PDF Charlestonians In War: The Charleston Battalion

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After fresh elections, state representatives, dominated by formerly-enslaved men, gathered in Charleston in the early months of to frame a new, socially progressive state constitution. Meanwhile, at the municipal level of government, in February the occupying U. The remaining members of City Council were all local white men—members of the old guard—duly elected by their local white constituents, and so the business of municipal government seems to have continued in a rather normal fashion.

The principal text of the law is included in the first paragraph, which reads as follow:. So what was going on in Charleston in to merit a legal prohibition against cross-dressing? The population of urban Charleston at that moment was just under 49, residents, but it might have been even higher. The conclusion of the war and the abolition of slavery in created a sort of labor crisis, in which tens of thousands of formerly enslaved people living on rural plantations weighed their new-found freedom against the prospects of future employment.

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1st Battalion, South Carolina Infantry (Charleston) (Gaillard's) Genealogy - FamilySearch Wiki

Whether they were drawn by family connections, the prospect of more lucrative employment, or the protection of Federal troops is unknown, but it is certain that the city was ill equipped to handle the influx. In the years immediately after the war, the inhabitants of Charleston endured shortages of food, housing, and clothing—all the necessities of life. The daily newspapers of post-war Charleston depict a city teeming with undernourished and underemployed people—predominantly formerly-enslaved people—who were often seen sleeping on benches and sidewalks and bathing openly in the Cooper River.

While formerly-affluent white Charlestonians complained about being deprived of their customary luxuries and having live under a more modest domestic economy, the rest of the city witnessed an unprecedented spike in vagrancy, homelessness, and indecent exposure. Persons arrested for such offences were presented at a daily police court, where the mayor sentenced them to a fine or a brief incarceration of three to thirty days in the House of Correction.

The surviving records of the House of Correction from this era identify the inmates by name, age, occupation, and place of origin, but they do not record the offenses that led to their respective arrests. The daily newspaper coverage of petty crime in urban Charleston in the late s and early s provides a wealth of information about the condition of the city and the struggles of its most vulnerable inhabitants. The tone of this post-war crime reporting is generally paternalistic and judgmental, of course, but it is also frequently tinged with a sense of levity that occasionally clouds the intended meaning.

It is possible, of course, that the youth was dressed in a manner consistent with her personal gender identity, and her nocturnal perambulation was simply an exercise of her constitutional rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Army soldiers the Citadel and what is now called Marion Square. Even if this youth had dressed as a female for the purpose of attracting a male customer, we cannot know whether that choice represented an act of desperation, an earnest expression of her gender preference, or both.

In the end, the difference is moot. The police did not arrest George Robinson for loitering, trespassing, or even solicitation. It dismisses the existence of any underlying purpose, motivation, or agency that might have inspired the subject to dress a certain way. Not every case of cross-dressing in post-Civil War Charleston led to an arrest, of course, and not every arrest for this crime was noted in the local newspaper.

After removing his hat and discovering an attractive female face framed by a profusion of blond hair, the detectives were swooned by an elaborate story about using the disguise to pursue a runaway husband. The railway agents set her free in Charleston, but the local press implied the men had been duped by a pretty face.

The failure and ignominious end of Federal Reconstruction in the late s allowed South Carolina and other Southern states to jettison many of the civil rights advancements made in the years immediately after the Civil War. The primary focus of the civil-rights protests of the s and s was to challenge the long-standing traditions of racial segregation, but that activity also had an impact on the issues of other historically-oppressed minority groups. Activists in places like San Francisco and New York argued passionately for the rights of gay and transgender citizens, and the century-old municipal laws against cross-dressing began disappearing in the early s.

Condon sentenced the transgender youths to ten days in jail, but suspended the sentence on the condition they leave the city immediately.

My goal was simply to provide a bit of context for an obscure but interesting city ordinance and to provide a few examples of its enforcement over the years. The practice of discriminating against people on account of their gender identity is illegal now, but vestiges of intolerance remain.

Charleston Then & Now (Hardcover)

As a historian, I believe learning about our shared past helps us to understand our present circumstances and to plan for a more harmonious future. For the full text of those ordinances, see John Horsey, comp. Bowman, McCord, ed. Johnston, , Section 36, page Charleston police arrest records from this era do not survive. Powers Jr. As early as April , the U. George Robinson was admitted on 22 May and was discharged on 30 June John L. Dart Library. Phone: Email Us. Disunion follows the Civil War as it unfolded.

1st Battalion, South Carolina Infantry (Charleston) (Gaillard's)

Nearly two dozen fires burned out of control across Charleston, S. A brutal day siege, the longest in American history, had reduced much of the city to rubble and driven away most wealthy residents, while Gen. William T. But the Union soldiers who advanced into Charleston were welcomed with open arms — and not just because they helped put out the flames. Thousands of former slaves thrilled at the sight of their liberators, most of whom were members of the 21st United States Colored Troops.

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Over the next few months, as the Civil War ground to a halt, Charleston was transformed from the birthplace of secession into the graveyard of slavery. In parades, commemorations and demonstrations, local freedmen and women joined with the occupying force to mark Union victory and the end of the peculiar institution. Although the city had been practically burned to the ground, revelry reigned.

Nell had once dubbed such pageants. Before the war, Charleston had been the capital of American slavery. After the international slave trade was closed in , Charleston continued to be a vibrant market for slaves traded locally, as well as for those sold to the burgeoning cotton plantations of Mississippi and Louisiana. For much of its early history, Charleston had a black and enslaved majority and, in the decades leading up to the Civil War, most white households owned at least one slave. Little wonder that Charleston played host not only to the South Carolina Secession Convention, which broke up the Union in the defense of slavery, but also to the opening salvo of the war with the firing on Fort Sumter.

This history was no doubt on the minds of black Charlestonians as they observed the liberation of the city four years later. Just hours after Charleston fell, hundreds of newly emancipated men, women and children rejoiced when a company from the Massachusetts 54th marched across the Citadel Green, a park at the center of Charleston. Corey, a Northern minister accompanying the troops.


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Coffin, a Boston Daily Journal correspondent. Freedpeople assembled again on Feb. Collins, a black sergeant. Perhaps the largest festival of freedom was held on Tuesday, March 21, when a crowd of 10, gathered at Citadel Green.

For decades the park had served as a parade ground for the adjacent South Carolina Military Academy, also known as the Citadel. But now the grounds where white cadets, charged with protecting the city against a slave insurrection, had regularly conducted public exercises became the gathering point for a parade of black Union soldiers and countless African-Americans.

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