Charleston Time Machine November 2016 Events FlyerDr. Nic Butler, CCPL’s Historian, will offer three lectures this November around town:

The Forgotten Pleasure Gardens of Early Charleston will be held at the Hurd/St. Andrew Regional Library on Monday November 14th at 6 p.m. The lecture examines the role that early gardens and horticulture played in the social life of Charleston.

Sergeant William Jasper: An Enigmatic Hero will take place at the unveiling of the Ft. Moultrie U.S. quarter on Thursday, November 17th at the Fort Moultrie Visitor’s Center.

The 250th Anniversary of Charleston’s First Orchestra offers a look at the history of the St. Cecilia Society, which began as a subscription concert organization. Dr. Butler will draw from his book on the Society, Votaries of Apollo, for this lecture which will be held at the Main Library on Tuesday, November 29th.

For complete details about each program this month, visit Dr. Butler’s blog,

The Brothers Bequest by Dr. Robert Alston JonesJoin Dr. Robert Alston Jones for a discussion of his book The Brothers Bequest: Germans in Charleston, South Carolina which presents a vivid picture of the lives of 19th-century German immigrants who established “new” lives in “old” Charleston. Dr. Jones is a native Charlestonian and Professor Emeritus of German at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Copies of the book will be available for purchase following the discussion, and a portion of the proceeds go toward the Friends of the Library.

When: Monday, November 7, 2016, 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

Where: Mt. Pleasant Regional Library, 1133 Mathis Ferry Road


When: Monday, November 7, 2016, 6-7:30 p.m.

Where: Main Library, 68 Calhoun Street

Andra Watkins

Andra Watkins

You’ve heard of the hit musical Hamilton. But how many characters actually spent time in Charleston or touched our city in some way? New York Times bestselling author Andra Watkins takes her audience on a romp through history.

Where did George Washington have a drink? Did Aaron Burr visit a favorite haunt? Was Theodosia unnaturally close to her father as some claimed?

See historical layers more colorfully, and get your very own copy of Andra’s newest book, Hard to Die. It weaves an afterlife story for Theodosia Burr Alston, ill-fated daughter of Aaron Burr, Alexander Hamilton’s killer. Part of the proceeds from book sales during the event will benefit the Friends of the Library.

When: Wednesday, November 2, 2016 at 6:30 p.m.

Where: Main Library Auditorium, 68 Calhoun Street

Maritime Archaeology Program – has been cancelled.

Originally scheduled for Wednesday, October 29, 6:00 PM

Hurricane Hugo

The term “hurricane” is a West Indian word meaning “big wind”. Between 1900 and 2004, fifteen hurricanes have hit South Carolina. Hurricane Hugo made landfall Friday, September 21st, 1989.

Hurricane Hugo was a Cape Verde storm in the North Atlantic Ocean that intensified dramatically. By mid-September it was already classified a Category 5 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Scale. As it turned toward the northwest, the eye wall scraped the northeastern tip of Puerto Rico. There was substantial damage in the US Virgin Islands. St. Croix was leveled.

The storm was then downgraded to a Category 2. By Wednesday, it was apparent that Hugo was heading for the South Carolina coast. The hurricane intensified rapidly on Thursday.


Hurricane Hugo made landfall northeast of Charleston near midnight on Friday, September 21st. When it hit South Carolina, it was a Category 4 hurricane with sustained winds in excess of 135 mph. The storm surge was estimated at over 20 feet at Bull’s Bay.


Hugo then moved inland at nearly 30 mph. Hurricane force winds were reported as far inland as York County. Tree and power lines damaged by hurricane force wind gusts were reported as far inland as Charlotte. As the storm lost power, West Virginia and western Pennsylvania felt the remnants of Hugo.


Eighty-two death are associated with Hurricane Hugo, twenty-seven in South Carolina. Damage to the U.S. was estimated at over $7 billion. Thousands of acres were destroyed in the Sumter National and the Francis Marion forests. The Folly Beach, Sullivans Island, Isle of Palms, and McClellanville communities were heavily damaged.




a-clean up

Since Hugo, the coastal population of South Carolina has increased by nearly 150,000 citizens (2006 figure).

Storm surges are the leading potential killer in tropical cyclones along the coast. Inland flooding from the rain is the most underrated killer with the most observed casualties.

Hurricane Hugo: Storm of the Century / Macchio, William

The South Carolina Encyclopedia / Walter Edgar (ed.)


Charleston’s maritime history started early, and we are very lucky to have so many maps of the Charleston Harbor. With its settlement in 1670, maps were critical for the safe maneuverings of the various vessels. With almost three and a half centuries of maritime development, the harbor has been used as a trading port, the center of blockade running and a highway to ports all over the Atlantic.

Early on, the English and the French drew numerous maps of our southeastern coastline. Interestingly enough, very few maps were drawn by mapmakers who actually stepped foot here in the New World. They were often copied from maps that had been drawn by explorers and were usually written in a different language than English.

Starting with the newly discovered 1686 “Map of Charles Towne” by John Boyd and the 1671 “Plat of Charles Town” the harbor has changed many times over the centuries. The five channels that merge to form the harbor and the old fortresses that line its banks, like Castle Pinckney, Fort Sumter, Fort Moultrie, Fort Johnson, and batteries Wagner and Marshall, make for interesting details on the numerous maps that have been drawn over time.



On May 22, 1856, pro-slavery South Carolina Congressman Preston S. Brooks approached abolitionist Senator Charles Sumner of Massachusetts as Sumner sat at his desk in the nearly empty Senate chambers. Brooks declared ”Mr. Sumner, I have read your speech carefully, and with as much calmness as I could be expected to read such a speech. You have libeled my state, and slandered my relation, who is aged and absent, and I feel it to be my duty to punish you for it.” With that, Brooks began beating Sumner with the heavy gold-headed, gutta-percha walking stick he carried. Over thirty blows were struck. Sumner tried vainly to defend himself but he was trapped by his desk, which was bolted to the floor. Sumner finally managed to wrench the desk free, bleeding profusely he staggered down the aisle as Brooks continued to beat him, even after breaking the cane over Sumner’s head. By this time Sumner collapsed unconscious and witnesses rushed to restrain Brooks and aid Sumner.

What prompted Brooks’ actions? Three days earlier, on May 19, Charles Sumner had delivered a much anticipated speech to a full Senate and packed gallery. “The Crimes Against Kansas” was a blistering attack on the 1854 Kansas-Nebraska Act, which left determination of slave or free status for new territories up to the settlers, popular sovereignty. Kansas had erupted in violence because of the act. Sumner was considered a powerful speaker and ardent anti-slavery advocate. But in his speech, Sumner also assailed the two main supporters of the bill, Stephen A. Douglas of Illinois and Andrew Pickens Butler of South Carolina. Sumner especially heaped scorn on Butler, even mocking his speech impediment. He used sexual imagery in the speech, saying Butler had taken “the Harlot, Slavery” as his mistress. Butler, a respected 59-year-old Senate veteran and proponent for slavery, was suffering from ill health and wasn’t present for Sumner’s speech.   The Southern senator, as well as being a fellow South Carolinian, was also Preston Brooks’ cousin. The speech lasted on to the second day, with Sumner continuing to attack Butler and speaking derisively about South Carolina.

Preston Brooks felt that Charles Sumner had dishonored both Andrew Pickens and South Carolina. The Southern code of honor demanded that the insult be answered by pistols on the dueling field. But Brooks also decided that Sumner, by his intemperate language, had demonstrated he was not a gentleman and didn’t merit being treated as an equal. A thrashing with a cane or whip was the proper response to a social inferior. Butler, being too old to thrash Sumner, the duty fell to Brooks.

After the caning, Preston Brooks reported his actions to the police, he was subsequently fined $300. After a House resolution to expel him failed to reach the necessary two-thirds majority, Brooks resigned his House seat. He returned to South Carolina and was promptly reelected. He would die unexpectedly a year later in 1857, at Brown’s Hotel, Washington. Butler also died in 1857.

Charles Sumner didn’t fare as well, it would take over three years for him to regain his health after the attack. He was unable to fully resume his Senate duties until December 1859. Sumner was also reelected and his seat was left empty as a symbol. He would have a distinguished political career, including chairman of the Senate foreign relations committee during the Civil War, dying in 1874.

The incident galvanized the nation and reflected the growing sectionalism of the country.  Both men became heroes.  Southerners sent Brooks a number of gold-headed canes, including one inscribed “Hit Him Again.”  Southern newspapers praised his actions and communities passed resolutions approving his conduct.  The North called him “Bully” Brooks, held “indignation meeting” to express their outrage, and considered Sumner a martyr to abolitionism and free speech, with the caning a demonstration of the depravity and brutality of the slave owner.  The new Republican Party made good political use of the affair, aiding the party in its rise to power.