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“T” is for Thompson, Hugh Smith (1836-1904)

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“T” is for Thompson, Hugh Smith (1836-1904). Educator, governor. Father of South Carolina’s modern public school system and the only professional educator to be elected governor, Thompson was a native of Charleston. After service in the Civil War he was principal of the Columbia Male Academy form 1865-1880. First elected superintendent of education in 1876 and twice re-elected, Thompson laid the foundation for the development of the state’s public school system. As superintendent he helped win passage of the 1878 school law and worked to equalize expenditures for white and black schools, established summer teachers’ institutes, and was responsible for the creation of the State Teachers’ Association. In 1882, Thompson was nominated by a deadlocked Democratic convention as a compromise candidate for governor. Hugh Smith Thompson was elected governor in 1882 and re-elected in 1884.

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Dr. Walter Edgar has two programs on South Carolina Public Radio: Walter Edgar's Journal, and South Carolina from A to Z. Dr. Edgar received his B.A. degree from Davidson College in 1965 and his Ph.D. from the University of South Carolina in 1969. After two years in the army (including a tour of duty in Vietnam), he returned to USC as a post-doctoral fellow of the National Archives, assigned to the Papers of Henry Laurens.