South Carolina: A Short History, 1520-1948

By David Duncan Wallace | Go to book overview

CHAPTER LXII
PROGRESSIVE CONSERVATISM AND THE FIRST WORLD WAR, 1915-1918

RICHARD IRVINE MANNING ( 1859-1931), elected governor in 1914 and '16, was a large Sumter farmer and banker of wide business connections and success and legal education, though he never practiced. He was active in the Episcopal Church and deeply interested in social and economic reforms. Since the first American Manning married the daughter of his fellow-Revolutionary officer General Richardson, three Richardsons and three Mannings have been governors. R. I. Manning ( 1824-26) was the grandfather and J. L. Manning ( 1852-54) the uncle of the governor of 1915 to 1919.

Governor Manning's business experience had been supplemented by service in the State Senate, etc. His ideas were always more popular than himself; for, although easy and courteous, he lacked both the instinct and the arts of popular appeal.

It is hard to realize the feeling of relief and triumph with which the conservative classes saw the administration assumed by Manning after fourteen years of dispensary corruption and wrangle and four years of Blease's defiance of so many traditions associated with the governorship. Governor Manning considered himself a crusader against lawlessness. He revoked Governor Bleases order disbanding the militia. The race track gamblers departed as a matter of course.

Governor Manning had been an advocate of a purified dispensary as the best solution of the liquor question. After prolonged efforts to stir Mayor Grace to action, Governor Manning sent constables to Charleston and a warning to the sheriff. After the Governor's insistence on better jurors, the Charleston grand jury found forty-eight true bills for violation of the liquor law, petty juries convicted four persons, and thirty-nine pleaded guilty. Sixty-nine were said soon after to have surrendered their licenses from the Federal government, which still licensed men to violate the police regulations of a State. Judge M. L. Smith imposed fines with imprisonment suspended, since for twenty years violators had been taught by the city authorities that they could operate under a virtual license system. It thus remained for the quiet churchman of 1915 to

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