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John Drummond Papers

Identifier: SCU-SCPC-JWD

The papers consist of seven series: Public, Opinion Editorials, Personal, Speeches, Audiovisual, Clippings (including 8 scrapbooks), and Vertical File Materials. The public papers chiefly document the last few years of Drummond‘s service in the Senate, particularly his work on veterans‘ issues. Also of interest are three folders on the sister-state relationship of South Carolina and Queensland, Australia, including material pertaining to Drummond‘s travel to Australia and correspondence with Australian leaders. Opinion Editorials date from 1992 to 2008.

Personal papers include materials relating to Drummond‘s military service in World War II, as well as his activities in veterans‘ groups and the reunions of his fighter squadron and group. The files include correspondence with other veterans, newsletters, and papers on the publication of a squadron history. Also present is information on Drummond‘s return visits to Gieville, France, where he had been shot down in 1944. A few contemporaneous documents are present in the "World War II" folder.

Speeches, consisting mostly of speech texts, date primarily from 1998 to 2008. The bulk of the loose clippings date from the 1980s through the early 2000s. The Clippings series also includes eight scrapbooks documenting the work of the State Reorganization Commission, circa 1971 to 1987. Audiovisual materials consist primarily of photographs, including a significant number from Drummond‘s travels to France. Vertical File Materials contain information gathered by SCPC relating to Drummond and may duplicate information already present in the collection.


  • 1944 - 2016



Library Use Only


5 Linear Feet


John Drummond represented the Greenwood area in the South Carolina Senate for more than forty years, including service as president pro tempore, before retiring in 2008. These papers contain material relating to this public service career and also include material on Drummond's stint as a World War II fighter pilot and his reunions with other veterans from his air group.

Biographical Note

"He‘s the last of the old guard. He always does what he thinks is right for the state, and he‘s never afraid of a fight. That‘s for sure." – Senator Glenn McConnell, R-Charleston, on John Drummond, 2007. At the time of McConnell‘s statement, Drummond was the most senior member of the South Carolina General Assembly, wrapping up a career of more than four decades in the state Senate, including service as president pro tempore.

Born September 29, 1919 in Greenwood, South Carolina, John Drummond was one of seven children of James William and Fannie Smith Drummond. He served as a fighter pilot in the 405th Fighter Group during World War II, including ten-months in a German prisoner of war camp after being shot down over France in 1944. For his service, he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, nine Air Medals, three Battle Stars, a Presidential Citation, and two Purple Hearts. In the 1990s, remnants of Drummond‘s fighter plane were discovered in Gieville, France, where Drummond subsequently visited as an honored guest of the townspeople.

Returning to his hometown of Ninety Six after the war, Drummond married Holly Self. He began his career in business by selling doughnuts, and then purchased an oil distributorship, a business he still owns and operates in 2010. The Drummonds had three children: Brick, Bob, and Dick.

Drummond first entered public office in 1965, when he took a seat in the South Carolina House of Representatives as a Democrat. The next year he was elected to the South Carolina Senate, where he would serve for more than forty years. One of his most important roles was as chairman of the State Reorganization Commission, which attempted to streamline and cut costs in all facets of state government. Drummond became a strong supporter of public education, and was an active member of various committees, including Labor, Commerce, and Industry and Finance, which he eventually chaired. His love of the outdoors prompted him to become an advocate for natural resources.

One of the hallmarks of Drummond‘s career in the General Assembly was his maverick streak, which helped him to earn the nickname "Bulldog." His inclination to look beyond party lines contributed to his reputation as one of the Senate‘s "renegades," and he took pride in having supported Republican Governor Carroll Campbell, whom he saw as a consensus builder and a forthright leader. He also led a "Democrats for [Strom] Thurmond" group.

On the Senate floor, he was known at times as "the filibuster king," and enjoyed some spirited and well-publicized clashes with colleagues. Drummond valued the traditionally deliberative and cooperative nature of the Senate. Encouraging the spirit of bipartisanship among his colleagues was a recurring theme for Drummond, especially in later years.

In 1996, Drummond became the president pro tempore of the Senate, stating: "It is my hope, and my intention, to use whatever means are available to promote unity and fairness among members of this Senate." The next few years, however, saw a number of party-line disputes over issues such as video poker and tax cuts. In 2001, control of the Senate went to the Republicans for the first time in 124 years. The immediate result was the end of the Senate tradition of allowing senior senators, regardless of party, to hold leadership positions. Drummond lost his positions as president pro tempore of the Senate, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee and member of the State Budget and Control Board.

Drummond continued to work for his district and on subjects he considered significant, including the disabled, natural resources, and veterans‘ issues. In 2002, he was honored with a portrait hung in the Senate chamber. In his remarks on that occasion, he said:

"As many days and years that I have spent in this chamber—and I think this is my 35th Senate—I never ceased to be thrilled to be in this chamber….I came to this Senate as something of a rebel, and I‘ll confess to that….They called me one of the renegades in those days, and I suppose I was. The important thing to me was the opportunity to exercise individual judgment and opinions, and that‘s what this Senate offered me, and all the other members…It was a place where differences could be discussed and debated. It was a place where people had respect for each other as human beings. It was a place where change could be accommodated in a spirit of civility."

In 2006, Drummond received the inaugural David Wilkins Award for Excellence in Legislative Leadership from Furman University. He retired from the Senate in 2008.


Donated by Senator John Drummond


Copyright of the John Drummond Papers has been transferred to the University of South Carolina.

Processing Information

Processed by Dorothy Hazelrigg, 2010.

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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