The current issue of Statehouse Report included this photo with the caption:
The late House Speaker Sol Blatt, a key state leader from Barnwell County, is pictured in 1946, the year that gubernatorial candidate Strom Thurmond denigrated Blatt and his fellow Barnwell County leaders in a rough and tumble campaign. “This is the only Barnwell ring I know about,” Blatt quipped.
Blatt made that assertion in response to anti-Blatt campaigning. In 1946, Blatt easily secured re-election to his General Assembly seat from Barnwell County. However, Thurmond’s campaign was based largely on denigrating Blatt, the Barnwell delegation, and the rule of the “Barnwell Ring,” referring to the prominence of Barnwell County natives in state government. Blatt, physically ill and embittered by Thurmond’s attacks, decided not to run for the Speakership in the ensuing session of the General Assembly. However, he was successful in winning the office again for the 1951 session, and he remained in the Speaker’s chair for the next twenty-two years.
The Blatt papers are one of almost one hundred collections held by South Carolina Political Collections at the University of South Carolina.
Photo and caption originally appeared in the September 24, 2010, issue of Statehouse Report.
–contributed by Dorothy