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Robert Smalls Commemorative Weekend

Robert Smalls (April 5, 1839 –February 23, 1915) was an enslaved African American who, during and after the American Civil War, became a ship's pilot, sea captain, and politician. He freed himself and his family from slavery on May 13, 1862, by commandeering a Confederate transport ship, the Planter, which he turned over to Union forces. He later became a politician, serving in both the South Carolina State legislature and the United States House of Representatives. During his career, Smalls authored legislation that created in South Carolina the first free and compulsory public school system in the United States, founded the Republican Party of South Carolina, and convinced President Lincoln to accept African-American soldiers into the Union army. During his five terms representing the state of South Carolina in the United States Congress, Robert Smalls was able to pass numerous appropriations that led to the creation of Parris Island Marine Base.

Fort Sumter National Monument will host a book signing for the new publication The Life and Legacy of Robert Smalls of South Carolina's Sea Islands. The signing will be held at 2:15 PM on Friday May 11, 2012 at Liberty Square, located at 340 Concord Street in Charleston. Life and Legacy was written by National Park Service Historian Lu Ann Jones, and National Park Service Chief Historian Robert K. Sutton to increase awareness of the heroic Robert Smalls story. Historian Sutton and Michael Moore, descendant of Robert Smalls will address the contributions of Robert Smalls at the event. The event is free for the public and the book will be available for purchase. For more information call (843) 883-3123 or visit the park online at

Saturday, May 12th
The Charleston Museum (360 Meeting Street)
9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Continental Breakfast
Opening Program
Welcomes: Dr. John Brumgardt, Executive Director, The Charleston Museum
The Honorable Mayor Joseph P. Riley, City of Charleston
Introductions: Dr. Helen Boulware Moore, Great-granddaughter of Congressman Robert Smalls "Reflections On A Legacy," Mr. Michael Boulware Moore, Great-great-grandson of Congressman Robert Smalls
Viewing of "The Life and Times of Congressman Robert Smalls" Exhibit

City of Charleston (Waterfront Park)
2:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Dedication of The Robert Smalls Interpretive Sign .

The Historic Charleston Foundation (40 East Bay Street)
3:15 p.m. to 4:45 p.m.
Dedication of The Robert Smalls Historic Marker
Reception to follow

The Morris Brown AME Church (13 Morris Street)
7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
Welcome: Rev. Joseph Darby, Pastor
Panel discussion: "Robert Smalls: His Actions, Impact and Legacy"
Moderator: Mr. Michael Boulware Moore; Presenters: Dr. Bernard Powers, Dr. Stephen Wise, Dr. William Marvin Dulaney, Ms. Elaine Nichols.

Sunday, May 13th
Sites and Insights Bus Tour (Official Charleston Visitor Center, 375 Meeting Street)
10:30 a.m. to 12:00 noon
"The Robert Smalls Tour," Narrator: Mr. Al Miller

The Avery Research Center (125 Bull Street)
10:30 a.m. to 12 noon
Film, "Congressman Robert Smalls: A Patriot's Journey from Slavery to Capitol Hill"
Ms. Adrena Ifill, Producer, Doubleback Productions

The Avery Research Center (125 Bull Street)
2:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Lecture, "The Ship CSS Planter" Mr. Dennis Cannady

Boat Tour, Fort Sumter Tours (Liberty Square, 340 Concord Street)
5:30 pm. to 8:00 p.m.
Boarding the boat (5:30 p.m.)
The boat follows the route of Robert Smalls' flight to freedom (6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.) Narrator: Mr. Michael Allen, National Park Service


Event has passed


Mutiple Locations.
Charleston, SC


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