Posts Tagged ‘South Carolina’

On December 20, 1860 South Carolina seceded from the Union after it became clear that Abraham Lincoln would become President of the United States of America.  South Carolina was the first of the southern states to secede, but it was followed by six others during the secession winter before Lincoln took office.  Together with Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas, South Carolina founded the Confederate States of America.  In April 1861, the American Civil War began when Confederates attacked Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor.

"Epitaph on the United States of America" presumably issued during the secession crisis of 1860-1861. Image courtesy of the University of South Carolina.

"The Secession Movement - Entrance Hall to an Hotel at Charleston, South Carolina" as depicted in The Illustrated London News. Image courtesy of the University of South Carolina.

The University of South Carolina has digitized 14 collections relating to the Civil War, including South Carolina and the Civil War, The Citadel and the American Civil War, and Reminiscences of the Sixties to name a few.  For a national perspective, visit the Opening History aggregation, which contains rich historical collections from across the country.

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On August 31, 1886 a powerful earthquake hit Charleston, South Carolina.  Though the Richter Scale would not be developed until 1935, retroactive analysis estimates a magnitude of 7.3.  To date, it is the most damaging earthquake to have occurred in the Southeast United States.  In just under a minute, 60 lives were lost and 2,000 buildings were damaged.  Scientists continue to study this event as an example of an intraplate earthquake, which occurs in the interior of a tectonic plate rather than at a plate boundary.  Intraplate earthquakes are relatively rare and their exact mechanisms have yet to be understood.

A view of the damage at the corner of Cumberland and East Bay. Image courtesy of the Medical University of South Carolina.

Last week another intraplate earthquake hit the Southeast with an epicenter in the town of Mineral, VA.  This event was shortly followed by Hurricane Irene, which traveled up the East Coast from the Carolinas.  Opening History has many collections documenting historic natural hazards and disasters that have struck the United States, including the 1886 Charleston Earthquake Photographs, the Georgetown County Hurricane Collection, the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake and Fire Digital Collection, 1936 Gainesville Tornado: Disaster and Recovery, Louisiana Hurricane Resources, and the Lousiana State Museum Hurricane Katrina Oral History Project.

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In addition to images, Opening History also includes collections of textual materials, such as the collection of materials from University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill’s Documenting the American South.   The following excerpt documents  Mary Jeffreys Bethell’s hopes and concerns for the new year of 1861, on the eve of the Civil War:

January 1st 1861

Ground white with snow. This is new years day, the old year is gone forever with all its sorrows and joys. When I look back to the events of last year, I am led to say that the Lord has been good to me. I had more of joy last year than sorrow, my family were blessed with health, and I had no serious trouble (except when my husband went to Memphis, and Emeline and Dick died last year, and Cinda’s twin babies).

I went to Raleigh in the month of March with my Step Mother. I stayed ten days, and had quite a pleasant time in visiting our relations. I would like to go again.

The 3rd Sunday in August there was a camp meeting at Carmel, I had a tent, we had a delightful time, ’twas a Heaven here on Earth. After my daughter gave birth to her child and came through safe, and done well, I felt so thankful and happy. The goodness of God is enough to lead us to repentance. I will now renew my covenant with my Heavenly Father, that if he will bless me and my family, that I will give myself to him, soul and body, time and talents, and live for his glory, who loved me and died for me. I pray that he will lead me and direct me in every thing that concerns my souls salvation.

I am entering upon another new year, I am determined and resolved to live nearer to God, to deny myself, take up my cross and follow the Saviour. I hope that I may be built up this year in the most holy faith that I may advance in the divine life.

We have some fears that this Union will be dissolved. South Carolina has seceded, the states are making every preparation for War Next Friday is the day set apart for prayer and fasting by the President Buchanan, that God would save us from Civil War and blood guiltiness.

© This work is the property of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. It may be used freely by individuals for research, teaching and personal use as long as this statement of availability is included in the text.

The remainder of Mary’s diaary tells of the struggles that she and her family faced as the Civil War raged around them, including the departure of her sons for service in the Confederate army.

Mary’s diary is also a good example of some of the experiments we’re conducting to connect this kind of content to other sources.   While there are no images of Mary or her family in the other collections available at Opening History, we’ve included a link to Google Books that provides access to numerous books and journals that have used Mary’s diary as a primary resource.

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