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Elizabeth Patterson papers, ca. 1964-1994

"Liz Patterson has introduced a controversial, gutsy bill to reform the cumbersome federal budget process," wrote a reporter for The State, 24 October 1989. Describing the Budget Simplification and Reform Act, the Columbia newspaper reporter defined the essence of Elizabeth Johnston Patterson's political career. A champion of budget reform and deficit reduction, Patterson represented South Carolina's Fourth Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives between 1987 and 1993.

Elizabeth Johnston Patterson, born in Columbia on 18 November 1939, grew up in the world of politics. The daughter of former South Carolina governor and U.S. Senator Olin D. Johnston, she was equally comfortable in her father's Washington, D.C., office or at home in South Carolina. Patterson graduated from Spartanburg High School and, in 1961, from Columbia College. Never far from the world of politics, she worked as a staff assistant for Congressman James R. Mann in 1969 and 1970. In 1975, she won election to complete an unexpired term on the Spartanburg County Council. While on the Council, perhaps a harbinger of her later activities in the South Carolina Senate and the U.S. House Representatives, Patterson scrutinized the county budget, "trimmed the fat off the bone," and avoided a county tax increase.

A proponent of government fiscal responsibility, improved health care services and better education for the people of South Carolina, Patterson was elected to the state Senate from Spartanburg in December 1979. She served on the Governor's Task Force on Hunger and Nutrition and worked tirelessly on behalf of education and against drug abuse.

In 1986 Patterson ran for Congress and defeated favored Republican candidate and Greenville mayor William Workman III. She served three terms in the House. Because of her interest in budget reform, Patterson was appointed to chair the Conservative Democratic Forum's Budget Reform Task Force and to the Speaker's Task Force on Budget Reform. She served as a member of the Committee on Banking, Finance, and Urban Affairs and its subcommittees. Patterson involved herself in U.S. trade issues and was appointed to the Banking Committee's Task Force on International Competitiveness, analyzing strategies enabling the U.S. to remain a leader in world markets. Patterson served as a member of the bi-partisan Congressional Textile Caucus and was appointed its chair in 1992. Other committee assignments included Veterans' Affairs and the Select Committee on Hunger.

A member of the One Woman/One Vote National Women's Advisory Committee for the Clinton/Gore Presidential Campaign, Patterson also served as a state delegate to the 1992 Democratic National Convention. Patterson's re-election campaigns were each hard fought as the district tended Republican, and her defeat to Republican challenger Bob Inglis surprised many who had watched the race. Undaunted, Patterson re-entered the political arena in 1994, seeking the office of Lieutenant Governor. While winning a hotly contested Democratic primary, she ultimately lost to the tide of Republican victories in the general election.

The collection consists of ten linear feet, ca. 1964-1994, chiefly 1988-1992, arranged in four series: Public, Personal, Clippings, and Audio-Visual Materials. The majority of Patterson's papers relate to her tenure in the U.S. House of Representatives, although some files date from her service in the General Assembly. General Papers include incoming correspondence concerning various legislative issues, reports, staff memoranda, speeches, and "dear colleague" letters.

Topical files reflect her service on the Committee on Banking, Finance, and Urban Affairs, the Conservative Democratic Forum, the Democratic Leadership Council, Democratic Caucus and as chair of the Congressional Textile Caucus. Statements made by Patterson in committee hearings, correspondence, reports and background materials on issues such as balancing the budget, taxes, free trade, and fiscal responsibility are examples of materials found in these folders. Textile files document both Patterson's membership in, and 1992 chairmanship of, the Congressional Textile Caucus. Included are the caucus' constitution and by-laws as well as materials relating to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), and both the U.S. and South Carolina textile industries.

Patterson's efforts relating to the Greenville Southern Connector Road Project, an approximately seventy-six million dollar project to provide a limited access interstate highway in southwestern Greenville county, are well documented.

Personal Papers primarily consist of campaign materials. These records, although fragmentary, document Patterson's 1979 state senate race, her 1990 and 1992 campaigns for re-election to the House, and her bid in 1994 for lieutenant governor. "Election Analysis, 1988 to 1990" provides a consultant's analysis of election results and Patterson's popularity and identifies target groups for the next campaign. Her 1993 service on South Carolina's Blue Ribbon Transportation Committee, more familiarly known as the Transportation 2000 Committee, is also represented here.

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