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 receivedhisA.B.degreefromDavidson 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

Radio's Golden Age

Apr 29, 2019
Photograph of (l to r) Eddie "Rochester" Anderson, Dennis Day, Phil Harris, Mary Livingstone, Jack Benny, Don Wilson, and Mel Blanc - most of the cast of The Jack Benny Program.
World Wide Photos via Wikipedia

The term “Old Time Radio” often refers to the programming and performers of a “golden age” in the medium, beginning after World War I and lasting well into the 1950s. Guest Bill Owen joins Walter Edgar to talk about this golden age on this week’s program. Owen is a writer and a retired radio/television announcer now living in Greenville, SC, whose career spans six decades.  His has written or co-authored several books, including Radio's Golden Age: The Programs and the Personalities and The Big Broadcast.

South Carolina From A to Z
SC Public Radio

"P" is for Preston, William Campbell (1794-1860). U.S. Senator. A Virginian, Preston’s illness forced him to withdraw from Washington College. His parents sent him to the South Carolina College—from which he graduated in 1812. He then studied law at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. After practicing law in Missouri and Virginia, he moved to South Carolina in 1824. Four years later Preston was elected to the South Carolina House of Representatives. In 1833, the legislature elected him to the U.S. Senate and he was re-elected in 1837.

South Carolina From A to Z
SC Public Radio

"P" is for Preservation Society of Charleston. Founded in 1920 as the Society for the Preservation of Old Dwellings, the Preservation Society of Charleston is the oldest community-based historic preservation organization in the country. In 1931 the society was instrumental in persuading the Charleston City Council to pass the nation’s first historic district zoning law. The law established a board of architectural review and designated a 138-acre “Old and Historic District.” The district has since been expanded to include more than 4,800 structures.

South Carolina From A to Z
SC Public Radio

"P" is for Presbyterians. Presbyterianism is a movement within Christianity that traces its distinctive character to the Swiss Reformation and in particular to the theological and social thought of John Calvin. Presbyterianism in South Carolina presents a complex interaction of this distinctive religious tradition with the social and cultural lives of the state over centuries. By the time of the Revolution, the Presbyterian Church was the largest denomination in the colony.  While losing its numerical leadership to Methodists and Baptists, the denomination grew rapidly after the war.

South Carolina From A to Z
SC Public Radio

"P" is for Presbyterian College. A liberal arts college affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA) and located in Clinton, Presbyterian College was founded in 1880. Initially, the college was the means of furthering the education of youth in Thornwell orphanage. Originally known as Clinton College, the institution became the Presbyterian College of South Carolina in 1890 when oversight increased to include all presbyteries of the Synod of South Carolina.  In 1928, the Synod of Georgia joined in support of what was now called Presbyterian College.

South Carolina From A to Z
SC Public Radio

"C" is Cunningham, William (d. 1787). Soldier. At the outset of the Revolution, Cunningham sided with the Patriots, but changed sides and became a vicious Tory partisan. After British evacuation of Ninety Six in 1781, Cunningham assembled a band of three hundred strong and set out on an expedition that would become known as the “Bloody Scout.” At Cloud’s Creek, he ordered that no quarter be given to surrendering patriot forces.

South Carolina, Columbia, view from the State Capitol.
George N. Barnard, U.S. War Department/National Archives

(Originally broadcast 03/24/17) - 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.

South Carolina From A to Z
SC Public Radio

"C" is Cunningham, Frank Harrison (1880-1928) and Joseph Gilbert Cunningham (1882-1969). Architects. The Cunningham brothers were prolific architects in the upstate from 1907 into the 1950s. Both graduated from Clemson with degrees in textile engineering. They worked for a while with noted textile architect and engineer J.E. Sirrine. By 1909 they were practicing as engineers and architects. Their buildings were generally utilitarian and lack significant stylistic flourishes.

South Carolina From A to Z
SC Public Radio

"C" is Cunningham, Ann Pamela (1816-1875). Preservationist. A native of Laurens District, a riding accident left Cunningham an invalid for life. Her mother told her about the dilapidated state of George Washington’s home at Mount Vernon. From her sickbed, Cunningham immediately penned an appeal to the “Ladies of the South!” to raise the funds to purchase and renovate the estate. In 1856 the Virginia legislature chartered the “Mount Vernon Ladies Association of the Union.” Cunningham successfully negotiated the purchase of the property in 1860.

South Carolina From A to Z
SC Public Radio

"C" is for Culp, Napoleon Brown (1929-2008). Musician. “Nappy” Brown settled in the Columbia area in the 1960s and became identified as a South Carolina artist. He is best known, however, for the popular recordings he made in New Jersey during the heyday of rhythm and blues.  Brown began his career in gospel music with the Golden Bells and Selah Jubilee Singers.

South Carolina From A to Z
SC Public Radio

"C" is for Crum, William Demosthenes (1859-1912). Physician, civic leader, political activist. Born a free person of color, Crum attended the University of South Carolina and received his medical degree from Howard University. In 1881 he returned to Charleston where he served on the staff of McClennan Hospital and Training School for Nurses. Crum was heavily involved in politics, chairing the Charleston County republican Party for more than two decades and serving as a delegate to the party’s national convention.

South Carolina From A to Z
SC Public Radio

"C" is for Craven, Charles (1682-1754). Governor. Craven was a younger son of Sir William Craven, one of the original Lords Proprietors. He was appointed deputy governor of Carolina in 1711 and arrived in the colony in 1712. He had one of the longest tenures of any proprietary-era governor and his was considered one of the most successful terms of office.

The Return of Hemp

Apr 15, 2019
Bails of hemp at a warehouse of the Columbian Rope Company, Auburn, NY, August 6, 1918.
The National Archives. Source: The U.S. War Department

Hemp was once one of the crops grown in South Carolina and exported to the world. That changed, however, when enforcement of the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 effectively made possession or transfer of hemp illegal throughout the United States under federal law, excluding medical and industrial uses, through imposition of an excise tax on all sales of hemp.

South Carolina From A to Z
SC Public Radio

"C" is Crafts, William (1787-1862). Legislator, writer, reformer. A native of Charleston, Crafts graduated from Harvard and returned home to practice law. In 1807 he and others founded the Conversation or Literary Club. Crafts was one of the dominant literary figures in the city during the early nineteenth century. Crafts played a significant role in several reform movements. As a member of the General Assembly he led the successful fight to prevent the abolition of the state’s free schools. He was also a strong advocate for the education of the hearing- and speech-impaired.

South Carolina From A to Z
SC Public Radio

"C" is for Cowpens, Battle of (January 17, 1781). In mid-December 1780 General Daniel Morgan’s "Flying Army" threatened the British stronghold of Ninety Six. British general Lord Cornwallis responded by dispatching Lieutenant Colonel Banastre Tarleton to protect Ninety Six and drive Morgan out of South Carolina. Morgan withdrew and assembled his force at Hannah’s Cowpens, a well-known local site situated near the North Carolina border in present-day Cherokee County.

South Carolina From A to Z
SC Public Radio

"C" is for Country Music. "Country" is the contemporary term for the music of common white folks of the rural South. Country song lyrics with their varying degrees of sadness and sentimentality, touches of rowdiness, and occasional self-deprecating humor have a way of expressing thoughts and feelings of ordinary folk. Early practitioners of country music in South Carolina included the duo of Charlie Parker and Mark Woolbright recorded "The Man That Wrote Home Sweet Home Was Never a Married Man" for Columbia Records.

The late Senator Ernest F. "Fritz" Hollings
U.S. Senate

Former S.C. Governor and U.S. Senator Ernest "Fritz" Hollings died on Saturday, April 6, 2019 at the age of 97. A Democrat, he held elective office for over fifty years. In 2008, Hollings talked with Walter Edgar about his life in politics and government, and about how to "make government work" again.

South Carolina From A to Z
SC Public Radio

"C" is for Country ideology. Country ideology was a series of ideas expounded in the seventeenth and eighteenth century by English writers such as Thomas Gordon and John Trenchard. These men opposed the accumulation of power by the British crown at the expense of the House of Commons—the representatives of the people. Government became necessary to protect liberty, but government was composed of imperfect men who could never be trusted to use power selflessly. Thus the representatives of the people should hold the power of the purse and control taxation.

South Carolina From A to Z
SC Public Radio

"C" is for Council of Safety. In June 1775, prompted by rumors of British-sponsored slave and Indian attacks and news of hostilities at Lexington and Concord, the Provincial Congress of South Carolina created a thirteen-member Council of Safety to act as the supreme executive authority in the province. Once the threat of slave revolt in the lowcountry subsided, the Council turned its attention to the backcountry. In addition to the Indian threat, a strong loyalist presence was emerging. The Council sent a delegation to meet with backcountry leaders, but without much success.

"C" is for Cotton

Apr 5, 2019
South Carolina From A to Z
SC Public Radio

"C" is for Cotton. Cotton served as an important staple crop during the antebellum period and continued as the foundation of the state’s economy through World War II. Two basic types of cotton have been grown in South Carolina. The cultivation of Sea Island or long-staple cotton was restricted to coastal areas south of Charleston. Upland or short staple cotton was successfully grown in the interior and accounted for the spread of the plantation system throughout most of the state. As late as 1820 South Carolina produced more that one-half of the nation’s cotton.

South Carolina From A to Z
SC Public Radio

"C" is for Corrington, Julian Dana (1887-1979). Biologist, educator. A native of Arkansas, Corrington graduated from Cornell University. In 1921 he arrived in Columbia to join the biology faculty at the University of South Carolina. A man with broad zoological interests, Corrington began working on the then little-known herpetology (study of reptiles and amphibians) of the Columbia region—an area of considerable biological importance as a result of its location on the fall line between the Piedmont and the coastal plain.

"C" is for Cornbread

Apr 3, 2019
South Carolina From A to Z
SC Public Radio

"C" is for Cornbread. Cornbread has been the most common daily bread in South Carolina since its founding. Sarah Rutledge included thirty-four variations in The Carolina Housewife in 1847. By then, the traditional hoecake, or johnnycake, or pone—a simple hearth bread of cornmeal and water—had evolved into many elaborate forms. Corn, like rice, was much less expensive than wheat, and both grains filled breads of all sorts. Recipes for simple hearth cakes made with ground cereals appear in all cultures where grains are grown. English settlers replaced oats with rice or corn.

"C" is for Corn

Apr 2, 2019
South Carolina From A to Z
SC Public Radio

"C" is for Corn. This versatile grain has played an important role in the diet and economy of South Carolina since prehistory. Indians were growing maize (an ancestor of modern corn) in South Carolina before the first Europeans and Africans came. The newcomers quickly learned to cultivate corn. By the mid-eighteenth century, corn was the centerpiece of subsistence agriculture in South Carolina and the foundation of the colonial diet. Carolinians ate corn in some form at virtually every meal.

The first black U.S. senator and first black House members were elected by Southern states during Reconstruction.
Library of Congress

Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr., has said, "Reconstruction is one of the most important and consequential chapters in American history. It is also among the most overlooked, misunderstood and misrepresented." Gates' new four-part television series for PBS, Reconstruction: America after the Civil War begins it run on April 9 on SCETV.

South Carolina From A to Z
SC Public Radio

"C" is for Corcoran, James Andrew (1820-1889). Theologian, educator, editor. Corcoran attended the boys’ Classical Academy founded in Charleston by Roman Catholic Bishop John England. The bishop sent him to Rome for further study and he was ordained in 1842. Returning to Charleston, he taught at the Classical Academy, did parish work, and served as editor of the United States Catholic Miscellany. In its pages he vigorously defended Catholicism and states’ rights and attacked abolitionists. When South Carolina seceded, he renamed the paper the Catholic Miscellany.

South Carolina From A to Z
SC Public Radio

"C" is for Columbia, burning of (February 17-18, 1865). Columbia was in chaos when Mayor Thomas J. Goodwyn surrendered the city. Retreating Confederates set fire to the Charlotte Railroad depot. Cotton from broken bales was driven by strong winds all over the city. Locals offered wine and whiskey to Union troops. Throughout the day fires broke out in at least six locations downtown. Nourished by wooden buildings and a strong wind, the fire spread rapidly. As the fire spread, some Union soldiers engaged in frightful misconduct.

South Carolina From A to Z
SC Public Radio

"C" is for Coker's Pedigreed Seed Company.  Coker's Pedigreed Seed Company had its origins in the efforts of David R. Coker to develop and market a highly productive variety of upland cotton.. The focus was on cotton, but Coker expanded the project to include corn, oats, rye, peas, sorghum, and eventually tobacco. Originally managed as a division of J.L. Coker and Company, the Pedigreed Seed Company was incorporated in 1918 as a separate business with headquarters in Hartsville.

South Carolina From A to Z
SC Public Radio

"B" is for Brown, Morris (1770-1849). In the early nineteenth century, Brown, a free mulatto of Charleston, received a license to preach and organize a congregation of black Methodists. When white Methodists reduced the influence that black Methodists had over church affairs, Brown and hundreds of black Methodists withdrew from the denomination in 1817 and formed a new African congregation in Charleston. Brown traveled to Philadelphia where he was admitted as an elder in the African American Episcopal Church.

South Carolina From A to Z
SC Public Radio

"B" is for Brown Fellowship Society. Established in 1790 by free persons of color in Charleston, the Brown Fellowship Society is one of the earliest institutions founded by African Americans in South Carolina. It was one of the myriad organizations that gave structure to the free black community and functioned primarily as a mutual aid association. It operated its own cemetery, provided assistance for needy survivors of members, and established a school. Membership was originally limited to fifty men drawn from Charleston’s free mulatto elite and their descendants.

Detail of the title page of A History of Carolina presented to North Carolina in 1831 by James Madison. The book is now part of the collection of the N.C. Museum of History.
NC Dept of Natural and Cultural Resources

In 1700, a young man named John Lawson left London and landed in Charleston, South Carolina, hoping to make a name for himself. For reasons unknown, he soon undertook a two-month journey through the still-mysterious Carolina backcountry. His travels yielded A New Voyage to Carolina in 1709, one of the most significant early American travel narratives, rich with observations about the region's environment and Indigenous people.

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