James B. Edwards

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James Burrows Edwards
James B. Edwards.jpg
3rd United States Secretary of Energy
In office
January 23, 1981 – November 5, 1982
President Ronald Reagan
Preceded by Charles Duncan, Jr.
Succeeded by Donald P. Hodel
110th Governor of South Carolina
In office
January 21, 1975 – January 10, 1979
Lieutenant W. Brantley Harvey, Jr.
Preceded by John C. West
Succeeded by Richard Riley
Member of the South Carolina Senate from the 13th District
In office
January 9, 1973 – December 6, 1974
Personal details
Born (1927-06-24) June 24, 1927 (age 87)
Hawthorne, Florida
Nationality American
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Ann Darlington Edwards (since 1951)
Alma mater College of Charleston (B.A.)
University of Louisville (D.M.D.)
University of Pennsylvania
Profession Oral Surgeon
Military service
Service/branch United States Maritime Service
United States Navy
Battles/wars World War II

James Burrows Edwards (born June 24, 1927) is a politician and administrator from South Carolina. He was the first Republican to be elected the Governor of South Carolina since Reconstruction.

Early life and career[edit]

Edwards was born in Hawthorne, Florida, and was an officer in the U.S. Maritime Service during World War II. He continued his service in the U.S. Naval Reserve after the war. Edwards received a bachelors degree in 1950 at the College of Charleston where he was a brother of Pi Kappa Phi fraternity. He received a D.M.D. in 1955 from the University of Louisville, and did some post-graduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania. Returning to Charleston, Edwards established a dentistry practice in 1960 that specialized in oral surgery. Consequently, he held a variety of positions associated with dentistry in the community.

Political career[edit]

In 1970, Edwards was chairman of the Republican Party of South Carolina's 1st congressional district. In that capacity as a supporter of the Republican gubernatorial nominee, U.S. Representative Albert Watson of South Carolina's 2nd congressional district, Edwards claimed that Watson's Democratic opponent, John C. West. Edwards claimed that West worked covertly in 1969 against the nomination of South Carolina's Clement Haynsworth to the United States Supreme Court. The Nixon nominee failed in the U.S. Senate, 55 to 45, on grounds of alleged bias against organized labor and a lack of supports for civil rights. Edwards predicted that West as governor would install "an ultra-liberal, minority-dominated state government," citing West's political ties to Hubert H. Humphrey and Roy Wilkins, longtime executive director of the NAACP.[1] [2]

Edwards first appeared as a candidate himself in 1971, when he entered a special election to fill the vacancy in the Charleston-centered 1st congressional district caused by the death of longtime Democrat L. Mendel Rivers. Edwards narrowly lost to one of Rivers' staffers, Mendel Jackson Davis, in what was the first truly competitive race in the district in memory.[3]

Edwards gained enough name recognition from his strong showing in the special election that he was elected to the South Carolina Senate as a Republican from Charleston County. Two years later, he entered the governor's race as a long-shot candidate. However, Edwards upset General William Westmoreland in the Republican primary and then defeated Democratic Congressman William Jennings Bryan Dorn of South Carolina's 3rd congressional district in the general election. Dorn became the nominee after the winner of the runoff election was disqualified on residency grounds. Edwards thus became the first Republican governor of the state since Daniel Henry Chamberlain in 1876. Edwards was one of the few bright spots in what was otherwise dismal year for Republicans because of Watergate (and lingering opposition to the Vietnam War, a factor that may have contributed to the primary defeat of Westmoreland, commander of U.S. forces during the late 1960s).

Two of Governor Edwards' aides were Carroll A. Campbell, Jr., who was elected in 1986 as the sdecond Republican governor in 20th century South Carolina, and Bill Workman, son of Republican pioneer W. D. Workman, Jr., and later the mayor of Greenville. Workman served as Edwards' alternate to the Appalachian Regional Commission. He became involved with planning and economic development issues, which were key to his later political activities.[4]

Later career[edit]

At that time South Carolina Governors were not allowed to serve two terms in succession, so Edwards was unable to seek re-election in 1978. In 1981, U.S. President Ronald W. Reagan appointed Edwards to be the Secretary of Energy. He resigned two years later to serve as the President of the Medical University of South Carolina, a post that he held for seventeen years. In 1997, Edwards was inducted into the South Carolina Hall of Fame. In 2008, Edwards endorsed former Governor Mitt Romney of Massachusetts for his party's presidential nomination. [clarification needed]

As governor and thereafter, Edwards developed a close friendship with his Democratic predecessor, John West, whom he had earlier accused of undermining the Haynsworth nomination.

In 2010, the new MUSC dental building and the dental school was renamed in his honor as the "James B. Edwards College of Dental Medicine".


  1. ^ Charleston News & Courier, September 25, 1970
  2. ^ Billy Hathorn, "The Changing Politics of Race: Congressman Albert William Watson and the South Carolina Republican Party, 1965-1970", South Carolina Historical Magazine Vol. 89 (October 1988), p. 237
  3. ^ 1971 special election results from South Carolina's 1st District
  4. ^ "William D. Workman III Receives John D. Whisman Vision Award, March 15, 2004". msa.maryland.gov. Retrieved May 14, 2014. 

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
John C. West
Governor of South Carolina
Succeeded by
Richard Riley
Preceded by
Charles Duncan, Jr.
U.S. Secretary of Energy
Served under: Ronald Reagan

Succeeded by
Donald P. Hodel