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Senator's Thanksgiving cards show a softer side of politics


From left: "Gate to Old Plantation in Jasper County," by golf landscape artist
Linda Hartough, c. 2000; "Carolina Low Country Shrimper" by
Thomas Baldwin, Peasty Hollings' nephew, 1995; and
"Gone Fishin'" also by Baldwin, 2003

For many years, instead of sending holiday cards in December, Sen. Ernest F. “Fritz” Hollings and his wife Rita “Peatsy” Liddy Hollings sent Thanksgiving cards in November.

"Aren’t these fun?” asks Herb Hartsook, director of South Carolina Political Collections, where the cards reside. “Some of them are just beautiful. Most members of Congress send holiday greetings to long lists of fellow legislators, constituents, and other government officials, as well as to personal friends. For some years Sen. and Mrs. Hollings, rather than sending greetings at Christmas, did so for Thanksgiving.

"The Hollings Collection is our largest collection and our signature collection," Hartsook says. "Some of his Thanksgiving cards came as part of his own collection, some were received among the papers of other SCPC donors such as former Congressman Butler Derrick and former Governor Dick Riley, and some were sent to me. Every year a number of our donors add to our trove of holiday cards.”

This c. 1990s card features a photo of
the U.S. Capitol by Tennessee Congressman
Howard Baker, who also served as White House
Chief of Staff for President Ronald Reagan.
Watercolor by Thomas Baldwin, c. 1998

What, exactly, does one write in a Thanksgiving card? Sen. and Mrs. Hollings always had a kind word:

“As we celebrate this Thanksgiving with our family, we wish for you a blessing on your home; and extend our appreciation for your friendship.”

"May this Thanksgiving remind each of us how much we appreciate the country in which we live.”

"From the South Carolina Low Country we send you Thanksgiving Greetings. What the Creator has abundantly given to us from the land and the sea, let us have the wisdom to give to our grandchildren."

And at least one included a civics lesson:

"Thanksgiving is observed in the United States on the fourth Thursday in November by an Act of Congress in 1941."

All of the cards can be seen by contacting South Carolina Political Collections.