1912 was not a slow news year. Among the highlights:
- The formation of the People’s Republic of China and the end of the Manchu Dynasty;
- The sinking of the RMS Titanic;
- The establishment of the Royal Air Force (RAF) in England;
- The Olympic Games in Stockholm, Sweden (one of the pentathlon competitors was a young man called George S. Patton; he later became quite a well-known Army general);
- Universal Pictures movie studio was founded;
- A patent was issued for stainless steel;
- The remains of “Piltdown Man,” the famous “missing link” that fooled scientists for forty years, were unearthed;
- Washington, DC received a gift of 3,000 cherry trees from Japan.
There were also quite a few notable births during that year, including Woody Guthrie, Perry Como, Charles Addams, Julia Child, John Cage and future First Ladies Pat Nixon and Lady Bird Johnson. But one birth, little-known and unheralded at the time, has exerted a major, lasting influence over the operations of local governments all over the world.
In April of 1912, a South Carolina town of about 12,000 citizens stepped onto the world stage as the first to adopt a radically new form of government, one that helped to eliminate the political corruption that plagued many cities by placing the daily operations of the municipality under the direction of a professional, politically neutral city manager. This manager reported to the city council, a body of elected officials. The overall goal was to develop a professional organization, designed to assist the development of a town that was rapidly becoming a bustling city.
Wednesday, April 25, marks the centennial of the Council-Manager form of government, born in Sumter and used today in more than 3,500 American cities and numerous countries throughout the world, including Canada, the United Kingdom and Brazil. From its beginnings in a town of unpaved streets and horse-drawn wagons, the Council-Manager system has grown to become the dominant form of local government in the United States.
Sponsored by the South Carolina City County Management Association (SCCCMA) and the International City/County Management Association (ICMA), the observance will begin at 10 a.m. at the Sumter Opera House, 21 North Main Street. City Manager Deron McCormick says, “We are excited to celebrate this historic centennial milestone. We are proud of Sumter for this achievement and want to share it with the community.”
The event will be followed by a display of Sumter’s key assets at the City Centre, next door to the Opera House at 25 North Main Street, which will be open until 3 p.m. Both events are free of charge and open to the public—in fact, we encourage you to stop by and take a look at just how far we have come in the last 100 years as Sumter led the nation into the 20th century.
For a brief video history presented by local archivist and historian Sammy Way, please visit www.theitem.com/news and under “Local News,” click on “Sammy Way Talks 100 Years.”
And here’s to the beginning of a successful new century for Sumter’s local government!