1888 South Carolina gubernatorial election

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The 1888 South Carolina gubernatorial election was held on November 6, 1888 to select the governor of the state of South Carolina. John Peter Richardson III was renominated by the Democrats and was reelected for a second two-year term.

Democratic Convention[edit]

Democratic nomination for Governor
Candidate Votes %
John Peter Richardson III 190 62.1
Joseph Haynsworth Earle 116 37.9

In 1886, an amendment was added to the constitution of the South Carolina Democratic Party that mandated candidates for Governor and Lieutenant Governor to have at least one meeting in every congressional district with the voters. Benjamin Tillman, an upstate demagogue, engaged Governor Richardson at the meetings in 1888 and soundly trounced him on the stump.

Confident of his support in the state, Tillman sought to name the next governor of South Carolina and told his henchmen to nominate Joseph H. Earle at the Democratic convention. Earle refused the nomination, but Tillman's men nominated him nevertheless stating that "This is a case of the office seeking the man, and not the man seeking the office."[1] A friend of Earle's from Sumter County rose to withdraw his name and Earle's brother declared that Earle would not serve if elected. However, many delegates still voted for Earle and Tillman's growing strength in the Democratic party became evident when his candidate for governor obtained almost 40% of the vote, despite publicly disavowing any candidacy.

General election[edit]

The general election was held on November 6, 1888 and John Peter Richardson III was reelected as governor of South Carolina without opposition. There were very few contested races and turnout increased for this election over the previous election solely because of a presidential election on the ballot.

South Carolina Gubernatorial Election, 1888
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Democratic John Peter Richardson III 58,730 100.0 +0.1
No party Write-Ins 16 0.0 -0.1
Majority 58,714 100.0 +0.2
Turnout 58,746
Democratic hold
1888 South Carolina gubernatorial election map, by percentile by county.
  65+% won by Richardson

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Cooper, p184


  • Cooper, Jr., William J. (2005). The Conservative Regime: South Carolina, 1877-1890. University of South Carolina Press. pp. 182–185. ISBN 1-57003-597-0.
  • "Supplemental Report of the Secretary of State to the General Assembly of South Carolina." Reports and Resolutions of the General Assembly of the State of South Carolina. Volume I. Columbia, SC: James H. Woodrow, 1889, p. 569.

External links[edit]

Preceded by
South Carolina gubernatorial elections Succeeded by