Catalogue


Science, race, and religion in the American South : John Bachman and the Charleston circle of naturalists, 1815-1895 /
Lester D. Stephens.
imprint
Chapel Hill, NC : University of North Carolina Press, c2000.
description
xviii, 338 p. : ill.
ISBN
0807825182 (cloth. : alk. paper)
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
imprint
Chapel Hill, NC : University of North Carolina Press, c2000.
isbn
0807825182 (cloth. : alk. paper)
catalogue key
3477172
 
Includes bibliographical references and index.
A Look Inside
About the Author
Author Affiliation
Lester D. Stephens is emeritus professor of history at the University of Georgia.
Excerpts
Flap Copy
Reestablishes the importance of Charleston, S.C., as an important center of scientific activity during the decades before and after the Civil War.
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 2000-06:
Stephens (emeritus, history, Univ. of Georgia) has crafted a well-written and noteworthy account of six South Carolinians--John Bachman, Edmund Ravenel, John Edwards Holbrook, Lewis R. Gibbes, Francis S. Holmes, and John McCrady--who made notable contributions to American natural history between 1815 and 1895. Four were college graduates, three were physicians, and several studied abroad. One was a clergyman, another a planter. Stephens makes clear that despite serious southern regional drawbacks, such as a paucity of colleges with strong scientific departments, a mere handful of museums, a shortage of libraries with comprehensive collections, and few scientific societies and journals, the Charleston naturalists before the Civil War nevertheless made outstanding contributions to their disciplines. Bachman, the intellectual leader of the Charleston group, was a pioneering mammalogist who wrote the text for J.J. Audubon's Quadrupeds of North America (1851-4). Holbrook's North American Herpetology (1836) was a landmark work in its field. Holmes published on South Carolina fossils, and the others also contributed to the scientific literature of the day. Despite their advanced scientific understandings, however, all attempted to justify sectionalist views on race, culture, and other issues. All remained loyal Southerners, and witnessed the lasting damage done to Charleston's scientific community by the Civil War. General readers; undergraduates through professionals. K. B. Sterling; formerly, Pace University
Reviews
Review Quotes
Stephens's wide-ranging research and talents as a sympathetic biographer cast welcome light on the importance of this group.American Historical Review
Stephens's wide-ranging research and talents as a sympathetic biographer cast welcome light on the importance of this group. American Historical Review
This book should become a standard reference for its biographical and technical details on these naturalists.North Carolina Historical Review
This book should become a standard reference for its biographical and technical details on these naturalists. North Carolina Historical Review
It will likely stand as definitive on this subject for years to come. Journal of American History
It will likely stand as definitive on this subject for years to come.Journal of American History
It is crystal clear from [this] careful exposition that science has always been about more than disclosing the facts of nature.Books & Culture
It is crystal clear from [this] careful exposition that science has always been about more than disclosing the facts of nature. Books & Culture
A rich account of how natural history was actually produced, particularly in the antebellum era. Journal of Southern History
A rich account of how natural history was actually produced, particularly in the antebellum era.Journal of Southern History
This item was reviewed in:
Choice, June 2000
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Summaries
Main Description
In the decades before the Civil War, Charleston, South Carolina, enjoyed recognition as the center of scientific activity in the South. By 1850, only three other cities in the United States_Philadelphia, Boston, and New York_exceeded Charleston in natural history studies, and the city boasted an excellent museum of natural history. Examining the scientific activities and contributions of John Bachman, Edmund Ravenel, John Edwards Holbrook, Lewis R. Gibbes, Francis S. Holmes, and John McCrady, Lester Stephens uncovers the important achievements of Charleston's circle of naturalists in a region that has conventionally been dismissed as largely devoid of scientific interests. Stephens devotes particular attention to the special problems faced by the Charleston naturalists and to the ways in which their religious and racial beliefs interacted with and shaped their scientific pursuits. In the end, he shows, cultural commitments proved stronger than scientific principles. When the South seceded from the Union in 1861, the members of the Charleston circle placed regional patriotism above science and union and supported the Confederate cause. The ensuing war had a devastating impact on the Charleston naturalists_and on science in the South. The Charleston circle never fully recovered from the blow, and a century would elapse before the South took an equal role in the pursuit of mainstream scientific research.
Long Description
In the decades before the Civil War, Charleston, South Carolina, enjoyed recognition as the center of scientific activity in the South. By 1850, only three other cities in the United States--Philadelphia, Boston, and New York--exceeded Charleston in natural history studies, and the city boasted an excellent museum of natural history. Examining the scientific activities and contributions of John Bachman, Edmund Ravenel, John Edwards Holbrook, Lewis R. Gibbes, Francis S. Holmes, and John McCrady, Lester Stephens uncovers the important achievements of Charleston's circle of naturalists in a region that has conventionally been dismissed as largely devoid of scientific interests.Stephens devotes particular attention to the special problems faced by the Charleston naturalists and to the ways in which their religious and racial beliefs interacted with and shaped their scientific pursuits. In the end, he shows, cultural commitments proved stronger than scientific principles. When the South seceded from the Union in 1861, the members of the Charleston circle placed regional patriotism above science and union and supported the Confederate cause. The ensuing war had a devastating impact on the Charleston naturalists--and on science in the South. The Charleston circle never fully recovered from the blow, and a century would elapse before the South took an equal role in the pursuit of mainstream scientific research.
Table of Contents
Prefacep. ix
Acknowledgmentsp. xv
Scientific Terms Used in This Workp. xvii
In a Singular Placep. 1
Exalting Two Booksp. 11
In the Shadow of Audubonp. 39
Treasures of Earth and Seap. 60
A Low Class of Animalsp. 78
From Alpha to Omegap. 101
Ancient Animalsp. 127
Passionate Pursuitsp. 146
Hyenas and Hybridsp. 165
The Jawbone of an Assp. 195
The Broken Circlep. 218
Last Linksp. 239
Epiloguep. 264
Notesp. 269
Bibliographyp. 303
Indexp. 327
Table of Contents provided by Syndetics. All Rights Reserved.

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