City and port of entry. Situated on a point of land between the Ashley and Cooper Rivers, at their junction, 6 miles inland from the Atlantic coast. Population in 1790, 16,359; 1800, 18,712; 1810, 24,711; 1820, 24,780; 1830, 30,289; 1840, 29,261; 1850, 43,000,... Charleston is the largest city on the Atlantic coast south of Baltimore. (Gazetteer of the United States of America, 1854)
Charleston, S. C. City and port of entry. Situated on a point of land between the Ashley and Cooper Rivers, at their junction, 6 miles inland from the Atlantic coast. Population in 1790, 16,359; 1800, 18,712; 1810, 24,711; 1820, 24,780; 1830, 30,289; 1840, 29,261; 1850, 43,000, including in this number the population of St. Philip's Parish, which is a continuation of the city north, but, till within a few years past, not included in its chartered limits. Charleston is the largest city on the Atlantic coast south of Baltimore. The harbor, which is formed by the confluence of Ashley and Cooper Rivers, is about 2 miles wide, and extends between 6 and 7 miles, a little S. of E., to the ocean. Ashley River, opposite the city, is 2100 yards wide, and Cooper River 1400 yards wide, and both are from 30 to 42 feet deep. The ground on which the city is built is elevated 8 or 9 feet above high-water mark, at ordinary flood tides. A violent easterly wind,however, concurring with a high course of tides, has sometimes caused parts of the city to be inundated, which was the case in 1728, 1752, and 1797. The tide rises here about 6 feet, and flows in and out with a strong current, which is supposed to contribute to the salubrity of the city. The place is considered as more healthy than any other part of the low country in the Southern States, and is much resorted to by the planters during the sickly months. The city is about 2 miles in length, and over a mile in breadth, and is laid out with considerable regularity. The streets, for the most part, run parallel to each other, from E. to W., extending from river to river, and are crossed by others at right angles. Many of them are paved. The houses are, many of them, of brick, and an ordinance of the city now requires that all within its corporate limits, to be hereafter constructed, be of this material. Many are of wood, neatly painted white, and having piazzas beautifully ornamented with vines. Those in the outer extremities have beautiful yards and gardens connected with them. Every spot in the vicinity, capable of improvement, is occupied with plantations in a high state of cultivation. The growth of Charleston has been less rapid than that of most cities of the United States. It has frequently suffered by disastrous fires. In 1796, one third of this city was destroyed, at a loss estimated at $2,500,000. In 1837, 1200 houses were burned, being one fifth part of the city, covering 145 acres of ground, at a loss estimated at $5,000,000. Nevertheless, the city has advanced in prosperity, and contains all those institutions which mark a thriving and wealthy commercial city. The principal public buildings are the City Hall, Exchange, custom house, court house, jail, state citadel, and two arsenals, a college, a medical college, an alms-house, an orphan asylum, a theatre, seven or eight banks, and about 25 churches. Some of the churches are elegant buildings. The City Hotel, among the public houses, is a splendid establishment, erected at a cost of $150,000. The city has a fine library, comprising nearly 20,000 volumes. There is also a library with 10,000 volumes, belonging to the Apprentices' Association, which sustains an annual course of scientific lectures. The means of education provided by the city are good. There is one high school, and five public free schools ; the whole under the direction of a board of commissioners. The Literary and Philosophical Society is a highly respectable institution, having a fine collection of objects in natural history.
The trade of Charleston is extensive. The harbor is spacious and convenient, though somewhat obstructed by the bar at its mouth. Over this bar there are four principal channels, having a depth of water, at high tide, varying, in tho different channels, from 17 feet to iofeet; and at low tide, from 10 to 6 feet. After entering the harbor, the channel, which is deep, passes very near the S. end of Sullivan's Island, upon which Fort Moultrie is situated. Opposite to this point, upon a sand bar, is another fort, called Fort Sumpter, which stands close upon the channel. The position of these fortifications is very effective for the defence of the city. Charleston possesses great facilities for trade with the interior. It is connected by a canal with the Santee River, which is thence navigable to Columbia, and by a railroad with the Savannah River at Augusta. The length of this road is 136 miles. A branch extends from Branchville, 62 miles, to Columbia. Thus Charleston commands the internal trade not only of most of its own state, but likewise much of that of North Carolina and Georgia. There are several lines of packets connecting Charleston with the city of New York; and numerous steamboats running to Savannah, Beaufort, Georgetown, Columbia, St. Augustine, and other places.
The exports of Charleston are of great importance, consisting of rice and tobacco in considerable amount, but particularly of upland and sea-island cotton. The upland cotton in this region of country is of the finest quality. The sea-island cotton is grown on the islands in this neighborhood, and is remarkable for its fineness, and for its staple, or length of fibre.
This city was first settled in 1680. About 10 years later a colony of French refugees, exiled from their native land in consequence of the revocation of the edict of Nantes, settled in Carolina, and some of them in Charleston. These were the Huguenots, or French Protestants, who fled from religious persecution similar to that which brought the Puritans to New England. From this noble stock have descended many of the families of Charleston. Its inhabitants have always been celebrated for their intelligence, their polished manners, and unaffected hospitality. During the revolutionary war, the defences of this city, on Sullivan's Island, sustained a violent assault from a British squadron, consisting of 9 ships of war, carrying 250 guns, and triumphantly repulsed them, by the bravery of a garrison of 400 men, under the command of Colonel Moultrie. The garrison lost only 10 men in the conflict, and had but 22 wounded; while the British suffered a loss of nearly 200 in killed and wounded. This was on the 28th of June, 1776. On the 17th of May, 1780, the British having again attacked the city by sea and land, it was surrendered into their hands, but was evacuated by them in 1782.
John Hayward, Gazetteer of the United States of America… (Philadelphia: James L. Gihon, 1854), 321-322.