Ernest Hollings

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Ernest Hollings
United States Senator
from South Carolina
In office
November 8, 1966 – January 3, 2005
Preceded by Donald Russell
Succeeded by Jim DeMint
106th Governor of South Carolina
In office
January 20, 1959 – January 15, 1963
Lieutenant Burnet R. Maybank Jr.
Preceded by George Timmerman, Jr.
Succeeded by Donald Russell
77th Lieutenant Governor of South Carolina
In office
January 18, 1955 – January 20, 1959
Governor George Timmerman, Jr.
Preceded by George Timmerman, Jr.
Succeeded by Burnet Maybank
Member of the South Carolina House of Representatives from Charleston County
In office
January 11, 1949 – January 11, 1955
Personal details
Born Ernest Frederick Hollings
(1922-01-01) January 1, 1922 (age 97)
Charleston, South Carolina, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Rita Liddy
Children 4
Alma mater The Citadel
University of South Carolina, Columbia
Religion Lutheran
Signature Ernest Hollings's signature
Military service
Allegiance  United States
Service/branch  United States Army
Years of service 1942–1945
Battles/wars World War II

Ernest Frederick "Fritz" Hollings (born January 1, 1922) served as a Democratic United States Senator from South Carolina from 1966 to 2005, as well as the 106th Governor of South Carolina (1959–1963) and the 77th Lieutenant Governor (1955–1959). He served 38 years and 55 days in the Senate, which makes him the 8th-longest-serving Senator in history. He served alongside Republican Strom Thurmond for 36 of those years, making them the longest-serving Senate duo in history, and him the most senior junior senator ever.

Early life

Hollings was born in Charleston, South Carolina, the son of Wilhelmine Dorothea (Meyer) and Adolph Gevert Hollings, Sr.[1][2] He was raised at 338 President St. in the Hampton Park Terrace neighborhood from the age of ten through enrolling in college. He graduated from The Citadel in 1942, receiving a Bachelor of Arts degree. He received an LL.B. from the University of South Carolina in 1947 after only 21 months of study, and joined a law practice in Charleston.[3] Hollings is a brother of the Pi Kappa Phi fraternity. He was married to Rita Liddy "Peatsy" Hollings from 1971 until her death in October, 2012.[4][4][5] He had four children (Michael,[6] Helen,[7] Patricia Salley,[8] and Ernest the 3rd[9]) with his first wife, (Martha) Patricia Salley Hollings.[4][10][11] He is a Lutheran. In addition, Fritz and Patricia had two sons who died.[12]

Hollings served as an officer in the U.S. Army's 353rd and 457th Artillery units from 1942 to 1945, during World War II, and was awarded the Bronze Star for meritorious service in direct support of combat operations from December 13, 1944 to May 1, 1945 in France and Germany. He received the European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with five Bronze Service Stars for participation in the Tunisia, Southern France, Rome-Arno, Rhineland and Central Europe Campaigns.[13]

Political career

He served three terms in the South Carolina House of Representatives from 1949 to 1954. After only one term, Hollings' colleagues elected him Speaker Pro Tempore in 1951 and 1953.[14] He was subsequently elected Lieutenant Governor of South Carolina in 1954, and Governor in 1958 at age 36.

Governor of South Carolina

As governor of South Carolina from January 20, 1959, to January 15, 1963, Hollings worked to improve the state's educational system, helping to bring more industry and employment opportunities to the state. His term in office saw the establishment of the state's technical education system and its educational television network. He also called for and achieved significant increases in teachers' salaries, bringing them closer to the regional average. At the 1961 Governor's Conference on Business, Industry, Education and Agriculture in Columbia, S.C., he declared, "Today, in our complex society, education is the cornerstone upon which economic development must be built—and prosperity assured".[15]

In 1962, during Hollings' term as Governor, the Confederate battle flag was flown above the South Carolina Statehouse underneath the U.S. and state flags where it would remain for thirty-eight years. In 2000 the state legislature voted to move the flag from above the statehouse to a Confederate soldiers' monument in front of the building, where it remained until 2015.[16]

In his last address to the General Assembly on January 9, 1963, ahead of the peaceful admission of the first black student Harvey Gantt to Clemson University, Hollings declared: "As we meet, South Carolina is running out of courts…this General Assembly must make clear South Carolina's choice, a government of laws rather than a government of men…This should be done with dignity. It should be done with law and order".[17]

Hollings oversaw the last executions in South Carolina before the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Furman v. Georgia, which temporarily banned capital punishment. During his term, eight inmates were put to death by electric chair. The last was rapist Douglas Thorne, on April 20, 1962.[18]

He sought the Democratic nomination for a seat in the U.S. Senate in 1962 but lost to incumbent Olin D. Johnston.

United States Senator

Early Senate career

Johnston died on April 18, 1965. Hollings' successor as Governor, Donald S. Russell, resigned in order to accept appointment to the Senate seat. In the summer of 1966, Hollings defeated Russell in the Democratic primary for the remaining two years of the term. He then narrowly won the special election on November 8, 1966, against the Democrat-turned-Republican Marshall Parker, and was sworn in shortly thereafter. He gained seniority on other newly elected U.S. senators who would have to wait until January 1967, to take the oath of office. Strom Thurmond won his first term as a Republican at the same time that Hollings prevailed over Parker. In that same election, Democratic Governor Robert Evander McNair defeated the Republcian nominee Joseph O. Rogers, Jr., a state representative from Manning. Hollings won the Senate seat for his first full term in 1968, when he again defeated Marshall Parker but by a much wider margin.

For thirty-six years (until January 2003), he served alongside Republican Strom Thurmond, making them the longest-serving Senate duo ever. This also made Hollings the longest-serving junior senator ever, even though he had more seniority than all but a few of his colleagues. Thurmond and Hollings generally had a good relationship despite their sometimes sharp philosophical differences, and frequently collaborated on legislation and projects to benefit South Carolina. Their combined seniority gave South Carolina clout in national politics well beyond its relatively small population. Only Thurmond, Robert Byrd, Ted Kennedy, Daniel Inouye, Carl Hayden, John Stennis, Ted Stevens, and Patrick Leahy have served longer in the Senate than did Hollings.

In 1970, Hollings authored The Case Against Hunger: A Demand for a National Policy, acknowledging the Reverend I.D. Newman and Sister Mary Anthony for opening his eyes to the despair caused by hunger and helping him realize that he must do something about it.[19] Hollings made headlines the year before when he toured poverty-stricken areas of South Carolina, often referred to as his "Hunger Tours." In February 1969, Hollings testified as to what he had seen on his fact-finding tours in front of the Senate Select Committee on Hunger and Human Needs. Charleston's News and Courier (now The Post and Courier) reported that "Senators, members of the press corps and visitors packed in the hearing room watched and listened in disbelief as Hollings detailed dozens of tragically poignant scenes of human suffering in his state."[20] Hollings recommended to the committee that free food stamps be distributed to the most needy, and just over a day later, Senator George McGovern announced that free food stamps would be distributed in South Carolina as part of a national pilot program for feeding the hungry.[20]

In the 1970s, Hollings joined with fellow senators Kennedy and Henry M. Jackson in a press conference to oppose President Gerald Ford's request that Congress end Richard Nixon's price controls on domestic oil, which had helped to cause the gasoline lines during the 1973 Oil Crisis.[21] Hollings said he believed ending the price controls (as was eventually done in 1981) would be a "catastrophe" that would cause "economic chaos."[21]

Presidential candidate

Hollings unsuccessfully sought the Democratic nomination for President of the United States in the presidential election of 1984. Hollings' wit and experience, as well as his call for a budget freeze, won him some positive attention, but his relatively conservative record alienated liberal Democrats, and he was never really noticed in a field dominated by Walter Mondale, John Glenn and Gary Hart. Hollings dropped out two days after losing badly in New Hampshire, and endorsed Hart a week later. His disdain for his competitors sometimes showed. He notably referred to Mondale as a "lapdog" and to former Astronaut Glenn as "Sky King" who was "confused in his capsule."[citation needed][22]

Later Senate career

During the 1988 Presidential primaries, Hollings endorsed Jesse Jackson.[23]

Hollings remained very popular in South Carolina over the years, even as the state became increasingly friendly to Republicans at the national level. In his first three bids for a full term, he never dropped below 60 percent of the vote. In the 1992 election, however, he faced an unexpectedly close race against former Congressman Tommy Hartnett in what was otherwise a very good year for Democrats nationally. Hartnett had represented the Charleston area in Congress from 1981 to 1987, thus making him Hollings' congressman. His appeal in the Lowcountry — traditionally a swing region at the state level — enabled him to hold Hollings to only 50 percent of the vote.

In his last Senate race in 1998, Hollings faced Republican congressman Bob Inglis. One of the more heated and notable moments of the race was a newspaper interview in which Hollings referred to Inglis as a "goddamn skunk". Hollings was re-elected 52%-45%.

On January 7, 2003, Hollings introduced the controversial Universal National Service Act of 2006, which would require all men and women aged 18–26 (with some exceptions) to perform a year of military service.

Senator Ernest Hollings

On August 4, 2003, he announced that he would not run for re-election in November 2004. Republican Jim DeMint succeeded him.

As a senator, Hollings was noted for his support for legislation in the interests of the established media distribution industry (such as the proposed "Consumer Broadband and Digital Television Promotion Act"). His hard-line support of various client-side computer restrictions such as DRM and Trusted computing led the Fritz chip (a microchip that enforces such restrictions) to be nicknamed after him. Hollings also sponsored the Online Personal Privacy Act.[24]

In his later career, Hollings was generally considered to be a moderate politically but was supportive of many civil rights bills. He voted for re-authorizing the Voting Rights Act in 1982. However, in 1967 he was one of the 11 senators who voted against the confirmation of Thurgood Marshall, the first Black Supreme Court justice.[25] Hollings later voted in favor of the failed nomination of Robert Bork and also for the successful nomination of Clarence Thomas.

On fiscal issues, he was generally conservative, and was one of the primary sponsors of the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings Act, an attempt to enforce limits on government spending.

Hollings and Howell Heflin of Alabama were the only two Democratic senators to vote against the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993.[26]


When Hollings embarked on tours of poor areas of South Carolina in 1968 and 1969 and testified as to his findings before the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Nutrition and Human Needs, he was accused of drawing unwanted attention to South Carolina when other states — North and South — also faced extreme poverty. Hollings knew South Carolina was not alone in its struggle and thought that if any politician was going to investigate hunger in South Carolina, it was going to at least be a South Carolinian. After a tour of an East Charleston slum, he said, "I don't want Romney and Kennedy coming here to look at my slums. As a matter of fact when I get caught up with my work, I think I may go look at the slums of Boston."[27] For his efforts, Hollings was also accused of "scheming for the Negro vote." Hollings, who had seen plenty of white hunger and poverty and slums on his tours, responded, "You just don't make political points on hunger. The poor aren't registered to vote and they won't vote."[28]

In 1981, Hollings had to apologize to fellow Democrat Howard Metzenbaum after Hollings referred to him as the "senator from B'nai B'rith" on the floor. Metzenbaum, who was Jewish, raised a point of personal privilege and Hollings's remarks were stricken from the record.

Hollings would become popular for the wrong reasons among fans of the MTV animated series Beavis and Butt-head after he said to Janet Reno; "We've got this… what is it… Buffcoat and Beaver or Beaver and something else. I haven't seen it, I don't watch it, but whatever it is, it was at 7, Buffcoat, and they put it on now at 10:30".[29] After the remark, the mispronunciation of Beavis and Butt-head's names, particularly by characters the writers intended to ridicule, became a running gag on the show.

In 1993, Hollings told reporters that he attended international summits because, “Everybody likes to go to Geneva. I used to do it for the Law of the Sea conferences and you'd find those potentates from down in Africa, you know, rather than eating each other, they'd just come up and get a good square meal in Geneva.”

Hollings penned a controversial editorial in the May 6, 2004 The Post and Courier, where he argued that Bush invaded Iraq possibly because "spreading democracy in the Mideast to secure Israel would take the Jew vote from the Democrats."[30]

Post political life

File:Hollings Judicial Center in Charleston, SC IMG 4576.JPG
The Hollings Judicial Center at 83 Meeting Street in downtown Charleston is named for the former governor and senator.

In retirement, Hollings continues to write opinion editorials for newspapers around South Carolina and is a regular contributor to the Huffington Post. His opinion editorials are also published every week in, an independent protectionist news blog. In 2008, the University of South Carolina Press published Making Government Work, a book authored by Hollings with Washington, D.C., journalist Kirk Victor, imparting Hollings' view on the changes needed in Washington. Among other things, the book recommends a dramatic decrease in the amount of campaign spending. It also attacks free trade policies as inherently destructive, suggesting that certain protectionist measures have built the United States, and only a few parties actually benefit from free trade, such as large manufacturing corporations.[31]

Hollings started the Hollings Scholarship in 2005. This scholarship gives over 100 undergraduates from around the country a 10 week internship with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and a monetary scholarship for the school year.

Hollings helped to establish the Hollings Center for International Dialogue, an organization which promotes dialogue between the United States and Turkey, the nations of the Middle East, North Africa, and Southwest Asia, and other countries with predominantly Muslim populations in order to open channels of communication, deepen cross-cultural understanding, expand people-to-people contacts, and generate new thinking on important international issues.

Hollings is on the Board of Advisors of the Charleston School of Law and is a Distinguished Visiting Professor of Law there.[32] He delivered the commencement address to the first graduating class there on May 19, 2007.[33]

Further information

Senator Hollings played a Southern senator, Senator Marquand, whom Al Pacino attempts to woo in order to land the Democratic convention in the 1996 film City Hall.

Because of Strom Thurmond's longevity and length of service, Senator Hollings spent 36 years as the junior senator from South Carolina, despite having seniority over the vast majority of his peers. He finally became senior senator from South Carolina while serving alongside Lindsey Graham, but only for the last two years of his Senate service.

Electoral history

South Carolina U.S. Senate Election 1992
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Fritz Hollings (incumbent) 591,030 50.07
Republican Thomas Hartnett 554,175 46.95
Libertarian Mark Johnson 22,962 1.95
South Carolina U.S. Senate Election 1998
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Fritz Hollings (incumbent) 562,791 52.68
Republican Bob Inglis 488,132 45.69


  2. [1]
  3. Hollings, Ernest with Kirk Victor (2008). Making Government Work. Columbia, S.C.: University of South Carolina Press. p. 9.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 UPI (12 July 1971). "Sen. Hollings to Wed Office Assistant". The Dispatch. Retrieved 4 October 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Ruiz, Myra (23 July 2010), Biden Speaks At Hollings Library Dedication, WYFF4 News, retrieved 4 October 2011<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. "Hollings' son to run for lieutenant governor". Herald-Journal. Associated Press. 14 June 2006. Retrieved 4 October 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "Hollings Granddaughter Dies; Presidential Hopeful Flies Home". Ocala star-Banner. Associated Press. 14 August 1983. Retrieved 4 October 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. Schuyler Kropf (19 April 2003). "Hollings family lays daughter to rest". The Post and Courier. Retrieved 4 October 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. "Milestones, Mar. 23, 1959". Time Magazine. 1959. Retrieved 4 October 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. "Ernest Frederick Hollings". 4 October 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. Priscilla Meyer (5 February 1961). "South Carolina's First Lady". The News and Courier. Retrieved 4 October 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. "Milestones, Mar. 23, 1959". Time Magazine. 1959. Retrieved 4 January 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. Once A Soldier...Always A Soldier: Soldiers in the 108th Congress. Arlington, Virginia: Association of the United States Army. 2003. p. 16.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. Watson, Inez (Ed.) (1953). South Carolina's Legislative Manual (34th ed.). Columbia, S.C.: General Assembly. p. 72. <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. "Finding Aid for the Gubernatorial Papers of the Ernest F. "Fritz" Hollings Collection" (PDF). South Carolina Political Collections of the University of South Carolina. Retrieved September 14, 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. Brunner, Borgna (30 June 2000). "Confederate Flag Comes Down in South Carolina". Infoplease. Pearson Education, Inc. Retrieved 7 May 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. Address by Governor Ernest F. Hollings to the General Assembly of South Carolina, January 9, 1963, p. 8-9,, part of the University of South Carolina's Digital Collection, "Fritz Hollings: In His Own Words."
  18. [2] Archived October 16, 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  19. Hollings, Ernest (1970). The Case Against Hunger: A Demand for a National Policy. New York: Cowles Book Company, Inc. ISBN 0402126114.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  20. 20.0 20.1 Pyatt, Rudolph (1969-02-23). "The Beginning of a Rennaissance [sic] in Dixie". Charleston, S.C.: News and Courier.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  21. 21.0 21.1 Frum, David (2000). How We Got Here: The '70s. New York, New York: Basic Books. p. 321. ISBN 0-465-04195-7.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  22. "The Citadel Archives: Hollings, Ernest, 1922".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  23. Our Campaigns – US President – D Primaries Race – Feb 01, 1988
  24. (S. 2201)
  26. U.S. Senate: Legislation & Records Home > Votes > Roll Call Vote
  27. Robertson, Glenn (1968-01-11). "Hollings 'Angered' by Tour of Slums." Charleston, S.C.: Evening Post.
  28. Pyatt, "The Beginning of a Rennaissance [sic] in Dixie?".
  29. Jacobs, A.J. (August 15, 1997). "Dude... This Sucks – We mourn the loss of fresh Beavis and Butt-Head episodes Television News". Entertainment Weekly.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  30. Sen. Hollings defends column labeled "anti-Jewish" by some - - Columbia, South Carolina |. (2014-04-24). Retrieved on 2014-04-28.
  31. Hollings, Ernest with Kirk Victor (2008). Making Government Work. Columbia, S.C.: University of South Carolina Press.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  32. "Board of Advisors webpage". Charleston School of Law. Retrieved September 1, 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  33. "Hollings to Address First Graduation Class" (PDF). Reprint from The Citadel of an article from The State (newspaper) online. March 25, 2007.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

Further reading

  • Minchin, Timothy J., “An Uphill Fight: Ernest F. Hollings and the Struggle to Protect the South Carolina Textile Industry, 1959–2005,” South Carolina Historical Magazine, 109 (July 2008), 187–211.

External links

Party political offices
Preceded by
George Timmerman
Democratic nominee for Lieutenant Governor of South Carolina
Succeeded by
Burnet Maybank
Preceded by
Frazier Reams
Democratic nominee for Governor of South Carolina
Succeeded by
Dick Celeste
Preceded by
Olin Johnston
Democratic nominee for Senator from South Carolina
(Class 3)

1966, 1968, 1974, 1980, 1986, 1992, 1998
Succeeded by
Inez Tenenbaum
Political offices
Preceded by
George Timmerman, Jr.
Lieutenant Governor of South Carolina
Succeeded by
Burnet Maybank
Governor of South Carolina
Succeeded by
Donald Russell
United States Senate
Preceded by
Donald Russell
United States Senator (Class 3) from South Carolina
Served alongside: Strom Thurmond, Lindsey Graham
Succeeded by
Jim DeMint
Preceded by
Edmund Muskie
Chairperson of Senate Budget Committee
Succeeded by
Pete Domenici
Preceded by
John Danforth
Chairperson of Senate Commerce Committee
Succeeded by
Larry Pressler
Preceded by
John McCain
Chairperson of Senate Commerce Committee
Succeeded by
John McCain