Created By: Seeking Abraham Project
Above the Farm to Fork posters and sustainability flyers of the Charles E. Daniel Dining Hal, are two Bible verses sprawled across the inside brick wall in large, shimmering, gold letters. The first, Psalm 75:1, reads “UNTO THEE O GOD DO WE GIVE THANKS.” Matthew 6:11 decorates the other side, saying, “GIVE US THIS DAY OUR DAILY BREAD.” Despite separating from the South Carolina Baptist Convention in 1992, Furman’s religious roots are still prominently displayed.
Adding to the historical significance of the dining hall is the recognition of a respected leader of the South known for both traditional southern values and willingness to defy societal pressures. Built by Daniel Construction Company for a fair price in the early 1950s, the dining hall was named for founder Charles E. Daniel (Canup and Workman 214). Daniel was famous for his work ethic and “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” mentality. In a 1954 article from Fortune magazine and reprinted in C.R. (Red) Canup’s and W.D. Workman Jr.’s Charles E. Daniel: His Philosophy and Legacy, writer Freeman Lincoln says of Daniel “…He never asks a favor in return,” and he “… is a worker who knows, cares about, and does almost nothing but work (53).” He also served as a South Carolina senator, and during the 1960 presidential election, he helped fundraise for President Richard Nixon’s campaign (Canup and Workman 206). Not only did Daniel provide donations and fundraising efforts, but he gave Nixon campaign advice and an invitation to South Carolina (Canup and Workman 206). This eventually led to Nixon’s stay at his home, White Oaks, which is now the home of Furman’s President.
Despite his adherence to some southern ideals, Daniel’s views of religion seemed to be less traditional. Lincoln writes on the next page of Charles E. Daniel, “On Sundays, when most of the good people of the Bible Belt go to church, Daniel works.” Another instance when Daniel’s thoughts were compellingly revealed occurred during the Nixon campaign when he was accused of campaigning against the opposing candidate, John F. Kennedy (Canup and Workman 206). There were rumors that Daniel had helped campaign against Kennedy because of his Catholicism, which had insufficient supporting evidence (Canup and Workman 206). He defended himself with the declaration, “‘I would be the last man in South Carolina to take part in any activity for or against any candidate on the basis of his religion (Canup and Workman 206).’” That a man with a strong disaffiliation from religion was so closely involved with a school still supported by the S.C. Baptist Convention at the time, and that still projects some Christian messages today, may seem confusing. However, this speaks to the long, complex, and still evolving process that is Furman University’s religious identity.
Student Author: Jillian Padgett
This point of interest is part of the tour: Hidden Histories of Furman University: Lake Walk