Did you know that Charleston was originally a gift to eight loyal friends from King Charles II of England? It was established in 1670 as a walled city to resist Native Americans, raids by Pirates and assaults by Spain and France. It had a diverse mixture of ethnic and religious groups. The oldest church dates back to 1752. It is located at the congruence of the Ashley and Cooper Rivers. Trade began with Bermuda and the Caribbean. It quickly became the wealthiest and largest city south of Philadelphia in 1770. Rice, cotton and indigo were the main crops along with the slave trade.
On December 20, 1860 the South Carolina legislature was the first southern state to vote for secession from the Federal Union primarily because Abraham Lincoln’s purposes were deemed “hostile to continued slavery”. On January 9, 1861, the first shots of the Civil War were fired at a Union ship entering the Charleston Harbor. By 1865 Union troops seized control of the city. After the eventual defeat of the Confederacy, Federal forces remained in Charleston during its reconstruction from war which had shattered the prosperity of Charleston. Slaves were freed, economy improved and Charleston enjoyed renewed vitality and commitment to reconstruction, preservation and dedication to restoring community and society institutions.
Today, Charleston is rich with tourism. There are many things to see there, so start off with a walking tour of the Battery and Waterfront Park. Observe the historic homes with gorgeous balconies. Visit a plantation such as Middleton Place or Magnolia Plantation and Gardens. It is hard to explain the sense of history walking among such old buildings and trees. Don’t forget the amazing southern hospitality and cuisine. Seafood is abundant so take advantage of the oysters, shrimp and grits and She Crab soup. There will be lots of okra, pimiento cheese and collard greens. Oh, I am already hungry! Make sure to hire a great tour guide. We recommend Gus Smythe. He is a local whose family’s roots run deep there. He is a man of many talents including movie producer, tour guide and realtor.
If you have time, go to Kiawah Island named after the Indians who inhabited it in the 1600’s. The island consists of marshes, lagoons and fresh water estuaries. The island has a maritime forest and there are 18 species of mammals including whitetail deer, raccoon, opossum and squirrel, more than 30 species of reptiles and amphibians including alligators and sea turtles that inhabit the island. There are more than 140 species of birds including the Brown Pelican, Wood Ibis, osprey, duck sea gulls, terns, herons, hawks and egrets.