The American Cyclopædia (1879)/Charleston (South Carolina)
CHARLESTON, the chief commercial city of South Carolina, a port of entry, and capital of Charleston co., in lat. 32° 46' N., lon. 79° 57' W., 100 m. S. S. E. of Columbia, the capital of the state, 82 m. N. E. of Savannah, Ga., and 455 m. S. S. W. of Washington, D. C. It stands at the confluence of the Ashley and Cooper rivers, which here unite and form a spacious harbor. These rivers run a parallel course for nearly 6 m., widening as they approach the sea, thus gradually narrowing the site of the city into a peninsula. The city is built upon low and level land, and to one approaching by water seems to rise from the sea. The harbor is a large estuary extending about 7 m. S. E. to the Atlantic, with an average width of 2 m. It is landlocked on all sides except an entrance of about a mile in width. S. of this entrance, extending along the coast, is Morris island, about 5 m. long and 3 m. wide. The width of the inner harbor at its mouth is something over a mile. The passage is defended by four fortresses. On the right hand, at the entrance, is Fort Moultrie, on Sullivan's island, occupying the site of the fort which, on June 28, 1776, beat off the British fleet of Sir Peter Parker. On the left hand, raised upon a shoal in the harbor, and directly covering the channel, is Fort Sumter. Immediately in front of the city, and but a mile from it, is Castle Pinckney, covering the crest of a mud shoal, and facing the entrance. A little S. of Pinckney is Fort Ripley, a small square work, built in 1862. On the S. side of the harbor, about li m. from the city, are the ruins of Fort Johnson. The outer harbor, lying within the bar, extends from Sullivan's island to the south channel, below the lighthouse, a distance of 6 m. The bar consists of successive ranges of sand banks, which stretch away before the entrance for several leagues; and as these ranges consist in part of quicksand, they are liable, from storms and undercurrents, to occasional change of locality, greatly increasing the difficulty of pilotage. Between these successive ranges of sand are formed several channels of varying depths of water. There are four of these channels: the ship channel, with 16 ft. water at ebb; the small or middle channel, with 14 ft.; Lawford's, or the south channel, with 10 ft.; and Maffit's, close to the shores of Sullivan's island. The ship channel is 11½ m. from the city, the middle 7½, while that of Maffitt is still nearer. The approach to the coast is easy, the shoaling gradual, and with proper care and good seamanship the soundings alone would assure the mariner of safety. The lights along the coast of this district begin at Cape Roman; there is a light at Bull's, and floating lights and bell boats contribute to disarm all the dangers of the coast. The lighthouse at the entrance of Charleston harbor is on Lighthouse island, and W. of the ship channel, lat. 32° 41' 55" N., lon. 79° 52' 29" W. The tower is of brick, 110 ft. high; the light is at an elevation of 133 ft. above the sea. It may be seen at a distance, in good weather, of 20 nautical miles. The beacon in front of the main light is visible at a distance of 10 nautical miles. The height of the light above the sea level is 50 ft. There are beacons also on Morris and Sullivan's islands, at Fort Sumter, Castle Pinckney, Mount Pleasant, and on the battery at White point, all within the harbor. From the entrance of the middle channel a full view of the city is obtained, guided by the spire of St. Michael's church, which bears from this point about N. 63° W. The surrounding country is noted for the picturesque character of its scenery. Rice and cotton fields, oaks, magnolias, myrtles, and jasmines abound in profusion. On Sullivan's island are many cottages owned by the wealthy citizens of Charleston and vicinity, and occupied by them during the summer. The mean annual temperature at Charleston in 1872 was 65.5°; total rainfall, 58.83 inches; prevailing wind, southwest. The mean temperature in January was 45°, February 48.5°, March 51°, April 65.6°, May 74.9°, June 79.7°, July 84.1°, August 81.8°, September 77.8°, October 69°, November 59°, December 49°.
—The population in 1800 was 18,711; 1810, 24,711; 1820, 24,780; 1830, 30,289; 1840, 29,261; 1850, 42,985; 1860, 40,519, of whom 17,146 were colored; 1870, 48,956, of whom 22,749 were colored. Only 4,892 of the total population in 1870 were foreigners. There were 6,861 dwellings, with an average of 7.14 persons to each, and 9,098 families, with an average of 5.38 persons to each. There were 18,705 persons engaged in mechanical occupations, 9,949 in professional and personal services, 4,929 in manufactures and mining, 3,496 in trade and transportation, and 331 in agriculture. The corporate limits of Charleston extend from Battery or White point, on the extreme southern verge of the city, to an arbitrary line on the north, fully three miles above. The city covers a large extent of territory. The dwellings are generally isolated, having large open grounds on every side. The city is laid out with tolerable regularity. The streets, with few exceptions, cross at right angles. The two principal, King and Meeting, run N. and S., nearly parallel, the whole length of the city, but converge to intersection near the northern limits. The cross streets extend from E. to W., from Cooper to Ashley river, and are generally narrow. The principal streets are well paved and lighted with gas. The houses are mostly of brick or wood. There are few regular blocks or rows of buildings, and no uniformity; but what is lost in this respect is gained in variety, and, with fine gardens, open plats of shrubbery, shade and fruit trees, creepers, vines, the magnolia, the oak, the cedar, and the pride of India, girdling the white dwellings and the green verandahs, the effect is highly picturesque. There are few public squares, and these are generally small. The Battery is a popular promenade, lying near the water's edge and commanding an extensive view of the bay; it is surrounded by fine private residences. The principal public buildings are the orphan house, with its spacious grounds; the new custom house, which has been in process of construction for several years; the city hall, corner of Broad and Meeting streets; and the medical college and Roper hospital, in Queen street. The academy of music, corner of King and Market streets, which was converted to its present use in 1869, is one of the finest theatres in the south. It has a front of 60 ft., is 231 ft. deep, 75 ft. high, and cost $160,000. Besides the theatre, with accommodations for 1,200 persons, it has two large halls for concerts, lectures, and public meetings. St. Michael's church is a noted edifice, built in 1752. A fine view of the sea and the shores may be obtained from the tower, which contains a chime of bells, and can be seen far out at sea. St. Philip's church (Episcopal), in Church street, is the oldest church establishment in Charleston, but the present edifice is not quite so old as that of St. Michael's. Interred in the adjoining graveyard are the bodies of many noted persons, including Gadsden, Rutledge, and Pinckney. Here also is the tomb of John C. Calhoun, consisting of a plain granite slab supported by walls of brick and bearing the inscription “Calhoun.” Just outside of the city, on the N. boundary, is the Magnolia cemetery, in which there are some fine monuments. The railroads centring in Charleston are the Savannah and Charleston, the Northeastern, extending from Charleston to Florence, and the South Carolina, extending to Augusta, Ga. There is a tri-weekly line of eight steamers running to New York, and there are two steamers each to Baltimore, Philadelphia, and Boston. There are also steamers to Savannah and Florida, and to various points on the South Carolina coast. The different parts of the city are connected by lines of street cars and omnibuses.—Charleston is the nearest of the important southern ports to the northern cities, and is the first harbor having ample room and good anchorage reached by southward-bound vessels on the long stretch from the Chesapeake. It is the principal shipping port of the state and adjacent country. For the year ending June 30, 1871, the value of imports from foreign countries was $621,559; exports to foreign ports, $12,387,524. Included in the exports were 5,084 bales of sea island cotton, valued at $829,892, and 172,643 of upland cotton, valued at $11,195,972. There entered from foreign countries 51 American vessels, 12,039 tons, and 106 foreign vessels, 36,065 tons; cleared for foreign ports, 64 American vessels, 25,813 tons, and 120 foreign vessels, 48,726 tons; entered in the coastwise trade, 485 vessels, 347,731 tons; cleared, 430 vessels, 318,801 tons; registered, enrolled, and licensed, 160 vessels, 8,270 tons, of which 19 with a tonnage of 3,548 were steamers. During the year there were built 12 vessels of 308 tons. The total exports for the year ending Aug. 31, 1872, were valued at $10,927,986, and the imports at $734,471. The total number of merchant vessels belonging to the port was 152, of 6,006 tons. The most important article of export is cotton. In the extent of this trade Charleston ranks next to New York and New Orleans. Its amount for a series of years ending Aug. 31 is shown in the following statement:
|YEARS.|| Sea Island,
Between a third and a half of the total exports are shipped to foreign ports, chiefly those of England and France, and the remainder to northern ports of the United States. Rice also enters largely into the commerce of the city, the exports in 1872 amounting to 42,574 tierces; 1871, 43,917; 1870, 38,688; 1869, 35,609; 1867, 22,333. In 1872, 18,460,339 ft. of lumber were shipped, 15,728,467 in 1871, 13,205,066 in 1870, and 18,558,652 in 1869. Naval stores form a leading article of commerce, the exports in 1872 amounting to 147,910 barrels. The wholesale trade of Charleston has greatly increased since the war. In 1872 the sales of dry goods amounted to $3,000,000; boots and shoes, $1,200,000; clothing, $400,000; drugs and medicines, $375,000; hats and caps, $175,000. In 1873 Charleston had 3 national banks and 4 state banks, with an aggregate paid-up capital of $2,930,000, and current deposits amounting to $1,590,000; and 4 savings banks, with deposits to the amount of $1,155,990. The manufacture of fertilizers from the valuable beds of marl and phosphate rocks in the vicinity has since 1868 been developed into one of the most important industries in the city. In 1873 there were 6 factories in and near the city, employing a capital of $400,000. The shipments of fertilizers have advanced from 3 tons in 1867 to 27,355 tons in 1871, and 30,646 tons in the first six months of 1872. In connection with this business the manufacture of sulphuric acid is extensively carried on. Five of the establishments mentioned above have acid chambers, and from 1869 to July 1, 1872, manufactured 10,614 tons of sulphuric acid, valued at $350,200. The exports of crude phosphate rock from Charleston and Beaufort from Jan. 1, 1867, to July 1, 1872, amounted to 206,305 tons, valued at $1,450,000; of this amount 90,225 tons were shipped to foreign and 116,080 tons to domestic ports. The amount consumed by local companies during this period was 36,110 tons, valued at $250,000. According to the census of 1870, the total number of manufacturing establishments in Charleston county, which were chiefly in the city, was 224, using 54 steam engines of 1,140 horse power, and employing 2,579 hands. The capital invested amounted to $1,538,539; wages paid during the year, $613,962; value of materials consumed, $1,264,731; of products, $2,431,763. The chief establishments were 13 bakeries, 13 manufactories of carriages and wagons, 2 of fertilizers, 8 of flour, 15 of sawed lumber, 7 of machinery, 13 of tar and turpentine, and 7 establishments for ship building and repairing. Among the most important industrial establishments in Charleston are the capacious mills for removing the husk from rice and preparing the grain for market. A large proportion of the rice crop of South Carolina and Georgia is cleaned at these mills, which turn out about 80,000 tierces per annum. There are 3 of these mills, employing a capital of about $500,000.—The city is divided into 8 wards. The government is vested in a mayor and 18 aldermen. The fire department comprises 14 engine companies, 6 having steam fire engines, and one hook and ladder company. Among the charitable institutions are an almshouse, dispensaries, the orphan house for both sexes, which usually has about 200 inmates, Shaw's orphan asylum, and the Roper hospital. The schools of the city are under the control of 8 commissioners elected by the people and a superintendent chosen by the commissioners. In 1872 the number of children of school age was 12,727, of whom 5,068 were enrolled in the public schools. There were 8 public schools (5 grammar and 3 primary), with 64 male and 4 female teachers, and 2,620 pupils in attend- ance, and a high school with 65 pupils. The total school expenditures amounted to $40,453, of which $36,813 was for teachers' wages. There are also several private schools and a school connected with the Catholic convent. Charleston college, founded in 1787, in 1872 had 5 instructors, 50 students, and a library of 8,000 volumes. The medical college of the state of South Carolina had 9 professors. The Charleston library society, founded in 1748, has 14,000 volumes, and the apprentices' library is a valuable collection. There are 3 daily, 2 tri-weekly, 2 semi-weekly, and 6 weekly newspapers, and 3 monthly periodicals. The city has a literary and a scientific society, and several social organizations. The chamber of commerce and the board of trade are influential bodies. There are 14 lodges and 6 chapters of freemasons, and 6 lodges and 5 encampments of odd fellows. The total number of churches is 39, embracing the following denominations: 10 Episcopal, of which 2 are for colored persons; 7 Methodist, of which 4 are colored; 7 Roman Catholic; 6 Presbyterian, including 1 colored; 4 Baptist, of which 2 are colored; 3 Lutheran, 1 Unitarian, and 1 Huguenot.—Charleston was originally settled about 1679, by an English colony under William Sayle, who became the first governor. He first attempted a settlement at Beaufort, but abandoned this place in consequence of its insecurity. It was too easily accessible by sea, and too difficult of defence in a period when England had several maritime competitors. Sayle transplanted his colony next to the W. side of Ashley river. After his death another removal took place, and the colonists passed over E. of the river, and planted themselves on the W. bank of the Cooper; and Oyster Point became Charleston. Its history from that period to the close of the revolution, nearly 100 years, is one of curious and remarkable interest. Charleston was one of the first among the chief places of the south to assert a common cause with and for the colonies. It was the first to assert its own independence, and to make a constitution for itself. It was thrice attempted by the enemy: first in the assault by Sir Peter Parker and Gen. Clinton on the palmetto fort (since Fort Moultrie) at Sullivan's island, in 1776, when the British fleet and army were beaten off, and almost destroyed; next by the attempted coup de main of Gen. Prevost, in 1779; and thirdly, in the regular investment of the city by Sir Henry Clinton, when it stood a siege of six weeks by 12,000 British regulars, and succumbed at last to overwhelming force, May 12, 1780. The city was evacuted by the British Dec. 14, 1782. Charleston was the leading city both in the nullification movement (see South Carolina) and in the incipient stage of southern secession. Open hostilities in the civil war began at Charleston with the bombardment of Fort Sumter by the confederates on April 12, 1861. (See Fort Sumter.) From this time until the spring of 1865 the city remained in possession of the confederates. Early in the spring of 1863 preparations were made for a naval attack upon the fortifications in Charleston harbor; and on April 6 the federal fleet of 9 iron-clads, carrying 30 guns, commanded by Admiral Du Pont, crossed the bar and entered the harbor. The fortifications in the harbor were formidable, consisting of the forts and numerous batteries well mounted with heavy guns. Moreover, the channel between Fort Sumter and Sullivan's island was obstructed by a tight hawser buoyed up by floating casks, to which were attached torpedoes and other submarine obstacles, while impassable rows of piles had been driven in the channel between Fort Sumter and Cummings point. The attack was made on the 7th, when the gunboats were subjected to such a terrific fire from all the forts that they were soon compelled to withdraw. Morris island and the entrance to Charleston harbor having been subsequently occupied by the Union forces under Gen. Gillmore, occasional shots were directed against Charleston. Upon the surrender of Columbia, the state capital, to Gen. Sherman on Feb. 17, 1865, Charleston was evacuated by the confederate forces, all the public buildings, stores, cotton warehouses, shipping, &c., having been fired by order of Gen. Hardee, who was in command of the city. On the 18th Charleston was occupied by the federal troops, who exerted themselves to extinguish the flames. During the war many buildings were destroyed, and the towers and steeples of churches riddled with shot and shell. Business and trade were paralyzed. Since its close rapid progress has been made in the work of rebuilding, and in every department of trade and industry. In 1872, $473,800 was spent for new buildings and repairs in the city, besides $177,509 for similar purposes on Sullivan's island.