Each day on my walking tours, we go by the great Catholic Cathedral on Broad Street, which is the seat of the Diocese of Charleston that once covered three states and more than 140,000 square miles. There were few practicing Catholics in the Charleston area when Pope Pius VIII created the Diocese of the Carolinas and Georgia, and installed Irish-born John England as the first bishop. Bishop England quickly inspired lay people with his insistence on a diocese that was built on collegiality, with all parishes given a degree of independence and input. Bishop England calmed fears among anti-Catholic Protestants with his remarkable gift of oratory, speaking before Congress in 1826 to reaffirm the “distinct and separate” nature of Catholic dogma as not being a threat to the authority of American governing bodies. Bishop England built a diocese that consisted of three priests and a few hundred congregants to one of the most vibrant Catholic areas in America by his death in 1844, and the grand Cathedral of St. John and St. Finbar was built in 1853 as a tribute and a testimonial to his work.
This is a picture of the original South Carolina Palmetto Flag, created in 1861 and flown over the State Capitol in Columbia. When Sherman’s troops torched that city and terrorized its inhabitants in 1865, an Iowa regiment took down the flag and carried it home as a trophy of war. Today it remains in the hands of the Historical Society of Iowa in Des Moines, and although I’ve sent several messages requesting that they return it to South Carolina, they refuse, citing some nonsense about collections rules. This historic flag shows the true hypocrisy of the entire Union campaign against the South, as they have always claimed that it was a fight to “restore the Union”. If indeed that were true, the restored state of South Carolina should have its state flag restored. The fact that it has not been returned simply shows what the Union fight was really about in the 1860’s – a war of conquest.
After people have joined me on walking tours of historic Charleston, they often ask for suggestions for other parts of the city to visit. I always include the Ansonborough area as a scenic walk. Just north of the busy city market, Ansonborough is very quiet and serene and filled with wonderful architecture and gardens. This area was largely burned in the fire of 1838, and afterward, the city offered low-interest “fire loans” as a mean of rebuilding. As a result the Ansonborough neighborhood is largely made up of 1830’s and 1840’s construction, which has a distinctive appeal.