Franklin J. Moses, Sr.

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Israel Franklin Moses

Also Known As: "Franklin J. Moses", "Sr."
Birthplace: Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
Death: Died in Columbia, Richland, South Carolina, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Major Myer Moses and Esther Moses
Husband of Jane Dorcas Moses
Father of Eliza Jane Baker; Rosalie Esther Ann Spann; Rebecca R. Mikell and Gov. Franklin J. Moses, Jr.
Brother of Rebecca Phillips Moses; Montgomery Moses; Rachel Wolff Moses and Hortensia Seixas

Occupation: m. 1828 to Jane Dorcas McClenahan of Chesterfield Dist., SC
Managed by: William Ansley Marjenhoff
Last Updated:

About Franklin J. Moses, Sr.

Served for 20 years before the Civil War as a distinguished lawyer and state senator from Sumter. He was Chief Justice of the South Carolina Supreme Court from 1868 until his death in 1877.,_Sr.

Franklin J. Moses, Sr., born Israel Franklin Moses, (August 13, 1804 – March 6, 1877) was an attorney, planter, politician and judge in South Carolina.

Early life

Moses was born in Charleston to Major Myer Moses and Esther (Hetty) Phillips, one of 22 children of Jonas Phillips. Upon completing his early education in Charleston, Moses attended South Carolina College in 1819 and graduated in 1823. He returned to Charleston to study law under the tutelage of James L. Petigru, but left for Columbia after he was admitted to the bar in 1825. At the urging of Judge J. S. Richardson in Clarendon, Moses instead went to practice law in Sumterville. The only possessions that he took with him were a few law books and a ten-dollar bill, nevertheless Moses was determined to make his home in Sumterville.


Moses entered a practice with John L. Wilson and from the beginning Moses established a principle he followed: Never in the criminal courts to prosecute a man where his life was in danger, and on the civil side never to bring a suit unless there was real merit in it. He quickly rose to the forefront among those of his profession in Sumterville because of his exceptional ability and his beneficial dealings with his clients. His popularity and highly regarded reputation were confirmed by his election as captain of a company of cavalry, the Claremont Troop. In 1832, Moses and his younger brother Montgomery Moses established the law firm of F. J. and M. Moses and their practice became well known across the state.

During the Nullification Crisis, Moses was opposed to secession and he served as a secretary for the Union Convention held in Columbia in 1832. Moses entered a special election to the state Senate in 1841 and he defeated two candidates to win the seat. He served in the state Senate until 1866 and he was the chairman of the judiciary committee for most of his time in the Senate. When the state was once again divided between the secessionists and cooperationists in 1852, Moses sided with latter.

After South Carolina seceded in 1860, Moses offered his services to the state and he was dispatched to North Carolina to convince her to also leave the Union; a mission he successfully accomplished. He then served on the staff of General Henry A. Wise in West Virginia for a short duration, but had to return to South Carolina because he could not endure the rigors of campaigning.

From 1850 to 1865, Moses was a member of the Board of Trustees at South Carolina College and he taught law at the institution for several years afterward. In 1866, Moses was elected as a Circuit Court judge and on July 29, 1868, he was elected to the South Carolina Supreme Court as Chief Justice. Although he had a reputable reputation, his election by a Radical Republican state legislature diminished his standing among his peers and he was thought of as nothing more than a scalawag. However, his conviction and determination to bring a just and favorable ruling for Wade Hampton during the turbulent gubernatorial election of 1876 restored his status as a leading South Carolinian. Moses died on March 6, 1877, a day before he could deliver the ruling.

Personal life

In 1830, Moses acquired two lots on the north side of Republican (now East Hampton) Street in between Main and Harvin Streets to be used as his residence. At about that time for unknown reasons, he reversed the order of his first and middle names. Moses married Jane McLellan (also spelled McClenahan) of Chesterfield, a devout Methodist and avid gardener, and they had one son, Franklin Israel Moses, Jr. The middle initial was confused for the letter J and thereafter both father and son simply became known as Franklin J. Moses or F. J. Moses. Moses was raised as a Jew, but later left the religion and his son was never a Jew.

Moses was conferred an honorary LL.D. by his son, who as Governor of South Carolina was the ex officio chairman of the Board of Trustees of the University of South Carolina. On his tombstone was inscribed Viv probus et justus (He was honest and just).

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Franklin J. Moses, Sr.'s Timeline

August 13, 1804
Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
Age 23
Age 24
March 21, 1833
Age 28
Age 32
Age 33
Sumter, Sumter, SC, USA
March 6, 1877
Age 72
Columbia, Richland, South Carolina, United States