Updated: Aug 12, 2020
Giant, handpainted oyster shell showcasing Washington's Southern Tour. On permanent display in the little park adjacent to the Town of Mt. Pleasant offices; off of Houston Northcutt, near Whole Foods.
Never having seen the states south of his home state of Virginia, George Washington set out March, 1791 to visit North and South Carolina, and Georgia. The nation was young, and somewhat in turmoil. Washington was wildly popular; a force of one, unifying the country and helping to define what it meant to be an "American."
On the morning of May 2, 1791, after breakfasting at Governor Charles Pinckney's rice plantation, Snee Farm, President Washington traveled through Christ Church Parish, present day Mt. Pleasant, to Haddrell's Point. There he boarded a flat-bottomed barge operated by Mr. James Hibben, Hibben's Ferry. He was rowed across the Cooper River by 12 oarsmen, and arrived at Prioleau's Wharf, in Charleston, in the mid-afternoon.
In true Charleston style, the oarsmen were decked to the nines literally from head to toe. Round black hats banded in blue silk perched atop their heads, while their shoes were adorned with rosettes of blue silk. Their black breeches were complemented by snug-fitting blue silk jackets. I can only imagine how hot, sweaty and uncomfortable those oarsmen must have been, rowing not only George Washington and his entourage of prominent South Carolinians, but also a small choir and group of musicians!
The river was crammed with floating vessels of all sorts, accompanying the President's three-barge "caravan" across the Cooper. Cheers of "Huzzah!" were undoubtedly shouted by enthusiastic mariners and landlubbers alike, adding to the excitement of the festive, memorable day!