Caroliniana Columns
Newsletter of the University South Caroliniana Society
Autumn 2000
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University South Caroliniana Society
Celebrates 64th Annual Meeting,
13 May 2000

A warm, sunny day (warmer than it should have been in May) greeted the 170 members and guests who attended the 64th annual meeting of the University South Caroliniana Society on Saturday, May 13.

The meeting opened with a morning reception and exhibit at the South Caroliniana Library where selections of printed, manuscript, and visual materials acquired by direct gift and through the use of dues and investment income were on display. Acquisitions spanned the 18th through the 20th centuries and included such collections as the papers of Colonel William Drayton Rutherford, who died in 1864 while commanding the Third South Carolina Regiment; papers of Philip Gadsden Hasell, who served as Sanitary Engineer on the Santee-Cooper project; and Governor Donald S. Russell papers.

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Dr. William Freehling and Library Director Allen Stokes at the reception.

More pictures of the annual meeting.

Among the printed items was a very early (1810) Georgetown imprint, The Messiah, a Poem: Attempted in English Blank Verse from the German of the Celebrated Mr. Klopstock by Solomon Halling . . . Members especially enjoyed viewing the daguerreotypes, stereographs, and other photographic illustrations as well as recent additions to the map collection which depict the development of South Carolina's transportation system from 1900 to the 1950s.

Following the reception, the meeting adjourned to the Russell House for the luncheon and business session presided over by President Harry Lightsey. President Lightsey recognized retiring Executive Council members Vice-President Frank K. Babbitt, Jr., and Councilors Caroline Hendricks and William Chandler and presented them with tokens of appreciation for their service. Elected to the newly vacated Council positions were Dr. Selden Smith, Vice-President, and Stewart Lindsay and Dr. Rose Marie Cooper, Councilors.

Dr. Charles Joyner, Richard Gergel, and Dr. William Freehling.

More pictures.

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Dr. William W. Freehling, the Otis A. Singletary Chair in the Humanities at the University of Kentucky, delivered the luncheon address. It was bit of a homecoming as Dr. Freehling was a researcher at the South Caroliniana Library while a graduate student in the early 1960s. Introduced by Dr. Belinda Gergel of the Department of History and Political Science at Columbia College, Dr. Freehling addressed "South Carolina's Pivotal Decision for Disunion: Popular Mandate or Manipulated Verdict?" As a young researcher working through collections in the Library, Dr. Freehling developed an appreciation for historical complexities and what one can and cannot learn from them. Thus, the Civil War should not be viewed as a war of "The North" versus "The South," for as many as 450,000 anti-Confederate Southerners, white and black, fought in the Union army. The records document and reveal the complexity of this historical event; however, as Dr. Freehling notes, "the surviving historical materials run dry before one can be arrogantly certain that even a complex guess has it right" as to whether anti-Confederate Southerners did change the outcome of the war.

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University of South Carolina President Dr. John Palms, Mr. and Mrs. Julian Hennig, and Allen Stokes.

More pictures.

Complexities also emerge from studying South Carolina's decision to secede in 1860. It was not, contends Dr. Freehling, a "unanimous, simple South Carolina" that withdrew from the Union and led other states to do the same in 1860 and 1861. Those who orchestrated South Carolina's decision knew well that they might not achieve the necessary two-thirds majority vote, for the nullifiers had failed in 1830 and the disunionists in 1850-1852. Armed with the knowledge that no other state would take the first step and that if South Carolina did, others would follow, the secessionists in South Carolina silenced such critics as James Henry Hammond and used the local militia to suppress those who urged caution. Thus, Dr. Freehling concludes that "South Carolina blazed out of the Union seemingly unanimously, with none of the oft-times paralyzing debate.
--Dr. Allen Stokes

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