John Bachman
Symposium
20-23 April 2006
"Nature, God & Social Reform in the Old South"
The Life & Work of the
Rev. John Bachman
An International Symposium
in Honor of the

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Newberry College


Introduction
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Natural History
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DR. PETER McCANDLESS


Dr. Peter McCandless
Professor of History
College of Charleston
Charleston SC


BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH
for Peter McCandless

PETER McCANDLESS (professor of history of disease and medicine and modern British history) has taught at the College of Charleston since 1974. His publications include "Moonlight, Magnolias, and Madness: Insanity in South Carolina from the Colonial Period to the Progressive Era" (UNC Press, 1996) and various articles and book chapters on the history of medicine, disease, and culture in Britain and the United States. He is the recipient of the College's Distinguished Teaching Award (1985), was named a Governor's Distinguished Professor (1998), and Distinguished Professor of History at the College of Charleston (2001. He is past president and a member of the Executive Board of the Waring Library Society, which supports the work of the Waring Historical Library at the Medical University of South Carolina. He is also past president and a member of the College of Charleston chapters of the Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi and the American Association of University Professors.


ABSTRACT OF KEYNOTE ADDRESS
by Peter McCandless

THE ASSIMILATION OF JOHN BACHMAN:
FROM NEW YORK YANKEE TO SOUTHERN PATRIOT

John Bachman (1790-1874) is best known as a Lutheran clergyman, educator, and naturalist. But his work in those areas took place in the context of gathering crisis, as the fledgling United States grappled with issues of slavery, abolition, nullification, and secession. During this life, Bachman underwent a personal identity transformation. He was born in the north in upstate New York, but moved to Charleston, South Carolina in his twenties in the hope its warm climate would improve his consumptive condition.

Perhaps the move saved his life, but he suffered from ill health much of his long life.

Charleston and the surrounding Lowcountry had an unenviable reputation as one of the sickliest places in North America, particularly for visitors and immigrants from the North and Europe. Malaria and dysentery were endemic in the swampy rice-producing lowcountry, and yellow fever (often called “strangers’ fever” for its selection of victims) paid regular visits to antebellum Charleston. Bachman regularly left the city during the “sickly season.” Many of his children died in infancy; most of them predeceased him. Why did he stay? The answer may lie in part in the extent to which he came to identify with his fellow citizens. This presentation will focus on Bachman’s evolving relationship with his adopted region and gradual assimilation to a southern identity and outlook, a transformation that led him in 1860 to become an outspoken defender of secession and armed defense of the South.

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