William Jennings Bryan Dorn

William Jennings Bryan Dorn (April 14, 1916 – August 13, 2005) was a United States politician from South Carolina who represented the western part of the state in the United States House of Representatives from 1947 to 1949 and from 1951 to 1975 as a Democrat.

William Jennings Bryan Dorn
W. J. Bryan Dorn.jpg
Chair of the House Veterans' Affairs Committee
In office
January 3, 1973 – December 31, 1974
SpeakerCarl Albert
Preceded byOlin E. Teague
Succeeded byRay Roberts
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from South Carolina's 3rd district
In office
January 3, 1951 – December 31, 1974
Preceded byJames Butler Hare
Succeeded byButler Derrick
In office
January 3, 1947 – January 3, 1949
Preceded byButler B. Hare
Succeeded byJames Butler Hare
Member of the
South Carolina Senate
from Greenwood County
In office
January 14, 1941 – June 20, 1942
Member of the
South Carolina House of Representatives
from Greenwood County
In office
January 10, 1939 – June 8, 1940
Personal details
BornApril 14, 1916
Greenwood County, South Carolina
DiedAugust 13, 2005(2005-08-13) (aged 89)
Greenwood, South Carolina
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)Mildred Johnson (m. 1948, d. 1990)
Military service
AllegianceUnited States United States of America
Branch/serviceUnited States Army Air Corps
Years of service1942–1945
RankArmy-USA-OR-04a.svg Corporal
Battles/warsWorld War II
European Theater

Early lifeEdit

Dorn was born near Greenwood, South Carolina on April 14, 1916, the son of Thomas Elbert and Pearl Griffith Dorn.[1] Thomas Dorn was a school teacher, principal, and superintendent who hoped his son would have a political career, so he named the boy after William Jennings Bryan.[1] Bryan Dorn attended the public schools of Greenwood and Greenwood High School, and became a farmer.[1] He attended the University of South Carolina where he was a member of the Clariosophic Society. [2] He was elected to the South Carolina House of Representatives in 1938 and to the South Carolina Senate in 1940.[1] He served in the United States Army Air Forces in Europe during World War II.[3]

Congressional careerEdit

Dorn was first elected to Congress in the 1946 election.[1] In the 1948 election, he unsuccessfully challenged incumbent U.S. Senator Burnet R. Maybank for the Democratic nomination.[1] Maybank won the nomination, and was unopposed in the general election.

William Jennings Bryan Dorn (second from left)

Dorn returned to the House in the 1950 election, and became known for his work on issues related to the military and the expansion of civil rights.[citation needed] He was a signatory to the 1956 Southern Manifesto that opposed the desegregation of public schools ordered by the Supreme Court in Brown v. Board of Education.

In 1966, journalist Drew Pearson reported that Dorn was one of a group of Congressman who had received the "Statesman of the Republic" award from Liberty Lobby for his "right-wing activities".[4] In his final term he was chairman of the House Veterans' Affairs Committee.

Candidacy for governorEdit

He left Congress to run for Governor of South Carolina in 1974. He lost the Democratic primary to Charles 'Pug' Ravenel, who the South Carolina Supreme Court later ruled ineligible on residency grounds required by the state constitution.[5] A special state convention then chose Dorn as the Democratic candidate. He was defeated in the general election by Republican James B. Edwards, one of the few disappointments in what was generally a big year for Democrats. In 1978, Dorn again sought the Democratic nomination for governor but was eliminated in a three-way race won by Richard Riley. In 1980, he was elected chairman of the South Carolina Democratic Party, and he served until 1984.

After CongressEdit

In 1978, President Jimmy Carter named the Columbia, South Carolina, Veteran's Affairs Hospital after Dorn as the "William Jennings Bryan Dorn Veterans' Hospital."[6] Dorn died in Greenwood on August 13, 2005. He was buried at Bethel Methodist Church Cemetery in Callison, Greenwood County, South Carolina.


  • Dorn, William Jennings Bryan, and Scott Derks. Dorn: Of the People, A Political Way of Life. Columbia and Orangeburg, S.C.: Bruccoli Clark Layman/Sandlapper Publishing, 1988


  1. ^ a b c d e f Moore, William V. (October 26, 2016). "Biography, William Jennings Bryan Dorn". SC Encyclopedia. Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina.
  2. ^ "Page 84".
  3. ^ "Longtime congressman dies at 89 in Greenwood". The Item. Sumter, South Carolina. AP. August 14, 2005. p. 6A. Retrieved June 11, 2015.
  4. ^ Pearson, Drew (November 2, 1966). "Judge Rules Against Liberty Lobby". The Free Lance-Star. Fredericksburg, Virginia. p. 6. Retrieved December 14, 2014.
  5. ^ Bass, Jack; DeVries, Walter (1995). The Transformation of Southern Politics: Social Change and Political Consequence Since 1945. Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press. p. 268. ISBN 978-0-8203-1728-1.
  6. ^ Administration, US Department of Veterans Affairs, Veterans Health. "Our History – Columbia VA Health Care System". www.columbiasc.va.gov. Retrieved 2020-04-08.

External linksEdit

Party political offices
Preceded by Democratic nominee for Governor of South Carolina
Succeeded by
U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from South Carolina's 3rd congressional district

Succeeded by
Preceded by Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from South Carolina's 3rd congressional district

Succeeded by
Honorary titles
Preceded by Most Senior Living U.S. Representative
(Sitting or Former)

October 18, 2004 – August 13, 2005
Served alongside: George Smathers
Succeeded by