I Belong to South Carolina: South Carolina Slave Narratives

By Susanna Ashton; Robyn E. Adams et al. | Go to book overview

Life on the Old Plantation
in Ante-Bellum Days, or
a Story Based on Facts by
the Reverend I. E. Lowery
With Brief Sketches of the Author by
the Late Rev. J. Wofford White of the South Carolina
Conference, Methodist Episcopal Church (1911)

SUSANNA ASHTON AND E. LANGSTON CULLER


Introduction

Just a few short years after the Civil War, Rev. I. E. Lowery, a nineteen-yearold former slave, became the first student to be admitted to Claflin University in Orangeburg, South Carolina, in the year 1869.* Moreover, as the first student at Claflin, he was also the very first student enrolled at a black university in the entire state. Young Irving Lowery embodied all the hope that the ideals of Reconstruction portended for African Americans in South Carolina: if a former slave could become a college man and follow his calling to both religious and civic leadership, he might help rebuild all that was the best in the South. Despite the hardships Lowery encountered throughout his life, his narrative is marked by an almost disconcerting optimism. The product of a Reconstruction-era education, Lowery’s memoir is marked by a relentlessly positive perspective constructed quite consciously as an agenda of uplift and inspiration. Yet, despite the tone of optimism that characterizes

*As stated in Blinzy I. Gore, On a Hilltop High: The Origin and History of Claflin College to 1984, “A former Baker Theological Institute matriculant, Irving Lowery, is credited with having been the first student to enroll at Claflin University” (Spartanburg, S.C.: Reprint Company, 1993), 53.

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