Gubernatorial Inaugurations

Since the state was settled by the English in 1670, South Carolina has had 93 governors—some of whose collections are held by SCPC. In 1865, James Lawrence Orr became the state’s first governor to be elected by popular vote. As Cole Blease Graham, Jr. notes in the South Carolina Encyclopedia, prior governors were appointed by the Lords Proprietors (1670-1719), the British crown (1719-1776), the General Assembly (1776-1865), and the president of the United States (30 Jun.-29 Nov. 1865). South Carolina’s gubernatorial election will take place this November.

According to South Carolina’s constitution, gubernatorial inaugurations are set for the “first Wednesday following the second Tuesday in January next after [an] election.” It seems a fitting time of year to acknowledge yet another contribution Workman’s collection adds to South Carolina’s photographic history: gubernatorial inaugurations of the 1950s. We are pleased to share images of James F. Byrnes’ inauguration in 1951, George Bell Timmerman’s inauguration in 1955, and Ernest F. Hollings’ inauguration in 1959.

Four men, two in judicial-style robes and two in suits and ties, stand at the front of a crowd. The South Carolina State House steps, upon which many people are standing, is visible in the background.

James F. Byrnes stands in front of the statehouse with Sen. Edgar Brown, former Governor Strom Thurmond, Lt. Gov. George Bell Timmerman, Jr., and Judge Charles Cecil Wyche, 16 Jan. 1951.


Timmerman stands in front of microphones and between the US and South Carolina flags. The State House is visible in the background, its steps filled with onlookers.

George Bell Timmerman, Jr. gives his inaugural address, 18 Jan. 1955.


Several men walk down the South Carolina State House steps while being photographed. Inauguration attendees look on.

“Inauguration of Gov. Ernest F. Hollings – [20] Jan. 1959; Descending (center) outgoing Gov. George Bell Timmerman Jr. and Gov. Hollings.”

By Mae Howe


Reprocessing and digitization of the William D. Workman, Jr. Papers photographs has been made possible by a grant from the National Historical Publications & Records Commission.

Top to bottom: black-and-white illustration of eagle statue, text: "National Archives," divider, text: "National Historical Publications and Records Commission."

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