Walter Edgar

Host

Dr. Walter Edgar has two programs on South Carolina Public Radio: Walter Edgar's Journal, and South Carolina from A to Z. Dr. Edgar received his A.B. degree from Davidson College in 1965 and his Ph.D. from the University of South Carolina in 1969. After two years in the army (including a tour of duty in Vietnam), he returned to USC as a post-doctoral fellow of the National Archives, assigned to the Papers of Henry Laurens. In 1972 he joined the faculty of the History Department and in 1980 was named director of the Institute for Southern Studies. Dr. Edgar is the Claude Henry Neuffer Professor of Southern Studies and the George Washington Distinguished Professor of History. He retired from USC in 2012. He has written or edited numerous books about South Carolina and the American South, including South Carolina: A History, the first new history of the state in more than 60 years. With more than 37,000 copies in print and an audio edition, it has been a publishing phenomenon. Partisans & Redcoats: The Southern Conflict that Turned the Tide of the American Revolution is in its fourth printing. He is also the editor of the South Carolina Encyclopedia.

Ways to Connect

"R" is for Rivers, John Minott [1903—1988]. Broadcasting executive. After college, Rivers, a native of Charleston, moved to Greenville. There he became friends with the president of the Liberty Life Insurance Company that operated WCSC radio in Charleston. In 1938 he became president of South Carolina Broadcasting Company, which operated WCSC. He later purchased the station. In 1948 he began operation of an FM station. In 1953, he put WCSC-TV, South Carolina’s first VHF television station on the air.

"M" is for McNair, Robert Evander [1923-2007]. Attorney, legislator, governor. After serving in the Pacific theater during World War II, McNair graduated from USC and moved to Allendale—the hometown of his wife, Josephine. From 1951 until 1963 he represented Allendale County in the South Carolina House of Representatives. In 1962 he was elected lieutenant governor. When Governor Donald Russell resigned in April 1965, McNair became governor. He was elected to a full term in 1966.

"L" is for Loggerhead Turtle. State Reptile. The loggerhead turtle, a threatened species, is one of the world’s eight living species of turtles--and evolved some sixty-five to seventy million years ago. At birth, hatchlings are about two inches long. Adults can weight between 200 and250 pounds. The animal is reddish brown and yellow and has a distinctive large head—the source of its name--with powerful jaws enabling it to crush clams, crustaceans, and other food. Its great size and hard shell protect adult turtles from most predators.

"H" is for Highway 301

Apr 17, 2017

"H" is for Highway 301. Construction of this major US highway in South Carolina began in 1932, when the federal government began taking over the maintenance and construction of many state roads. The route began in Baltimore, Maryland and ended in Sarasota, Florida—crossing through many towns in eastern South Carolina: including Dillon, Latta, Florence, Manning, Olanta, Sumerton, Bamberg, and Allendale. From the North Carolina border to the Savannah River, Highway 301 covers a distance of approximately 180 miles.

Requiem for Mother Emanuel: No. 9
Courtesy of the artist

Renowned South Carolina artist, Leo Twiggs, now 82, has long been fascinated by the contradictions of the South, and he has defined a unique iconography in his work by seizing on certain symbols, especially the Confederate battle flag, its stars and bars, the shape of an “X” and the image of a target, with its sequential rings and bull’s-eye.

"E" is for Epidemics

Apr 14, 2017

"E" is for Epidemics. An epidemic disease is generally defined as one that affects an unusually high number of individuals within a population or region simultaneously. From the 1680s to the early 20th century, South Carolina—and especially the lowcountry—had a deserved reputation as an unhealthy place. Disease killed enormous numbers of Europeans and Africans, virtually annihilated Native Americans, and proved a significant barrier to European immigration. The biggest contributors to high mortality rates were malaria, dysentery, smallpox and yellow fever.

"D" is for "Dr. Buzzard."  The title "Dr. Buzzard" has been claimed by numerous root workers [practitioners of West African-derived folk medicine and magic, commonly referred to as voodoo, hoodoo, or conjuring] along the South Carolina and Georgia coasts. The best-known, if not original Dr. Buzzard, was Stephany Robinson from St. Helena Island who began practicing root work in the early 1900s. Until his death in 1947, he had a local as well as national clientele. According to legend, Robinson’s father was a "witch doctor" who had been brought directly—and illegally--to St.

"C" is for Chamberlain, Daniel Henry [1835-1907]. Governor. Chamberlain was an officer in the Fifth Massachusetts Cavalry, a black regiment. In 1866 he came to South Carolina to tend to the affairs of a deceased Yale College classmate. He entered politics in 1868 as a delegate from Berkeley County to the state constitutional convention. From 1868 to 1872 he was Attorney General. In 1871, he joined Democrats in organizing a taxpayers’ convention to press for government reform. In 1874 he was the Republican candidate for governor and won the general election.

"B" is for Bennettsville [Marlboro County, population 9,425]. Bennettsville was established on December 14, 1819, when the General Assembly moved the new Marlboro District courthouse to a more central location. The new district seat was named for the sitting governor, Thomas Bennett.  A three-acre square was selected on a bluff overlooking Crooked Creek along the coach road from Society Hill to Fayetteville. By 1824, a Robert Mills-designed courthouse was completed, and a town slowly developed around the square. During World War II German prisoners of war supplied labor for local farms.

West Fraser
westfraserstudio.com

Painting the Southern Coast: The Art of West Fraser (2016, USC Press) is a collection of the works of  one of the nation's most respected painters of representational art. A mastery of his medium and the scope of work ensure his place in Southern art history. A true son of the Lowcountry, Fraser has dedicated much of his career to capturing the lush, primordial beauty of the Southeast's coastal regions that have been altered by man and time.

"A" is for Asparagus

Apr 10, 2017

"A" is for Asparagus. Asparagus was an important cash crop in South Carolina from the 1910s until the mid-1930s.With cotton prices low and the boll weevil creeping closer, farmers in the "Ridge" counties of Aiken, Edgefield, and Saluda began planting asparagus to supplement declining cotton income. By 1916 they had organized as Asparagus Growers Association and shipped 44 railroad carloads to northern markets. High prices during World War I led farmers in neighboring counties to plant the vegetable.

"L" is for Lutheran Theologoical Southern Seminary [LTSS]. One of eight seminaries of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, LTSS was established by German Lutherans in 1830. In Columbia since 1911, LTSS previously occupied several sites in South Carolina and Virginia.

"H" is for Honey Hill, Battle of [November 30, 1864]. The Battle of Honey Hill was the first in a series of engagements fought along the Charleston and Savannah Railroad in November and December 1864. Federal forces at Port Royal initiated the campaign to support the movement of General Sherman’s army against Savannah. On November 29th a six-thousand man division was transported up the Broad River to Boyd’s Landing.

"G" is for Greer

Apr 5, 2017

"G" is for Greer [Greenville County; population 16, 843]. Situated midway between Greenville and Spartanburg, the city of Greer originated along the line of the Richmond and Danville Air Line Railway. In 1873, the railroad instituted a stop on Manning Greer’s property and the site became known as Greer’s Dept, Greer’s Station, and then Greers.

"C" is for Clemson University. In 1888, Thomas Green Clemson left his Oconee County estate and an endowment to the state of South Carolina—in order to create a separate agricultural college. The legislation accepting the bequest was enacted in 1890. Additional funding would come from the federal government through the Hatch Act and Morrill Act. Clemson Agricultural College opened in 1893.

"B" is for Brewton, Miles [ca. 1765-1769]. A native Charlestonian, Brewton’s powerful family was allied to banking, enabling him to establish a career in finance and trade. Twice during the 1750s, he traveled to England to finish his education and establish commercial ties. Between 1756 and his death, Brewton conducted business in several partnerships and was part-owner in eight commercial vessels. His partnerships dealt largely with the exportation of domestic produce, but he also made substantial profits in the slave trade.

The Way We Worked

Apr 3, 2017
Making coco mats.
DCA&HC McMahan Photo Collection via SC Humanities

The Way We Worked is a traveling Smithsonian exhibit that explores how work became such a central element in American culture by tracing the many changes that affected the workforce and work environment in the past 150 years. Adapted from an original exhibition designed by the National Archives, The Way We Worked shows how we identify with work – as individuals and as communities.

"E" is for Edwards, William Augustus [1866-1939]. Architect. Edwards began his career in Virginia, but, moved back to South Carolina as a partner in the firm of Wilson and Edwards. Edwards was the lead partner in several other architectural firms in South Carolina and, after 1908, in Atlanta.

"D" is for DeKalb, Johann [1712-1780]. Soldier. Born in Bavaria, DeKalb rose to the rank of brigadier-general in the French Army and decided to seek his military fortune in America. He was contracted as a major-general in the Continental Army and, along with Lafayette, arrived off the coast South Carolina, near Georgetown, in 1777.

"C" is for Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge. Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1932 as a wintering ground for migratory waterfowl. Located in Charleston County Cape Romain stretches 22 miles along the coast between Charleston and the Santee River delta. In its shallow bays, tides combine the life-giving nourishment of the oceans with the nutrient-laden freshwaters of rivers to create a rich, productive environment.

"B" is for Barnwell County [548 square miles; population 23,478]. Barnwell County originally encompassed 1,440 square miles but lost more than one-half its territory to the formation of several newer counties: Aiken, Allendale, and Bamberg. The county was named for Revolutionary War hero, John Barnwell. Traditionally an agricultural county, Barnwell is better known today for the political clout it enjoyed for much of the 20th century.

Archaeology trowel
HeritageDaily [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Archaeology in South Carolina: Exploring the Hidden Heritage of the Palmetto State (USC Press, 2016), edited by Adam King, contains an overview of the fascinating archaeological research currently ongoing in the Palmetto State and features essays by twenty scholars studying South Carolina's past through archaeological research.

"A" is for All Saints Parish. King George III vetoed the 1767 act establishing All Saints Parish. Re-established in 1778, it  comprised the Waccamaw neck of Horry and Georgetown counties. With the tidal cultivation of rice culture in the mid-eighteenth century, the Waccamaw River—which had so long been a barrier to the development of the Neck—became its greatest asset. Plantations sprang up along its banks, and by 1810 slaves made up nearly 90 percent of the population.

"M" is for Magrath, Andrew Gordon [1813-1893]. Governor, jurist. After graduating from the South Carolina College, Magrath (pronounced like McGraw) studied law at Harvard and with James L. Petigru. In 1856 he was appointed a federal district judge and, in the cases surrounding two ships seized for as slave traders—the Echo and the Wanderer—declared that the federal statues on piracy did not apply to the slave trade. His decision was hailed in the South and condemned in the North.

"L" is for Lamar Riot

Mar 23, 2017

"L" is for Lamar Riot. The Lamar Riot, on March 3, 1970, was the most violent reaction against court-ordered school desegregation in South Carolina. A planned boycott to resist the court order failed. The riots occurred when a mob of 150-200 white men and women, armed with ax handles, bricks, and chains overturned two school buses that had delivered black students to Lamar elementary and high schools in Darlington County. They clashed with about 150 South Carolina highway patrolmen and SLED agents.

"K" is for Kershaw, Joseph Brevard [1822-1894]. Soldier, jurist. Kershaw, a native of Camden, was a member of the General Assembly and of the Secession Convention. In April 1861 he was a colonel of the Second South Carolina Regiment that played an active role in the Confederate victory at First Manassas. He was promoted to brigadier general and commanded the brigade that saw action at Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, and Gettysburg.

"J" is for Jakes, John [born 1932]. Novelist. Born in Illinois, Jakes is a nationally known best-selling novelist and historian. For the past several decades he has maintained his primary residence on Hilton Head Island. After graduating from college, he spent a number of years working for pharmaceutical and advertising companies.

"I" Is for Indigo

Mar 20, 2017

"I" is for indigo. Indigo, a plant that produces a blue dye was an important part of 18th century South Carolina's economy. It was grown commercially from 1747 till 1800 and was second only to rice in export value. Eliza Lucas Pinckney experimented with its cultivation in the 1730s and 1740s. In 1749 Parliament placed a bounty of six pence per pound on the dye.

Charleston, South Carolina, 1865. Broad street, looking east with the ruins of Cathedral of St. John and St. Finbar.
Library of Congress; photographer unknown

South Carolina in the Civil War and Reconstruction Eras (USC Press, 2016) is an anthology of the most enduring and important scholarly articles about the Civil War and Reconstruction era published in the peer-reviewed journal Proceedings of the South Carolina Historical Association.

"H" is for Hamburg

Mar 17, 2017

"H" is for Hamburg. Founded in 1821 and located on the Savannah River in what is now Aiken County, the town of Hamburg was one of antebellum South Carolina's primary interior market towns. The new town grew rapidly as merchants tapped the cotton trade of the upper Savannah River valley.

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