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Republican Party of South Carolina Papers

Identifier: SCU-SCPC-RPSC

The papers of the Republican Party of South Carolina document the Party's activities at the local, state, and national levels. Headquartered in Columbia, the Party's primary purposes are to promote the Party's interests throughout the state, provide campaign assistance to Republican candidates for state and national office, and liaison with the national and local Republican parties. Presently, the collection consists of 44 feet of material, primarily 1962 to 2001, and is arranged in eight series — Administrative, Auxiliary Organizations, Committees, Conventions, Elections, Opposition Research, Audio-Visual Materials, and Clippings. Records are periodically received from the party headquarters and added to the collection. Future additions are anticipated.

The Administrative series 1963-2000, documents the Party‘s organizational operations from and are arranged topically. Within each topic, records are listed chronologically. Subseries include Fundraising, Media, Party Leadership, Patronage and Publications. Fund raising is a principal activity of the state organization and is well documented in the collection. Fund raising events are listed by date and include the name of their guest speaker. News releases date from 1966 to 2001 and highlight the Party‘s stance on a range of subjects. Party Leadership materials document state officers and state chairmen. State Chairmen materials document the leadership of Jesse Cooksey, Katon Dawson, Harry Dent, J. Drake Edens Jr., D.A. Gardner, J. Bates Gerald, Raymond Harris, Vann D. Hipp Jr., Henry McMaster, C. Kenneth Powell, and Barry Wynn. Correspondence, speeches, and press releases are included within party leadership. Activities of early Republican leaders are also documented in correspondence from 1933 to 1949. Later correspondence, 1940 to 1950, documents the party under the leadership of J. Bates Gerald. Correspondents include Isaac Samuel Leevy (1877-1968) and Modjeska Monteith Simkins (1899-1992). Publications include party directories, 1969 to 1995, as well as newsletters and newspapers. The Auxiliary Organization series documents the activities of young Republicans in the South Carolina in various groups such as the Teenage Republicans and college level organizations, 1963-1992. Materials include officer lists, constitutions, publications and convention materials. Women‘s Republican organizations such as the National Federation of Republican Women, 1964 to 1970 are also present.

Committees represent both materials from the national and state level. Chief among the committee materials are the records of state Executive Committee, 1964 to 2002, and Rules Committee, 1966 to 2002. The Convention series document county, state, and national conventions, chiefly 1960 to 2002. Conventions are arranged by type and date. Materials include programs, delegate packets, and platform information. Earliest material included is from the 1936 state and national conventions.

The largest series, Elections, 1960 to 2001 chronicles the Party‘s role in support of local, state and national elections. Materials include filing forms, campaign materials, precinct certification forms, and election issues and elections results.

The Opposition Research series documents reference files on party challengers and arranged alphabetically. Significant material relates to Ernest F. "Fritz" Hollings and his reference files are arranged topically. Audio-Visual materials consist of cassette tapes, VHS tapes, and photographs. Items are arranged by format. Cassette and VHS tapes include party campaign ads and GOPAC training materials. Photographs include party events, officials, and members, including shots of an Eisenhower rally, c. 1952, and a visit to South Carolina by California Governor Ronald Reagan in 1967.

Clippings consist of news articles related to conventions, elections, and issues, 1940 to 2002. Convention clippings document both Republican and Democratic conventions. Early Republican convention clippings are represented by competing Republican factions from 1940 to 1950. Election clippings are arranged by type and year and include general assembly, local, congressional, presidential and state office elections. Issues are arranged topically and consist of reference files representing a wide variety of topics.


  • 1932-2016



Copyright of the Republican Party of South Carolina papers has been transferred to the University of South Carolina.


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The papers of the Republican Party of South Carolina document the Party's activities at the local, state, and national levels. Headquartered in Columbia, the Party's primary purposes are to promote the Party's interests throughout the state, provide campaign assistance to Republican candidates for state and national office, and liaison with the national and local Republican parties.

Organization History

The state Party was formally organized on March 7, 1867, in Charleston as the Union Republican Party of South Carolina. The Party dominated South Carolina politics for the duration of Reconstruction from 1868 to 1876, when the Party lost influence in the south.

Among these early papers is correspondence of party activist and Sumter attorney Marion W. Seabrook (d. 1947). Seabrook‘s correspondents include Party leaders such as state chairman Dallas Gardner of Orangeburg, national committeeman J.C. Hambright of Rock Hill, Greenville banker George Norwood, J. Bates Gerald of Summerton, and National Committee chairman John Hamilton. The disputed seating of delegates to the 1936 National Convention held in Cleveland and its aftermath is documented in great detail. At that convention, Joseph "Tieless Joe" Tolbert forces were seated in preference to the "regular" party delegates, which included Seabrook. State Vice-Chairman Gisbourne J. Cherry (1869-1939) of Charleston wrote Hambright, 20 June, "…you and Gardner ran the Republican Party in South Carolina as a two men [sic] party. You didn‘t take the rest of us in your confidence as you should have and when you needed some help you didn't have it… With kindest regards and best wishes and remember you wasn't the only one that got it in the neck at Cleveland." Seabrook wrote on 8 July, "We think that the biggest opportunity in many a year is now presented to do something in this State for the republican Party, if we had an organization that we could conscientiously expound to the people…but this Tolbert situation is a sword thrust in our side."

The bitter nature of this division is captured in a letter from National Committeewoman Clara Harrigal of Aiken, who wrote Seabrook, 11 July, "We had a respectable organization in this State but the party at Cleveland saw fit to unseat us & put in that thieving unprincipled Tolbert who wanted the job for the patronage. He had it for years and all that he did was to sell the Federal jobs. And why he appointed negro chairman was to do his dirty work… To be frank, I am thru. Lemke, the Third party man will be the next President of the U.S.A. [North Dakota congressman William Lemke (1878-1950) was the Union Party nominee for President in 1936. He finished third with more than 880,000 votes]."

The battle for control of the Party in South Carolina is documented in these papers through the year 1938. Seabrook wrote on August 16, 1937, "We have consistently carried on the fight to re-recognition, and never intend to give up… If the good people of this State could only be brought to realize what it would mean to them to have two competitive parties, they would lend us a hand."

The first Republican elected to a major office in South Carolina in modern times was Charles E. Boineau of Columbia. In 1960, Boineau was elected to represent Richland County in the State House. The first statewide race for the Republicans came in 1962, when newsman William D. Workman, Jr., ran for the U.S. Senate against incumbent Senator Olin D. Johnston. Workman received a respectable 42.7% of the vote.

That year also saw the first major Democratic elected official switch to the Republican Party. Floyd D. Spence had represented Lexington County in the S.C. House as a Democrat, when he switched parties in 1962 and campaigned for the second district seat in the U.S. Congress. He did not win that year, but in 1966 he was elected to the S.C. Senate as a Republican. He succeeded in his Congressional campaign in 1970 and served there until his death in 2001.

These forays into the state's political waters proved the time was ripe for a second party to make waves in the Democratic stronghold of South Carolina. Between 1964 and 1966 a number of prominent South Carolina Democrats became Republicans, including Senator Strom Thurmond, Congressman Albert Watson, State Senator Marshall Parker, and State Representative Joseph Rogers.

Early Republican attempts at the governorship proved unsuccessful for Joseph Rogers, who ran against incumbent Democrat Robert McNair in 1966, and Albert Watson, who could not beat Lt. Governor John C. West for the position in 1970. It wasn’t until 1974 that James B. Edwards defeated Gen. William Westmoreland in the primary and the Democratic candidate, former Congressman W.J. Bryan Dorn, in the general election to become the first Republican governor of South Carolina since Reconstruction. Four of the six governors since then have been Republicans.


Donated by the Republican Party of South Carolina

Timeline of State Chairmen

Dates Chairman c. 1925-1931 Joseph W. "Tie-Less Joe" Tolbert c. 1932-1936 D.A. Gardner 1938-1952 J. Bates Gerald 1958-1962 Gregory D. Shorey, Jr. 1963-1965 J. Drake Edens, Jr. 1965-1968 Harry S. Dent 1968-1971 Raymond A. Harris 1971-1974 C. Kenneth Powell 1974-1976 Jesse L. Cooksey 1976-1980 Daniel I. Ross, Jr. 1980-1986 Dr. George G. Graham 1987-1989 Van D. Hipp, Jr. 1990-1993 Barry D. Wynn 1993-2002 Henry McMaster 2002-2009 Katon Dawson 2009-2011 Karen Floyd 2011-2013 Chad Connelly 2013-2017 Matt Moore 2017- Drew McKissick

Processing Information

Processed by Matthew McEniry, 1991; updated by Kate Moore, 2007; additions by Allison Hughes and Debbie Todd, 2009-2010; additions by Cody Willis, 2012; updated by Kate Moore, 2013; additions 2019, by Jillian Smith and Mike Berry

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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