Investigations

Calhoun Books

The Case:

A South Carolina man has a beautiful eight-volume set of Edward Gibbon’s famous History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire that he acquired inexpensively at a local library sale in Edgefield, South Carolina.

Dated 1789, these early volumes of the History are inscribed with the signature of John C. Calhoun. Could these possibly be the books of the famed 19th-century political giant and intellectual architect of the Confederacy?

Along with Daniel Webster of Massachusetts and Henry Clay of Kentucky, Calhoun was part of The Great Triumvirate of statesmen who set the terms of debate on the most challenging issues of their time, including banking, state’s rights, westward expansion, and slavery.

History Detectives heads to South Carolina to dig deep into these books to learn more about their possible original owner and shed light on the thinking of one of the most powerful politicians in 19th-century America.


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Aired:
Season 4, Episode 4

Detective:
Gwen Wright Location:
Spartanburg, South Carolina

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