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South Carolina

SC Governors – John Rutledge, 1776-1778 and 1779-1782


South Carolina SC History SC Governors Governor John Rutledge

John Rutledge

Rutledge served many roles in government, including president of South Carolina from 1776 until 1778. When the South Carolina state constitution changed its executive title from president to governor, Rutledge became South Carolina's first governor, serving from 1779 through 1782. He also served at the United States Constitutional Convention, as an Associate Justice on the United States Supreme Court, and as Chief Justice of the South Carolina Supreme Court.

John Rutledge:  Biographical Facts


Portrait of John Rutledge
John Rutledge

John Rutledge:  Education

  • Middle Temple in London, England

John Rutledge:  Occupation

  • Lawyer

John Rutledge:  Major Events and Accomplishments, First Term, 1776–1778

  • March 26, 1776 – Four months before the Declaration of Independence was signed, South Carolina adopted a state constitution drafted by a Provincial Congress becoming the first republic in America. John Rutledge was elected as the state's first president and Henry Laurens as its vice-president making the two the first president and vice-president in America.
  • June 28, 1776 – Colonel William Moultrie and his patriot troops defeated Sir Peter Parker's attempt to sail a British Fleet into Charlestown harbor
  • August 5, 1776 – News of the signing of the Declaration of Independence in Philadelphia reached Charlestown
  • February 13, 1777 – The new state government threatened all white male citizens who refused to denounce King George III and pledge allegiance to the state with banishment
  • May 20, 1777 – Representatives from Georgia and South Carolina met with the Cherokee Indians to make the Treaty of DeWitt's Corner by which South Carolina gained most of present-day Anderson, Greenville, Oconee and Pickens counties
  • May 22, 1777 – The state seal was used for the first time
  • 1778 – President Rutledge resigned due to his refusal to approve changes in the state constitution and was succeeded by Rawlins Lowndes

John Rutledge:  Major Events and Accomplishments, Second Term, 1779–1782

  • January 9, 1779 – Governor Rutledge was the first chief executive to be elected under the state constitution that changed the title of the chief executive's office from president to governor
  • May 12, 1780 – After a lengthy siege by the British, General Benjamin Lincoln surrendered Charlestown to General Henry Clinton
  • September 3, 1780 – While travelling to Holland to seek a loan for the American cause, Henry Laurens was captured by the British

John Rutledge:  Other Government Positions

  • Stamp Act Congress, 1765
  • Continental Congress, 1774-1775, 1782-1783
  • Constitutional Convention, 1787 – Rutledge attended all sessions and served on five committees. He chaired the Committee on Detail that set the agenda of the meetings and played a major role in drafting the final document
  • Associate Justice of the US Supreme Court, 1789-1791
  • Chief Justice of the South Carolina Supreme Court, 1790-1795

John Rutledge:  Other Accomplishments, Honors, Distinctions

John Rutledge:  Election Results, 1st Term

  • In 1776, the South Carolina General Assembly elected Rutledge for president

John Rutledge:  Election Results, 2nd Term

  • In 1779, Rutledge was elected governor by the South Carolina General Assembly

John Rutledge:  Web Resources

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