Edward Rutledge

9th Governor of the State of South Carolina 1798 to 1800

Date Born: November 23, 1749

Date Died: January 23, 1800

Place Born: Charles Town

Place Buried: St. Michael's in Charleston, SC

Residence: Charles Town

Occupation: Lawyer


Edward Rutledge was born in Charles Town, South Carolina on November 23, 1749. He was the youngest of the seven children of Dr. John Rutledge who came to South Carolina from the north of Ireland about 1735. After acquiring a classical education, young Ned as he was called, read law with his older brother John, ten years his senior who guided him in his career as a lawyer. He was entered as a student at the Middle Temple, a prestigious school in London England in 1769. He attended the courts of law and the houses of parliament for four years, and on being called to the bar, returned to Charles Town and entered into practice.

Rutledge married the wealthy daughter of Henry Middleton, Henrietta, and subsequently built a home across the street from the house of his brothers, John and Hugh. Ned was nearly bald despite his age and "inclining toward corpulency." He entered into public life in 1774, when he was elected to the First Continental Congress in Philadelphia, with the help of his brother John, and his father-in-law, who were both respected politicians. Members of the plantation aristocracy entered prominently into public life at an amazingly early age, and young Rutledge was a member of the Continental Congress before he was twenty-five years old. However, he did not make too favorable an impression at this first meeting. He excited the scorn of John Adams, never an admirer of the South Carolinians, who wrote in his diary, "Young Ned Rutledge is a perfect Bob-o-Lincoln—a swallow, a sparrow, a peacock; excessively vain, excessively weak, and excessively variable and unsteady; jejeune, inane, and puerile."

In early 1775, Edward Rutledge was commissioned as a Lieutenant Fireworker under Capt. Owen Roberts in the Artillery Company within the Charles Town District Regiment of Militia. He was then made a Lieutenant in the Charles Town Battalion of Artillery, 2nd Independent Company.

Also in early 1775, Edward Rutledge was elected to represent St. Mark's Parish in the Ninety-Six District in the:
- First Provincial Congress that met in 1775

In late 1775, Edward Rutledge was elected to represent St. Philip's & St. Michael's Parish in the:
- Second Provincial Congress that met from 1775-1776

In early 1776, he was elected again to represent St. Philip's & St. Michael's Parish in the House of Representatives of the:
- 1st General Assembly that met in 1776

By June 1776, at the Second Continental Congress, Edward Rutledge, although opposed to independence, gained strength and recognition as one of the more influential members of congress and was selected to sit on the important War and Ordinance Committee. His motions against independence were endless. While he did his best to delay the vote for independence, he is generally held responsible for the postponement of the vote on the resolution of independence, he is also given the major credit for the decision of the South Carolina delegation to go along with the others on July 2 for the sake on unanimity. Edward Rutledge holds the distinction of being the youngest signer of the Declaration of Independence.

Rutledge left Congress six months later, in the autumn of 1776, and returned to the lowcountry of South Carolina. In late 1776, Edward Rutledge was commissioned as a Captain in the Charles Town District Regiment of Militia, and he led his company in the battles of Augusta (GA), Stono Ferry, the Siege of Savannah (GA), the Siege of Augusta (GA), and the Siege of Charlestown, where he was captured and taken to St. Augustine, FL as a prisoner. He was exchanged in July of 1781.

In late 1776, Edward Rutledge was elected again to represent St. Philip's & St. Michael's Parish the House of Representatives of the
- 2nd General Assembly that met from 1776-1778
- 3rd General Assembly that met from 1779-1780
- 4th General Assembly that met in 1784
- 5th General Assembly that met from 1783-1784
- 6th General Assembly that met from 1785-1786
- 7th General Assembly that met from 1787-1788
- 8th General Assembly that met from 1789-1790
- 9th General Assembly that met from 1791-1792
- 10th General Assembly that met from 1792-1794
- 11th General Assembly that met from 1794-1795

In 1796, Edward Rutledge was first elected to represent St. Philip's & St. Michael's Parish in the SC Senate for the:
- 12th General Assembly that met from 1796-1797
- 13th General Assembly that met from 1798-1799

But that legislature elected him as the next governor of South Carolina on December 6, 1798, and he gave up his seat in the Senate. During his administration, Yellow Fever hit Charleston once again, the state legislature established the office of Comptroller, and the state was again divided into new districts, counties, and parish voting districts.

Although he was re-elected to the Continental Congress in 1779, he did not get back to Philadelphia due to a lingering high fever. In 1791, he declined a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court, which had just become vacant due to the resignation of his brother, John. Both men claimed they could serve their home state better by being in the South Carolina goverment.

In 1798, he became governor of his state, but he died on January 23, 1800 before completing his term. He was only a few months past fifty. His first wife, Henrietta, daughter of Henry Middleton, bore him three children, but his second marriage, to Mrs. Mary Shubrick Eveleigh, was childless.


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