Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Edward Rutledge

                    Edward Rutledge, signer of the Declaration of Independence, was born in November 1749 in Charleston, South Carolina, the youngest of seven children.  His father, Doctor John Rutledge, emigrated from Ireland in 1735 and settled in Charleston.  There he started a successful medical practice.  A few years later he married a Miss. Hert who brought "an ample fortune" into the marriage as her marriage dowry.  She was only 27 years old when Dr. Rutledge died, leaving her a widow with seven children.

                    Edward received a "good English and classical education" and then started to study law with his elder brother John, a "distinguished member of the Charleston bar."  When Edward was 20 years old, he traveled to England to become a student at the Inner Temple, London.  "A number of Inns of Court, or sort of colleges for teaching the law were established in London at various times.  The Temple (of which there were three Societies, namely, the Inner, the Middle, and the Outer) was originally founded, and the Temple Church built, by the Knights Templar, in the reign of Henry II, 1185.  The Inner and Middle Temple were made Inns of Law in the reign of Edward III, about 1340; the Outer, not until the reign of Elizabeth, about 1560."

                    At the Inner Temple, Edward had the opportunity to witness "the forensic eloquence" of masters of the law.  He returned to Charleston near the end of 1772 where he was admitted to the bar and started practicing law in 1773.

                    While still very young, Edward was interested in politics; when he was old enough, he became active in the patriot cause of liberty.  His patriotic zeal and his "distinguished talents" in law put him in the eye of the public.  When he was 25 years old, he was elected to be a delegate to the first Continental Congress and was present when the Congress opened on September 5, 1774.  He was "active and fearless" in his duties and was re-elected as a delegate in 1775 and 1776.  Edward was an associate of Richard Henry Lee and John Adams when they recommended that each Colony form a permanent government.  Edward "warmly" favored independence and "fearlessly" voted for the Declaration of Independence even though many people of South Carolina were opposed to it.

                    Edward was appointed to a committee with Dr. Benjamin Franklin and John Adams to meet Lord Howe in a conference on Staten Island in the summer of 1776 to discuss the American situation.  "The commissioners were instructed not to enter upon negotiations for peace, except in the capacity of representatives of free states, and having independence as a basis."  The conference "failed to produce any important results" because Lord Howe could not "receive them, or listen to such proposals."

                    Due to personal ill health and the "disturbed condition" of South Carolina, Edward "withdrew" from the Congress in 1777, but he returned again in 1779.  He spent the time out of Congress in efforts to defend South Carolina and to repel invasion.

                    Edward led a corps of artillery.  When Charleston was under siege in 1780, Edward was actively supporting General Lincoln.  In an operation to put troops into the city, he was taken prisoner and sent to St. Augustine, Florida, where he remained a prisoner for about a year before being exchanged and set free.

                    After General Lincoln and the American army were captured and Charleston fell, Cornwallis was "fearful of the influence of many citizens."  Lieutenant Governor Gadsden, civil and military officers, and other citizens were taken from their "beds and houses" by armed guards; they were put on a guard-ship and sent to St. Augustine.  Cornwallis feared the "talents and influence" of Edward's mother and forced her to move from her country residence into the city where she could be watched more closely.

                    Even though most of the southern army was captured with General Lincoln, Americans did not lose hope.  General Greene had several successes, and Americans were victorious in battles at Marion and Sumpter.

                    Edward retired from military service and resumed his law practice after the British left Charleston in 1781.  He spent the next 17 years dividing his time between the duties of his business and service in the South Carolina Legislature.  In the Legislature he "uniformly opposed" every attempt to extend the "evils of slavery."

                    In 1794, Edward was elected as a Senator in the United States Senate to fill the seat vacated by the resignation of Charles Cotesworth Pinckney.  In 1798, Edward was elected to be Governor of South Carolina, but he did not live long enough to serve out his term of office. 

                    Edward suffered from "hereditary gout" and caught a bad cold that "brought on a paroxysm of his disease."  He died on January 23, 1800, at age 60.

                    Facts and quotes are from Lives of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence, pp. 211-214.  

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