OLIN DE WITT TALMADGE JOHNSTON was born near Honea Path, South Carolina. After graduating from the Textile Industrial Institute in Spartanburg in 1915, he served in the U.S. Army during World War I. He went on to earn a bachelor’s degree from Wofford College in 1923 and both a master of arts degree and a law degree from the University of South Carolina. In addition to practicing law, he was a member of the South Carolina House of Representatives from 1923 to 1924 and again from 1927 to 1930. During his two non-consecutive gubernatorial terms, he created the South Carolina Rural Electrification Authority. Also during his administration, the Alcoholic Beverage Control Law and the South Carolina Public Welfare Act were passed, teachers' salaries were increased, the school year was extended, and labor laws were revised to increase workers' compensation and to prohibit the industrial employment of children under the age of sixteen. At the same time, when concern arose over a Supreme Court ruling that blacks could vote in Texas primaries, he called the state Assembly into special session to eliminate laws regarding primary elections, thus removing primaries from state control and leaving them in the hands of the political parties. In addition, Johnston charged the State Highway Department with operational irregularities. After declaring the department to be in rebellion, he ordered the National Guard to occupy its offices. However, no irregularities in the department's operations were found to have occurred. As governor during World War II, Johnston devoted much of his time to maintaining South Carolina on a war footing. Two years into his second term, Johnston was elected to the U.S. Senate, where he served from 1945 until his death in 1965.
Sobel, Robert, and John Raimo, eds. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1978, Vol. 4. Westport, CT: Meckler Books, 1978. 4 vols.
The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, Vol. 50. New York: James T. White & Company.