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Furman's Legacy of Slavery: A Digital Exhibition: James C. Furman's Legacy

James C. Furman's Legacy of Slavery
“Now suppose this [abolition] accomplished. Four hundred thousand negroes turned loose. Fields uncultivated, barns empty, hords of hungry marauders prowling over the country. Say nothing of the scenes brutal lust would lead."

James C. Furman, on his public address on the issue of abolition of slavery, November 22, 1860

Secession speech manuscript, 1860.

This is a photograph of James C. Furman

Photograph of James C. Furman, (1809-1891)

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James C. Furman: Professor, Theologian, and Enslaver

James C. Furman (1809-1891) was an accomplished educator, orator, and edifier of the university. But despite that, many people feel that he jeopardized the institution by shutting down the college to form a regiment for South Carolina and eventually the Confederacy, and by promoting Furman as a free, White-only option. Furman's repugnant and passionate anti-abolitionist speeches facilitated the transition of the upcountry South Carolina from pro-Union to pro-secession in 1860. According to a student diary, Furman allowed his students to attend the lynching of an African-American freedom seeker. To Furman, losing the war meant the subjugation of White southerners to Yankee tyrants.

A Legacy is a Family Affair

Reverend James C. Furman life's efforts revolved around three affairs: theology, education, and secession. Furman was instrumental in transforming the school from a struggling rural seminary to a decent college in a growing city. After completing theological studies at Furman, raising money for the school, and pastoring in the Pee Dee region of South Carolina, he became faculty and then president of the Furman Institute, then relocated the school from Fairfield to Greenville in 1851. By the time James C. Furman moved to Greenville from Winnsboro, he had held 56 enslaved individuals in bondage The financial legacy of his enslaved laborer holdings, acquired through his marriage with Mary Glen Davis, allowed him to move forward with the building of the Cherrydale House.

This is a photograph of Mary Glen Davis Furman

Photograph of Mary Glen Davis, (1824-1911)

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