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Date: 07 Jan 2012 22:12:00
Title: The City Market

Charleston City Market

 

 

 

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Charles Cotesworth Pinckney ceded the land on which the Market is built to the City of Charleston in 1788. He stipulated that a public market be built on the site and that it remain in use as a public market into perpetuity. To fulfill this requirement, the low buildings that stretch from Market Hall to the waterfront were built between 1804 and the 1830's. These originally housed meat, vegetable and fish markets; rented for $1.00 per day -- or $2.00, if the space had a piece of marble to keep the meat or fish cold.

 

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Butchers were known to throw meat scraps into the streets, attracting many buzzards that were nicknamed Charleston Eagles. Through the years, the sheds have survived many disasters, including fires, tornadoes, earthquakes, hurricanes and bombardment. Three years after the Masonic Hall on the corner of Meeting and Market Streets was destroyed by fire, the current Market Hall was built in 1841 from a design by Edward Brickwell White. He was paid $300 for his plan, a copy of the Temple of the Wingless Victory in Athens. It was originally used by the Market Commissioners for meetings, social functions and space rental underneath. Since the 1970's, the original sheds and the areas opposite the Market on both sides have housed many small and unique shops, each with its own flavour, history and character. Some of the products for sale include locally crafted sweetgrass baskets, clothing, artwork, jewelry, local souvenirs, perfumes, food and other gift items. The vegetable and fruit vendors are still there alongside the basket weavers who speak Gullah and entice you to buy their goods. The Gullah language has it’s base in English, with strong influences from West and Central African languages such as Mandinka, Wolof, Bambara, Fula, Mende, Vai, Akan, Ewe, Yoruba, Igbo, Hausa, Kongo, Umbundu and Kimbundu. Just a few words: cootuh - turtle, oonuh - you, nyam - eat, pojo - heron, swonguh - proud, benne – sesame and buckruh - white man.

The City Market, one of the oldest in the country, is significant enough to be part of a permanent exhibit entitled “Life in Coastal South Carolina c.1840” at the American History Museum of the Smithsonian Institute in Washington DC.

 
 

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 Charles Cotesworth Pinckney

 

 

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Early life and family: Charles C. Pinckney was born into the Pinckney family of aristocratic planters in Charleston, on the 25th of February 1746. He was the son of Charles Pinckney, who would later serve as the chief justice of the Province of South Carolina, and the celebrated planter and agriculturalist, Eliza Lucas. He was the elder brother of Thomas Pinckney, who served as Governor of South Carolina, as a U.S. Representative, and as a George Washington administration diplomat. His first cousin once removed, Charles Pinckney, served as Governor of South Carolina, as a U.S. Senator, and as a Thomas Jefferson administration diplomat.

In 1753, Pinckney's father moved the family to London, to serve as the colony's agent (essentially as a lobbyist to protect South Carolina's commercial and political interests). Both Charles and his brother Thomas were enrolled in the Westminster School, where they remained after the rest of the family returned to South Carolina in 1758. Both brothers also studied at Oxford University. Pinckney graduated from Christchurch, Oxford with degrees in science and law, and proceeded to further study law with the prestigious Middle Temple society. Pinckney was called to the bar in 1769, but he continued his education in France for another year, studying botany and chemistry. He also had a brief stint at the Royal Military College at Caen.

In 1773, Pinckney married Sarah Middleton, whose father Henry Middleton served as the second President of the Continental Congress and whose brother Arthur Middleton signed the Declaration of Independence. Sarah died in 1784. In 1786, he remarried to Mary Stead, who came from a wealthy family of planters in Georgia. Pinckney had three daughters.

 

Early political career: After returning to South Carolina from Europe, Charles C. Pinckney began to practice law in Charleston. He was first elected to a seat in the colonial legislature in 1770. In 1773 he served as a regional attorney general. When war erupted between the thirteen American colonies and Great Britain in 1775, Pinckney stood with the American Patriots; in that year he was a member of the first South Carolina provincial congress in 1775, which helped South Carolina transition from being a British colony to being an independent state. During the American Revolutionary War he would serve in the lower house of the state legislature and as a member of the South Carolina Senate in addition to his military service.

 

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A portrait from about 1773 by Henry Benbridge.

 

 

Revolutionary War: In 1775, after the American Revolutionary War had broken out, Pinckney volunteered for military service as a full-time regular officer in George Washington's Continental Army. As a senior company commander with the rank of captain, Pinckney raised and led the elite Grenadiers of the 1st South Carolina Regiment. He participated in the successful defense of Charleston in the Battle of Sullivan's Island in June 1776, when British forces under General Sir Henry Clinton staged an amphibious attack on the state capital. Later in 1776 Pinckney took command of the regiment, with the rank of colonel, a position he retained to the end of the war. After this, the British Army shifted its focus to the Northern and Mid-Atlantic states. Pinckney led his regiment north to join General Washington's troops near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Pinckney and his regiment then participated in the Battle of Brandywine and the Battle of Germantown. Around this time he first met fellow officers and future Federalist statesmen Alexander Hamilton and James McHenry. In 1778, Pinckney and his regiment, returning to the South, took part in a failed American expedition attempting to seize British East Florida. The expedition ended due to severe logistical difficulties and a British victory in the Battle of Alligator Bridge. Later that year, the British Army shifted its focus to the Southern theater, capturing Savannah, Georgia, that December. In October 1779, the Southern army of Major General Benjamin Lincoln, with Pinckney leading one of its brigades, attempted to re-take Savannah in the Siege of Savannah. This attack was disaster for the Americans, who suffered numerous casualties.

Pinckney then participated in 1780 defense of Charleston against British siege. Major General Lincoln surrendered his 5,000 men to the British on the 12th of May 1780, whereupon Pinckney became a prisoner of war. As a prisoner of war, he played a major role in maintaining the troops' loyalty to the Patriots' cause. During this time, he famously said, "If I had a vein that did not beat with the love of my Country, I myself would open it. If I had a drop of blood that could flow dishonorable, I myself would let it out." He was kept in close confinement until his release in 1782. In November 1783, he was commissioned a brevet Brigadier General in the Continental Army shortly before the southern regiments were disbanded.

 

 

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Constitutional Convention: Pinckney, who had returned to the lower house of the state legislature, represented South Carolina at the constitutional convention of 1787, where he was an influential member. Pinckney advocated the idea that slaves be counted as a basis of representation and opposing abolition of the slave trade. He also advocated a strong national government (albeit one with a system of checks and balances) to replace the weak one of the time. He opposed as impracticable the election of representatives by popular vote. He also opposed paying senators, who, he thought, should be men of independent wealth. Pinckney played a key role in requiring treaties to be ratified by the Senate and in the compromise that resulted in the abolition of the Atlantic slave trade. He also opposed placing a limitation on the size of a federal standing army. Pinckney played a prominent role in securing the ratification of the Federal constitution in the South Carolina convention of 1788, and in framing the South Carolina Constitution in the convention of 1790. After this he announced his retirement from politics.

 

 

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Later political career: On the tourist information sign there is a reference to the “XYZ Affair”. The XYZ Affair was a 1798 diplomatic episode during the administration of John Adams that Americans interpreted as an insult from France. It led to an undeclared naval war called the Quasi-War, which raged at sea from 1798 to 1800. The Fedaralist Party took advantage of the national anger to build an army and pass the Alien and Sedition Acts to damage the rival Democratic-Republican Party. In the wake of the French Revolution, relations between the new French Republic and the United States became ever more strained. Three French agents, publicly referred to as X, Y, and Z (X was Baron Jean-Conrad Hottinguer, Y was Pierre Bellamy and Z was Lucien Hauteval) demanded major concessions from the United States as a condition for continuing bilateral diplomatic relations. The concessions demanded by the French included 50,000 pounds sterling, a $12 million loan from the United States, a $250,000 personal bribe to French foreign minister Charles Maurice de Talleyrand, and a formal apology for comments made by President Adams. The Americans found these demands unacceptable, and answered, "Not a sixpence", but in the inflated rhetoric of the day the response became the infinitely more memorable: "Millions for defense, sir, but not one cent for tribute!"

 

In the 1800 presidential election, Pinckney was Jefferson's campaign manager, running with the incumbent president, John Adams. They were defeated by the Democratic-Republicans Thomas Jefferson (who became president) and Aaron Burr (who became vice president). In 1804, the Federalist Party nominated Pinckney to run for the presidency against Jefferson. Jefferson, who was very popular due to the acquisition of the Louisiana Purchase and booming trade defeated Pinckney in a landslide. Pinckney won only 27.2% of the popular vote and carried only two states. In 1808 he was again the Federalist nominee for president, running against Jefferson's Secretary of State, James Madison. Pinckney did not fare much better against Madison, carrying only five states and winning 32.4% of the popular vote. From 1805 until his death, Pinckney was president-general of the Society of the Cincinnati. Pinckney died on the 16th of August 1825 and was buried in St. Michael's Churchyard in Charleston. His tombstone reads, "One of the founders of the American Republic. In war he was a companion in arms and friend of Washington. In peace he enjoyed his unchanging confidence."

 

 

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ALL IN ALL AN AMAZING BUILDING FOR A MARKET

                     AND A LITTLE OF THE MAN WHO WANTED IT BUILT

                    


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