South Carolina gubernatorial election, 1872

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The 1872 South Carolina gubernatorial election was held on October 16, 1872 to select the governor of the state of South Carolina. Franklin J. Moses, Jr. won the election as a Radical Republican against the more moderate faction of the Republican Party and became the 75th governor of South Carolina.


Republican nomination for Governor
Candidate Votes %
Franklin J. Moses, Jr. 69 58.5
Samuel W. Melton 18 15.2
Daniel Henry Chamberlain 16 13.6
Reuben Tomlinson 15 12.7

The state Republicans met in Columbia for their nominating convention on August 21 through August 24. There were 115 black and 33 white delegates to the convention, many of them calling for reform in state government. The nomination for Governor proceeded after the organization of the convention and five men were mentioned, but Franklin J. Moses, Jr. was seen as the clear favorite.

Immediately, accusations of bribery were pegged against each candidate. Former Governor Orr accused Moses of offering a delegate from Barnwell $2,000 for his vote. Tomlinson was alleged by Judge Thomas Mackey to have been giving bribes to ensure the passage of the phosphate bill in 1870.

A vote was taken for the nomination of Governor during the commotion over the accusations of bribery and Moses emerged as the clear winner from the other contenders. Orr denounced the selection and led a walkout by some of the delegates from the convention. The Republican platform adopted at the convention called for a reduction in expenditures and financial reform.

Assembling at the Richland courthouse on August 22, Orr directed the formation of an Independent Republican ticket for the general election in October. Reuben Tomlinson was nominated for Governor and half of the Independent Republican slate for statewide office were black men. The platform consisted entirely of opposing Moses and advocating for reform in state government.

General election[edit]

The general election was held on October 16, 1872 and Franklin J. Moses, Jr. was elected as governor of South Carolina by a wide margin. Turnout was lower than the previous election because it was mainly a contest between Republicans; it was estimated that approximately 40,000 white voters did not cast a ballot in the election.

South Carolina Gubernatorial Election, 1872
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Republican Franklin J. Moses, Jr. 69,838 65.4 +3.1
Independent Republican Reuben Tomlinson 36,533 34.3 +34.3
No party Write-Ins 351 0.3 +0.3
Majority 33,285 31.1 +6.5
Turnout 106,742
Republican hold
1872 South Carolina gubernatorial election map, by percentile by county.
  65+% won by Moses
  55%-59% won by Moses
  50%-54% won by Moses
  50%-54% won by Tomlinson
  55%-59% won by Tomlinson
  65+% won by Tomlinson

See also[edit]


  • "Election Returns for State Officers." Reports and Resolutions of the General Assembly of the State of South Carolina at the Regular Session, 1871-'72. Columbia, SC: Republican Printing Company, 1872, p. 59.
  • Reynolds, John S. (1969). Reconstruction in South Carolina. Negro University Press. ISBN 0-8371-1638-4. 
  • "The Official Vote of the State". The Charleston Daily Courier. 1 November 1872. p. 2. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
South Carolina gubernatorial elections Succeeded by