Tuesday, February 24, 2009


I visited Charleston, South Carolina today for the first time. For a northern liberal like myself visiting a southern city for the first time is always interesting. While I am interested in history and I love visiting places where something important happened, I find myself having to hold my tongue when I do something like walk by the grave of John C. Calhoun. Today I started to tell my wife about Calhoun's politics and I had to stop because another tourists was listening. I am pretty sure that this southern man probably wouldn't have like what I had to say. Calhoun was a state's rights man which isn't enough for me to bash anyone, but in his time state's rights was shorthand for slavery and slave owner's rights. I always thought that if not for Calhoun and his secessionist rhetoric the American Civil War may not have ever happen. But I learned today that he died 11 years before the war. So perhaps not. It is hard to say.

Charleston is on the Atlantic Ocean but it is also in between two rivers, the Ashley and the Cooper. The bridge going over the Cooper, the Arthur Ravenel, Jr. Bridge, is the largest cable-stayed bridge in the Western Hemisphere. It is quite impressive. Charleston is also home to Fort Sumter, the site of the first battle of the American Civil War and the Citadel, the famous military school made even more famous by the Conroy novel, The Lords of Discipline.

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