Whitemarsh Benjamin Seabrook

33rd Governor of the State of South Carolina 1848 to 1850

Date Born: June 30, 1793

Date Died: April 16, 1855

Place Born: Edisto Island, SC

Place Buried:
Gun Bluff Plantation,
Edisto Island, SC

Residence: Edisto Island, SC

Occupation: Lawyer, Planter, Author


College of New Jersey (Princeton): Graduated 1812

South Carolina House of Representatives: 1814-1819

South Carolina Senate: 1826-1834

Lieutenant Governor of South Carolina: 1834-1836

Governor of South Carolina: 1848-1850

Seabrook authored History of the Cotton Plant


Whitemarsh Benjamin Seabrook, the son of Benjamin Whitemarsh Seabrook and Mary (Wilkinson) Seabrook, was born on June 30, 1792 on Edisto Island at his family's plantation. He received his education at the College of New Jersey (later Princeton University) from which he graduated in 1812. He subsequently studied law and was admitted to the South Carolina bar, but he did not practice law for any length of time. Instead, he devoted his attention to his large cotton planting interest on Edisto Island at his Gun Bluff Plantation.

For several years, Seabrook was the president of the South Carolina Agricultural Society and he stressed the need upon the farmers of the state for diversification of crop. In addition, Seabrook wrote the History of the Cotton Plant and a concise view of the critical situation, and future prospects of the slave-holding states, in relation to their colored population.

On February 15, 1815, Whitemarsh Benjamin Seabrook married Margaret Wilkinson Hamilton, the daughter of Gov. Paul Hamilton and Mary (Wilkinson) Hamilton, and they had eleven children.

In 1814, at the age of 21, Seabrook was first elected to represent St. John's, Colleton Parish (in the Colleton District) in the House of Representatives of the:
- 21st General Assembly that met from 1814-1815
- 22nd General Assembly that met from 1816-1817
- 23rd General Assembly that met from 1818-1819

Seabrook resigned on 11/22/1819, but the House refused to accept his resignation. Some say he continued in the House until 1826, but there is no compelling evidence thereof.

In 1826, Whitemarsh Benjamin Seabrook was first elected to represent St. John's, Colleton Parish (in the Colleton District) again, this time to the SC Senate of the:
- 27th General Assembly that met from 1826-1828
- 28th General Assembly that met from 1828-1829
- 29th General Assembly that met from 1830-1831
- 30th General Assembly that met from 1832-1834

In 1834 the General Assembly elected him as the next Lieutenant Governor under Gov. George McDuffie.

On December 12, 1848, the General Assembly elected him as the next governor of South Carolina, and he served for two year. During his administration, he pushed for reform of education in the state. He lamented that only the upper class of South Carolina was provided with education and that the middle and lower classes received almost little if any education. Local officials were even encouraged by Seabrook to pass additional taxes to fund education. Furthermore, Seabrook organized the teachers of the state into the Teachers' Association, but it collapsed after he left office.

Upon the expiration of his term in 1850, Seabrook returned to his plantation on Edisto Island. He remained active in politics and participated in the Southern Rights Convention of 1852.

On April 16, 1855, Seabrook died at his Strawberry Hill Plantation, and he was interred at his Gun Bluff Plantation on Edisto Island.


Whitemarsh Benjamin Seabrook was born on Edisto Island, South Carolina. In 1812 he graduated with distinction from the College of New Jersey (Princeton University), after which he studied law. A plantation owner, he was president of the South Carolina Agricultural Society for many years and authored "History of the Cotton Plant." He was also a South Carolina College trustee from 1829 to 1837, a member of the South Carolina House of Representatives from 1814 to 1829, a member of the South Carolina Senate from 1826 to 1834, Commissioner of Free Schools, and Lieutenant Governor of South Carolina from 1834 to 1836. A critical issue during Seabrook's gubernatorial administration-as was true for his predecessor, David Johnson-was whether slavery could be expanded into territory acquired from Mexico in 1848 by the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. The federal government opposed such expansion, and in 1850 the South Carolina legislature enacted legislation authorizing an election of delegates to a convention of southern states to consider means of addressing what they viewed as northern aggression. A crisis was averted by Congress's passage of the Compromise of 1850 [a series of measures that admitted California as a free state, abolished slave trade in the District of Columbia, and permitted the organization of New Mexico and Utah without any specific prohibition of slavery, allowing each to decide for itself upon admission to statehood], but strong secessionist sentiment remained in South Carolina. After leaving office, Seabrook was a member of the Southern Rights Convention in 1852.

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