charleston blackbeard

History of Charleston

When the Stuart Kings were restored to the English throne after the period of Oliver Cromwell’s ‘’rule’’, Charles II’s solution to rewarding his generals with other than money was to give them title to Carolina. The Fundamental Constitution of Carolina was written in 1699 by John Locke and settlers began to arrive at the Ashley River in 1670. They named the settlement they established on the west bank of the river after their monarch, Charles Town.

Within a year for defensive reasons they moved across the river to build on the peninsula between the two rivers, Ashley and Cooper. The Constitution guaranteed tolerance and as a result French Huguenots and Sephardic Jews soon arrived to create quite a diverse community. It seems the defenses were not as good as they might have been because the pirate Blackbeard attacked and was able to take hostages for ransom.

Charleston, South Carolina

In order to get more control the British Crown made Charles Town a Crown Colony in 1720 and nine years later King George bought out the existing proprietors. The settlement continued to grow, trading with the Choctaw Indians in alliance against the French. Local prosperity was provided by the cultivation of rice, cotton and indigo.

What is the oldest college in the USA opened in 1770 and a museum, again the oldest in the USA, three years later.

Charleston was attacked in 1776 by a British fleet in response for efforts to become independent; that attack failed by the British took control after a 40 day siege early in 1780 for two years. Shortly afterwards it was renamed Charleston.

Many decades later Abraham Lincoln became President of the USA at which point Charleston was where South Carolina announced its intention to become an independent commonwealth. Shortly afterwards the Civil War began with the bombardment of Fort Sumter by Confederate Forces in April 1861. Unionists blockaded Charleston later in the year and the struggle continued locally until 1865. During that time the USS Housatonic was sunk in the harbor by the submarine Hunley which itself still lies below the water in Charleston.

Charleston took a fairly tolerant approach to the local racial issues even though it is in the Deep South. The Union victory ended civil strife at least on the battlefield.

Recovery from the Civil War was fairly slow but the relative lack of damage to historical architecture has helped make Charleston the attraction it is today. With few resources buildings were repaired rather than replaced and the reward is being reaped today.

Gradually Charleston’s dependence on agriculture with industry becoming more important; a naval dockyard opened in 1904 and industrial and port activity grew as a result. A century later of course tourism plays a major role in the economy with 4.5 million visitors annually adding over $3 billion to the local economy. Numbers seem certain to rise whether tourists are interested in history and culture, cuisine or the natural beauty of is beaches and ocean. Plenty for everyone.