From Desolation to
IN the century from 1865 to 1965 and the decade that followed, South Carolina underwent fundamental changes that altered both its social outlook and its physical appearance. Most of these changes were slow in coming; development was hindered by political upheavals, crop failures, periodic depressions, and the natural conservatism of a people suspicious of innovation, social or economic. But out of the ashes of war, a new state has arisen, with a fairer distribution of political power, more liberal social attitudes, and a broader base of economic strength. The way has been hard and, on occasion, devious ; at times, many citizens found themselves floundering in the Slough of Despond; often Despair was their companion; frequently they were less than wise in their expedients; but after much travail and error, South Carolinians have erected a commonwealth that is proud, prosperous, and more concerned than most with social justice.
Many South Carolinians have long believed that the darkest, grimmest time in the state's history was the period from 1865 to 1877, called euphemistically the era of Reconstruction. Conditions seemed so bleak and hopeless to some returning soldiers that they did not wait to be "reconstructed," but headed for the western frontier; ex-Confederates could be counted in nearly