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“U” is for Unionists

South Carolina from A to Z logo

  “U” is for Unionists. Unionists in South Carolina were anti-secessionists and supporters of the federal Union in the decades prior to the Civil War—especially during the Nullification Crisis of the 1830s and the secession crises of 1850 and 1860. Unionist strongholds were in white majority districts such as Greenville, Horry, Pickens, and Spartanburg. Although unable to prevent the passage of the Ordinance of Nullification, they created a statewide network of militia units that were in contact with President Andrew Jackson. In part, because of determined Unionist opposition—and the threat of internal armed conflict—the nullifiers sought compromise rather than confrontation with the federal government. Among the leading Unionists were Joel R. Poinsett, James L. Petigru, and Benjamin F. Perry.

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.