The Mills House Wyndham Grand
Explore the Historic City of Charleston, South Carolina
Charleston, South Carolina, originally Charles Town, was named in honor of King Charles II of England and boasts a long and fabled history dating to the 1600s. Settled by the English across the Ashley River from its current location, it became the capital of the Carolina colony by the late 17th century.
Subjected to attacks by sea and land from Spain, France, American Indians and pirates, the early colonists were forced to erect fortifications in the city’s defense. Visitors can still see remnants from this time at the Powder Magazine where Charleston’s store of gunpowder was kept. Charleston’s earliest English colonists were soon joined by French, Scottish, Irish and German settlers, forming a diverse cultural patchwork. By the mid 1700’s, the city, a busy trading center for rice and indigo, had become the wealthiest and largest city south of Philadelphia and eventually became a catalyst for the Revolutionary War.
After the British retreated in 1782, the city officially changed its name to Charleston, gaining in prosperity in the following years for its production of cotton with the invention of the cotton gin and the use of widespread slave labor. With its immense growth, becoming a hub for commercialism and trade, the city’s Hibernian Hall was the location of the National Democratic Convention of 1860, which eventually resulted in the election of Republican Abraham Lincoln. Because of his opposition to slavery, South Carolina became the first state to vote for secession from the Union.
The first shots of the Civil War resounded as a Union ship entered Charleston’s harbor on January 9, 1861 with a battle for control of Fort Sumter. By 1865, Union troops had taken over the city and maintained control after the war and throughout the city’s reconstruction. Charlestonians worked diligently to restore the city to its previous vitality until the city was almost destroyed by an earthquake in 1886. Today, Charleston stands as a graceful monument to United States history, representing the country’s turbulent past and promising future.