Solomon Blatt (February 27, 1895 – May 14, 1986) was a long time Democratic legislator of South Carolina from Barnwell County during the middle of the 20th century. He was a principal member of the so-called "Barnwell Ring."
Early life and career
Blatt was born in Blackville, South Carolina, to Nathan and Molly Blatt, both Jewish Russian immigrants. Blatt attended the University of South Carolina, where he was a member of the Euphradian Society, and he received his L.LB degree in 1917. The same year he was admitted to the state bar, but his legal career was put on hold while he served as a supply sergeant in France with the 81st Division during World War I. After the war, he resumed the practice of law with future governor Joseph Emile Harley in the firm Harley & Blatt from 1917 to 1934. From 1934 until his death, he was the senior partner of the firm Blatt & Fales.
In 1932, Blatt was elected to the South Carolina House of Representatives from Barnwell County. Blatt's exceptional political skills were proven by his colleagues unanimously choosing him as the speaker pro tempore of the body in 1935. Two years later in 1937, Blatt ran for the speakership against L. Caston Wannamaker of Chesterfield County. Governor Olin D. Johnston opposed Blatt's bid and actively supported Wannamaker, but Blatt received the backing of the powerful men of the so-called "Barnwell Ring." Blatt won a narrow victory and became speaker after just four years of service.
Strom Thurmond campaigned for governor in 1946 on a platform of reform and against ring rule. All across the state, reform candidates for the legislature challenged the incumbent conservative politicians. Blatt faced a Democratic primary challenge from two Barnwell men and he narrowly eked out a win in the first primary. However, Blatt realized that the political climate had shifted and he announced in August 1946 that he would not seek re-election as speaker of the house. Blatt's fervent support of James F. Byrnes in the 1950 gubernatorial election and his extraordinary political acumen led to his re-election as speaker in 1951. For the next 22 years, Blatt served as speaker and in 1973 the legislature honored him by making him Speaker Emeritus.
Blatt married Ethel Green on March 20, 1920 and they had one son, Solomon Blatt, Jr. Blatt served for 53 consecutive years in the legislature and was honored by the Council of State Governments as the longest serving state legislator in the nation. He died in 1986 from heart and respiratory problems.