What Does Glenn McConnell’s Civil War Library Look Like?

Glenn McConnell

Glenn McConnell at C.S.A. Galleries

Update: Just in case you are curious as to what is in my Civil War library (2009 edition). #2 Just heard via Twitter from Josh Glasstetter of the SPLC that McConnell sold The South Was Right by the Kennedy Brothers and had a close relationship with Maurice Bessinger.

A few weeks ago South Carolina Lt. Gov. Glenn McConnell was named as the next president of the College of Charleston. It’s difficult to gauge the media’s coverage of the school community’s response since the nature of the story has tended to pit the media against McConnell and any story about the memory of the Civil War in Charleston is bound to push certain people over the edge. That said, there does seem to be a relatively large group, including students, faculty, donors and even board members that is set against McConnell taking the reins of this school. It will be interesting to see whether McConnell can survive the pressure.

To me the fact that a college in the heart of the rebellion is even debating the question of whether an individual who has wrapped himself in Confederate heritage is an appropriate choice for president is fascinating. While stories of McConnell dressing in Confederate officer uniforms and his support of the public display of Confederate flags are tantalizing, I want to know what he believes about the American Civil War and Reconstruction. What does his Civil War library at home look like? What kinds of books (if any) did he sell in his store, which specialized in Confederate memorabilia? Is his understanding of the period informed by recent scholarship or Confederate apologists such as the Kennedy brothers? What kind of intellectual is Glenn McConnell?

More importantly, I want to know what he thinks about the Civil War, including its cause and consequences, because I believe it tells us something about how he understands some of the central questions that the people of South Carolina and the rest of the nation continue to struggle to address.

8 comments… add one
  • Jimmy Dick Apr 5, 2014 @ 8:10

    I think you can expect to see a slow attack on academic freedom at this college. The rightwing is unhappy with what is being taught because it does not match their fantasies of how America was, is, and will be. I also expect to see multiple lawsuits develop as the result of those attacks which will only make the school’s reputation and finances suffer.

    Some people fail to understand that higher education is always changing and right now it is changing rapidly on the financial side. A bad reputation will hurt financing and it will be very difficult to recover.

  • Michael Rodgers Apr 5, 2014 @ 8:06

    If people wish to know more about McConnell’s Confederate beliefs, they could watch Confederacy Theory and Colbert’s Civil Whites and read K. Michael Prince’s Rally ‘Round the Flag, Boys, especially pages 147-152. All are online (except page 150 of the book).

    • Kevin Levin Apr 5, 2014 @ 8:11

      Colbert’s interview with McConnell and Bessinger can be found here.

  • Doug didier Apr 5, 2014 @ 7:01

    Followed the controversy , or contest, of where the hunley should be put on final display. Three proposals were submitted. To me, the worst was north charleston across from his civil war store..
    Somehow that proposal won.

  • Chris Coleman Apr 5, 2014 @ 6:04

    While I don’t have a dog in this particular fight, I do have a gaggle of cousins in Charleston and while I love them one and all, I don’t particularly see eye to eye with their politics. Bear in mind, in a state where Strom Thurmond is still regarded as their patron saint, I would not be too optimistic about any attitudes changing anytime soon.

    Regarding Glenn McConnell, I scanned his CSA Galleries website and looked at the book & cd list and it did not look pernicious. There is Nancy Roberts CW ghost book and not mine, but I won’t hold that against him; there is Mort Kunstler’s Legends in Gray calendar which I sold the heck out of when it was new in the 90’s; there’s a Confederate prayer book and a few others in similar vein, but none particularly racist or virulent flagger/neo-secessionist in nature. Not a lot of books overall. Judging by the website, perhaps one should not expect McConnell too do too well in computer technology, since when one tries to go to the home page it links to various spam sites.

    I think, as Mr. Hall indicates, McConnell is less deserving of blame than the board that appointed him.

    • Kevin Levin Apr 5, 2014 @ 6:07

      Thanks for the comment. What is McConnell’s relationship to CSA Galleries? I don’t blame McConnell for anything either. In fact, I don’t see anything that would prevent him from being an effective leader of CofC all things equal. Like I said, the issue is whether the perception of his close association with Confederate symbols, etc. constitutes a problem for the college community. That is certainly not for me to decide.

  • Andy Hall Apr 5, 2014 @ 5:16

    This story really didn’t interest me when it first came up, because everyone in the state knows about McConnell’s Confederate hobby — it’s all right there, part of the equation from the start. And universities hire well-connected pols for top positions regularly. What I didn’t know until recently is that he was never considered a top-tier candidate by the search committee charged with evaluating candidates, and the board went ahead and hired him anyway, giving the big eff you to the entire College of Charleston community. Both the Student Council and the Faculty Senate have given the board unanimous “no confidence” votes as a result — and as they damn well should.

    Good luck dealing with that, y’all.

    • Kevin Levin Apr 5, 2014 @ 5:28

      To me it is just another example of the shrinking influence and relevancy of the Lost Cause narrative to Southern culture. Various constituencies on campus seem to be suggesting that the values expressed by McConnell through his close identification with the flag, etc. have no place at the College of Charleston.

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