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Dunc

Written By: Phillip Stone - Apr• 18•12

I really can’t imagine how David Duncan Wallace wrote all of the things he published.

David Duncan WallaceWallace, who was arguably the foremost South Carolina historian of his day, generally taught a full load of courses, which in his day was five classes.  In the early 1920s, for example, he was teaching two sections of a course in European history, and in alternate years was teaching American and British history.  Additionally, he taught a political science course and an economics course.  Later, when a sociology-political science professor joined the faculty, he expanded to offer a fourth year of modern history as well as a second economics course.

Since Wofford in the 1920s and 1930s was offering master of arts degrees, Wallace also had to teach graduate courses and supervise master’s research.  The faculty was much smaller, and most professors had to serve on multiple faculty committees.

With all of this, how could he possibly find time to research and write as many books, articles, and lectures as he did?  I guess his commute from his home to his office may have helped – he lived in the campus house that Dean Roberta Bigger now occupies.  And I guess without having to worry about watching Mad Men or American Idol, he had lots of time to read.

Wallace held deep affection for both Wofford and South Carolina.  His great-grandfather, David Duncan, was on the college’s original faculty, and his father graduated from Wofford in 1871.  He himself was an 1894 graduate of the college, and after taking his PhD in history at Vanderbilt and teaching at the Carlisle Fitting School in Bamberg, SC, he became the head of Wofford’s Department of History and Economics.  He held the chair of history until his retirement in 1947, at which time he was asked to write the centennial history of the college.

In addition to the college’s history, Wallace wrote several books about South Carolina.  His Civil Government of South Carolina was published in 1905, and Civil Government of the United States in 1906.  A combined version of these books appeared in the 1930s.  He also wrote A Life of Henry Laurens about one of South Carolina’s founding fathers.  In the 1910s, he wrote The Government of England: National, Local, and Imperial.  No doubt these books all came out of his Wofford courses.  His Constitutional History of South Carolina came from his doctoral dissertation.  But his magnum opus, the work that will undoubtedly never be supplanted, was his 3-volume History of South Carolina.  He took four years’ leave from the faculty to prepare this monumental narrative history of the state.  A fourth volume, the biographical book, paid for the cost of the book.  The History of South Carolina remains an invaluable resource today simply because it was so comprehensive in its coverage of the state’s first 250 years.

As if this wasn’t enough, Dunc Wallace wrote at least two book manuscripts that were never published.  He was commissioned to write a history of William Gregg and the Graniteville Company, and a biography of Martin W. Gary, both of which were never published.  He became something of an expert on the state’s constitutional history, even pointing out in the 1920s some of the flaws in the constitution of 1895, a constitution that is still in largely in effect.  He was part of the first generation of PhD historians in the United States, and his scholarship was rigorous, though it does reflect the prevailing attitudes toward race and region of his day.

History of South CarolinaTwo of Wallace’s students, Charles Cauthen and Lewis Jones, succeeded him in the Wofford history department, and other students went on to earn graduate degrees in history and teach elsewhere.  As a professional historian, I am myself only one step removed from Wallace, for I studied South Carolina history under Lewis Jones.  I may actually be the last person who is able to make that claim, as I was the youngest person in Dr. Jones’ last South Carolina history class at Wofford.

For his books and his students, and for his public work on behalf of South Carolina’s history, Wallace deserves to be remembered.

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