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

South Carolina From A to Z
SC Public Radio

"H" is for Hunter, John (d. 1802). Congressman, U.S. senator. Little is known about Hunter’s early life. He owned considerable real estate in Pendleton District. In 1785 he was elected to the General Assembly from Little River District (modern Laurens County). He represented the district at the 1788 convention to ratify the U.S. Constitution and at the 1790 South Carolina Constitutional Convention. In 1793 the voters of Ninety-Six District elected him to the U.S. Congress. Subsequently, the General Assembly elected him in 1797 to fill the unexpired term of U.S. senator Pierce Butler.

South Carolina From A to Z
SC Public Radio

"H" is for Hunter, Jane Edna Iris (1882-1971). Nurse, social worker. Family circumstances forced Hunter to go into domestic service when barely in her teens. She was able to work her way through Ferguson Academy (now Ferguson-William College) and graduated in 1900. She was admitted to the Cannon Street Hospital and Training School for Nurses in 1902. Her experience in the Charleston slums imbued Hunter with a powerful desire to help her fellow blacks escape such deplorable conditions.

Noel Polk, Tudier Harris, and Walter Edgar, taping "Take on the South."
SCETV/SC Public Radio

This month, a PBS series, The Great American Read, celebrates the joy of reading and the books we love. Celebrities, authors, and book lovers reveal the novels that have affected their lives. And, the national vote gets under way, to decide America’s Best-Loved Novel.

Back in 2009, SCETV's Take on the South took a similar poll, and  asked the question, "What was the most influential 20th-Century Southern Novel?"

South Carolina From A to Z
SC Public Radio

"H" is for Humphreys, Josephine (b. 1945). Novelist. Born in Charleston, Humphreys graduated from Duke and obtained an M.F.A. from Yale. In 1970 she began teaching at Baptist College in Charleston [now Charleston Southern University]. Drawing praise for its finely honed language and strong characters, her first novel, Dreams of Sleep (1984) won the Ernest Hemingway Prize for a first book of fiction. Humphreys’ second novel, Rich in Love (1987) was later made into a film. Fireman’s Fair (1991), her third novel, takes place following a destructive hurricane.

"C" is for Columbia

Sep 18, 2018
South Carolina From A to Z
SC Public Radio

"C" is for Columbia (Richland County; 2010 population 130,493). Named for Christopher Columbus and created in 1786 as the nation’s first truly planned capital city, Columbia has a unique history. While now the setting for state, county, and municipal governments, it took shape in the wilderness near the geographic center of South Carolina. The original plan for the city was a grid two miles square containing 400 blocks. Most exceptional were the wide streets. In 1950, Columbia embraced the city-manager government.

Soapstone Baptist Church sign, Liberia, S.C.
Soapstone Baptist Church via Facebook

In 2007, while researching mountain culture in upstate South Carolina, anthropologist John M. Coggeshall stumbled upon the small community of Liberia in the Blue Ridge foothills. There he met Mable Owens Clarke and her family, the remaining members of a small African American community still living on land obtained immediately after the Civil War. In his new book, Liberia, South Carolina: An African American Appalachian Community

"C" is for Colonoware

Sep 17, 2018
South Carolina From A to Z
SC Public Radio

"C" is for Colonoware. On historic-period sites in South Carolina, archaeologists often find locally made, hand-built unglazed pottery that was fired in open hearths rather than kilns. Vessels and sherds of this ware may be found on the sites of Indian camps and villages, the city lots of Charleston and other towns, underwater near wharves and ferries, and on small farms and plantations. This broad class of pottery has been termed colonoware. This pottery is most closely associated with Native Americans and African Americans, but associations vary considerably.

South Carolina From A to Z
SC Public Radio

"C" is for Colonial Agents. South Carolina, like Britain’s other American colonies, had no elected representatives in Parliament to argue for its interests. The problem for the colony then was how to get Parliament to pay attention to its particular concerns. Parliament, too, desired an informed source on its distant settlement. The answer--beginning in 1712--was a permanent colonial agent, paid for by the colony’s Commons House of Assembly. He reported regularly to the Commons House on matters of interest to the colony.

South Carolina From A to Z
SC Public Radio

"C" is for Colleton County (1,056 square miles; 2010 population 38, 909). Colleton County was one of three original counties organized in Carolina in 1682. Lying south and west of Charleston between the Combahee and Stono Rivers this Colleton was somewhat larger than its modern counterpart. By the 1730s the county had been subdivided into three colonial parishes. The General Assembly created Colleton District in 1800 with Jacksonborough as the courthouse town. In 1817 Walterboro became the county seat.

South Carolina From A to Z
SC Public Radio

"C" is for Colleton, Sir John (1608-1666). Proprietor. Colleton was a soldier and courtier of King Charles I and spent more than, £40,000 of his own money to support the king during the English Civil War. Following the king’s trial and execution, Colleton and his family fled to the protection of relatives in Barbados. He returned to England in 1659 where he joined others in returning Charles II to the throne. For his loyalty and service, Colleton was knighted in 1661.

South Carolina From A to Z
SC Public Radio

"C" is for Colleton, James (d. 1706). Governor. Colleton was the son and brother of Carolina proprietors. He was named governor in 1686 with instructions to clamp down on illegal trade with pirates. Because of political turmoil, he declared martial law—an unpopular move. Colleton was politically naïve and was tricked by the powerful Goose Creek Men into asking the colonial parliament to raise taxes on imported liquors to provide funds to increase his salary. His alleged allies turned on him; voted down the bill; and denounced his avarice.

South Carolina From A to Z
SC Public Radio

"C" is for College of Charleston. Although plans for a college at Charleston had been discussed throughout the eighteenth century, it was not until 1785 that the legislature authorized the creation of a college “in or near the city of Charleston.” In 1837 it became the first publicly funded city college in the country. Support was meager and enrollment declined. President Harrison Randolph’s long tenure (1897-1941) effectively established a new college. Money was raised and dormitories constructed.

U.S. National Archives

What are the guarantees of free speech found in the Constitution of the United States? Are there limits to free speech? And what are the responsibilities of citizens who exercise their right to free speech? Dr. Michael Lipscomb of Winthrop University, talks with Dr. Edgar about these and other questions.

South Carolina From A to Z
SC Public Radio

"C" is for Colhoun, John Ewing (ca. 1749-1802). U.S. senator. Born in Virginia, Colhoun moved with his family to Long Canes (present-day Abbeville County). He graduated from Princeton in 1774. During the Revolution he was an aide-de-camp to General Andrew Pickens. After the war, he concentrated on his plantations in the lowcountry and in Ninety Six District where he controlled thousands of acres and owned at least 108 slaves. Colhoun entered the General Assembly in 1779 and over a span of two decades represented several different districts. He was elected to the U.S.

South Carolina From A to Z
SC Public Radio

"C" is for the Cold War (1945-1991). The cold war was the period of intense ideological and military competition between the United States and the Soviet Union and had wide-ranging impact on the people, life, and economy of South Carolina. School children practiced emergency drills and radio and television stations announced periodic tests of the civil defense system. Nuclear-powered submarines began plying in and out of Charleston harbor.

David Mark, via Pixabay [CC0 1.0]

Crossroads: Change in Rural America is a traveling Smithsonian exhibit that offers small towns a chance to look at their own paths and to highlight the changes that affected their fortunes over the past century. Sponsored by SC Humanities in partnership with local communities, Crossroads: Change in Rural America will tour South Carolina in 2018 – 2019, visiting six communities: Union, Denmark, Newberry, Hopkins, Barnwell, and Dillon.

South Carolina From A to Z
SC Public Radio

"B" is for Butler, Matthew Calbraith (1836-1909). Soldier, U.S. senator. In June 1861, the Edgefield Hussars—with Butler as captain—were mustered into Confederate service. He distinguished himself by conspicuous gallantry and service in the Virginia theater. Promoted to brigadier general in late 1864, he and his division were ordered to South Carolina in a vain attempt to thwart Sherman’s march. In 1870 he was a candidate for lieutenant governor on the fusionist Union Reform Party ticket.

South Carolina From A to Z
SC Public Radio

"B" is for Butler, Andrew Pickens (1796-1857). Jurist, U.S. senator. After graduating from South Carolina College, Butler passed the bar and soon settled in his native Edgefield to practice law. He owed much of his early prominence and later political influence to his friendship with John C. Calhoun. He represented Edgefield District in both the South Carolina House and Senate. From1833-1846 he was a state judge. In 1846 he was elected to the U.S. Senate and was reelected twice. In the Senate he echoed his mentor’s extreme sectional stance.

"G" is for Gullah

Sep 3, 2018
South Carolina From A to Z
SC Public Radio

"G" is for Gullah. The term “Gullah, “ or “Geechee,” describes a unique group of African Americans descended from Africans settled on the Sea Islands of the lowcountry of South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, and North Carolina. The origin of the term “Gullah” (in South Carolina) is uncertain. Some believe it derives from “Angola”; others think it refers to the Gola people of Liberia and Sierra Leone. The term “Geechee” (in Georgia) may come from the Ogeechee River; or it may refer to the Kissi/Geesi people of Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Liberia.

South Carolina From A to Z
SC Public Radio

"G" is for Guignard Brick Works. In 1803 James Sanders Guignard began making brick along the Congaree River near Columbia. Initially, he produced brick for his own use, but later manufactured them for commercial purposes under the name Guignard Brick Works. During the Civil War, the plant fell into dis-use. In 1886 Gabriel Alexander Guignard revived the company. He mined clay from alluvial deposits along the west bank of the Congaree River. In 1956 the Guignard family sold the company to a group of local investors.

South Carolina From A to Z
SC Public Radio

"G" is for Guignard, Jane Bruce (1876-1963). Physician. Guignard attended the College for Women in Columbia and received teacher training at the Peabody Teachers College in Nashville. After teaching in Columbia for several years, her family supported her desire to become a physician. Guignard graduated from the Women’s Medical College in Philadelphia in 1904 and returned to Columbia as one of the city’s first female physicians. Obstetrics and gynecology became the cornerstone of her fifty-year medical practice.

South Carolina From A to Z
SC Public Radio

"G" is for Guerard, Benjamin (d. 1788). Governor. Guerard studied law in England and was admitted to the South Carolina bar in 1761. He served in the Commons House, but spent most of his time dealing with litigation concerning the estates of father and his in-laws. During the Revolution, he served in the militia and lent the state £20,000. After the fall of Charleston Guerard was held captive on the prison ship Pack Horse. Between 1779 and 1786 he represented St. Helena’s Parish in both the House and Senate. In 1783 he was elected governor by the General Assembly.

South Carolina From A to Z
SC Public Radio

"G" is for Grosvenor, Vertamae (1938-2016). Writer, culinary anthropologist. A native of Allendale County, Grosvenor moved with her family to Philadelphia when she was ten. After high school she lived in Paris and traveled throughout Europe. During her travels she became interested in the African diaspora and how African foods and recipes traveled and changed as a result of it. Her first book, Vibration Cooking or the Travel Notes of a Geechee Girl was published in 1970. It is a unique combination of recipes, reminiscences, and stories from family and friends.

Spinners and doffers in Lancaster Cotton Mills. Lancaster, S.C., circa 1912.
National Archives/Hine, Lewis Wickes

(Originally broadcast 03/09/18) - South Carolina in 1918 was still struggling with the changes to its economic and social systems brought about by the Civil War and Reconstruction. The United States’ entry into World War I affected the daily work life of South Carolinians and the state’s economy in a way that was unique to our state.

South Carolina From A to Z
SC Public Radio

"S" is for Slave religion. Enslaved Africans brought their traditional belief systems with them and little effort was made to evangelize them until the 1820s—because some slaveholder thought conversion required emancipation. For all their differences, traditional African beliefs and Christianity had important points of convergence. A creator God was present in both, and the Christian Trinity and angels were suggestive of a multiplicity of deities. Also the story of death and resurrection was familiar to West and South Central Africans who believed in reincarnation.

South Carolina From A to Z
SC Public Radio

"S" is for Slave patrols. Slave patrols were a crucial mechanism of slave control in colonial and antebellum South Carolina. Like the state’s earliest slave codes, the earliest slave patrol systems were based on Barbadian models. Following the Stono Rebellion in 1739, the Assembly passed the Negro Act of 1740, which provided for regular, constant patrols. In South Carolina all plantation owners were called upon to serve in patrols. Patrol beats were not large; most ranged between ten and fifteen miles.

South Carolina From A to Z
SC Public Radio

"P" is for Pratt, Nathaniel Alpheus (1834-1906). Chemist, engineer, inventor. At the outbreak of the Civil War, Pratt, a native Georgian was named assistant chief of the Confederate States Nitre and Mining Bureau at Augusta. He was responsible for securing domestic supplies of raw materials for the manufacturing of gunpowder. He moved to Charleston after the war. In his wartime search for minerals, he realized that the rocky nodules he had discovered around Charleston Neck were phosphate of lime.

South Carolina From A to Z
SC Public Radio

"P" is for Praise houses. “Praise houses” (sometimes called “prayer houses”) functioned on antebellum South Carolina plantations as both the epitome of slave culture and symbols of resistance to slaveholders’ oppressive version of Christianity. Generally simple, clapboard structures built by the slaves themselves, praise houses were erected with the knowledge of the master class. Meetings in the praise house usually occurred on weeknights, rather than Sunday mornings. The simple architecture of the praise house mirrored the style of slave religion.

South Carolina From A to Z
SC Public Radio

"M" is for Montgomery, John Henry (1833-1902). Manufacturer, merchant. In the late 1850s Montgomery farmed and entered into general merchandising business. After service in the Civil War, he continued his farming and mercantile activities. In 1874 he moved to Spartanburg joined a firm that was largest cotton buyer in the county. He and his partners organized the Pacolet Manufacturing Company that began operations in 1884. Montgomery was president and treasurer of the company. Under his leadership, the company expanded to three mills.

South Carolina From A to Z
SC Public Radio

"M" is for Montagu, Lord Charles Greville (1741-1784). Governor. In 1766 Montagu was appointed governor of South Carolina. During the first three years he managed to settle differences between backcountry settlers and coastal residents—and supporting an act that established circuit courts throughout the colony. In 1769 he sailed to England and did not return until 1771. He was embroiled in a controversy with the Commons House over its control of funding the colony’s budget. His attempt to relocate the capital to Beaufort created a furor.

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