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“T” is for Thornwell, James Henley (1812-1862)

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“T” is for Thornwell, James Henley (1812-1862). Theologian, college president. A native of Marlboro District, Thornwell graduated from the South Carolina College. After a conversion experience, he decided to become a minister and was ordained a minister in the Presbyterian Church in 1835. Two years later he was elected a professor in the South Carolina College where he acquired a reputation as a brilliant young professor. After serving several Presbyterian congregations, he was elected president of the South Carolina College in 1852. In 1855 he became professor of theology at Columbia Theological Seminary. Thornwell was a Unionist until 1860, but when secession came, he became an ardent supporter of the southern cause. In 1861 he wrote a theological justification for slavery. James Henry Thornwell’s theological and political thought provided a powerful ideological prop for the Confederacy.

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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 B.A. 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.