Miles Benjamin McSweeney

57th Governor of the State of South Carolina 1899 to 1903

Date Born: April 18, 1855

Date Died: July 4, 1921

Place Born: Charleston, SC

Place Buried: Methodist Cemetery in Hampton, SC

Residence: Hampton County, SC

Occupation: Newspaper Publisher, Major and Lt. Colonel in SC Militia


Washington and Lee University - Lexington, VA - withdrew due to lack of funds

South Carolina House of Representatives: 1894

Lieutenant Governor of South Carolina: 1897-1899

On June 2, 1899, McSweeney succeeded to office following the death of Governor William H. Ellerbe

On November 6, 1900, Governor McSweeney was re-elected without opposition, receiving 46,457 votes


Miles Benjamin McSweeney was born on April 18, 1855 in Charleston, the son of Miles and Mary McSweeney, and was forced to become a paperboy at the age of 10 in order to help support his family when his father died. In 1867, he became a printer's apprentice. He then went to Lexington, Virginia to attend Washington and Lee University upon being awarded the Typographical Union of Charleston Scholarship, but later had to withdraw due to lack of funds. He published The Ninety-Six Guardian at the age of 22 and he moved to Hampton two years later to start The Hampton County Guardian.

Miles Benjamin McSweeney served five terms as Intendant (mayor) of Hampton Court House (later, simply Hampton), and during that time he was influential in securing a loan to build a public schoolhouse and saw every dollar of indebtedness paid. He also contributed significantly to the building of a new Methodist church, of which he was a member.

McSweeney served in the South Carolina Militia on the staffs of Gen. Stokes and Gen. Moore with the rank of Major then Lieutenant Colonel.

In 1888, McSweeney was a delegate to the St. Louis Convention and voted for Grover Cleveland; in 1896 he was a delegate to the Chicago Convention and voted for Bryan; and in 1900 he was a delegate to the Kansas City Convention and again voted for Bryan. He also served as the chairman of the Hampton County Democratic Party.

In 1894, Miles Benjamin McSweeney was elected one of two men to represent Hampton County in the House of Representatives of the:
- 61st General Assembly that met from 1894-1896

McSweeney successfully ran for Lieutenant Governor in 1896, re-elected in 1898, and was elevated to the governorship following the death of Gov. William Haselden Ellerbe on June 2, 1899. A proponent of the Dispensary and backed by Senator Ben Tillman, McSweeney won a term on his own in the gubernatorial election of 1900. However, many in Hampton County were still in favor of prohibition and The Hampton County Guardian lost advertising revenue and subscriptions because of McSweeney's support of the Dispensary.

Upon the completion of his term as governor in 1903, McSweeney returned to Hampton County and continued as editor of The Hampton County Guardian. He died in Baltimore on September 29, 1909, and was buried at the Methodist Cemetery in Hampton, SC.


Born in Charleston, South Carolina Miles Benjamin McSweeney became a printer's apprentice as a teenager. He was awarded the Typographical Union of Charleston Scholarship to attend Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia but left school due to a lack of money. At the age of twenty-two he began publishing The Guardian in Ninety-six, South Carolina. Two years later he moved to Hampton, where he published The Hampton County Guardian. He served as both Corresponding Secretary and President of the Columbia Typographical Union and President of the South Carolina Press Association. He was also a Trustee of South Carolina College and a member of the Board of Visitors of The Citadel. His political activities included chairmanship of the Hampton County Democratic Committee and service in the SC House of Representatives. McSweeney was Lieutenant Governor of South Carolina from 1897 until 1899, when he succeeded to the governor's office after the death of Gove. William Haselden Ellerbe. He was elected governor in his own right in November, 1900. During his administration, the Interstate and West Indian Exposition was opened to promote Charleston's status as a major seaport. As governor, McSweeney supported public schools and higher education. Limited by the new state constitution to four consecutive years as governor, he left office in 1903.

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