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Born in Waterloo Township, Laurens County, Cooper graduated with a law degree from Polytechnic Institute in San Germán, Puerto Rico. He was admitted to the bar in 1898 and practiced law in Laurens. In 1900, Cooper was elected to the South Carolina House of Representatives until 1904 when he was elected to be the Solicitor of the Eighth Judicial District of South Carolina.
Cooper entered the gubernatorial election of 1918 and won the general election without opposition to become the 93rd governor of South Carolina. He continued the progressive policies of his predecessor, Richard Irvine Manning III, by establishing a seven-month school term, mandating compulsory school attendance, expanding health care and improving the state roadways. These initiatives were paid for by stricter enforcement of existing tax laws and the revaluation of state property.
He resigned from the governorship in 1922 to accept a post to the Federal Farm Loan Board that lasted five years. After which, Cooper returned to the practice of law, but was called by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to serve as the General Counsel on the Commodity Credit Corporation. Roosevelt later appointed him in 1934 to be Judge of the District Court for Puerto Rico, a position Cooper held until 1947. Cooper died on August 7, 1953, and was buried at the Laurens City Cemetery in Laurens.
Richard Irvine Manning III
|Governor of South Carolina|
1919 - 1922
Wilson Godfrey Harvey
Ira K. Wells
|Judge, United States District Court for the District of Puerto Rico|