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.

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“D” is for Drayton, William Henry [1742-1779]. Revolutionary Leader. Planter. He was educated in England. In 1769, his essay in the South Carolina Gazette, opposing the non-importation association, created a political firestorm that resulted in his being ostracized politically, socially, and economically. He went to England where he hoped his views would be more appreciative. In England, he published The Letters of Freeman, a compilation of his essays in favor of British imperial policy—which won for him a seat on South Carolina’s Royal Council.

“B” is for Black Business Districts. Prior to the Civil War, free persons of color in South Carolina owned businesses—generally in the service industry—such as blacksmith and harness shops. These businesses served and operated within both the black and white communities. Once segregation was enacted in the 1890s, black business districts appeared. Jim Crow laws forced many businesses either to operate separate facilities for black customers—or deny them service. Black entrepreneurs stepped in to establish operations in which African Americans could be served with courtesy and dignity.

“E” is for Evans, Matilda Arabella [1872-1935]. Physician. A native of Aiken, Evans attended Schofield Normal and Industrial School, Oberlin College’s preparatory school, and the Women’s Medical College in Philadelphia. Aware of the inadequate health care available for black Carolinians, she decided to improve medical care and sanitation in her home state. Evans became the first female physician in Columbia. She treated both black and white patients in her home.

“D” is for Drovers

Oct 16, 2014

“D” is for Drovers. From around 1800 until the 1880s, livestock from Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, and North Carolina were driven through Greenville County to the seaport at Charleston—destined for markets in the north and in the Caribbean. These drives were made possible by the completion of a road from Greenville County across the mountains into Knoxville, Tennessee in the late 1790s. Herds consisted primarily of cattle or hogs, but also included sheep, mules, horses, and turkeys.

“B” is for Black River. The Black River takes its name from its tea-colored waters. The river begins in the Sandhills of Lee County, and is joined at Rocky Bluff Swamp near Sumter. The Pocotaligo River flows into the Black between Manning and Kingstree.  In some places the river is swamp like, while in others it is swift moving with a sandy bottom. After travelling over 150 miles through four counties, the Black River becomes part of the Great Pee Dee River near Georgetown.

“W” is for Williamson’s Plantation, Battle of [July 12, 1780]. After the fall of Charleston, New Acquisition District in present-day York County was reputedly the only district where no one took the King’s protections. Patriot raids on British outposts led to a detachment of the British Legion, under the command of Captain Christian Huck, being sent to punish the rebels. He responded vigorously by insulting the inhabitants and pillaging the countryside. On the night of July 11th he camped at James Williamson’s abandoned plantation in Brattonsville.

“S” is for Segregation.  Segregation, the residential, political, and social isolation of African Americans, by law and custom was accomplished in South Carolina in the last quarter of the 19th century. The 1895 constitution effectively disenfranchised most black Carolinians. Jim Crow laws were speedily enacted after the US Supreme Court’s decision in Plessy v. Ferguson that established the principle of separate but equal. For black Carolinians, the experience of life in a segregated society was often traumatic. A wide variety of laws set African Americans apart from whites.

  “B” is for Blanchard, Felix Anthony, Jr. [1924-2009]. Football player, Heisman Trophy recipient. “Doc” Blanchard was born in McColl but grew up in Bishopville. As the son of a physician, townspeople called him “Little Doc,” a nickname that followed him for a lifetime. He played high school football at Bishopville and then at St. Stanislaus Prep School in Biloxi, Mississippi. In 1943 Blanchard was drafted, but was accepted for officer candidate school and enrolled at West Point.

  “W” is for WIS Radio and Television. WIS Radio and Television stations in Columbia played an influential role in the development of South Carolina’s broadcast media-being among the state’s pioneer commercial broadcasters and locating their studios in the capital city. The last station in the country to be granted a three-letter call sign, WIS Radio signed on the air on the evening of July 10, 1930, from a  one-room studio in Columbia’s Jefferson Hotel. The call sign initials stood for “Wonderful Iodine State.” In 1931 the station was acquired by Liberty Life Corporation.

  “S” is for Shand, Gadsden Edwards [1868-1948]. Architect, engineer. After receiving his engineering degree from South Carolina College, he studied architecture in new York. Shand became best known his public and commercial building designs and played a significant role in the early 20th century development of the state’s textile industry. He served as superintendent of construction on the South Carolina State House from 1888-1890.

“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 million 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.

  “R” is for Robinson, Bernice Violanthe [1914-1994]. Educator, civil rights activist. A Charleston native, Robinson moved to New York in the 1940s where she worked as a beautician and a civil servant. She returned home in 1947 to help care for her parents. She joined the NAACP and became involved with voter registration drives. In 1957 when Esau Jenkins established first Citizenship School on Johns Island, Robinson became its first teacher.

  “P” is for Pine Bark Stew. Pine bark stew is thought to have originated as a fisherman’s stew cooked on the banks of the Pee Dee River. In the 1930 edition of Two Hundred Years of Charleston Cooking, Blanche Rhett credits the recipe to Captain John A. Kelly of Kingstree who made it a favorite dish of the Otranto Hunting Club in Goose Creek. The 1950 cookbook, Charleston Receipts agreed, titling its recipe “Otranto Pine Bark Stew.” The reason for the name is speculative. Was it because it was dark in color? Seasoned with a pine sprig?

  “M” is for Memminger, Christopher Gustavus [1803-1888]. Lawyer, politician. A native of Germany, Memminger’s family immigrated  to Charleston, where after the death of his mother he was placed in the Charleston Orphan House. He remained there for seven years until adopted by future Governor Thomas Bennett. After graduating from the South Carolina College, he practiced law in Charleston. During the 1850s he was instrumental in the creation of the state’s truly public school system.

  “L” of for Lovers of Meher Baba. Merwan Sheriar Irani, known as Meher Baba, was born in Poona India—of Persian parents. He was influenced by both Muslim and Hindu spiritual leaders. They made him aware of his high spiritual destiny and shared with him t divine knowledge. Having attained spiritual perfection, in 1921, he drew together his first close disciples and began his spiritual mission. These disciples gave him the name Meher Baba [Compassionate Father].

  “H” is for Hoagland, Jimmie Lee [b. 1940]. Journalist. A two-time Pulitzer Prize winner, Hoagland was born in Rock Hill. He graduated from USC in 1961 with a degree in journalism. He worked briefly as a sports writer for The State and the Columbia Record before winning a scholarship to study in France. After serving in the Air Force, he worked as a copy editor for the international edition of the New York Times. In 1966 he joined the Washington Post and in 1969 became their correspondent in Africa. He won his first Pulitzer in 1971 for his reporting on apartheid in Africa.

“G” is for Greens

Sep 30, 2014

  “G” is for Greens. Perhaps nowhere in the United States have greens been so beloved as in the South. And South Carolina has a long tradition of cooking greens—especially collards, turnip greens, and some wild leaf greens. The traditional southern method of cooking collards and turnips is to make a broth with fatback, streak o’lean, ham hocks, or other salted pork or bacon and water. The greens are stripped of tough or yellowed stems and leaves and added to the boiling water.The heat is reduced and the greens left to simmer for up to two hours.

All Stations: Fri, Oct 3, 12 pm | News Stations: Sun, Oct 5, 4 pm 

Dr. Charles H. Lippy, the LeRoy A. Martin distinguished Professor of Religious Studies Emeritus at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and author of Religion in South Carolina will be giving a lecture in October at Ebenezer Lutheran Church, Columbia, on How the Civil War Transformed Religion in South Carolina . He stops by our studios to preview the topic with Dr. Edgar.

  “D” is for Durban, Pam Rosa [b. 1947]. Author. An Aiken native, Durban graduated from UNC-Greensboro. In the 1970s she a was a free-lance writer for Osceola, an alternative newspaper. She moved to Atlanta where she was a contributing editor for the Atlanta Gazette. In Atlanta she taped interviews with women in a textile mill community which she published as Cabbagetown Families. In 1979 she received her MFA from the Writers’ Workshop at the University of Iowa.

  "W” is for Winthrop University. Winthrop University traces it origins to 1886 when the Peabody Foundation gave the Columbia City Schools a grant to open a teacher training facility. Five years later the General Assembly created the Winthrop Normal and Industrial College of South Carolina for the education of white girls. The school was named for Robert C. Winthrop, president of the Board of the Peabody Foundation. The school moved to Rock Hill in 1895. Throughout its history, the college retained its roots in the liberal arts. Integration came before co-education.

"S" is for Shag

Sep 23, 2014

"S” is for Shag. State Dance. The “Shag” is southern swing tempered by the influences of jazz, blues, and gospel music. Few agree on its exact origins. Some legendary white dancers credit its modern form to a taboo collaboration with African Americans that occurred in segregated South Carolina in the 1940s. White jitterbugs found that the emerging so-called race music [rhythm and blues] slowed and smoothed their movements. The shag, commented one veteran dancer, is the jitterbug on Quaaludes.

“R” is for Robertson, Thomas James [1823-1897]. U.S. senator. After graduating from the South Carolina College, was a successful and prominent planter. During the Civil War, however, he sided with the Union and was said to have entertained General Sherman in his Columbia home. As a member of the Constitutional Convention of 1868, he advocated the punishment of former Confederates. In return for his loyalty to the Union and the Republican Party, he was bitterly denounced by most white Carolinians. In 1868 the General Assembly elected him to the U.S.

(Originally broadcast 04/04/14) - Pat Conroy, author of The Water is WideThe Great SantiniThe Prince of TidesThe Death of Santini, joins Dr. Walter Edgar for an event celebrating the author’s life;  his work; and One Book, One Columbia’s 2014 selection, My Reading Life (Nan A. Talese, 2010). The conversation was recorded before an audience of over 2000, at Columbia’s Township Auditorium, on the evening of February 27, 2014.

  “B” is for Blake Plateau. The Blake Plateau is a large, relatively shallow carbonate bank that lies two hundred miles off Charleston on the continental shelf. It runs from Cape Hatteras in North Carolina, past South Carolina and eastern Florida, to just north of the Bahamas. The plateau began to form more than 200 million years ago as the North American Plate disengaged from the African Plate creating the Atlantic Ocean. The Blake Plateau’s structure clearly illustrates the process of the North American/African separation as well as the development of continental shelves generally.

  “L” is for the Louisville, Cincinnati, and Charleston Rail Road Company. This railroad represented the most ambitious dreams of the antebellum Charleston business community: a transportation connection to the markets of the Midwest that would return the city to national prominence. Chartered in 1835 to connect Charleston and Cincinnati, Louisville was added to gain the support of the Kentucky legislature. In 1837 the company began construction of a sixty-mile line from Branchville to Columbia—the only track it ever built.

  “G” is for Greener, Richard Theodore [1844-1922]. Teacher, diplomat. A native of Philadelphia, Greener was the first African American to earn an undergraduate degree from Harvard. After teaching in Washington and Philadelphia, in 1873 he accepted the professorship of mental and moral philosophy at the newly integrated University of South Carolina. He was also the university’s librarian. He gave the university’s commencement address in 1874. In 1877 he resigned his professorship and took a position in the US Treasury Department.

"P" is for Pinckney, Thomas [1750-1828]. Governor, diplomat, congressman, soldier. Pinckney was educated in England at Christ College, Oxford and at the Inns of Court, and in France at the Royal Military Academy. He returned to South Carolina in 1774 and in 1775, he joined the First South Carolina Continental Regiment. He saw active service until 1780 when was wounded and captured at the Battle of Camden. Pinckney was elected governor in 1787 and served two terms. He was the American Minister Plenipotentiary to Great Britain and later to Spain.

"P" is for Pinckney Island Wildlife Refuge. Pinckney Island Wildlife Refuge is in Beaufort County, between Skull Creek and Mackay Creek. The Refuge was established in 1975 and opened in 1985. It is comprised of four islands: Corn, Little Harry, Big Harry, and Pinckney. The largest island, Pinckney, is the only one open to the public. From 1736 to 1936 the refuge was owned by the family and descendants of Charles Cotesworth Pinckney and was a cotton plantation. From 1937 until 1975, the island was managed as a game preserve.

“H” is for Hipp, Francis Moffett [1911-1995]. Insurance executive.  After graduating from Furman, Hipp joined his father’s company, Liberty Life Insurance. The Greenville-based firm also owned radio stations in Columbia and Charleston. When Hipp’s father died in 1943, the company’s directors elected him president and chairman of the board. An energetic leader, Hipp expanded the company into the Southeast through its own agents and nationally through financial institutions.