Front Porch: Fall 2002

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Front Porch: Fall 2002

by Harry L. Watson
Southern Cultures, Vol. 8, No. 3: Fall 2002

"What fires burned beneath Lee's famous calm?"

My father’s family came from upper South Carolina, not far from Edgefield County, where the legendary demagogue Ben Tillman originated. After the end of Reconstruction, Tillman’s violent ranting on behalf of white supremacy and those he called “the farmers” brought down the more high-toned government of Wade Hampton, framed the “nadir” of southern race relations, and made Tillman the master of South Carolina politics for the next generation. Once I asked Dad what people like his father had thought of Tillman.