fort was completed at Albemarle Point. Even though plans were well underway to moving the colony to Oyster Point, security against the Spanish was still a major consideration.

1721-Bloodless Revolution  
Sir Nathaniel Johnson

Sir Nathaniel Johnson

Former Governor Nathaniel Johnson, with the assistance of Colonel Rhett and Nicholas Trott, assembled members of his former Proprietary council and a group of about 120 armed men, including the Captain Hildesly and the crew of the H.M.S. Flamborough. They marched into Charlestown and demanded the Revolutionary Assembly surrender.

Governor James Moore II announced that he was prepared to defend the colony “in the king’s name” and fired three cannon into Johnson’s forces. Moore then presented official British government documents that recognized Moore and the Commons House of Assembly.

In the new administration, Rhett was allowed to keep his positions:

  • Comptroller of the King’s Customs
  • the Proprietor’s Receiver General
  • Overseer of the Repairs and Fortifications of Charles Town.
 1771-American Revolution – Foundations

At a meeting under the Liberty Tree, a group of citizens decided that no tea should be imported while the tax on it remained.

Today In Charleston History: May 3

1672- Fortifications.

A fort was completed at Albemarle Point. Even though plans were well underway to moving the colony to Oyster Point, security against the Spanish was still a major consideration.

Charles Town, 1671

Charles Town, 1671

1690- Politics. Religion. Slavery

Using his power as Proprietor, Seth Sothell called a Charles Town Parliament which voted to banish Governor Colleton. Citing the Fundamental Constitutions which stated “it is provided that the eldest proprietor that shall be in Carolina shall be governor,” Sothell then claimed the office of governor.

Sothell’s banishment of Colleton tempered his governing style. His administration in Charles Town was marked by substantial positive events.

  • Established just treatment of disliked foreigners (Huguenots).
  • Forbade supplying Indians with liquor and firearms.
  • Required licenses for all liquor retailers.
  • Provided for an organized militia and town watch.
  • Provided a store of gunpowder.
  • Granted a patent for a rice-husking machine.
  • Enacted a slave code, heavily based on the Barbadian. It included a provision for punishment of anyone who killed a slave.
1718-Bloodless Revolution

 Francis Yonge arrived in London to meet with the Proprietors. Yonge, a member of the Assembly, was sent to press the Colony’s case of grievances in person before the Lordships. He delivered a packet of letters written by Governor Johnson, Nicholas Trott and William Rhett. And then, Yonge waited for three months for a reply.

1780-The Seige of Charlestown.

Edward Rutledge

Edward Rutledge

Edward Rutledge, brother of Gov. Rutledge and signer of the Declaration of Independence, was captured by British cavalry with two other officers east of the Cooper. He was attempting to sneak out of the city with letters and communications to his brother and other officials.


Tuesday, May 3, 1791

The president had breakfast with Elizabeth Grimke Rutledge at her home on Broad Street (John Rutledge House). Mr. Rutledge (Chief Justice of the S.C. Supreme Court) was on the Circuits and not in the city.

116 broad street - john rutledge house

John Rutledge House, 116 Broad Street. Library of Congress.

Later in the day, at his lodgings, he

was visited about 2 oclcock, by a great number of the most respectable ladies of Charleston – the first honor of the kind I had ever experienced and it was flattering as it was singular.


Septima Poinsette Clark was born in Charleston, the second of eight children. Her father, once a slave, encouraged her to get an education. Clark attended public school, then worked to earn the money needed to attend the Avery Normal Institute, a private Charleston school for African Americans.

Septima_Poinsette_ClarkShe qualified as a teacher in 1916, but since Charleston did not hire black teachers, Clark was forced to take a position at a school on John’s Island. Three years later, she was teaching at the Avery Institute and joined the NAACP in an attempt to convince Charleston to hire black teachers.   Later, she moved to Columbia, and through the NAACP chapter there worked with Thurgood Marshall in a 1945 case that sought equal pay for black and white teachers. She described it as her “first effort in a social action challenging the status quo.”

Septima Clark’s work was commonly under-appreciated by Southern male activists. She became known as the “Queen mother” or “Grandmother” of the Civil Rights Movement in the United States. Martin Luther King, Jr. commonly referred to Clark as “The Mother of the Movement”. Clark’s argument for her position in the Civil Rights Movement was one that claimed “knowledge could empower marginalized groups in ways that formal legal equality couldn’t.”

To read more about her remarkable life and career as a Civil Rights pioneer, go to her page on the King Institute @ Stanford University.

Today In Charleston History: April 25

1660 – Restoration
Charles II

Charles II

Parliament meets and votes to restore Charles II to the English throne, ending 20 years of turmoil that started with the English Civil Wars.  The era of “Eat, Drink & Be Merry” began. 

1716Bloodless Revolution

Governor Craven returned to London. The Assembly asked Craven to plead their case of grievances against the Proprietors before the King, asking to become a Royal colony. Rev. Gideon Johnston accompanied Craven in a sloop out to the harbor to bid him farewell. During the return trip the sloop was swept over by a storm. Johnston drowned, and several days later his body washed up on the same bank of sand on which he had been marooned on the day he arrived in 1708.

Joel Roberts Poinsett

Joel Roberts Poinsett

Joel Roberts Poinsett was offered the position of special commissioner to South America. Secretary of State Robert Rush stated, “No one has better qualifications for this trust than yourself.”  

Poinsett declined the honor explaining to President James Monroe that he had recently accepted a seat in the legislature of South Carolina and could not resign it “without some more important motive than this commission presents.”

1850 – Burial of Calhoun

John C Calhoun was buried in the western cemetery of St. Phillip’s Church in an elaborate funeral ceremony.


Calhoun’s tomb in St. Philip’s cemetery

1860 – Democrat Convention

Opening prayer by Dr. Rev. John Bachman. Most of the day was spent arguing over ground rules for the convention. It was then announced that during the night, John S. Robinson, Vermont delegate, died in his sleep at the Mills House. The Convention adjourned in his honor.

Today In Charleston History: November 17

1719 – Bloodless Revolution

The Land Grant office was closed by the Proprietors. New settlers were now unable to claim land, while established land owners were able to claim the best tracts, staking out 800,000 acres. The promised grants on the Yemassee lands to hundreds of settlers were ordered to be surveyed into 12,000 acre tracts for the Proprietors’ use.

The leading citizens gathered in Charles Towns to repair the fortifications of Charles Town, and formed an association to the following effect:

That the Proprietors having pretended to repeal laws contrary to the charter and offered other hardships to the inhabitants of this country, they do resolve to choose an Assembly pursuant to the writs issued out and to support their representatives with their lives, and fortunes, and to stand by such resolutions as they shall take at the next Assembly.

Half Moon Battery - Charles Town fortifications

Half Moon Battery – Charles Town fortifications