Walter Edgar


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

“F” is for Furchgott, Robert Francis [1916-2009]. Pharmacologist. Nobel Prize Laureate. When he was a young boy growing up in Orangeburg, Furchgott’s first interest was natural history. After graduating from the University of North Carolina, he obtained a PhD in biochemistry from Northwestern University. He served on the medical faculties of Cornell, Washington University in St. Louis, State University of New York in Brooklyn, Miami University, and the Medical University of South Carolina.

“E” is for Evans, Josiah James [1786-1858]. Jurist. U.S. Senator. In 1812 Evans was elected to the South Carolina House of Representatives from Marlboro District and in 1816 was elected solicitor for the Northern Circuit. From 1829 1852, the legislature regularly elected him to serve as judge on several state courts. While a judge he authored Road Law, a digest of South Carolina law. However, his legal reputation rests with his being lead counsel in successfully defending the estate of Mason Lee against challenges by Lee’s relatives.

“D” is for Drayton Hall [Charleston County]. Established in 1738, Drayton Hall is a historic plantation located between the Ashley River and Ashley River road—about nine miles from Charleston. At the time of its construction, its two-story brick main house with raised basement reflected current English Georgian architecture and was inspired by the designs of Italian renaissance architect Andrea Palladio. John Drayton founded Drayton Hall and it remained in possession of the Drayton family for seven generations.

“C” is for Charleston Library Society. The Charleston Library Society is the third-oldest institutional library in the United States. Established as a private, subscription library in 1748, it received a charter of incorporation in 1755. By 1778, the society’s book and periodical book collection numbered five thousand volumes. Society members promoted the idea of a colonial college and started a natural science collection that evolved into the Charleston Museum. The Charleston fire of 1778 destroyed all but a handful of the library’s books.

“B” is for Black Codes [1865-1866]. In 1865, with little direction forthcoming from Washington, the states of the former Confederacy drew up “Black Codes” to clarify the standing of African Americans. In December 1865, the General Assembly adopted South Carolina’s “Black Codes.” There were three main laws with extensive articles. The first recognized the abolition of slavery and defined “black” for the first time in the state’s legal code. The second set forth restrictions that actually curtailed rights enjoyed by free persons of color prior to the war.

“W” is for Williamson, Andrew [ca. 1730-1786]. Soldier. Williamson immigrated to Ninety Six District from his native Scotland. He was a lieutenant during the Cherokee War. An ardent patriot at the outbreak of the Revolutionary War, Williamson represented Ninety Six District in the First and Second Provincial Congresses. In November 1775 he commanded a patriot force defending Ninety Six and later hunted down Tories during the Snow Campaign. Promoted to colonel, he led South Carolina troops in a punitive expedition against Native Americans on the frontier.

“T” is for Tynte, Edward [d. 1710]. Governor. Tynte was from a Somerset, England family that had recently risen to a baronetcy. Surviving English documents refer to him variously as major or colonel. In a Latin poem expressing high hopes for Tynte’s administration, a Tory writer implied that Tynte was also a man of culture. Frustrated by nearly a decade of factionalism in Carolina, the proprietors decided to institute a wholesale change of government and began by commissioning Tynte as the new governor in December 1708.

“S” is for Secessionville, Battle of [June 16, 1862). Union general Henry Benham launched an assault on Tower Battery near the planter village of Secessionville. The Confederate defenders, supported by the timely arrival of reinforcements, threw back the Union troops in fierce hand-to-hand fighting. A second Northern wave crashed against the battery’s left flank, but again was repulsed. Unbeknownst to the Northerners, the battery stood at the choke point of a telescoping peninsula. The marshy ground forces the Federal attackers into the mouths of Confederate guns.

“R” is for Rivers

Feb 9, 2015

“R” is for Rivers. South Carolina has an abundance of rivers that originate within the state or that enters from Georgia and North Carolina and drain land as far away as Virginia. These rivers flow generally from the northwest to the southeast. The Santee River system is the largest on the east coast. The Savannah River forms the western boundary of South Carolina. The third river system is the Pee Dee, which is the only river system in the state left undammed. Some of the most beautiful rivers in the state are those that begin in the coastal plain.

“L” is for Lowndes, Rawlins [1721-1800]. Jurist. Governor. Lowndes was born on St. Kitts in the West Indies and migrated with his family to South Carolina in 1730. He became the ward of the colony’s Provost Marshal and learned the law from him. From 1745 to 1754, Lowndes was Provost Marshal, the chief law enforcement officer in the colony. He also represented St. Bartholomew’s Parish in the Commons House off and on for twenty-five years. In 1763 he was elected Speaker. In 1766, he was appointed a judge.

“H” is for Hockey

Feb 5, 2015

“H” is for Hockey. The traditional Canadian sport of hokey had a minimal impact in South Carolina until the 1990s. Requiring cold weather for ice or expensive indoor rinks, the sport attracted little interest. That changed when the migration of many northerners to the state and the development of roller hockey. In 1993, the state’s first professional team, the South Carolina Stingrays who play in North Charleston, joined the East Coast Hockey League [ECHL] in 1993. Other ECHL teams soon followed: the Pee Dee Pride, the Greenville Grrrowl, and the Columbia Inferno.

"G" is for Greenville County [790 square miles; population 379,616]. Greenville County was created in 1786 out of former Cherokee lands. In 1788 the county, unlike most of the backcountry, supported ratification of the federal constitution. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, dozens of textile factories sprang up in Greenville County.  By the early 1900s the Southern Railway and the Atlantic Coast Line linked the area's economy with the nation. World War II brought boom times to textiles and a number of new industries. In the 1960s, led by construction magnate Charles E.

"C" is for Charleston Tea Plantation. The Charleston Tea Plantation produces the only tea grown in the United States on Wadmelaw Island, thirty miles south of Charleston. It is planted with more than 125 acres of tea, Camellia sinensis. Tea and camellias have celebrated histories in South Carolina. Ornamental camellias first arrived in America at Middleton Plantation in 1799 with French botanist Andre Michaux. Their popularity spread throughout the country, but South Carolina is the only state to have produced tea commercially.

"B" is for Blease, Coleman Livingston [1868-1942]. Governor. US Senator. After graduating from Georgetown University, Blease was admitted to the bar in 1889. The following year he was elected to represent Newberry County in the South Carolina House and in 1905 he was elected to the South Carolina Senate. He ran unsuccessfully for governor in 1906 and 1908, but won in 1910 and was re-elected in 1912. The core of his support came from white mill workers. As governor he emphasized individual freedom and racism.

Dr. Mark M. Smith
University of South Carolina

Dr. Mark M. Smith, of the University of South Carolina, returns to The Journal to talk about his book The Smell of Battle, the Taste of Siege: A Sensory History of the Civil War (Oxford University Press, 2014). No other book has looked at the Civil War through the prism of the five senses, or considered their impact on various groups of indviduals.

"G" is for Galphin, George.

"E" is for Edelmann, Marian. 

"D" is for Daniel, William Henry.

"C" is for Calhoun County.

"U" is for Unitarians

Jan 5, 2015

"U" is for Unitarians.

"T" is for Taylor, John.

"S" is for Saint George's - Dorchester Parish

"R" is for Randolph, Benjamin Franklin.

"P" is for Palmetto Armory.

"O" is for Old Iron District.

"N" is for Nance, Maceo.

"M" is for Maham, Hezikiah.

"L" is for Lamboll, Elizabeth.

"K" is for Kershaw County.

-Walter Edgar's Journal-   Greenville's downtown is widely recognized as one of the best in America. In Reimagining Greenville: Building the Best Downtown in America (The History Press, 2013), authors John Boyanoski and Mayor Knox White tell the story of the careful, deliberate efforts by city and community leaders who banded together to build something special from a decaying city center. Mayor White joins Walter Edgar to share some of this story.

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