The First and Largest City of South Carolina

Saturday, July 11, 2020, 6:00 PM | Leave Comment

The first thing that many people see when they walk around Charleston, SC is the city’s unbelievable beauty from its antebellum mansions and cobblestone streets.

It is the most visible part of the city, after all, and it is part of the reason why this city has been named the No.1 city in the US by Travel & Leisure readers for 7 years now.

Nothing and nobody can deny the fact that the city has a certain charm that not many other southern cities have. This charm entices people to want to take the big step in life and relocate here however while doing so, we highly recommend you utilize the help of our real estate agents in Charleston, SC.

As the first city of South Carolina, Charleston has an extensive history that is also, unfortunately, not the brightest of histories. For years the city of Charleston’s history has been overshadowed by the city’s beauty and even swept under the rug as there aren’t many moments that are remembered with an easy heart by neutral people. The residents of this beautiful and troubled city have to come to terms with their history and learn to shed some light even on the most difficult parts.

Colonial Era

Extending from 1670 to 1786 this is the period when the British came to colonise what today is known as South Carolina and North Carolina. King Charles II chartered the territory of Carolina to eight of his most loyal friends in 1663. After seven years the first settlement was established named in the King’s honor, Charles Town.

Initially the community was located on the west bank of the Ashley River but was then moved to its current location in 1681. As the first city of the Carolina colony, Charles Town was also the capital and the beginning of colonial expansion. The northern part of the Carolina colony wound up attracting people from Pennsylvania and Virginia while the southern part was occupied by wealthy English people. During this period the southern part of Carolina saw the development of cotton, rice and indigo plantations that were dependent on slave labour.

After the separation of the colony between the Province of North Carolina and the Province of South Carolina, several battles were fought against Florida’s Spanish troops and the local Indian tribes. Unlike the city of Savannah, GA, Charles Town did not manage to infuse diplomacy in their dealings with Native Americans. Instead they implemented slavery, sold Native Americans to Barbados and bought African slaves for their increasing plantation agriculture. By 1708 the majority of Charles Town’s population was enslaved African people who were detrimental to its future development. Since the beginning of the slave trade in Charles Town over 40% of all African slaves had arrived on the new territories through this port.

American Revolution

Between the years 1776 and 1783 is when the American Revolution took place. This period saw a split in half across the people that inhabited South Carolina. On one side were the Loyalists who were on the side of the British Empire, while on the other were the Patriots who wanted their independence from Britain’s taxation system.

South Carolina declared its independence in 1774. Upon false information that there were many Loyalists who would join the British cause once they received military support, the British attacked three times. The loyalty, however, had been lost as the British had begun to prohibit slavery on the British Islands. That prohibition won the British thousands of Black loyalists.

During one of the three attempts, the attack failed because the British could not occupy an unfinished fort that had been reinforced with palmetto logs. Charles Town was finally evacuated and devoid of British troops in December 1782 when the name was also changed to the city of Charlestown as a part of the formal incorporation of the city.

Civil War

As a pivotal part of the Civil War, the city of Charleston was wanted by both the Union and Confederate Armies. As a founding member state of the Confederacy, South Carolina was the first to break ties with the Union after the election of Abraham Lincoln in 1860. Charleston was also the city that fired the first shots of the Civil War through the Citadel cadets in 1861.

Shore batteries then opened fire on Fort Sumter that was held by the US Army but as the Union controlled the sea, Charleston was under intense fire from the US Army that led to vast damage to the city. Using strategy blockades, the Union managed to almost entirely stop any commercial traffic going in and out of Charleston and with the arrival of General William T. Sherman’s army the Union took over the territory. Before the Confederates left, however, they made sure to destroy any sources of supply or public buildings.

The Union troops managed to move into the city within a month’s time in 1865. While the Civil War had its first full battle in Charleston in 1861, it also ended soon after Charleston was won by the Union in 1865.

Civil Rights and Postbellum reconstruction

With a population of around 57% African American, the city of Charleston seemed to handle the drastic changes in society rather well in the post-Civil War period. Even before the end of the war there was already a large number of free people of color in the city and during the reconstruction years they used the education and skills attained in order to join the state and federal office of South Carolina. Out of the men elected to represent the state and federal office, 26% were men that had been free people of color before the war.

The city began to grow again, to heal after the war and the unique structure of the community made it possible for African Americans to stand up for themselves without a massive reprisal from the white communities. In the beginning at least.

During the 1876 election there had been several clashes between the black Republicans and White Democrats as white supremacists fought against the social changes.


During the early years of our country, prior to the Declaration of Independence and the proper establishment of the United States of America as a country some southern cities, including Charleston had had a reputation that is not considered good or kind nowadays. Despite how that reputation is seen today, back then it was what helped the city flourish. The city still struggles with the Charleston Church shooting and the Charleston City Council officially apologizing for the existence of slave trade and racial injustices for generations. We can not forget our history as we need to learn from the mistakes of the past.

Let us know what you think of Charleston’s difficult history in the comments below. This article can be Shared & Liked as history is a lesson that should be learned not dismissed.

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