Early Enlightenment

Often, people who visit Charleston and join my walking tours are very complimentary about my knowledge of a wide variety of subjects that they may be curious in relation to the city’s history. In fact, we’ve always had very bright Charlestonians. When the High School of Charleston opened on Society Street in 1849, young students were taught a curriculum that would seem incredibly difficult by today’s standards. Besides reading the Latin and Greek texts of Horace, Homer, Virgil and Cicero, the studies included geography, algebra, chronology, trigonometry, physiology, botany, anatomy, history, mammalogy, composition and declaration. The 118 students that year received as fine an education as any in America, keeping alive a legacy of very well-educated Charlestonians, such as Edward Brickell White, who studies engineering and architecture at West Point, and designed the school building that still stands today.

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