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James M. Waddell, Jr. Papers

Identifier: SCU-SCPC-JAMW

The James M. Waddell, Jr. Papers consist of 3.75 linear feet of material documenting the public service and personal life of Waddell. The collection is arranged in four series: Public Papers, Personal Papers, Audiovisual Material, and Clippings and Scrapbooks.

Public Papers include the 1998 Final Report of the Subcommittee to Investigate the Special Capital Gains Tax Provision. The report relates to an investigation into the controversial passage of a capital gains proviso in 1988 by the S.C. Senate, and Waddell gave testimony before the subcommittee. A separate folder relates to his resignation from the Senate to become a member of the South Carolina Tax Commission. Lobbyist Disclosure Statements, a Coastal Council Debate Book, and speeches also are filed with Public Papers.

The bulk of the Personal Papers is composed of general correspondence and other materials arranged chronologically. These include a number of letters he wrote to his parents from the Tennessee Military Institute, The Citadel, and during his wartime military service. The letters reveal a young man eager to experience life yet close to his parents and keenly interested in news from home. Waddell was an avid hunter and mentions hunting frequently. Major topical files relate to the 84th Infantry Division, the Mariculture Institute, and the South Carolina Youth Challenge Academy.

Audiovisual Material includes drawings of Waddell, photographs, and videocassettes. Among the photographs are several of South Carolina’s political notables. These include Carroll A. Campbell, Jr., W. J. Bryan Dorn, James B. Edwards, Ernest F. “Fritz” Hollings, Olin D. Johnston, Harriet H. Keyserling, Richard W. “Dick” Riley, George Bell Timmerman, and John C. West. Some videocassettes illustrate Waddell’s interest in coastal issues; and particularly the impact of Hurricane Hugo in 1989. Many videos document the latter years of Waddell’s political life and include five appearances on the SCETV program Capital View from 1987 to 1991. Memories, on DVD and VHS cassette, is a compilation of family home movie reels dating from 1957 to 1959. The label information from these reels is listed in an addendum on page nine.

The bulk of the clippings are from a variety of newspapers and magazines from the years 1988 to 1991 and cover issues important to Senator Waddell, especially the environment. Also included are clippings on Beaufort, Hilton Head, and Jasper County. Of note is a folder on “Operation Lost Trust,” a 1990 undercover investigation of vote-selling in state government. Clippings filed under James M. Waddell, Jr., document his heated 1988 campaign against Republican challenger J. Patrick Vanderhoof. Scrapbooks contain clippings and ephemera from 1971 to Feb. 1982.


  • 1887-1918, 1935-2004



Library Use Only


3.75 Linear Feet


James Madison Waddell, Jr., represented Beaufort and Jasper Counties as a Democrat in the South Carolina General Assembly for over thirty-five years. He was particularly interested in coastal conservation issues, and was founder and chairman of the South Carolina Coastal Council (now the Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management). In 1992 he resigned from the Senate to serve as an appointee of Governor Carroll Campbell on the state Tax Commission

Biographical Note

“He was a man of very great conviction and principle, and he devoted his life to public service. We will surely miss him.” So remarked former Governor Carroll Campbell upon hearing of the death of James Waddell in 2003. An obituary appearing in The State claimed that his vision “brought economic development, tax restructuring, coastal and wildlife protection and many personal freedoms to South Carolinians.” Representing Beaufort and Jasper Counties, Waddell served in the South Carolina General Assembly for over thirty-five years before resigning from the Senate in 1992 to serve on the state Tax Commission.

James Madison Waddell, Jr. was born November 1, 1922, in Boydell, Arkansas, to James M. (1893-1963) and Mable Maude Gibson Waddell (1899-1991). He attended elementary school in Greensboro, North Carolina, graduated from the Tennessee Military Institute in 1940 and subsequently entered The Citadel.

In 1943, Waddell was called to active duty in the Army and took basic training from May to October at Fort McClellan, Alabama. From December 1943 to May 1944 he took officer training at Fort Benning, Georgia. He also received training in 1944 at Camp Claiborne, Louisiana. From August 1944 to March 1945 he saw active duty in the European Theater as a platoon leader with Cannon Company, the 84th Infantry Division (“The Railsplitters”). In March he was hit in the leg by a shell fragment and was a patient in various hospitals from that time until October. In 1946 he was placed on the inactive list. Waddell received numerous military decorations including the Purple Heart, the Bronze Star, the EAME Ribbon and two battle stars.

He married Natalie Phyllis Lavis of Buffalo, New York, on January 2, 1946. They had three sons: James M., Michael G., and John S. Waddell. He later married Glenda Gail Roberts, a native of Anderson, South Carolina. Waddell graduated from The Citadel in 1947, worked briefly as a civil engineer, and then began a lifelong career in the insurance business. He served as a general agent with Pilot Life Insurance Company and as president of Landmark Insurance Group in Beaufort.

Waddell began his public service when he was elected to the South Carolina House as a Democrat in 1954. He served until 1958, when he left to manage the successful gubernatorial campaign of Ernest F. “Fritz” Hollings. In 1960 Waddell was elected to the state Senate and served there until 1992. Among the many committees on which he served were Agriculture, 1965-1975; Education, 1967-1984; Finance, 1967-1992, chair, 1988-1992; Fish, Game, and Forestry, 1967-1992, chair, 1976-1986; Rules, 1967-1975, 1981-1992; and Transportation, 1976-1992. He also served as chairman of the Joint Committee on Water Resources, chairman of the Joint Legislative Tax Commission, chairman of the Governor's Joint Committee on Mental Health and Mental Retardation, and chairman of the Joint Legislative Committee of Financing and Budgeting.

During his time in the General Assembly, Waddell’s power and influence grew steadily. Important legislation with which he is associated includes the Heritage Trust Act of 1976 and Coastal Zone Management Act of 1977. He was founder and chairman of the South Carolina Coastal Council (now the Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management). He was also a major force in creating the Sea Grant Consortium on South Carolina and establishing the Waddell Mariculture Research and Development Center near Hilton Head Island. In 1979 President Jimmy Carter appointed Waddell to the National Advisory Committee on Oceans and Atmosphere.

Waddell resigned from the Senate on January 14, 1992, to accept an appointment by Governor Carroll Campbell as one of three members of the South Carolina Tax Commission. At that time he was second in seniority in the Senate, after Marshall Williams of Orangeburg. Before his resignation, it was widely believed that he was on the verge of announcing his intention to become a Republican. Waddell retired February 1, 1995, when the Tax Commission was eliminated as part of government restructuring that resulted in the creation of the South Carolina Department of Revenue. He registered shortly thereafter as a lobbyist and worked for the beer, shrimp, video poker and other interests between 1995 and 2002.

Waddell was a close associate of Fritz Hollings and John C. West. In addition to Hollings’ 1958 gubernatorial campaign, Waddell managed his 1962 U.S. Senate campaign. Waddell also managed West’s 1970 gubernatorial campaign.

Waddell was a member of the American Legion, Disabled American Veterans Association, the Citadel Alumni Association, and Freemasons (Port Royal Lodge No. 242). He was a member and Elder of the First Presbyterian Church in Beaufort. Waddell served as chairman of the Board of Trustees, a life member and Trustee Emeritus of Clemson University. He was awarded honorary doctorate degrees from The Citadel (1972), Clemson (1983), MUSC (1985), and the University of South Carolina (1986). He was awarded the Order of the Palmetto by Governor David Beasley in 1995. Waddell passed away January 15, 2003, and was buried in Beaufort National Cemetery.


1922 born in Boydell, Arkansas to James M. and Mable Maude Gibson Waddell; attended schools in Greensboro, N.C.

1940 graduated from Tennessee Military Institute (Sweetwater, TN); enrolled at The Citadel

1942 joined Organized Reserve Corps at the Citadel

1943 called to active duty; Army training and service with 84th Infantry Division

1945 wounded in Germany

1946 married Natalie Phyllis Lavis; placed on inactive list with rank of Captain

1947 graduated from The Citadel with degree in civil engineering

1954 elected to South Carolina House as a Democrat, served to 1958

1960 elected to South Carolina Senate, served to 1992

1992 resigned from Senate to serve on South Carolina Tax Commission

1995 retired from South Carolina Tax Commission and registered as lobbyist; awarded Order of the Palmetto

2003 died in Columbia; buried Beaufort National Cemetery


Donated by the family of Senator Waddell.


Copyright of the James M. Waddell, Jr. Papers has been transferred to the University of South Carolina.

Processing Information

Processed by Kathryn Graham, 2006.


Repository Details

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

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