When the Denmark Vesey slave rebellion was discovered and stopped before it could happen in 1822, the white population remained in fear. The South Carolina Legislature established an arsenal to protect the city. The arsenal served its purpose until it was turned into the South Carolina Military Academy in 1842. This school soon became known as The Citadel
Backstory and Context
By the 1800, the population of slaves in the Charleston area had surpassed the population of Europeans by more than three to one. Rebellions and rumors of rebellions had occurred throughout the south during the slavery period. In an environment where the whites were so outnumbered, fear and hysteria could easily be summoned. When the Denmark Vesey conspiracy to revolt was discovered in 1822, it was quashed before it could become a full-blown rebellion. To ensure that the city was better prepared for any other future upheavals, Charleston’s northern boundary was fortified. This was done by the legislature’s passage of an "Act to Establish a Competent Force to Act as a Municipal Guard for the Protection of the City of Charleston and its vicinity." This act provided that a building be erected for the deposit of the arms of the State and included a guard house. Thus the South Carolina State Arsenal was established on the site of the old Citadel, an old British Colonial government fortress that had been built in 1763.
This arsenal, would eventually become the South Carolina Military Academy in 1842, a liberal arts military college and eventually known as The Citadel. The original arsenal building is located at 337 Meeting Street and was renovated for use as a hotel in 1994. The college was relocated its current campus along the bank of the Ashley River.