Gen. Wade Hampton I, US Congress

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Wade Hampton, I

Birthplace: Halifax, VA, USA
Death: Died in Columbia, SC, USA
Place of Burial: Columbia, SC, USA
Immediate Family:

Son of Capt. Anthony Hampton and Elizabeth Hampton
Husband of Martha Epps Hampton; Harriet Hampton and Mary Hampton
Father of Colonel Wade Hampton II, USA; Francis "Frank" Hampton; Caroline Martha Preston; Harriet Hampton; Louisa Wade Hampton and 3 others
Brother of Margaret Bynum; Major John Hampton; Anthony Hampton, Jr.; Col. Edward Hampton; Preston Hampton and 3 others

Occupation: Planter, Officer, U.S. State Representative
Managed by: Eric William Leibrock
Last Updated:

About Gen. Wade Hampton I, US Congress

Wade Hampton (1752 – February 4, 1835) was a South Carolina soldier, politician, two-term U.S. Congressman, and wealthy plantation owner. He was the scion of the politically important Hampton family, which was influential in state politics almost into the 20th century. His great-great-grandfather Thomas Hampton (1623–1690) was born in England and settled in the Virginia Colony.

Hampton served in the American Revolution as a lieutenant colonel in a South Carolina volunteer cavalry regiment. He was a Democratic-Republican member of Congress for South Carolina from 1795–1797 and from 1803–1805, and a presidential elector in 1801.

He was a colonel in the United States Army in 1808, and was promoted to brigadier general in 1809, replacing James Wilkinson as the general in charge of New Orleans.

He used the U.S. military presence in New Orleans to suppress the 1811 German Coast Uprising, which he believed was a Spanish plot.

During the War of 1812, Hampton led the American forces in the Battle of Chateauguay in 1813. On April 6, 1814, he resigned his commission and returned to South Carolina after leading thousands of U.S. soldiers to defeat at the hands of just a little over a thousand Canadian militia and 180 Indian warriors then getting his army lost in the woods.

Thereafter, he acquired a large fortune land speculating. At his death it was told that he was the wealthiest planter in the United States, owning over 3,000 slaves. Hampton spent much of his time in a mansion, now known as the Hampton-Preston House, in Columbia, South Carolina.

Hampton County, South Carolina is named for the former Congressman.

His son Wade Hampton II and grandson Wade Hampton III were also prominent in South Carolina social circles and politics, with the latter Hampton serving as the state's governor after a distinguished career as a general in the Confederate army during the American Civil War.

He is interred in the churchyard at Trinity Episcopal Church in Columbia, South Carolina.

"Wade Hampton" by Walter Brian Cisco; page 5-6: "Wade - the first Wade Hampton - was probably born on May 3, 1754. It is less certain whether he was a native of Virginia or North Carolina, his family being on the move around the time of his birth. One tradition assumed that he received "a thorough education," but more likely he was exposed only to the rudimentary schooling common on the frontier. Hampton was unusually intelligent, shrewd, and would become widely read. "He seems to have availed himself of every opportunity to acquire knowledge," wrote one who knew him later, "and is able to converse with ease and spirit on most subject."

"Wade Hampton was an extraordinarily ambitious young man."

"Hampton was accumulating wealth in the form of land and slaves at a rate that probably amazed even him. He retained a variety of business interests, but after he married Martha, agriculture became his primary pursuit. Eventually, he would possess over 12,000 acres in Richland - pine and hardwood forests, useless swamp, and fertile farmland. With his profits Hampton bred race horses and speculated in land." Hampton was also involved as a stockholder in the notorious Yazoo Land Company.

After Harriet's death and his marriage to Mary, Hampton went on "to purchase and develop sugar plantations in Louisiana and Mississippi. Houmas in Ascension Parish, LA - with 148,000 acres and nearly 12 miles of frontage on the Mississippi River - became the greatest of all the Hampton holdings. In an era when possession of perhaps fifty slaves would qualify a Southerner for admission to the planter elite, the first Wade Hampton came to own upwards of 1,000. His Louisiana plantations alone were said to provide a return of $100,000 per year - at a time when an annual salary of $2,000 might be considered a confortable middle-class income. It is difficult to disagree with contemporary characterizations of Hampton as "the richest planter in the South."

"Justly or not, Hampton was criticized by some for mistreating his work force. A traveler named James Stuart claimed to have talked to former Hampton overseers who quit rather than 'assist in the cruel punishment inflicted upon his slaves.' According to Stuart, Hampton 'stints them in food, overworks them, and keeps them almost naked."

He described himself as a "loose Christian," although he supported Trinity Episcopal Church.

By his death in 1835, Wade had expanded his farming empire to cotton and sugar cane plantations in Mississippi and Louisiana, with a labor force of 3,000 slaves, and was known as the richest plantation owner in the United States (Wade Hampton I was the wealthiest man of America in the revolutionary era).

At the time of his death, "His estate, valued at a then astronomical $1,641,065, was divided equally among his wife, Mary, and children Caroline, Susan, and Wade Jr."

"The name and fame of Hampton will endure as long as loyalty and courage are respected by the human race."

~John Esten Cooke

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Gen. Wade Hampton I, US Congress's Timeline

Halifax, VA, USA

May have been born in Halifax, NC