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South Carolina

Olin Dewitt Talmadge Johnston, 1935-1939, 1943-1945

South Carolina SC History SC Governors Governor Olin DeWitt Talmadge Johnston

Also see: SC Government

Biographical Overview

  • Born: November 18, 1896 near Honea Path, South Carolina
  • Died: April 18, 1965 in Columbia, South Carolina
  • Buried: Barker's Creek Baptist Church Cemetery in Honea Path, South Carolina
  • Religion: Baptist
  • Political Party: Democrat
Portrait of Olin Dewitt Talmadge Johnston
Olin Dewitt Talmadge Johnston
Courtesy of South Carolina Legislative Manual



  • Sergeant, United States Army
  • Lawyer

Major Events and Accomplishments, 1st Term, 1935–1939

  • May 14, 1935 – The General Assembly passed the Alcoholic Beverage Control Law to regulate the sale of alcohol in the state following the end of national prohibition
  • October 28, 1935 – When highway commissioners appointed by past governors refused to leave their legally appointed posts, Governor Johnston declared martial law and mobilized the National Guard to occupy the offices of the Highway Department
  • June 25, 1936 – US Senator Ellison D. "Cotton Ed" Smith walked out of the 1936 Democratic National Convention in protest when a black clergyman was called on to give an invocation
  • May 13, 1937 – The General Assembly passed the South Carolina Public Welfare Act
  • 1938 – Governor Johnston ran for the US Senate but was defeated by Ellison D. Smith in the Democratic Primary

Major Events and Accomplishments, 2nd Term, 1943–1945

  • April 3, 1944 – The US Supreme Court ruled in Smith v. Allwright that all-white primaries were illegal
  • April 14, 1944 – The General Assembly met in a special session, passing 147 laws in only six days in an effort to circumvent Smith v. Allwright by allowing political parties to operate as private organizations separate from state control and beyond the reach of the US Supreme Court
  • January 3, 1945 – Governor Johnston resigned to become a US Senator

Other Government Positions

  • South Carolina House of Representatives, 1923-1924, 1927-1930
  • US Senate, 1945-1965

Other Accomplishments, Honors, Distinctions

  • Johnston was the first battalion commander of Wofford's ROTC
  • Johnston was defeated in the 1930 Democratic gubernatorial primary by Ibra Charles Blackwood
  • Johnston served in the US Senate from the time he resigned as governor until his death - 1945-1965

Web Resources

Election Results

Democratic Primary – 1st term - 1934
Olin D. Johnston 104,799 votes 35.2%
Coleman L. Blease 85,795 votes 28.9%
Wyndham Manning 55,767 votes 18.8%
Pearce 36,328 votes 12.2%

Democratic Runoff – 1st term - 1934
Olin D. Johnston 157,673 votes 56.2%
Coleman L. Blease 122,876 votes 43.8%

General Election – 1st term - November 6, 1934
Johnston was elected without opposition, receiving 23,177 votes.

Democratic Primary – 2nd term - 1942
Olin D. Johnston 121,465 votes 51.8%
Wyndham Manning 113,014 votes 48.2%

General Election – 2nd term - November 3, 1942
Johnston was elected to a second term without opposition, receiving 23,859 votes.


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