Inaugurated on January 16, 1923, McLeod took office amid a prolonged statewide agricultural depression. Despite the economic crisis, McLeod advocated increased legislative spending on public education. As governor, he signed the 6-0-1 Law, which guaranteed all children in South Carolina at least six months of schooling annually.
Governor. McLeod was born in Lynchburg, Sumter County (later Lee County), on December 17, 1868, the son of William James McLeod, a merchant and planter, and Amanda Rogers. After attending public schools in Sumter County, McLeod entered Wofford College in Spartanburg, graduating in 1892 with a B.A. degree. After participating in a summer legal course at the University of Virginia, he returned to South Carolina and read law in the Sumter law offices of Purdy and Reynolds. McLeod was admitted to the South Carolina Bar in 1896 but returned to Lynchburg to manage his father’s mercantile business. On December 31, 1902, he married Elizabeth Jane Alford. They had four children. In 1903 McLeod moved his family to Bishopville and established a law practice.
In November 1900 the voters of Sumter County elected McLeod to the state House of Representatives. Two years later he advanced to the upper House as the first elected state senator from the newly created Lee County. He served as lieutenant governor of South Carolina during Governor Martin F. Ansel’s two terms in office (1907–1911). In 1910 McLeod lost a bid for governor to Cole Blease, and he lost an election for the U.S. House of Representatives in 1918. In August 1922 McLeod became the Democratic candidate for governor, and he won the office in the November election. He was reelected two years later.
Inaugurated on January 16, 1923, McLeod took office amid a prolonged statewide agricultural depression. Despite the economic crisis, McLeod advocated increased legislative spending on public education. As governor, he signed the 6-0-1 Law, which guaranteed all children in South Carolina at least six months of schooling annually. To relieve the property tax burden of hard-pressed farmers, McLeod advocated luxury taxes as an alternative source of revenue. He also supported attempts to frame a more equitable property tax structure. In 1925 McLeod called a statewide convention to investigate tax reform measures. A “Committee of Seventeen” made extensive recommendations to the legislature the following year, but no serious action was taken. McLeod enjoyed partial success in convincing the General Assembly to appropriate funds to expand and improve the state’s road system. During his second term he called for the reorganization of various state agencies to improve government efficiency and endorsed a constitutional amendment to limit the governor to a single four-year term.
With the completion of his second term in January 1927, McLeod resumed his law practice and pursued business and agricultural interests in Lee County and Columbia. He died in Columbia on December 11, 1932, and was buried in the Bishopville Methodist Churchyard.
Bailey, N. Louise, Mary L. Morgan, and Carolyn R. Taylor, eds. Biographical Directory of the South Carolina Senate, 1776–1985. 3 vols. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1986.
McLeod, Thomas Gordon, and Elizabeth Alford McLeod. Papers. South Caroliniana Library, University of South Carolina, Columbia.