Industry and the Gilded Age (1878-1889)

Bragg, Laura

In October 1920 Bragg was named director of the Charleston Museum and became the first woman in the country to hold such a position at a publicly supported museum. Soon thereafter she opened the museum to black patrons one afternoon a week. She continued the educational focus of the museum and added a children’s library and a reading room that lent books. These efforts were the forerunners of the Charleston Free Library, which opened in January 1931. She was both its trustee and its first librarian.

Bratton, John

In May 1864, Bratton was promoted to brigadier general, commanding Bratton’s Brigade, Field’s Division, First Corps, Army of Northern Virginia. Bratton served in this position until the army’s surrender at Appomattox on April 9, 1865. Bratton returned to Fairfield County and entered politics. A conservative Democrat, he served as a delegate to the 1865 South Carolina constitutional convention and represented Fairfield County in the S.C. Senate from 1865 to 1866. In the fall of 1884 Bratton was elected to Congress. Taking his seat in the U.S. House of Representatives on December 8, 1884, Bratton served until March 3, 1885, and did not seek reelection.

Brawley, Benjamin Griffith

Brawley developed into a prolific writer, contributing works to such periodicals as Bookman, Dial, North American Review, Sewanee Review, and Reviewer. But it was in his writing and editing of books about the African American experience that he pioneered. While he was teaching at Morehouse in 1909, a student pleaded with him to write a textbook that would enable black students to learn something of the experiences and accomplishments of their own people. Four years later, in 1913, Macmillan published his book A Short History of the American Negro.

Brawley, Edward McKnight

The American Baptist Publication Society hired Brawley to perform missionary service among black South Carolinians. Although there were numerous black Baptist congregations statewide, Brawley found no existing state convention. Accordingly, in 1876 he organized the Colored Baptist Educational, Missionary, and Sunday School Convention. He went on to organize numerous local Sunday school programs throughout the state. A key ally in these endeavors was the Reverend Jacob Legare, pastor of the Morris Street Baptist Church in Charleston. Meanwhile, Brawley raised funds for Benedict College in Columbia, where he also served on the faculty.

Brown, Edgar Allan

In September 1954 U.S. Senator Burnet Rhett Maybank died. His death occurred after the Democratic Party’s primary but before the general election. The South Carolina Democratic Party’s executive committee held a special meeting and decided to select Edgar Brown as the party’s candidate rather than hold a special election. In response, Strom Thurmond announced a write-in candidacy for the U.S. Senate, claiming that his campaign was a fight for principle— government by the people instead of government by a small group of committee members. Thurmond’s write-in campaign was successful, and he became the first candidate ever elected to Congress by a write-in vote.

Burroughs, Franklin Gorham

Although Myrtle Beach was not founded in his lifetime, Burroughs dreamed of a coastal resort midway between New York and Miami. He set in motion the building of a railroad to what is now Myrtle Beach, and his sons completed his plan—a major step toward developing the resort. His widow named Myrtle Beach for the plant that thrived there. The Burroughs heirs, along with Simeon Chapin, built a remarkable business that was to include forestry, farming, shopping centers, theme parks, and golf courses.

Burt, Armistead

In April 1865 Confederate First Lady Varina Howell Davis and her family stayed in the Burt home for twelve days after they fled Richmond. They left Abbeville two days before Jefferson Davis, Secretary of War John C. Breckinridge, and the Confederacy’s senior military advisers arrived. On May 2, 1865, at Burt’s house, the leaders held their final council of war. On advice from his advisers, Davis agreed that further resistance was impossible and that the Confederate cause was lost.

Butler, Matthew Calbraith

As a senator, Butler supported civil service reform, a strong navy, and the elevation of the agriculture department to cabinet-level status. He also secured nearly $5 million in federal funds for South Carolina harbor and river improvements and public buildings. In 1890 Butler instigated a national debate with his introduction of a bill to provide federal aid to blacks who would emigrate to Africa. Responding to South Carolina’s agrarian movement, Butler shifted his position from that of a conservative Democrat to one favoring such Populist measures as the free coinage of silver and a federal income tax.

Butler, Susan Dart

In 1927 Susan Butler opened a free library and reading room in Dart Hall, using her father’s books, folding chairs, and two tables. The reading room was open Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. Dart served as librarian and operated the room with donations and at her own expense until the Charleston Free Library established the Dart Hall Branch in 1931. The Charleston County Free Library and its branches received money from the Rosenwald Fund and the Carnegie Foundation, while the Dart family rented the building to the county for one dollar a year. The Dart Hall Branch opened to the African American public with 3,600 books.

Byrnes, James Francis

Over his lifetime Byrnes held many public positions, coming closer than any other South Carolinian in the twentieth century to obtaining the national political influence wielded by John C. Calhoun in the nineteenth century. Byrnes left a series of political legacies in South Carolina, the nation, and the world. His advocacy of highway and New Deal legislation provided numerous material benefits to South Carolinians. His services to President Roosevelt had a major impact on the national economy during World War II. His role as secretary of state was instrumental in defining postwar foreign policy. In the 1950s and 1960s Byrnes’s support of Republican presidential candidates was a key factor in the party’s revitalization in the South.

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