This entry is out of order but I wanted to post a few of our Charleston, South Carolina photos because the city is so historic and very photogenic . We visited for three days at the end of May 2016 and we walked around for one and a half of those so we got to see a lot, but certainly not all. Several sailing crew from other boats said that this was their favourite east coast stop and we can see why. There are numerous restaurants (shrimp and grits anyone?), art galleries, theaters and public parks but the following is a brief history lesson (because I always like learning a bit about the places that I visit).
Founded in 1670 as Charles Town in honor of King Charles II of England and by 1690 Charles Town was the fifth largest city in North America. The first settlers primarily came from England, its Caribbean colony of Barbados, and its Atlantic colony of Bermuda. Charles Town attracted a mixture of ethnic and religious group and French, Scottish, Irish, and Germans migrated to the developing seacoast town, representing numerous Protestant denominations, Jews migrated to the city in such numbers that by the beginning of the 19th century, the city was home to the largest and wealthiest Jewish community in North America, Catholics arrived after the American Revolution. All of these different religions and denominations required their own buildings and many of them are punctuated by tall spires. These soaring towers dominate the skyline, especially when approaching from the sea.
As the relationship between the colonists and Britain deteriorated, Charles Town became a focal point in the ensuing American Revolution (1776 to 1783). It was attacked by the British General Sir Henry Clinton and his fleet on June 28, 1776. They fired cannonballs at Fort Moultrie and assumed there would be a large base of Loyalist supporters on land to lead an attack against the city. They were wrong - no land based supporters came to their rescue and the British were forced to withdraw. The day of that battle, June 28, is now a state holiday known as Carolina Day. General Clinton returned in 1780 and eventually defeated Charles Town, retaining control until December 1782. In 1783, after the British had left, the city's name was officially changed to Charleston.
On December 20, 1860, following the election of Abraham Lincoln, the South Carolina General Assembly voted to secede from the Union and on April 12, 1861, shore batteries opened fire on Union held Fort Sumter in the harbor, thus starting the Civil war. After a 34-hour bombardment, Major Robert Anderson surrendered the fort but Union forces repeatedly bombarded the city, causing vast damage. On December 11, 1861, an enormous fire burned over 200 ha (500 acres) of the city's buildings. After four years, in 1865, Union troops moved into the city and took control of many sites, including the United States Arsenal, thus ending the war.
During the civil war the city's African American population increased and by 1875 blacks made up 57% of the city's population. Men who had been free people of color (not slaves) before the war comprised 26% of those elected to state and federal office in South Carolina from 1868 to 1876. Despite this apparent equality feelings were tense and violent incidents continued as white insurgents struggled to maintain supremacy because the war granted citizenship and freedom to people of colour. Election campaigns from 1872 on were marked by violent intimidation of blacks and Republicans by white Democratic paramilitary groups. In 1895 the Democrat dominated state legislature passed a new constitution that disfranchised blacks, effectively excluding them entirely from the political process, a second-class status that was maintained for more than six decades. This happened in a state that had a majority black population until about 1930. Very recently, on June 17, 2015, 21-year-old Dylann Roof (white) entered the Mother Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church during a Bible study and killed nine people. We were back in Canada when this incident occurred and knew nothing about Charleston's history so this event was tragic but we did not realize it's significance. The attack made international headline news and in the US it sparked a debate on historical racism, Confederate symbolism in Southern states, and gun violence.
You do not need to know the history of Charleston to appreciate the city but it makes it come alive. Walking through the cobblestone streets and seeing the horse/mule drawn (tourist) carriages you are transported to another time. Many of the houses are pre-Civil War with columns in the front, wide porches and balconies - all are well maintained and many of them are flying the Stars and Stripes. This city is where it all started and you can almost the smell musket smoke from the Civil war.