"I've never betrayed their confidence and I never will." So said South Carolina state Rep. Solomon Blatt in 1985, at age 90, in explaining why Barnwell district voters sent the son of Russian Jewish immigrants to serve 53 years in the Palmetto State's General Assembly. He was the nation's longest-serving state lawmaker, first elected in 1933. He wielded immense power as House speaker from 1937 to 1947 and later from 1951 to 1973, and lawmakers knew no bill passed unless it had Sol Blatt's approval.
Along with "The Bishop of Barnwell" -- state Sen. Edgar Brown, the longtime Senate president pro tempore -- he helped fashion much of South Carolina's modern state government.