The Passing of a Giant

church

The huge crowd outside the Spartanburg church where Johnston’s funeral was in progress; he was interred at Barkers Creek Baptist Church, Honea Path, S.C

Olin Dewitt Talmadge Johnston (1896-1965) served as S.C. Governor (1935-1939 & 1943-1945) and U.S. Senator (1945 until his death in office).  Shortly after he died, his family donated to the University an extensive collection of personal papers and memorabilia.  Johnston’s was the University’s first major congressional collection and it remains one of SCPC’s largest collections.  Years later, we received the papers of his daughter, Liz Patterson, who has devoted her life to public service, including three terms in the U.S. House.

Gladys Johnston

A grieving Gladys Johnston at her husband’s funeral

Recently, Mrs. Patterson and her family have donated substantial additional materials for both collections.  Johnston’s original collection included few photographs.  The new material includes a treasure trove of images.  It quickly became apparent that both Olin and his wife Gladys were very fashion conscious.  Johnston is shown in any number of beautifully tailored suits, matched with fashionable shoes, and wearing an array of hats, as men of his generation did.  Mrs. Johnston is pictured in beautiful outfits, each emphasizing her slender frame and stylish eye.

During his life, Olin Johnston was a giant on the South Carolina stage.  In processing his collection, I was impressed by his devotion to the people of South Carolina and his bravery in opposing Senator Joseph McCarthy in his attacks charging broad Communist leanings among the ranks of federal employees.  As chair of the Senate committee charged with oversight of federal employees, Johnston’s stance was notable.  Always the champion of the common people, Johnston was unwilling to be steamrollered by the McCarthy phenomenon.

LBJ

President Lyndon and Lady Bird Johnson attended the funeral with Mrs. Johnston.

One of the great joys of working with contemporary collections is that we typically get to know our donors, some very well. I have always regretted that I did not have a chance to meet the Senator and his wife.  The photos illustrating this blog come from a photo album on the Senator’s funeral, kept by Mrs. Johnston.  The scrapbook touched me and I imagine the image of Mrs. Johnston’s grief will stay with all who see it.

Herb Hartsook

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Oh, for a Rose by ANY Other Name!

You never know what may show up in political collections.  Among some recently-acquired material, we discovered evidence of one organization’s rather optimistic effort to shake up Congress.

The box it came in

The box it came in

As a response to the news that only 14% of Americans in 2013 approved the performance of the United States Congress, the National Rose Garden in Sunnyside, New York, is offering The Congressional Disapproval Rose Commemorative Plate.  For $75 you can sponsor a plate and have it sent to the Senator or Representative of your choice.

The program is non-partisan; as the Garden’s website explains:  “Hand-crafted in an edition of 535 sets, for each plate purchased another will be sent to a representative of your choosing…. We are attempting to acknowledge the shared landscape and shared responsibility that exists in our representative bodies. For that reason our goal is to place one plate with each member of the 113th Congress. We ask that you choose a representative who has not been sent a plate.”

A letter accompanying the plate reads: “While we admire and respect all service in the public realm, this gift is sent as an acknowledgement of the growing distance between the American public and its representative body.”  They hope the gift “will encourage thought on effective representation and our shared role in that process.” The letter closes with “We earnestly thank you for your public service and we hope that this brief intervention will illustrate our overlapping desires for a successful system of governance.”

The project is ongoing so the results are not yet known, but it’s probable that such an unusual endeavor will catch the eye of more than a few of our Representatives.

The Plate

The Plate

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South Carolina’s Nuclear State

poster

Exhibit poster

As you may have seen, at the end of May we installed a new exhibit in our galleries entitled “Nuclear Carolina: Energy and Waste in the Palmetto State.” When Dorothy Walker, SCPC’s Associate Director, first approached me with the idea of an exhibit on nuclear energy in South Carolina, I put on a brave face; but I panicked. I knew next to nothing about nuclear energy period, let alone in this state. One of the great things about working in the archival field, though, is that you can to learn so much about all sorts of things you never expected to know about. It’s all a matter of what surprises you can find hidden in the collection.

It turns out we have a lot of material related to nuclear plants in our collections, because South Carolina has at least eight reactors currently active throughout the state! I was worried at first that I would be scraping for materials to make a proper exhibit on this topic, or that I would have to change topics altogether, but as it turns out, we have more than enough information in our collections on nuclear power, nuclear waste, and other related concerns.

Ellenton sign

The towns of Ellenton and Dunbarton were leveled to make way for the Savannah River Plant.   (photo: W.D. Workman Papers)

If you’ve seen the exhibit, you’ll notice that the two plants I focus on the most are both located on the southwest edge of the state: the Barnwell Waste Disposal Facility and the Savannah River Site. Although these sites are far from us here in Columbia, I cover them the most extensively because they caused the most controversy over the years. The Savannah River Site in particular had dozens of political cartoons and a host of speeches and other materials created by politicians and a variety of citizens.

Though as a nuclear processing facility particularly focused on weapons and research it differs widely from the other plants in the state, the environmental concerns surrounding the site ring true for other nuclear facilities in the state as well.

From the Savannah River Site and the Barnwell Facility to the numerous power plants elsewhere, South Carolina truly is a nuclear state!

Contributed by grad assistant Clara Bertagnolli 

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A Great Scholar and a Big Man — Bob Moore & Ike Williams

bob moore

Dr. Bob Moore

We are currently at work arranging and describing the papers of retired Columbia College history professor Robert Moore. Bob is one of South Carolina’s premier scholars on the Civil Rights movement. He has focused particularly on Matthew Perry’s leadership in the movement. Years ago, Bob and Judge Perry donated to SCPC recordings of an extensive life history Bob had conducted with the Judge. SCPC transcribed the interview and, with their permission, added the transcript to our website. There, it is available to anyone, anytime, anywhere.

Recently, Bob donated the research he developed in working on a history of Perry and the movement, a book that he has decided he will never complete. Included are cassettes of over twenty interviews he conducted with a variety of major players including many friends of SCPC such as Hayes Mizell, Chief Justice Jean Toal, and former governor John West.

book signing

SC Chief Justice Jean Toal, Dr. Cleveland Sellers, and Ike Williams at a book signing event at U of SC, 2006

We are in the process of transcribing those interviews and ultimately hope to make them available universally by putting them on our website. We are having to reach out to several of the interview subjects seeking their authorization to do this. That and the labor intensive transcription process assure that this project will require over a year to complete.

We have just mounted to the web Bob’s interview with Isaac W. “Ike” Williams (1945-2008). In the interview, which lasted a bit over an hour, the former NAACP field director and close associate of both I. DeQuincey Newman and Congressman James Clyburn discusses his experiences as a Civil Rights leader, particularly during the 1950s and 1960s.

ike williams

Ike Williams

Ike was a big man in many ways. He had a real presence and played an important role in the movement and on South Carolina’s governance. Talks about creating an Ike Williams collection here at SCPC were cut short by his untimely death in 2008, but I, like all who knew him, will never forget his zest for life, desire to make a difference, and inherent kindness. We are grateful to his widow Evelyn for authorizing us to make his story available to posterity.

By Herb Hartsook

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A Judicial Temperament: Donald S. Russell

For July and August, SCPC has mounted in our Brittain Gallery a small exhibit celebrating the life of Donald S. Russell (1906-1998). As I have written in the past, few individuals achieve the success that Donald Russell enjoyed, fewer still succeed in such a wide range of arenas, and even fewer have active careers of the duration of Russell’s.

Byrnes and Russell

Donald Russell (right) worked with with fellow South Carolinian James F. Byrnes at the Office of War Mobilization under Roosevelt and later at the State Department under Truman.

Donald Russell held important positions in the Roosevelt administration during World War II. He served as President of the University of South Carolina from 1952 until 1957. He was elected Governor of South Carolina in 1962. On taking office in January, 1963, the Russells hosted a barbeque on the mansion grounds where they welcomed over 11,000 people, both black and white. Later that month, Russell oversaw the desegregation of higher education in South Carolina when Harvey Gantt was admitted to Clemson University.

Upon the death of U.S. Senator Olin Johnston in 1965, Russell was appointed to the Senate until a special election could be held. Russell gained an excellent reputation for his good and significant work but was defeated by Fritz Hollings in the 1966 special election to complete Johnston’s term.

Russell and Johnson

Governor and Mrs. Russell greet President Lyndon and Lady Bird Johnson

Shortly thereafter, President Lyndon Johnson appointed Russell to the U.S. District Court. Four years later, Russell was appointed a judge of the U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals. Russell seems to have been destined for the bench and served as an active appellate court judge right until the time of his death, in 1998, on his 92nd birthday.

The exhibit is timed to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of Russell’s 1965 appointment to the Senate. To learn more about this great South Carolinian, please enjoy the electronic exhibit, Donald S. Russell: A Life of Public Service.

Russell barbeque

Russell’s inaugural barbeque (from Russell inaugural booklet, McKissick Museum)

I had the opportunity to interview Judge Russell late in his life. It remains among my most memorable interviews, chiefly because I clearly bored the Judge. But after I turned off the recorder, Russell began to talk about court cases he was currently hearing and cases he thought might end up before him. He hadn’t felt it appropriate to discuss these on the record. And he grew animated. And that is what I will always remember. This man had led a full and remarkably accomplished life, but rather than dwell on past glories, in the twilight of his life Donald Russell lived in the present, for the future.

By Herb Hartsook

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Running Up the Flag, or, How John Amasa May Thumbed His Nose at JFK

battle flag

The crowd on the State House grounds watched as the battle flag was lowered this morning.

This morning, at a few minutes after 10:00, the controversial Confederate battle flag was removed from its position beside the Confederate monument on the State House grounds.

Historian John Hammond Moore researched and drafted an article on the history of the Confederate Flag atop the State House in 1999 and shared his information with Governor Hodges during the debate that ultimately led to the removal of the flag from the dome and its repositioning on the State House grounds. John had hoped the article might be published, but it was not. I have known John for over thirty years and have always admired his scholarship. I believe the following account is the definitive history of the effort in 1961 that led to the flag flying over the State House dome.

Herb Hartsook


“Running up the Flag…”, by John Hammond Moore

John H Moore and Ernest Hollings

John Hammond Moore (seated) with Senator Ernest “Fritz” Hollings at SCPC, 2003

Throughout the first four decades of this century, the so-called Confederate flag—now a source of considerable public anguish and protest—was consigned to discreet obscurity. As veteran ranks dwindled, banners were furled and, much like the brave men themselves, enjoyed quiet repose. During World War II, southern white boys often displayed the Confederate Navy Jack as a good-natured reminder of home and, upon return to college life, waved it gleefully at football games. The Navy Jack, with the blue Cross of St. Andrew and white stars on a red field, is a rectangular version of the Confederate Army’s square battle flag. It is not the “Stars and Bars” and never was a national standard, merely a pennant flown from the bow of a vessel.

Then in 1948, the Dixiecrats and rising civil rights rancor transformed this increasingly familiar banner into a stark, pro-segregation symbol beloved by a re-born KKK, hordes of good ole boys, and countless far-right politicians. In time, it became the logo of rock bands, skinheads, motorcycle gangs, and similar disparate fringe elements. What these groups seem to have in common is rebellion against authority—a far cry from the sacred legacy handed down by Wade Hampton and Robert E. Lee and clearly out of step with any constituted entity such as a state government.

Georgis flag 1956

Georgia’s state flag designed in 1956 in response to the 1954 Brown decision, and flown until 2001

A major turning point in this tale is the Brown v. Board of Education decision (May 1954) that struck down segregated public schools. Southern reaction was predictable, but that of Georgia is especially pertinent because it presaged what would follow in South Carolina. A fine article in the Georgia Historical Quarterly (Summer 1998) “An Act of Defiance—Georgia’s Flag Change of 1956” by John Walker Davis describes how county commissioners decided to add the now-familiar Cross of St. Andrew to the state flag.

In February 1956, state legislators agreed to do the same, despite stern opposition from the United Daughters of the Confederacy and Sons of Confederate Veterans distressed by the “theft” of their icon and its increasing use for commercial purposes, while hundreds of puzzled citizens asked why change was necessary. No explanation was forthcoming nor, at the time, was anything said about the Civil War or honoring Confederate dead. In fact, when signing the flag bill, Governor Marvin Griffin vowed it represented determination to maintain “Georgia’s two greatest traditions—segregation and the county-unit system.” The latter, a complex scheme assuring rural dominance in statewide elections, was overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1963. As John Davis stressed, this change was “an act of defiance,” a knee-jerk reaction to the Brown decision of 1954.

Gressette

Calhoun County Senator L. Marion Gressette, who chaired the Education Committee, 1951 to 1955

The same year that Georgia got a new flag, Senator John D. Long of Union County [S.C.], once private secretary to Gov. Coleman Blease, persuaded his colleagues to display the Navy Jack (now widely accepted as “the Confederate flag”) in their chamber [at the State House]. In 1956, they also passed Act 927 bestowing permanent status upon a school study committee headed by Senator Lawrence Marion Gressette of Calhoun County. This group, established by concurrent resolution in 1951, was asked to chart what course the state should take to thwart integration.

Yet another body, also created by concurrent resolution, was a key player in this saga. Born in February 1959, this was the “Commission to Commemorate the One Hundredth Anniversary of the Participation of the State of South Carolina in the American War Between the Confederated States of America, South, and the Federal Union of the United States of America, North, and for Related Purposes.” As constituted, there would be nine members—the governor (ex-officio), two senators, two representatives, and four citizens selected by the governor. The prime force, it turned out, would be the chairman, Representative John Amasa May of Aiken: lawyer, World War II veteran, commander of the South Carolina Sons of Confederate Veterans, and a keen student of local history. For several years, legislative journals stated (correctly) that this body was established in 1959. By 1962, however, its birth was pushed back to 1956 and erroneously linked to Senator Gressette and Act 927.

US Grant III

Grandson of the Civil War general and U.S. president, General U.S. Grant, III, served as chairman of the national Civil War Centennial Commission from 1957 to 1961.

Even before May and associates sprang into action, a federally funded national commission came into existence in 1957, headed by Brigadier General U.S. Grant, III. Most states soon fielded similar bodies that held three annual planning sessions and, at the suggestion of South Carolina, agreed to convene the fourth meeting (appropriately enough) in Charleston on April 11-12, 1961, the one hundredth anniversary of the attack upon Fort Sumter.

During the opening weeks of the year, the “Holy City” buzzed with excitement. Soon there would be parades, pageants, re-enactments, and fireworks both planned and unforeseen. However, the New Jersey commission voted in mid-March to boycott the proceedings. The problem was that a black delegate, Mrs. Madaline Williams, would be unable to attend functions held at the segregated Francis Marion Hotel. When General Grant failed to resolve this impasse, President John F. Kennedy ordered the national conclave moved to the Charleston Naval Base where facilities were integrated. As a result, the national body and those of most states met there, while the South Carolina Commission and other Southerners met at the Francis Marion as planned, although some of the latter attended business sessions at the base.

ft sumter stamp

Stamp commemorating the Centennial, featuring a Fort Sumter gun

Needless to say, the President’s action was greeted with howls of protest, with Governor Fritz Hollings and others accusing JFK and New Jersey of trying to score political points with blacks and liberals. Amid such chaos, John A. May arrived in Charleston resplendent in top hat, gray suit, and a startling Confederate-flag vest, which, he conceded, was from a New Jersey novelty house. But, May quickly added, it was ordered in December long before the current crisis developed. At his request, April 12 was a state holiday and three flags (national, state, and Confederate) flew for a week from a staff atop the Gervais Street portico of the State House.

Ft Sumter

Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor

The meetings that ensued were beset by controversy when Charleston native and Saturday Evening Post editor Ashley Halsey, a featured speaker, pointed a finger at racial prejudice in New Jersey. In addition, at 4:30 a.m. on the morning of April 12th, a “rebel” landing party briefly occupied Fort Sumter and ran up a 4’ by 6’ Confederate flag supplied by (guess who?) John A. May! This band of adventurers, according to the News and Courier (April 13), included several members of the General Assembly and various “prominent” Charlestonians.

Shortly after sunrise, a national park employee hauled down the flag and replaced it with the Stars and Stripes. However, that evening, as hundreds watched a re-enactment of the original bombardment, the newspaper said the landing party received hearty congratulations. And, it seems quite possible that, amid fireworks, backslaps, and bourbon, many talked of a site where state authority, not federal, reigned supreme, namely the lofty dome of the State House in Columbia.

But no flag had flown there for nearly a decade, largely because ascension to that pinnacle was too risky. To get there, one had to mount rickety stairs, pass through two trap doors, and mount a long ladder. However, despite such obstacles, early in 1962 the pace quickened. On January 9, David Hall, a Lexington County steeplejack who had done the job before, climbed up the thirty-foot pole atop the dome, attached a chain to a pulley, and soon the Stars and Stripes and state flag were flapping in a winter breeze.

battle flag

The battle flag flying atop the dome of the State House

At first, as we know, there were only two. But on February 14, 1962, John May and F. Julian LeaMond of Charleston introduced House Bill 2261, a concurrent resolution stipulating that the Confederate flag be flown over the State House. Much like Georgia’s experience in 1956, at the time no one said the intent was to honor Confederate dead or mark the anniversary of the Civil War. The House gave quick approval, and the Senate concurred a month later, returning the measure to the lower body on March 20. The first public notice of what had happened was a picture in Section B of the Columbia Record (March 28) showing three flags atop the dome, a Maxie Roberts photo of the American, state, and “recently added Stars and Bars.”

This strange tale out of South Carolina’s recent past takes curious twists and turns. Sometimes there are no flags, sometimes two, and then three. And, since John Fitzgerald Kennedy plays a pivotal role in this drama—it was his decision in March 1961 that prompted John May and friends to run up what they assumed was the Confederate flag (“in your face, Jack-boy!”)—one might ask what flags, if any, flew over the State House following the young President’s tragic death in November 1963. Were all three aloft…were there only two…or perhaps none?
The answer can be found in the Columbia Record of Monday, November 25th, a day set aside for national mourning. Banks, offices, colleges, and schools were closed, millions watched the sad funeral pageant on TV, and there—on page 1 of Section D—was a photo of Columbia’s Main Street and the State House with three flags at half staff, “an act of defiance” still, even as the slain leader, for over two years a prime target of segregationist scorn, was being praised, eulogized, and laid to rest.

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Reflections of a Moore Summer Intern

By Chandler White

White

Chandler White

I became aware of the Moore Summer Internship through my academic adviser at the University of Tennessee, where I am a second year graduate student. I made the decision to apply due to my dual interests in archives and politics. I felt as though this would be a great opportunity to gain professional experience in a field for which I have great interest and also work with material and subject matter that I found interesting. I was honored to be selected for this opportunity and began my journey the day after Memorial Day 2015.

Before arriving as an intern at SCPC, I knew very little of South Carolina politics except for the names I had seen on television as part of the national political debate; Lindsey Graham, Mark Sanford, Nikki Haley, etc. My work at SCPC introduced me to three fascinating figures who have impacted the lives of South Carolinians in a very localized and positive fashion. While processing the papers of Luther Battiste III, Flynn Harrell and Johnnie Mac Walters I was able to get a glimpse into the careers of three honorable and thoughtful men who served with integrity, courage, and honor.

Battiste

Luther Battiste at a City Council meeting

My first assignment at SCPC was to process an addition to the collection of Luther J. Battiste III, a highly respected past member of the Columbia City Council and a practicing attorney. Battiste began his official political career in 1983 when he was elected as one of the first African American city councilmen in Columbia, South Carolina, since the Reconstruction era. I say this marked the beginning of his “official” political career because he was involved in one historic election prior to becoming a Councilman, managing the successful 1971 campaign of Harry L. Walker as the first African American student body president at the University of South Carolina. Battiste served as Walker’s campaign manager and this successful bid set the tone for the many accomplishments Battiste would achieve in the coming years, including the completion of degrees from U.S.C. in International Studies and from the Emory University School of Law.

The Battiste collection paints the portrait of a gentleman politician who always served with the best interests of his constituents in mind, putting the betterment of the city ahead of his personal political ambitions. Battiste served on the Council for 15 years, running unopposed in every election after the first, but decided not to seek re-election after his third term ended in 1998 though he could have easily won again. Battiste explained through papers contained in the collection that due to his expanding legal career and family commitments he did not feel he could devote the time and attention necessary to serve on the Council and give the people of his district the full commitment they deserved. This is typical of the dedication to putting the citizens first that is reflected in the entire Battiste collection.

Harrell

Flynn Harrell

The Flynn T. Harrell collection was another highly insightful project which I had the privilege to work with during my time at SCPC. Harrell, like Battiste, is a native South Carolinian, raised in Columbia with a strong affiliation with the Baptist church. This upbringing inspired Harrell to become both a public servant and a lifelong advocate for religious liberty, as reflected in his collection of materials on the separation of church and state. My assignment in regard to the Harrell collection was to describe and integrate papers transferred from the South Caroliniana Library into the existing church and state items.

Through these papers I learned that Harrell worked for the people of South Carolina in many ways, serving as Executive Assistant to the state Attorney General for eleven years, serving on the Columbia Planning Commission, serving as Chairman of Governor Richard Riley’s Task Force on Critical Human Needs from 1981 to 1982, and as a member of the South Carolina Ethics Commission from 2000 to 2005. Harrell is also a long time member of the Democratic Party, which is showcased by correspondence with both local and national Democratic figures. These personal papers create the profile of a man who is both rational and compassionate, never forgetting that his purpose for being involved with politics was to help the citizens of South Carolina. I had the privilege to meet Mr. Harrell during my time at SCPC and found him to be the same kind, intelligent, and humorous gentleman that I had pictured from working with his papers. It was a great honor to meet Mr. Harrell and I feel that I learned much from him.

Walters and Mitchell

Johnnie Mac Walters with U.S. Attorney General John Mitchell in 1969

My final assignment at SCPC was to process an addition to the collection of Johnnie M. Walters. Again, I had no prior knowledge of Mr. Walters or his career, but came to admire his integrity and skill. Walters was appointed Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service by President Richard M. Nixon with the expectation that Walters would “play ball” with the Administration and use the IRS as a political weapon to reward the President’s allies and punish his enemies. Walters refused to go along with this plan, ignoring the enemies list compiled by the President and his orders to unjustly harass the persons on the list through the IRS. Walters emerged as one of the few members of the Nixon Administration to escape the Watergate scandal with their reputation fully intact and to carry no taint of corruption into their post-Administration career. This fact is a tribute to the sense of integrity and competence which came through to me in reading his papers. The vast majority of the addition I processed consisted of speech transcripts ranging from the mid-1960’s to the late 1990’s, mostly centering on tax law and the functionality of the IRS. Walters was a prolific speaker, as I found out by creating an Appendix of the almost 200 speech transcripts contained in the collection. The audience for these speeches ranged from Senate and House Committees on Watergate to the Greenville Kiwanis Club. This showed both Walters’ voluminous knowledge of tax law and his great sense of humor.

I am writing this blog on my last day at SCPC and can’t believe how quickly these four weeks have flown by. It has been a very exciting time for me and I will carry many great memories back home. I am thankful for the leadership, knowledge and good nature of all my colleagues in the processing room, especially Mr. Herb Hartsook, who on a daily basis displays a tremendous sense of professionalism and camaraderie that has served as a great example to me moving forward. I consider the experience I have gained in the area of processing and cataloging documents invaluable toward my future career goals and I am certain this experience will serve me extremely well in the future. I will remember the beauty and history of the University of South Carolina campus and the many fine meals I enjoyed at Preston’s Upstairs at the Russell House, easily the finest on-campus dining facility I have ever experienced.

Chandler White group

Dean of Libraries Tom McNally, SCPC Director Herb Hartsook, collection donor Flynn Harrell, and Chandler White

I will remember my weekend trip to the beautiful city of Charleston and the happy realization that I was staying only 2 hours from the beach, as opposed to 8 hours in also beautiful but landlocked Tennessee. Sadly, I will remember the shock of the tragic Charleston church shootings, which took place during my time at SCPC, but I will also feel encouraged by the overwhelming support of the people of South Carolina to those who lost loved ones and friends in that terrible event, and encouraged by the positive changes that seem to be in motion in the aftermath of such an unthinkable tragedy.

But most of all, I will remember the honor I felt in being selected for the Moore Summer Internship and the confidence it has given me. I encourage anyone with an interest in the field of archives to learn more about SCPC and apply for any opportunity to be a part of this growing and vibrant organization, and I hope that many more students will get the opportunity to share my great experiences in the years to come.

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The Confederate Battle Flag: A Controversy Re-ignited…and Resolved?

confederate flag

The Confederate battle flag was flown atop the cupola of the State House from 1962 until 2000.

The Confederate Battle Flag was raised over the South Carolina State House in 1962 to commemorate the centennial of the Civil War. It remained there until 2000, and even with its move to a flagpole near the Confederate memorial, its continued presence on the State House grounds remains a source of division and turmoil.

I remember well Governor David Beasley’s valiant call in 1997 to remove the flag from the Dome. He was supported in that effort by former governors Fritz Hollings, Bob McNair, John West, Jim Edwards, Dick Riley and Carroll Campbell, all SCPC donors. Beasley’s failed initiative contributed to his 1998 re-election defeat by Jim Hodges.

dump beasley, keep the flag

Bumper sticker from the Governor Beasley-era flag crisis

I will never forget the December 1999 news conference in which surviving members of the 1962 General Assembly, led by John West and Bob McNair, petitioned the General Assembly to remove the flag from the Dome. They argued the original intent of the Assembly was simply to commemorate the Civil War and that the flag should have come down afterwards, and that the fact that it did not was an oversight in the drafting of the legislation. Both West and McNair were SCPC donors, as were petitioners Charlie Boineau, the first Republican elected to the General Assembly since Reconstruction, Don Holland, Ryan Shealy and Nick Zeigler. SCPC friends Steve Griffith and Crosby Lewis were also among the group. Showing his dry humor, West proclaimed them “the has-been brigade.”

McNair and West

Robert McNair and John West at West’s 1971 inauguration as governor

Their petition was front page news. And while Gov. Jim Hodges was meeting with members of the then-current Assembly, West declared, “This petition represents a historic event. It is the first time in the history of South Carolina. . . that the former legislative body, after more than a quarter of a century, has petitioned . . . an existing legislative body to correct an oversight or error, remedy a wrong and heal a divisive situation.” George Campsen, Jr., who conceived the petition, said, “Through mere oversight and omission, our resolution regarding the flag did not state when it should come down. We are here today pleading guilty to that omission.”

In 2000, under Governor Hodges, a compromise led to the removal of the flag to the State House grounds beside the Confederate Soldier Monument, a compromise that failed to satisfy the people who argued that moving the flag was an insult to their Confederate ancestors who fought for States’ Rights, the people who felt the flag was a symbol of racism, and all those falling in the spectrum between those two poles.

Confederate soldier monument

Currently, the flag flies from a pole next to the Confederate Soldier Monument in front of the State House.

Now it seems that the flag will move to a place of honor in the Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum. USC President Harris Pastides supports the move, as did President John Palms, whose three page 1999 statement concluded, “I believe further that I have an obligation to convey to our leaders my personal judgment that flying any flag except our state and national flags above the State House harms this University with which I am so personally engaged.”

On Monday, June 22nd, Governor Nikki Haley made a stirring call to the legislature to act quickly to remove the flag. It was telling that she was surrounded by other leaders including Senators Graham and Scott, Congressmen Jim Clyburn, Tom Rice and Mark Sanford, and State Senator John Courson. It has been a long time coming.

By Herb Hartsook

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Why are Some Collections Closed to Study?

Contemporary political collections differ from traditional manuscripts collections in a number of key ways.

shipment

Staff and students unload a shipment of material from Congressman John Spratt.

*They are big, often hundreds or even thousands of cartons. A typical manuscript collection is usually under ten cartons and often under one.

*They are composed of a wide variety of record formats, including a dizzying array of audiovisual and electronic materials. The typical manuscript collection is composed of paper, perhaps with photographs, although this is changing.

*Donors of political papers are often alive and active and may, for some years, be the primary user of reference service into their collection. Many manuscript collections are donated by distant descendants who will almost never visit to see the collection.

inventory

Conducting an inventory of a newly-arrived collection

*Finally, while traditional manuscript repositories are ethically bound to open their acquisitions to research as quickly as feasible, modern political collections are usually closed to research for some significant time.

A significant number of South Carolina Political Collections’ holdings are closed to the public. We are unusual in that we serve an ever-growing number of sitting legislators – currently U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham and congressmen Mick Mulvaney, Mark Sanford and Joe Wilson. Senator Tim Scott recently announced his decision to entrust his papers to SCPC. It is extraordinary to serve so many sitting members of Congress.

carter and west

Several of our diplomatic collections, such as that of John West (pictured here with President Jimmy Carter) have been reviewed for classified material.

Each of these collections is closed to research, as are other collections of recently retired public figures. There are key reasons to close a collection. First, in collecting the papers of active or recently retired members of Congress, SCPC staff must be alert to the possible presence of classified materials. Members of Congress often have access to materials that are classified or otherwise restricted. Such materials often relate to foreign relations or the military. Our government makes clear to archivists handling congressional papers that sensitive documents will not necessarily be boldly stamped CLASSIFIED – it is the informational content of the documents that determines whether information is classified. Age isn’t necessarily a factor in whether or not a document might be classified. The U.S. State Department argued that certain World War II documents received in one of our collections needed review by their staff before we could allow them to be made public.

Second, in dealing with contemporary records, our staff need to be alert to the privacy rights of individuals reflected in our collections, such as constituents seeking help from their member of Congress with the federal bureaucracy. Constituents often lay bare the details of very personal matters and provide sensitive information such as social security numbers.

processing papers

The nature of political papers demands close examination as they are being processed.

Because collections can contain such sensitive information, SCPC staff must study materials closely. Beyond that, however, political collections are complex, taking in a broad array of subject matter, types of records, etc., and staff must devise an arrangement plan that will make the collection useful for researchers. That takes time, which has led to our policy that no collection can be opened for study until it has been fully organized and described. For most collections, this labor-intensive process means the opening of a collection is delayed until sometime after the creator of the materials has retired from public life and is no longer transferring large accretions of papers to USC.

Our Fritz Hollings collection provides a good example. Between 1989, when Senator Hollings began sending material to the University, and his 2005 retirement, the University received some 2,400 cartons of papers, audio-visual records and electronic files – over two million pages of material documenting Hollings’ storied career of public service. A team of archivists and student assistants worked throughout this time organizing and describing the materials. The Hollings Papers were opened for study in 2007 and have received frequent and important use. Hollings still adds to the collection almost weekly, but the new material is typically one or two items, and easily interfiled.

Our policy serves our public, our donors of materials, and the University, while observing the interests of our government and our donors’ constituents. An exhibit on this subject is on display in the Brittain Gallery through the end of June, 2015.

Contributed by SCPC Staff

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Dr. Benjamin E. Mays Museum and Historic Site

Bryan Dorn was very proud of his friendship with educator Benjamin Mays. SCPC was delighted to provide from our Dorn collection a recording of Mays’ 1981 speech at the dedication of the Mays Crossroads. That speech is just one of the many treasures preserved thanks to the sense of history shared by Mr. Dorn and his wife Millie.

Herb Hartsook


By Loy Sartin
Curator, Mays Museum and Historic Site

Dr. Benjamin Mays

Dr. Benjamin Mays

The Benjamin E. Mays Museum and Historic Site was officially dedicated in Greenwood on April 11, 2011. It was a grand celebration as visitors listened to Ambassador Andrew Young, Dr. Samuel Dubois Cook, President Franklin of Morehouse College, Dr. Elaine Tuttle Hansen of Bates College, Mrs. Billye Aaron and others lift up the praises of Dr. Benjamin E. Mays and his monumental life. The mission of the site is to perpetuate the mighty legacy of one of the greatest Americans of the 20th Century, Dr. Benjamin E. Mays.

As the president of Morehouse College for twenty-seven years, Dr. Mays became a legend in his own time and a true national asset. He was called upon by Presidents Truman, Kennedy, Johnson, and Carter for service and counsel. It was Dr. Benjamin Mays who eulogized the immortal Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., which was broadcast live across the nation and into Japan. As one of America’s preeminent educators, Dr. Mays served as president of the Atlanta Board of Education for almost twelve years from 1970-1981.

Mays

Dr. Mays (seated right) with Gov. Dick Riley, M.L. King, Sr. (in wheelchair), Mrs. “Tunky” Riley, and Coretta Scott King, circa 1983

An early and forceful opponent of segregation, Mays was without peer as a public speaker railing against segregation and discrimination in the secular society as well as within the church. His famous sermon in 1954 at Evanston, Illinois at the 2nd Assembly of the World Council of Churches is a classic example of the passion with which he spoke against segregation and racial discrimination – a sermon that is printed as an appendix in his 1971 autobiography, Born to Rebel, and is credited with internationalizing the Civil Rights Movement.

Mays

Gov. Dick Riley and Dr. Mays in front of the S.C. General Assembly, circa 1983

To his students at Morehouse, Dr. Mays was almost God-like. Dr. Mays provided inspiration, hope and encouragement to students especially during the dark days of segregation in the forties, fifties, and early sixties. One student in the class of 1961 put it this way when he said to me, “You know, we worship Mays.” He gave “voice to the voiceless” to those who were helpless and treated as second class citizens because of forced segregation. Dr. Samuel Dubois Cook who eulogized Dr. Mays said in the introduction of Quotable Quotes of Dr. Benjamin E. Mays, “Dr. Mays’ eloquent words, born of deep convictions, prophetic power and imagination, purity and sincerity of heart, integrity, character, and nobility have uniquely influenced human behavior, attitudes, thoughts, and choices; and affected and transformed human lives. The man has incredible powers of motivation, inspiration, and persuasion….he has the capacity to proclaim profound truths about human life and the journey of the self in simple, direct, easy, mind-gripping, clinging, unforgettable, haunting, cementing language.”

Dorn

Congressman Bryan Dorn

Dr. Mays returned to his place of birth on November 6, 1981 to be honored by the naming of an intersection near his home on US-178 as “Mays Crossroads.” Attended by many notables including Coretta Scott King and Congressman William Jennings Bryan Dorn, Dr. Mays gave a passionate and eloquent speech about his long life, his experiences, and the various places that life took him. As curator of the Mays Museum and Historic Site, I had been attempting to locate Dr. Mays’ speech for five years. Recently, I noticed that it was contained on an audio cassette tape donated to USC’s S.C. Political Collections by Congressman Bryan Dorn. I contacted Herbert Hartsook who graciously located the tape, converted it to a digital CD, and sent it to me. Needless to say, I was overjoyed to receive the speech! I plan to transcribe the speech and have it available in written form as well as audio form to visitors who desire a copy.

Sartin

Loy Sartin, Curator of the Mays Museum and Historic Site in Greenwood, S.C.

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