John Drayton, Governor

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John Drayton

Birthdate: (56)
Birthplace: Magnolia Plantation, Charleston, Charleston County, South Carolina, United States
Death: November 27, 1822 (56)
Charleston, Charleston County, South Carolina, United States
Place of Burial: Charleston, Charleston County, South Carolina, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Chief Justice William Henry Drayton and Dorothy Drayton
Husband of Hester Rose Drayton
Father of Rose Butler Ford; Hester Tidyman Drayton; Maria Caroline Drayton; Harriott Drayton; Sarah Butler Drayton and 3 others
Brother of Mary Drayton

Occupation: Governor of South Carolina
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About John Drayton, Governor

John Drayton (June 22, 1766 – November 27, 1822) was an attorney and politician; he was the 40th Governor of South Carolina on two non-consecutive occasions from 1800 to 1802 and 1808 to 1810. He later was appointed as a United States federal judge.

Early life and career

Drayton was born on Magnolia Plantation on the Ashley River in St. Andrews Parish near Charleston. He was educated at the College of New Jersey during the American Revolutionary War and afterward read law at Inner Temple in London to prepare as an attorney.

He began private practice in Charleston from 1788 to 1794. He resumed from 1796 to 1798. He also served as a warden of the City of Charleston in 1788.

Political career

Early rise

In 1792, Drayton was elected to the South Carolina House of Representatives and was a member until 1798, when the General Assembly elected him as the 18th Lieutenant Governor of South Carolina. Upon the death of Edward Rutledge on January 23, 1800, Drayton was elected by the General Assembly to become Governor of South Carolina for the remainder of the term. They chose him to serve out a full two-year term in 1800 because of his strong republicanism.

South Carolina College

The most important act during Drayton's first full term was the establishment of South Carolina College. Drayton had pushed for a state-funded college immediately when he became governor upon the death of Edward Rutledge, but it was not until after his election that the General Assembly created and provide funds for a college. The location of Columbia near the State House was favored by Drayton because it was a central location that would provide an opportunity at higher education for all white male South Carolinians. In addition, he intended for the future leaders of South Carolina to be educated together in order to quell any divisions between the Lowcountry and the Backcountry. The General Assembly followed the direction of Governor Drayton and appropriated $50,000 to construct the college in Columbia and another 46,000 for the salaries of the faculty.

Second time as governor

Upon leaving the governorship in 1802, Drayton returned to Charleston. The General Assembly elected him to the South Carolina Senate in 1805. After three years, the General Assembly elected Drayton for a second two-year term as governor in 1808. Drayton and the General Assembly continued the Republican reforms by expanding the suffrage to all white men, regardless of status or wealth.

Later life and career

After leaving the governorship for a final time, Drayton returned to private practice until 1812. On May 5, 1812, he was nominated by President James Madison to a seat on the United States District Court for the District of South Carolina vacated by Thomas Bee. Drayton was confirmed by the United States Senate on May 7, 1812, and received his commission the same day, serving on the bench until his death.

A productive writer, Drayton authored several works related to South Carolina:

Carolinian Florist
A View of South Carolina, as Respects Her Natural and Civil Concerns
Memoirs of the American Revolution from its Commencement to the Year 1776.

On November 27, 1822, Drayton died. He was buried in Charleston.

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John Drayton, Governor's Timeline

June 22, 1766
Charleston, Charleston County, South Carolina, United States
January 19, 1797
Age 30
South Carolina, USA
October 25, 1798
Age 32
South Carolina, USA
January 25, 1801
Age 34
South Carolina, USA
June 7, 1803
Age 36
South Carolina, USA
January 9, 1806
Age 39
South Carolina, USA
March 17, 1809
Age 42
Magnolia Plantation, St. Andrew's Parish, South Carolina, USA
July 3, 1814
Age 48
South Carolina, USA
November 27, 1822
Age 56
Charleston, Charleston County, South Carolina, United States