Clemson University (Clemson, South Carolina) students and professors have designed a home comprised mostly of local materials that can house a family of four and is called the Indigo Pine. The name comes from two things that the state of South Carolina has in abundance -- pine trees and the blue dye from indigo. What those students and professors probably didn't know is that a woman was responsible for the successful cultivation of the indigo plant in the state in the mid-1700s. In this blog, we'll learn about the contributions to our culture and economy from women with ties to South Carolina. Match the woman with her accomplishment:
____ 1. Her persistence led to the successful cultivation of the indigo plant in South Carolina
-- a trade that sustained the Carolina economy until the start of the Revolutionary War.
____ 2. Her diary from the Civil War, which is an eyewitness account from the Southern perspective, has been called the most important piece of literature produced by a Confederate author during that period.
____ 3. Sisters who left the affluence of their home in Charleston, South Carolina to work for abolition.
____ 4. Established the Children's Defense Fund in 1973.
____ 5. Partnered with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and fought for the right of African-American teachers to be hired in the public schools of Charleston, South Carolina.
A. Mary Chesnut
B. Marian Wright Edelman
C. Angelina & Sarah Grimke
D. Septima Clark
E. Eliza Lucas Pinckney
Eliza Lucas Pinckney was running three plantations in the area of what is today Charleston, South Carolina when she was a teenager. Her mother had died and her father was in the military stationed in the West Indies. Determined to establish a crop that would generate revenue, she experimented with indigo and was successful during the third season of growing. By 1744, enlisting the help of indigo experts from the West Indies, she also developed the techniques to successfully export the blue dye generated from the plant. The indigo trade with England sustained the Carolina economy until the outbreak of the Revolutionary War, when trade stopped. Pinckney became celebrated as a plant and agriculturist. One of her sons, Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, signed the U.S. Constitution. Another son, Thomas Pinckney, served as the Governor of South Carolina. When she died, George Washington served as a pallbearer at her funeral.
Sisters Angelina and Sarah Grimke left the comfort and affluence of their home in Charleston, South Carolina to advocate for abolition. They moved to Philadelphia and became members of the Quaker faith. Angelina wrote a antislavery pamphlet that caused her to be no longer welcome in the South. In 1838, she became the first woman to speak before a state legislature (Massachusetts). Both sisters became antislavery speakers and because they opened their audiences to both women and men, became women's rights advocates as well. Considered significant among the first generation of women right's leaders, both Angelina and Sarah Grimke have been inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame.
Mary Chesnut, who was born in South Carolina and lived most of her life there, had long kept a journal, but with the secession of South Carolina in late 1860, she began recording her conversations, thoughts and even her readings. This was intentional; she believed history was in the making and that her witness might prove useful in the future. She was correct. Today, her diary, published first in 1905 as A Diary from Dixie, has been called the most important piece of literature produced by a Confederate author during that period. That 1905 version was abridged. A 1944 longer version was published. A fuller annotated version won the 1982 Pulitzer Prize in history. Portions of her diary were read as part of Ken Burns' The Civil War documentary.
Born in Charleston, South Carolina, Septima Clark was encouraged by both of her parents to pursue her education. After attending a private school for African-American students and obtaining her teaching qualifications, Clark was denied the opportunity to teach in the segregated Charleston schools due to her race. Partnering with the National Association for the Advancement of Colorado People, she succeeded in overturning that restriction (1920). When she moved to Columbia, South Carolina, she worked with the NAACP and Thurgood Marshall to successfully fight for equal pay for white and black teachers. Later, she established citizenship schools -- schools that taught basic literacy and math skills. This effort is credited with enabling many African-Americans to vote; as they would otherwise have failed the literacy test required at the time to register.
Like Septima Clark, Marian Wright Edelman was an advocate for civil rights. Born and raised in South Carolina, she became the first African-American woman to pass the bar in Mississippi. Her advocacy for civil rights led her from New York to Mississippi to Washington, DC. There, in 1973, she established the Children's Defense Fund which serves both as a voice for poor, minority and physically disabled children and as a research center to document problems and identify solutions to those problems. A MacArthur Foundation Fellow, and the recipient of many honorary degrees, Edelman has been inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame.
Learn about more she-roes and celebrate amazing women. These women with ties to South Carolina are among the more than 850 women profiled in the book Her Story: A Timeline of the Women Who Changed America. We celebrate their varied accomplishments and are proud to stand on their shoulders.
(answers: 1-E, 2-A, 3-C, 4-B, 5-D)