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“W” is for Walter, Thomas (ca. 1740-1789)

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South Carolina from A to Z: “W” is for Walter, Thomas (ca. 1740-1789). Botanist, planter, patriot, politician.

Born in England, Walter was in Charleston by 1769. Over the next twenty years he produced a manuscript for Flora Caroliniana that stands as a hallmark of its genre. It was the first flora document of a region of North America to utilize the Linnaean system of classification. For years Walter had collected plants in the coastal plain and cultivated some six hundred of them in his garden. He also received some four hundred plants from the backcountry from James Fraser a travelling Scots botanist. His Latin descriptions of these nearly one thousand species became the basis for the Flora. Thomas Walter died in 1788 and was buried in his garden on the south side of the Santee River in Berkeley County.

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.