The Charleston Pirate Trials of 1718

November 30, 2018

Over the course of five weeks in the autumn of 1718, the people of Charleston witnessed thirteen trials of fifty-eight men accused of piracy. Clerks wielding quill pens and ink made a paper record of this entire courtroom spectacle, most of which ...

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The Pirate Hunting Expeditions of 1718

November 23, 2018

This month marks the 300th anniversary of one of the dramatic episodes in the history of Charleston—the trial and execution of four dozen pirates who were captured off the Carolina coast in 1718. In today’s episode, we’ll explore the backgro...

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The Tail of Washington’s Horse

November 9, 2018

Have you seen the tail of the horse in the portrait of George Washington that hangs in Charleston’s City Hall? Have you heard the tale of how that painting came to be, and why the horse’s rear-end is so prominently displayed? Is this depiction...

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Buried Alive in Early Charleston

October 25, 2018

In the spirit of Halloween, today’s program concerns one of the most prevalent and legitimate fears held by the people of eighteenth-century Charleston. I’m talking about taphophobia—the fear of being buried alive. Premature burial was a rea...

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The Akin Foundling Hospital Building

October 19, 2018

Today I’d like to introduce you to the Akin Foundling Hospital, a short-lived and long-forgotten municipal institution that was once located on the west side of Meeting Street in downtown Charleston. Established in 1843 at the bequest of Miss El...

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The Forgotten Akin Family of Charleston

October 12, 2018

Most of Charleston is familiar with the Aiken family of Antebellum times, whose railroad wealth literally stamped the family’s name across our state, but hardly anyone remembers the “other” Akin family of colonial South Carolina. From modest...

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Under False Colors: The Politics of Gender Expression in Post-Civil War Charleston

September 28, 2018

In the spring of 1868, the City of Charleston passed an ordinance making it illegal for a person to appear in public dressed in a manner “not becoming his or her sex.” Why would they do such a thing? The answer is wrapped in the confusing worl...

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The Heads of the Two Toms in 1745

September 20, 2018

Has this ever happened to you: There’s a knock at your front door late at night. You open the door to find a messenger with a letter and a soggy burlap bag. You open the letter—it’s news about a series of recent murders. You look inside the ...

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Murder at Four Holes Swamp in 1744

September 7, 2018

Today’s story begins in the summer of 1744, when the government of South Carolina was shocked by the news that two Native American men of the Notchee tribe had murdered several Catawba Indians in cold blood. Fearing a general Indian war, the gov...

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Squeezing Charleston Neck, from 1783 to the Present

August 31, 2018

Over the past three centuries, the definition of Charleston Neck, a geographic feature I introduced in last week’s episode, has changed radically. It once encompassed the entire tongue of land between the rivers Ashley and Cooper, but the steady...

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