Discovering and exploring the many treasures of South Carolina

Governors of South Carolina- 1669 to the Present


   South Carolina has long been known for her passionate and sometimes controversial politics. Our state government has persevered through the trying times of the American Revolution, Nullification, Civil War and the Civil Rights movement. The words of Rutledge, Middleton, Thurmond, Byrnes, Hollings and Riley still reverberate the walls of the state house. This is a complete list of South Carolina governors that spans the reign of King Charles II to the current administration of President Obama. Their dates of service and a short description of an important event that occurred during their administration are listed.


William Sayle                             1669-71               Appointed 1st gov. in 1669, arrived with settlers in March 1670       

Joseph West                              1671-72               Held office for 10 of colony’s first 15 years

Sir John Yeamans                    1672-74               Died just before “proprietary orders” removed him from office

Joseph West                              1674-82               2nd Term as Governor

Joseph Morton                           1682-84               Clashed with Goose Creek Men during administration  

Sir Richard Kyrle                        1684                    Short term helped temporarily alleviate political chaos

Joseph West                              1684-85               3rd Term as Governor

Robert Quary                              1685                     Served for three months before J.Morton took office

Joseph Morton                           1685-86               2nd Term as Governor

James Colleton                         1686-90               Impeached by the General Assembly and banished in 1690

Seth Sothell                                1690-92               More “humane” slave laws were passed; progressive governor

Phillip Ludwell                           1692-93               Served as Speaker of Virginia’s House of Burgesses

Thomas Smith                           1693-94               Honorable man that served as planter, merchant and surgeon

Joseph Blake                             1694-95               Uncle Robert Blake was the “Father of the Royal Navy”

John Archdale                            1695-96               Devout Quaker that introduced “rice culture” to the colony

Joseph Blake                             1696-00               2nd Term as Governor

James Moore                             1700-03               Made several attacks on Spanish Florida

Sir Nathaniel Johnson             1703-09               Introduced silk culture, son was Gov. Robert Johnson       

Edward Tynte                             1709-10               Act passed to establish free school for colonists

Robert Gibbes                           1710-12               English Barbadian was one of first settlers at Albemarle Point

Charles Craven                         1712-16               Created SC’s first professional army during Yamassee War

Robert Daniell                           1716-17                Privateer honorably served King William III, Prince of Orange

Robert Johnson                        1717-19                Eliminated Pirate threat in SC including Stede Bonnet

James Moore, Jr.                      1719-21                Last Proprietary Governor, son of Gov. James Moore


Sir Francis Nicholson              1721-25                Popular governor until he tried to “incorporate” Charles Town

Arthur Middleton                        1725-30                Appointed Deputy on the Proprietary Council of Carolina

Robert Johnson                        1730-35                Nicknamed “Good Governor” Johnson by colonists

Thomas Broughton                  1735-37                Built Moncks Corner’s grand Mulberry Plantation

William Bull                                1737-43                Lieutenant  Governor    

James Glen                               1743-56                 Negotiated Saluda Old Town Treaty                             

Sir William Lyttleton                 1756-60                 Later served as Governor of Jamaica

William Bull                               1760-61                 Lieutenant Governor

Thomas Boone                         1761-64                 Also served as Royal Governor of New Jersey

William Bull                               1764-66                  Lieutenant Governor

Lord Charles Montagu            1766-68                 Good and fair governor; fought for Crown during Revolution

William Bull                               1768                        Lieutenant Governor

Lord Charles Montagu            1768-69                 2nd Term as Governor

William Bull                               1769-71                  Lieutenant Governor

Lord Charles Montagu            1771-73                 3rd Term as Governor

William Bull                               1773-75                  Lieutenant Governor

Lord William Campbell           1775                       Last Royal Governor of SC


John Rutledge                          1776-78                 Vital figure in the Stamp Act Congress

Rawlins Lowndes                    1778-79                 New constitution dissolved Church of England in SC

John Rutledge                          1779-82                 2nd Term as Governor

John Mathews                          1782-83                 Patriots seized control of Charles Town from British

Benjamin Guerard                   1783-85                 First French Huguenot to be elected as Governor

William Moultrie                        1785-87                 Designed early state flag; repulsed british at Sullivan’s Island

Thomas Pinckney                    1787-89                 U.S. Minister to United Kingdom 1792-96

Charles Pinckney                     1789-92                 Narrowly defeated by Thomas Jefferson for VP in 1796

William Moultrie                        1792-94                 2nd Term as Governor

Arnoldus Vanderhorst             1794-96                 Officer under Francis Marion during the Revolution

Charles Pinckney                     1796-98                 2nd Term as Governor

Edward Rutledge                     1798-00                  Youngest signer of the Declaration of Independence

John Drayton                             1800-02                 Santee Canal completed during his tenure

James Richardson                  1802-04                 Charleston Courier (Post & Courier) was founded

Paul Hamilton                           1804-06                  Served as U.S. Secretary of the Navy

Charles Pinckney                     1806-08                  3rd Term as Governor

John Drayton                             1808-10                  2nd Term as Governor

Henry Middleton                        1810-12                  Father Arthur signed the Declaration of Independence

Joseph Alston                           1812-14                   Wife was Theodosia Burr Alston, daughter of Aaron Burr

David Williams                          1814-16                   Built South Carolina’s first cotton mill

Andrew Pickens, Jr.                 1816-18                    Son of famed “Wizard Owl” Andrew Pickens

John Geddes                            1818-20                    Congress outlawed African slave trade in 1820

Thomas Bennett, Jr.                1820-22                    Marlboro County seat Bennettsville named for Bennett

John Wilson                              1822-24                    Was known for his support of “dueling”

Richard Manning I                    1824-26                    First in the line of Manning family governors

John Taylor                                1826-28                    Director of Columbia Theological Seminary

Stephen Miller                           1828-30                    Father of Confederate diarist Mary Boykin Chesnut

James Hamilton, Jr.                1830-32                    Drowned in TX after yielding lifeboat seat to woman and child

Robert Hayne                            1832-34                    Famous for debate with Senator Daniel Webster of Mass.

George McDuffie                       1834-36                    Fought in two duels while serving in congress

Pierce Butler                              1836-38                    Killed at Battle of Churubusco in Mexican-American War

Patrick Noble                             1838-40                    Practiced law with John C. Calhoun

Barnabas Henagan                  1840                         Served as SC Secretary of State from 1846-50

John Richardson II                   1840-42                   SC Military Academy established (The Citadel) 

James Hammond                    1842-44                   Hammond’s Redcliffe Plantation is a state historic site

William Aiken, Jr.                      1844-46                   1st President of SC Canal & Railroad Company

David Johnson                          1846-48                    Wilmot Proviso introduced in congress, did not pass

Whitemarsh Seabrook            1848-50                    Wrote the History of the Cotton Plant

John H. Means                          1850-52                    Killed in action at the Battle of 2nd Manassas

John L. Manning                       1852-54                    Manning, SC named for Governor Manning

James H. Adams                      1854-56                   Signed the Ordinance of Secession in 1860

R.F.W. Alston                             1856-58                    Won medal at Paris Exposition for rice cultivation

William H. Gist                          1858-60                    South Carolina’s ”Secession Governor”

Francis W. Pickens                  1860-62                    Governor when Civil War began

Milledge L. Bonham                 1862-64                    Confederate general; brother of Alamo hero James Bonham

A.G. Magrath                               1864-65                    Last Confederate Governor

Benjamin F. Perry                     1865                           Unionist appointed by President Andrew Johnson

James L. Orr                              1865-68                     Minister to Russia under Ulysses S. Grant

Robert K. Scott                           1868-72                     Brigadier General in Union Army during Civil War

Franklin J. Moses, Jr.                1872-74                     Lowered the U.S. flag from Fort Sumter in 1861

Daniel H. Chamberlain             1874-76                    Was Professor at Cornell University

Wade Hampton III                      1877-79                    Cavalry wizard, known as the “Saviour of South Carolina”

W.D.  Simpson                           1879-80                     Chief Justice of the SC Supreme Court

Thomas B. Jeter                         1880                           President Pro Tempore of South Carolina Senate

Johnson Hagood                       1880-82                     The Citadel’s football stadium bears Gov. Hagood’s name

Hugh S. Thompson                   1882-86                     Was Comptroller of New York Life Insurance Company

John C. Sheppard                      1886                           President of the Edgefield Bank of SC

John Richardson III                   1886-90                      Noted for fluent and “charming” speech writing

Benjamin R. Tillman                 1890-94                      Helped establish Clemson College in 1889

John G. Evans                            1894-97                      Nephew of Red Shirt leader Martin W. Gary

W. H. Ellerbe                               1897-99                      General Assembly established a state income tax

Miles B. McSweeney                  1899-03                      Big supporter of public schools and higher education

Duncan C. Heyward                  1903-07                       Helped pass Child Labor laws

Martin F. Ansel                            1907-11                       Parents were German immigrants

Coleman L. Blease                   1911-15                       Henry Timrod’s “Carolina” adopted as state song

Charles A. Smith                        1915                             Served shortest term as governor (five days)

Richard I. Manning  III               1915-19                        Popular 2 term governor, grandfather was also governor

Robert A. Cooper                       1919-22                        U.S. District Judge for Puerto Rico 1934-47

Wilson G. Harvey                       1922-23                        Served as Mayor of Charleston in 1902

Thomas G. McLeod                  1923-27                         President of the Bishopville Telephone Company

John G. Richards                      1927-31                         State’s 1st radio station premiered in 1930

Ibra C. Blackwood                     1931-35                         Santee Cooper project was started

Olin D. Johnston                        1935-39                         Proposed bills to help aide state’s textile workers

Burnett R. Maybank                   1939-41                         Palmetto was designated as our state tree

J.E. Harley                                   1941-42                         Member of the “Barnwell Ring”

R.M. Jefferies                              1942-43                         Was editor of Walterboro Press & Standard

Olin D. Johnston                        1943-45                         2nd Term as Governor

Ransome J. Williams               1945-47                         Was a pharmacist and graduate of MUSC                        

J. Strom Thurmond                    1947-51                        1st President pro tempore emeritus of U.S. Senate

James F.  Byrnes                       1951-55                         U.S. Secretary of State under Harry Truman

George B. Timmerman             1955-59                        Served as Lt. Gov. from 1947-55

Ernest “Fritz” Hollings                1959-63                        Served as U.S. Senator from 1966-2005         

Donald Russell                           1963-65                        U.S. District judge under President Johnson

Robert E. McNair                         1965-71                        Worked for civil rights and school integration 

John C. West                               1971-75                         Ambassador to Saudi Arabia from 1977-81

James B. Edwards                     1975-79                        First elected Republican governor since Reconstruction

Richard W. Riley                          1979-87                        U.S. Secretary of Education from 1993-01 under Bill Clinton

Carroll A. Campbell                    1987-95                        Brought BMW to the Upstate in early 1990′s

David M. Beasley                         1995-99                        Youngest Speaker Pro Tempore in SC House of Rep.

James H. Hodges                       1999-03                       1st candidate to defeat incumbent in gen. election since 1876

Marshall C. “Mark” Sanford        2003-11                       Was a top GOP candidate in 2012 until June ’09 scandal    

Nimrata “Nikki” R. Haley             2011-                           First Female Governor in South Carolina History

INDIGO BLUE NOTES: The above photo features Confederate General Wade Hampton keeping watch above his beloved state house. Wade Hampton, a brilliant cavalry wizard during the Civil War, served as the first post-Reconstruction governor of South Carolina. Hampton’s name is prevelantly featured throughout the entire state. Maxi and I live less than a mile from Wade Hampton Boulevard, the stretch of Hwy. 29 that connects Greenville to Spartanburg.

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1 Comment

  1. Very interesting. Had no idea that many govs. Why did c smith only serve 5 days?

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