Don't like Sanford? Get a load of Gov. Coleman Blease, known as 'Pardoner of Criminals'

Image by Library of CongressImage by 20091012-blease.jpg

While reading a column in The Post and Courier I noted a brief mention of how a former S.C. governor twice pardoned his diver to get him out of speeding tickets. 

I was immideatley intrigued. Who was this Gov. Coleman Blease? And why did he have to go as far as a pardon to get rid of the ticket.

Well, it wasn't too much longer and I had found an old New York Times article from January 1915 titled, "Fiery "Cooley" Blease no Longer Governor; Picturesque Career of South Carolinian, Famous as Pardoner of Criminals, and as Bellicose Individual."

For certain the article is a lengthy read, but highly interesting; check out the PDF of the original article.

For a more succinct roundup of the woes created by him, here's an excerpt from the Wikipedia entry on him:

Blease acquired such a bad reputation that he was said to represent the worst phases of Tillmanism and Ben Tillman branded Blease's style as "Jim Tillmanism." Blease favored complete white supremacy in all matters. He encouraged the practice of lynching, he was steadfastly against the education of blacks, and he even derided one of his opponents for being a trustee of a black school. Blease once buried the severed finger of a Black man who had been lynched in the South Carolina gubernatorial garden. The newspapers did not escape Blease's scrutiny and he had praised Jim Tillman for the murder of The State editor N.G. Gonzales in 1903. Blease recommended that imprisonment be given to reporters or editors who publish candidates' speeches.

Let's just hope such legacies are squarely locked in our state's past.

Oh, and for all the dislike of Blease, he was later elected to the U.S. Senate in 1924.