Thing to Do

Cruise the Harbor to Fort Sumter

Aerial of Fort Sumter

Constructed in response to the War of 1812, Fort Sumter was intended to serve as a coastal defense against invading forces. As construction began on the fort in the late 1820s, tension between northern and southern states intensified over the issue of slavery.

While northern states demanded an end to slavery, southern states were hesitant. In South Carolina, African Americans outnumbered whites, and state politicians were concerned about the collective power of African Americans. Many whites feared that black freedom would mean an end to their way of life.  

The North and South continued to disagree on whether the institution of slavery should be abolished. When anti-slavery candidate Abraham Lincoln was elected president in 1860, South Carolina was the first state to secede from the Union.


Learn more about Fort Sumter and its role in the Civil War by visiting the Fort Sumter National Monument website. Members of the public can visit the Fort Sumter Visitor Education Center at Liberty Square and then take a boat to the fort which is located on island just off the coast of Charleston.


Explore More!

  • Take a boat tour and see the beauty of Charleston harbor. Extend your tour and take a trip around the harbor.  

  • Interested in learning more about American military history?  Visit Fort Moultrie, a Revolutionary War fortification located on Sullivan’s Island.


Return to the Resilience & Freedom Trip Idea or discover more of Charleston’s stories.

Hendrix, M. Patrick. A History of Fort Sumter: Building a Civil War Landmark. Charleston: The History Press, 2014.

Entrance fees may apply, see Fees & Passes information.

Last updated: May 9, 2018