In 1670, settlers established a settlement on the west bank of the Ashley River and called it Charles Town in honor of King Charles II. One year later they moved the settlement to the tip of a peninsula between the Ashley and Cooper Rivers. Charles Town had an excellent climate for agriculture and a good harbor. The Fundamental Constitution of Carolina, written by John Locke, formed the basis of a tolerant society that immediately attracted a diverse set of people, whose influence is still seen in the architecture of the city.
Charles Town was also a very prosperous city, and prosperity brought with it a taste for the finer things in life. Good food, extravagant houses, and goods from all over the world were transported here by ship. The wealth of the city attracted pirates, including the legendary Blackbeard, who took hostages here in 1718.
On December 20, 1860, a secession convention meeting in Charleston proclaimed South Carolina to be an independent commonwealth. This was the first act of secession by any of the colonies. On April 12, 1861, the first shots of the Civil War were fired when cannons bombarded the Union forces of Fort Sumter.
The city has countless ties to the birth of America:
- A Charlestonian, Henry Middleton, was chosen president of the First Continental Congress in 1774
- In 1749, The Charleston Library Society was established. It founded the Charleston Museum in 1773, the oldest such museum in America
- The oldest municipal college in America, The College of Charleston, began teaching classes here in 1770
- The Reform Society of Israelites was established in 1824, and Charleston became the birthplace of the Reform branch of Judaism in America
- In 1824 The Medical College of South Carolina was opened. It later became the Medical University of South Carolina.
- The first submarine sank a vessel in the Charleston harbor in 1864. The submarine has been recovered, and you can see it on display.
Charleston has a rich history that goes back over three hundred years. Exploring the quiet streets and beautiful houses has become a favorite outing for tourists from all over the world. While you are here, become an explorer yourself.