Charleston Gateway

Lowcountry Lowdowns

Charleston Firsts

The first settlers brought cotton seed to Carolina.
Rice was first exported and expanded within a decade to a volume for which “there were not enough ships in the harbor,” as noted by the Collector of Customs.
1707 – 1728
The first American Woman artist, Henrietta Johnson, painted pastel portraits of the colony’s leading citizens, among them one of Colonel William Rhett, who in 1718 had captured notorious pirate Stede Bonnet.
The first Native American to receive a medical degree, from Leyden University in Holland, was Carolina’s William Bull.
The first American performance of an opera, Flora or Hob in the Well, took place in Charleston.
The Dock Street Theatre, the first American building exclusively for theatrical productions, was contructed.
Charleston was first, in 1736, to organize a fire insurance company, the “Friendly Society for the Mutual Insurance of Houses Against Fire.”
Dr. John Lining, a friend of Benjamin Franklin, conducted this country’s first recorded scientific weather observations from his home at Broad and King Streets.
The first cotton was exported from Charleston Harbor, and Sea Island cotton remained world famous until World War I and the tragedy of the boll weevil plague.
The South’s oldest library, the Charleston Library Society, now at 164 King Street, came into existence.
The Charleston Chamber of Commerce, the country’s oldest, was founded.
The Charleston Museum was established and became the first public museum in America.
South Carolina’s first naval engagement of the Revolution was fought off Charleston Harbor.
Charlestonian Henry Laurens, president of the Continental Congress, while en route to Holland to raise funds for the American cause, was captured by the British and became the first American patriot to be imprisoned in the Tower of London.
America’s first municipal college, the College of Charleston, was founded.
The first golf club in America was founded in Charleston. Its site on Harleston Green has since been built over, a part of today’s Harleston Village.
Reform Judaism came to this country at K.K. Beth Elohim Synagogue on Hasell Street.
America’s first Fireproof Building was completed.
The world’s longest railroad line was built between Charleston and Hamburg, SC.
The world’s first successful submarine attack took place in Charleston Harbor. Both the H. L. Hunley and its target, the Union warship “Housatonic,” were sunk.
Tea was first successfully established. Even today it is grown on Wadmalaw Island and distributed under the name of American Classic Tea Company.
America’s first woman pirate was Anne Bonny, a Charleston belle.
America’s first camellias were planted at Middleton Place, the oldest formally landscaped gardens in this country.

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