The First To Secede

South Carolina severed ties with the Union not out of concern for states' rights but because of slavery

At 7 p.m. on Thursday, December 20, 1860, some 170 men marched through the streets of Charleston, South Carolina, walking from St. Andrews Hall to a new meetinghouse amid the cheers of onlookers. Half of them were more than 50 years old, most well-known. More than 60 percent were planters who owned at least 20 slaves. Five had been state governors, four U.S. senators. Read more »

Secrets Of The ‘hunley’


With a 90-pound explosive charge attached to an iron spar protruding from her bow, the Confederate sub H. L. Hunley looked like a lopsided hypodermic needle. On the night of February 17, 1864, off Charleston, South Carolina, she gave the Union sloop Housatonic a lethal injection.

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“Aircraft 53-1876A Has Lost A Device”

How the U.S. Air Force came to drop an A-bomb on South Carolina

On the afternoon of March 11, 1958, the Gregg sisters—Helen, six, and Frances, nine—and their cousin Ella Davies, nine, were in the playhouse their father had built for them in the woods behind their house in Mars Bluff, South Carolina. About four o’clock they tired of the playhouse and moved 200 feet to the side yard. This kept them from becoming the first Americans killed by a nuclear weapon released on U.S. territory. U.S.

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“We Will Not Do Duty Any Longer for Seven Dollars per Month”

The United States had promised black soldiers that they would be paid as much as whites. Sergeant Walker believed that promise.

This is in honor of Sgt. William Walker, of the 3d South Carolina Infantry Regiment, a young black soldier who believed in the United States government’s promises of equal rights. This is in honor of Sgt. William Walker, who was brave enough to act on his belief in his rights. This is in honor of Sgt. William Walker, who died in disgrace, executed by the United States government for acting on his belief in its promise of equal rights. Read more »

The Charleston Inheritance

In the quiet luxury of the historic district, a unique form of house plan—which goes back two hundred years—is a beguiling surprise for a visitor

Charleston is and always will be a small town, the citadel of a “hereditary Nobility,” as its founders willed it to be. In its early days Charleston was a walled city, and in some sense it has continued as such, though the walls long ago vanished. The boundary markers of historic Charleston today are, in addition to its implacable sense of self, the Ashley and the Cooper rivers, which meet at the tip of the Charleston peninsula, and Broad Street, the third side of the triangle.Read more »

Traveling With A Sense Of History

From Fort Ticonderoga to the Plaza Hotel, from Appomattox Courthouse to Bugsy Siegel’s weird rose garden in Las Vegas, the present-day scene is enriched by knowledge of the American past

To grow up in New England is to grow up with an inescapable sense of history, a heritage that a New Englander carries with him wherever he goes. Read more »

Finding A Lost World

A newly discovered record of a proud Southern society that few people ever thought existed

In 1920, when Richard Samuel Roberts’s name first appeared in the Columbia, South Carolina, city directory—in the “Colored Dept.“—he was listed as a janitor in the post office. He continued in that job, the kind of job a black was expected to have in his strictly segregated city, even after he had established an ambitious photography business in the black community. Self-taught, he learned his craft by studying brochures and catalogs sent by supply houses.Read more »

Portrait Of A Hero

Courtly, gallant, handsome, and bold, John Laurens seemed the perfect citizen-soldier of the Revolution. But why did he have to seek death so assiduously?

How a nation regards its past is itself a fact of considerable historical significance, and it will be interesting to observe the treatment of the Founding Fathers during the Bicentennial celebration. Indications are that in some quarters at least the military heroes of the Revolution may not fare very well. “They wrote in the old days,” Ernest Hemingway noted some years ago, “that it is sweet and fitting to die for one’s country. But in modern war there is nothing sweet nor fitting in your dying.Read more »

Serene Visions Of A Time Gone By

The paintings of E. L. Henry:

As a child he sketched horses and wagons, buggies, boats, and scenes described in history lessons; during sermons in church he used the pages of prayer books and hymnals to draw the angels and the Giants in the Earth of the preacher’s text. So began the career of one of America’s most prolific genre painters—Edward Lamson Henry. Read more »