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Olin D. Johnston

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Olin D. Johnston
Olin D. Johnston, seated portrait.jpg
United States Senator
from South Carolina
In office
January 3, 1945 – April 18, 1965
Preceded byWilton E. Hall
Succeeded byDonald S. Russell
98th Governor of South Carolina
In office
January 19, 1943 – January 2, 1945
LieutenantRansome J. Williams
Preceded byRichard M. Jefferies
Succeeded byRansome J. Williams
In office
January 15, 1935 – January 17, 1939
LieutenantJoseph E. Harley
Preceded byIbra C. Blackwood
Succeeded byBurnet R. Maybank
Member of the South Carolina House of Representatives from Spartanburg County
In office
January 11, 1927 – January 13, 1931
Member of the South Carolina House of Representatives from Anderson County
In office
January 9, 1923 – January 13, 1925
Personal details
Olin DeWitt Talmadge Johnston

(1896-11-18)November 18, 1896
Near Honea Path, South Carolina
DiedApril 18, 1965(1965-04-18) (aged 68)
Columbia, South Carolina
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)Gladys Atkinson (m.1924-1965; his death)
ChildrenElizabeth Johnston Patterson,[1] Sallie Leigh Johnston[1] and Olin Johnston Jr.[1]
Alma materWofford College (BA)
University of South Carolina (M.A., LL.B.)
Military service
AllegianceUnited States of America
Branch/serviceUnited States Army National Guard
Years of service1917 – 1919
Unit117th Engineer Unit
Battles/warsWorld War I

Olin DeWitt Talmadge Johnston (November 18, 1896 – April 18, 1965) was a Democratic Party politician from the US state of South Carolina. He served as the 98th Governor of South Carolina, 1935–1939 and 1943–1945, and represented the state in the United States Senate from 1945 until his death from pneumonia in Columbia, South Carolina in 1965.

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Last Sunday we were out here with hundreds of those critters! Oh, they'll be here again. (male speaker) He's a typical South Carolinian, a typical Charlestonian. (male #2) We'd call him, affectionately, the "bull-headed Dutchman." I don't see any shrimp boats, but see that tanker? Where? See it way out there? (male #3) In any office, after being governor, he would have made many, many contributions to South Carolina. (female speaker) Fritz is so serious about the work that he does. (male #4) He's probably the most respected legislator up here. ♪ (Fritz Hollings) I never had any idea about being remembered. Just conscientious and hard-working. What a man'll do in politics is best proved by what he's done. Performance is better than promise. ♪ (male narrator) Ernest Frederick Hollings was born in Charleston, South Carolina, on New Year's Day, 1922, the fourth of five children. He finished public school at 16 and graduated from the Citadel in 1942. He served during World War II in North Africa and Europe in the Army and left as a captain. After receiving a law degree from the University of South Carolina, he began politics. Fritz's father used to have a... a distributor, a store in Charleston that he sold stuff to these country stores, and my father liked Fritz's father very much. He wouldn't buy nothing from nobody except what Mr. Hollings sold. In the Depression, he went broke. We all pitched in, trying to keep things going, but he ended up as a salesman, and he traveled around to the same stores he served. When I got out on the trail, I didn't know how much that meant, but whether or not you could get your card at that cash register-- they'd look at me and say, "Are you Bubba Hollings's boy?" "If you're half as honest as your daddy, put your cards there; we'll get you some votes." He didn't leave me one cent in actual money, but he left me a millionaire in reputation. (narrator) In 1948, Fritz Hollings was elected to the South Carolina House of Representatives, serving as speaker pro tempore for three years. The United States Junior Chamber of Commerce selected him as one of America's Ten Outstanding Young Men in 1954. That same year, he became one of South Carolina's youngest lieutenant governors. (male speaker) Hollings entered American politics at a time when there was an opportunity to make change, and the essential ingredient in making that change was enthusiasm and energy and the willingness and the will to do it. (narrator) In 1958, he ran against former University of South Carolina President Donald Russell in the Democratic primary for governor. Hollings won and became the state's chief executive officer at 37. We all have a mutual challenge, one mutual goal, and that is for South Carolina to provide the best opportunity for its citizens. (male speaker) When Senator Hollings became governor in 1959, the state was faced with a deficit, and he recognized that we could not attract industry if we did not have the state on a sound financial basis. (narrator) By raising taxes and cutting spending, South Carolina, under Hollings, balanced the state's budget, achieving the triple-A credit rating. The governor then went after jobs. Governor Luther Hodges was our chief competition from North Carolina, and we would try to stay ahead of Luther Hodges and get there before he did. (Fritz Hollings) You've got to position yourself. Fourteen thousand Chambers of Commerce, Committees of One Hundred are filing into New York saying, "We'll cook you a barbecue... moonlight and magnolias." That's nonsense. They want to get their operation into the black. (male speaker) Fritz was a one-man sales team, and he went into California to meet with some upper-level management people in a national industry and pretty well sold them with his articulate nature and personality and promised them that we could do a number of things that would be covered by the technical education program. The only thing, at that time, there was no such program in South Carolina. But he says, "We will do this," and then he saw that we did. (West) That's when the technical training program was born. We decided that we would have a program designed to train workers for specific industries, and we also would develop a program of technical-vocational centers that would service every area of the state. [heavy machinery rumbling] (Fritz Hollings) I never had an industry say, "You promised, but you didn't perform." (narrator) Industry brought over $700 million and 40,000 new jobs to the state. Other issues included education, insurance, mental health, and concerns of textile workers and farmers. ♪ While many Southern politicians spoke of states' rights and condemned integration, Hollings took another stance as he left the governor's office. (male speaker) Here we are in 1963, and his other colleagues throughout the South, the other governors, were making very popular stands against racial integration. Fritz Hollings had the courage to say to the people of South Carolina, "We must integrate our colleges peacefully." It was so tense, you could just sense it. He said, "We are a government of laws, not of men. "Harvey Gantt will be admitted to Clemson. There will be no violence." [band playing "Dixie"] [crowd cheering] (Fritz Hollings) Senator Kennedy's record of running to represent all sections of this nation and his record of service to all sections of this nation is unquestioned. (Riley) He is the reason that John F. Kennedy carried South Carolina by 10,000 votes in 1960. Hollings put his reputation on the line. He stumped the state for John F. Kennedy, and it's the reason that Kennedy won. That might have cost Hollings the Senate race in '62. (male speaker) I got interested in politics in my teen age. I determined then that I was going into politics and try to do something for the working people of this state. And part of the concern for now and the future is, shall we continue to tolerate Senator Johnston in the United States Senate? And this must be decided now, in June, not in November. We must ask, frankly, has he represented South Carolina, or has he just represented himself? Hollings' decision to challenge Olin D. Johnston is probably one of the bravest acts of his political career. I don't know if he would consider it brave or perhaps even foolhardy because the senator had been in office for a very long time, he had a great deal of seniority, and he had powerful committee posts. And I think in the final analysis, Senator Hollings would agree that he really never had a chance, and he did lose very badly in that election. ♪ [indistinct lyrics] ♪ Fritz Hollings! [crowd cheering and screaming] Republicanism says, Throw your sticks away here in our Southland and shout loudly. Holler to the top of your voice, and then run around in circles with the old Navy expression, "When in danger, when in doubt, run in circles, scream and shout." I want to direct your attention to my record of performance in a little more a year. The 1966 primary was different, quite different in that both Russell and Hollings had run against each other once before. Hollings defeated Russell in that election in 1958, and the primary was such that people in South Carolina were disturbed over the fact that Russell had been responsible for his own appointment to the U.S. Senate. (narrator) Hollings defeated Russell in the primary, but encountered a tougher win in the general election against Republican Marshall Parker. As Hollings took office, it was a time of wars: a war on poverty, and a war in Vietnam. (Terry) He came back and was called to the White House almost immediately after his return. Lyndon Johnson was there to greet him, and he said, "Well, what did you think?" And Senator Hollings said, "If we don't bomb some particular targets, "it's going to be a long, unpopular war, "and we're not gonna win this war the way it's being fought now." ...many good reasons not to have a declaration of war. The President, acting as commander in chief, has the full support of the Congress. To say this war's unconstitutional is not the fact and is not the law. Well, it is shocking that in 1968, it's still this bad. We were the lowest per capita income state second from the bottom, it's not a surprise at all that we do have poverty. But the housing conditions, they are no less than shocking. (male speaker) Fritz Hollings actually came out, spent days going from home to home, looking in refrigerators, looking at the roofs that were actually leaking, met with families, saw the areas where water was not available and inadequate sanitary facilities did exist, or none in existence at all. He showed his caringness with finesse, with professionalism, with tact, with concern, and with wisdom. ♪ (narrator) The poverty tours led to a book... and an agenda, which included nutrition for poor women and children, further development of the food stamp and Medicaid programs, and the addition of low-cost, preventative health care. From a moral standpoint, the compassion that he had for the people. The need was clearly identified at the time, and he took the initiative to do something and make a change. (narrator) In social areas, some observers would say Hollings is a liberal. In other areas, a conservative. Fritz Hollings knows more about the federal budget than any person in the country, bar none. If you eliminated the Budget Committee, the President, the Congress, the courts, the FBI, the drug enforcement program, the environment program, your nuclear waste program, the Department of the Interior, the Indian program, all foreign aid, and just eliminated the loss to government, at this minute, we're spending $100 billion more than we'd be taking in. (narrator) As senior member of the Budget Committee, Hollings has led numerous initiatives to curb deficit spending. In 1985, he coauthored the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Reduction Act, so-called the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings bill. Its intention was to balance the federal budget by 1991. Let me let our colleague Fritz Hollings and then the cosponsors of this bill make a statement... Fritz. I'm glad to join Senator Gramm and Senator Rudman. I'm an endangered species. I have voted for a balanced budget as a member of Congress. ♪ ♪ (narrator) Efforts to protect the South Carolina textile industry urged fairness and competition, pushing Congress to pass a bipartisan, comprehensive trade policy. [marchers chanting] One thing that the import of textiles was doing was cutting the standards of workers in this country. We couldn't compete with a dollar an hour in some places and 27 cents an hour in other places. So his main concern was taking care of the people he represented. Why is...textile bill that you're supporting so important? The bill is so important actually to enforce these 34 agreements. We have 34 bilaterals. The mentality in the Congress is that we deserve to go out of business. Read the "New Republic" and these magazine articles for this sophisticate, Georgetown, drawing room crowd. We're gone if we don't sober up. Senator Ernest Hollings of South Carolina is tall, white-haired, shoulders back, chin up, a bit of a Southern accent, and now, in addition, a candidate for President. I am announcing today my candidacy for the Presidency of the United States. [cheering and applause] [cheering and applause] (male speaker) I think he ran for President because he thought that this government could accomplish something. It galls him to see people come into town who don't like government: "I want to preside over government, but I don't like government." That is fundamentally repulsive to Senator Hollings. He thinks disciplined, well-administered government has a positive role to play in moving this country forward, in educating its people, in making us competitive in the economic marketplace, and he believes that that resource has to be hands-on leadership. It's the vehicle to serve the country. (male voice-over) On February 28th, the people of New Hampshire will go to the polls and send a message to the American people. Let's make sure that message makes sense. Fritz Hollings for President. (narrator) The path to the White House ended in New Hampshire. Frankly, I think part of it was that he was a Southerner, and I think that that hurt. It was controlling, but it certainly wasn't an advantage. Secondly, he is a maverick. In the midst of that campaign, there were seven or eight people running, and everybody had their solution for this and that, and he says, "Why don't we freeze the budget?" That was one of the principal things that he advocated, and it seemed so simple that all of the Washington gurus couldn't quite buy it, and its great premise was in its simplicity. Third, and this is not quite so complimentary, he has a habit-- not a habit, but an inclination sometimes to say the wrong things and to use the wrong expression, and he gets himself into political difficulty, and he did that a couple of times. Fourth, there is the money problem, and fifth, he is very much a hands-on person. He really, really likes to have control of what he's doing, and he never was willing in his own mind to delegate and to give up enough responsibility in that campaign to other people so that he could do what he can do best. (narrator) Today, the junior senator from South Carolina is the sixth-ranking member in the Senate. While not the power of the White House, it reaches far. Here in the Senate, where important roles tend to come as much from your committee assignments as anything else, Fritz, of course, has two powerful committee assignments due to his seniority. He is chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee. That is a very important committee. Lots of legislation comes out of that committee. Many issues affecting this country and the world come out of that committee. He also is chairman on a committee that I'm now the ranking member called Commerce, State, Justice Subcommittee of Appropriations. That committee is a huge budget dealing with some of the most important agencies in the country. So he and I have a dual role of fashioning legislation, and that is a terrific power base to get things done. I could authorize everything in the world. I could be on the "Today" show and "Good Morning America" and on the Sunday talk shows, talking about my plan for the drug enforcement policy of America. I get all done, and I get everybody to vote for it, and then it goes over to Fritz Hollings. Fritz is the guy that says, "This works; this doesn't." Bum-bum-bum, zip-zip, he cuts it out, and he appropriates the money. [rockets booming] (narrator) As chairman of Commerce, Science, and Transportation, Hollings oversees NASA. Do we have an ordered mission for NASA over five to ten years to know where we're headed? (narrator) Railroads. Does Conrail intend to sue the union for furnishing a drunk driver? (narrator) The oceans and environment. I'm worried about the performance of the Coast Guard and keeping the reserve up. (narrator) And broadcasting. I want to rock! (narrator) Rock videos were shown at a 1985 Senate hearing. I...would tell you it's outrageous filth. (narrator) Hollings does not hesitate to use his debating skills learned as a trial lawyer. My question is, would the Soviet Union, if they pursued that, what would their step be? What do you think they're gonna do? They're gonna continue, I guess. (Kerry) They're gonna continue. (Fritz Hollings) Right. And if they continue, what will our response be? We're gonna continue. We live in the real world. You don't need arms control agreements. As you said, "This ABM Treaty defends us." Hooey! That's already been violated. (narrator) Such debates of international conflicts paled when Hollings' own Charleston faced a new threat. When Hugo hit South Carolina in September 1989, he became the chief critic of FEMA. (Riley) Fritz Hollings was an absolute tiger on behalf of the state of South Carolina after the hurricane. People were wringing their hands and saying, "It's not going too well with FEMA," and doggone it, Hollings said, "My people in South Carolina are hurting," and he had the courage to speak up for us. (narrator) A longer storm with more devastating effect is that of drugs and its impact on America. The 1990 statewide drug hearings, held before the Appropriations Committee chaired by Hollings, resulted in increased federal funding to South Carolina to fight substance abuse. So that's what we'll do. But we need to call March of Dimes and ask to keep reporting in about the reservations so we'll have some idea. (narrator) Rita Louise Liddy-- "Peatsy"--and Fritz were married in 1971. She is one of the few congressional wives who not only works in her husband's office but also travels with him. Nice to see you. (Peatsy Hollings) Because I'm involved in what goes on in the office, I'm not just going to stand there, "Hi, how are you?" I can just get right in there, and I enjoy that. Now, I'm careful that if I disagree with Fritz that I do not talk about it because he's the one that's elected to office. So I don't disagree with him publicly, but I do disagree with him privately, and I lobby, but he listens to me like he listens to any other constituent. Peatsy is my best calling card. I tell you right now, she is the best. She started in public education as a teacher in Florida and South Carolina and in the rural areas too. And she continues to teach; I'm the pupil. She is powerfully interested in everything we do and the best called-on in Washington to give a talk to the bankers' group, to the saving and loan, to the farmers' wives when they come 'cause she can talk on all these different subjects, but she can give you an update on this budget. She reads everything. You've got the intellectual genius that can read a book a day just by turning the pages, and then you've got the sensitive genius. When somebody dies, I say, "Well, I sure am sorry." When you say that, she's hurt. She's a sensitive genius. (male speaker) You know me, sir? Yes, sirree! (Fritz Hollings) You see us on the weekend, at social events, on the floor of the United States Senate. One thing South Carolinians won't stand for is some two-faced, dubious public servant. Even if they don't agree with you, they appreciate the truth and standing for what you believe in. I think that's what's got me elected five times. They know where I stand. (Mitchell) He fights for what he believes in. He speaks out. And he has what I think is that rarest of things in American politics: independence of judgment. Fritz Hollings is nobody's man. Now, what's the rush while it's working... while it's working on the President's blockade where we can keep them together? We need to redeploy. We need to get all of those ground forces of the United States off that desert. Leave the 200,000 Arab forces there, not as a trigger, but as a bait. We've got our Air Force. We'll keep them and the Navy there, and if Saddam comes over, we'll really have an Arab versus Arab war, and we'd get some credibility in this thing, and then we might win, but we've made it an American war, an American attack, and an American invasion, a superpower against a third-world country, for oil. When Fritz votes, you know that the only thing that is dictating his vote is his conscience. Senator Hollings does not mind offending people if he thinks that his position is correct and if what he's looking for is the right thing to do. He really does not hesitate to go against the grain. He's been a terrific senator in my book. I know one thing: He is my friend, and I know I'm his. And I know he's a good man. There's nothing in the world he could gain to be a friend of mine, nothing political or economical or religious. There's nothing that he could gain for being a friend of a poor thing as I am but if he wasn't a good man. (Peatsy Hollings) I think he likes what he's doing because there are too many opportunities that come, maybe not every day, but very often, to do something else that would be far more lucrative financially for him, but he loves what he's doing, and he thinks that he really is making a difference. [seagulls screeching] (narrator) Senator Fritz Hollings is in his fifth term, ranked sixth in seniority after over 40 years in public office. [seagulls screeching] ♪ ♪ Captioned by: CompuScripts Captioning, Inc. ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪


Early life

Johnston was born near Honea Path, South Carolina[2] in Anderson County. His family maintained a farm and worked in the Chiquola Manufacturing Company's textile mill.[2] Johnston's youth was divided between schooling, work on the farm, and work in the mill.[2] He could attend school only while the family was on the farm, usually in the summer.[2] Johnston eventually enrolled in the Textile Industrial Institute, now Spartanburg Methodist College, in Spartanburg and here Johnston earned his high school diploma in thirteen months, graduating in 1915.[2] He entered Wofford College in the fall of 1915, where he worked his way through school by holding a variety of jobs,[2] but his studies were interrupted by service in the United States Army during World War I.[2]

Military involvement

Johnston enlisted in the Army National Guard in 1917 and served with the 117th Engineer unit, which was attached to the 42nd Division,[2] the Rainbow Division,[2] in France. He served eighteen months overseas and attained the rank of sergeant.[2] Following his discharge in June 1919,[2] he returned to Wofford where he received his bachelor's degree in 1921.[2] In the fall of 1921, Johnston entered the University of South Carolina where he earned both an M.A. in Political Science in 1923 and an LL.B. in 1924.[2] That same year established the law firm of Faucette and Johnston in Spartanburg, and in December, married Gladys Atkinson of Spartanburg.[2] She would serve throughout his career as his most trusted counselor.[2]


In 1922, while still attending college,[2] Johnston was elected to the South Carolina House of Representatives as a Democrat and represented Anderson County for one term before he stepped down in 1924 to run his law practice.[2] He was elected to the same body in 1927 as a representative from Spartanburg County and served for two terms.[2] Johnston proved a capable and popular campaigner.[2] As a young legislator, Johnston was an advocate of the state's textile mill workers, and his major accomplishment was shepherding a law that required mill owners to install sewers in mill villages.

Johnston made his first campaign for governor in 1930, and led the slate of candidates in the primary, but lost by around 1,000 votes in the runoff election. Undeterred by the loss, he ran again and was elected Governor of South Carolina in 1934, serving for one term. In his inaugural address of 1935, Johnston stated--"This occasion marks the end of what is commonly known as 'ring rule' in South Carolina."[2] Among his achievements as governor were the repeal of the state's personal property tax;[2] the initiation in South Carolina of the country's first rural electrification program,[2] a pilot program personally authorized by President Roosevelt;[2] the $3.00 license plate;[2] and the establishment of the Industrial Commission, Labor Department, Planning and Development Board, and Ports Authority.[2]

On taking office, Johnston proposed a series of bills to aid the state's textile workers. An ardent New Dealer, he managed to push his legislative program through the state house of representatives only to meet defeat in the Lowcountry-dominated state senate. In what has become the most famous fight between a governor and legislature in South Carolina history, Johnston tried to dismiss a number of members of the powerful State Highway Commission. After the commissioners refused to leave their posts, Johnston mobilized the National Guard to occupy the offices of the Highway Department. Ultimately, he lost his battle with the Highway Commission, and severely wounded his already poor relationship with the legislature. Johnston lost his power to name highway commissioners, a power that the governor's office has never regained.

In 1935, Johnston passed the Alcoholic Beverage Control Law to regulate the sale of alcohol in the state following the end of national prohibition.[3] In 1937, he signed the South Carolina Public Welfare Act into law[3] and established a state system for social security,[4] worker's compensation[4] and unemployment compensation.[4] Where previous governors used the National Guard and martial law to crush strikes,[4] Johnston used both to protect strikers and seal off mill precincts from strikebreakers.[4] He often forced management to accept him as mediator and occasionally found state jobs for strikers whom mills refused to rehire.[4]

Unable to run for re-election in 1938, Johnston challenged "Cotton Ed" Smith for his seat in the United States Senate. The race brought national interest, as Smith had developed into an opponent of the New Deal and Johnston was a strong supporter. Smith was one of the senators whom President Franklin D. Roosevelt attempted to purge. Ultimately, Johnston lost the race to Smith. However, it was widely accepted that Smith was highly unpopular in South Carolina[5][6] and that Johnston would have won the primary if Roosevelt had not intervened on his behalf[5][6] or if he had focused on either pleasing the state's influential textile mill owners[5] or preserving racial segregation.[5] Though Johnston did not defend rights for African Americans,[7] he would largely ignore the issue of preserving racial segregation,[5][8] believing that improving the public welfare was more important.[8] Meanwhile, Smith had opposed Roosevelt's labor reform and for years campaigned on a two-plank platform to "keep the Negro down and the price of cotton up,"[6] and had recently demonstrated that he intended to maintain his fight to preserve racial segregation after he had walked out of the 1936 Democratic National Convention when he heard that a black minister was going to deliver the invocation.[3][6]

Following Roosevelt's re-election, Johnston drew more ire from the state's local businessmen when he showed his support for the President's new push for labor reform and outspokenly supported the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938.[9][10] South Carolina US Senator James F. Byrnes, though also an ardent New Dealer, opposed this new push, claiming it would make the state's textile mills uncompetitive.[9][10] As a result of Johnston's support for new labor reform, Byrnes—a highly popular and influential figure in the state who won re-election in the 1936 Democratic primary with over 87% of the vote--[11] declined to endorse Johnston and instead supported the re-election of Smith.[10] Following his loss in 1938, Johnston then ran for the Senate in a 1941 special election to replace Byrnes, who had just been appointed to the Supreme Court, but lost to South Carolina Governor Burnet R. Maybank.

Johnston was elected Governor of South Carolina again in 1942.[2] He won a narrow victory in the Democratic primary, and ran unopposed in the general election. However, he still desired a Senate seat.[2] The outbreak of World War II meant that labor issues would not be as prominent in Johnston's second term. During that second term, he focused more on preserving racial segregation and signed laws which attempted to circumvent the Smith v. Allwright decision, which declared racially segregated primaries to be unconstitutional, by allowing political parties in the state to operate as private organizations separate from state control and therefore beyond the reach of the U.S. Supreme Court.[3] He served until his resignation on January 3, 1945, the same day he was sworn into the U.S. Senate seat that he had been seeking for several years.[2]

Johnston had finally been elected to the Senate in 1944, defeating "Cotton Ed" Smith in a rematch of their 1938 race. He was subsequently re-elected three times and served in the Senate until his death in 1965.[2] Johnston served on the committees on Agriculture and Forestry, District of Columbia, Judiciary, and Post Office and Civil Service.[2] He became chairman of the Post Office and Civil Service Committee in 1950 and gained the nickname "Mr. Civil Service" for his leadership on that committee and dedication to the needs and interests of postal and other federal employees.[2] He also joined with fellow Southerners as part of the conservative Southern Democratic coalition.

Johnston was not as conservative as most other Senators from the Deep South, retaining a populist position on many economic issues. In the Senate, Johnston was a staunch advocate of public power,[2] parity programs for farmers,[2] a broad strong social security program,[2] and the provision of lunches to needy school children.[2] He also generally opposed foreign aid, viewing it as support of foreign interests at the expense of American industry and consumers.[2] Unlike most Southern Democrats, Johnston opposed the anti-union Taft-Hartley labor law in 1947 and he voted for both the War on Poverty in 1964 and for Medicare shortly before his death in 1965. However, like virtually all other politicians from the Deep South during this period, Johnston was regionally orthodox on the "race question", opposing all civil rights legislation and signing the 1956 Southern Manifesto that opposed the desegregation of public schools ordered by the Supreme Court in Brown v. Board of Education.

While not a prominent figure nationally, Johnston was very well entrenched in his home state. He may be the only Senator to have defeated two future Senators. He retained his seat despite challenges from Strom Thurmond in the Democratic primary in 1950 and Ernest Hollings in the 1962 primary. He then turned aside the first Republican challenger, journalist W. D. Workman, Jr. In each of these races Johnston was the more liberal candidate. Hollings, who was governor in 1962, attacked Johnston as "the tool of the Northern labor bosses", but Johnston defeated Hollings by a 2–1 margin.

He also denied clemency to George Stinney, a 14 year-old boy who was sentenced to execution by the electric chair in 1944.[12] Stinney had been wrongfully convicted for the murder of two girls aged 7 and 11 in his hometown of Alcolu, South Carolina. Johnston wrote in a response to one appeal for clemency that

It may be interesting for you to know that Stinney killed the smaller girl to rape the larger one. Then he killed the larger girl and raped her dead body. Twenty minutes later he returned and attempted to rape her again, but her body was too cold. All of this he admitted himself.

It is reported that these statements were merely rumours, and were contradicted at the time by the medical examination report on the girl's body.[13]


Johnston died on April 18, 1965, following a long battle with cancer.[2] In eulogizing Johnston, his longtime associate, Senator George Aiken of Vermont, noted – "During his entire career in the Senate, he worked for those who needed his help most and whom it would have been easy to ignore and neglect." At the dedication of the Johnston Room at the South Caroliniana Library, Governor Robert McNair described Johnston as "a working man, and those who made his public life possible were working people....He was a man of conviction who arrived at a time when hard decisions had to be made."[2] Johnston was interred in a cemetery at Barkers Creek Baptist Church, where he attended Sunday services during his boyhood years,[1] near Honea Path, South Carolina.[1]

Johnston's daughter, Elizabeth Johnston Patterson, served in the U.S. House of Representatives from South Carolina's 4th congressional district from 1987 to 1993. In the 1986 general election she defeated Mayor Bill Workman of Greenville, the son of the man whom her father had defeated in his last race for the U.S. Senate in 1962. Patterson was the unsuccessful 1994 Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor.

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e "Barkers Creek Baptist Church Marker". Retrieved February 26, 2015.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al "Olin DeWitt Talmadge Johnston" (PDF). October 17, 2011. Retrieved February 26, 2015.
  3. ^ a b c d "South Carolina SC - Olin Dewitt Talmadge Johnston - 1935-1939, 1943-1945". Retrieved February 26, 2015.
  4. ^ a b c d e f "Olin D. Johnston Memorial Boulevard Marker". Retrieved February 26, 2015.
  5. ^ a b c d e "The Pittsburgh Press - Google News Archive Search". Retrieved February 26, 2015.
  6. ^ a b c d "Curtains for Cotton Ed". Time. August 7, 1944. Retrieved May 10, 2012.
  7. ^ Bryant Simon, A fabric of defeat: the politics of South Carolina millhands, 1910–1948, p. 205
  8. ^ a b Bryant Simon, A fabric of defeat: the politics of South Carolina millhands, 1910–1948, p. 205-206
  9. ^ a b Storrs, L.R.Y. (2000). Civilizing Capitalism: The National Consumers' League, Women's Activism, and Labor Standards in the New Deal Era. University of North Carolina Press. p. 158. ISBN 9780807848388. Retrieved February 26, 2015.
  10. ^ a b c Bryant Simon, A fabric of defeat: the politics of South Carolina millhands, 1910–1948, p. 212
  11. ^ "POLITICAL NOTES: Southern Send-Off". Time. September 7, 1936.
  12. ^ Jones, Mark R. (2007). "Chapter Five: Too Young to Die: The Execution of George Stinney Jr. (1944)". South Carolina Killers: Crimes of Passion. The History Press. pp. 38–42. ISBN 978-1-59629-395-3. Retrieved November 24, 2014.
  13. ^ McVeigh, Karen (March 22, 2014). "George Stinney was executed at 14. Can his family now clear his name?". The Observer. Archived from the original on March 19, 2016.

External links

U.S. Senate
Preceded by
Wilton E. Hall
 U.S. Senator (Class 3) from South Carolina
January 3, 1945 – April 18, 1965
Served alongside: Burnet R. Maybank, Charles Ezra Daniel, Strom Thurmond, Thomas A. Wofford, Strom Thurmond
Succeeded by
Donald S. Russell
Political offices
Preceded by
Ibra Charles Blackwood
Governor of South Carolina
Succeeded by
Burnet R. Maybank
Preceded by
Richard Manning Jefferies
Governor of South Carolina
Succeeded by
Ransome Judson Williams
This page was last edited on 14 January 2020, at 09:46
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