John Drayton

10th Governor of the State of South Carolina 1800 to 1802 and 1808 to 1810

Date Born: June 22, 1766

Date Died: November 27, 1822

Place Born: St. Andrew's Parish

Place Buried: Charleston, SC

Residence: Charles Town

Occupation: Planter, Author


John Drayton was born in Charles Town on June 22, 1766, the son of William Henry and Dorothy (Golightly) Drayton. His grandfather, Thomas Drayton, had come to Charles Town in 1671 from Barbados.

John Drayton attended Nassau Grammar school in Charles Town until he was ten years old. He then accompanied his father, who was elected as a delegate to the Continental Congress in Little York, Pennsylvania. John attended school there as well as a grammar school in Princeton, NJ. In August of 1779, he was admitted to the College of New Jersey (Princeton), but his father's death compelled him to return to South Carolina.

In 1783, he entered a school in Charlestown and remained there for a year, when he began his study of law in the office of Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, a friend of his father. He was admitted to the bar of South Carolina at the age of 21, and practiced law until 1794, when he retired from his profession to engage in rice planting.

At the age of 22, he was elected as one of the wardens of Charlestown. In 1790, he was elected one of thirty members who represented Charleston in the Convention at Columbia.

In 1792, he was first elected to represent St. Philip's & St. Michael's Parish in the House of Representatives of the:
- 10th General Assembly that met from 1792-1794
- 11th General Assembly that met from 1794-1795
- 13th General Assembly that met from 1798-1799

In this last assembly, the legislature elected John Drayton as the Lieutenant Governor of South Carolina on December 6, 1798, and he had to give up his seat in the House. Upon the death of Gov. Edward Rutledge on January 23, 1800, Drayton assumed the duties of the executive. On December 4, 1800, he was elected as governor in his own right for two years.

As governor, Drayton recommended the establishment of a college in Columbia, and on December 18, 1801, the legislature passed an Act creating the South Carolina College. During his first administration as governor, the county courts were abolished, district courts were established in their place, and the Santee Canal was completed.

When his term as governor ended, he was again elected to represent St. Philip's & St. Michael's Parish in the House of Representatives of the:
- 15th General Assembly that met from 1802-1804

In 1804, the people of St. Philip's & St. Michael's Parish first elected John Drayton to represent them in the SC Senate of the:
- 16th General Assembly that met from 1804-1805
- 17th General Assembly that met from 1806-1808;
- 18th General Assembly that met from 1808-1809

This legislature again elected him as the next governor of South Carolina on December 7, 1808, and he had to give up his seat in the Senate. When his second term as governor ended, John Drayton declined to serve again in the legislature.

On May 7, 1821, he was appointed and commissioned a U.S. Judge in the District Court in South Carolina by President James Madison. He remained in this position until his death on November 27, 1822.

John Drayton married Hester Rose, daughter of Philip Tidyman, on November 6, 1794, and they had six daughters and one son.


College of New Jersey - 1779

College of South Carolina (now the University of South Carolina) - 1807

South Carolina House of Representatives, 1792-1798

Lieutenant Governor, 1798-1800

South Carolina Senate, 1805-1808

US District Court Judge, 1812-1822

On December 4, 1800, Drayton served several months as governor prior to the election of 1800 upon succeeding to office at the death of Edward Rutledge. He was then elected to his first full term by the South Carolina General Assembly by secret ballot.

On December 8, 1808, the South Carolina General Assembly elected Drayton for his second term as governor by secret ballot.

Drayton authored "A View of South Carolina, as Respects Her Natural and Civil Concerns and Memoirs of the American Revolution from its Commencement to the Year 1776," "Letters Written During a Tour Through the Northern and Eastern States," and "Memoirs of the American Revolution."

The auditorium at the University of South Carolina's Wardlaw College was named for Gov. John Drayton.


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