About James Henry Hammond
James Henry Hammond (November 15, 1807 – November 13, 1864) was a politician from South Carolina. He served as a United States Representative from 1835 to 1836, the 60th Governor of South Carolina from 1842 to 1844, and United States Senator from 1857 to 1860. He was the brother-in-law of Wade Hampton II and uncle of Wade Hampton III.
Hammond graduated from South Carolina College in 1825, going on to teach school, write for a newspaper and study law. He was admitted to the bar in 1828 and started a practice in Columbia, South Carolina. He established a newspaper in South Carolina in support of nullification and was also a planter. He served in the United States House of Representatives as a member of the Nullifier Party from 1835 until his resignation the next year due to ill health. After spending two years in Europe, he returned to South Carolina and engaged in agricultural pursuits. He served as Governor of South Carolina from 1842 to 1844 and in the United States Senate, following the death of Andrew P. Butler, from 1857 until his resignation in 1860 in light of South Carolina's secession from the Union.
A Democrat, Hammond was perhaps best known during his lifetime as an outspoken defender of slavery and states' rights. It was Hammond who popularized the phrase that "Cotton is King" in an 1858 speech to the Senate. He also compared the South's "well compensated" slaves to the North's "scantily compensated" slaves (hired skilled laborers and operatives).
His Secret and Sacred Diaries reveal that his appetites did not end there. He describes, without embarrassment, his 'familiarities and dalliances' with four teenage nieces - the daughters of Wade Hampton II. Blaming the seductiveness of the “extremely affectionate” young women, his political career was crushed for a decade to come, and the girls with their tarnished social reputations never married. His mansion in Beech Island, South Carolina, Redcliffe, represents his ideal of the perfectly run plantation.
Hammond School in Columbia, South Carolina is named after him. Founded in 1966, it was originally named James H. Hammond Academy.