Mike Chowla
South East USA:


Charleston and Savannah are like siblings. They are only two hours apart by car and both full of history with large historic districts. Charleston is the more historically important of the two, but Savannah is the more the charming. Visiting Charleston gave me a much better appreciation of circumstances leading up to the Civil War. I had vaguely remembered from high school that the Civil War started at Fort Sumter, but really didn't know where that was. Fort Sumter is a small island in the middle of Charleston Harbor. I also not realized that Charleston was a crucial port for the Confederacy during the civil war, which is why the Union was very intent of recapturing it and also explains why only the lower story of original fort stands today. The Union shelled the fort which demolished the upper stories.

I'd also not given very much thought to the order in which the states of seceded. South Carolina was the first state to secede which given how extensive slavery was in the state is not surprising. Slaves outnumbered whites at the start of the Civil War in South Carolina.

Visiting Charleston's historic sites, the shadow of slavery was everywhere. The labor on all the plantations was from enslaved people. I came away with the feeling that even 150 years later, we as a nation still can not see clearly see Antebellum South. It's difficult to fathom of the horror of the enslaved. But as a culture, we've adopted a romanticized view of plantations. I visited the McLeod Plantation. McLeod was a smaller plantation. The entrance of the house was modified in the 1920s to look like the grander romanticized view of the plantations as part of an effort to appeal to tourists. I find it fascinating that tourists were coming to see a historic site that was manufactured to look like a notion of the past that never was.