By Earl Echelberry By the early 1770s, with a full century of settlement already behind it, Charleston, S.C., had come into its own as a thriving urban center. Its 12,000 residents, half of whom were white, looked optimistically to the future. It was a young society, enthusiastic and on the move, a mixture of many nationalities and cultural styles. Increasingly, however, Charleston’s planters, merchants, and aristocrats chafed under the distant domination of Great Britain. Needing funds to maintain its far-flung army and navy after the French and Indian War, Britain had heightened its confiscatory policies of taxation on the colonies and its restriction of American manufacturing. As the years went by, the Crown’s directives accumulated: the Sugar Act, the Stamp Act, the Quartering Act, the Townshend Acts, the Tea Act. Charleston’s large body of artisans, many of whom operated their own enterprises, took a dim view of these controls. Clothiers and carpenters, chandlers and coach makers, bricklayers and gunsmiths all hated a system that jammed competing British products down their increasingly unwilling throats. The antagonisms took on a momentum of their own. In September 1774, five Charleston representatives journeyed north to Philadelphia to take part in the First Continental Congress. A month later, Charleston threw a Boston-style “tea party” of its own where self-styled Patriots strongly if unsubtly suggested that local importers of British East Indian tea mig


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