National Geographic Magazine addressed a frequently voiced question: “Are Edgefield’s ten governors real native sons, or men adopted to support an extravagant claim by the local Chamber of Commerce?” To answer this question, one must delve into facts of these ten Edgefield statesmen.
- Andrew Pickens, Jr. (1816-1818) was a son of Gen. Andrew Pickens of the Revolutionary War. He was born about 1778, probably on the plantation on the Savannah River in Horse Creek Valley in Edgefield District.
- George McDuffie (1834-1836) was the 28th person elected with the title of Governor. He practiced law for 14 years in Edgefield.
- Pierce Mason Butler (1836-1838) immediately followed McDuffie. He was born April 11,1798, in Edgefield District. He was also Governor of Florida, elected in 1841.
- James H. Hammond (1842-1844), resident of Beech Island, then part of Edgefield District, became Governor at a time when politics was exceedingly warm.
- Francis W. Pickens (1860-1862) was son of Governor Andrew Pickens.
- Milledge Luke Bonham (1862-1864) became Governor after rendering brilliant service at Manassas and was primarily a military man.
- John C. Sheppard (1886), was born in upper Edgefield County and began his political career at the age of 26.
- Benjamin R. Tillman (1890-1894) was born in western Edgefield County and was elected to succeed himself.
- John Gary Evans (1894-1897) immediately succeeded Tillman as Governor. He was elected Governor at the age of 31, the youngest man ever to attain that honor.
- J. Strom Thurmond (1947-1951) is Edgefield’s first native son to be a Presidential candidate while occupying the Governor’s mansion. Strom Thurmond ran for the President of the United States in 1948. He left office as the only senator to reach the age of 100, while still in office and as the oldest-serving and longest-serving senator in U.S.
One must admit that the facts stretch credulity, so you be the judge!