Charleston, SC & The American Revolution

charleston sc american revolution

When it comes to the rich history of Charleston, SC there is much to talk about. We can talk about Fort Sumter and the Civil War. We can talk about the colonial days, in which the roots of Charleston’s architecture and style began to take hold. But Charleston, SC is also a city rich in the history of the American War of Independence, which is one of the reasons so many people come here to learn more about our nation’s founding days. Read on to learn more about Charleston’s role in the American Revolution.

Charleston’s Role in Declaring Independence

South Carolina has always had a fiercely independent streak. That was evident in the years leading up to the American Revolution as well, especially during protests of the Tea Act of 1773. In a Southern version of Boston’s Tea Party, citizens of Charleston confiscated local tea and kept it in the Exchange and Custom House, which today is still maintained as a museum in Charleston. It was on the footsteps of this house that the colony of South Carolina declared its own independence.

With both war and independence declared, Charleston soon became a focal point of the American Revolution fighting in the southern colonies. Under attack by British naval forces, Charlestonians took to painting some buildings black during the war, in order to make them blend in with the night sky.

Charleston Under British Rule

Eventually, the focus on Charleston led to the British attacking the city in earnest. With the British believing that loyalists in the South were key to maintaining support in North America, an early 1776 attack by General Henry Clinton was thwarted. As it turned out, there wasn’t as much loyalist support as the British had expected throughout the attack.

The British, true to form, did not give up despite their early losses. Subsequent attacks, including the Battle of Sullivan’s Island, were also a failure, with Colonel William Moultrie of the Continental Army repeatedly confounding the British incursions.

The British did, however, make some progress up the Savannah River, which forms a majority of the boundary between Georgia and South Carolina. Eventually, when Henry Clinton returned with more troops, the city was taken in the Siege of Charleston in 1780. Other elements, such as an outbreak of smallpox in the area, had contributed to the lack of resources necessary to fight off the siege. This would go on to be considered one of the most vital losses on the American side during the war.

With the defeat at Yorktown, the last remaining British troops departed the area in 1782. The Treaty of Paris, solidifying America’s victory, was signed the following year.

Experiencing Charleston, SC History Today

A horse-drawn carriage ride is the only true way to experience Charlestonian history much as it was during the days of the American Revolution. The historic district includes many authentic homes and buildings from the era that are kept in much the same condition they held during the Revolution.

Book a ride with Charleston Carriage Works to get a first-hand look at many of the buildings and events that helped shape both a city—and a nation.