Happy New Year! Podcast versions of my new radio programs will launch in just a few days, so look for details in an upcoming post. In the meantime, I’m continuing to deliver programs in person around the community. If you can’t make it to one of these events, have no fear! A radio and podcast version will appear here in due time. There’s a lot of work going on behind the scenes here at the Charleston Time Machine, so all of your patience and encouragement is greatly appreciated. It’s going to be a great year for Charleston!
I’ll kick-off the month with an encore presentation of a program titled “The Grand Skedaddle: Refugee Conditions in Civil War South Carolina.” This event is part of a monthly series at the John’s Island Regional Library, in conjunction with 8th grade students from Haut Gap Middle School, next door to the library. Instead of focusing on the military and political aspects of the war, like most textbooks do, we’re going to look at the plight of the local civilian population—both free and enslaved—during the years 1862 through 1865, when nearby military actions forced thousands of people to flee from the coastline. Join us at 10:15 a.m. on Tuesday, January 10th, and the second Tuesday of each month during the school year.
Next, I’m developing a new program in response to the popularity of the Broadway sensation, Hamilton. As you might know, this hip-hop musical focuses on the life story of Alexander Hamilton, and includes Charleston native John Laurens, Hamilton’s closest friend, as a principal character. Laurens dies near the end of Act I in the musical, but his story is nearly as fascinating as that of Hamilton. In my new program, titled “Hamilton and John Laurens: A Closer Look,” I’ll talk a bit about Ron Chernow’s biography of Hamilton and about Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical adaptation, and then I’ll focus on John Laurens and his remarkable aspirations during the American Revolution. Laurens is best remembered for his unsuccessful efforts to create a “black regiment” of soldiers in South Carolina, and for his untimely, futile death in the autumn of 1782. But there is another remarkable, secret side of Laurens’s career that historians have missed. Join me on Thursday, January 12th at 6 p.m. to hear more about this mystery!
Finally, I’ll end the month with a bit of humor and spirits to lighten your winter-time blues. In “The Language of Libations in Early Charleston,” we’ll review all the specialized vocabulary you’d need to time-travel back to a colonial-era tavern and order the proper beverage to warm your bones. We’ll look at the forgotten varieties of beer, wine, cordials, and spirits that were available here in the early days of Charleston, and we’ll celebrate the timeless wit of Ben Franklin’s 1736 “Drinker’s Dictionary.” Sorry—no strong beverages will be on tap, but good cheer will be free to all who join us at the Charleston County Public Library at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, January 31st.