Day 9: Ending the Trip Where It All Began

Today was a lazy day: a walk on the wide windswept beach of Sullivan’s Island, and a cruise around Charleston Harbor. The star of that show, of course, is Fort Sumter.

Built by the federal government after the War of 1812, South Carolina claimed it January 31, 1861 as tensions rose after Lincoln’s election. Governor Francis Pickens demanded that President James Buchanan surrender the fort because “I regard [federal] possession is not consistent with the dignity or safety of the State of South Carolina.”

When Buchanan and then Lincoln refused to surrender the fort, South Carolina blockaded it. When the fort’s supplies dwindled, Washington sent a ship to resupply it; the state then fired on both the ship and the fort. War was on—and Lincoln had maneuvered the South into starting it.

Exactly where I’d walked yesterday, the grandees of Charleston lined Battery Street to watch the bombardment.  The porches of the magnificent town homes I’d strolled by were the best seats in town.


So what have we learned here? It will take many weeks for me to integrate my time here.

Some say history repeats itself. It’s more accurate to say it rhymes, it echoes, it twists and turns and revisits itself.

Charleston was a city of Revolutionary War patriots—Fort Sumter was named after one of its heroes—and less than a century later, became a city of traitors. Or patriots, depending on your point of view.

Were the North and South two countries at war, or were the Confederates merely criminals?

Lincoln was remarkably flexible on this point, depending on his political needs. For example, the Emancipation Proclamation would have been an illegal government seizure of legal property unless slaves were property that contributed to a foreign power’s war effort. Ironic, that: to free the slaves, Lincoln had to declare them property.

Since Charleston lacks mountains or quarries, Fort Sumter was built with seventy tons of New England granite. That must have been some government contract. It isn’t hard to imagine that people in both the North and South made a fortune on it. They lived in the same country—the country of money.

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4 Responses to Day 9: Ending the Trip Where It All Began

  1. David Ortmann says:

    So exciting, Marty. Hope you’re having an awesome time and thanks for keeping us in the loop.


    On Fri, Apr 20, 2018 at 11:03 AM Marty’s Travel Blog: History, Culture, & Peop

  2. I have read these blogs with interest and gratitude for your sending them. thanks again. As a therapist myself I don’t know how or where you find the time and energy to do therapy, write books, give public lectures and lead travel tours writing blogs all the way. But you do and we are the benefactors. Cheers! David McKenzie, Ph.D. (Langley, B.C., Canada)

  3. Carolyn Arnold says:

    Marty, Thanks for taking us along on this tour! I learned a lot and enjoyed your sparkling, informative, and wry writing. I’ve always wanted to see Savannah and now I’ll add Charleston to the list. My brother lives in Marietta, so we will be there at some point. Thank for the enticement! Carolyn & Jim

  4. setinthepast says:

    Thanks, that was very interesting. I love Charleston and Savannah, mainly for the Civil War (or whatever other terms people prefer) history.

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