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John Carl West Collection

West, John Carl (1922-2004)

Papers, 1840s, c.1857, 1905, 1924, 1938-2004, 52.5 ft.

John West served his state and nation well as a soldier during World War II, as a member of the South Carolina Senate, 1955 to 1966, as Lieutenant Governor, 1967 to 1971, as Governor, 1971 to 1975, and as United States Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, 1977 to 1981. Returning from Saudi Arabia, West practiced law, lectured on government and the Middle East at the University of South Carolina, served as Chairman of the Board of the Seibels Bruce Insurance Company, and engaged in a number of philanthropic enterprises. His public service was characterized by thoughtful and progressive activism.

The collection documents West's career in public service in the South Carolina Senate (Kershaw County area), as Lt. Governor, Governor, and U.S. Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, 1977-1981. Personal files include material concerning West's political campaigns and military service, and the Middle East.

Oral History Transcript (93 pages)
In this interview (taped in 1996 and 1997) West discusses his childhood in rural Kershaw County, his education at The Citadel, his military career, his law school education and legal career, and his career in public service. Among the topics he covers are his thoughts on aspects of the state's development since World War II; his assessment of Fritz Hollings' gubernatorial term as a "watershed" in the style of state politics; his experiences with race relations and the civil rights movement; and details of various political campaigns. He discusses the importance of William Workman's 1962 U.S. Senate campaign to the rise of the Republican Party in the state. He also describes his involvement with the 1960 John F. Kennedy presidential campaign in S.C. Some of his achievements during his career, including the creation of a second medical school in S.C., are detailed here, as well as his duties as Ambassador to Saudi Arabia. His career was not without disappointments, however, and West shares some of the frustrations he faced.

Oral History Transcript (16 pages)
John West, Lois West and daughter Shelton West Bosley reminisce about their years in the Governor’s Mansion from 1971-1975.

Related Links:

S.C. Governors (at “SCIway”)

Memory Hold the Door (USC Law School)

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