Date of Award

12-2006

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Legacy Department

History

Advisor

Shockley, Megan T.

Abstract

The Lebanese families who arrived in South Carolina found themselves in a different environment than most had anticipated. Those who had spent time elsewhere in the U.S. found predominantly rural and predominantly Protestant South Carolina to be almost as alien as they or their parents had found the United States due partly to the religious differences and partly to the cultural differences between the Northeast, where most of them had lived for at least a few years after arriving in the United States, and the Southeast. Most of these new arrivals eventually found success and some degree of acceptance, but some returned to the North, some returned to the Middle East, and some decided to seek their fortunes elsewhere in the United States.
South Carolina history is usually presented in popular fora as being the history of two races, each of one of which consisted of one ethnic group, and both of which were and are entirely Protestant. This is not the case. South Carolina began with three races - American Indian, white, and African-American - and with multiple ethnic groups within each race. Most existing historical information is about the white component of South Carolina's population, and from this historical information, the English and Huguenot whites were joined very early by Sephardic Jews, then by the Scots-Irish and the Germans, and later by the Irish, more Germans, Swedes, Chinese, Italians, Greeks - and Lebanese.
Greenville provides an excellent case study because it has a large Lebanese community and because it became both a transportation and an industrial center shortly before Lebanese immigrants began to arrive. Like Charleston, Greenville had a large immigrant community for South Carolina, but the majority of its non-immigrant population was born in the Carolinas or Georgia. Greenville, unlike Charleston and many other Southern cities was both slow to enact legal segregation and relaxed about enforcing it.
There is almost no published academic material on Lebanese Christians in the South. There is a 1940s article about the Lebanese community in an unnamed Southern town as well as an article about the Lebanese community in Birmingham, Alabama. The sole academic publication on Lebanese Christians in the Carolinas is a dissertation on the Greeks and Lebanese in the Carolinas, mainly Columbia, South Carolina, and Charlotte, North Carolina, between 1900 and 1940.

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