The Legal series includes material on Culbertson’s involvement with a number of legal associations, among them the South Carolina Bar, the National Lawyers’ Guild, and the National Association of Claimants’ and Compensation Attorneys, the forerunner to the modern American Association for Justice. Culbertson spoke before the NACCA’s national meeting in 1951, stating that textile manufacturers largely controlled South Carolina’s economy and took advantage of the state’s low wages and lack of unionization. In response, he was denounced by the industry’s Textile Bulletin as an “unsuccessful ambulance chaser.” The series also includes files on Culbertson’s law practice, including calendars, memoranda, and information on his branch office in Rock Hill, out of which he handled many of his labor union cases. The papers show indications of the professional adversity he faced as a result of some of his political opinions and activities.
Of note is a 1959 exchange with J.E. Neily of the West Publishing Company, supplier of some of Culbertson’s legal publications, who wrote about the arrears on his account. Culbertson responded: "Because of the nice tenor of your letter of October 2, 1959, I am taking the time to explain my situation. Ordinarily I would not do this because I have been beaten over the head so much lately that I have become more or less inured to criticism. All my difficulties have come about by reason of the fact that I have taken a public stand in South Carolina in support of the decision of the United States Supreme Court on the matter of integration. I felt that this was the only honorable course I could follow....I never experienced before now what it means to go against local mores and community sentiment, but I can assure you that I have been baptized with fire. Out of self-respect, I was forced to dissolve my partnership. Up to the point of taking this public stand, I had, I think, perhaps the largest workmen’s compensation practice of any attorney in South Carolina, and had several lawyers associated with my firm...But when I took my stand, the business suddenly dropped off... Without any understanding with my partners or associates, I walked out of the office and left everything there...." Neily replied: "...We can appreciate in view of the circumstances outlined in your letter that maintaining the courage of your convictions has been a costly ordeal. It is indeed very gratifying to learn that despite these adversities you are successfully re-establishing yourself in the practice without any sacrifice of your principles to expediency. Certainly we wish to assist you in any way we can and as a practical expression of our desire to be helpful in respect to your law book account we cheerfully declare a moratorium on this obligation until February 1, 1960."
The Legal series also includes topical files on judgeships, the bulk of the material consisting of Culbertson’s efforts for or against various candidates. Also included is a letter, 8 October 1966, from civil rights activist Modjeska Simkins to President Lyndon B. Johnson, suggesting that Culbertson himself be appointed as a federal judge: "Mr. Culbertson fought for civil rights here in South Carolina and from rostrums in many parts of the Nation long before the issue became of national interest. In many of our counties, at the risk of his life, he fought to place and did place Negroes in Jury Service for the first time in history. The cases with racial overtones that no other lawyer, white or black, would accept, he has fought repeatedly....Since the death of Olin D. Johnston, whom we always supported because he remained faithful to the National Party, the only other white Democrat who publicly and unalterably supports the National Party is John Bolt Culbertson....Mr. Culbertson is beloved by all the Negro people here because he has suffered for us, and for that has felt the whiplash of indignity in the same way that we have carried that burden."
- circa 1886 - 2012
Library use only
From the Collection: 31 Linear Feet
- From the Collection: Culbertson, John Bolt, 1908-1983 (Person)
- From the Collection: Humphrey, Hubert H. (Hubert Horatio), 1911-1978 (Correspondent, Person)
- From the Collection: Simkins, Modjeska Monteith, 1899-1992 (Correspondent, Person)
- From the Collection: Waring, Julius Waties, 1880-1968 (Correspondent, Person)
- From the Collection: Jackson, Jesse, 1941- (Correspondent, Person)
- From the Collection: McCray, John Henry, 1910-1987 (Correspondent, Person)
Part of the South Carolina Political Collections Repository
Ernest F. Hollings Special Collections Library
1322 Greene St.
University of South Carolina
Columbia SC 29208 USA