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South Carolina at the end of the 20th century


Port of Charleston in South Carolina
Port of Charleston in South Carolina

When the national Democratic Party supported civil rights in 1948, blacks, who had been Republican since Reconstruction, began to vote Democratic. At the same time many whites began to vote Republican, at first in presidential elections. In 1962 the first Republican in many years, a white, was elected to the legislature; in 1975 James B. Edwards became the first Republican governor since 1876.

Meanwhile, in 1970, three black Democrats won election to the legislature. When, in 1962, the U.S. Supreme Court ordered that state senators and legislators must represent equal numbers of people, the small rural counties began to lose their power. Rapidly growing urban areas gained greater representation. In 1969 a legislative committee recommended changes in the constitution of 1895. Between 1971 and 1976 the voters approved new articles that conformed to new federal laws and simplified the constitution.

In 1993 the legislature reorganized more than 120 separate state agencies into 11 departments and gave the governor power to appoint cabinet secretaries to run these agencies directly. The legislature also gave the governor some measure of control over six other agencies. These reforms increased the power of the governor and provided a more practical approach to the operation of state government.

In the 1980s and 1990s the two political parties in the state began to show internal stresses. In the Democratic Party the new black members demanded a role in making decisions alongside the white old guard, many of whom began to defect to the Republicans.

The success of the Republican Party also brought division. The business elite was joined by a growing group of Christian fundamentalists in the state party. They united in support of Ronald Reagan’s election as president in 1980 and again in 1984, but the internal divisions have continued in the presidential elections of 1988 and 1992. A Democrat-turned-Republican, David Beasley, was elected governor in 1994. He was defeated in his 1998 reelection bid by Democrat Jim Hodges. In 2002 Hodges was also defeated for reelection; Republican Mark Sanford became the state’s new governor. "South Carolina" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia

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