Walter Edgar's Journal

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Walter Edgar's Journal delves into the arts, culture, history of South Carolina and the American South. (A production of South Carolina Public Radio.)

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed on Walter Edgar's Journal are not necessarily those of South Carolina Public Radio.

Brig. Gen. Daniel Morgan
The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Print Collection, The New York Public Library.

On January 17, 1781, at Cowpens, South Carolina, the notorious British cavalry officer Banastre Tarleton and his legion were destroyed along with the cream of Lord Cornwallis’s troops. The man who planned and executed this stunning American victory was Daniel Morgan. Once a barely literate backcountry laborer, Morgan now stood at the pinnacle of American martial success.

The South of the Mind

Nov 4, 2019
Porch, rocking chairs, coffee cups
Virginia State Parks [CC BY 2.0] via Flickr

How did conceptions of a tradition-bound, "timeless" South shape Americans' views of themselves and their society's political and cultural fragmentations, following the turbulent 1960s? In his book, The South of the Mind: American Imaginings of White Southerness, 1960–1980 (2018, UGA Press), Zachary J. Lechner bridges the fields of southern studies and southern history in an effort to answer that question. 

Cassandra King Conroy on SCETV's "By The River"
SCETV

In her new book, Tell Me A Story: My Life With Pat Conroy (2019, William Morrow), bestselling author Cassandra King Conroy considers her life and the man she shared it with, paying tribute to her husband, Pat Conroy, the legendary figure of modern Southern literature.

 Charleston, SC, on Sunday morning, July 21, 2015.
Linda O'Bryon/SCETV

On June 17, 2015, twelve members of the historically black Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina welcomed a young white man to their evening Bible study. He arrived with a pistol, 88 bullets, and hopes of starting a race war. Dylann Roof’s massacre of nine innocents during their closing prayer horrified the nation. Two days later, some relatives of the dead stood at Roof’s hearing and said, “I forgive you.” That grace offered the country a hopeful ending to an awful story. But for the survivors and victims’ families, the journey had just begun.

Balcony seating originally designed for enslaved persons attending services at Trinity Episcopal Church, Abbeville, SC
Bill Fitzpatrick

For almost 30 years, Preservation South Carolina has been dedicated to preserving and protecting the historic and irreplaceable architectural heritage of South Carolina. Executive Director Michael Bedenbaugh and board member join Walter Edgar to talk about some of their projects, including efforts to preserve Endangered Sacred Spaces, which includes the restoration of Abbeville’s Trinity Episcopal Church.

Brooks - Tompkins home, Edgdfield, SC
Upstateherd [CC BY-SA 4.0] via Wikimedia Commons

In his thoroughly researched and meticulously foot-noted publication, An Edgefield Planter and His World: The 1840s Journals of Whitfield Brooks (2019, Mercer University Press) Dr. James O. Farmer, Jr.,  opens a window on the life of an elite family and its circle in a now iconic place, during a crystalizing decade of the Antebellum era. By the time he began a new diary volume in 1840, Brooks (1790-1851) was among the richest men in a South Carolina district known for its cotton-and-slave-generated wealth.

"Death of Major Ferguson at King's Mountain," Virtue & Yorston, 1863
Anne S.K. Brown Military Collection, Brown University Library

The Battle of Kings Mountain was a military engagement between Patriot and Loyalist militias during the Southern Campaign of the American Revolutionary War, resulting in a decisive victory for the Patriots. The battle took place on October 7, 1780, in what is now rural Cherokee County, SC. The Patriot victory was one of several key battles in Carolina that turned the tide of the war against Great Britain.

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

(Originally broadcast on 03/08/19) - 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.

Cokie Roberts
1997 ABC, Inc Steve Fenn

Veteran journalist Cokie Roberts has died at age 75.  Roberts joined NPR in 1978, the start of a remarkable career that led her to ABC News in 1988, though she remained on NPR as a commentator until her death. Roberts died Tuesday due to complications from breast cancer, according to a family statement.

Walter Edgar interviewed Roberts during a 2004 book tour promoting her book, Founding Mothers, when she made a stop at Litchfield Books. 

"Shoeless" Joe Jackson, Cleveland, in 1913.
Harris & Ewing Collection, Library of Congress

In his new novel, The Last At-Bat of Shoeless Joe (2019, Chickadee Prince), Granville Wyche Burgess  imagines Shoeless Joe Jackson, the outfielder disgraced in the 1919 “Black Sox” scandal, living in Greenville, South Carolina, and finding that sports history has one more twist in store for him.

NOAA satellite infrared image of Hurrricane Hugo, 12:01 a.m., Sept. 22, 1989.
NOAA

Thirty years ago this month, the strongest and most costly hurricane to strike South Carolina in the 20th century made landfall. Hurricane Hugo was a Category 4 storm when it came ashore just slightly north of Charleston, on Isle of Palms on September 22. The hurricane had 140 mph sustained winds, with gusts to more than 160 mph and brought a storm surge of over 20 feet to McClellanville, SC. Thirty-five people lost their lives to the storm and its aftermath in South Carolina. Damage from Hugo in South Carolina was estimated at $5.9 billion.

Dorothea Benton Frank
Courtesy of Harper Collins

On Monday, September 2, 2019, South Carolina lost a beloved author. Dorothea Benton Frank, author of 20 best-selling novels set in the Lowcountry, died at the age of 67 after a brief illness.

We’d like to share with you an excerpt of Dottie Frank’s last visit with us at Walter Edgar's Journal, broadcast August 14, 2015.

Country Music

Sep 2, 2019
Dwight Yoakam plays a Martin D-28 guitar. Yoakam is among the 76 of the 101 country music artists interviewed for the series who signed two Martin D-28 guitars.
Courtesy of Jared Ames

Since its first publication in 1968, Bill C. Malone’s Country Music USA has won universal acclaim as the definitive history of American country music. Starting with the music’s folk roots in the rural South, it traces country music from the early days of radio into the twenty-first century. In the 2019,  fiftieth-anniversary edition, Malone, the featured historian in Ken Burns’s 2019 documentary on country music, has revised every chapter to offer new information and fresh insights.

Destruction at the Walled City (Intramuros district) of old Manila in May 1945, after the Battle of Manila.
Office of the Surgeon general, Dept. of the Army via Wikimedia Commons

(Originally broadcast 02/08/19) - In his book, Rampage: MacArthur, Yamashita, and the Battle of Manila (2018, W. W. Norton), Charleston historian and author James M. Scott recounts one of the most heartbreaking chapters of World War II.

When Gen. Douglas MacArthur prepared to liberate the capital city of the Phillipines in 1945, he believed that the occupying Japanese forces would retreat. Instead, determined to fight to the death, Japanese marines barricaded intersections, converted buildings into fortresses, and booby-trapped stores, graveyards, and even dead bodies.

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

(Originally broadcast 03/29/19) - 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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