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“G” is for Grayson, William John (1788-1863)

“G” is for Grayson, William John (1788-1863). Politician, planter, poet, essayist. A native of Beaufort District, Grayson graduated from the South Carolina College. Throughout his life he held numerous public offices, serving in the S.C. House of Representatives; the S.C. Senate; the U.S. House of Representatives; and as Charleston’s customs collector. While editor of the Beaufort Gazette, Grayson supported nullification, winning a congressional seat in 1832 on the states’ rights ticket. He experienced a change of heart after his return to South Carolina and joined the Whig Party. Grayson is best remembered for his proslavery verse, The Hireling and the Slave (1854), a rejoinder to Harriet Beecher Stowe’s depiction of slavery in Uncle Tom’s Cabin. But, William John Grayson was also a Unionist, and vigorously defended the principles of America’s founding throughout the sectional crises of the 1850s.

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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.