Now that Nikki Haley has been sworn-in as South Carolina’s 90th governor, a number of state historians are demanding a recount.
Not on the gubernatorial vote that got Haley elected, but on the number of chief executives the state has had during its more than 300-year history.
University of South Carolina history professor Walter Edgar says the number 90 is incorrect. Edgar has hosted “Walter Edgar’s Journal” on ETV Radio for a decade. He says South Carolina has had well over a hundred governors. In fact, the exact number stands at 123.
In explaining the discrepancy of 33 governors, Edgar says it’s not only about who is counted, but the way their terms are counted. Edgar says it is important to remember that early governors had terms of only two years.
The number 123 includes British royal governors prior to South Carolina’s declaration of independence in 1775, as well as those who held the office after South Carolina seceded from the Union before the Civil War.
In 1926, an amendment to the state constitution extended gubernatorial terms to four years and prohibited governors from being elected to consecutive terms. Richard Riley successfully sought passage of a 1980 constitutional amendment that permitted a second four-year term for governors. In 1982, Governor Riley was re-elected and became the first governor in South Carolina history to serve eight consecutive years.