Edens, J. Drake, Jr. (1925-1982)
Papers, 1943-1982, 1.25 ft.
J. Drake Edens is recognized by many as the father of the modern Republican Party in South Carolina, creating its structure. He campaigned for Charles E. Boineau, Jr., William D. Workman, Jr., Barry Goldwater, Albert Watson, and Richard Nixon. He served as chair of the Republican Party of South Carolina, 1963-1965, and Republican National Committeeman for South Carolina, 1965-1972. During World War II, Edens served in the Marine Corps from 1943 to 1946, seeing action in the Pacific Theater.
Collection Finding Aid (pdf, 4 pages)
The small collection chiefly consists of correspondence relating to his leadership roles in the state and national Party, a significant portion of which relate to his efforts on Richard M. Nixon’s 1968 presidential campaign.
Related Oral History Transcript (pdf, 39 pages)
Martha Edens has been a well-known Republican figure in the state since the 1950s, serving as National Committeewoman for South Carolina and as Chair of the Richland County Republican Party. Her brother, J. Drake Edens, Jr. was state Party chairman from 1963-1965. In this 2000 interview, she talks about leadership roles in her sorority and community organizations and explains how she became involved in politics. She attributes her involvement to inheriting her father's ideology and observing the work of her brother. She discussed her brother's commitment to the Party and describes the resurgent Party's early days and its members, commenting on Charles Boineau, Gayle Averyt, Bill Workman, Carroll Campbell and others. She shares a particular fondness for Floyd Spence and Strom Thurmond, as well as her admiration for current notables Joe Wilson and Mark Sanford. She describes numerous campaigns and many of the Republican National Conventions she attended, including in 1972 and 1996. She talks about the obstacles she faced as a woman in politics and why she feels the Republican Party is welcoming to women.