David Rogerson Williams

15th Governor of the State of South Carolina 1814 to 1816

Date Born: March 8, 1776

Date Died: November 17, 1830

Place Born: Robbins Neck, SC

Place Buried: Plumfield Plantation near Society Hill, SC

Residence: Darlington County, SC

Occupation: Planter, Lawyer, Hat, Shoe and Cotton Oil Manufacturer, Brigadier General in US Army


Rhode Island College (now Brown University) - 1792, withdrew in 1795

US House of Representatives, 1805-1809, 1811-1813

Governor of South Carolina, December 10, 1814

South Carolina Senate, 1824-1828


Born in the Cheraws District (of which part later became Darlington County), the son of David Williams and Anne (Rogerson) Williams, and grandson of Rev. Robert Williams, David Rogerson Williams was initially educated at St. David's Academy , then at a preparatory school in Wrentham, Massachusetts and attended Rhode Island College in 1792 until he withdrew in 1795. Rhode Island College awarded him an honorary bachelor degree in 1801. He first married Sarah, daughter of Nicholas Power, on August 14, 1796, in Providence, RI, and they had two sons, one of whom died in infancy. He later married a second time to Elizabeth Witherspoon in Darlington County, SC in November of 1809.

After studying law, he was admitted to the bar in 1797 and he practiced law in Providence, RI for three years because of his wife's poor health. Williams returned to South Carolina and became an editor of the Republican papers City Gazette and Weekly Carolina Gazette of Charleston. In 1803, Williams sold his share of the two newspapers and moved to Darlington District to engage in cotton planting and various manufacturing enterprises.

David Rogerson Williams was a member (1798-1830), Warden (1803), and President (c.1807-1809, 1821-1830) of the St. David's Society; Captain (c.1809), Lieutenant Colonel of the 38th Regiment (c.1809-1813), and Major General of the 4th Division (c.1815-1820) of the South Carolina Militia; ex officio (1814-1816) and elective (1817-1829) Trustee for South Carolina College; member and developer of the Winyah and Wando Canal Company (1816); commissioner of roads for Darlington District (c.1819), member of the board of public works (1820); founding member (1822) and President (1829-1830) of the Society Hill Library Society; commissioner of public buildings for Darlington District (1823); and member of the Literary Society of Society Hill (1823).

Williams was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1804 from the 3rd Congressional District as a Democratic-Republican. In general, he was a political maverick who stressed the need for limited government while also having greater accountability to the voters. When Williams first arrived in Washington DC, he was offered to have dinner with President Thomas Jefferson, but Williams refused because he felt that it might interfere with his independence of mind. To let the voters know how their money was being spent, Williams requested an itemization of appropriation bills rather than a lump sum, but the House voted against an itemization.

As an ardent Nationalist, Williams left the House in 1813 to participate in the War of 1812 and was appointed by President James Madison as a Brigadier General in the U.S. Army on July 9, 1813. As chairman of the committee on miltary affairs, he was entrusted with the defense of the seacoast, expecially of Beaufort and Port Royal. He resigned on December 8, 1813, but was not discharged until April 6, 1814. He returned to Darlington District and was involved in agriculture until his election later that year, on December 10, 1814, as Governor of South Carolina for a two-year term by the General Assembly.

During his administration, he was concerned with settling the boundary dispute between North Carolina and South Carolina, acquiring additional lands from the Cherokees, quieting slave unrest, and arguing with the federal government over militia equipment.

After leaving the governorship in 1816, Williams resumed his law practice in Charleston, and was for several years the Assistant Editor of the Charleston Courier newspaper. He then returned to Darlington County to resume his planting and manufacturing operations. He was the first known planter in South Carolina to construct levees along the rivers adjoining his property.

He was first elected in 1824 to represent the Darlington District in the SC Senate of the:
- 26th General Assembly that met from 1824-1825
- 27th General Assembly that met from 1826-1828

His accidental death occurred while superintending the construction of a bridge over Lynchs Creek on November 17, 1830. Williams was interned on Plumfield Plantation near Society Hill.


David Rogerson Williams, a Representative from South Carolina; born in Robbins Neck, SC on March 8, 1776; attended school at Wrentham, MA, and Rhode Island College (now Brown University), Providence, RI; studied law; was admitted to the bar in 1797 and practiced for three years in Providence, RI; editor and proprietor of the City Gazette and Weekly Carolina Gazette of Charleston, SC, 1801-1803; engaged in cotton planting and manufacturing in Darlington County, SC, from 1803 until his death; built the first cottonseed-oil mill in South Carolina; elected as a Republican to the Ninth and Tenth Congresses (March 4, 1805-March 3, 1809); elected to the Twelfth Congress (March 4, 1811-March 3, 1813); Brigadier General in the United States Army from July 9, 1813, to April 6, 1814, when he resigned; Governor of South Carolina 1814-1816; member of the SC Senate from 1824 until 1828; he was accidentally killed November 17, 1830, while superintending the construction of a bridge over Lynchs Creek, Witherspoons Ferry, on the road to Georgetown, SC; interment on his plantation near Society Hill, Darlington County, SC.
Click Here to download a PDF book - "The Life and Legacy of David Rogerson Williams" by Harvey Toliver Cook, published in 1906.

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