Robert Smalls Monument, Beaufort

#42 of 54 in Things to do in Beaufort
Monument · Hidden Gem · Landmark
The Robert Smalls House is a historic house at 511 Prince Street in Beaufort, South Carolina. Built in 1843 and altered several times, the house was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1974 for its association with Robert Smalls (1839-1915). Smalls, born into slavery, achieved notice for commandeering the CSS Planter and sailing her to freedom during the American Civil War. After the war he represented South Carolina in the United States House of Representatives during Reconstruction.Description and historyThe Robert Smalls House is located in central Beaufort, at the northeast corner of Prince and New Streets. It is a two story wood frame structure, with a side gable roof and a two-story porch extending across its (south-facing) front facade. A two-story ell extends to the rear, giving the house a basic T shape. The house was built in 1843, originally with a single-story porch and ell, which were expanded to two stories in 1850 and 1870.Robert Smalls was born into slavery in 1839, and spent most of his early years in this house, where his master was John McKee. Around 1851 he was hired out by McKee to work in Charleston, where he worked on the docks, and eventually learned to sail. In 1862, during the American Civil War, he successfully commandeered the Planter, sailing her to the blockading Union fleet. He later served in the Union Navy, and became involved in South Carolina politics after the war. His bravery was made a key argument in favor of the Union Army's enlistment of African-American soldiers.
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  • I had never heard of him before we went to Beaufort and now I can't get enough of His Story. Its a short walk from the downtown shopping area.  more »
  • We walked by Robert Smalls monument on Janet's Historical walking tour and also saw his house. He was a slave who had experience in handling a ship and so he was allowed to work on a Confederate war.....  more »
  • It was really special to hear of the story of Robert Smalls life after his heroic taking of the Confederate ship and taking it to the Union troops. Then, how he went on to live a very accomplished middle and the home he bought and lived in in Beaufort.
  • Outstanding architecture and well preserved home. A great walking tour.

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