Miller Center

American President

A Reference Resource

James Edwards (1981–1982): Secretary of Energy

James Burrows Edwards was born on June 24, 1927 in Hawthorne, Florida. He served in the U.S. Maritime Service (1944-1947) and retired as a deck officer. Edwards obtained his B.S. from Charleston College in 1950 and his D.M.D. from the University of Louisville School of Dentistry in 1955.

In between, he worked as a deck officer with Alcoc Steamship Co. (1950-1951). Edwards was recalled as a dental officer in the U.S. Navy (1955-1957) and continued to serve as a lieutenant commander in the Naval Reserve (1957-1967). He studied for a year at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate Medical School (1957-1958) and did his oral surgery residency at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, Michigan (1958-1960).

From 1968 to 1972, he served as a dental representative on the South Carolina Governor's Statewide Committee for Comprehensive Health Care Planning and on the Federal Hospital Council from 1969 to 1973. Edwards ran for and won a seat in the South Carolina State Senate, serving from 1972 to 1974 and as governor of the state from 1975 to 1978.

During the Reagan administration, he also as secretary of energy from 1981 to 1982, returning to medicine thereafter as a professor of dentistry at the College of Dental Medicine of the Medical University of South Carolina.