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Working For Victory: The Palmetto State In The Great War

COLUMBIA, S.C. – April 6, 2017 marked the 100th anniversary of the United States’ entry into WWI. The country’s entry into the Great War came as South Carolina was emerging into the modern world. The preceding decades had seen the beginning of change as the Palmetto State shed some of its agricultural past for the allure of industrialism. The progressivism of Governor Richard I. Manning, which mirrored that of President Woodrow Wilson, sought to pull the state out of its poverty and provincialism.

To commemorate the 100th anniversary, the South Carolina Department of Archives and History (SCDAH) is opening a new exhibit highlighting the Palmetto State’s contribution to the war effort. The state’s first response occurred in 1916 as border trouble with Mexico threatened to escalate into war. When entry to the European War came, the state responded again, hosting three major Army training bases, a Marine Corps training center, and an expanded Charleston Navy Yard. 

On the home front, South Carolina created a Council of Defense that worked with the national council to increase patriotic support for the war, raise funds for the war effort, and conserve resources needed to support the troops. The state’s effort to support the war would enhance the reputation of the governor and lay the foundation for a modern South Carolina.

“For the United States, WWI was a conflict of short duration and limited casualties, but it had a lasting impact on the Palmetto State through the modernization of the militia, the construction of multiple military bases and the organization of the home front,” says Patrick McCawley, Supervisor of Archival Processing and exhibit designer at the SCDAH. “The department hopes that this exhibit gives the public a chance to see how state government played a role in that evolution.” 

The Archives and History Center is located at 8301 Parklane Road, Columbia, SC 29223. For questions, please contact Grace Salter, Agency Advancement Coordinator at 803-896-0339 or gsalter@scdah.sc.gov. 

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