Event Title

Benjamin Ryan Tillman: Shattering the Illusion of Winthrop's Most Infamous Founding Father

Presenter Information

Andrew Harris, Winthrop University

Faculty Mentor

Eddie Lee, Ph.D.

College

College of Arts and Sciences

Department

History

Location

DiGiorgio Campus Center, Room 221

Start Date

24-4-2015 1:50 PM

Description

Since the founding of Winthrop at the close of the nineteenth century, through the civil rights struggle, and into the twenty-first century, Senator Benjamin Ryan Tillman’s legacy has shaped the timeline of this institution. After forcing his way onto the board via legislation muscled through the governor’s desk, the marks of Senator Tillman have been apparent on the social history of the nation, state, and university. In the last year or so (Summer 2014), the argument over the proper name of the Main Building on campus, officially Tillman Hall, has become a topic of conversation – and debate – among students and faculty alike. My research has demonstrated that Benjamin R. Tillman was a foul, racist man who did not respect women, his environment, or those around him. Although Tillman’s historic presence in the upstate and here at Winthrop cannot be ignored, I argue that there is no need for future glorification of such a vile individual, someone who legitimately believed that African Americans, ethnic minorities, and women lacked the ability to lead. The overwhelming evidence from primary sources gathered at Winthrop and Clemson archives supports my assertions in Tillman’s own hand. My research weaves historical narrative and modern perspective into a biting commentary on the Benjamin Tillman legacy at Winthrop University.

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Apr 24th, 1:50 PM

Benjamin Ryan Tillman: Shattering the Illusion of Winthrop's Most Infamous Founding Father

DiGiorgio Campus Center, Room 221

Since the founding of Winthrop at the close of the nineteenth century, through the civil rights struggle, and into the twenty-first century, Senator Benjamin Ryan Tillman’s legacy has shaped the timeline of this institution. After forcing his way onto the board via legislation muscled through the governor’s desk, the marks of Senator Tillman have been apparent on the social history of the nation, state, and university. In the last year or so (Summer 2014), the argument over the proper name of the Main Building on campus, officially Tillman Hall, has become a topic of conversation – and debate – among students and faculty alike. My research has demonstrated that Benjamin R. Tillman was a foul, racist man who did not respect women, his environment, or those around him. Although Tillman’s historic presence in the upstate and here at Winthrop cannot be ignored, I argue that there is no need for future glorification of such a vile individual, someone who legitimately believed that African Americans, ethnic minorities, and women lacked the ability to lead. The overwhelming evidence from primary sources gathered at Winthrop and Clemson archives supports my assertions in Tillman’s own hand. My research weaves historical narrative and modern perspective into a biting commentary on the Benjamin Tillman legacy at Winthrop University.