Stephen Decatur Miller

22nd Governor of the State of South Carolina 1828 to 1830

Date Born: May 8, 1787

Date Died: March 8, 1838

Place Born: Lancaster County, SC

Place Buried: Raymond, MS

Residence: Sumter District, SC

Occupation: Planter, Lawyer


South Carolina College (now the University of South Carolina): Graduated 1808

US House of Representatives: 1817-1819

South Carolina Senate: 1822-1828

South Carolina Governor: 1828-1830

US Senate: 1831-1833

Miller was the father of famous diarist Mary Boykin Chesnut


Stephen Decatur Miller, the son of Charles Miller and Margaret (White) Miller, was born on May 8, 1787 in the Waxhaw settlement, in Lancaster County, SC. He graduated from South Carolina College in 1808. After he studied law under John Smythe Richardson, he was admitted to the SC bar in 1811.

Stephen Decatur Miller established his residence near Stateburg in Sumter District, and he soon assumed the law practice of Richardson. He was married twice. He married is first wife, Elizabeth Dick, in 1814, but she died in 1819. None of their three children lived to adulthood. Miller married a second time on May 9, 1821; his second wife was a girl sixteen years his junior, Mary Boykin, daughter of Burwell Boykin and Mary (Whitaker) Boykin. They had four children together.

Public service began with his election to the U.S. House of Representatives. Following a special eletion to fill a vacancy, he took his seat in the 14th Congress on January 2, 1817. He was re-elected to the 15th Congress.

In 1822, he was first elected to represent the Claremont District in the SC Senate of the:
- 25th General Assembly that met from 1822-1823
- 26th General Assembly that met from 1824-1825
- 27th General Assembly that met from 1826-1828
- 28th General Assembly that met from 1828-1829

In the last assembly above, the legislature elected him to be the next governor of South Carolina on December 10, 1828, and he had to give up his seat in the SC Senate. He served for two years.

During his successful campaign for the U.S. Senate on a platform of abolishing tariffs, he made a speech at Stateburg, SC in September 1830 where he said "There are three and only three ways to reform our Congressional legislation, familiarly called the ballot box, the jury box, and the cartridge box."

He was an active delegate for the Claremont District at the Nullification Convention of 1832-1833, and he served on the select committee of twenty-one - he voted in favor of the Ordinance. Miller resigned from the U.S. Senate on March 2, 1833, citing ill health.

Stephen Decatur Miller renounced his political career in 1833 and ventured into farming in Mississippi. He died in Raymond, Mississippi, on March 8, 1838, leaving his wife and children in debt.

His daughter Mary Boykin Miller (1823–86) married James Chesnut, Jr. (1815–85), who later became a U.S. Senator and a Confederate general. Mary Chesnut became famous for her diary documenting life in South Carolina during the Civil war.


Miller, Stephen Decatur, a Representative and a Senator from South Carolina; born in Waxhaw settlement, Lancaster County, SC, May 8, 1787; studied under a private tutor; graduated from South Carolina College at Columbia in 1808; studied law; admitted to the bar and commenced practice in Sumterville in 1811; elected to the Fourteenth Congress to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of William Mayrant; reelected to the Fifteenth Congress and served from January 2, 1817, to March 3, 1819; resumed the practice of his profession; member, State Senate 1822-1828; Governor of South Carolina 1828-1830; elected as a Nullifier to the United States Senate and served from March 4, 1831, until March 2, 1833, when he resigned due to ill health; delegate to the South Carolina Nullification Conventions in 1832 and 1833; engaged in cotton planting in Mississippi in 1835; died in Raymond, Hinds County, Mississippi, March 8, 1838.

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