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Edward Rutledge


In office
December 18, 1798 – January 23, 1800
Preceded by Charles Pinckney
Succeeded by John Drayton

Born November 23, 1749(1749-11-23)
Charleston, South Carolina
Died January 23, 1800 (aged 50)
Charleston, South Carolina
Political party Federalist
Spouse(s) Henrietta Middleton,
Mary Shubrick Eveleigh
Religion Christian-Anglican
Signature


Edward Rutledge (November 23, 1749 – January 23, 1800) was an American politician and youngest signer of the United States Declaration of Independence. He later served as governor of South Carolina.

Contents

Early years and career

Like his eldest brother John Rutledge, Edward was born in Charleston. He was the youngest of seven children born to Dr. John Rutledge (1713-25 December 1750) and Sarah Hext (born 18 September 1724). He studied law at Oxford University, was admitted to the English bar (Middle Temple), and returned to Charleston to practice. He married, on 1 March 1774, Henrietta Middleton (17 November 1750-22 April 1792), daughter of Henry Middleton. The couple had three children;

  • Maj. Henry Middleton Rutledge (5 April 1775-20 January 1844)
  • Edward Rutledge (20 March 1778-1780)
  • Sarah Rutledge (1782-1855)

Rutledge had a successful law practice with his partner, Charles Cotesworth Pinckney. He became a leading citizen of Charleston, and owned more than 50 slaves.[1]

American Revolution

Along with his brother John, Rutledge represented South Carolina in the Continental Congress. Although a firm supporter of colonial rights, he was initially reluctant to support independence from Great Britain, hoping instead for reconciliation with the mother country. Like other Southern planters, Rutledge did not want the American Revolution to change the basic social structure of the South. He worked to have African Americans expelled from the Continental Army, and led the successful effort to have wording removed from the Declaration of Independence that condemned slavery and the slave trade.[1] Nevertheless, he signed the Declaration for the sake of unanimity, and at age 26 was the youngest to sign.

He returned home in November 1776 to take a seat in the South Carolina Assembly. He served as a captain of artillery in the South Carolina militia, and fought at the Battle of Beaufort in 1779. The next year he was captured by the British in the fall of Charleston, and held prisoner until July 1781.

Rutledge is standing on the far right in John Trumbull's famous painting The Declaration of Independence.

Later life and legacy

After his release he returned to the state assembly, where he served until 1796. He was known as an active member and an advocate for the confiscation of Loyalist property. He served in the state senate for two years, then was elected governor in 1798. He had to go to an important meeting in Columbia. While there he had to be sent home because of his gout. He died in Charleston before the end of his term. Some said at the time that he died from apoplexy resulting from hearing the news of George Washington's death.[1]

The Edward Rutledge House in Charleston

Rutledge was a main character in the musical play 1776, in which he sings the song "Molasses to Rum" about slavery and the Triangle Trade. He is depicted as the secondary antagonist in the play, (the principal antagonist being John Dickinson of Pennsylvania), in obstructing the play's heroes - John Adams, Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson. Rutledge was portrayed by Clifford David in the original Broadway production, and John Cullum in the 1972 film. In the 2008 miniseries John Adams, Rutledge was portrayed by Clancy O'Connor.

Notes

  1. ^ a b c Williams, American National Biography.

References

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
Charles Pinckney
Governor of South Carolina
1798 – 1800
Succeeded by
John Drayton
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Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Edward Rutledge.jpg

Edward Rutledge (November 23, 1749January 23, 1800) was an American statesman, signer of the United States Declaration of Independence and governor of South Carolina.

Sourced

  • I always considered an idle Life, as a real evil, but, a life of such hurry, such constant hurry, leaves us scarcely a moment for reflection or for the discharge of any other then the most immediate and pressing concerns.
    • Quoted in James Haw, John and Edward Rutledge of South Carolina (University of Georgia Press, 1997, ISBN 0-820-31859-0), p. 233
  • Be mild and firm. Apply your best exertions to put us in a proper posture of defense.
    • Quoted in James Haw, John and Edward Rutledge of South Carolina (University of Georgia Press, 1997), p. 269
  • Oh for a fleet that could look the proudest power in Europe in the face, on this our rightful Western Ocean! But alas, it must be left to posterity — at the age of 50 I can't expect to view it unless from above.
    • Quoted in James Haw, John and Edward Rutledge of South Carolina (University of Georgia Press, 1997), p. 272
  • I find that I can agree fully with my good friend Patrick Henry when he said it cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians, not on religions, but on the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
    • Quoted in Robert W. Pelton, Baking Recipes of Our Founding Fathers: Authentic Baking Recipes from the Wives and Mothers Of, & Trivia About, the Signers of the Declaration of Independence and Our Constitution (Infinity Publishing 2004), p. 213. also

External links

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