Born in Blackville, in Barnwell County, the son of Russian Jewish immigrants, Solomon Blatt (1895-1986) rose to become one of the most powerful politicians in South Carolina. Educated at the University of South Carolina, where he received a law degree in 1917, Blatt was elected to the state House of Representatives in 1932. In 1937 he was elected Speaker of the House, a position he held until he resigned in 1973, except for the brief period from 1947-1950. It is the longest tenure of any state legislative speaker in the nation. As one of the "Barnwell Ring" (a group of powerful politicians from Barnwell County - see The "Barnwell Ring" Of South Carolina), Blatt was able to use his influence to support the creation of a comprehensive state highway system and the expansion of the University of South Carolina. He was an opponent of desegregating South Carolina schools in the 1950s and 1960s, but by the time of his death he expressed pride in his belief that race and religion were not a bar to opportunity in his native state. Blatt is pictured here with Lieutenant Governor Ernest Hollings in 1958.
Courtesy of "The State" newspaper.