Annual Meeting of the Association of Centers for the Study of Congress, May 14-16, 2014

South Carolina Political Collections is proud to host this year’s annual meeting of the Association of Centers for the Study of Congress (ACSC). It will be held May 14-16th at the Ernest F. Hollings Special Collections Library on the campus of the University of South Carolina (registration information here; program out in March). We hope you find this information useful as you plan your trip.

Hollings Special Collections Library

Hollings Library:
The Hollings Library opened in 2010 with South Carolina Political Collections, Rare Books and Special Collections, and Digital Collections. Visitors enter the Hollings Library via Thomas Cooper, USC’s main library. You’ll know you’ve found Thomas Cooper when you see the big reflecting pool out front. If you plan to drive to Thomas Cooper, the Bull Street Parking Garage next door has hourly parking. Save some time to look at the exhibits of Rare Books and Political Collections while you’re here.  We hope to have some new interactive elements in place by then.

The Inn at USCA block of rooms is set aside at The Inn at USC at a rate of $120/night for Wed. and Thurs. nights (breakfast & parking included). The block will be available until April 14th or until the rooms are all claimed. In order to receive the rate, you must call The Inn (803-779-7779) and refer to the block Association of Centers for Study Congress Convention–USC Libraries. If you plan to arrive Tuesday, there should be rooms available if you book sooner rather than later.

The Inn sits on the northeast side of campus and is .5 miles from the Hollings Library and a lovely 10-minute walk across USC’s Historic Horseshoe. See map below. We hope to arrange breakfast so that we will all be able to eat together at The Inn (even those not staying there) so stay tuned for more information.

The Columbia Metropolitan Airport is 7 miles (15-20 mins.) from campus. Cabs from the airport to campus are generally around $30-35 and available outside baggage claim on the lower level (not at the main entrance upstairs). If you’re interested in sharing rides, we suggest using the ACSC message board to coordinate.

Meals, except Thursday dinner, are part of your registration. Lunch will be served at the Hollings Library. On Wednesday, our group dinner will be at the renovated, historic Spigner House on the east side of campus, a short walk from The Inn and the Hollings Library. Thursday, SCPC staff members will lead groups to local, favorite dining spots (dutch treat). We’ll put out sign-up sheets at the meeting. If you head out on your own, you’ll find numerous restaurants in nearby Five Pointsthe Congaree Vista, on campus along Main and Sumter streets, or downtown along Main.

Sites within walking distance:
The meeting doesn’t start until noon on Wednesday, so why not seek out the charm and history of the South Carolina State House or the University of South Carolina campus?

SC State House from above

The State House is adjacent to campus and only 4 blocks from The Inn. Take a stroll around its grounds and you’ll come across an eclectic mix (of odd, somber, entertaining, and otherwise) old and new monuments. Make sure to head inside to grab a brochure about the grounds and take in the ornate foyers (upstairs and downstairs). The visitor’s entrance isn’t obvious but you’ll find it on the east side near the African-American History monument.

Historic Horseshoe at USC

The jewel of campus (est. 1801) is the Historic Horseshoe, the oldest section of USC and home to the South Caroliniana Library and McKissick Museum. At McKissick you’ll find the USC Visitor’s Center and an excellent exhibit, Bull Street: Forgotten Past and Uncertain Future (Bull Street is the former home of the State Mental Hospital). The Caroliniana Library is the oldest free-standing academic library (1840) in the U.S.  Worth a look is the interior of the 2nd floor reading room–it’s a replica of the original Library of Congress reading room–and the exhibit, David R. Coker and the Campaign to Modernize Southern Agriculture.

The University of South Carolina is designated a “Tree Campus USA” so if trees are your passion, take a tour.  FYI, our entire campus is also tobacco-free.

Places of interest:

Google map of ACSC meeting points of interest

Questions? Please ask your Host Committee members (i.e. Herb, Dorothy, and Lori!).

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Edward P. “Ted” Riley: In His Own Words

photo of RileyEdward P. “Ted” Riley was a lawyer, Family Court Judge, United States Attorney, South Carolina state chairman of the Democratic Party, and was active in Democratic politics for many years.  Among his many positions in community leadership, he served as counsel to the Greenville County School Board from 1958-1978, a critical time for school integration; and as chairman of the South Carolina Democratic Party from 1960-1964, which was a critical time for the Democratic Party in South Carolina.  In Mr. Riley’s lengthy oral history, he discusses public and personal aspects of his life in detail, including his childhood; his educational background; his time in the Navy; his legal career; and his experiences in politics.

Ted Riley’s involvement in Democratic politics in South Carolina spanned a very active few decades, and he had close associations with many prominent South Carolina politicians. Recognizable names appear throughout the interview, including detailed accounts of his relationships and professional dealings with Speaker Sol Blatt, who was a friend of Mr. Riley’s from the time they were young; as was James Byrnes, with whom Mr. Riley had a falling out and then later a reconciliation; Judge Matthew Perry, whom he describes as “one of the greatest men I’ve ever known;” as well as Fritz Hollings, Charles Cecil Wyche, Bryan Dorn, Cole Blease, among others.

Ted Riley’s time working as a lawyer in private practice, as a Family Court Judge, and as an Assistant United States Attorney in Greenville provide for some interesting anecdotes, and shed light on just how much the practice of law differs between then and now.  In one story he describes a trial he was prosecuting involving liquor, presumably in the midst of Prohibition; during which the defendant died on the stand while Mr. Riley was cross -examining him.  The defendant’s last words before he collapsed on the stand were “I’ll see you in hell.”

Ted Riley was born in 1900, and was active and involved in politics and law up into the 1990’s.  He observed countless changes and controversies over these years; from the violent and dangerous Jim Crow period, to the school integration cases of the 1950’s, and the conflicts that accompanied integration in the 1960’s; and he discusses details about all of these in his interview.  He provides interesting insights into the changes in race relations over the years.  The 60’s was also a time when many southern Democratic politicians, as well as voters, were switching parties.  Mr. Riley, however, remained devoted to the Democratic Party throughout his life, despite many of his friends’ and colleagues’ attempts to get him to follow them to the Republican Party.

The Presidential election of 1960 was taking place in the midst of this mass-switch in party ideology, and many loyal Democrats were actively against John F. Kennedy for President.  Ted Riley was the chairman of the South Carolina Democratic Party at the time.  He was a Kennedy supporter, and heavily involved in Kennedy’s presidential campaign in South Carolina, which was expected to go Republican for the first time.  Riley discusses the campaign and the election, particularly in relation to South Carolina, including Kennedy’s visit to South Carolina, Fritz Hollings’ involvement and support for Kennedy, and the eventual surprise win for Kennedy in South Carolina.

Ted Riley’s son, Dick Riley ran successfully for two terms as Governor of South Carolina, in 1978 and 1982, becoming South Carolina’s first two-term governor.  Ted Riley discusses his son’s decision to run; and his own involvement in the campaign; and some of Dick’s accomplishments during his time as governor.  He also discusses the dynamic among the major political players in the state during that time.  More on Governor Dick Riley’s family life and governorship can be found in two other oral history transcripts; that of his wife, Ann “Tunky” Yarborough Riley, and the oral history with Governor and Mrs. Riley and their son Ted Riley about their time spent in the Governor’s mansion.

To learn more about Ted Riley, check out his oral history here; or view his full collection here.

Contributed by graduate student assistant Mary Kennington Steele

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Research at SCPC Growing

The Dorothy B. Smith Reading Room

The Dorothy B. Smith Reading Room

SCPC recently compiled a report on scholarly research conducted in our holdings since we moved into the Hollings Library during the summer of 2010.  We ended up identifying over fifty researchers who we felt merited this designation.

These ranged from scholars who visited many times over a period of more than a year, such as the Cambridge University doctoral student studying the early career of Senator Fritz Hollings and a senior professor writing a biography of Congressman Bryan Dorn, both of whom presented on their work at our “Art of Political Biography” event, to more limited studies, such as the visit for just a few days by a German scholar studying the early women’s movement or the Citadel professor studying voter turnout in the 1970s.

Almost half of the scholars on this list are USC students, faculty, or staff, and four are affiliated with other South Carolina schools.  We strive to reach out to the teachers and students here, so that is a rewarding statistic.  Others traveled quite a distance, having first learned of SCPC through our website.  In addition to England and Germany, we had researchers come from places as far away as La Trobe University in Australia; the University of California, Berkeley; Princeton; and Yale.  See previous blog posts from December and January by recent visitors about their research.


Jack Roper doing research for his book on Dorn

Almost all of the people represented in this report made excellent use of our website before visiting–analyzing the finding aids we produce for our collections to identify exactly what they wanted to see, and sometimes reading our “In Their Own Words” publications and/or oral history transcripts in the comfort of their homes before coming to the Smith Reading Room.

Dorn Research Awards are available to underwrite research visits.  Three to four awards of up to $1,000 are available to reimburse scholars for travel, lodging, copying, etc.  These awards are becoming ever more popular and we take great pride in the work of our Dorn Scholars.

Over the next months, our exhibit gallery will undergo a significant change as we add new graphics and video touchscreens and displays, allowing visitors to see and hear video, audio, and images relating to our physical exhibits.  While we hope our scholarly users will enjoy the new exhibits, we hope even more that they will help explain why USC devotes the resources it does to SCPC.  It will be interesting to see if these changes will attract even more people to come and study our recent past.

–Contributed by Herb Hartsook

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Sol Blatt: In His Own Words

Sol Blatt: In His Own Words is now available online.

Born in 1895 to Russian Jewish immigrants, Blatt rose to prominence representing Barnwell, Allendale, and Bamburg Counties in the South Carolina House of Representatives. As Speaker from 1937 until 1947, and again from 1951 until 1973, Blatt set the state’s legislative agenda for much of the mid-20th century. He also identified and mentored numerous future leaders.

The “In His Own Words” collection contains personal and public letters as well as speeches and some photographs. As a small-town lawyer, local representative, and Speaker of the House, Blatt dealt with a remarkable range of issues. He wrote hundreds letters of recommendation for job applicants. He wrote letters to the state’s college football coaches asking them to recommend candidates for a vacancy at Barnwell High School. He wrote letters to the Highway Department asking them to grant his friends low license plate numbers. He even wrote letters asking the Department of Natural Resources to put fish in constituents’ ponds. All the while, he campaigned for office every two years, consulted with governors, represented defendants at trial, and raised a family.


Sol and Ethel Blatt attending the 1963 inauguration of Governor Donald Russell

Other highlights of the collection include Blatt’s correspondence related to the University of South Carolina. As a 1917 graduate of the University, Blatt kept a close watch over the school’s affairs. He frequently chided university presidents for not lobbying more forcefully for the school’s interests. He also wrote letters to recruits on behalf of Gamecock coaches.

Blatt’s papers also detail a rocky relationship with the state and national Democratic Party. Although he supported John West in the 1970 gubernatorial election, he had earlier encouraged Republican candidate Albert Watson when Watson defected from the Democratic Party in 1965. The 1960s also witnessed the rise of the so-called Young Turks among South Carolina Democrats. These Young Turks, including future leaders Dick Riley, Nick Theodore, and Tom Turnipseed, opposed what they saw as Blatt’s undemocratic control over South Carolina’s political processes. Blatt also vehemently opposed Jimmy Carter because he believed the President’s environmental policies adversely affected the nuclear waste industry in Barnwell.

This digital collection, as well as Sol Blatt’s complete personal papers housed at South Carolina Political Collections, are a rich resource for anyone who wants to know more about life and politics in South Carolina from the 1930s until the 1980s.

Contributed by Nathan Saunders

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Investing in the Future: Gov. Robert McNair, the Moody Report, and Funding Change

A guest post by Elizabeth Pearson

The decades between the end of World War II and the early 1970s comprised a period of incredible change for state governments all over the country, including South Carolina. My doctoral research focuses on one aspect of that change: how states generated new revenue to support public investment programs and meet the costs associated with growing populations.


Governor Robert McNair in his office

I came to the South Carolina Political Collections in early December to go through Governor Robert McNair’s gubernatorial papers and research McNair’s pursuit of higher taxes to fund the ambitious policies outlined in the “Moody Report.” This report, a 400-plus-page analysis prepared for the state by Moody’s Investor Services and a consulting group named Campus Facilities Associates, outlined a suite of programs that the consultants argued would help the state make a “quantum leap” forward in a range of areas. The report particularly focused on public education, including the need for a statewide public kindergarten program and higher teacher salaries.

Much of my analysis will continue over the coming months as I re-read, organize, and annotate the 2,000-plus photos that I took at SCPC and the South Carolina Archives and History Center during my visit! However, I wanted to share some preliminary insights from my research that give a sense of the rich material available at SCPC to investigate these topics.


House Speaker Sol Blatt presiding

First, one of the things I was most curious about when I came to South Carolina was how policymakers had weighed increases in the sales tax against other methods of generating new revenue. In a memo to the governor around the same time the Moody Report was released, the consultants who prepared the report stressed that tax changes should improve tax equity, or “taxation according to the ability to pay” (1). Comparing this August memo to the final version of the Moody Report and McNair’s state of the state message to the legislature in January 1969 suggests that the governor’s office debated how to balance the sales tax increase — generally regarded as a “regressive” mode of financing since it costs people at all income levels the same — with more progressive sources of revenue.

The consultants suggested raising a portion of the new revenue through increases in both corporate and individual income taxes, but the final Moody Report did not mention corporate income taxes. Instead, it advised changes to the individual income tax that would raise more revenue (2). Then, in his state-of-the-state address to the legislature in early 1969, McNair announced that he would not ask for any changes to the individual income tax — but would recommend increases in the corporate income tax, the sales tax, and taxes on alcohol and cigarettes. As I continue my research, I’ll be looking for more evidence of how policymakers thought about the pros and cons of these various taxes, as well as how those views may have shifted during the debate over improving public education in South Carolina.

Moody Report

The Moody Report debate in an editorial cartoon by Walt Lardner

Second, some of the more colorful material that I came across in the collections is an exchange of letters between Governor McNair and longtime House Speaker Sol Blatt (whose papers are available at the SCPC). Blatt wrote McNair just before the Moody Report was released, noting that he had “never had much faith in reports by outside firms coming into this State to make recommendations to tell us how our State should be operated” (3). McNair sent his personal copy of the Moody Report to Blatt and urged him to read it carefully (4), but Blatt promptly wrote back to say that the length of the report, at almost 450 pages, would prove an obstacle to reading it. “I am tied up practically all day at the office and must read it at night and to be perfectly frank, when I get home at night, I am a little tired and I do not feel like doing much serious reading and studying” (5).

When the report was released, Blatt was quoted extensively in the press criticizing the report’s overall cost and the kindergarten program in particular. An internal memo between McNair and one of his advisers about a month later reveals that the governor’s office debated how to respond to Blatt’s attacks and decided to do nothing for the time being. At the bottom of the memo, McNair scrawled, “I agree also — always good to sleep on something over night. Maybe I am letting the Speaker get to me unduly of late.” Although Blatt eventually came around to a compromise proposal authorizing a limited kindergarten program, he still delivered a “passionate, hour-long speech” on the House floor (against his doctor’s orders) outlining his concerns about other elements of the Moody Report (Page 1969a; 1969b).

As I continue to analyze the material I collected in South Carolina, I’ll be comparing my findings to research I’ve conducted in other states (New York and Texas) to better understand how states across the country responded to the financing challenges of the postwar period.


Materials from Robert E. McNair Papers:

(1) Memo from Benjamin Galos to Governor McNair, August 9, 1968, Box 52, “Moody Report, General, 1968, August” folder.

(2) “Opportunity and Growth in South Carolina: 1968-1985 [the Moody Report], Box 52.

(3) Letter from Sol Blatt to Robert McNair, July 27, 1968, Box 52, “Moody Report, General, 1968, June, cont-July” folder.

(4) Letter from Robert McNair to Sol Blatt, August 2, 1968, Box 52, “Moody Report, General, 1968, August” folder.

(5) Letter from Sol Blatt to Robert McNair, August 5, 1968, Box 52, “Moody Report, General, 1968, August” folder.

Newspaper articles:

Page, Levona.  1969a.  “Blatt Drops Kindergarten Plan Opposition.”  The State.  April 9, p. 1A. ———  1969b.  “Blatt Tells Why He Compromised.”  The State.  April 10, p. 1B.

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Christmas at the Governor’s Mansion

Living Room decorated for Christmas at the mansion in 1992.

Christmas at the Mansion in 1992

The semester is drawing to a close, and the USC community is preparing for a well-deserved break. Of course, for many, the holiday season is no time for relaxing. It is full of decorating, cooking, shopping, family visits, and a host of other activities. If that describes your schedule, you may already be feeling drained and discouraged. Well, how about taking a break, having a cup of hot cocoa, and spending time with some of our oral histories?

As part of the SCPC oral history collection, we have interviews from the Governor’s Mansion Oral History Project. Former governors and family members graciously sat with interviewers and told stories about personal life in the mansion. These reminiscences provide a wonderful glimpse into the everyday lives of the First Families, including their Christmastime memories.

Although the Governor’s Mansion is always a busy place, it experiences a dizzying whirl of activity every December that makes your schedule look like a breeze. Hundreds of people come through the mansion during the busy holiday season. Gov. John C. West (1971-75) would joke about his bouts of “invititis.”

During the holidays and other busy times, Gov. David M. Beasley (1995-99) had a remedy for exhaustion. When feeling overwhelmed at events, he quietly left the crowd downstairs, changed from black tie attire into blue jeans, and watched TV with his children. Security alerted him when it was time to go back.

Each year, governors take time during the holidays to show their gratitude to state officials and employees. Gov. and Mrs. West recalled hosting dinners for the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED). Chief Pete Strom always kidded the First Lady about interrupting police operations. His undercover agents had to shave and clean up for dinner with the governor. Afterward, it took a couple of weeks for them to regain the scruffy looks needed for work.

One Christmas, Gov. Beasley and his family gave the mansion’s butlers a unique present: dinner in the State Dining Room, served by the First Family. Since the butlers served meals year-round, the First Family decided to turn the tables as a gesture of thanks. They even mimicked the idiosyncratic manners of each butler, such as placing an item on the table and then moving it ever so slightly. The staff absolutely loved it.

Visit our oral history page for more stories from the Governor’s Mansion ( You can read about life in the mansion under the following governors: Robert E. McNair, John C. West, James B. Edwards, Richard W. RileyCarroll A. Campbell, David M. Beasley, and James H. Hodges.

Contributed by graduate student assistant Chris Fite

Read parts 1 and 2 in our oral history series:
Tales from the Governor’s Mansion: Anecdotes from the West Family Oral Histories
Whiskey and Watermelons: Anecdotes from the Johnston Years

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The Orangeburg Massacre: Experience & History

In the SCPC, a researcher can look at first hand responses to important events.  One of the most important and one of the least understood is the series of events in Orangeburg on 7 and 8 February 1968. 

On those two days, some 200 students at South Carolina State College, most prominently and famously Cleveland Sellers, protested the segregation of the local bowling alley near campus.  There was confrontation with local police at the bowling alley on 7 February, and an officer was injured; then protesters were chased back to campus and order was restored. 


National Guard troops in Orangeburg, SC, 1968
(photo by Bill Barley)

The next day, 8 February, a larger demonstration on campus, featuring a bonfire on a vacant lot, developed.  South Carolina Army National Guard (SCARNG) troops, State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) agents, and the highway patrol all came in force, armed with live ammunition, to ensure order on 8 February.   In that second day of demonstration, things “got ugly” as we southerners say, and three students were killed, and 27 were injured.  Generally, black people and a handful of liberals call the violence The Orangeburg Massacre.   Other people, especially white officials then in authority, usually called it The Orangeburg Riot.


Governor Robert McNair in 1967

William Jennings Bryan Dorn, then US Congressman from Third District, Robert E. McNair, then Governor, Strom Thurmond, then US Senator, and John Bolt Culbertson, attorney and reformist, all have papers at SCPC in which they discuss the events.  Of that group, only Culbertson initially called it a massacre, and the other people, especially Congressman Dorn (who of course was nowhere near Orangeburg that February) tended to blame the student demonstrators.  John Carl West, then Lieutenant Governor, oversaw an investigation into the actual events but also into root causes of the student demonstrations and possible overreaction by law enforcement officials, and West began to see the controversy as a Massacre.


Jack Bass with copies of The Orangeburg Massacre on the shelf behind him

Journalist nonpareil Jack Bass, whose autograph correspondence is scattered through SCPC collections, was quite sure that it was a massacre, and he and veteran journalist Jack Nelson published The Orangeburg Massacre, reissued with revisions in 2003 by Mercer University Press.  In that same year of reissuing his study, Jack Bass worked as a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University and produced “Documenting the Orangeburg Massacre” for Harvard’s educational serial, Nieman Reports.

For the record, I think it was a massacre, but looking at everyone’s papers reminds me of my own passage through those times, and my own participant/observer role in such things. 

In spring semester 1968, I was a journalism major at USC, and I took a class in which each scholar had a “beat” to cover for a “daily” newspaper that we wrote up—although this “daily” never went beyond the eyes of our instructors Professors Watson, Crutchfield, and McElveen.  My beat was the Office of the Governor, and each week I went in to interview Press Secretary Wayne Seal.  I never actually met Governor McNair, but read statements he had produced and then talked with Wayne.  The Governor often came to campus, and I heard and saw him often in what we now call simpler days (before the spring and summer 1968 assassinations and race riots). 

gov staff

Governor McNair with some of his staff, including press secretary Wayne Seal (standing second from left)
(photo by Bill Barley)

I had already formed the opinion that Jack Bass was the greatest journalist ever to work in my state.  I had also formed the opinion that he was close second to Greenwood’s Harry Watson for the title “bravest journalist in South Carolina.”  I admired Wayne Seal, and characterize him as one of the finest men I ever met and someone of unimpeachable honesty. 

In my interviews with Wayne Seal, he told me that students on the scene had gotten out of hand and threw rocks and bricks and suchlike at officials until one of the police, David Sheally (possibly some relation of my wife, a Bowers related to Shealy and  Sheally and Shealey) was injured.  Seal said that the officials present at the bowling alley off campus on 7 February gathered up Officer Sheally and chased demonstrators out of the business establishment and back to campus with minimal but appropriate threat of force. 

wounded student

Aftermath: tending to wounded students at the site of the bonfire
(photo by Bill Barley)

He also told me that the following day, 8 February, students gathered again, building a bonfire on a vacant lot and making quite a disturbance.   He said that an appropriate level of force was used, and that he and the Governor both regarded it as a “tragedy” (McNair’s word, repeated with sincere emphasis by Seal).  He also said that Lieutenant Governor West was developing an in-depth study of the root causes of the problems that led to a demonstration that led to violence.  In other words, McNair and West agreed that forces of racism were the indirect cause of whatever happened, regardless of how well law enforcement people behaved. 

In the Dorn papers, I see that over the ensuing months the Congressman read John West’s report and began to take a more nuanced approach to racism and the ensuing demonstrations.  He also began to direct Great Society funding toward Orangeburg’s black community and to direct funding toward the cash-starved SC State College.

Wayne Seal seemed genuinely upset and convinced me that he and all Governor McNair’s people were sincerely sorry that any students were injured.   The USC class featured constantly running “ticker tape” wire releases from the Associated Press and from United Press International, and these stories initially affirmed Wayne Seal’s version. 


SC National Guard Troops arrive in Orangeburg on the night of February 8, 1968
(photo by Bill Barley)

I wrote up the story that way, affirming my own belief in Governor McNair’s version; as I often did, I attempted historical background and spent so much time trying to explain socioeconomic roots of the demonstration (including an interview with economist John Kenneth Galbraith, then in town to give a speech at USC), that my story was too long, too unwieldy and actually did little to explain much about what had happened in Orangeburg or what the Governor was doing about it.  In fact, that story plus another longish interview feature with Professor Galbraith led Professor Crutchfield to command me (you could do that to students in those days at Carolina) to leave journalism and become a history major—certainly a career changing piece of advice and certainly brilliant counseling and effective advising.

Among things that troubled me then and still trouble me now was Governor McNair’s insistence, reinforced effectively person to person by Wayne Seal, that the shootings had all happened “off campus,” where my hero Jack Bass was insisting that the shootings happened in the middle of the State College campus.


The book by Jack Bass

Time passed, and the summer of 1969 came on.  The University was already officially integrated, but Lyndon Johnson arranged a special program in which transfer students who were black (in that day we still said Negro and would not adopt black or African American for another year or two—Martin Luther King Jr. seems to have gone to his grave still calling himself and his people Negro) could take summer courses while getting accustomed to the campus. 

A large number of these students, “large” at USC in 1969 being about 50, were scheduled to move into the old towers (H, J, K, L, M, and N, six ugly buildings that once stood where the handsome Honors College complex now stands).  We white students were given the option of staying or moving to different quarters.  My roommate David Ronald Lewis of Easley turned to me and asked if I was afraid of them (he did not say Negro and he did not say black and our mothers would have killed us if either of us had used a racial slur), but the way he said them was not fully Christian.  I said loudly, “they did not scare me.”   I spoke more from bravado than liberalism.  And so we stayed.  Soon we formed friendships with the new students.  Several of us arranged to live on the same dormitory floor in the towers the following fall semester, 1969.

Among my new friends was Charles Miller, a young man who had started academic life at SC State College, was drafted, and then came back with GI money to attend USC.  Charles had his own version of the events at Orangeburg, though he was in the army by the time of the events.  I was drawn to all of it, and talked and talked with everybody I could find. 

As a “newcomer” history major, I studied with Dr. Thomas E. Terrill, then brand new at USC, and he arranged a number of “rap sessions” to discuss race relations generally as well as giving us interesting assignments to read.  Soon, I concluded that Governor McNair was a good man who had misled us about where the violence happened—clearly it was on the campus—and who was mostly at fault—too many wounds were in the back or on feet to suggest that the demonstrators had made a frontal charge at police and SCARNG unit members.  The long prison term for Cleveland Sellers began to seem an incredible injustice.

My own life grew more complex.  I joined a SCARNG unit, in Lyman, the mill village where I spent the first three years of my life.  I waited to undergo boot camp, but was “trained” for riot control during my transitional status.  I heard the SCARNG version of the Orangeburg disturbances.  Some guardsmen bragged about what they had done.   Most insisted that they were badly prepared for such a demonstration, and inappropriately armed. 


The McKissick Library, now Museum, as it stands today

In spring of 1970, I was in the oddest position imaginable.  Antiwar demonstrations on campus attracted me as news events and “history in the present,” but I was a member of the Lyman SCARNG unit that might have to defend the campus.   One evening I threw a beer bottle at a wall of one of the towers, and I realized how I was part of the National Guard’s problem—as well as a guardsman.  I retreated to the McKissick Library (then our main library) and that night a SCARNG captain came in to tell us we had to leave at once or spend the night in the library.  I had a paper due, and liked to stay up all night, so I simply read books in McKissick and wrote feverishly.  They opened the doors at dawn, and I stepped onto a campus shrouded in drifting tear gas and covered in trash, with some broken windows and some vandalism.  My eyes stung, and I could have cried in any case to see my beloved USC in such a wreck. I felt bad for student demonstrators, and I felt worse for the guardsmen who had to defend property and protect lives.  I wondered then—and still today—what I would have done if called upon to protect the campus.  The Lyman unit was not called, and we all graduated that June without further incident.


Lt. Governor John Carl West, who oversaw an investigation into the shootings at Orangeburg

Now in looking at Congressman Dorn’s speeches immediately after the fact that February and March and reviewing Governor McNair’s statements and then reading the carefully measured words of the John West study, I realize my good fortune.  No one wrote down my own responses on February 8, 1968.  No one preserved my odd J-school story that started with socioeconomic conditions in colonial times and never quite got to the point of the demonstrations in Orangeburg.  No one knows that I threw a beer bottle at one of the towers buildings.  No demonstrators knew I was in the National Guard. 

All of us have changed much since those days.  Wayne Seal perished in a plane crash in Charlotte, ending a promising political career and costing me a friend and an “oral history source.”  Bryan Dorn remade himself, giving a particularly brave speech defending school busing—the only member of the SC Delegation to so speak and the only Deep South Congressman to so speak.  Robert McNair was certainly better than he sounded that February, and I suppose historians will reevaluate him accordingly.  Strom Thurmond spectacularly remade himself, becoming a highly dependable Senator for black as well as white “constituent services.”  And Thurmond voted for the 1982 extension of the Voting Rights Act—and apparently had something to do with President Reagan signing it after initial reluctance. 

Jack Bass gets better and better as a scholar, I suppose now regarding himself as historian more than journalist.  The towers are gone, and I have no idea where Charles Miller.  David Lewis, I have not seen in years, but I hear of him, and I know he was voted into the Easley High School Football Hall of Fame.  Professor Crutchfield moved to Syracuse University, and is now retired.  Professor Terrill gets better and better and also frequents the SCPC, currently working—of course—on a study of John Bolt Culbertson, a hero long dead.  Cleveland Sellers was pardoned and came here to USC as a good professor before taking over presidency of Voorhees College.  I saw him and shook his hand in Pawleys Island recently.

And all of you can use the resources of the SCPC to make up your own minds about the tragic events at SC State on 7 and 8 February and the months thereafter.

Contributed by John Herbert (Jack) Roper

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Tales from the Governor’s Mansion: Anecdotes from the West Family Oral Histories

As described in an earlier post, we graduate assistants have been reading through the transcripts of oral histories held by SCPC to collect subject headings and summaries for the library catalog. I’ve come across a number from the West family, which put together an interesting picture of the West family and the lives of political families on the whole. They give a rather complete outline of life in the Governor’s Mansion.


Governor and Mrs. John West

John Carl West left his law career to serve first as Lieutenant Governor and then as Governor to South Carolina from 1967 to 1975. He returned to law briefly before becoming United States Ambassador to Saudi Arabia from 1977 to 1981, when he returned once again to law and accepting the position as Chairman of the Board of the Seibels Bruce Insurance Company. His wife, Lois R. West, was the first interviewed, in 1995. John C. West participated in four oral histories between the years 1996 and 1997. Together with their daughter Shelton West Bosley, they participated in one last oral history in 2000.

All three interviews mention one incident in particular: the time that Mr. West, with the encouragement of one of his assistants, invited every employee of the state of South Carolina to the Governor’s Mansion for an event. When he realized how many there were, he figured only a fraction of them would attend. Just the opposite: hundreds of employees attended! Mr. and Mrs. West stood out in the cold to greet every guest as they were let into the house in shifts, taking breaks only to refill the coffee pots.

Another anecdote that Mrs. West seemed particularly fond of relating happened when a Girl Scout troop came through the Mansion. One of the girls asked Mrs. West about the flowers, to which she replied that they were her flowers, because this house belonged to her as well. Mrs. West received a phone call from the girl’s mother later expressing concern that she had come home with an armful of flowers she had plucked from the Mansion’s garden.

These and many other tales from the Governor’s Mansion and from other times in the Wests’ lives can be found in three of our oral history transcripts: Gov. West’s, Mrs. West’s, and their interview with their daughter Shelton. You can also check out the rest of the oral history transcripts at, or if you’d like to learn more about John Carl West, you can see the full contents of his collection at

Contributed by graduate student assistant Clara Bertagnolli

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Christmas on the Potomac

Eisenhower card

Christmas card sent to Congressman Dorn by President Dwight D. Eisenhower

When I looked into the over eight hundred cartons of papers donated by former congressman William Jennings Bryan Dorn, shortly after coming to the South Caroliniana Library in 1983, I discovered three cartons of Christmas cards which he and Miss Millie had received over the years. At first, I assumed that these had little value in documenting Mr. Dorn’s illustrious career. But in looking through them, I was fascinated by lovely cards from President Eisenhower and Nixon, financier Bernard Baruch, governors from George Bell Timmerman to Dick Riley, foreign dignitaries, and many others.

This collection of cards gave us the material for a terrific exhibit. And, early in the 1990s, we decided to share these cards with the community. We’ve mounted a holiday exhibit almost every year since, and have made a habit of requesting the cards being sent out by our donors, other members of the delegation, and USC presidents We love the images sent by members of Congress. They typically consist either of a view of the Capitol in winter or a photo of their extended family.

Sanchez card

One of Representative Loretta Sanchez’ creative cards featuring her beloved cat Gretzky

We learned some cards were to be eagerly awaited –chiefly those of the U.S. president, USC president, and Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez. Rep. Sanchez sent wonderfully humorous cards in which she posed with her Persian cat, Gretzky (1991-2010). All on our staff mourned Gretzky’s passing. I also looked forward to the cards Fritz and Peatsy Hollings sent out as a Thanksgiving tradition. Each reproduced an original cheery and colorful painting by their nephew.

A few years ago, we devised a PowerPoint exhibit of our holiday cards and have presented that on and off campus. We always enjoy selecting the cards for the exhibit and it typically garners some nice publicity for the Library.

For 2013, we are featuring cards received last year by U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham. A special thanks to Kate Moore for her vision and skill in mounting these exhibits, and to Debbie Durkin of Team Graham. Debbie is the Senator’s office manager and she makes sure that we receive all of the Senator’s historically valuable materials and receive them in wonderful order. Debbie, like each of Senator Graham’s staff with whom we have had contact, has been an absolute delight!

First Dog Bo

From this year’s exhibit: “First Dog” Bo cavorts in the snow on the grounds of the White House
on this card from President Obama

This year’s exhibit is currently on display at the front of Thomas Cooper Library.

Contributed by Herb Hartsook

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In Memoriam: Mary T. Kelly

Mary Kelly

Mary Kelly

Mary Kelly passed away on November 9 at the age of 90.  She was reared in New York, eventually earned her Ph.D. in organic chemistry, and moved to South Carolina with her husband in 1965.  We acquired her papers in 2008 and opened the rich and substantive collection in 2010.  We value the collection chiefly as it documents her work to protect the environment and particularly her focus on the nuclear industry and its impact on the state.  In 1984, she was recognized as the South Carolina Wildlife Federation’s Conservationist of the Year.  She was an important figure in the League of Women Voters and served as President of the state League from 1985 to 1987.  Eighteen feet of papers, 1970 to 2008, document her interest and expertise in environmental issues and involvement with the League.


Contributed by Herb Hartsook

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