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A newspaper printing shop from the mid-1800s.Back in 1997, Dr. Lloyd Benson, Furman’s Walter Kenneth Mattison Professor of History, launched an ambitious online project titled “Secession Era Editorials.” The purpose of the website was to provide online access to political newspaper editorials written in the “secession era”, a precursor to the American Civil War.

On his original website, Dr. Benson noted:

Few Americans were more involved with the coming of the Civil War than the newspaper editors whose words have been collected here. Circulation-hungry and fiercely devoted to the political parties that sustained them, these writers were passionate and nearly inflexible in their views. The editorials they wrote remind us that the people of the era experienced events not with the comprehensive hindsight and revealed secrets of the historian but rather through the disconnected and opinionated fragments supplied by these journalists.

Dr. Benson continued his work collecting the editorials with the help of Furman students and faculty. By 2007, he and his team had transcribed over 350 newspaper editorials on 4 highly politicized topics: The Dred Scott Case, John Brown’s Raid on Harper’s Ferry, The Nebraska Bill, and the Sumner Caning Incident. For over a decade, this research was available online from a project website hosted by the Department of History.

Thanks to a partnership with the Furman Libraries’ Digital Collections Center, the project now has a new home with improved searching and browsing capabilities:

See the new Secession Era Editorials Project website.

Please Note: Some editorials in this collection contain offensive language, opinions, and other content. The editorials serve as evidence of the time period in which they were created and enable us to engage in more truthful conversations about history. The views expressed in these editorials do not reflect Furman University’s values or our commitment to embrace meaningful diversity and equality in all of our endeavors. If you have questions or concerns, please e-mail