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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

Salley, A.S. The Flag of the State of South Carolina. Columbia, S.C. : Printed for the Commission by the State Co., 1915.
SC Dept of Archives and History

Believe it or not, there is no standardized design for the South Carolina state flag. There are, however, historical versions which vary from period to period. And there are countless variations on shirts, decals, caps, sweatshirts – each manufacturer creates its own version.

Dr. Cleveland Sellers
sc.edu

(Originally broadcast 10/26/18) - In 1968 state troopers gunned down black students protesting the segregation of a South Carolina bowling alley, killing three and injuring 28. The Orangeburg Massacre was one of the most violent moments of the Southern civil rights movement, and only one person served prison time in its aftermath: a young black man by the name of Cleveland Sellers Jr. Many years later, the state would recognize that Sellers was a scapegoat in that college campus tragedy and would issue a full pardon.

Shrimp and grits, 21st century style.
Greg Turner [CC BY-NC-SA 2.0] via Flickr

January and February gave us the State of the Union address and the State of the State address – important stuff. But, for a Southerner, there are specific, important areas of life in these United States that these addresses didn't cover – areas that we need to check on once in a while. So, in early 2019, what is the State of Southern Cuisine?

Is it still making inroads in the food ways of other sections of the country? Are chain restaurants affecting what people in the South call ‘Southern Food?’ Who is innovating Southern Cuisine while staying true to traditions?

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

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.

Andrew Jackson
The Bureau of Engraving and Printing [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

With recent controversies over the use of trade tariffs by the United States, it might be a good time to take a look back at the history of their use. It’s a complicated, often fraught history. In fact, friction between the North and South over tariffs in the early 19th century almost launched the Civil War, 30 years “early.”

A portrait of Judge J. Waities Waring hangs in the courthouse that bears his name.
Victoria Hansen/SC Public Radio

Four years before the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision Brown v. Board of Education, a federal judge in Charleston hatched his secret plan to end segregation in America. Julius Waties Waring was perhaps the most unlikely civil rights hero in history. An eighth-generation Charlestonian, the son of a Confederate veteran and scion of a family of slave owners, Waring was appointed to the federal bench in the early days of World War II.

The film producer, actor, and Columbia Native Julian Adams joins Walter Edgar to talk about his new film, The Last Full Measure, and to talk about his journey into the world of filmmaking. Adam’s previous features include Phantom (2013) and Amy Cook: The Spaces in Between (2009).

SCETV

This week's program is an encore of an episode aired in 2012, featuring T. Moffatt Burriss. Burriss was a former Columbia area contractor, Republican state lawmaker and American World War II battlefield hero. He died January 4, 2019 at age 99.  

Loray Mill workers,Gastonia, N.C. 11/7/1908
Lewis Hines/National Archives

(Originally broadcast 10/12/18) - New York Times bestselling author Wiley Cash’s 2017 novel, The Last Ballad (2017, Willam Morrow) is set in the Appalachian foothills of North Carolina in 1929 and inspired by actual events. It chronicles an ordinary woman’s struggle for dignity and her rights in a textile mill; The Last Ballad is a moving tale of courage in the face of oppression and injustice.

(Originally broadcast 05/04/18) - In an open letter to the South Carolina General Assembly, the Fellowship of South Carolina Bishops wrote, "Unfortunately, our state is marked by disparities in the delivery of education... Even in the most successful of school districts, too many students underachieve, or worse, fall through the cracks and do not achieve success."

Pat Conroy and Katherine Clark
Tamika Moore/Courtesy of the author

(Originally broadcast 10/05/18) - Pat Conroy’s memoirs and autobiographical novels contain a great deal about his life, but there is much he hasn’t revealed with readers until now. My Exaggerated Life (2018, University of South Carolina Press) is the product of a special collaboration between this great American author and oral biographer Katherine Clark, who recorded two hundred hours of conversations with Conroy before he passed away in 2016. In the spring and summer of 2014, the two spoke for an hour or more on the phone every day.

Dr. Barbara Bellows
LSU Press

(Originally broadcast 04/13/18) - Tracing the intersecting lives of a Confederate plantation owner and a free black Union soldier, Barbara L. Bellows’ Two Charlestonians at War (Louisiana State University Press, 2018) offers a poignant allegory of the fraught, interdependent relationship between wartime enemies in the Civil War South: Captain Thomas Pinckney, a Confederate prisoner of war; and Sergeant Joseph Humphries Barquet, a Charleston-born free person of color and prison guard.

American Flag from the Revolutionary War
iStock

(Originally broadcast  06/08/18) - Martyr of the American Revolution: The Execution of Isaac Hayne, South Carolinian (2017, USC Press) examines the events that set an American militia colonel on a disastrous collision course with two British officers, his execution in Charleston, and the repercussions that extended from the battle lines of South Carolina to the Continental Congress and across the Atlantic to the halls of the British parliament. Author C.L.

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

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.

Okra for sale at the North Charleston Farmers' Market.
Ryan Johnson [CC BY-SA 2.0] via Flickr

(Originally broadcast June 15, 2018) - The American South has experienced remarkable change over the past half century. Black voter registration has increased, the region’s politics have shifted, and in-migration has increased its population many fold. At the same time, many outward signs of regional distinctiveness have faded. But two professors of political science write that these changes have allowed for new types of southern identity to emerge.

Detail of the White House copy of the lost 1868 painting. Sherman, Grant, Lincoln, and Porter aboard the River Queen on March 27th & March 28th, 1865.
George Peter Alexander Healy

In the Gettysburg Address, Abraham Lincoln spoke of the need to conclude “the unfinished work which they who fought here so nobly advanced.”  In his second Inaugural Address, he spoke in similar vein: “With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in.” 

Detail from Art Studio, by Thereas Pollak.
The Johnson Collection

Spanning the decades between the late 1890s and early 1960s, The Johnson Collection’s new exhibition and its companion book, Central to Their Lives: Southern Women Artists in the Johnson Collection, examine the particularly complex challenges Southern women artists confronted in a traditionally conservative region during a period in which women’s social, cultural, and political roles were being redefined and reinterpreted.

Richard T. Greener, circa 1900; by J. H. Cunningham. In The Colored American, February 24, 1900.
The Colored American, February 24, 1900 / Library of Congress/Chronicling America

(Originally broadcast 06/01/18) - Richard Theodore Greener (1844–1922) was a renowned black activist and scholar. The first black graduate of Harvard College, he became the first black faculty member at the University of South Carolina, during Reconstruction. He was even the first black US diplomat to a predominately-white country, serving in Vladivostok, Russia. A notable speaker and writer for racial equality, he also served as a dean of the Howard University School of Law and as the administrative head of the Ulysses S. Grant Monument Association.

Dr. Cleveland Sellers
sc.edu

In 1968 state troopers gunned down black students protesting the segregation of a South Carolina bowling alley, killing three and injuring 28. The Orangeburg Massacre was one of the most violent moments of the Southern civil rights movement, and only one person served prison time in its aftermath: a young black man by the name of Cleveland Sellers Jr. Many years later, the state would recognize that Sellers was a scapegoat in that college campus tragedy and would issue a full pardon.

Dr. William Dufford
Courtesy of USC Press

(Originally broadcast 04/06/18) - Immortalized in the writings of his most famous student, best-selling author Pat Conroy, veteran education administrator William E. Dufford has led an the life of a stalwart champion for social justice and equal access for all to the empowerment of a good public education. In My Tour Through the Asylum: A Southern Integrationist's Memoir (USC Press, 2017), Dufford and his collaborators, Aïda Rogers and Salley McInerney, recount the possibilities that unfold when people work through their differences toward a common good.

Loray Mill workers,Gastonia, N.C. 11/7/1908
Lewis Hines/National Archives

New York Times bestselling author Wiley Cash’s 2017 novel, The Last Ballad (2017, Willamm Morrow) is set in the Appalachian foothills of North Carolina in 1929 and inspired by actual events. It chronicles an ordinary woman’s struggle for dignity and her rights in a textile mill; The Last Ballad is a moving tale of courage in the face of oppression and injustice.

Pat Conroy and Katherine Clark
Tamika Moore/Courtesy of the author

Pat Conroy’s memoirs and autobiographical novels contain a great deal about his life, but there is much he hasn’t revealed with readers until now. My Exaggerated Life (2018, University of South Carolina Press) is the product of a special collaboration between this great American author and oral biographer Katherine Clark, who recorded two hundred hours of conversations with Conroy before he passed away in 2016. In the spring and summer of 2014, the two spoke for an hour or more on the phone every day.

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