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Senator Burnet R. Maybank papers

 Collection
Identifier: Mss 0085

Collection Overview

The papers of Senator Burnet R. Maybank span the years 1914-1973, with the bulk of the material concentrated in the years 1941-1954. The collection is composed primarily of legislative files and constituent correspondence relating to Maybank's legislative work as a member of the United States Senate. The papers are supplemented by personal papers including financial material, scrapbooks, newspaper clippings, photographs, personal correspondence, property and real estate investments, and other material. Also included are copies of printed material sent to Maybank and Maybank's Senate voting record for his last few years of service.

The papers reflect Maybank's principal Senatorial interests in government finance and national defense. Throughout the early 1950s, Maybank served as chairman of the Senate Banking and Currency Committee and chairman of the Joint Committee on Defense Production in addition to his longstanding service as a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee. Maybank also worked hard on the local level to bring in projects that benefited South Carolina including new projects and improvements for the Charleston Naval Shipyard, the Santee-Cooper Hydroelectric and Navigation project, and the Savannah River Site atomic plant.

Throughout his career in the Senate, Maybank also worked to oppose civil rights legislation including the outlawing of the poll tax, desegregation, and the implementation of a permanent Fair Employment Practices Commission (FPEC) citing such legislation as a violation of states' rights.

The Maybank papers also highlight the effects of World War II, the Korean War, and the beginnings of the Cold War on the United States and especially the state of South Carolina. Topics include projects to improve military installations, labor issues, the draft, and price controls.

Also of interest is a folder dating from 1941-1942 concerning widespread prostitution and vice in Charleston that caused parts of the city to be declared "out of bounds" to members of the United States armed services during World War II.

Notable correspondents include: Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman, and Dwight D. Eisenhower, former President Herbert Hoover, future Presidents John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, and Richard M. Nixon, Senators J. Strom Thurmond, Joseph R. McCarthy, and Olin D. Johnston, Judge J. Waties Waring, and J. Edgar Hoover.

Note that original folder titles have, for the most part, been retained.

Dates

  • 1914-1973
  • Majority of material found within 1941-1954

Creator

Language of Material

Materials in English

Access Restrictions

This collection is open for research.

Copyright Notice

The nature of the College of Charleston's archival holdings means that copyright or other information about restrictions may be difficult or even impossible to determine despite reasonable efforts. Special Collections claims only physical ownership of most archival materials.

The materials from our collections are made available for use in research, teaching, and private study, pursuant to U.S. copyright law. The user must assume full responsibility for any use of the materials, including but not limited to, infringement of copyright and publication rights of reproduced materials. Any materials used for academic research or otherwise should be fully credited with the source.

Biographical Note

Burnet Rhett Maybank was born in Charleston on March 7, 1899, a son of Dr. Joseph and Harriet Lowndes Rhett Maybank. He was a great-grandson of South Carolina Governor William Aiken and a great-grandson of United States Senator R. Barnwell Rhett.

Maybank attended the High School of Charleston and Porter Military Academy and entered the College of Charleston in 1914. He withdrew from the College when the United States entered World War I and enlisted in the United States Naval Reserve. When the war was over he returned to the College and graduated with first honors in the class of 1919.

After college, Senator Maybank went to work for his uncle, John F. Maybank, in the cotton export business, eventually going into business for himself. He served as president of the Charleston Cotton Exchange from 1926-1927 and was the vice president of the Atlantic Cotton Association. He also became a member of the city's aldermanic board in 1927 and served four years as a member of the city council, serving as vice-chairman of the ways and means committee.

He announced his candidacy for mayor April 6, 1931, on an independent ticket. In the Democratic primary of that year he defeated his opponent by a majority of almost two to one and assumed office on December 14, 1931. During his tenure as Mayor he was appointed to the State Board of Bank Control and appointed the chairman of the State Public Service Authority for the Santee-Cooper project. He had been a delegate to the 1932 Democratic National Convention which nominated Franklin D. Roosevelt and he cast his vote for him again for a second term four years later. His friendship with the President and with other national figures associated with the New Deal administrations were an enormous help to Charleston in Washington D. C.

In 1949 he was selected as the state's Governor. The first governor from Charleston since the Civil War. Maybank served as governor from 1939 until 1941 when he was appointed to the United States Senate as a Democrat to fill the unexpired term of James F. Byrnes, who had left the Senate to take his place on the United States Supreme Court. Senator Maybank was re-elected to the Senate in 1942 and again in 1948.

Maybank's principal Senatorial interests were government finance and national defense. Throughout the early 1950s, Maybank served as chairman of the Senate Banking and Currency Committee and chairman of the Joint Committee on Defense Production in addition to his longstanding service as a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee. He also worked hard on the local level to bring in projects that benefited South Carolina including new projects and improvements for the Charleston Naval Shipyard, the Santee-Cooper Hydroelectric and Navigation project, and the Savannah River Site atomic plant.

Throughout his career in the Senate, Maybank worked to oppose civil rights legislation including the removal of the poll tax, desegregation, and the implementation of a permanent Fair Employment Practices Commission (FPEC) citing such legislation as a violation of states' rights.

Burnet R. Maybank married Elizabeth deRosset Myers, a daughter of District Judge Frank K. Myers, on June 28, 1923. They had three children together: Burnet Rhett Maybank, Jr., Roberta Macon Maybank (married William F. Prioleau), and Elizabeth deRosset Maybank (married Theodore B. Guerard). His first wife passed away in October of 1947. In December of 1948, Senator Maybank remarried the widow of Rear Admiral Charles P. Cecil, Mary Roscoe Randolph Pelzer Cecil.

Burnet R. Maybank died, while in office, at his summer residence in Flat Rock, North Carolina, on September 1, 1954 at 55 years of age.

Extent

241.8 linear feet (149 document boxes, 136 cartons, 8 slim document boxes, 7 oversize boxes, 1 oversize scrapbook)

Abstract

Legislative files, correspondence, printed material, voting records, and personal papers of Burnet Rhett Maybank (1899-1954), United States Senator from 1941 to 1954. Materials primarily relate to Maybank's professional life as a United States Senator and include his legislative working files and constituent correspondence. The collection also includes a small amount of personal papers concerning Maybank and his family including personal correspondence, financial material, photographs, property and real estate records, newspaper clippings and scrapbooks, and estate settlements. Major topics include World War II, civil rights legislation, the Fair Employment Practices Commission (FEPC), the Korean War, the Cold War, labor, price control, the Charleston Navy Yard, the Santee Cooper Hydroelectric and Navigation Project, and the Savannah River Site atomic plant.

Collection Arrangement

  1. Legislative files, 1941-1954
  2. Correspondence, 1914-1954 (bulk 1941-1954)
  3. Printed material, 1934-1957
  4. Personal papers, 1923-1973 (bulk 1930-1954)
  5. Voting record, 1947-1954

Custodial History

The papers were originally shipped to the College of Charleston following Senator Maybank's death in 1954 and stored at the College of Charleston. However, due to the lack of suitible storage facilities at the college, the papers were temporarily transferred to the South Carolina Archives Department in Columbia, South Carolina, in 1957. Additional material (most likely personal papers) were later retrieved from the floor of the garage of the Maybank home in Flat Rock, North Carolina, and also transferred to Columbia, South Carolina.

With improvements and the creation of adequate library facilities at the College of Charleston, the college library successfully petitioned the South Carolina Archives Department and Maybank family to return the Maybank Papers to the College of Charleston in 1979. The majority of the gubernatorial papers have been retained at the South Carolina Archives Department and the small amount of mayoral papers (three scrapbooks) were offered to the City of Charleston's Archive.

Acquisitions Information

Materials were donated in 1979 by Burnet R. Maybank, Jr.

Additional material was donated by Frost Parker in June, 2012.

Processing Information

Processed by Matthew Kruse, January 2015.

Title
Inventory of the Senator Burnet R. Maybank Papers, 1914-1973
Status
Completed
Author
Processed by: Matthew Kruse; machine-readable finding aid created by: Matthew Kruse
Date
2015
Description rules
DACS
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin
Sponsor
Funding from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) supported the processing of this collection and encoding of the finding aid.

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Repository

Contact:
Special Collections
College of Charleston Libraries
66 George Street
Charleston South Carolina 29424
(843) 953-8016
(843) 953-6319 (Fax)