About Andrew Gordon McGrath
Andrew Gordon Magrath (February 8, 1813 – April 9, 1893) was the last Confederate Governor of South Carolina from 1864 to 1865, having previously been a United States federal judge.
Early life and career
Born in Charleston, Magrath graduated from South Carolina College with an A.B. in 1831 and afterwards attended Harvard Law School for legal training. It was in Charleston, reading law under the guidance of James L. Petigru that Magrath gained knowledge of the law. Petigru also influenced his early political beliefs. Magrath was admitted to the South Carolina bar in 1835, entering private practice in Charleston, and was elected to the South Carolina House of Representatives in 1838 at the age of 25. He served until 1841 and was known as unionist or cooperationist. He thereafter remained in private practice in Charleston until 1856.
On May 9, 1856, Magrath was nominated by President Franklin Pierce to a seat on the United States District Court for the District of South Carolina vacated by Robert Budd Gilchrist. Magrath was confirmed by the United States Senate on May 12, 1856, and received commission the same day. It was there that he asserted Southern supremacy by striking down a piracy statute on the slave trade. Magrath resigned his judgeship when Abraham Lincoln was elected in 1860 to the presidency. In U.S. District court on the day after Lincoln's election, November 7, 1860, Magrath rose from the bench, saying:
In the political history of the United States, an event has happened of ominous import to fifteen slaveholding States. The State of which we are citizens has been always understood to have to have deliberately fixed its purpose whenever that event should happen. Feeling an assurance of what will be the action of the State, I consider it my duty, without delay, to prepare to obey its wishes. That preparation is made by the resignation of the office I have held. For the last time I have, as a Judge of the United States, administered the laws of the United States, within the limits of the State of South Carolina. While thus acting in obedience to a sense of duty, I cannot be indifferent to the emotions it must produce. That department of Government which. I believe, has best maintained its integrity and preserved its purity, has been suspended. So far as I am concerned, the Temple of Justice, raised under the Constitution of the United States, is now closed. If it shall be never again opened, I thank God that its doors have been closed before its altar has been desecrated with sacrifices to tyranny.
He was involved with the state's secession convention and became the Secretary of State for South Carolina in 1860.
In 1862, Magrath was appointed by Jefferson Davis as a Confederate district judge and on the bench he was noted for his opposition to the centralization of power by the Confederate government in Richmond. The South Carolina General Assembly appointed Magrath in December 1864 to be the Governor of South Carolina. He served for less than a year as governor and he was critical of continuing the struggle in the face of overwhelming Union forces. The Union Army arrested him on May 25, 1865 and sent him to Fort Pulaski for imprisonment.
Magrath was released in December and he resumed the practice of law in Charleston. On April 9, 1893, Magrath died in Charleston and was buried at Magnolia Cemetery.