Coleman Livingston  Blease
South Carolina

Senate Years of Service: 1925-1931
Party: Democrat

BLEASE, Coleman Livingston, a Senator from South Carolina; born near Newberry, Newberry County, S.C., October 8, 1868; attended the common schools; graduated from the law department of Georgetown University, Washington, D.C., in 1889; admitted to the bar the same year and commenced practice in Newberry, S.C.; member, State house of representatives 1890-1894, 1899, and 1900, serving as speaker pro tempore 1892-1894; mayor of Helena, S.C., in 1897; city attorney of Newberry in 1901 and 1902; member, State senate 1905-1909, serving as president pro tempore in 1906 and 1907; mayor of Newberry in 1910; Governor of South Carolina 1911-1915; elected as a Democrat to the United States Senate and served from March 4, 1925, to March 3, 1931; unsuccessful candidate for renomination in 1930; unsuccessful candidate for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in 1934 and 1938; elected a member of the State unemployment compensation commission for a four-year term beginning in 1941; died in Columbia, S.C., January 19, 1942; interment in Rosemont Cemetery, Newberry, S.C.

Source: Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, 1771-Present.  Contributed by A. Newell

Blease, Coleman Livingston
, governor of the state of South Carolina, was born in October, 1856, in Newberry County, S. C. He received his collegiate education at Newberry College; and graduated from the Georgetown Law School at Washington, D. C. In 1894-1900 he served three terms as a representative in the South Carolina State Legislature; and was twice elected speaker pro tem. He has been county chairman; a member of nearly all the state conventions; and for the past ten years has been a member of the State Democratic Executive Committee. He has also served three terms as city attorney of Newberry; and is a prominent member of the Improved Order of Red Men; Independent Order of Odd Fellows; Knights of Pythias; and Woodmen of the World. In 1905-09 he was member of the South Carolina State Senate; and was the president pro term of that body. He was elected governor of South Carolina for the second term of 1913-15; and resides in Columbia, S. C.  [Source: Men of 1914; Chicago Publishing 1915]

COLEMAN LIVINGSTON BLEASE, who was the  storm center of South Carolina  politics during his two terms as governor, has been a lawyer for thirty years, and after retiring from  the governor's chair,  he  resumed practice at Columbia.

He was born in Newberry County October 8, 1868, son of Henry Horatio and Mary A. (Livingston) Blease. He acquired a liberal education, attending Newberry College and receiving his LL. B. degree from Georgetown University, District of Columbia, in 1889. In the same year he was admitted to the bar and at once began practice at Newberry. For a number of years he was senior member of the well-known firm of Blease & Dominick, his partner being the present representative of the Third Congressional District in the National House of Representatives.

Governor Blease has been a figure in state and local politics as long as he has been a lawyer. He was a member of the state democratic executive committee for eighteen years; he served three terms as a member of the South Carolina House of Representatives, from 1800 to 1900, and was speaker pro tempore of the South Carolina House of Representatives in 1891-92. He was democratic presidential elector in 1896, and again in 1900. During 1901-1902 he served as city attorney of Newberry, and from 1904 to 1008 was representative of Newberry County in the State Senate, being made president pro tempore by that body in 1907-1908. In 1909 he was elected mayor of Newberry. He was chosen governor of South Carolina in the summer of 1910, and served from 1911 to 1915, resigning in January of the latter year five days before the close of his term.

Governor Blease is a member of the Methodist Church; is past grand master and past grand representative of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows; is past great sachem and past great representative of the Improved Order of Red Men. and is now chairman of the judiciary committee of the Great Council, Improved Order of Red Men of the United States. He is also past chancellor commander of the Knights of Pythias, and is an Elk, a Woodman of the World, and member of the Loyal Order of Moose.

In February. 1890, he married Miss Lillie B. Summers, of Newberry. Her father was a Confederate soldier, her grandfather was killed while, a soldier in the Mexican war, and her great-grandfather was a colonel in the Revolutionary war.

Among the recommendations made to the General Assembly of South Carolina by Governor Blease during his term of office, were:
...The establishment of the Charleston Medical College as the South Carolina Medical College, with full state support, thereby giving to its diplomas the credit of the slate, which was adopted, this institution now being one of the recognized leading medical institutions of the United States, and its diplomas so recognized.
...A marriage license law, in the interest of the sanctity of the marriage relation, which was finally recognized by the General Assembly, and a law passed to that effect.
...An act to prohibit the sale of certain drugs and patent medicines, which he felt were worse on the morals of a people even than liquor, which was enacted at the session of the Legislature in 1919. And the passage of a law prohibiting the sale of cigarettes and  cigarette papers.
...That white and negro convicts should be segregated on the chain gangs of the various counties, which was finally enacted into law, and which has tended to prevent the race clashes in the South which have recently been so frequent in the North. He in 1890 when a member of the House introduced the first separate coach bill offered in South Carolina, and possibly the first in the South.
...More humane treatment in the penitentiary and on the chain gangs to the unfortunates therein committed, which has been adopted as the policy of the state.
...Electrocution for capital punishment, as a more humane method than of hanging. Electrocution in 1912 was made the policy of the state.
...Contending that the Columbia Canal had reverted to the state, under the contracts stated in acts of the Legislature, he urged that the General Assembly pass an act so declaring, which was finally done, after a strenuous contest. In this connection the then governor contended that the entire plant, of the water and light company was on the state's property. All of these recommendations finally became merged in the Columbia Canal fight, in which the state has finally taken the position that the canal belongs to the State of South Carolina, and has gone into the courts to secure a reversion of the property to the state, amounting to millions of dollars in actual value.
...He was instrumental in bringing about the abolition of the hosiery mill within the walls of the state penitentiary. In this mill convicts were leased to a contractor at so much per day, and Governor Blease contended that the mill was a "tuberculosis incubator," deleterious to public health, as well as to its inmates, and that it must be abolished. In 1913 the Legislature abolished it, only one vote in the Senate being cast against the contention of the governor.
...He   recommended   and   was   instrumental   in [remaining text unavailable]...[South Carolina, Special Limited Edition, 1920]


Blease, Cole L., lawyer, statesman, was born in October, 1868, in Newberry County, S.C. He received his collegiate education at Newberry College; and graduated from the Georgetown law school at Washington, D.C. In 1894-1900 he served three terms as a representative in the South Carolina state legislature; and was twice elected speaker pro tem. He has been county chairman; a member of nearly all the state conventions; and for the past ten years has been a member of the state democratic executive committee. He has also served three terms as city attorney of Newberry; and is a prominent member of the improved order of red men; independent order odd fellows; knights of pythias; and woodmen of the world. In 1905-09 he was a member of the South Carolina state senate; and was the president pro tem of that body.   [Herringshaw's National Library of American Biography: Contains Thirty-five Thousand Biographies of the Acknowledged Leaders of Life and Thought of the United States, by William Herringshaw, 1909 – Transcribed by Therman Kellar]

(Spartanburg Herald Journal, January 20, 1942, Pages 1 and 2)
[contributed by Andrew Staton]
Coleman Livingston Blease – Newberry County
Former Governor and US Senator Became Ill on Saturday at Hotel
Columbia, Jan. 19 (AP) – Coleman Livingston Blease, former governor and US senator who was a leading figure in South Carolina politics for 50 years, died tonight. He was 73.

Blease, a member of the state unemployment compensation commission, was suddenly taken ill Saturday at the Jerome hotel, where he made his home. He underwent an intestinal operation at the Providence hospital yesterday. The Newberry county native had been active in politics since 1890, when he was elected to the state house of representatives, where he served until 1898. He was speaker pro tem in 1891-92. He served successively as state senator (1904-08), governor for two terms (1911-13 and 1913-15) and US Senator (1925-31). He was in the state Democratic party, becoming a member of the executive committee for 18 years and president of the 1926 convention. He was several times an unsuccessful candidate for US senatorships and governorships. His last state-wide race was for governor in 1938.

He was mayor of Newberry from 1910 until his first term as governor. Blease was elected by the general assembly to the unemployment compensation commission, beginning his four-year term July 1, 1940. He had been practicing law here since 1915. Blease was married twice, in 1890 to Miss Lillie B. Summers of Anderson county, who died in 1934, and in 1939 to Mrs. Caroline Floyd of Newberry county. Blease was born October 8, 1868, the son of Henry Horatio Blease and Mary A. Livingston Blease. He was educated in the Newberry schools and was graduated from Georgetown University in 1889. Surviving are a half-brother, Eugene S. Blease of Newberry, former chief justice of the state supreme court, and a sister, Mrs. Leila Williams of Newberry. Burial will be at Newberry. The funeral will be conducted at 3 p.m. Wednesday at the Dunbar Funeral Home here. Burial will be in Rosemont cemetery at Newberry.

Columbia, Jan. 19 (AP) – It was a cold day in January 1915 that Cole L. Blease sent his unexpected resignation as governor to the legislature. When the note, signed in red ink, was read, general assemblymen broke into cheers and immediately fixed the time for a joint meeting to inaugurate Lieut. Gov. Charles A. Smith as chief executive. It was but a week before the expectation of his second term that Blease quit office and many thought his career as a storm center had ended. But they were wrong and therein lies the story of Cole Blease. For that was but one of the many incidents, colorful and farreaching, that even now are identified with the Newberry native. Since 1890, he had been a constant candidate for public office. He shot into the national limelight in his first administration as governor because he issued nearly 2000 patrons and paroles. With stinging words he attacked America’s entry into the first World War and leveled his wrath at President Wilson’s policies, including the League of Nations. President Wilson retaliated by appealing directly to South Carolina voters, asking the former governor’s defeat in his race for the US Senate. It was while he was governor that he disbanded the entire state National Guard as the result of a dispute with the war department over the disposition of militia. The order was rescinded by Gov. Richard I. Manning, his successor. Discussing party organization in 1927, Blease told South Carolina newspapermen that he did not belong to the Democratic party, “if by the party is meant the caucus in Washington that tries to dictate how I should vote.” During his Senate career he professed great admiration for Vice-President Dawes and Senator William Borah of Idaho, both Republicans. Though often considered an incredible vote getter in South Carolina, Blease was often defeated and almost never able to throw the weight of his personal popularity to benefit a political friend. A skillful criminal lawyer and a master parliamentarian, he exercised considerable charm of manner and was adept in persuasion as well as in denunciation of his political foes from the stump. Whether “Coley” Blease was elected to more public offices than any other man of his time, as he said, or was defeated for public offices more than any other man, as his political enemies said, he was a candidate in almost every election after he attained his majority. In 1890 he was elected to the South Carolina house of representatives, serving until 1898, and was speaker pro-tem for two years. He later was state senator and served as presidential elector in 1896 and 1900. He became mayor of Newberry in 1910, which office he resigned to accept the governorship. Governor for two terms until 1915, his free use of pardon power brought him wide notoriety. Referring to his multitude of pardons, particularly those given negroes, Senator Blease later declared in the senate: “They were poor and helpless, with no one to speak for them, no money to hire lawyers, no money to circulate petitions, no money to have friends come into the governor’s office and make appeals for them. Some of them served for years and years for the very smallest offense.” He was out of office for nine years. In 1924 he went into the senatorial primary against Senator N. B. Dial, the incumbent, Representative J. F. Byrnes and John J. McMahan, state insurance commissioner. Blease’s victory was considered surprising, since it was expected that the anti-Blease forces would coalesce in favor of Byrnes. Blease often said that he was opposed to prohibition in principal, yet he said he would vote for its enforcement because his constituents had shown themselves dry in sentiment. When he went to the polls as a citizen, he said, he would vote against prohibition according to his personal convictions. His last race was for governor in 1938.

Blease, Coleman Livingston, governor; born in Newberry County, S.C., Oct. 8, 1868; son of Henry Horatio and Mary A. (Livingston) Blease; educated Newberry (S.C.) College; LL. B., Georgetown University, Washington, 1889; admitted to bar 1889, and began practice at Newberry, S.C., as senior member firm of Blease & Dominick; was Democratic presidential elector, 1896, 1900; city attorney, Newberry, 1901-02; member S.C. Senate, 1904-08 (president pro tem, 1907-08); mayor of Newberry, 1910; Governor of S.C., terms 1911-13, 1913-15 (resigned Jan., 1915, and resumed practice in Columbia, S.C.); married Lillie B. Summers, Anderson County, S.C., Feb., 1890; Past Grand Master and Past Grand Representative I. O. O. F.; Past Great Sachem, Past Grand Representative, Improved Order Red Men, ; now chairman committee Great Council of U.S.' Past Chancelor Commander, K. of P.; Elk; member W. O. W.; Methodist.  Address, Columbia, S.C.  [Source: Who's Who in South Carolina, 1921, tb Donna Gurr]

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