Place:Charleston, Charleston, South Carolina, United States

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NameCharleston
Alt namesCharles City and Portsource: Canby, Historic Places (1984) I, 173
Charles Townesource: Canby, Historic Places (1984) I, 173; Encyclopædia Britannica (1988) III, 126; USGS, GNIS Digital Gazetteer (1994) GNIS45002693
TypeCity
Coordinates32.767°N 79.917°W
Located inCharleston, South Carolina, United States     (1670 - )
Contained Places
Circuit court district
Charleston (district)
source: Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names
source: Family History Library Catalog


the text in this section is copied from an article in Wikipedia

Charleston is the oldest and largest city in the U.S. state of South Carolina, the county seat of Charleston County, and the principal city in the Charleston–North Charleston–Summerville Metropolitan Statistical Area. The city lies just south of the geographical midpoint of South Carolina's coastline and is located on Charleston Harbor, an inlet of the Atlantic Ocean formed by the confluence of the Ashley, Cooper, and Wando rivers. Charleston had an estimated population of 134,875 in 2017. The estimated population of the Charleston metropolitan area, comprising Berkeley, Charleston, and Dorchester counties, was 761,155 residents in 2016, the third-largest in the state and the 78th-largest metropolitan statistical area in the United States.

Charleston was founded in 1670 as Charles Town, honoring of England. Its initial location at Albemarle Point on the west bank of the Ashley River (now Charles Towne Landing) was abandoned in 1680 for its present site, which became the fifth-largest city in North America within ten years. Despite its size, it remained unincorporated throughout the colonial period; its government was handled directly by a colonial legislature and a governor sent by London. Election districts were organized according to Anglican parishes, and some social services were managed by Anglican wardens and vestries. Charleston adopted its present spelling with its incorporation as a city in 1783 at the close of the Revolutionary War. Population growth in the interior of South Carolina influenced the removal of the state government to Columbia in 1788, but the port city remained among the ten largest cities in the United States through the 1840 census. Historians estimate that "nearly half of all Africans brought to America arrived in Charleston", most at Gadsden's Wharf. The only major antebellum American city to have a majority-enslaved population, Charleston was controlled by an oligarchy of white planters and merchants who successfully forced the federal government to revise its 1828 and 1832 tariffs during the Nullification Crisis and launched the Civil War in 1861 by seizing the Arsenal, Castle Pinckney, and Fort Sumter from their federal garrisons.

Known for its rich history, well-preserved architecture, distinguished restaurants, and hospitable people, Charleston is a popular tourist destination. It has received numerous accolades, including "America's Most Friendly [City]" by [[Wikipedia:Travel + Leisure|Travel + Leisure]] in 2011 and in 2013 and 2014 by Condé Nast Traveler, and also "the most polite and hospitable city in America" by Southern Living magazine. In 2016, Charleston was ranked the "World's Best City" by [[Wikipedia:Travel + Leisure|Travel + Leisure]].

Contents

History

the text in this section is copied from an article in Wikipedia

Colonial era (1670–1786)

After was restored to the English throne in 1660, he granted the chartered Province of Carolina to eight of his loyal friends, known as the Lords Proprietors, on March 24, 1663. It took seven years before the group arranged for settlement expeditions. In 1670, Governor William Sayle brought over several shiploads of settlers from Bermuda, which lies due east of Charleston although closer to Cape Hatteras in North Carolina, and Barbados in the eastern Caribbean. These settlers established Charles Town at Albemarle Point on the west bank of the Ashley River a few miles northwest of the present-day city center. Charles Town became English-speaking America's first comprehensively planned town with governance, settlement, and development to follow a visionary plan known as the Grand Model prepared for the Lords Proprietors by John Locke. Because the Carolina's Fundamental Constitutions was never ratified, however, Charles Town was never incorporated during the colonial period. The British Crown did not approve the one attempt to do so in the 1720s.[1] Instead, local ordinances were passed by the provincial government, with day-to-day administration handled by the wardens and vestries of and Anglican parishes.[1]

At the time of contact, the area was inhabited by the Cusabo Indians. The settlers declared war on them in October 1671. The Charlestonians initially allied with the Westo, a slaving northern tribe that had grown powerful trading for guns with the colonists in Virginia. The Westo had made enemies of nearly every other tribe in the region, however, and the English turned on them in 1679. Destroying the Westo by 1680, the settlers were able to use their improved relations with the Cusabo and other tribes to trade, recapture runaway slaves, and engage in slaving raids of Spanish-allied areas.

The Earl of Shaftesbury, one of the Lords Proprietors, proclaimed that it would soon become a "great port towne". Instead, the initial settlement quickly dwindled away and disappeared while another village—established by the settlers on Oyster Point at the confluence of the Ashley and Cooper Rivers around 1672—thrived; this settlement formally replaced the original Charles Town in 1680. (The original site is now commemorated as Charles Towne Landing.) Not only was this location more defensible, but it also offered access to a fine natural harbor, which accommodated trade with the West Indies. The new town was the 5th-largest in North America by 1690. On Carolina's southern coast, transportation between the early communities by river and sea was so convenient that Charleston was the only court needed until the late 1750s, but difficulty in transport and communications with the north meant its settlers were effectively independent of Charles Town as late as the governorship of Philip Ludwell; even then, the north was controlled through an appointed deputy governor. On December 7, 1710, the Lords Proprietors decided to separate the Province of North Carolina from Charles Town's government, although they continued to own and control both regions.

A smallpox outbreak hit in 1698, followed by an earthquake in February 1699 whose ensuing fire destroyed about a third of the town. During rebuilding, a yellow fever outbreak killed about 15% of the remaining inhabitants. Charles Town suffered between 5 and 8 major yellow fever outbreaks over the first half of the 18th century. It developed a deserved reputation as one of the least healthy locations in British North America for whites, although mistaken observations over the period led some doctors to think that blacks had a natural immunity to the disease. Both black and white locals appear to have developed a general immunity to the disease by 1750, with future outbreaks (lasting until 1871) tending to kill only new arrivals, prompting its local name as "stranger's fever". Malaria — locally known as "country fever" since yellow fever was largely confined to Charles Town and the coast — was endemic. Although it did not have the high fatalities of yellow fever, it caused much illness and was also a major health problem through most of the city's history before dying out in the 1950s after use of pesticides.


Charles Town was fortified according to a plan developed in 1704 under Governor Nathaniel Johnson. The early settlement was often subject to attack from sea and land. Both Spain and France contested England's claims to the region. Native Americans and pirates both raided it, though the Yamasee War of the 1710s did not quite reach it.

On September 5–6, 1713 (Julian) a violent Hurricane passed over Charles Town. The Circular Congregational Church manse was damaged during the storm in which church records were lost. Much of Charles Town was flooded as " the Ashley and Cooper rivers became one". At least seventy lives were lost. The storm was more severe to the North of Charles Town. This storm created a new inlet of Currituck five miles south of the existing one which later became the accepted dividing line border between North Carolina and Virginia.

Charles Town was besieged by the pirate "Blackbeard" for several days in May 1718; his pirates plundered merchant ships and seized the passengers and crew of the Crowley. Blackbeard released his hostages and left in exchange for a chest of medicine from Governor Robert Johnson.

Around 1719, the town's name began to be generally written Charlestown and, excepting those fronting the Cooper River, the old walls were largely removed over the next decade. Charlestown was a center for inland colonization of South Carolina, but remained the southernmost point of English settlement on the American mainland until the Province of Georgia was established in 1732. The first settlers primarily came from England and its colonies on Barbados and Bermuda. The latter planters brought African slaves with them who had been purchased in the islands. Early immigrants to the city included Protestant French, Scottish, Irish, and Germans, as well as hundreds of Jews, predominately Sephardi from England and the Netherlands. As late as 1830, Charleston's Jewish community was the largest and wealthiest in America.[2] Because of the struggles of the English Reformation and particularly because the papacy long recognized 's son as the rightful king of England, Scotland, and Ireland, Roman Catholics were prohibited from settling in South Carolina throughout the colonial period. (Catholic emancipation did not proceed in earnest until after the onset of the American Revolution.)

By 1708, however, the majority of the colony's population were black Africans. They had been brought to Charlestown on the Middle Passage, first as "servants" and then as slaves. Of the estimated 400,000 Africans transported to North America for sale as slaves, 40% are thought to have landed at Sullivan's Island off Charlestown, a "hellish Ellis Island of sorts", where they were held in a structure of by called the lazaretto or pest-house for a minimum of 10 days. This structure was demolished at the end of the 18th century.[3] As there is no official monument, the writer Toni Morrison organized a privately funded commemorative bench. The Bakongo, Mbundu, Wolof, Mende, and Malinke peoples formed the largest groups of Africans brought through here. Free people of color also arrived from the West Indies, where wealthy whites took black consorts and color lines were (especially early on) looser among the working class. In 1767 Gadsden's Wharf was constructed at the city port on the Cooper River; it ultimately extended 840 feet and was able to accommodate six ships at a time. Many slaves were sold from here. Devoted to plantation agriculture, the state of South Carolina had a black majority from the colonial period until after the Great Migration of the early 20th century.


At the foundation of the town, the principal items of commerce were pine timber and pitch for ships and tobacco. The early economy developed around the deerskin trade, in which colonists used alliances with the Cherokee and Creek peoples to secure the raw material used for Europeans' buckskin pants, gloves, and bookbindings. Records show an average annual export of 54,000 skins for the years from 1699 to 1715. During the height of the trade from 1739 to 1761, of deerskin were exported through Charlestown, representing between 0.5–1.25 million deer. To a lesser extent, beaver pelts were also exported. At the same time, Indians were used to enslave one another. From 1680 to 1720, approximately 40,000 native men, women, and children were sold through the port, principally to the West Indies but also to Boston and other cities in British North America. The Lowcountry planters did not keep Indian slaves, considering them too prone to escape or revolt, and instead used the proceeds of their sale to purchase black African slaves for their own plantations. The slaveraiding—and the European firearms it introduced—helped destabilize Spanish Florida and French Louisiana in the 1700s during the War of the Spanish Succession.[4] But it also provoked the Yamasee War of the 1710s that nearly destroyed the colony, after which they largely abandoned the Indian slave trade.[5]

The area's unsuitability for tobacco prompted the Lowcountry planters to experiment with other cash crops. The profitability of growing rice led the planters to pay premiums for slaves from the "Rice Coast" who knew its cultivation; their descendants make up the Gullah. Slaves imported from the Caribbean showed the planter George Lucas's daughter Eliza how to raise and use indigo for dyeing in 1747. Within three years, British subsidies and high demand had already made it a leading export.

Throughout this period, the slaves were sold aboard the arriving ships or at ad hoc gatherings in town's taverns.[6] Runaways and minor rebellions prompted the 1739 Security Act requiring all white men to carry weapons at all times (even to church on Sundays), but before it had fully taken effect, the Cato or Stono Rebellion broke out. The white community had recently been decimated by a malaria outbreak and the rebels killed about 25 white people before being stopped by the colonial militia; the rebellion resulted in whites killing 35 to 50 black people.

The planters attributed the violence to recently imported Africans and agreed to a 10-year moratorium on slave importation through Charlestown, relying on the communities they already possessed. The 1740 Negro Act also tightened controls, requiring one white for every ten blacks on any plantation and banning slaves from assembling together, growing their own food, earning money, or learning to read. Drums were banned owing to Africans' use of them for signaling, although slaves continued to be permitted string and other instruments. When the moratorium expired and Charlestown reopened to the slave trade in 1750, the memory of the Stono Rebellion meant that traders avoided purchasing slaves from the Congo and Angola.

By the mid-18th century, Charlestown, described as "the Jerusalem of American slavery, its capital and center of faith",[3] was the hub of the Atlantic trade of England's southern colonies. Even with the decade-long moratorium, its customs processed around 40% of the African slaves brought to North America between 1700 and 1775. and about half up until the end of the African trade. From 1767, many were sold from the newly constructed Gadsden's Wharf, where six slave ships at a time could tie up. The plantations and the economy based on them made this the wealthiest city in British North America and the largest in population south of Philadelphia. In 1770, the city's 11,000 inhabitants—half slaves—made it the 4th-largest port after Boston, New York, and Philadelphia. The elite used this wealth to create cultural and social development. America's first theater building was constructed here in 1736; it was later replaced by today's Dock Street Theater. StMichael's was erected in 1753. Benevolent societies were formed by the Huguenots, free people of color, Germans, and Jews. The Library Society was established in 1748 by well-born young men who wanted to share the financial cost to keep up with the scientific and philosophical issues of the day. This group also helped establish the town's college in 1770, the first in the colony. Until it was acquired by the state university system in 1970, the College of Charleston was the oldest municipally supported college in the United States.

American Revolution (1776–1783)

Delegates for the Continental Congress were elected in 1774, and South Carolina declared its independence from Britain on the steps of the Exchange. As part of the Southern theater of the American Revolution, the British attacked the town in force three times, generally assuming that the settlement had a large base of Loyalists who would rally to their cause once given some military support. The loyalty of the white southerners had largely been forfeited, however, by British legal cases (such as the 1772 Somerset case which marked the prohibition of slavery in England and Wales; a significant milestone in the Abolitionist struggle) and military tactics (such as Dunmore's Proclamation in 1775) that promised the emancipation of the planter's slaves; these efforts did however, unsurprisingly win the allegiance of thousands of Black Loyalists.

The Battle of Sullivan's Island saw the British fail to capture a partially constructed palmetto palisade from Col. Moultrie's militia regiment on June 28, 1776. The Liberty Flag used by Moultrie's men formed the basis of the later South Carolina flag, and the victory's anniversary continues to be commemorated as Carolina Day.

Making the capture of Charlestown their chief priority, the British sent Gen. Clinton, who began his siege of Charleston on April 1, 1780 with about 14,000 troops and 90 ships. Bombardment began on March 11. The rebels, led by Gen. Benjamin Lincoln, had about 5,500 men and inadequate fortifications to repel the forces against them. After the British cut his supply lines and lines of retreat at the battles of Monck's Corner and Lenud's Ferry, Lincoln's surrender on May 12 became the greatest American defeat of the war.

The British continued to hold Charlestown for over a year following their defeat at Yorktown in 1781, although they alienated local elites by refusing to restore full civil government. General Nathanael Greene had entered the state after Cornwallis's pyrrhic victory at Guilford Courthouse and kept the area under a kind of siege. General Alexander Leslie, commanding Charlestown, requested a truce in March 1782 to purchase food for his garrison and the town's inhabitants. Greene refused and formed a brigade under Mordecai Gist to oppose British forays. One such foray in August led to a British victory at the Combahee River, but Charlestown was finally evacuated in December 1782. Gen. Greene presented the leaders of the town with the Moultrie Flag.

From the summer of 1782, French planters fleeing the Haitian Revolution began arriving in the port with their slaves. The major outbreak of yellow fever that occurred in Philadelphia the next year probably spread there from an epidemic these refugees brought to Charleston, although it was not publicly reported at the time. Over the 19th century, the health officials and newspapers of the town came under repeated criticism from Northerners, fellow Southerners, and one another for covering up epidemics as long as possible in order to keep up the city's maritime traffic. The distrust and mortal risk meant that between July and October each year communication nearly shut down between the city and the surrounding countryside, which was less susceptible to yellow fever.

Antebellum era (1783–1861)

The spelling Charleston was adopted in 1783 as part of the city's formal incorporation.

Although Columbia replaced it as the state capital in 1788, Charleston became even more prosperous as Eli Whitney's 1793 invention of the cotton gin sped the processing of the crop over 50 times. The development made short-staple cotton profitable and opened the upland Piedmont region to slave-based cotton plantations, previously restricted to the Sea Islands and Lowcountry. Britain's Industrial Revolution—initially built upon its textile industry—took up the extra production ravenously and cotton became Charleston's major export commodity in the 19th century. The Bank of South Carolina, the second-oldest building in the nation to be constructed as a bank, was established in 1798. Branches of the First and Second Bank of the United States were also located in Charleston in 1800 and 1817.

Throughout the Antebellum Period, Charleston continued to be the only major American city with a majority-slave population.[7] The city widespread use of slaves as workers was a frequent subject of writers and visitors: a merchant from Liverpool noted in 1834 that "almost all the working population are Negroes, all the servants, the carmen & porters, all the people who see at the stalls in Market, and most of the Journeymen in trades". American traders had been prohibited from equipping the Atlantic slave trade in 1794 and all importation of slaves was banned in 1808, but American ships long refused to permit British inspection, and smuggling remained common. Much more important was the domestic slave trade, which boomed as the Deep South was developed in new cotton plantations. As a result of the trade, there was a forced migration of more than one million slaves from the Upper South to the Lower South in the antebellum years. During the early 19th century, the first dedicated slave markets were founded in Charleston, mostly near Chalmers & State streets.[6] Many domestic slavers used Charleston as a port in what was called the coastwise trade, traveling to such ports as Mobile and New Orleans.

Slave ownership was the primary marker of class and even the town's freedmen and free people of color typically kept slaves if they had the wealth to do so. Visitors commonly remarked on the sheer number of blacks in Charleston and their seeming freedom of movement, though in fact—mindful of the Stono Rebellion and the violent slave revolution that established Haiti—the whites closely regulated the behavior of both slaves and free people of color. Wages and hiring practices were fixed, identifying badges were sometimes required, and even work songs were sometimes censored. Punishment was handled out of sight by the city's Work House, whose fees netting the municipal government thousands a year. In 1820, a state law mandated that each individual act of freeing a slave henceforth legislative approval, effectively halting the practice.[8]

The effects of slavery were pronounced on white society as well. The high cost of 19th-century slaves and their high rate of return combined to institute an oligarchic society controlled by about ninety interrelated families, where 4% of the free population controlled half of the wealth, and the lower half of the free population—unable to compete with owned or rented slaves—held no wealth at all.[7] The white middle class was minimal: Charlestonians generally disparaged hard work as the lot of slaves. All the slaveholders taken together held 82% of the city's wealth and almost all non-slaveholders were poor.[7] Olmsted considered their civic elections "entirely contests of money and personal influence" and the oligarchs dominated civic planning: the lack of public parks and amenities was noted, as was the abundance of private gardens in the wealthy's walled estates.

In the 1810s, the town's churches intensified their discrimination against their black parishioners, culminating in Bethel Methodist's 1817 construction of a hearse house over its black burial ground. 4,376 black Methodists joined Morris Brown in establishing Hampstead Church, the African Methodist Episcopal church now known as Mother Emanuel.[9] State and city laws prohibited black literacy, limited black worship to daylight hours, and required a majority of any church's parishioners be white. In June 1818, 140 black church members at Hampstead Church were arrested and eight of its leaders given fines and ten lashes; police raided the church again in 1820 and leaned on it in 1821.

In 1822, members of the church, led by Denmark Vesey, a lay preacher[9] and carpenter who had bought his freedom after winning a lottery, planned an uprising and escape to Haiti—initially for Bastille Day—that failed when one slave revealed the plot to his master. Over the next month, the city's intendant (mayor) James Hamilton Jr. organized a militia for regular patrols, initiated a secret and extrajudicial tribunal to investigate, and hanged 35 and exiled 35[9] or 37 slaves to Spanish Cuba for their involvement. In a sign of Charleston's antipathy to abolitionists, a white co-conspirator pled for leniency from the court on the grounds that his involvement had been motivated only by greed and not by any sympathy with the slaves' cause. Governor Thomas Bennett Jr. had pressed for more compassionate and Christian treatment of slaves but his own had been found involved Vesey's planned uprising. Hamilton was able to successfully campaign for more restrictions on both free and enslaved blacks: South Carolina required free black sailors to be imprisoned while their ships were in Charleston Harbor though international treaties eventually required the United States to quash the practice; free blacks were banned from returning to the state if they left for any reason; slaves were given a 9:15 pm curfew; the city razed Hampstead Church to the ground[10][11] and erected a new arsenal. This structure later was the basis of the Citadel's first campus. The AME congregation built a new church but in 1834 the city banned it and all black worship services, following Nat Turner's 1831 rebellion in Virginia. The estimated 10% of slaves who came to America as Muslims never had a separate mosque. Slaveholders sometimes provided them with beef rations in place of pork in recognition of religious traditions.

In 1832, South Carolina passed an ordinance of nullification, a procedure by which a state could, in effect, repeal a federal law; it was directed against the most recent tariff acts. Soon, federal soldiers were dispensed to Charleston's forts, and five United States Coast Guard cutters were detached to Charleston Harbor "to take possession of any vessel arriving from a foreign port, and defend her against any attempt to dispossess the Customs Officers of her custody until all the requirements of law have been complied with." This federal action became known as the Charleston incident. The state's politicians worked on a compromise law in Washington to gradually reduce the tariffs.

On 27 April 1838, a massive fire broke out around 9:00 in the evening. It raged until noon the next day, damaging over 1,000 buildings, a loss estimated at $3 million at the time. In efforts to put the fire out, all the water in the city pumps was used up. The fire ruined businesses, several churches, a new theater, and the entire market except for the fish section. Most famously, Charleston's Trinity Church was burned. Another important building that fell victim was the new hotel that had been recently built. Many houses were burnt to the ground. The damaged buildings amounted to about one-fourth of all the businesses in the main part of the city. The fire rendered penniless many who were wealthy. Several prominent store owners died attempting to save their establishments. When the many homes and business were rebuilt or repaired, a great cultural awakening occurred. In many ways, the fire helped put Charleston on the map as a great cultural and architectural center. Previous to the fire, only a few homes were styled as Greek Revival; many residents decided to construct new buildings in that style after the conflagration. This tradition continued and made Charleston one of the foremost places to view Greek Revival architecture. The Gothic Revival also made a significant appearance in the construction of many churches after the fire that exhibited picturesque forms and reminders of devout European religion.

By 1840, the Market Hall and Sheds, where fresh meat and produce were brought daily, became a hub of commercial activity. The slave trade also depended on the port of Charleston, where ships could be unloaded and the slaves bought and sold. The legal importation of African slaves had ended in 1808, although smuggling was significant. However, the domestic trade was booming. More than one million slaves were transported from the Upper South to the Deep South in the antebellum years, as cotton plantations were widely developed through what became known as the Black Belt. Many slaves were transported in the coastwise slave trade, with slave ships stopping at ports such as Charleston.

Civil War (1861–1865)

Following the election of Abraham Lincoln, the South Carolina General Assembly voted on December 20, 1860 to secede from the Union. On December 27, Castle Pinckney was surrendered by its garrison to the state militia and, on January 9, 1861, Citadel cadets opened fire on the USSStar of the West as it entered Charleston Harbor.

The first full battle of the American Civil War occurred on April 12, 1861 when shore batteries under the command of General Beauregard opened fire on the held Fort Sumter in Charleston harbor. After a 34-hour bombardment, Major Robert Anderson surrendered the fort.

On December 11, 1861, an enormous fire burned over of the city.

Union control of the sea permitted the repeated bombardment of the city, causing vast damage.[12] Although Admiral Du Pont's naval assault on the town's forts in April 1863 failed, the Union navy's blockade shut down most commercial traffic. Over the course of the war, some blockade runners got through but not a single one made it into or out of the Charleston Harbor between August 1863 and March 1864. The early submarine H.L. Hunley made a night attack on the on February 17, 1864.

General Gillmore's land assault in July 1864 was unsuccessful but the fall of Columbia and advance of General William T. Sherman's army through the state prompted the Confederates to evacuate the town on February 17, 1865, burning the public buildings, cotton warehouses, and other sources of supply before their departure. Union troops moved into the city within the month. The War Department recovered what federal property remained and also confiscated the campus of the Citadel Military Academy and used it as a federal garrison for the next 17 years. The facilities were finally returned to the state and reopened as a military college in 1882 under the direction of Lawrence E. Marichak.

Postbellum (1865–1945)

After the defeat of the Confederacy, federal forces remained in Charleston during Reconstruction. The war had shattered the city's prosperity, but the African-American population surged (from 17,000 in 1860 to over 27,000 in 1880) as freedmen moved from the countryside to the major city. Blacks quickly left the Southern Baptist Church and resumed open meetings of the African Methodist Episcopal and AME Zion churches. They purchased dogs, guns, liquor, and better clothes—all previously banned—and ceased yielding the sidewalks to whites.[13] Despite the efforts of the state legislature to halt manumissions, Charleston had already had a large class of free people of color as well. At the onset of the war, the city had 3,785 free people of color, many of mixed race, making up about 18% of the city's black population and 8% of its total population. Many were educated and practiced skilled crafts;[14] they quickly became leaders of South Carolina's Republican Party and its legislators. Men who had been free people of color before the war comprised 26% of those elected to state and federal office in South Carolina from 1868 to 1876.

By the late 1870s, industry was bringing the city and its inhabitants back to a renewed vitality; new jobs attracted new residents. As the city's commerce improved, residents worked to restore or create community institutions. In 1865, the Avery Normal Institute was established by the American Missionary Association as the first free secondary school for Charleston's African American population. Gen. Sherman lent his support to the conversion of the United States Arsenal into the Porter Military Academy, an educational facility for former soldiers and boys left orphaned or destitute by the war. Porter Military Academy later joined with Gaud School and is now a university-preparatory school, Porter-Gaud School.

In 1875, blacks made up 57% of the city's and 73% of the county's population.[15] With leadership by members of the antebellum free black community, historian Melinda Meeks Hennessy described the community as "unique" in being able to defend themselves without provoking "massive white retaliation", as occurred in numerous other areas during Reconstruction. In the 1876 election cycle, two major riots between black Republicans and white Democrats occurred in the city, in September and the day after the election in November, as well as a violent incident in Cainhoy at an October joint discussion meeting.[15]

Violent incidents occurred throughout the Piedmont of the state as white insurgents struggled to maintain white supremacy in the face of social changes after the war and granting of citizenship to freedmen by federal constitutional amendments. After former Confederates were allowed to vote again, election campaigns from 1872 on were marked by violent intimidation of blacks and Republicans by white Democratic paramilitary groups, known as the Red Shirts. Violent incidents took place in Charleston on King Street in September 6 and in nearby Cainhoy on October 15, both in association with political meetings before the 1876 election. The Cainhoy incident was the only one statewide in which more whites were killed than blacks. The Red Shirts were instrumental in suppressing the black Republican vote in some areas in 1876 and narrowly electing Wade Hampton as governor, and taking back control of the state legislature. Another riot occurred in Charleston the day after the election, when a prominent Republican leader was mistakenly reported killed.[15]

In the early 20th century strong political machines emerged in the city reflecting economic, class, racial, and ethnic tensions. The factions nearly all opposed U.S. Senator Ben Tillman who repeatedly attacked and ridiculed the city in the name of upstate poor farmers. Well organized factions within the Democratic Party in Charleston gave the voters clear choices and played a large role in state politics.

On August 31, 1886, Charleston was nearly destroyed by an earthquake. The shock was estimated to have a moment magnitude of 7.0 and a maximum Mercalli intensity of X (Extreme). It was felt as far away as Boston to the north, Chicago and Milwaukee to the northwest, as far west as New Orleans, as far south as Cuba, and as far east as Bermuda. It damaged 2,000 buildings in Charleston and caused $6 million worth of damage ($ million in dollars), at a time when all the city's buildings were valued around $24 million ($ million in dollars).

Investment in the city continued. The William Enston Home, a planned community for the city's aged and infirm, was built in 1889. An elaborate public building, the United States Post Office and Courthouse, was completed by the federal government in 1896 in the heart of the city. The Democrat-dominated state legislature passed a new constitution in 1895 that disfranchised blacks, effectively excluding them entirely from the political process, a second-class status that was maintained for more than six decades in a state that was majority-black until about 1930.

Charleston's tourism boom began in earnest following the publication of Albert Simons and Samuel Lapham's Architecture of Charleston in the 1920s.

Contemporary era (1945–present)

Charleston languished economically for several decades in the 20th century, though the large federal military presence in the region helped to shore up the city's economy.

The Charleston Hospital Strike of 1969, in which mostly black workers protested discrimination and low wages, was one of the last major events of the civil rights movement. It attracted Ralph Abernathy, Coretta Scott King, Andrew Young, and other prominent figures to march with the local leader, Mary Moultrie. Its story is recounted in Tom Dent's book Southern Journey (1996).

Joseph P. Riley Jr. was elected mayor in the 1970s, and helped advance several cultural aspects of the city. Riley worked to revive Charleston's economic and cultural heritage. The last 30 years of the 20th century had major new investments in the city, with a number of municipal improvements and a commitment to historic preservation to restore the city's unique fabric. There was an effort to preserve working-class housing of African Americans on the historic peninsula, but the neighborhood has gentrified, with rising prices and rents. From 1980 to 2010, the peninsula's population has shifted from two-thirds black to two-thirds white; in 2010 residents numbered 20,668 whites to 10,455 blacks. Many African Americans have moved to the less-expensive suburbs in these decades.[16]

The city's commitments to investment were not slowed down by Hurricane Hugo and continue to this day. The eye of Hurricane Hugo came ashore at Charleston Harbor in 1989, and though the worst damage was in nearby McClellanville, three-quarters of the homes in Charleston's historic district sustained damage of varying degrees. The hurricane caused over $2.8 billion in damage. The city was able to rebound fairly quickly after the hurricane and has grown in population, reaching an estimated 124,593 residents in 2009.

In 1993, the city was further impacted economically by the end of the Cold War when a decision of the Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC) directed that Naval Base Charleston be closed and that its surface ships and nuclear-powered submarines be relocated to other homeports, primarily Naval Station Norfolk, Virginia and Naval Station Mayport, Florida. Pursuant to BRAC action, Naval Base Charleston was closed on April 1, 1996, although some activities remain under the cognizance of Naval Support Activity Charleston, now part of Joint Base Charleston.

On June 17, 2015, 21-year-old Dylann Roof entered the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church and sat in on part of a Bible study before shooting and killing nine people. Senior pastor Clementa Pinckney, who also served as a state senator, was among those killed during the attack. The deceased also included congregation members Susie Jackson, 87; Rev. Daniel Simmons Sr., 74; Ethel Lance, 70; Myra Thompson, 59; Cynthia Hurd, 54; Rev. Depayne Middleton-Doctor, 49; Rev. Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, 45; and Tywanza Sanders, 26. The attack garnered national attention, and sparked a debate on historical racism, Confederate symbolism in Southern states, and gun violence, in part based on Roof's online postings. On July 10, 2015, the Confederate battle flag was removed from the South Carolina State House. A memorial service on the campus of the College of Charleston was attended by President Barack Obama, Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, Jill Biden, and Speaker of the House John Boehner.

On June 17, 2018, the Charleston City Council apologized for its role in the slave trade. It also acknowledged wrongs committed against African Americans by slavery and Jim Crow laws.

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