Education was his top priority, particularly the encouragement of white children to take advantage of educational opportunities. Despite some success in education, most of Heyward’s progressive agenda was frustrated by state legislators.
Governor. Heyward was born in Richland District on June 24, 1864, the son of Edward Barnwell Heyward and Catherine Clinch. An orphan by 1871, Heyward resided with his grandparents at their Colleton County rice plantation. He received his basic schooling in Charleston and at Cheltenham Academy in Pennsylvania. For three years (1882–1885), Heyward attended Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia, but did not graduate. On February 11, 1886, he married Mary Elizabeth Campbell. They had four children. As did his illustrious forebears, Heyward earned his primary livelihood as a lowcounty rice planter.
Until 1902 Heyward had refrained from playing a prominent role in South Carolina politics. Unassociated with any particular political faction, Heyward was a good “compromise” candidate for governor. In August 1902 he won the Democratic nomination and was elected in November. He was reelected in 1904.
Entering office on January 20, 1903, Heyward optimistically believed that South Carolina “can look to the future with every degree of confidence and encouragement.” Espousing a progressive agenda that foreshadowed the administration of Governor Richard I. Manning, Heyward touted reforms to advance the “general welfare” of his state. Education was his top priority, particularly the encouragement of white children to take advantage of educational opportunities. Heyward’s administration helped secure funding for rural schools, increase pay for white teachers, and gradually extended the school term. However, he failed to convince the General Assembly to make school attendance compulsory.
Despite some success in education, most of Heyward’s progressive agenda was frustrated by state legislators. His efforts to place the state on a sound fiscal grounding failed to halt deficit spending by the General Assembly or secure an equalization of property tax assessments. Although Heyward signed the Marshall Child Labor Bill, the new law was so watered down by legislators that one newspaper called it “the mildest and most conservative measure that could be arranged and still called a child labor law.” And, as were his predecessors, Heyward was bedeviled by the state’s dispensary liquor laws. While critical of its administration, Heyward nevertheless believed the system, if properly regulated “will be one of the best solutions to the liquor question.” However, in 1904, he signed the Brice Law, which gave individual counties the option to hold referendums on whether to retain or abolish local dispensaries. By 1906 lax enforcement of the dispensary laws led Heyward to denounce the system as “a cloud which throws a shadow over the State.”
Heyward left office on January 15, 1907, and never ran for another elective position. He initially concentrated on improving rice production on his Colleton County plantation. But following the demise of coastal rice culture after 1911, Heyward pursued business ventures in Columbia. In 1913 President Woodrow Wilson appointed him to be the collector of federal internal revenue taxes for South Carolina. In 1937 Heyward published Seed from Madagascar, a classic study of South Carolina rice culture. He died in Columbia on January 23, 1943.
Spigner, Margaret Ola. “The Public Life of D. C. Heyward, 1903–1907.” Master’s thesis, University of South Carolina, 1951.