A 1959 image of the Ashley Stables. From the Jack Keilen slide collection at CCPL.
Friday, May 01, 2020 Nic Butler, Ph.D.

Working animals dominated the streetscape of early Charleston, and their rhythmic hoof beats defined the pace of life for most of the city’s history. From colonial times to the turn of the twentieth century, citizens traveled no faster than “a moderate trot.” The drivers of new-fangled automobiles pushed civic leaders for greater speed, however, and the pulse of street traffic gradually quickened. The story of street speed in Charleston offers a unique perspective on the past, and helps us understand the diverse legacy of our community’s shared roads.

Charleston’s streetscape is one of the city’s most historic features. All of the original streets have been altered to one degree or another over the last 350 years, but the basic footprint of the principal thoroughfares in the historic district hasn’t changed much since the early days. Today we might describe many of them as excessively narrow, but they seemed commodious by the standards of seventeenth-century England. The volume of traffic in early Charleston was low, so streets didn’t need to be very wide. The creation of relatively broad thoroughfares, like Charleston’s Broad Street, for example, was motivated more by ideas of pleasing visual aesthetics and beneficial air circulation rather than the need to accommodate a large number of vehicles.


Like those of other contemporary cities and towns, Charleston’s streets were designed to facilitate the mobility of pedestrians and slow-moving, horse-drawn vehicles. Most people’s residence doubled as their place of employment, so there were far fewer people using the urban streets to commute between home and work. When city dwellers did venture into the streets, most used their feet to get around town. Wealthier folks and those traveling between town and country rode horses or drove horse-drawn chairs, carriages, and wagons. Laborers transporting goods like firewood, bricks, rum, and beer from one part of town to another used horse-drawn carts and drays (side-less carts). The use of human-powered wheelbarrows was once much more common that anyone remembers.

In this historic streetscape filled with slow-moving urbanites and a small number of commuters, traffic congestion, vehicular accidents, and injuries were very rare occurrences in early Charleston. Society in general moved at a slower pace. Clock-time and deadlines were of little concern to most people (see Episode No. 89). Despite the relatively placid nature of our streets, however, there were occasional complaints. Youthful exuberance often compelled men to gallop their horses through the streets at top speed, while angry teamsters sometimes drove their wagons through the city in a furious, dangerous manner. Frightened pedestrians no doubt shook their fists and cursed aloud on such occasions, but little else could be done. There were no laws to regulate traffic; instead, a healthy respect for one’s neighbors kept most people from riding or driving recklessly.

By the middle of the eighteenth century, the people of Charleston were growing weary of what was apparently a rising tide of unruly traffic. In the autumn of 1747, a grand jury complained to the provincial Court of General Sessions about “the evel [sic] practice of Negros [sic] and other persons rideing [sic] horses at full speed through the streets of Charles Town to the endangering several persons lives.”[1] The wheels of government moved slowly then as now, of course, and two years passed before the legislature considered a remedy. In the spring of 1749, the South Carolina Commons House of Assembly ordered a committee to craft a bill to keep the streets of Charleston clean and safe, “and for establishing such other regulations as may be necessary for the health and convenience of the inhabitants of the said town.”[2]

That committee reported back to the Commons House in early 1750 with a long list of recommendations, including a proposal “that all persons be punished who shall drive their chairs or ride horses in the streets of Charles Town, or on the Broad Path [King Street] within three miles of Charles Town, so fast as to endanger persons passing and re-passing [on foot].”[3] After the House debated and adopted the report, it appointed another committee to draft the text of a new law to regulate the streets of Charleston. To them fell the task of articulating the proper speed at which people and animals should move along the town’s urban thoroughfares. So, how fast was too fast in the year 1750? What language would they use to quantify the proper speed, and how would they enforce it?

The concept of measuring an object’s rate of motion arose from philosophical and astronomical observations made around the turn of the seventeenth century. Most scientists identify the Italian musician Galileo Galilei (1564–1642) as the first to articulate the simple formula that defines speed as distance over time. The cognitive ability to perform such calculations had been around for many centuries prior to Galileo, of course, but the relatively slow pace of life on earth rendered speed a moot phenomenon. For most of human history, we expressed the concept of speed using relative and comparative terms based on observations of the natural world. He runs as a fast a deer; she’s a slow as a tortoise; that horse runs like the wind, and so on. While it was intellectually possible to determine one’s specific rate of travel at any particular moment during a journey, doing so wasn’t particularly useful.

Back in Charleston on May 31st, 1750, the South Carolina General Assembly ratified its first traffic regulation within a larger statute “for keeping the streets in Charles Town clean.” To ensure the safety of the streets within the unincorporated town, the provincial government appointed a board of “Commissioners of the Streets of Charles Town.” The eighteenth paragraph of their jurisdiction states “that it shall not be lawful to or for any person or persons whatever to ride on horseback or to drive or be driven in any chair chaise charriott [sic] or coach in or through any of the streets lanes or alleys in the said town faster than a moderate trot or pace under pain of forfeiting the sum of five pounds current money for every such offence.” Note that this speed limit applied only to urban Charleston in 1750. Outside of the tiny city of approximately 9,000 souls, there was no speed limit of any kind in any unincorporated area of South Carolina until 1905.[4]

That equestrian phrase, no “faster than a moderate trot or pace,” served as the speed limit within urban Charleston for more than a century. Early residents would have immediately understood its meaning because horses of all kinds formed a significant proportion of the local traffic. Strong draft horses and mules generally pulled heavy carts, drays, and wagons around town at a walk, while more nimble steeds pulled lighter two-wheeled chairs and four-wheel carriages at a slightly faster trot or pace. Saddle horses were capable of moving even faster, but of course the purpose of the 1750 law was to restrain any and all animals and vehicles from moving “faster than a moderate trot or pace” in the streets. Our first speed limit was based on the ancient concept of relative speed, not a specific, quantifiable rate of motion.[5]

But early South Carolinians did know how to determine speed using Galileo’s simple formula. Using their own experiences as a guide, they knew that adult humans generally walk at a rate of approximately three miles per hour. Horses generally walk in the range of four to five miles per hour; trot and pace in the range of five to ten miles per hour; canter above ten miles per hour, and gallop above twenty miles per hour. In 1753, for example, Thomas Hasell of Charleston advertised a stray horse that, according to one observer, “paces about 5 or 6 miles an hour.” A number of other contemporary newspaper advertisements echo that rate of travel, which is, in fact, pretty average. Richard Butler of Ashley River, on the other hand, advertised in 1744 for the return of an energetic stray horse that he said “paces about 10 miles an hour.” Daniel Huger’s thoroughbred horse, Skim, won a local race in 1764 by running a two-mile heat in four minutes and forty seconds, traveling at an exhilarating average of nearly twenty-six miles per hour.[6]

Charleston’s first speed limit imposed a fine on anyone traveling “faster than a moderate trot or pace,” but not everyone was capable of paying such a fine. More than half of the local population was composed of enslaved people of African descent, some of whom rode and drove horses as part of their normal duties. They didn’t have access to cash to pay speeding fines, so the provincial legislature had to amend the law. A revised version adopted in the spring of 1757 specified that any “Negro or other slave” riding or driving too fast in Charleston would be “whipped at the discretion of any Justice of the Peace or the said Commissioners [of the Streets] or any two of them not exceeding forty stripes and the master or owner of such Negro or other slave so offending shall be obliged to pay the charge of such whipping.”[7]

The speed limit enacted in 1750 and the punishments prescribed in 1757 remained in force in urban Charleston through the American Revolution and into the spring of 1783.[8] That April, the state-appointed Commissioners of the Streets published a brief synopsis of the law, reminding urbanites “that no white person shall ride on horseback or in a carriage in the streets faster than a moderate trot or pace. Penalty three dollars—Negroes offending shall be publickly [sic] whipped not exceeding 40 lashes, and the owners made liable to the expence of the whipping.”[9] The act of incorporating the City of Charleston in August 1783 transferred the duties of the Commissioners of the Streets to the new City Council, and the city wardens crafted their first street ordinance in June of 1784. At that time, City Council merely repeated the wording of the colonial-era statute prohibiting riding or driving within the corporate limits of Charleston “faster than a moderate trot or pace.”[10] That simple regulation was repeated in a series of revised street ordinances passed in 1785, 1790, 1791, 1801, and 1805.[11] The text of an 1806 revision remained in force for more than sixty years, so I’ll quote the relevant text in full:

Be it ordained by the Intendant and Wardens of Charleston, in City Council assembled . . . That no person driving a cart, dray, or waggon [sic], shall be permitted to drive the same in any of the streets, or open places in Charleston, faster than a walk, and no person riding on horseback, or driving a chair, chaise, curricle, or other carriage, shall be permitted to ride or drive the same, in any of the streets, or open places, in Charleston, faster than a walk, moderate trot or pace, and to turn round the corner of any street faster than a walk, under a penalty of five dollars . . . provided, however, that any such person, proving, to the satisfaction of any one of the City Wardens, that he was compelled, by certain urgent cause or causes, to ride or drive faster than as above prescribed, shall not be liable to a prosecution for the same. . . .

And be it further ordained by the authority aforesaid, That exclusive of the fine and fines payable by, or for persons, riding or driving contrary to this and the above cited ordinance, every person of color, whether bond or free, shall receive no less than twelve, nor more than twenty lashes upon his bare back, at the public market-place in Queen or Market-streets, wherever and as often as he shall ride or drive otherwise than as directed in and by this and the above recited ordinance. . . . and if it shall appear to the said warden, that such person of colour hath aggravated his offence by insolent and refractory conduct, it shall and may be lawful to and for such warden, to order such person of colour to be confined in the Work-house for any term not exceeding one month.[12]

The city’s street laws, refined between 1784 and 1806, remained in effect, with minor amendments, until 1868.[13] Between the creation of Charleston's first street regulations in 1750 and the end of the American Civil War in 1865, the city’s urban population increased five-fold from approximately 9,000 to approximately 45,000 people. The streets became more crowded, of course, but the general pace of travel did not change. Commercial mass-transit options appeared on the streets of Charleston in the form of omnibuses in 1833 (see Episode No. 29) and street rail cars in 1867 (see Episode No. 113), but both of those services used slow-moving horses to pull passengers through the city streets. Their speed was regulated by the existing prohibition against traveling faster than a moderate trot.[14]

Charleston’s City Council adopted a new traffic ordinance in May of 1868 that discarded the prescriptions for corporal punishment and, for the first time, articulated the speed limit as a rate of travel calculated in miles per hour. It also made a subtle distinction between the legal speed of riders and vehicles. The new ordinance imposed a fine on anyone who “shall ride, drive, or lead any horse, mare, gelding, or other animal faster than six miles per hour in any street, lane, alley, market place, public landing or common in said city below Line Street.” That clause was intended to cover saddle riders and drovers (cowboys)—both black and white—who led or drove groups of horses, cows, and sheep within the city. To regulate the flow of vehicular traffic, the 1868 ordinance imposed a similar fine on anyone who “shall drive or cause to be driven any carriage, wagon, dray or other vehicle drawn by any animal or animals in any street, lane, alley, market place, public landing or common in said city below Line Street as aforesaid, faster than at the rate of seven miles per hour.”[15]

Two-wheeled velocipedes, or bicycles, first appeared on the streets of urban Charleston in the spring of 1869 (see Episode No. 120), but initially they were not subject to the city’s speed limit. Most bikes moved slowly in those days because few of Charleston’s streets were paved and cushioning rubber tires weren’t available until the late 1880s. Following a series of street paving campaigns during the last quarter of the nineteenth century, using oyster shells, vitrified bricks, granite blocks, and eventually asphalt, bicyclists began to navigate through Charleston with increasing speed. City Council finally applied the existing vehicular speed limit of seven miles per hour to bicycle traffic the autumn of 1896, and then extended its speed jurisdiction to the incorporated areas north of Line Street in the spring of 1902.[16]

The most significant transportation change at the turn of the twentieth century was the advent of the automobile. The first motorized autos arrived in Charleston in the summer of 1900 (see Episode No. 114), and by February 1901 City Council had drafted an ordinance to regulate their use on the streets. Section five of that law stated “It shall be unlawful for any one to run any such vehicle on any of the streets, lanes or alleys of the city at a greater rate of speed than ten miles per hour, and it shall be unlawful for any one to run any such vehicle across the intersection of any street, lane, or alley, or to turn a corner of any street, lane or alley at a greater rate of speed than four miles an hour.” Automobiles were not the only vehicles on the streets in the early years of the new century, of course, and so the speed limits imposed on animals and animal-drawn vehicles in 1868 and extended to bicycles in 1896 continued to apply to non-motorized modes of transportation.[17]

In early 1905, the South Carolina General Assembly ratified its first law “to regulate the running of motor vehicles upon the public highways” traversing the unincorporated areas of the state. The legislature prescribed a maximum allowable speed of fifteen miles per hour on rural roads, but qualified that limit with a series of precautions acknowledging the traditional rights of pedestrians and animals. Auto drivers approaching “a person walking in the roadway of a public highway or a horse or other draft animal being ridden or driven thereon” were required to “use every reasonable precaution to ensure the safety of such person or animals.” To prevent frightening draft animals they encountered, automobiles were required “at once” to reduce their speed while passing. “If such horses or other draft animals appear frightened,” auto drivers were required to reduce their speed by half or to stop, “if apparently necessary for the safety of such person or animal.” The state law empowered the riders and drivers of draft animals to raise a hand as a signal for auto drivers passing by to “bring such motor vehicle immediately to a stop, if necessary, having due regard for [the] safety of persons, vehicles, and animals.”[18]

South Carolina’s first highway speed law of March 1905, which was strengthened by a similar statute in February 1906, applied only to rural roads, but there were plenty of pedestrians and working animals in urban Charleston as well. In response to these state developments, City Council revised Charleston’s street ordinance in the spring of 1907 requiring auto drivers to exercise similar patience. From time to time, said the ordinance, the maximum allowable speed within the city “shall be less than the said rate [of ten miles per hour] when because of the presence of people or vehicles on the streets, or other cause, proper prudence and caution shall dictate a slower rate of speed, and in all respects comply with the acts of the General Assembly approved March 7, 1905, and February 21, 1906, as to the passing of persons, horses, and other draft animals.”[19]

Horses and pedestrians had dominated Charleston’s streets since the beginning of the town, and the city continued to protect their safety in the early years of the twentieth century. As the months rolled by, however, the number of motor vehicles plying the streets of Charleston continued to increase. City drivers piloting ever-more powerful cars sought to move faster, and their patience with the slow-moving quadrupeds began to wear thin. Even the city’s fire chief couldn’t restrain himself to the legal limit of ten miles an hour when the Fire Department acquired a twenty-horsepower automobile. Simulating his response to an emergency, the chief made a test run up Meeting Street and “flashed by the market” at the rate of thirty miles an hour. Gob-smacked witnesses said that the vehicle had “burned breeze” as its “privileged” driver waved pedestrians and animals out of his way.[20]

After a decade of automobile traffic on the streets of Charleston, many drivers began to feel that the legal speed limit of ten miles an hour—just above “a moderate trot”—was “ridiculously low.” The newly-formed Charleston Automobile Club, which included many of the city’s affluent businessmen, drafted a set of demands in the spring of 1912 and pressured City Council to amend the law. The result was a sweeping revision of Charleston’s street ordinance that applied a uniform set of regulations to all vehicles powered by animals, humans, and gasoline, and thus represents the city’s first modern traffic code.[21]

The street ordinance of August 1912 raised the maximum speed to fifteen miles an hour within urban Charleston, “except on King Street, between Broad and Line Streets, between which points a speed not greater than ten miles an hour shall be lawful.” This relatively modest increase in the speed limit reflected a compromise between the demands of the Automobile Club and the fact that draft animals continued to work in the city’s streets. The 1912 ordinance acknowledged the continued presence of horses-drawn vehicles by paraphrasing the state highway laws of 1905 and 1906. The drivers of automobiles were again required to exercise caution around horses and horse-drawn vehicles. If a horse driver put up his hand to a motor car, the auto diver was required “to immediately stop and remain stationary as long as may be necessary to allow said horse or horses or domestic animal or animals to pass.”[22]

Residents of the Palmetto City witnessed a steady increase in auto traffic in the 1910s and early 1920s, while the number of working animals gradually declined. By 1925, there were nearly seven thousand motor cars and trucks operating in the city, and their operators were determined to drive faster than fifteen miles an hour.[23] City Council adopted a revised speed ordinance in January of that year that raised the maximum urban speed to twenty miles per hour, “except on King Street between Calhoun and Broad Streets, between which points a speed not greater than fifteen miles per hour shall be lawful.” On Meeting Street, and only north of Line Street, motor cars, trucks, and streetcars were permitted to travel up to twenty-five miles an hour. The city also established a general minimum speed of twelve miles per hour, except when making turns at no faster than ten miles an hour. In a nod to the continued presence of working animals in the city and their slower rate of travel, the 1925 ordinance repeated an old admonition that “no horse-drawn vehicle shall turn into or cross any street from an intersecting street at a greater speed than a slow walk.”[24]

The rhythmic hoofbeats of working animals, like draft and carriage horses and mules, had set the pace of daily life in Charleston since colonial times, but those sounds gradually disappeared from the city’s streets during the second quarter of the twentieth century. City Council ratified a new street ordinance in August 1933 that raised the maximum speed from twenty to twenty-five miles per hour in most of the city, but maintained the speed of fifteen miles per hour on King Street between Calhoun and Broad Streets. Those speeds were retained in a 1942 revision and continued to be enforced through the 1960s. In May of 1975, City Council revised the traffic code to read as follows: “where no special hazard requiring lower speed exists, the maximum speed limit shall be thirty miles per hour on any street unless otherwise posted.”[25]

The City of Charleston began sharing jurisdiction over larger urban thoroughfares with the South Carolina Highway Department in early 1939.[26] That arrangement eventually led to the appearance of slightly higher speed limits on some streets, especially in the northern parts of the city. By the 1980s, the maximum legal speed on upper Meeting Street and the northern end of East Bay Street, for example, increased to thirty-five miles an hour to conform with state-wide regulations.

Here in the twenty-first century, we’ve grown accustomed to driving at speeds that would astonish and terrify the citizens of early Charleston. The horsepower and safety features of modern automobiles tend to foster a sense of limitless freedom, and the sheer volume of cars and trucks on the road has led some drivers to assume ownership of the roads. During the current pandemic, however, most of the cars and trucks have disappeared. Pedestrians and bicycles have dominated Charleston’s thoroughfares in recent weeks, as if a time machine transported us back more than a hundred years. Streams of fast-moving autos will return soon enough, but I hope we might take this opportunity to learn a lesson from our own history. In the narrow streets of this historic city, slow-moving humans and animals established valuable traditions of safety and patience nearly three centuries ago.



[1] South Carolina Department of Archives and History (hereafter SCDAH), Journal of His Majesty’s Council for South Carolina, No. 15, page 61 (13 November 1747). Note that the clerk who recorded this flawed text was demoted later the same day for his inaccurate spellings and poor penmanship.

[2] J. H. Easterby and Ruth S. Green, eds., The Journal of the Commons House of Assembly, March 28, 1749–March 19, 1750 (Columbia: South Carolina Archives Department), 264–65 (31 May 1749).

[3] Easterby and Green, Journal of the Commons House, 1749–1750, 383–84, 387–88 (2 February 1749/50).

[4] The text of Act No. 775, “An Act for keeping the Streets in Charles Town clean, and establishing such other regulations for the security Health and Convenience of the Inhabitants of the said Town as are therein mentioned, and for establishing a new Market in the said Town,” ratified on 31 May 1750, was not included in the published Statutes at Large of South Carolina or any other published collection of early state laws. The original manuscript copy survives among the collection of engrossed statutes at SCDAH.

[5] Act No. 775 of 1750 was amended by Act No. 787, “An additional and explanatory Act, to an Act of the General Assembly of this Province, intitled [sic], an Act for keeping the Streets in Charles-Town clean; and establishing such other Regulations for the Security, Health and Convenience of the inhabitants of the said Town, as are therein mentioned; and for establishing a new Market in the said Town,” ratified on 4 May 1751, but its text was not included in any published collection of early state laws. The original manuscript copy survives among the collection of engrossed statutes at SCDAH. Both Act No. 775 and Act No. 787 were continued for a further two years by Act No. 828, “An Act to revive and continue the several Acts of the General Assembly of this Province therein mentioned,” ratified on 11 May 1754, found in Thomas Cooper, ed., The Statutes at Large of South Carolina, volume 4 (Columbia, S.C.: A. S. Johnston, 1838), 13–14.

[6] For a discussion of horse locomotion and speed, see Susan E. Harris, Horse Gaits, Balance, and Movement (Nashville, Tenn.: Turner Publishing Company, 2016); South Carolina Gazette (hereafter SCG), 15 August 1753; SCG, 26 March 1744; SCG, 17–24 March 1764.

[7] The text of Act No. 862, “An Act to impower [sic] certain Commissioners therein mentioned to keep clean and in good repair the Streets of Charles-Town,” ratified on 21 May 1757, was not included in any published collection of early state laws. The original manuscript survives among the collection of engrossed statutes at SCDAH.

[8] Act No. 862 of 1757 was superseded by Act No. 927, “An Act to empower certain commissioners therein mentioned, to keep clear and in good order and repair the streets of Charlestown; and for establishing other regulations in the said town,” ratified on 10 August 1764, in David J. McCord, ed., The Statutes at Large of South Carolina, volume 9 (Columbia, S.C.: A. S. Johnston, 1841), 697–705. Act No. 927 of 1764 was continued by Act No. 987, “An Act for reviving and continuing an Act entitled ‘An Act to impower certain Commissioners therein mentioned to keep clean and in good order the Streets in Charlestown, and for establishing certain regulations in the said town,’ and for repealing the eighth and part of the seventeenth clauses of an Act commonly called the General Duty Act,” ratified on 23 August 1769, and by Act No. 1009, “An Act to revive and continue, for the term therein limited, several Acts and clauses of Acts of the General Assembly of this Colony,” ratified on 4 March 1775, in Thomas Cooper, The Statutes at Large of South Carolina, volume 3 (Columbia, S.C.: A. S. Johnston, 1838), 309–10, 331–35. The text of Act No. 927 was made “perpetual” by Act No. 1161, “An Act for reviving and amending several Acts and Ordinances of the General Assembly,” ratified on 12 March 1783, in Cooper, Statutes at Large, 4: 540.

[9] South Carolina Weekly Gazette, 12 April 1783.

[10] “An Ordinance for repairing, cleansing, and keeping in good order the Streets of Charleston,” ratified on 17 June 1784, in Alexander Edwards, comp., Ordinances of the City Council of Charleston, In the State of South Carolina, Passed since the Incorporation of the City (Charleston, S.C.: W. P. Young, 1802), 26. The entirety this 1784 ordinance was superseded and repealed by “An ordinance for appointing Commissioners of the Streets, and defining their powers, and for other purposes therein mentioned,” ratified on 2 April 1789, in Timothy Ford, comp., Ordinances of the City Council of Charleston, in the State of South Carolina, Passed Since the Incorporation of the City (Charleston, S.C.: A. Timothy, 1789), 73.

[11] See “An Ordinance for the more effectually preventing of persons from galloping on horseback, or driving carriages, improperly, through the streets of Charleston,” ratified on 17 October 1785, in Ford, Ordinances of the City Council of Charleston, 1789, 21; “An Ordinance for the repealing part of an ordinance for preventing persons driving carriages improperly through the streets of Charleston, and to amend an ordinance for regulating carts, drays and wagons within this City,” ratified on 18 October 1790 (which is not found in any published form except Charleston City Gazette, 23 October 1790); “An Ordinance for regulating carts, drays, wagons and carriages, within the City,” ratified on 7 December 1791, in in Dominick Augustin Hall, comp., Ordinances of the City Council of Charleston, In the State of South Carolina, Passed Since the Incorporation of the City (Charleston, S.C.: John MacIver, 1796), 81; “An Ordinance for regulating carts, drays, wagons, and carriages, within the City of Charleston,” ratified on 7 July 1801, in Alexander Edwards, comp., Ordinances of the City Council of Charleston, In the State of South Carolina, Passed since the Incorporation of the City (Charleston, S.C.: W. P. Young, 1802), 214–21; “An Ordinance, to amend an ordinance, entitled ‘An ordinance for regulating carts, drays, wagons, and carriages within the City, and for other purposes,’” ratified on 30 December 1805, in Alexander Edwards, comp., Ordinances of the City Council of Charleston, Passed between the 24th of September 1804, and the 1st Day of September 1807 (Charleston, S.C.: W. P. Young, 1807), 313.

[12] “An Ordinance for the government of persons, riding on horseback, or driving carts, drays, wagons, or other carriages, in the City of Charleston, and for other purposes therein mentioned,” ratified on 13 October 1806, in Edwards, Ordinances, 1807, 364.

[13] A small portion of the 1805 street ordinance was repealed by “An Ordinance to repeal such part of an ordinance, passed in City Council, on the 30th day of December, 1805, as directs that all drivers of carts or drays, shall walk alongside of their horse or horses,” ratified on 4 June 1810, in City Council of Charleston, The Ordinances of the City Council of Charleston, South Carolina, Passed Since the First of September, 1807, and to the 12th of November, 1815 (Charleston, S.C.: G. M. Bounetheau and Lewis Bryer, [1815]), 510.

[14] For estimates of Charleston’s population, see Peter A. Coclanis, The Shadow of a Dream: Economic Life and Death in the South Carolina Low Country, 1760–1920 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1989), 64–65, 114–15.

[15] The full text of “An Ordinance to Regulate the Driving of Carts, Drays, and Wagons on the Streets” appeared among the official proceedings of the City Council meeting of 9 April 1868 published in Charleston Daily News, 18 April 1868, page 5. It was included in General Ordinances of the City of Charleston, South Carolina (Charleston, S.C.: Lucas & Richardson, 1895), 185–86, with the ratification date of 5 May 1868.

[16] See “An Ordinance to amend Sections Numbers 519, 521 and 522, of Chapter XIV of the General Ordinances of the City of Charleston, relative to bicycles, carriages, &c,” ratified on 13 October 1896, in Charleston Year Book 1896, 305–6. “An Ordinance to Amend Section 521 of the General Ordinances of the City, Ratified 1895,” ratified on 11 March 1902, in Charleston Year Book 1902, 269, removed the phrase “below Line street” from the existing speed limit ordinance.

[17] “An Ordinance to regulate the use of the streets of the city by mobiles, automobiles, locomobiles, and all vehicles of a similar character,” ratified on 12 February 1901, in Charleston Year Book 1901, 260; City Council of Charleston, The Revised Ordinances of the City of Charleston, South Carolina (Charleston, S.C.: Walker, Evans & Cogswell, 1903), 245 (section 631).

[18] “An Act to Regulate the Running of Motor Vehicles Upon the Public Highways [i.e., rural roads] of this State, and Fixing a Penalty for the Violation Thereof,” ratified on 7 March 1905, in Acts and Joint Resolutions of the General Assembly of the State of South Carolina Passed at the Regular Session of 1905 (Columbia, S.C.: Gonzales and Bryan, 1905), 965–67; “An Act to Amend an Act Entitled ‘An Act to Regulate the Running of Motor Vehicles Upon the Public Highways of this State, and Fixing a Penalty for the Violation Thereof,’ Approved 7th of March, 1905, Prescribing Duties of Motor Operator, Increasing the Penalty for Violation thereof,” ratified on 21 February 1906, in Acts and Joint Resolutions of the General Assembly of the State of South Carolina Passed at the Regular Session of 1906 (Columbia, S.C.: Gonzales and Bryan, 1906), 79–80.

[19] “An Ordinance to strike out sections 621 to 626, inclusive, of the General Ordinances of the City of Charleston, relating to automobiles etc., and insert new sections in their place,” ratified on 9 April 1907, in Charleston Year Book 1907, 310–13.

[20] Charleston Evening Post, 24 January 1906, page 2, “Fire Chief Sped in Record Time.”

[21] For examples of the influence of the auto club, see Charleston News and Courier, 21 March 1912, page 8, “No New Auto Accidents”; News and Courier, 30 March 1912, page 3, “Auto Club Adopts Rules”; News and Courier, 6 April 1912, page 5, “Chauffeurs’ License Suggested.”

[22] “An Ordinance to Regulate the Streets of the City of Charleston by Vehicles,” ratified on 13 August 1912, in Charleston Year Book 1912, 400–4.

[23] Charleston Evening Post, 20 January 1925, page 4: “Traffic Rules.”

[24] “An Ordinance to Regulate the Use of the Streets of the City of Charleston by Pedestrians and Vehicles of Every Description,” &c., ratified on 26 January 1925, in Charleston Year Book 1925, 300–15.

[25] Charleston Year Book 1933; Year Book 1942The Code of the City of Charleston, South Carolina, 1975 (Charleston, S.C.: Walker, Evans, and Cogswell, 1975). Charleston Evening Post, 28 May 1975, page 17.

[26] See the official proceedings of the City Council meeting of 24 January 1939 in Charleston Evening Post, 26 January 1939, page 10.


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