16 May through 31 May 1793

Thursday [16 May] morning was so happy as to get safe over the bar and anchor at Tybee the gale abated the Gentlemen amused themselves with Visiting the Hands I got a little recruited had been very Sea Sick the only Female that was.

Friday [17 May] an East wind Captain Moore concluded to return to Town and wait for a fair Wind, arrived at 1 o’clock and eight Passengers dispersed to their old lodgings. –

Saturday [18 May] no change of Wind quite dejected with my long detention. –

Sunday 19th [May] a high Wind and showers prevented from riding my only amusement or the most agreeable in Savannah. ​

Monday [20 May] the morning lowery but delighted with the prospect of a change of Wind which had blown for 3 weeks from the East which detained a vast deal of Shiping PM we were all summond on board the Packet had an agreeable Sail down river which is eighteen miles anchord. –

Tuesday [21 May] morning a fine Wind put to Sea should have enjoy[ed] the Sail if I had not been Sick. –

Wednesday [22 May] morning a[t] 2 o’clock we were at the Wharf in Charleston [1] at eight went on shore to an Inn till we could get private lodgings was quite amused with the change of Scene and the variety of so populous a place dined with a number of polite Gentlemen, after Tea went to lodge with Mrs Rammage [2] in Meeting Street Eve Mr & Mrs Crafts [3] call to see me. –

Thursday [23 May] lowery a House full of lodgers four French Ladys and a number of Gentlemen [4] PM took a short walk, very warm. –

Friday [24 May] a wet morning at two o’clock went in a hack to dine at Mr Crafts an agreeable Situation and a genteel dinner was much pleased with my Visit. –

Saturday [25 May] a wet Day could not go out but we have a great variety in the House different Nations and Characters are assembled here. –

Sunday May 27th [actually 26 May] Morning very wet prevented from going to Church was entertained by the concourse of people of various colours ranks & dresses.

Monday [27 May] lowery prevented from attending the Play by the weather Streets exceeding wet and dirty eve at Whist –

Tuesday [28 May] morning still wet saw a Catholic Baptism in the House a sick Babe two Days old, Evening at Quadrill. –

Wednesday [29 May] Morning rain PM pleasant Eve went to the Theatre an Elegant House the School for Scandal acted came home fatigued. [5]

Thursday [30 May] Morning pleasant engaged to go and hear Mass with some French Ladys [6] waited for the Hack till it was too [7] late, almost sick with last Evenings Amusement PM Mr Smith sent for the Hack and we took a ride round the City and out to Watts’s Garden [8] Eve at Cards.

Friday [31 May] the most agreeable Morning we have had for some time purchased some figgs the first time I ever eat any just plucked from the Tree. PM took a short walk Eve in Chat.


[1] Charleston had a population in 1790 of 17,000, of which slightly over half were enslaved persons. Johann David Schoepf, a German traveling in America during 1783 and 1784, described Charleston as “one of the finest of American cities; Philadelphia excepted, it is inferior to none, and I know not whether, from its vastly more cheerful and pleasing plan, it may not deserve first place, even if it is not the equal of Philadelphia in size and population.” He later adds, “Throughout, there prevails here a finer manner of life, and on the whole there are more evidences of courtesy than in the northern cities . . . There is courtesy here, without punctiliousness, stiffness, or formality.” Luxury, something many New Englanders and Pennsylvanians avoided as an evil, had made its “greatest advance” among the people of Charleston, he observes, “and their manner of life, dress, equipages, furniture, everything denotes a higher degree of taste and love of show, and less frugality than in the northern provinces,” qualities for which Dorothy Smith had a definite affinity. At the time of her visit, Charleston boasted two theatres, a symphony orchestra, an opera chorus, and frequent musical concerts, many of which were promoted by Charleston’s St. Cecelia’s Society. See Johann David Schoepf, Travels in the Confederation, 1783–1784, trans. and ed. Alfred J. Morison, 2 vols. (New York, 1968), 2:164, 167, 168; also Walter J. Fraser, Jr., Charleston! Charleston! The History of a Southern City (Columbia, SC, 1989), 184.

[2] Frances Swallow married Charles Ramage (sometimes spelled Rammage or Ramadge) in 1774. They had one son, Samuel, who died in 1801, aged 22 (Charleston Times, February 21, 1801). Her husband must have died shortly after the birth of their son, for the Charleston Directory for 1782 lists only Mrs. Ramage as a “tavernkeeper” at 89 Broad Street. She is not listed at all in the 1786 Directory, but in the 1790 Directory we find her at 6 Cumberland Street, still operating a boarding house. For some years Ramage was also a shopkeeper, advertising occasionally in the local newspaper. At the time of Smith’s visit, Ramage was operating a boarding house at 223 Meeting Street, though she moved on several occasions between 1793 and 1807, after which she disappears from the directories. She remarried in 1797, the entry in the Parish Register describing her as a “spinster”; oddly, however, the later editions of the Charleston Directory do not record any change in her name. See City Gazette or Daily Advertiser, 10 December 1789 and 1 January 1794; Charleston Directory for 1782, n.p.; 1790, 31; 1794, 32; 1796, 38; 1801, 107; 1803, 48; 1807, 174; also D. E. Huger Smith and A. S. Salley, Jr., Register of St. Philip’s Parish, Charles Town, or Charleston, S.C., 1754–1810 (Columbia, SC, 1971), 209, 262.

[3] William Crafts (c. 1764-1820) opened his business and wharf in Bay Street, Charleston, c. 1784; by the 1790s he was also operating at 23 Hasell Street. Crafts was a successful merchant (which may explain Josiah Smith’s acquaintance with him), according to the 1790 census. He was a member of Charleston’s St. Cecelia Society, serving as manager in 1808 and president, 1810–11. Unlike Smith, Crafts was a Federalist, described by Ebenezer Smith Thomas as “vice-king of the Yankees in Charleston.” Crafts shipping business apparently brought him into contact with Smith. According to J. N. Cardozo, another Charleston merchant, Crafts rose to prominence in the period immediately after the French Revolution, when America’s position of neutrality with France and England allowed American merchants, especially those in Southern ports such as Charleston, to become the primary carriers of trade between Europe, America, and the West Indies. He enjoyed considerable prosperity as a shipping merchant between 1792 to 1807, when difficulties began to arise concerning American and British trade. Crafts was buried at St. Philip’s Episcopal Church on September 11, 1820, aged 56. His son, William (1787–1826), was a Charleston author, lawyer, legislator, playwright, and theater critic for the Charleston Courier. See Charleston Directory for 1794, 10; Charleston Directory for 1785, n.p.; also Ebenezer Smith Thomas, Reminiscences of the Last Sixty-five Years, 2 vols (Hartford, CT, 1840), 1:33–34; D. E. Huger Smith and A. S. Salley, Jr., Register of St. Philip’s Parish, Charles Town, or Charleston, S.C., 1754–1810 (Columbia, SC, 1971), 105; Michael Butler, “Votaries of Apollo: The St. Cecelia Society and the Patronage of Concept Music in Charleston, SC, 1766–1820,” Diss. Indiana University (2004), 466; George C. Rogers, Evolution of a Federalist: William Loughton Smith of Charleston (1758–1812) (Columbia, SC, 1962), 376.

[4] The French frigate L’ambuscade, equipped with 32 guns, arrived in the port of Charleston on April 9, 1793, about a month before Mrs. Smith’s arrival. On board were a substantial body of French citizens, including Edmund Genet, Adjutant General of the French Army and Minister Plenipotentiary to the United States, as well as two Secretaries of the Embassy, Bournonville and Pascal. They brought news of France’s declaration of war with England on February 1, including a report that “5000 English seamen, who were taken on board the vessels which were seized in the different ports of France, who had seen the fraternity and love of liberty which prevailed among their French brethren, offered their services as volunteers in the navy, under the standard of Liberty and Equality” (Georgia Gazette, April 18, 1793). As a Republican, Josiah Smith would have viewed Genet and the French republic in mostly positive terms, at the same time believing England’s recently declared war with France to be an unwarranted re-imposition of monarchical tyranny.

[5] Charleston possessed a vibrant theatrical scene in the eighteenth century. The first theatre, built in Dock Street in 1735, was eventually replaced by the Church Street Theatre (1773–82), considered the finest theatre in America at that time. Another theatre, Harmony Hall, opened in 1786 near Inspection Square, but closed four years later. In February 1793, a few months prior to Dorothy Smith’s visit to Charleston, the lavish Charleston Theatre (seating some 1200 persons) opened at the intersection of Middleton (later New) Street and Broad Street, becoming Charleston’s principal playhouse until 1833. Dorothy Smith had good reason to fret over the weather on Monday and Tuesday, for the performance of Sheridan’s The School for Scandal she planned to attend that Wednesday, May 29, was advertised as “positively the last night but one” for that first season of performances conducted by the Virginia Company of Comedians. See Emmett Robinson, A Guide to the Dock Street Theatre (Charleston, 1954), 14; Mary Julia Curtis, “The Early Charleston Stage: 1703–1798,” Ph. D. Dissertation, University of Indiana, 1968, 186–212; and the Charleston City Gazette and Daily Advertiser, May 29, 1793.

[6] The Roman Catholic Chapel was officially organized in 1786 in a house at the corner of Tradd and Orange Streets. In 1787 the congregation of St. Mary’s purchased a lot and buildings in Hasell Street, opposite the Jewish Synagogue, and in 1794 the congregation was incorporated as the Roman Catholic Church of Charleston. The current church structure dates from the late 1830s. See Fraser, Charleston! Charleston!, 179; also Thomas Petigru Lesesne, Landmarks of Charleston (Richmond, VA, 1932), 33-34.

[7] two] MS

[8] John Watson, after gaining much repute for his lavish English garden in Lauren’s Square, in the Ansonborough section of Charleston, began work in 1784 on a second garden, located between King Street and Meeting Street, the first nursery garden in South Carolina. See J. L. E. W. Shecut, Shecut’s Medical and Philosophical Essays (Charleston, 1819), 22; Fraser, Charleston! Charleston!, 177.