1892 South Carolina gubernatorial election

The 1892 South Carolina gubernatorial election was held on November 8, 1892 to select the governor of the state of South Carolina. Governor Ben Tillman was renominated by the Democrats and was elected in the general election to a second two-year term.

1892 South Carolina Democratic gubernatorial primary

← 1890 August 29, 1892 1894 →
  Tillman as governor.jpg John Calhoun Sheppard.jpg
Nominee Ben Tillman John Sheppard
Party Democratic Democratic
Delegate count 263 56
Popular vote 55,080 32,988
Percentage 62.5% 37.5%

Governor before election

Ben Tillman

Elected Governor

Ben Tillman

Democratic campaignEdit

Peace and Harmony conventionEdit

On March 24 in Columbia, a gathering of conservative Democrats, called the Peace and Harmony convention, plotted strategy for the upcoming gubernatorial election. The conservatives had learnt from their defeat to Tillman in the gubernatorial election of 1890 and realized that it was necessary to give their nominee momentum prior to the canvassing of delegates for the Democratic nominating convention. They also vowed to accept the gubernatorial nominee chosen at the Democratic convention and refrain from running a straightout ticket even if Tillman was to be renominated. James L. Orr was given the nomination for governor, but refused and instead former Governor John Sheppard was nominated by the conservatives. Sheppard, although dignified and respected, possessed none of the demagogic skills of Tillman and therefore would be unable to compete for the votes of the class conscious farmers.

Primary to select delegatesEdit

The conservatives requested a primary to select the nomination of the statewide Democratic ticket instead of the convention system currently being used, but the Tillmanites refused because they were fully in control of the party machinery. Furthermore, the Tillmanites introduced a new rule that blacks could only participate in the selection of delegates if they had ten white men vouch that they voted for Hampton in the gubernatorial election of 1876.

The candidates for governor stumped the state, but there was hardly a peaceful debate. Often, the supporters of both candidates would end up with pistols drawn and threatening violence. Tillman was the chief contributor to this violence and actively supported it among his partisans. He was asked by a close friend why he raised so much hell and Tillman answered "if I didn't, the damn fools wouldn't vote for me."[1]

Sheppard put up a good fight against Tillman, yet fell short by 22,092 votes in the primary on August 29 to select delegates to the state nominating convention. Additionally, the defeat for the conservatives was further magnified by a greater number of Tillmanites being elected from the primary to the General Assembly. Tillman would thus enter his second administration with a renewed popular mandate and a more favorable legislature.

Democratic Primary
Delegates for Votes % Delegates %
Ben Tillman 55,080 62.5 263 82.4'
John Calhoun Sheppard 32,988 37.5 56 17.6

General electionEdit

The general election was held on November 8, 1892 and Ben Tillman was reelected as governor of South Carolina without opposition. Tillman had forced the state Democratic party to adopt the entire Ocala Platform in order to avoid a challenge from the Populist Party. Turnout decreased for this election over the previous election because it was an uncontested election.

South Carolina Gubernatorial Election, 1892
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Ben Tillman (incumbent) 56,673 99.9 +20.1
No party Write-Ins 52 0.1 -0.1
Majority 56,621 99.8 +40.0
Turnout 56,725
Democratic hold
1892 South Carolina gubernatorial election map, by percentile by county.
  65+% won by Tillman

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Simkins, p169


  • "Election Returns." Reports and Resolutions of the General Assembly of the State of South Carolina at the Regular Session Commencing November 22, 1892. Volume I. Columbia, SC: Charles A. Calvo, Jr., 1892, p. 555.
  • Ball, William Watts (1932). The State That Forgot; South Carolina's Surrender to Democracy. The Bobbs-Merrill Company. p. 208.
  • Simkins, Francis Butler (1964). The Tillman movement in South Carolina. Duke University Press. pp. 157–172.

External linksEdit

Preceded by
South Carolina gubernatorial elections Succeeded by