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The Palmetto State

The Making of Modern South Carolina

Jack Bass

Publication Year: 2012

As South Carolina enters into the fourth century of its storied existence, the state's captivating, colorful, and controversial history continues to warrant fresh explorations. In this sweeping story of defining episodes in the state's history, accomplished Southern historians Jack Bass and W. Scott Poole trace the key importance of race relations, historical memory, and cultural life in the progress of the Palmetto State from its colonial inception to its present incarnation. The authors bring a strong emphasis on the modern era to their briskly paced narrative, which advances work begun by Bass in his germinal investigation Porgy Comes Home: South Carolina after Three Hundred Years to further our understanding of the state as it now exists. Bass and Poole focus on three central themes—divisions of race and class, adherence to historical memory, and the interconnected strands of economic, social, and political flux—as they illustrate how these threads manifest themselves time and again across the rich tapestry of the South Carolina experience. The authors explore the centrality of race relations, both subtle and direct, in the state's development from the first settlement of Charles Towne to the contemporary political and economic landscape. The tragic histories of slavery and segregation and the struggles to end each in its era have defined much of the state's legacy. The authors argue that conflicts over race continue to influence historical memory in the state, most especially in still-evolving memories—nostalgic for some and ignominious for others—of the Civil War and Reconstruction eras. And they find throughout the state's history a strong role for religion in shaping reaction to changing circumstances. In the discussion of contemporary South Carolina that makes up the majority of this volume, the authors delineate the state's remarkable transformation in the mid–twentieth century, during which a combination of powerful elements blended together through a dynamism fueled by the twin forces of continuity and change. Bass and Poole map the ways through which hard-won economic and civil rights advancements, a succession of progressive state leaders, and federal court mandates operated in tandem to bring a largely peaceful end to the Jim Crow era in South Carolina, in stark contrast to the violence wrought elsewhere in the South. Today there is a growing acceptance of the state's biracial common past and a heartfelt need to understand the significance of this past for the present and future that has come to define the modern Palmetto State. This volume speaks directly to those historical connections and serves as a valuable point of entrance for original inquiries into the state's diverse and complex heritage.

Published by: University of South Carolina Press

Cover

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pp. 1-3

Title Page

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p. 4-4

Copyright Page

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p. 5-5

Table of Contents

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pp. v-vi

List of Illustrations

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pp. vii-viii

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Acknowledgments

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pp. ix-x

The origin of this book is a column,written in 2002 by Will Moredock for the Charleston City Paper, noting the fortieth anniversary of the publication of my book Porgy Comes Home. Moredock wrote that the book “documents the quiet revolution that changed South Carolina between World War II and 1970.” ...

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Introduction

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pp. xi-xvi

South Carolinians began their fourth century looking not behind, but ahead. Yet, as William Faulkner observed, especially about the South, “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” ...

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1. The Beginning

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pp. 1-14

Although earlier European settlements on today’s South Carolina coast had failed, Stephen Bull wrote on September 12, 1670, to his patron in England, Lord Ashley, “Wee conceive this to be as healthful A place as ever was settled . . . there is a lande sufficient here for some thousands of People where they may make very brave and happy settlements.”1 ...

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2. The American Revolution

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pp. 15-22

On June 28, 1776, nine British ships attempting to enter Charleston Harbor bombarded Fort Sullivan on Sullivan’s Island on the northern flank of the city’s harbor. Colonel William Moultrie commanded patriot forces manning the fort, whose soft, spongy palmetto log walls absorbed the shock of British cannonballs without shattering. ...

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3. An Era of Decline

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pp. 23-43

During the first two decades of the nineteenth century, South Carolina prospered. Charleston trailed only New York in the value of its imports in 1816. The national Panic of 1819, however, dealt South Carolina an economic blow from which it never recovered. ...

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4. Civil War and Reconstruction

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pp. 44-62

On the night of December 26, 1860, Colonel Robert Anderson moved about seventy-four United States soldiers from Fort Moultrie on Sullivan’s Island to a still-incomplete fort, Fort Sumter, in the middle of Charleston Harbor. Anderson had informed his superiors that he could not hope to defend the land-bound Fort Moultrie, ...

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5. The Tillman Era

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pp. 63-78

Ben Tillman rose to political prominence on a wave of dissatisfaction with the Bourbons. Tillman came from a well-to-do Edgefield family that had owned close to fifty slaves before the war and managed to hold onto their land afterward. As a boy he would sit outdoors and read the classics. ...

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6. World Wars and the Depression

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pp. 79-85

The entry of the United States into the First World War proved a watershed for the American South. Many South Carolinians benefited from the war. The price of cotton shot up to forty cents a pound, and mill wages grew in response to the demand for uniforms, tents, and other textiles by the United States armed forces. ...

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7. Civil Rights Era

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pp. 86-102

South Carolina played a unique role during the civil rights era. An established statewide network of strong black leaders ultimately coalesced with a succession of progressive governors to ease the transition to a multiracial society. It took the federal courts and federal law to force change and the courage of African American citizens to bring lawsuits. ...

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8. Politics of Transition

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pp. 103-110

In preparing the state for the breaking of the color line, Hollings set a new direction for South Carolina, a clear break with the past.An important period of political transition, however, had preceded him, beginning with Lieutenant Colonel James Strom Thurmond returning home from World War II focused on a single goal: ...

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9. A New Era Evolves

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pp. 111-137

Few political figures anywhere could match the depth and quickness of mind, tartness of tongue, and innovative outlook that made Fritz Hollings a transitional figure for South Carolina. In preparing the state for the breaking of the color line, Hollings set a new direction, a clean break with the past. ...

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10. Popular Culture

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pp. 138-145

Even amid all the conflict over race, there existed in South Carolina and throughout the South an ongoing and deep cultural exchange that included food, music, religion, and even the taboo arena of sex. White southerners enjoying the taste of succulent boiled peanuts in the summer, sweet potatoes in the fall and winter, ...

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11. The Republican Rise

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pp. 146-157

Although Democrats seemed to have retained their dominance in 1970, the 1974 Democratic primary for governor reflected submerged party tensions that would push open the door for Republican growth. A reform element in the party sought progressive change, both in addressing long-ignored issues of public policy and in opening the process to new ideas. ...

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12. Beyond the Bozart

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pp. 158-176

In his biting 1917 essay “The Sahara of the Bozart,” Baltimore satirist H. L. Mencken opened with a couplet from Richland County’s J. Gordon Coogler, whose extensive body of work combined high ambition with limited talent: “Alas for the South; her books have grown fewer. / She never was much given to literature.” ...

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13. The Changing Economy

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pp. 177-194

The combination of social change wrought by the civil rights era in South Carolina and the state’s response to it opened a new era of economic development. In outlawing racial discrimination in employment, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 provided new job opportunities for almost a third of the state’s population. ...

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14. Change and Continuity

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pp. 195-206

Life in South Carolina has changed more since World War II than in any other period of the state’s history, except for the brief era of Reconstruction. The twin forces of transformation flow from the interconnected federally mandated collapse of segregation and the pace of economic modernization. Yet the state retains a strong sense of continuity with its past. ...

A South Carolina Chronology

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pp. 207-212

Notes

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pp. 213-222

Index

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pp. 223-231


E-ISBN-13: 9781611171327
Print-ISBN-13: 9781611171389

Page Count: 248
Publication Year: 2012

Research Areas

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Subject Headings

  • South Carolina -- History.
  • South Carolina -- Race relations -- History.
  • South Carolina -- Politics and government.
  • South Carolina -- Social conditions.
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