John C. West Exhibit
South Carolina Political Collections
South Caroliniana Library
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Contributions to S.C.

Contributions to South Carolina


Economic Development: The Perpetual Imperative

Throughout West's tenure in government, South Carolina's economic development has been a high priority. West and other leaders, including Governors Hollings and McNair, knew that a more highly developed and more diverse economy would address many of the state's needs. South Carolina had much to offer corporations seeking sites for industrial development, including rich natural resources and an underemployed labor force which had shown no interest in organized labor. And development meant fostering the growth of existing business and agriculture as well as seeking new industry.

West's first major success was in bringing the Elgin watch company to Blaney, now Elgin, S.C., in 1962. He attributes being elected to a then rare third and final term in the state Senate to that success. Continued success marked his terms as Lieutenant Governor and Governor.

"...As long as we can communicate, one with another, the changes will be understood and the progress will be achieved through the joint effort of men of good will working together for the ultimate benefit, not just for us, but for our posterity."

Societal Improvements
A constant in West's public service is his devotion to bettering the condition of all South Carolinians. This progressivism resulted in threats against his life and family while he was serving in the Senate. His efforts and successes in this regard while governor are one of the hallmarks of his administration.

Governor West embarked on fact-finding "Poverty Tours," which were designed to assess living conditions around the state. While Fritz Hollings' earlier tours had called attention to hunger in South Carolina, West's tours focused on housing as well as hunger. The State Housing Authority was created to address concerns publicized by these tours.

Another product of the tours was the "Privy Project." As West related, "A lot of the people did not have indoor plumbing. We designed an indoor facility that you could have even without running water, and we started a program to put those indoor facilities in the shacks that didn't have them. As I say, I got a lot of kidding, I called it the Governor's Privy Project."


Poverty Tour cartoonGov. West tours a hardscrabble home accompanied by Sen. Fritz Hollings in this cartoon from the early 1970s.

Cartoon from the Walt Lardner Collection.


A 1967 speech reflects West's optimistic determination to improve human relations - "The tensions will not disappear or solve themselves if ignored. They must be squarely faced and the solutions found bear directly upon the whole fabric of our society. The progress we have made, are making, and hopefully will achieve in the future, will be in direct proportion to the success we enjoy in solving the problems of race relationships in our state.... As long as we can communicate, one with another, the changes will be understood and the progress will be achieved through the joint effort of men of good will working together for the ultimate benefit, not just for us, but for our posterity." [1 Dec. 1967]


Highlights of Gubernatorial Service

Passage of:
  • Mandatory auto insurance for all drivers
  • Interstate Mining Compact


Creation of:
  • Coastal Zone Planning and Management Council
  • Housing Authority
  • Health Policy and Planning Council
  • Social Development Council
  • Commission on Human Relations


Reorganization of:
  • Governor's Office
  • Department of Labor
  • Department of Wildlife and Marine Resources

From: The Administration of John Carl West, by Douglas Carlisle
(Columbia, S.C.: [s.n.], 1975).
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