Rare SC document donated to history group


SC history buffs owe Gregory Lorris a big “thank you.” The Mount Pleasant resident recently donated a lithograph of the SC Ordinance of Secession to the SC Historical Society.

The ordinance is a key piece of Palmetto State history. Signed in December 1860, it signified South Carolina’s departure from the Union and was a key event in the War Between the States.

Lorris’ document is one of just a handful known to exist. According to a story in the Charleston Post & Courier, the Charleston printing firm of Evans & Cogswell made about 200 lithographs of the ordinance in 1861, meticulously reproducing even the random ink spots.

According to the SC Department Archives and History, lithograph copies were distributed to SC Secession Convention delegates in April 1861.

However, it took but seven months for the first copy to fall into enemy hands. In November 1861, US naval forces captured Port Royal Harbor and among the trophies of war was a lithograph copy. This was framed and hung at the Navy Department in Washington, DC.

Additional copies were captured at the end of the war during the fall of Columbia and Charleston. Daniel McWorkman found a copy on the wall of the State House in Columbia in February 1865 and took it home to Iowa.

In 1966, the mayor of Keokuk, Iowa, offered to return it to then-Gov. Bob McNair. It was eventually given to the SC State Museum in 1990.

On March 3, 1865, several members of Company G, 102 US Colored Troops discovered one of the lithographs at a plantation across the Ashley River from Drayton Hall.

The soldiers thought the plantation belonged to South Carolina’s secretary of state and assumed they had the original ordinance. Lieutenant George A. Southworth, the detachment commander, soon returned to his hometown, Leoni, Mich., with the copy.

The original ordinance has been in state possession since it Dec. 20, 1860, when it was signed.

Many of the original 200 copies have disappeared over the years. About 10 are in institutional hands, and an unknown number are owned by private individuals, one of whom recently spent about $40,000 to acquire a copy, the Post & Courier reports.

The society plans to restore the copy donated by Lorris, then put it on display at its location at 100 Meeting Street in Charleston.


Don’t count the Celtic Tiger extinct yet


The Celtic Tiger has stumbled, and stumbled hard. Ireland’s economy, after years of robust growth, collapsed last year amid a housing bust.

Now, as usually happens when things go south, there are rumblings about the policies that helped lift Ireland from the doldrums, including legislation that chopped chopped taxes, reduced import duties and encouraged foreign investment.

However, the Irish Times, for one, is urging common sense for electorate and politicians alike as the country plans for its future, by counseling its leaders to maintain a sense of balance, and avoid witch-hunting and scapegoating.  Going back to the old way of doing things isn’t an option, the Times says. 

Of the stagnant, troubled period before the Irish economic miracle, the Times says: “It was an era … when vested interests from the professions to the public sector dominated political decisions, creating monopolies, suppressing competition, and reaching too readily for protectionism. Capitalist monopolies are at least transparent in their self-interest: the self-interest of other monopolies, whether of labour or professions, is no less real and no less inimical to the public interest.”

What? No media clarion call about the dangers of the free market, of the need for politicians to step in and save the country from greedy businesses and the need to increase taxation? The folks at the Irish Times obviously haven’t learned much from their American counterparts.

An abundance of wealth for the WW2 reader


For history aficionados, World War II represents a mother lode of scholarship. There are tens of thousands of books on the conflict, with hundreds more released every year.

Nearly every possible aspect of the war has been covered, often many times over, which leaves amateur historians sometimes bewildered by the selection.

John Keegan, who ranks among the best military historians ever, two decades ago compiled a list of 50 book in English that provided the most comprehensive picture of important events and which were understandable by the general reader.

Blogger Scott Manning has reprinted Keegan’s list here. Highlights include “Inside the Third Reich,” by Albert Speer, “To Lose a Battle: France 1940,” by Alistair Horne, and “The Soviet High Command,” by John Erickson.

American readers may notice a short supply of books focusing specifically on US efforts during World War II, but that shouldn’t be surprising. Afterall, something like 85 percent of Nazi casualties were inflicted by the Soviet Union, which puts the American effort into proper context.

The only downside: none of Keegan’s books, which include “Barbarossa: The Invasion of Russia, 1941” and “The Second World War,” are included.