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Carolina Story: Virtual Museum of University History

Cornelia Phillips Spencer (1826-1908)

During Reconstruction, Cornelia Phillips Spencer, the daughter of one professor and the sister of two others, emerged as a key supporter of the university. Educated in her mother's school, Spencer loved to read and avidly followed politics and public affairs. In 1865, President Swain recruited her to write a book defending him and his political allies from charges that they had surrendered too quickly to Union forces. When the state and the university came under Republican control, Spencer published a stream of harshly worded newspaper stories to defend white supremacy and attack the "carpetbaggers."