John Lyde Wilson, Governor

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John Lyde Wilson

Birthdate: (65)
Death: Died
Immediate Family:

Son of John Wilson and Mary Kimbrough Lyde
Husband of Charlotte Wilson

Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About John Lyde Wilson, Governor

John Lyde Wilson (May 24, 1784 – February 12, 1849) was the 49th Governor of South Carolina from 1822 to 1824 and an ardent supporter of dueling.

Early life and career

Born in Marlboro County, Wilson studied law in Baltimore and was admitted to the South Carolina bar in 1807. He practiced law in Georgetown and became active in politics by being elected to three non-consecutive terms to the South Carolina House of Representatives. Wilson gained election to the South Carolina Senate in 1818 and was chosen by his colleagues to be the president of the senate. In 1822, the General Assembly elected him as Governor of South Carolina for a two-year term.

As Governor

Governor Wilson believed in states' rights and assailed the U.S. Congress for carrying out internal improvements as a result of revenues brought in by the tariff of 1824. During his term as governor, Wilson advocated the humane reform of the Negro Laws and backed the incorporation of the Medical College of South Carolina in 1823.

Later life and career

Wilson won re-election to the state Senate in 1826, but was pressed for impeachment by Thomas S. Grimké, who accused Wilson of being reckless with the State's finances, as governor. Having felt that his honor had been impugned, Wilson challenged Grimké to a duel. However, both sides agreed to "set aside their Differences" when the contingent funds were accounted for.

In 1832, Wilson participated in the Nullification Convention and was firmly committed to secession. He additionally served as a leader of a Lynching Club which acted as a vigilante group to enforce the law and maintain Southern sensibilities. When a mob went to the Charleston post office in 1835 to confiscate mail containing abolitionist literature, Wilson supported their efforts and endorsed their actions. Based mostly on personal experience, Wilson penned The Code of Honor in 1838 which described a set of guidelines for duelists and he argued that it would save lives instead of encouraging duels.

Wilson died on February 12, 1849 and was buried at St. Paul's Church in Charleston.

Southern US Code of Honor

In 1838 former governor of South Carolina John Lyde Wilson published The Code of Honor; or Rules for the Government of Principals and Seconds in Dueling. The author later stated that at the time of writing he had never seen the Irish code.

Generally similar in intent, the Code of Honor additionally provided for secrecy (in view of laws punishing Duelists and, sometimes Seconds) and enforcement (to propel the disinclined). It counseled self-command and deprecated public resentment, and recommended silence with everyone except the second who would henceforth bear the insulted party's honor. A second not properly received could issue his own challenge. It advanced the concept of "posting" a public notice to degrade a scoundrel who refused to fight, or properly apologize, or participate at all. Southern duels persisted through the 1840s. Commonly held on sand bars in rivers where jurisdiction was unclear, they were rarely prosecuted.

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John Lyde Wilson, Governor's Timeline

Age 65