A CHARLESTON TIMELINE BY DAYS
This page is always under construction with new information being added daily.
1766 -- Becoming increasingly alarmed at the ratio of the enslaved vs. white population in Charles Town, the Assembly imposed heavy import duties on all slaves brought into the colony as of this date.
1787 -- Arthur Middleton, a signer of the Declaration of Independence dies.
1807 -- The foreign slave trade ended per Federal law.
1838 -- Osceola arrives as a prisoner at Fort Moultrie.
1918 -- Mary A. Storfer, the new proprietress of the Timrod Inn (formerly the Commercial Club), announced in the News and Courier: "Many people have told us that the Timrod Inn fills a distinct place in the community, and indications are that our rooms will be in demand from the beginning. We shall open Monday morning and guests will be given desirable accommodations without delay."
1732 -- Thomas Whitmarsh, who had once worked for Benjamin Franklin in Philadelphia, published the first edition of the South Carolina Gazette.
1741 -- Feeling that the Great Conflagration of 1740 was a sign of God's displeasure of Charles Town's sinful society, Anglican evangelist George Whitfield wrote in an article that ran in the Gazette saying that even the colony's clergy were robbers who did not follow in "the Footsteps of our True Sheperd." He was soon thereafter arrested and upon his release, returned to England.
1752 -- Archibald Broun, who would go on to be a Patriot hero of the American Revolution, was born at Brounsfield Plantation, north of Charles Town. His gravesite is included in Charleston Raconteurs' Day on the Cooper River Tour.
1760 -- Gov. Lyttleton and his soldiers marched (somewhat) victoriously down Broad Street and at noon cannons fired to welcome the troops back to Charleston after having concluded a peace treaty with the Cherokees near Keowee. The treaty was hastily made as a raging smallpox epidemic was ravaging the tribe, and the soldiers feared catching it. Several days after their return, the city's worst epidemic to date of smallpox broke out within the colony.
1861 -- The "real" first shot of the Civil War (IMHO) was fired from the Morris Island/Fort Johnson area at a United States merchant ship named Star of the West that was bound for Fort Sumter, either to simply bring food and medical supplies to the Federal troops stationed there, or to also bring arms and reinforcements, depending on who you believe. No one will ever know.
1901 -- The Naval Appropriations Act provided funding for the development of a new Naval Base just north of Charleston along the banks of the Cooper River. It would become the state's driving economic force of the20th century.
1723 -- Sir William Rhett, one of the colony's leading men and the captain who captured the notorious Stede Bonnet and other pirates, died. We visit the pirates nomument on our Lost Charleston (Route 2) tour.
1760 -- A punishing smallpox epidemic breaks out in Charleston.
1773 -- Though claims vary, what may truly have been the first public museum in the colonies was established in The Charleston Museum.
1649 -- King Charles I of England went on trial, accused by Oliver Cromwell and the Puritan forces who emerged victorious from this mid-17th century civil war of high treason. His subsequent conviction and execution was one of the key factors in what eventually would become the first permanent English settlement of Charles Town some 30 years later.
1837 -- Sarah and Angelina Grimke begin the first of a six-week lecture series about slavery in New York Baptist churches. Though fiction, a great book about the Grimke sisters is The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd.
1994 -- Shannon Faulkner became the first woman to attend classes at The Citadel. She joined the cadet corps in August 1995, but dropped out about a week later, citing isolation and stress from the legal proceedings and her reception at the college.
1735 -- A troupe of traveling actors, in league with local musicians, staged the colony's first theatrical season in the "long room' of Shepheard's Tavern, located on the northeast corner of Broad and Church streets. The season opener was The Orphan, or the Unhappy Marriage and cost 40 shillings for a ticket.
2003 -- Leonardo DiCaprio, Steven Spielberg, Frank Abagnale and Tom Hanks attend a press conference in London before the UK premier of "Catch Me if You Can."
1649 -- Charles I is beheaded as Oliver Cromwell and his Puritan Party assume rule over England.
1662 -- Newly restored to the British throne, Charles II has the body of Oliver Cromwell exhumed on the 12th anniversary of his father's execution and beheads the corpse.
1770 -- Lt. Gov. William Bull recommended to the General Assembly the establishment of a provincial college, which became what we know today as the College of Charleston (and my Alma Mater).
1838 -- Osceola dies and is buried at Fort Moultrie.
1866 -- The melted fragments of St. Michael's bells were shipped back to England to be recast after their destruction during the Civil War.
1734 -- The South Carolina Gazette resumes publication under its new editor, Lewis Timothy.
1801-- Joseph Alston, who would become South Carolina's governor, married Theodosia Burr, the daughter of the nation's third Vice President, Aaron Burr. We visit their town house on Charleston Raconteurs' History Overview tour.
1861 -- The Illustrated London News ran an illustration of the lobby of the Charleston Hotel as part of its coverage of the impending Civil War. We visit the site of this Grande Dame of Charleston hospitality on our Lost Charleston (Route 1) Tour.
1794 -- Planter and Revolutionary War Patriot Aaron Loocock dies.
1736 -- The Dock Street Theatre presents its first performance, a comedy titled The Recruiting Officer.
1792 -- The first race at the new Washington Race Course (now Hampton Park) took place.
1864 -- The HL Hunley became the first submarine to successfully sink its target, the Housatonic. Though successfully completing their mission, the sub with its crew, never returned to shore and remained on the bottom of the ocean for the next 136 years.
1865 -- Gen. P.G.T, Beauregard calls for all Confederate troops to evacuate the city, loading any useful things aboard the last train out of town and destroying anything left that the enemy could use. As fires blaze across the peninsula, the city falls to Union troops.
1735 -- The first documented opera to be performed in America, Flora, or Hob in the Well, opened in the "long room" of Shepheard's Tavern on the northeast corner of Broad and Church street.
1865 -- As the last train transporting Confederate soldiers and supplies, a horrible explosion at the Northeastern Railroad Depot killed more than 250 desperate men, women and children scavenging whatever left-overs they could find.
1698 -- A fire broke out and spread so quickly thoughout town that over 48 hours that more than 50 families were left homeless.
1758 -- Lt. Col. Henry Bouquet, who author Walter J. Fraser Jr. (Charleston! Charleston!) called a "brash thirty-eight-year-old British soldier-of-fortune" demanded that the colonial Assembly pay for his officers' rents. The Assembly refused his request.
1711 -- Because the congregation of St. Philips Anglican Church was outgrowing its building at the corner of Broad and Meeting streets, the colonial Assembly passed an "Act for Erecting a New Brick Church" on the east side of Church Street, just above Queen Street.
1758 -- The Assembly denied Lt. Col. Henry Bouquet's demand that they pay for his soldiers' housing. Among those who were opposed were Peter Manigault, Christopher Gadsden, Charles Pinckney, Henry Laurens and Rawlins Lowndes, writing "Officers and Soldiers cannot, legally or constitutionally, be quarter'd in private Houses, without the special Consent of the Owners or Possessors of such Houses."
1960 -- Twenty-four black students from Burke High School staged a Civil Rights sit-in at the Kresse Department Store lunch counter on King Street, changing the city's dialogue about the issues facing racial equality in America.
1996 -- The Charleston Naval Base and Shipyard closes.
1740 -- Concerned about the ever-increasing ratio of enslaved blacks to whites, the Assembly imposed a prohibitively high import duty on African slaves.
1861 -- The first shots were fired at Fort Sumter. The Civil War had begun in Charleston Harbor.
1715 -- Good Friday. In response to the increase in settlers' enslaving Native Americans, the Yemasees, Creeks, Catawbas and Choctaw tribes together attacked a number of frontier settlements about 80 miles southwest of Charles Town. They slew about 100 people. One of them, trader Thomas Nairne, was roasted to death.
1865 -- Thousands of emancipated slaves marched in a parade to the old Washington Race Course, which served as a Union POW camp during the Civil War. They exhumed mass graves and reburied the Union dead with respect and ceremony, then celebrated their newfound freedom with speeches and a picnic. Some credit this celebration as the nation's first Memorial Day.
1898 -- Septima Poinsette Clark is born.
1738 -- The Gazette reported that several recently imported slaves had small pox and suggested that readers "take all imaginable care to prevent" its spread.
1721 -- Charlestonians welcomed South Carolina's first Royal Governor, Francis Nicholson, having won their efforts to become a colony of the Crown, rather than of the Lords Proprietors.
1735 -- Charles Lowndes, being heavily in debt, fatally shot himself in jail, where he was being held for his failure to financially support his estranged wife. As a gentleman, he had been allowed to keep his firearm during his incarceration.
1756 -- William Henry Lyttleton arrived in Charles Town aboard HMS Winchelsea to assume his new position as the colony's Royal Governor. In Chareleston! Charleston!, author Walter J. Fraser Jr. describes him as "a short, slim, thirty-one-year-old man, well connected with England's aristocracy by birth and marriage." A great crowd turned out to greet him, and Henry Laurens expressed the feelings of many: "We are much in want of a new Governor. We mean a good one."
1766 -- Elizabeth Thomas Broun dies and is buried in the St. James Goose Creek Chapel of Ease churchyard. Her gravesite is included on our Day on the Cooper River Tour.
1784 --- The Hebrew Benevolent Society of Charleston, the oldest Jewish charitable society in the United States, is founded.
1738 -- As the terrible smallpox epidemic of 1738 subsided, acting Royal Governor William Bull proclaimed June 26 as "a day of publick Fasting and Humiliation" to remember the many deaths in Charles Town.
1742 -- Arthur Middleton, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, is born.
1756 -- News reached Charles Town that England had declared war on France. Royal Gov. Lyttelton received the Assembly's support in raising funds for the war effort by raising taxes on run, bread and flour. Wealthy legislators, however, stopped short of further taxing real and chattel property.
1863 -- The Mercury opined: "The battes at Gettysburg, like all that have succeeded the first Manassas, eaves the Yahhkeke army undestroyed and nothing decided. Always there is some fatality, miscalculation or inadvetenance, which chouses us out of a complete victory." (Source: Seabrook Wilkinson in "The Way It Was 150 Years Ago: A disappointing lunch," in Charleston Mercury, July 2013, p.16)
1863 -- 650 members of the all-black (except for Col. Robert Gould Shaw) 54th Massachusetts Regiment attacked Battery Wagner on Morris Island in one of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War.
1937 -- The Rev. Daniel Jenkins dies.
1901 -- The city of Charleston sells the former Chicora Plantation, a few miles north of the city and along the Cooper River, to the U.S. Navy to create a base and shipyard.
1741 -- As reported later in the Gazette, an enslaved man named Boatswain was brutally excuted after being named as a co-conspirator in a arsonist's plot. The disturbing article shows evidence of the increasing fear whites had as the enslaved black majority of the colony grew larger.
1695 -- John Archdale, a Quaker, was appointed Governor of the Carolina colony.
1780 -- Capt. Archibald Broun, a Revolutionary hero of Brounsfield Plantation in Mt. Pleasant, married Mary Deas, the daughter of his wealthy neighbors, John and Elizabeth Allen Deas of Thoroughgood Plantation.
1764 -- Arthur Middleton marries Mary Izard, "a Lady who is one of the first of her sex for sense, politeness and every female accomplishment."
1694 -- In his will written on this date, Capt. John Coming leaves his entire estate to his widow, Affra Harleston Coming.
1863 -- Some time around 10:45 p.m., Union Maj. Gen. Quincy Gillmore sent a note to Confederate Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard demanding Charleston's immediate surrender or else at midnight he would commence firing from a new battery recently built between James and Morris islands to hold the canon known as the Swamp Angel.
1863 -- Union Maj. Gen. Quincy Gillmore began firing upon Charleston using the canon known as the Swamp Angel. It blew up on its 20th shot.
1863 -- The Swamp Angel explodes on its 20th shot of the evening.
1951 -- Seventy-three orphans leave the Charleston Orphanage for the last time before it is torn down to make room for a new Sears Department Store.
1782 -- In the waning days of the American Revolution, John Laurens was shot off his horse and mortally wounded.
1886 -- The largest earthquake ever recorded on the East Coast, estimated to have been a 7.2 on today's Richter Scale, struck Charleston.
1765 -- Christopher Gadsden, Thomas Lynch and John Rutledge set sail for the illegally called Stamp Act Congress in New York City. Gadsden, ever the ardent Patriot, served as chair of the committee that drafted resolutions condemning the act.
1739 -- The bloodiest slave revolt in colonial America began near what is today the Stono River Bridge on Highway 17, about 20 miles south of Charleston.
1859 -- L.E.A. Shier, sometimes known as the Trillium Angel, died aged four years, 11 months and 13 days, a victim of the "bilious fever" epidemic that was going around after an unusally hot, humid summer.
1859 -- L.E.A. Shier, 4, was buried at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Goose Creek.
1960 -- Hurricane Donna passes by the Carolina coastline, spawning a tornado that brought down three walls of the Bennett Rice Mill, c. 1844.
1752 -- The first breezes of what would become the Great Hurricane of 1752 began to pick up during the afternoon.
1752 -- One of the strongest hurricanes ever to strike the East Coast came ashore, blowing a large ship anchored in Charleston Harbor up Vanderhorst Creek (today's Water Street), striking the meeting house of a group of Baptists who had recently split from the city's main congregation, and finally coming to rest near Meeting Street.
1989 -- At midnight, the eye of Hurricane Hugo, a category 4 storm, passed over Cove Inlet between Mt. Pleasant and Sullivans Island.
1902 -- The Evening Post, in its coverage of the opening of the new Commercial Club, noted that the building's fourth floor was enclosed in glass that could be opened, "making a delightful resort to spend the evenings during the summer months."
1854 -- L.E.A. Shier was born to Aaron and Mary Shier of Goose Creek.
1838 -- James Matthews shares horrifying stories of being an enslaved person sent to the notorious "Sugar House" for punishment.
1768 -- In preparation for the upcoming Assembly elections, Charles Town's mechanics nominated candidates who opposed the Quartering Act, Stamp Act, and Sugar Act. Led by Patriot Christopher Gadsden, they met at the Liberty Tree "where many loyal, patriotic and constitutional toasts were drank." The company then marched on to Dillon's Tavern to continue the celebration.
1780 -- Henry Laurens earns the unique place as the only American to ever be held prisoner in the Tower of London, following his arrest for high treason.
1839 -- Susan M. Breaker dies and is buried at the Bethlehem Baptist Church, where she had been an active member for 40 years. We learn more of her story and visit her gravesite on our Day on the Cooper River Tour.
1935 -- Porgy & Bess, an opera by George Gershwin based on the novel Porgy by DuBose Heyward, opened on Broadway. Telling the story of the lives of African-American tennets on "Catfish Row," the play ran for 124 performances. The plot prominently features the lifes of members of Charleston's famed Mosquito Fleet.
1970 -- Having succumbed to termite damage and carefully demolished, the new Mills House Hotel, having been rebuilt as closely as possible to the original and using as much salvaged building materials as possible, reopened to the public.
1931 -- City Council created America's first historical zoning ordinance, protecting its 18th century core from demolitions and establishing the city Board of Architectural Review.
1866 -- Horse-drawn car service begins in Charleston.
1971 -- Popular aviator Bevo Howard struck a tree as he pulled out of a stunt at a charity airshow in Greenville, N.C., and was killed in the resulting crash.
1997 -- David Byrne, Cracker and Cowboy Mouth were among the bands that played at 96 WAVEFEST.
1774 -- Henry Middleton is elected President of the first Continental Congress.
2006 -- Bowens Island restaurant burned to the ground.
1765 -- An angry mob seeking the whereabouts of the destested tax stamps issued through the Stamp Act stormed a number of notable residences in downtown Charleston, including that of Henry Laurens, who said that under the guise of "Patriotism ... committed at length Burglary & Robbery." (Fraser Jr., West J. in Charleston! Charleston!, p. 109). We visit the site of Laurens' townhouse on our Lost Charleston tours.
1742 -- According to author Walter J. Fraser Jr. in Charleston! Charleston!, a visitor to Charles Town noted: "matters between the whites and the blacks here are such that one fears to be seen outside the house."
1765 -- Leaders of a rebel mob spread rumors that Charles Town's two local stamp agents, George Saxby and Caleb Lloyd, were hiding out at Fort Johnson on James Island. Over the next two days, the mob rampaged through the streets of Charles Town, threatening to kill the agents if they did not resign their office. (Source: Charleston, Charleston! by Walter J. Fraser Jr.)
1718 -- Chief Justice Nicholas Trott convened the Court of the Vice Admiralty in a private residence to try the case of the pirates who had recently been captured along with Stede Bonnet.
1765 -- Because of the murderous threats by an angry rebel mob two days before, Charles Town's stamp agents, George Saxby and Caleb Lloyd, announced that to ensure the peace of the province (and save their lives), they would not enforce the hated Stamp Act. The Sons of Liberty poured into the streets and unfurled the blue flag of "Liberty." (Source: Charleston, Charleston! by Walter J. Fraser Jr.)
1718 -- Gov. Robert Johnson took four ships to attack pirates off the coast and a dramatic battle ensured.
1860 -- News of Abraham Lincoln's election reaches Charleston, fueling the call of secessionists who give impassioned speeches at S.C. Institute Hall on Meeting Street.
1718 -- Twenty-nine of Stede Bonnet's crew were hanged at what is now White Point Gardens.
1860 -- Two days after news of Abraham Lincoln's election as president, pro-secessionists stage a rally at the S.C. Institute Hall, next to the Circular Congregational Church on Meeting Street.
1718 -- Stede Bonnet was stood trial for piracy with Judge Nicholas Trott presidiing.
1719 -- In what some call America's first Revolution, Carolina's colonial Assembly met in Charles Town and disavowed further allegiance to the Lords Prioprietors in favor of becoming a Royal Colony. The Assembly declared itself "the government until His Majesty's pleasure be known."
1740 -- One of Charleston's most destructive fires began around 2 p.m. "in a Sadler's House" at the corner of Broad and Church streets, destroying not only private residences, but the heart of the city's commercial warehouse district.
1779 -- Lt. Col. William Washington transfers to Charleston during the American Revolution. His former residence on South Battery is included on our downtown walking tours.
1718 -- The 19 pirates captured by Gov. Robert Johnson were tried before Judge Nicholas Trott. A monument recalling this event is included in our downtown walking tours.
1737 -- Charles Theodore Pachelbel arrives in Charleston.
1773 -- The Patriot "Club Forty-Five" met at the Liberty Tree to rally the cry for independence.
1730 -- William Moultrie, a future General and Patriot hero, was born.
1824 -- The first Reform Jewish congregation in the nation was founded in Charleston by 47 members of the Kahal Kadesh Beth Elohim Synagogue.
1730 -- Edward Rutledge, a future S.C. Governor and the youngest signer of the Declaration of Independence, was born in Charleston. His residence is included on our Lost Charleston Tour (Route 1).
1681 -- Lord Proprietor Anthony Ashley Cooper was tried for treason in England.
1757 -- Dr. Robert Broun dies and is buried in the St. James Goose Creek Chapel of Ease churchyard. We visit his gravesite on our Day on the Cooper River Tour.
1802 -- The future wife of S.C. Gov. Joseph Alston, Theodosia Burr, arrives in Charleston. Her former residence is included in our downtown walking tours.
1936 -- Life magazine, created by Henry R. Luce, published its first issue. Charleston Raconteurs' Day on the Cooper River tour includes a visit to the Luce family cemetery on the high bluff of beautiful Mepkin Plantation.
1707 -- Land was set aside between the Combahee and Savannah rivers for the Native American Yemassee tribe.
1718 -- Judge Nicholas Trott sentenced the 19 pirates captured by Gov. Robert Johnson to death by hanging. We visit their memorial stone on our downtown walking tours.
1928 -- The cornerstone for a new bank was laid at the historic former site of Shepheard's Tavern at the northeast corner of Broad and Church streets.
1757 -- The American Navy was established, an entity that would play a huge role in Charleston's -- indeed, in South Carolina's -- 20th century history as well as the 18th.
1737 -- An indentured white servant, Samuel Dyssli, wrote home to his family saying "I am over here, thank God, hale and hearty, and doing at present quite nicely. I am working with an English master. He gives me every week ... 50 shillings, and ... plentiful ... food and drink."
1698 -- Affra Harleston Coming deeds 17 acres of land south of George Street to St. Philips Church. It is known as the Glebe Lands, or lands belonging to the church.
1718 -- Stede Bonnet was hanged for piracy at White Point Gardens.
1797 -- After suffering for 18 years from an accidental bayonette wound he received at the Siege of Savannah, Patriot Capt. Archibald Broun (aka Brown) died at Blessing Plantation. During distinguished career, he negotiated with the French for miltary supplies and equipment, and became one of the five wealthiest land owners in St. Thomas Parish (near today's Goose Creek area). His grave is included on Charleston Raconteurs' Day on the Cooper River Tour.
1861 -- The largest, most destructive fire in the history of Charleston began near Hasell and East Bay streets, swept west to Meeting Street, down to Broad Street, and all the way over to the Ashley River side of the peninsula, burning more than 540 acres, 575 homes, many businesses and five churches, including the Pinckney Mansion, S.C. Institute Hall, Circular Congregational Church, St. Andrew's Hall, and the Cathedral of St. John and St. Finbar. Property damage was estimated to be between $5 million and $8 million.
1897 -- The first local large-scale party featuring roasted oysters was sponsored by the Grand Lodge of Ancient Masons on Remley’s Point.
1730 -- Robert Johnson arrives as Charles Town's first Royal Governor.
1987 -- Septima Poinsette Clark dies. We discuss the life and legacy of Mrs. Clark on our Sea Islands of Charleston Tour.
1761 -- Early Patriot leader Christopher Gadsden wrote an editorial in the Gazette accussing Lt. Col. James Grant, a Scottish officer in the British Army, of not having been aggressive enough in his attacks on the Cherokees, claiming he did not permit his men "to cut the throats of as many as they could have." In Charleston! Charleston!, author Walter J. Fraser Jr. suggests the criticism may have been fueled, at least in part, by "personal jealousies increasingly common in relations between British regular officers and provincial officers" (p. 95).
1765 -- Amid rumors of a possible slave rebellion, Acting Governor William Bull called an emergency Council meeting. A hundred militia men were deployed to patrol the city and the captains of ships moored in the harbor had their sailors stand sentinel at night. The holidays passed peacefully, though the patrols continued both day and night through early January (Charleston! Charleston! by West Fraser Jr., p. 113).
1860 -- Some 160 state delegates gather in Columbia to determine the secession question. The session is interrupted, however by an outbreak of smallpox. The delegates reconvene three days later in Charleston.
1743 -- Royal Governor James Glen arrived in Charles Town aboard the Tarter, afterward describing the colony as being "... in Ashes, Defenseless, Declining."
1860 -- South Carolina delegates vote unanimously for seccession at St. Andrew's Hall on Broad Street. The document was drawn up and signed later that evening before a cheering crowd at S.C. Institute Hall on Meeting Street.
1719 -- The Assembly proclaimed Gen. James Moore Jr., who had led a successful attack on the Tuscarora tribe during the Yemassee War, as provisional governor until they received further directives from the Crown.
1860 -- In what some claim to have been the "real" start of the Civil War, the Charleston militia ousted a small group of civilian laborers and two Union officers from Castle Pinckney, making it the first Federal military installation to seized by the Confederates.
1698 -- Affra Harleston Coming divides her estate between her nephew, John Harleston, and her husband's half-nephew, Elias Ball.
1899 -- The South Carolina Jockey Club disbands and donates its property, the former Washington Race Course, to the South Carolina Library Society.
1860 -- Ten days after South Carolina seceded from the Union, the state militia seized the United States Arsenal in Charleston.