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

"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.

South Carolina From A to Z
SC Public Radio

"B" is for Brown, William Melvin, Jr. (1934-1994). Manufacturer. A native Charlestonian and a graduate of South Carolina State, Brown served in the Army, taught in the Charleston County schools, and was the first black insurance consultant in Charleston. In 1972 he created American Development Corporation (ADCOR), the first minority-owned manufacturing plant in the southeast. By the early 1990s ADCOR was realizing revenues of more than $30 million annually and had 350 employees.

Santee Cooper headquarters sign.
Santee Cooper

After months of discussion about Santee Cooper, the SC General Assembly this week took the first official actions that could lead to the eventual sale of the state-owned utility.

The State House of Representatives and Senate are considering Joint Resolutions that would begin a process to sell Santee Cooper which is burdened by an enormous debt incurred from the collapse of the giant V.C. Summer Nuclear Project in 2017. 

South Carolina From A to Z
SC Public Radio

"C" is for Cockfighting. Cockfighting is a blood sport that has existed in South Carolina from colonial times to the present—despite the fact that it was banned by the General Assembly in 1887 and carries a felony charge for participants and less severe penalties for spectators. Cockfighting remains popular in the state and the oldest continuously published magazine for cockers (as cockfighters style themselves), Grit and Steel, emanates from Gaffney. In a typical cockfight, long steel spikes are attached to the legs of the cocks.

South Carolina From A to Z
SC Public Radio

"C" is for Cofitachiqui. Cofitachiqui is the name of a sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Native American chiefdom as well as one of the principal towns of the chiefdom. The town of Cofitachiqui was located on the bank of the Wateree River below the fall line near present-day Camden. Spanish accounts, from De Soto’s 1540 expedition, refer to the “Lady of Cofitachiqui” as the local ruler. According to her the province had suffered a great pestilence and she ruled following the death of a male relative.

South Carolina From A to Z
SC Public Radio

"C" is for Coker, Elizabeth Boatwright (1909-1993). Writer. At Converse College, Coker was editor of the school’s literary magazine. Between 1950 and 1991, she published nine novels in the genre of the historical romance, allowing her to exploit her deep interest in all periods of the southern and South Carolina experience. Her first novel, Daughter of Strangers (1950), was a dramatic treatment of racial identity set in antebellum New Orleans and the South Carolina lowcountry. It remained on the New York Times best-seller list for six months.

South Carolina From A to Z
SC Public Radio

"C" is for Coker, David Robert (1870-1938). Businessman, plant breeder, philanthropist. Following his graduation from the University of South Carolina, Coker managed the J.L. Coker and Company. Illness led him to withdraw from the business and to focus on his first experiments with plant breeding. He saw a need not only for better seed to provide more productive crops but also for a change in the attitude from traditional to more modern methods of farming. This dual focus led to the subsequent development of the Coker’s Pedigreed Seed Company in 1913 with Coker as president.

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

(Originally broadcast 09/21/18)

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

South Carolina From A to Z
SC Public Radio

"C" is for Coker, Charles Westfield (1879-1931). Businessman, philanthropist, social reformer. At an early age, Coker became involved in his family’s various business enterprises. In 1899, when the Cokers organized the Southern Novelty Company in Hartsville, he became its first treasurer and chief salesman. In 1918 he became president of the company. It was Charles Coker who brought modern industrial and managerial practice to the family-controlled business, which changed its name to Sonoco Products Company.

Pardo, Jaun

Mar 15, 2019
South Carolina From A to Z
SC Public Radio

"P" is for Pardo, Juan. Spanish soldier, explorer. In 1565, Pardo travelled to Spanish Florida as the captain of one of six military companies sent to reinforce the colony. His company was posted to Santa Elena, located on present-day Parris Island. He was ordered to explore for an overland route to the silver mines of Mexico—thought to be just several hundred miles inland. He never reached Mexico, but his two expeditions provided a valuable look at mid sixteenth century southeastern Indians. On his second expedition he built six forts, garrisoned with Spanish soldiers.

Palmetto Pigeon Plant

Mar 14, 2019
South Carolina From A to Z
SC Public Radio

"P" is for Palmetto Pigeon Plant.  

Omar Ibn Sahid

Mar 13, 2019
South Carolina From A to Z
SC Public Radio

"O" is for Omar Ibn Sahid.

Negro Seamen Acts

Mar 12, 2019
South Carolina From A to Z
SC Public Radio

"N" is for the Negro Seamen Acts.  

South Carolina From A to Z
SC Public Radio

"M" is for Manigault, Judith Giton.

A 1903 photograph of family and relatives of Noah Benenhaley (1860-1939) and his wife, Rosa Benenhaley (1857-1937), both descendants of Joseph Benenhaley.
Courtesy of the Greg Thompson Collection

(Originally broadcast 11/30/18) - Despite its reputation as a melting pot of ethnicities and races, the United States has a well-documented history of immigrants who have struggled through isolation, segregation, discrimination, oppression, and assimilation. South Carolina is home to one such group—known historically and derisively as “the Turks”—which can trace its oral history back to Joseph Benenhaley, an Ottoman refugee from Old World conflict. According to its traditional narrative, Benenhaley served with Gen. Thomas Sumter in the Revolutionary War.

South Carolina From A to Z
SC Public Radio

"C" is for Cooper River bridges. In 1927, a group of Charleston businessmen formed the Cooper River Bridge Company to promote the construction of a span linking Charleston with Mount Pleasant. With financing from northern investors, the bridge was completed in 1929. At the time, it was the longest span of its type in the world—2.7 miles long and 20 feet wide. In 1943 it was named for former Charleston mayor John P. Grace. Tolls did not cover construction costs, so in 1944 the City of Charleston purchased the bridge and eventually abolished tolls.

South Carolina From A to Z
SC Public Radio

"C" is for Cooper River. The Cooper River and its tributaries drain much of the central portion of the lowcountry. The river flows out of Lake Moultrie, which is in turn fed by Lake Marion. The river combines with the Ashley to form Charleston harbor. English colonists named both rivers in honor of one of the Lords Proprietors, Lord Anthony Ashley Cooper. Prior to 1865 the Cooper boasted some of the finest rice plantations in the state. There has been no bigger single developer on the river that the U.S. Navy.

South Carolina From A to Z
SC Public Radio

"C" is for Cooper, Thomas (1759-1839). Educator, scientist. A native of England, Cooper immigrated to Pennsylvania in 1794 where he was active in politics and taught chemistry at several schools. In 1820 he accepted a position as the second president of South Carolina College. He also taught courses in chemistry mineralogy, and political economy. In 1824 he wrote his first major pamphlet that espoused states’ rights philosophy, and he later became a strong supporter of nullification.

South Carolina From A to Z
SC Public Radio

"C" is for Cooper, Robert Archer (1874-1953). Governor. A native of Laurens, Cooper received a law degree from a school in Puerto Rico. In 1898 he opened a law practice in Laurens. Two years later he was elected to the South Carolina House of Representatives. He served two terms and then was elected solicitor of the Eighth Judicial Circuit. In 1918 he won the Democratic Party’s nomination for governor and was elected.

South Carolina From A to Z
SC Public Radio

"C" is for Cooper, Anthony Ashley (1621-1683). Lord Proprietor. Ashley Cooper was initially a royalist during the English Civil War but twice changed sides. King Charles II rewarded Cooper, by raising him to the peerage, naming him Chancellor of the Exchequer, and granting him (and seven others) the joint proprietorship of Carolina. With John Locke, Lord Ashley wrote the Fundamental Constitutions for the colony and oversaw arrangements for the expedition that brought the first permanent English settlers to South Carolina.

The Detroit tribune, November 23, 1946: a notice that Isaac Woodard will speak at an NAACP event.
Library of Congress, from Central Michigan University, Clark Historical Library

On February 12, 1946, Sergeant Isaac Woodard, a returning, decorated African American veteran of World War II, was removed from a Greyhound bus in Batesburg, South Carolina, after he challenged the bus driver’s disrespectful treatment of him. Woodard, in uniform, was arrested by the local police chief, Lynwood Shull, and beaten and blinded while in custody.

South Carolina From A to Z
SC Public Radio

"C" is for Cook Mountain (Richland County). Cook Mountain is a twelve-hundred-acre hill located near Eastover. It stands four hundred feet above sea level and has both ecological and geological significance. The mountain is composed of sediments that form the eroded remnants of the Aiken Plateau, which runs from Aiken County through portion of Lexington, Richland, Lee and Sumter Counties. The sediments that form Cook Mountain are largely composed of clays, clayey sands, marls, and sands capped by ironstone.

South Carolina From A to Z
SC Public Radio

"C" is for Cooke, William Wilson (1871-1949). Architect. A native of Greenville, Cooke worked as a carpenter’s apprentice until he entered the Literary and Industrial Department of Claflin College. After graduating from Claflin, he studied architecture at M.I. T. and art history at Columbia University. Between 1902 and 1907 he practiced architecture in South Carolina. In 1907 he qualified for a civil service position with the supervising architect of the U.S. Treasury Department.

Pages