James Hopkins Adams

36th Governor of the State of South Carolina 1854 to 1856

Date Born: March 15, 1812

Date Died: July 13, 1861

Place Born: Minervaville, SC (Richland District)

Place Buried: St. John's Episcopal Churchyard, Congaree, SC

Residence: Richland District, SC

Occupation: Planter, Brigadier General in SC Militia


Yale College: Graduated 1831

South Carolina House of Representatives: 1834-1838, 1840-1841, 1848-1849

South Carolina Senate: 1850-1853

Governor of South Carolina: 1854-1856

Adams signed the Ordinance of Secession in 1860 - the first official act of the Civil War.

Adams was one of three delegates sent to Washington, DC to avert war with the Union and arrange for the transfer of federal property in South Carolina to the control of the state government, 1861


John Hopkins Adams was born in Minervaville, SC, on March 15, 1812 to Henry Walker Adams and Mary (Goodwyn) Adams. Both of his parents had died by the time James was three years old, and therefore he was raised by his grandfather, Joel Adams, the patriarch of the Adams family of SC. He was fitted for college at Partridge's Preparatory School, which was famous in its day. He graduated from Yale University in 1831, after which he was a planter in Richland District.

He married Jane Margaret Scott, daughter of Samuel and Jane Scott, on April 10, 1832, and they had 11 children. Among his many children was Lt. Colonel Warren Adams, of the Confederate States Army, who was in command of Battery Wagner, South Carolina during the American Civil War.

In 1832 he joined the South Carolina Nullification Convention which deliberated until 1833 on whether states could nullify federal laws. He was an opponent of Nullification.

He served as a Brigadier General of Cavalry in the South Carolina Militia.

In 1834, James Hopkins Adams was first elected to represent the Richland District in the House of Representatives of the:
- 31st General Assembly that met from 1834-1835
- 32nd General Assembly that met from 1836-1838
- 34th General Assembly that met from 1840-1841
- 38th General Assembly that met from 1848-1849

In 1850, he was first elected to represent the Richland District in the SC Senate of the:
- 39th General Assembly that met from 1850-1851
- 40th General Assembly that met from 1852-1853

In 1854, John Hopkins Adams was elected the next Governor of South Carolina, a position he held through 1857. In 1856, he recommended a resumption of the foreign slave trade as a way of eliminating illicit trade. The legislature rejected this proposal.

He signed the articles of secession for South Carolina, The Ordinance of Secession, and served as a member of the commission to the United States government to negotiate the transfer of United States property in South Carolina to the state government.

He died in Richland District on July 13, 1861 at Live Oak, his country residence, and his remains were buried in St. John's Episcopal Churchyard in Congaree, SC.


James Hopkins Adams was a governor of South Carolina. He signed the Ordinance of Secession and was later elected commissioner from the state of South Carolina and sent to Washington, DC as an emmisary of the state in 1861. He returned to South Carolina in the early summer.

James Hopkins Adams, died in the Fork of Richland District, SC on July 13, 1861, from chronic piles, which had sorely afflicted him for several years. In life he had been a man of mark and note. He had been General of Cavalry, Senator in the General Assembly of South Carolina, and Governor of the State. He was a member from Richland District, in the South Carolina Convention of 1860 (which passed the Ordinance of Secession) and one of the Commissioners from the State, to the Federal government at Washington to adjust the great question of Southern Rights and Independence. In all these varied and distinguished positions, Gen'l Adams was energetic and faithful, acquitting himself in each, and all, to the satisfaction of his fellow citizens, and for the welfare of his state.

His highest political ambition, he however, never attained. It is well known that his strong desire, for the dignified position of a seat in the U.S. Senate, was not gratified. In his first message as governor of the state, he strongly advocated the re-opening of the African slave trade, which sentiment, was repudiated by the legislature and the people of the state. It was disposed of by an adverse report (very strong) from a special committee appointed on that portion of the message. Having received its quietus so decidedly, it was not adverted to in his message of the second year of his gubernatorial term.

The sentiment and measure, created an unpleasant savour against him, and although there were several vacancies in the U.S. Senate, after his term of office as governor, and his friends introduced his name; yet in no one instance was success at all prominent. He was at last defeated by the friends of Gov. Hammond, who was elected (although not a candidate) to the distinguished position, over all opposition, and thus was closed all hope of General Adams for this distinction.


James Hopkins Adams was born in Minervaville, SC and raised by his grandparents after the death of his parents. He received a bachelor's degree from Yale in 1831 and was a Brigadier General of Cavalry in the South Carolina Militia. He owned Live Oak cotton plantation, and served as a Trustee of South Carolina College from 1841 to 1861 and director of the Exchange Bank of Columbia. Prior to being elected governor, he was a member of the SC Nullification Convention of 1832-33 (which addressed the issue of whether states could nullify federal law) and served in both the SC House of Representatives and the SC Senate. During Adams's gubernatorial term, the issue of slavery was of paramount concern, and the governor's proposal to re-open slave trade-which he advocated as a means of rooting out illicit trafficking-was rejected by the state legislature. After leaving office, Adams was director of the Bank of Chester, SC from 1857 to 1861 and a founder of St. John's Episcopal Church in Congaree, SC. An unsuccessful candidate for the U.S. Senate in 1858, he was a member of the SC Secession Convention of 1860-1861, a signer of the South Carolina Ordinance of Secession, and one of three commissioners sent to Washington, DC to negotiate the transfer of federal property in South Carolina to state control.

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