Stained glass window

Home > Furman University Resources > Reconstruction

Furman University, Greenville Female College,
and Greenville, South Carolina in the Reconstruction Era
Created by Wendell Kimbrough, Jim Simons, McCall Smith, and Ben Wallace
for History 21: Issues in American History, 2004-2005.

The Reconstruction Era, immediately following the devastation of the Civil War, was a time of survival in the South. The effects of the war were particularly hard in Greenville County, South Carolina, where agricultural and financial difficulties plagued the region. Greenville County, population 20,000, experienced a drought in 1866, the declining land prices, and increasing crop prices. To sum up Greenville’s conditions, at the time of Reconstruction, the town and people were desperate and poverty-stricken.

Nestled inside this devastated, southern community was Furman University. As with most businesses and institutions experiencing the wrath of the Reconstruction era, Furman was left in a financial slump and desperate for students. Pressured by colleagues and the Convention to close the university’s doors, Furman President, James C. Furman, showed a strong determination to keep the university alive.

Also struggling to survive after the war was the Greenville Baptist Female College. Though the college survived the war, it had incurred an enormous debt and a severe decline in enrollment. Forced to make sacrifices, Charles Judson, the institution's president, managed to rid the college from debt and lay the foundation for what would become a prosperous university.

Once Furman was able to thwart the possibility of closing its doors immediately following the war, Dr. Charles Manly led it to much gain, both financially and academically. Through hard work and an unmatched resolve, he greatly increased the university’s enrollment and endowment.

We welcome you to explore Furman University, Greenville Female College, and Greenville, SC during the Reconstruction era.