Columbia Captured!

“I ran upstairs to my bedroom windows just in time to see the U.S. flag run up over the State house. O what a horrid sight! what a degradation! After four long bitter years of bloodshed and hatred, now to float there at last! …The troops now in town is a brigade commanded by Col. Stone. Everything is quiet and orderly. Guards have been placed to protect houses, and Sherman has promised not to disturb private property. How relieved and thankful we feel after all our anxiety and distress!”

So wrote Emma Florence LeConte in her journal’s entry for February 17th, 1865. Unfortunately, her relief would turn to grief as roughly one-third of the city was left a smoking ruin by the following morning. Today marks 150 years since Sherman’s army captured the capital of South Carolina, and tonight will mark the 150th anniversary of the massive fires that burned much of the city. Debate continues to swirl regarding the exact details of the fires and who was responsible for them. An interesting article from the February 7th issue of The State newspaper consults a panel of historians and authors on the subject of the Burning of Columbia:

“Who was really responsible for the burning of Columbia in 1865?”


Yet despite the destruction and violence of that night 150 years ago, there were moments of compassion that occurred amid the chaos, as this article from The State remembers:

“Acts of compassion also marked burning of Columbia”


Interestingly, the same evening that the South Carolina capital was facing its trials, a city rivaling Columbia in importance was being evacuated. Charleston’s Confederate defenders and many of its inhabitants pulled out of the city the night of the 17th, allowing the Union to finally capture the city after many months of siege. Thus in just a couple of days in 1865 the two most prominent cities in the birthplace of secession were finally in Union hands.

Southern Intellectual History Circle Annual Meeting!

The 2015 Annual Meeting of the Southern Intellectual History Circle is being coordinated by O. Vernon Burton, executive director of the Carolina Lowcountry and Atlantic World program.

The Edgefield County Historical Society is pleased to announce that the Annual Meeting of the Southern Intellectual History Circle (“SIHC”) will be held in Edgefield on February 19-21, 2015.  This interdisciplinary group of scholars, mostly historians and students of literature and other humanities fields, includes some of the foremost authorities on Southern thought and culture from universities and colleges around the United States and abroad. It is expected that approximately fifty scholars will attend the three-day event.  The group gathers annually to hear and discuss presentations based on fresh research by its members on a broad range of topics related to the intellectual life of the South over the four centuries of its history.

One of the most active organizations of its kind in the state, the Edgefield County Historical Society hosted the SIHC’s meeting in 1999, and the SIHC accepted the Society’s invitation to return to Edgefield for its 2015 meeting.  This year the South Carolina Historical Society, the University of South Carolina’s Caroliniana Society, the Pearce Center for Professional Communication at Clemson University, Clemson University College of Architecture, Arts, and Humanities will be co-sponsors of the event.  At the 1999 meeting, participants included C. Vann Woodward, one of the most renowned Southern historians of all time, Sheldon Hackney, then President of the University of Pennsylvania and Drew Gilpin Faust, now President of Harvard University.  The 1999 meeting was a resounding success, with many participants saying that their experience in Edgefield was the best that they had known in all of the years of the organization’s history.

The Society will provide session and meal venues unique to Edgefield, including historic churches, homes, and the Court House. Presentations will be open to area residents without charge. An unusual feature of the SIHC meetings is the separate blocks of time reserved for discussion of the presentations, led by other qualified scholars.  The conference will open on Thursday evening with a keynote address by Susan Donaldson, National Endowment of the Humanities Professor of English at the College of William and Mary.  At the Friday morning session, scholars who have read the keynote address in advance will comment upon it.  Other Friday sessions will be of varying lengths in which up to four scholars present their research formally with one or more respondents, having read the papers in advance, commenting upon them. At the Saturday sessions, all participants are invited to join in discussing the papers presented earlier.

The Edgefield County Historical Society believes that this event can have an enormously favorable impact on Edgefield County.  The dozens of eminent scholars who will be here for this event will be writing many papers and books in the coming years.  Their positive experience while they are here will hopefully result in more favorable treatment to our community.

Southern Intellectual History Circle

2015 Annual Meeting

February 19-21, 2015

Edgefield, South Carolina

Program Schedule

Thursday, February 19th

3 to 5:00 p.m.       Check-in at the Edgefield Inn

5:00 p.m.               Welcoming Reception – Oakley Park

6:30 p.m.               Dinner at the Old Edgefield Grill

8:00 p.m.               Session Begins – Edgefield County Courthouse

Introduction: Jim Farmer, University of South Carolina, Aiken

Keynote Address, Susan Donaldson, College of William and Mary

“Why We’re Still Talking about Southern Stories and Storytellers

in the Age of Obama, Tea Party Politics, and The Help”

10:00 p.m.             Adjourn to the Edgefield Inn for reception and mingling

Friday, February 20th

9:00 a.m.               Session – Trinity Episcopal Church

Responses to Keynote Address:

Chair, Vernon Burton, Clemson University

Eric Gary Anderson, George Mason University

  1. Fitzhugh Brundage, University of North Carolina

Natalie Ring, University of Texas, Dallas

Jay Watson, University of Mississippi

11:00-11:15           Coffee Break

11:15                     Session I – Edgefield First Baptist Church

Print Culture in the Nineteenth Century South

Chair: Margaret Abruzzo, University of Alabama

Beth Schweiger, University of Arkansas

Michael Winship, University of Texas, Austin

Responses: Jonathan Wells, University of Michigan

Sarah Gardner, Mercer University

1:15-2:30               Lunch – Willowbrook Cemetery (weather permitting)

Friday, February 20th (continued)

2:30-4:30               Session II – St. Mary’s Catholic Church

Revisiting and Revising the Lost Cause:

Chair, Doug Thompson, Mercer University

Art Remillard, Saint Francis University

Keith Harper, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary

Edward Crowther, Adams State University


Chad Seales, University of Texas (Austin)

Charles Reagan Wilson, University of Mississippi

6:00 p.m.               Leave on the bus for Redcliff Plantation via Graniteville

7:00 p.m.               Dinner at Redcliff

9:00 p.m.               Get on Bus to return to Edgefield Inn

9:30 p.m.               Social at the Edgefield Inn

Saturday, Feb 21

9:30-11:30             Session – Macedonia Church

Circle Discussion of Session I Margaret Abruzzo, Moderator

11:30-1:00             Lunch – Magnolia Dale house museum

1:00-3:00               Session – Edgefield United Methodist Church

Circle Discussion of Session II: Doug Thompson, Moderator

For those who are not leaving immediately after the last session, tours will be available in the afternoon and an evening dinner party given.

February 5th: News from H-Atlantic section of H-Net

Lewis B. H. Eliot, a PhD candidate at the University of South Carolina, is working to form a panel at the American Historical Association’s 2016 Annual Meeting in Atlanta. He is looking for papers that explore the wider Atlantic World’s attitudes toward the American Civil War.

Eliot can also be reached at

Columbia University and the London School of Economics are seeking applicants for the Fall 2015 entry into their MA/MSc program in International and World History. By working with historians at Columbia University and the London School of Economics, students in the two-year program explore the transnational forces that have influenced and continue to influence our world. The program offers summer research fellowships and financial aid opportunities.

American Quarterly is launching a Call for Papers for its 2016 special issue. Tentatively titled “Tours of Duty and Tours of Leisure,” the special issue will focus on the convergences of militarism and tourism as crucial manifestations of United States imperial strategy. Submissions are due by August 1st, 2015.

Michael J. Jarvis, Associate Professor of History at the University of Rochester, is holding an archaeology field school on Smiths Island, Bermuda from May 23 and June 28, 2015. The field school will investigate a range of 17th and 18th century sites on Smiths Island, including one of Bermuda’s first home sites. Students will participate in fieldwork as well as learn about Bermuda’s history and the early modern Atlantic World. Deadline to apply is March 1st.

The application can be downloaded at Jarvis’s department website:

Link to the project’s flyer:

The 13th Amendment Passes in the U.S. House!

150 years ago this weekend, slavery in the United States was dealt a deadly blow. On January 31st, 1865, the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was passed in the House of Representatives (it had passed in the Senate in April of the previous year) by a vote of 119 to 56. The amendment, which formally abolished slavery in the United States, could then be put before the states for ratification. While the Emancipation Proclamation had only freed the slaves in the Confederacy, the 13th Amendment made the abolition of slavery a national policy. The amendment reads simply:

“Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.”

With just these few words, upon its ratification in December 1865 the amendment promulgated the death of slavery in the United States. The February 1st edition of The New York Tribune described the scene in Congress upon the amendment’s passage, saying “the tumult of joy that broke out was vast, thundering, and uncontrollable.  Representatives and Auditors on the floor, soldiers and spectators in the gallery, Senators and Supreme Court Judges, women and pages, gave way to the excitement of the most august and important event in American Legislation and American History since the Declaration of Independence. God Bless the XXXVIIIth Congress!”

Yet it was clear to some that more would be needed to secure true freedom for the former slaves. Arguing against the disbandment of the American Anti-Slavery Society, Frederick Douglass stated that “even if every State in the Union had ratified that Amendment, while the black man is confronted in the legislation of the South by the word ‘white,’ our work as abolitionists, as I conceive it, is not done.” Douglass had the foresight to realize that despite the major victory that was the 13th Amendment’s passage, there was still much work to be done before blacks in the newly-reunited States would be truly free.

The American Civil War = Internationally Important!

As the 150th anniversary of the end of the American Civil War draws near, the CLAW program would like to draw attention to a couple of works which demonstrate that the conflict had meanings and effects that were felt beyond the borders of the nation at war.

One such book is part of the Carolina Lowcountry and Atlantic World Series published by the University of South Carolina Press. In The Civil War as Global Conflict: Transnational Meanings of the American Civil War, editors David Gleeson and Simon Lewis present a collection of essays that explore the conflict as more than just a War Between the States, a war with transnational concerns. The essays in this collection examine the Civil War’s place in a global context as well as its impact on the world beyond North America. 

-Nimrod Tal’s review from The Civil War Monitor:

-William Coleman’s review from Reviews in History:

Another work worth noting is Don H. Doyle’s The Cause of All Nations: An International History of the American Civil War. In his book Doyle places the war in a global context and explores how much the conflict affected and was affected by international interests. He finds that the Civil War was seen abroad as part of a much broader struggle for democracy, and that the conflict indeed was a critical moment in the global struggle over democracy and democratic ideals.

-Scott Porch’s review from The Chicago Tribune:

The Economist’s review:

News from H-Net: Humanities and Social Sciences Online

Below you’ll find news from the H-Atlantic section of the Humanities and Social Sciences Online, as well as links for the various bits of news.

New Book on Atlantic Slavery and Childhood:

In his new book Amistad’s Orphans: An Atlantic Story of Children, Slavery, and Smuggling (Yale University Press), Benjamin N. Lawrance reconstructs the stories of the six children aboard the schooner La Amistad whose lives were forever altered by the slave revolt. By exploring their stories, Lawrance sheds new light on Atlantic slavery, slave smuggling, and child slavery in the nineteenth century.


New Online Collections in Atlantic World history from Readex and the Library Company of Philadelphia:

Readex, in partnership with the Library Company of Philadelphia, will launch three new collections in March of 2015: African History and Culture, 1540-1921; Black Authors, 1556-1922; and Caribbean History and Culture, 1535-1920, each of which is based on the Library Company’s preeminent Afro-Americana collection.


Faculty and Postdoctoral Fellowships from the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition:

Yale University’s Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition desires applications for its 2015-2016 Fellowship Program. The GLC seeks to promote an understanding of the institution of slavery from the earliest times to the present day, and especially welcomes proposals that would utilize Yale University’s special collections or other research collections in the New England area. For more details about fellowship requirements and application process, follow the link:


Also, for those doing research on Atlantic World society or economy, this fellowship might be of interest to you:

Congrats to Adam Mendelsohn!

The Carolina Lowcountry and Atlantic World Program would like to announce that Adam Mendelsohn, a member of the CLAW Steering Committee, has won a 2014 National Jewish Book Award for his book The Rag Race: How Jews Sewed Their Way to Success in America and the British Empire (New York University Press). In his book Mendelsohn explores how “rag picking” and dealing in secondhand clothes served as a pathway for Jews to enter the middle and upper classes. Congratulations to you, Adam!   


The Hines Prize is awarded to the best first book relating to any aspect of the Carolina Lowcountry and/or the Atlantic World. The prize carries a cash award of $1,000 and preferential consideration by the University of South Carolina Press for the CLAW Program’s book series. If you have a manuscript on a topic pertaining to the Carolina Lowcountry and/or Atlantic World, please send a copy to CLAW Director Simon Lewis at before May 15, 2015. If you have graduate students with potential manuscripts that could contend for the Prize, please make sure that they know of this biennial opportunity.

Previous winners of the Hines Prize are as follows:

  • 2013 – Dr. Tristan Stubbs – The Plantation Overseers of Eighteenth-Century Virginia, South Carolina, and Georgia
  • 2011 – Dr. Michael D. Thompson – In Working on the Dock of the Bay: Labor and Life along Charleston’s Waterfront, 1783-1861
  • 2009 – Barry Stiefel – Jewish Sanctuary in the Atlantic World: A Social and Architectural History
  • 2007 – T.J. Desch-Obi – Fighting for Honor: The History of African Martial Art Traditions in the Atlantic World
  • 2005 – Nicholas Michael Butler – Votaries of Apollo: The St. Cecilia Society and the Patronage of Concert Music in Charleston, South Carolina, 1766-1820
  • 2003 – Bradford Wood – This Remote Part of the World: Regional Formation in Lower Cape Fear, North Carolina, 1725-1775

The 2013 Hines Prize winner was Dr. Tristan Stubbs, who received the award for his dissertation manuscript The Plantation Overseers of Eighteenth-Century Virginia, South Carolina, and Georgia. The study focuses on plantation overseers in eighteenth-century Virginia, South Carolina and Georgia, subjects long-neglected in the historiography of American slavery. These men were the arbiters of violent punishment for many thousands of bondpeople. They represented not only the cruel régime imposed by slaveholders, but also the vicious authority of slave societies that designated the oversight system the first line of defense against enslaved resistance. Although violence was practiced and encouraged by plantation owners in the early years of the eighteenth century, the latter decades witnessed a shift in their attitudes. By late century, planters lambasted overseers for their intrinsic violence, their passionate tempers, and their universal barbarity towards slaves. As winner of the Hines Prize, Dr. Stubbs receives prize-money of $1000 as well as expedited publication by USC Press in their Carolina Lowcountry and Atlantic World series.


On This Day in 1864…

On this day 150 years ago, General William T. Sherman ended his “March to the Sea” by capturing Savannah, Georgia. In its 285-mile march from Atlanta to Savannah, Sherman’s army laid waste to Georgia’s economic resources in a path of destruction that was roughly fifty miles wide. By December 20th, Sherman had placed men and batteries around the city, demanding that the Confederate garrison surrender or face assault. By the next morning it was discovered that the Confederate army commanded by General Hardee had evacuated the city, so Sherman immediately moved in to occupy it. The army had thus reached Savannah in time for Christmas, and Sherman was therefore able to “present” the city, along with 150 cannons and an enormous amount of cotton, to Lincoln. The Philadelphia Evening Telegraph expressed excitement about Savannah’s capture in its December 28th, 1864 issue, saying that the Confederacy was nothing but a “shell” and that now “Charleston and Wilmington must soon fall.”  Southern newspapers were less than enthusiastic, and in South Carolina worries were already growing, as seen in the Edgefield Advertiser of December 28th, which noted that “the day of Carolina’s trial is certainly near at hand.”

Republicans Retain the White House!*

The election of 1864 is over, the results are in, and Abraham Lincoln has won a second term as President of the United States. Lincoln is therefore the first president since Andrew Jackson to win a second term.  The New York Tribune commends the process of this election, reporting that despite it being a wartime election “it has been conducted peaceably and according to all the forms of law.”1  Lincoln managed to stave off the challenge of Democratic candidate George B. McClellan, who carried only New Jersey, Delaware, and Kentucky, gaining twenty-one electoral votes compared to Lincoln’s 212 electoral votes.  Lincoln also swept the popular vote, gaining fifty-five percent of the vote.  News of Lincoln’s re-election has begun to spread to the Union troops, and a New York Times reporter with the Union Army in Virginia writes that “people can have but little conception of the rejoicing here among Union men over the success of Mr. Lincoln.”2  Yet not everyone is thrilled with Lincoln’s re-election, as made evident by an article in the pro-Confederate Richmond Daily Dispatch, which described the election as a time when people assembled at the voting places “on the purpose of making a formal surrender of their liberties…to a vulgar tyrant.”3  Interestingly, the London Times also criticized Lincoln’s re-election, describing it as “an avowed step towards the foundation of a military despotism.”4 Like it or not, Lincoln has now joined the small number of presidents, including Washington and Jefferson, who have had the chance to serve for two terms.

















*This blog post is meant to commemorate the 150th anniversary of Lincoln’s re-election in 1864.

1The New York Daily Tribune, 16 November 1864.

2The New York Times, 16 November 1864.

3The Richmond Daily Dispatch, 9 November 1864.

4London Times, 22 November 1864.