The Unmarked Grave of Ellen O’Donovan Rossa

March 15, 2019

The death of Ellen O’Donovan Rossa, a poor Irish widow, in Charleston in September 1870 might have gone unnoticed by the world, but for the international notoriety of her distant, incarcerated son, Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa. His reputation as a...

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Abraham the Unstoppable, Part 4

March 8, 2019

Stricken with the deadly smallpox, Abraham convalesced in Charleston in the late winter of 1760 before embarking on another round-trip journey carrying official messages through the dangerous Cherokee territory. Having witnessed grotesque scenes o...

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Abraham the Unstoppable, Part 3

March 1, 2019

Today we continue our narrative of the enslaved man Abraham by following his perilous solo trek from the Cherokee mountains of eastern Tennessee to the coastal port of Charleston, with a few pit stops along the way. Promised freedom if he could co...

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The Green Book for Charleston, 1938-1966

February 22, 2019

The Oscar buzz surrounding the 2018 film, Green Book, has generated a lot of public interest in the publication that inspired the name of the movie. Charleston isn’t part of the film’s 1962 storyline, but our community was definitely included ...

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Abraham the Unstoppable, Part 2

February 15, 2019

Abraham, an enslaved “Negro” man belonging to an Indian trader named Samuel Benn, was an obscure witness to the escalating tensions between Anglo-American forces in South Carolina and the Cherokee people who lived far to the west of their sett...

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Abraham the Unstoppable, Part 1

February 8, 2019

Today I’d like to introduce you to Abraham the Unstoppable, the true adventure story of an enslaved man of African descent who won his freedom during the Anglo-Cherokee War of 1759–61. First we’ll explore the background of that unfamiliar wa...

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Commemorating the African-ness of Charleston’s History

February 1, 2019

The 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first permanent African residents in 1619 Virginia provides us with an opportunity to reflect on the legacy of slavery. In today’s episode, I’ll try to situate this anniversary in a broader, internat...

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The Earliest Fortifications at Oyster Point

January 25, 2019

By the middle of the eighteenth century, Charleston was one of the most heavily fortified communities in North America. The town’s urban defenses didn’t appear all at once, however. They accumulated over multiple decades and successive eras of...

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The Story behind Ropemaker’s Lane

January 18, 2019

Ropemaker’s Lane is a narrow alley in urban Charleston with a name that evokes images of an antique industry wrought by men twisting and spinning long fibers into useful objects. While that scenario is accurate, it represents just one facet of t...

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Charleston: The Palmetto City

January 11, 2019

The City of Charleston, in my humble opinion, needs an official nickname, and perhaps even an official symbol. There are a few contenders out there, ranging from cheeky epithets to marketing slogans, but I think there’s only one real option to a...

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