World War I (1914-1918)

Blease, Coleman Livingston

As governor, Blease emphasized individual freedom for whites and racism. He opposed government regulation, even if its purpose was to benefit the same mill workers to whom he appealed. He denounced an act to limit working hours for mill employees, believing it interfered with parents’ control over their children. He vetoed legislation to inspect factories for safety and health considerations, stating that a man ought to be able to work under any conditions he chose. He opposed compulsory education as an attempt to replace parents with “the paid agents of the State in the control of children,” and he vetoed four compulsory attendance bills while governor.

Bouchillon, Christopher Allen

In November 1926 Chris returned to Atlanta for the first of six sessions for Columbia Records. His initial effort resulted in “Talking Blues” and “Hannah (Won’t You Open That Door),” both of which went on to become highly successful and widely copied numbers that sold nearly 100,000 copies. One of his 1927 recordings, “Born in Hard Luck”/“The Medicine Show,” also did quite well, racking up sales in excess of 40,000 at a time when anything that sold more than 20,000 copies could be considered a hit.

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.

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.

Bristow, Gwen

Bristow’s natural storytelling ability, neatly devised and detailed plots, sharply drawn characters, telling eye for landscape and its detail, use of common sense, gift for dramatic effect, and emotional sincerity were the characteristics of her work that critics and reviewers singled out for praise. Margaret Wallace spoke of her “solid and versatile talent as a novelist.” The critic Susan Quinn Berneis claimed that Bristow’s greatest skill was reserved for “the unfolding of American history as displayed around the lives of the people who created it.” And Eugene Armfield remarked that she belonged “among those Southern novelists who [were] trying to interpret the South and its past in critical terms.”

Brodie, Laura

While Brodie was at Winthrop College during the late 1920s, her biology professor noticed her interest and called her to the attention of Howard K. Gloyd, a well-known herpetologist. Gloyd helped Brodie get a position at the University of Michigan Museum of Zoology, where there was an excellent program in herpetology under the direction of Alexander G. Ruthven. During her first year there she stayed with Frank N. Blanchard and his wife, and Blanchard taught her many of the procedures used by professional herpetologists. On trips back to her Leesville home she collected many specimens for the University of Michigan collection.

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.

Busbee, Cyril B.

Under federal desegregation guidelines, the state had to create a unitary school system instead of the racially separate systems that had been in place prior to the Brown v. Board of Education decision. Federal guidelines quashed tactics such as freedom-of-choice plans that many districts utilized to circumvent or slow desegregation. Busing to achieve a racial balance was emphasized in the new regulations. Busbee’s calm, moderate leadership as superintendent proved a great asset during these times.

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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