A Short History of Charleston, South Carolina
Charleston, South Carolina is one of the most beautiful and historic cities on the Atlantic coastline. Hometown of the fictional Rhett Butler (of “Gone with the Wind” fame), it has often been honored as the best-mannered city in the United States because of its unique southern charm and hospitality. Its history as we know it goes back over 400 years, and it still offers some of the best in American living today.
A community of English settlers began near the present site of the city in 1670. It was called Charles Town, after the British King Charles II and was meant to be a great port city from its inception.
It’s ideal and very desirable central location along the coastline made Charles Town vulnerable to attack. It was often subject to assaults from both the Spanish and the French by sea and was even prey to pirates. Indians resisted its establishment and often conducted raids on the fledgling little town, prompting residents to erect a wall around it.
Because of its role in sea trade and transportation, pre-American Revolution Charleston became the largest, most famous, and richest city south of Pennsylvania. Its pleasant winter climate made it a haven for wealthy northerners who spent time on its shores, away from the harsh snows, which plagued the northern settlements.
After the Revolutionary War, the city’s name was officially changed from Charles Town to Charleston. In the nearly 100 years preceding the Civil War, Charleston became the center of the genteel South. It was home to the new country’s first theater house, and its cultural and philosophical communities thrived.
After the invention of the cotton gin, cotton became king of Charleston, South Carolina’s economy, and slave plantations began to flourish. The slave trade used Charleston as a port for transport and as a venue for sales.
Charleston ,South Carolina was the first state to secede from the union in 1860, and the first shots of the Civil War were fired in Charleston herself. The ravages of the war destroyed the city’s economy, and it took years for prosperity to return.
Today, Charleston is the fifth most visited city in America. Despite the ravages of time and elements, many of its hundreds of years old buildings are still in existence. It is called the “Holy City” because its skyline boasts a large variety of church steeples from many, many different denominations. Its streets are lined with ancient oak trees covered with southern Spanish moss, and its waterfront is known for its array of colorful and historic homes.
Its thriving economy, excellent schools, and pleasant climate make Charleston, South Carolina a desirable place for families to call home. The city has been a jewel of the South for 400 years and promised to remain so for years to come.