James Burrows Edwards

80th Governor of the State of South Carolina 1975 to 1979

Date Born: June 24, 1927*

Date Died: December 26, 2014

Place Born: Hawthorne, FL

Place Buried: Christ Church Churchyard, Mt. Pleasant, SC

Residence: Charleston, SC

Occupation: Ship's Officer in US Maritime Service, Lt. Commander in US Naval Reserves, Dentist and Oral Surgeon, President of the Medical University of South Carolina (1982)

College of Charleston, B.S.: 1950

University of Louisville, School of Dentistry, Louisville, KY, D.M.D.: 1955

University of Pennsylvania, Post-Graduate Studies: 1957-1958

South Carolina Senate: 1972-1975

1974 General Election - James Burrows Edwards defeated W.J. Bryan Dorn for the office of governor, the first Republican to be elected governor of South Carolina since the end of Reconstruction

Secretary of the U.S. Department of Energy: 1981-1982

James Burrows Edwards was born on June 24, 1927 in Hawthorne, FL, the son of Ordie Morton Edwards and Bertie Rae (Hieronymus) Edwards. His family moved to Charleston, SC in 1928, and he was educated in the Charleston public schools. In 1944, he entered the U.S. Maritime Service and retired as a Deck Officer in 1947. Edwards obtained his B.S. from Charleston College in 1950 and his D.M.D. from the University of Louisville School of Dentistry in 1955.

In between, he worked as a Deck Officer with Alcoc Steamship Co. (1950-1951). Edwards was recalled as a Dental Officer in the U.S. Navy (1955-1957) and continued to serve as a Lieutenant Commander in the Naval Reserve (1957-1967). He studied for a year at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate Medical School (1957-1958) and did his oral surgery residency at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, Michigan (1958-1960).

On September 1, 1951, James Burrows Edwards married Ann Norris Darlington, daughter of Stephen Paxson Darlington, II and Miriam (Norris) Darlington of Edgefield, SC. They had two children.

From 1968 to 1972, he served as a dental representative on the SC Governor's Statewide Committee for Comprehensive Health Care Planning and on the Federal Hospital Council from 1969 to 1973.

In 1972, James Burrows Edwards was elected as one of five men to represent SC Senate District No. 16, which included Charleston County and Georgetown County, in the SC Senate of the:
- 100th General Assembly that met from 1972-1974

On November 5, 1974, James Burrows Edwards was elected as Governor of South Carolina, and resigned from the SC Senate on December 6, 1974. His inauguration was on January 21, 1975, and he served until January 10, 1979.

Gov. James Burrows Edwards was popular and successful. He was approachable by voters and legislators. During his term, the SC legislature enacted malpractice insurance for doctors. Though off-shore drilling sites were discovered, Gov. Edwards concluded early in his administration that South Carolina's economic development was in jeopardy because of a lack of energy resources. He created the SC Energy Research Institute to study alternative energy possibilities and favored re-opening the nuclear reprocessing plant in Barnwell, SC that President Jimmy Carter had closed as part of his nuclear non-proliferation policy. Gov. Edwards also opposed unionization of public employees, government regulations in the private sector, and such programs as the state's anti-poverty program, which he believed benefited only a few. He fought against wasteful practices but pressed investigations against corruption.

During President Ronald Reagan's administration, he was appointed as Secretary of the Department of Energy from 1981 to 1982. He returned to medicine thereafter as a professor of dentistry at the College of Dental Medicine of the Medical University of South Carolina.

In 2010, the new MUSC dental building and the dental school was renamed in his honor as the "James B. Edwards College of Dental Medicine".

James Burrows Edwards was born in Hawthorne, FL. During World War II he was an officer in the U.S. Maritime Service, following which he served in the U.S. Naval Reserve. He received a B.S. degree from the College of Charleston in 1950 and a D.M.D. from the University of Louisville School of Dentistry in 1955. He also did post-graduate study at the University of Pennsylvania in 1957 and 1958. In 1960 he began a dentistry practice in Charleston,, SC specializing in oral surgery. He became a consultant for the U.S. Public Health Service in Charleston in 1964, Vice President of the East Cooper Private School Corporation in Mt. Pleasant in 1966, and a clinical associate in oral surgery at the Medical University of South Carolina at Charleston in 1968. In 1969 he was appointed President of the Federal Hospital Council. Edwards served in the SC Senate for two years prior to being elected governor. During his gubernatorial tenure, he signed legislation re-instating the death penalty, and the General Assembly passed legislation designed to redistribute education funds for the benefit of poorer school districts in the state. Gov. Edwards served on the National Governors Association’s Executive Committee in 1976 and 1977. From 1981 to 1982 he was Secretary of the U.S. Department of Energy. In recognition of his contributions while serving as governor, Edwards was inducted into the South Carolina Hall of Fame in 1997.

* Several sources assert that James Burrows Edwards was born on July 27, 1927. Most, however, assert June 24, 1927.
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