Page:EB1911 - Volume 25.djvu/521

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502
SOUTH CAROLINA
are: residence in the state for two years (except that ministers in

charge of organized churches and teachers of public schools need have a residence in the state of six months only), in the county for one year, and in the polling precinct for four months, and the payment six months before election-time of a poll-tax. Idiots, insane persons, paupers, convicts and persons convicted of certain crimes (enumerated in the constitution) and not pardoned by the

governor are disqualified from registering or voting.

Under the constitution of 1895 the governor holds office for two years and is eligible for re-election. The governor and the lieutenant-governor must be thirty years old and must have been citizens of the United States and citizens and residents of the state for five years. The governor has a veto power, extending to the separate items in appropriation bills, which may be overcome by a two-thirds majority in each house of the General Assembly; three days (excluding Sunday) are allowed to the governor for vetoing bills or joint resolutions passed by the General Assembly, or only two days if the General Assembly adjourn before three days have elapsed. The lieutenant-governor is the presiding officer of the senate, and succeeds the governor if the governor is removed from office by impeachment, death, resignation or otherwise. Other administrative officers of the state, each elected for two years, are a secretary of state, a comptroller-general, an attorney general, a treasurer, an adjutant and inspector-general, and a superintendent of education.

The state legislature is officially styled the General Assembly, and is composed of a Senate and a House of Representatives. The House of Representatives is composed of 124 members elected every two years and apportioned among the counties according to population; the Senate of one member from each county, elected for a term of four years, the term of one-half of the senators ending every two years. Annual sessions of the General Assembly are held, beginning on the second Tuesday in January. In 1904 the legislature submitted an amendment providing for biennial sessions and it was ratified by a popular vote, but inasmuch as the constitution requires a subsequent ratification by the legislature, the question came up again in the session of 1905. Attention was then called to the fact that the new amendment would make other changes in the constitution necessary, and the matter was referred to a legal commission.

The judicial power is vested in a Supreme Court and two circuit courts, a court of common pleas having civil jurisdiction, and a court of general sessions having criminal jurisdiction. The supreme court consists of a chief justice and three associates, elected by a joint viva voce vote of the General Assembly for a term of eight years. In each of the eight circuits is a circuit judge elected in a similar manner for four years. The magistrates or justices of the peace are appointed by the governor—a wise provision, because under the constitution of 1868 negroes were frequently elected who could neither read nor write.

Local Government.—The unit of local government in South Carolina

is the county, which, the state constitution provides, “shall be a body politic and corporate.” The constitution also provides for the establishment of a new county, “whenever one-third of the qualified electors within the area of each section of an old county proposed to be cut off to form a new county shall petition the governor for the creation of a new county,” whereupon the governor “shall order an election within a reasonable time thereafter,” and if two-thirds of the voters vote “yes,” the General Assembly at the next session shall establish the new county, provided that no section of a county shall be cut off without the consent of two-thirds of those voting in such section; that no new county “shall contain less than one one hundred and twenty-fourth part of the whole number of inhabitants of the state, nor shall it have less assessed taxable property than one and one-half millions of dollars, nor shall it contain an area of less than four hundred square miles”; and that “no old county shall be reduced to less area than five hundred square miles, to less assessed taxable property than two million dollars, nor to a smaller population than fifteen thousand inhabitants.” The General Assembly may alter county lines at any time, provided the proposed change is sanctioned by two-thirds of the voters in the section proposed to be cut off. The General Assembly may also provide for the consolidation of two or more counties if a majority of the voters concerned approve, “but such election shall not be held oftener than once in four years in the same counties.” Counties are divided into townships and under the constitution each “shall constitute a body politic and corporate,” but in 1910 there were no separate township governments, the existing division of counties into townships being for the purpose of convenience in adjusting taxes. Municipal government machinery is prescribed by a general state law which provides for the acquirement by municipalities of waterworks and lighting plants, the levying and collection of taxes and the issuing of licences, and regulates bonded debts. Cities and towns are permitted to exempt, by ordinance, certain classes of manufactories from all taxes except for school purposes, provided such ordinances are ratified by a majority of the electors.

Miscellaneous Laws.—The elaborate precautions taken to prevent lynching are a peculiarity of the constitution of 1895. Any officer—state, county or municipal—who, through negligence or connivance, permits a prisoner to be seized and lynched, forfeits his office and becomes ineligible to hold any office of trust or profit in the state unless pardoned by the governor. The county in which the crime occurs is, without regard to the conduct of the officers, liable in damages of not less than $2000 to the legal representative of the person lynched; the county is authorized, however, to recover this amount from the persons engaged in the lynching. A fourth unusual feature is that South Carolina has applied the principle of direct primary nominations to all elective officials from governor down. United States senators are in practice elected by the people, for the legislature merely registers the result of the primary. Since an absolute majority of the votes cast is required, it is often necessary to hold a second primary in which only the two leading candidates are considered (see act of the 22nd of December 1888, and ex parte Sanders, 53 S.C. 478). South Carolina is the only state in which divorce is not allowed in any circumstances; this is a constitutional provision. Divorces were not permitted before 1868 and the provisions of the constitution of that year and of an act of 1872, permitting divorce (for adultery or for wilful desertions for two years) were repealed in 1878. A married woman may hold, acquire and dispose of property as if she were single, and the descent of the estate of a husband dying intestate is the same as that of a wife dying intestate, the survivor being entitled to one-third of the estate if there are one or more children, and to one-half of the estate if there are no children or other lineal descendants. Tenancy by courtesy was abolished in 1883, but the right of dower still obtains; the widow's acceptance of a distributive share in her husband's estate, however, bars her dower. A homestead in lands to the value of $1000, the products of the same, and personal property to the value of $500 which belong to the head of a family or to the husband and wife jointly are exempt from attachment, levy or sale except for taxes, purchase money or debts contracted in making improvements or repairs. The exemption of the homestead continues for the benefit of the widow or for the children alone, whether minors or not, provided it is occupied by some of them, and it may be partitioned among the children regardless of debts. The number of hours' labour for operatives and employés in cotton and woollen mills is limited to sixty a week and must not exceed eleven in any one day, except for making up lost time to the extent of sixty hours in any one year. A prohibition bill introduced in the legislature of 1892 was, through the influence of the Tillman Reform faction, replaced by a substitute measure, which established a dispensary system, based upon the Gothenburg plan. This system went into effect in July 1893 and was in force for thirteen years. Under it the state bought liquors, graded them in accordance with a chemical analysis, and sold them to consumers in packages of not less than one half-pint; the dispensaries were open from sunrise to sunset, no sales were made to minors or drunkards, and no liquor was drunk on the premises; there was a state dispensary commissioner and a state board of control; and the profits were divided between the state, the counties and the municipalities, the share of the state being devoted to educational purposes. The state dispensary was opposed by the old conservative faction, by the saloon keepers, and by the radical prohibitionists. The Supreme Court of the state by a vote of two to one decided in April 1894 that the law was unconstitutional, but in October a change in the personnel of the court brought about a reversal. The Supreme Court of the United States held on the 18th of January 1897 that the provisions of the statute forbidding the importation of liquor by anyone except certain state officials were in violation of the interstate commerce clause of the constitution (Scott v. Donald, 165 U.S. 58). Under the Brice bill, passed in 1904 and amended in 1905, which gave the people of each county the choice between dispensary and prohibition, with the proviso that if they adopt the latter they must pay the extra taxes necessary to enforce it, several counties adopted prohibition; and in 1907 the state dispensary system was abolished, all impure liquors were declared contraband, each county was required to vote to prohibit the sale of liquors or to establish a dispensary, the sale of intoxicating liquors was forbidden outside of cities and towns, and sales may be made only through county dispensaries, which may not sell at night or on Sunday, or to inebriates or minors. The constitution of 1895 forbade a restoration of the saloon system in its original form. An act of 1909 made it a misdemeanour to solicit orders for liquor in the state.