ROBERT ARCHER COOPER was born in Waterloo Township (Laurens County), South Carolina. He received an LL.D. from the Polytechnic Institute in San German, Puerto Rico and was admitted to the South Carolina Bar in 1898. He was Magistrate of Laurens, South Carolina in 1899 and 1900 and a member of the South Carolina House of Representatives from 1900 to 1904, and was elected three times to the position of Solicitor of the Eighth Judicial District of South Carolina. He was also a trustee of Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina and Anderson College in Anderson, South Carolina. As governor, Cooper launched a progressive program that sought to establish a seven-month school term in the state, compulsory statewide school attendance, higher teacher salaries, expanded public health services, and increased road construction. To finance these efforts, he urged a revaluation of state property and more rigorous enforcement of the tax laws. In addition, legislation was enacted limiting the hours of work in textile mills to ten hours daily or fifty-five hours weekly. During Cooper’s administration, an agricultural depression began that plagued South Carolina for a number of years. Cooper resigned shortly before completing his second term as governor to accept appointment to the Federal Farm Loan Board, a position that he held for five years. He resumed the practice of law but returned to the federal goverment when asked by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to help organize the Commodity Credit Corporation, on which he served briefly as General Counsel. He also was assistant to the Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Democratic National Committee from 1929 to 1932 and a U.S. District Judge for Puerto Rico from 1934 to 1947.
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. 40. New York: James T. White & Company.