Charleston, South Carolina Timeline By: Ill. Brother McDonald “Don” Burbidge, 33°
South Carolina's recorded history begins in the mid 1500s, when Europeans first arrived, though the area had been inhabited long before then. The Cherokee Nation was prominent in the area when the Spanish reached South Carolina: The tribe's territory covered a wide area, including parts of South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky, Virginia and West Virginia. The Cherokee primarily farmed and hunted and lived in settlements (often fortified) along rivers and coastal estuaries. They built log houses, made clothing from fabric and introduced corn and tobacco to European settlers. Even though the French and Spanish were attracted to the coast of South Carolina in the 16th century, it was the English who established the first sustained European settlement (Charles Town) in 1670 at Albemarle Point, near present-day Charleston. This Timeline Covers The Years 1500 through 1861. 1500-1600: Early Carolina Expeditions and Settlements 1521 (June 24) first recorded Spanish expedition reaches the Carolina coast, probably near Winyah Bay. 1524 First French ship scouts the Carolina coast. 1526 (August) First Spanish attempt at a settlement, San Miguel de Gualdape, probably near Winyah Bay. Colony fails within a year, and only 150 of 500 settlers live to return home. 1540 Hernando DeSoto may have reached Carolina Low country on a trek north from Florida. 1562 First French attempt at a settlement made by Jean Ribaut on Parris Island. Built a Fort named Charlesfort. Settlement fails within a year. Similar French attempts to settle in Florida brings about bloody Spanish massacre and equally bloody French reprisal. 1565 Founding of St. Augustine. 1566 Spain decides to build coastal forts to discourage French settlements. First of these, Fort San Felipe (later rebuilt as Fort San Marco) is built near the ruins of Charlesfort. 1585 First attempted British settlement on Roanoke Island founded by Sir Walter Raleigh. Native Americans destroy it and Sir rescues survivors Francis Drake. 1587 Second British attempt on Roanoke Island, also funded by Raleigh, fails within Three years as all settlers disappear, becoming known as "The Lost Colony." Spanish withdraw from San Marco after Sir Francis Drake burns St. Augustine. 1600-1670: The Seeds of Carolina 1604 Founding of the first settlement at Jamestown, VA. 1620 Founding of Plymouth Colony. 1623 First charter for Carolina Colony granted to Sir Robert Heath by King Charles I. Charter would never be used. 1633 Founding of Middle Plantation in Virginia, later to become Colonial Williamsburg. 1640 Founding of Boston 1649 King Charles I is tried by a court of Puritans, convicted of treason, and beheaded. Oliver Cromwell comes to power. 1650 First settlements near Albemarle Sound, in what today is North Carolina, by Frontiersmen from Virginia. 1660 Cromwell dies and his son, Richard, is too weak to take power. The Prince of Wales, Charles II, assumes the throne. 1663 King Charles II grants a charter to a group of eight English gentlemen who become known as the Lords Proprietors. In his honor they call the land Carolina, from the Latin for Charles. One of these eight gentlemen, Lord Anthony Ashley Cooper, encourages the settlement more than the others, and thus receives the honor of having both rivers, which surround the city, named for him. 1666 Capt. Robert Sanford explores and names the Ashley River. On June 23 takes formal possession of Carolina for England and the Proprietors. 1669 (July 21) The Fundamental Constitution of Carolina, written by the philosopher. The Lords approve John Locke, serving as secretary to Ashley- Cooper Proprietors. Its guarantee of religious freedom, in language similar to Locke's A Letter Concerning Toleration, will have a profound and lasting influence on the development of Charleston's social fabric, leading to the immigration of such diverse groups as French Huguenots and Sephardic Jews. Carolina colonists sail from London on three ships: the Albemarle, the Port Royal, and the Carolina. (Nov 2) The colonists reach Barbados, where their ships are struck by a hurricane. The Albemarle is destroyed and the Port Royal and Carolina are damaged. 1670 (March 15) The Carolina arrives in Seewee Bay, and proceeds to anchor at the north end of Bull's Island. (April) Charles Town is founded as the capital city of Carolina, across the Ashley River from its current site on the main peninsula. Today, this area is a state park known as Charles Town Landing. 1672 Charles Town is reported to consist of 30 houses and some 200-300 settlers. The secretary of the colony reports the population to be "263 men able to bear arms, 69 women, and 59 children or persons under 16 years of age." 1680 (April 30) The Richmond arrives carrying the first large group of French Huguenots. 1685 (October) Louis XIV revokes the Edict of Nantes, which had guaranteed the rights of Huguenots in France. This revocation accelerates the emigration of French Huguenots to Charleston. 1686 A "wonderfully horrid and destructive" hurricane thwarts a Spanish invasion, one of many Spanish attempts to destroy the early settlement. 1690 Charles Town is officially moved to current site on the peninsula. Population is estimated at 1,200, making it the fifth largest city in North America. 1693 "Liberty of Conscience" substantiated, reaffirming the right of locals to worship as they please. 1695 City walls and six bastions are built about this time Possible year of construction of the John Lining House at 106 Broad St., the oldest surviving frame building in Charleston. 1698 (Oct 8) Increasing importation of African slaves prompts a law providing cash incentive for bringing white servants into Carolina. 1698-1699 A disastrous year for the city. Smallpox appears claiming 200 to 300 deaths in connection with yellow fever causing "at least 160 deaths." In addition a fire destroys one-third of the city, a hurricane hits in the autumn of 1699, and an earthquake rocks the city. 1700 Charles Town has grown into a major trading center; plantations appear inland along the rivers. (Sept 1) Hurricane of 1700 strikes the city (Nov 16) City Assembly establishes a tax-supported free library, possibly the first Public library in America. It operates for 14 years. This library, located on St. Philip's Street. 1704 First known map of the Walled City: the Crisp Map of 1704 1706 (Sept 2) Joint French and Spanish attack upon Charles Town during Queen Anne's War is repulsed when Colonial forces capture French vessel and crew. 1710 Powder Magazine at 79 Cumberland St. and Pink House Tavern at 17 Chalmers St. built about this time. The province of Carolina becomes North and South Carolina, each provided with its own governor. 1712 Rhett Mansion is built at 54 Hasell St. The territory of Carolina is divided into North and South, each having its own Governor. 1713 (Sept 5) Hurricane of 1713 strikes the city. The Powder Magazine, 79 Cumberland St., becomes operational. 1715 Yemassee Indian War lasts two years in Carolina 1717 City begins to remove fortifications to allow for expansion. 1718 Blackbeard the Pirate sails into Charles Town Harbor with four ships; takes hostages for ransom. Also in this year, the pirate Stede Bonnet is hanged at White Point. 1719 Failure of Lords Proprietors to protect colonists from various threats results in a Revolutionary Assembly. Citizens petition the King to take over the reins of government. 1720-1773: Crown Colony 1721 South Carolina becomes a royal colony. General Sir Francis Nicholson made Governor. 1728 Regular passenger and shipping service begins between Charles Town and New York. Hurricane of 1728 1729 (July 25) King George buys out the Lords Proprietors, finalizing South Carolina's Transformation into a Royal Colony. A number of gentlemen, "chiefly natives of Scotland," organize the St. Andrew's Society, the first such Scottish organization in the world. Named for the patron Saint of Scotland, it lends assistance to widows, orphans, and others in need of help. 1732 (Jan 8) The South Carolina Gazette publishes its first edition. (April 19) The first known concert in Charles Town is performed by John Salter, organist of St. Philip's. 1733 (Jan. 13) James Oglethorpe and the first settlers for Georgia arrive in Charles Town Harbor on the Anne. Savannah is founded soon after 1734 (Feb 2) After the death of its first editor, The South Carolina Gazette resumes publication under Lewis Timothy, who is backed by Ben Franklin. 1735 (Feb 18) The first public presentation of an opera in the colonies is performed at Broad and Church Street. 1736 (Feb. 3) The Friendly Society for the Mutual Insurance of Houses Against Fire was founded in Charles Town. One of the first theatres in the country, The Dock Street, opens with The Recruiting Officer. 1739 (Sept 9) First major slave insurrection After hearing a rumor that Spaniards were promising freedom to slaves in St Augustine, slaves from the Stono River plantations (southwest of Charleston) revolted. More than 20 whites and approximately 40 blacks died during the insurrection. "Stono's Rebellion" was the largest slave uprising in the British mainland colonies prior to the American Revolution. 1740 Fire rages through the waterfront district. (April 28) News arrives of war against Spain, and plans are made to attack St. Augustine. Construction of the East Bay warehouse district, today known as Rainbow Row. Henry Middleton starts work on his gardens at Middleton Place. 1742 Charles Town's population estimated to be 6,800. 1745 Lots laid out for Ansonborough neighborhood. 1747 (April 18) City leaders sign a treaty with Choctaw Indians establishing trade in return for their attacking French settlements. 1748 (Dec 28) A group of citizens form the Charleston Library Society, a subscription library still in existence. Click Here to continue with the Timeline for Years 1751 to 1861.
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