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Robert T. Ashmore Papers

 Collection
Identifier: SCU-SCPC-046
The Ashmore collection consists of 3.75 ft. of material, chiefly correspondence, speeches, and clippings of United States Congressman Robert T. Ashmore (1904-1989). Ashmore represented South Carolina’s 4th District in the United States House of Representatives between 1953 and 1969. Also included are records of his campaigns for office, 1935-1970, and work with the South Carolina Appalachian Council of Governments, 1970-1985.

General correspondence includes both personal and public correspondence. Letters written home from Washington, D.C. reflect some private expressions of the pressures and frustrations of public service. “I’m still mad because I didn’t get home this weekend and for July 4th. It was foolish to put so much mark on the docket for this time [season,] but the dumb leadership is trying to force Fed. Aid to Education, Civil Rights, etc. to a vote before we adjourn,” he complained on 1 July 1956. “Just a few lines to let you know I expect to be home next weekend for Memorial Day,” he wrote on 26 May 1957, “...but keep it quiet as I don’t want to make any speeches.” Correspondence written during World War II describes Ashmore’s experiences during his tour of duty in the Army Judge Advocate General Corps.

House of Representatives papers include copies of legislation sponsored by Ashmore, committee records on contested elections, 1965-1968, and topical files on subjects including communism and civil rights. Also included is the text of his press release announcing his decision in 1968 not to seek another term in the House. “I have been continuously engaged in public service since 1930....It has not only been a great privilege but the highest honor of my life to have been the beneficiary of the confidence, trust, and faith of the voters on so many occasions....I am announcing my retirement at this time so that the people of the Fourth District may have more than ample time to consider and choose my successor....When I entered Congress in June 1953, we were engaged in the Korean War, then came the Cold War, the Cuban Crisis, the advent of the Space Age, and the Viet Nam War. Each of these will probably be known as a land-mark in the history of mankind. Such events have not only been exciting but turbulent and dangerous....I have seen too many people, and particularly Members of Congress, postpone retirement until it was too late to enjoy a few years during the twilight of life. This I want to avoid.”

Speeches include two campaign speeches from 1954, relating the Congressman’s pride in his work in the House and for the District. “I have constantly worked and voted to eliminate waste and extravagance in Federal Spending, and, as most of you know, I have vigorously opposed the policy of trying to win foreign friends with the American taxpayer’s dollar,” he wrote on 2 June 1954. Notes for another speech conclude with what surely was a favorite joke: "A man’s mother-in-law dies in California. The undertaker there wires the son-in-law in South Carolina asking how he wants the body handled. 'Shall I embalm her, cremate her, or bury her?' The son-in-law responds immediately, “Do all three; take no chances” (4 March 1968).

Audiovisual materials include an audio tape containing a June 1966 CBS radio broadcast, Capitol Cloakroom, in which Ashmore is joined by fellow House Administration Committee member Charles E. Goodell to discuss a proposal from the President concerning campaign finance reform. Photographs from throughout Ashmore’s private and political career are present. Of note are two photographs believed to have been taken in Greenville and showing President Lyndon B. Johnson on a campaign whistle-stop with Ashmore and South Carolina’s senior senator, Olin D. Johnston.

Mrs. Ashmore is represented, under Family, with the texts of speeches she made in the 1960s, a memoir possibly compiled in the 1970s, and other materials.

Vertical File Materials contain information gathered by SCPC relating to Ashmore and may duplicate information already present in the collection.

Dates

  • 1914-2002

Creator

Access

Library Use Only

Extent

3.75 Linear Feet

Biographical Note

Robert T. Ashmore was born near Greenville on 22 February 1904. Raised on a farm, he attended public schools in Greenville. After graduating, Ashmore entered Furman University, working his way through school with a number of jobs including agricultural work, retail, and occasional work as a substitute mail carrier. Graduating from the Law School in 1927, he was admitted to the bar in January 1928. Practicing law in Greenville, Ashmore was elected solicitor of the Greenville County Court in 1930 and served in that position until 1934. In 1936 he became solicitor of the Thirteenth Circuit Court of South Carolina. In 1942 he married Willie Vance “Billy” Linthicum [1907-2002] of Atlanta, Georgia. The couple had one daughter, Nancy Vance.

In 1942, Ashmore took official leave from his duties as solicitor in order to volunteer for Army Service. Serving with the Judge Advocate General’s Corps, Ashmore attained the rank of lieutenant colonel in 1946. Leaving active duty in May of 1946 he joined the United State Army Reserve and was promoted to colonel in 1955. Following the War, Ashmore returned to service as solicitor of the Thirteenth Circuit Court. In 1947 he served as prosecutor in the well publicized trial of individuals involved in the Greenville lynching of Willie Earle.

Ashmore served as solicitor until 1953, when he was elected to fill the vacancy of the U.S. House of Representatives 4th District seat created by the death of Representative Joseph R. Bryson. Ashmore was re-elected in the next seven elections and served as Representative until January of 1969. Choosing not to run for re-election in 1968, Ashmore returned to Greenville to practice law. Between 1970 and 1973 he served as Chairman of the South Carolina Appalachian Council of Governments, the creation of which he had voted against while in the House. Ashmore died in Greenville on 5 October 1989.

Provenance

Donated by Mrs. Nancy Vance Ashmore Cooper

Copyright

Copyright of the Robert T. Ashmore Collection has been transferred to the University of South Carolina.

Campaigns

Campaigns:

1953 opposed by Robert C. Wasson, Charles C. Moore and three others

1954-60 unopposed in Democratic primaries

1962 opposed by Jim Workman

1964 opposed by Gordon Weathers

1966 unopposed in both primary and general elections

Timeline

Timeline:

1904 Born Feb. 22, near Greenville.

1927 Graduated from Furman Law School.

1928 Entered into practice of law in Greenville.

1930-34 Solicitor, Greenville Co.

1936-53 Solicitor, 13th judicial circuit.

1942 Married Willie Vance “Billy” Linthicum.

1942-46 Served in the U.S. Army, Judge Advocate General’s Corps, Dec. 1946,

1946, May attained the rank of Lt. Colonel

1953-69 elected to U.S. House from South Carolina’s 4th District to fill the vacancy created by the death of Joseph R. Bryson, served June-Jan. 3, 1969, was not a candidate for reelection in 1968

1969 resumed practice of law

1970-73 Chair, South Carolina Appalachian Council of Governments

Processing Information

Processed by Matthew McEniry; updated by Laura Koser, 2003; additions by H.J. Hartsook, 2007.

Repository Details

Part of the South Carolina Political Collections Repository

Contact:
Ernest F. Hollings Special Collections Library
1322 Greene St.
University of South Carolina
Columbia SC 29208 USA
803-777-0577

Status
Completed
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