Charles Towne Landing
Original English settlement and state historic site
In 1670 a group of English settlers arrived here to form the colony of Charles Town, named in honor of King Charles II. In 1680, the area that is now occupied by The Battery and White Point Gardens, then known as Oyster Point because Kiawah tribe members used it as a dumping ground for their shells, became the official settlement of Charles Town. When the city incorporated after the Revolutionary War, the name was changed to Charleston. Now a State Historic Site, this park has multiple attractions including a replica settlement, a replica cargo ship from that time docked in the river, a small zoo housing animals that would have been present at the settlement, and seven miles of trails.
1500 Old Towne Rd, Charleston, SC
Charles Towne Landing
Fort active from the American Revolution through WWII
South Carolina declared independence from Britain on the steps of the Old Exchange in 1774 and a few years later in 1776, the British arrived in the city. They attacked Fort Sullivan’s unfinished palmetto fortifications, but Col. Moultrie's militia held them off, for which the fort was renamed in his honor. The flag that was flown by his troops during the dramatic battle was blue with a white crescent in the corner. After the state seceded from the Union, the flag with the addition of a palmetto (as a nod to the fort’s palmetto defenses) became the official flag of the state. The British returned in 1780, assuming that there was a strong base of southern Loyalists who would support the British cause once troops showed up, however there were very few white southern Loyalists because of the Crown’s anti-slavery rhetoric. And while they didn't find much local support, they did win their greatest victory of the war during the siege of Charleston, which remained in place until shortly after the negotiations for the Treaty of Paris began in 1782. This Fort's history isn't limited to war history. Edgar Allan Poe was stationed here for just over a year and he even set one of his short stories, The Gold Bug, on Sullivan's Island. This beachfront fort is a perfect place to learn a little history on a beautiful day.
1214 Middle St, Sullivan's Island, SC
A Bench by the Road
A place to remember the lives of enslaved Africans
An estimated 40% of the Africans transported to North America via the Middle Passage passed through Sullivan’s Island. It is estimated that nearly half of all African Americans today have ancestors who went through quarantine here. In an interview in 1989, author and Nobel laureate Toni Morrison said, "There is no place you or I can go, to think about or not think about, to summon the presences of, or recollect the absences of slaves . . . There is no suitable memorial, or plaque, or wreath, or wall, or park, or skyscraper lobby. There's no 300-foot tower, there's no small bench by the road." And there wasn't until the Toni Morrison Society placed this bench here in 2008. This bench overlooking the water is behind the Fort Moultrie Visitor Center.
Old Slave Mart Museum
Stories from the slave trade in the place where it happened
While the The Act Prohibiting Importation of Slaves, that went into effect in 1808, meant that enslaved workers were no longer legally coming into the country from Africa, auction houses like this allowed Charleston to become one of the centers of the domestic slave trade. This small but information packed museum explains the details of the slave auction business as well as the stories of the real people who passed through its doors. This building, that is thought to be the last remaining building that was used for slave auctions in the state, is a necessary stop if you want to get the full picture of Charleston's history.
6 Chalmers St, Charleston, SC
Shares the tough history of the South
The McLeod Plantation was once James Island's most productive Sea Island cotton plantation, a distinction that came on the backs of it's enslaved workers. Today, this historic site that is run by Charleston County Parks tells the stories of those who were enslaved here, spending time not at the main house, but at the string of slave cabins off to the side of the oak allé. Charleston's history is difficult, but it must be shared and McLeod does it thoughtfully and with compassion.
325 Country Club Dr, Charleston, SC
Caw Caw Interpretive Center
Trails and interpretive exhibits at a former rice plantation
This wildlife center that is operated by Charleston County Parks has over six miles of trails and elevated boardwalks. Alongside the trails are exhibits that explain the important and difficult history of this piece of land that enslaved Africans used their skills to turn from a cypress swamp into rice fields. It was also an important site during the Stono Rebellion, which was the largest slave uprising in British North America. As the only major US city during the Antebellum period where enslaved workers made up the majority of the population, it is no surprise that the city was also a hotbed for rebellion. The 1739 Stono Rebellion, while ultimately suppressed, was the largest uprising in British North America. A man named Jemmy led 20 fellow enslaved Angolans from this area toward freedom in Spanish Florida. They recruited 60 more followers and made it as far as the Edisto River before being defeated by a militia group. In response to the uprising, the state legislature passed the Negro Act of 1740 that severely restricted their already limited freedoms and permitted owners to kill the enslaved for being “rebellious.”