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.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Two Mrs. Rutledge

                    Edward Rutledge, signer of the Declaration of Independence, married twice.  His first wife was Henrietta Middleton; after Henrietta's death, Edward married Mary Shubrick Eveleigh, the widow of Col. Nicholas Eveleigh, formerly Comptroller of the U.S. Treasury appointed by President George Washington.

                    Henrietta Middleton was born in Charleston in 1750 and married the "brilliant young lawyer" Edward Rutledge when she was 24.  Edward was newly returned from England where he completed his legal education.  Edward later became a member of the Continental Congress and Governor of South Carolina.

Henrietta was described as a "noted woman of a notable family."  Her father was Henry Middleton, President of the Provincial Council and later a member of the Continental Congress.  He was most likely the largest landowner in South Carolina because he owned more than 50,000 acres, 20 plantations, and 800 slaves.  Henrietta's mother was Mary Williams, the only child of John Williams.  Henry and Mary were parents of seven children - two sons and five daughters.  Mary died at age 46 on January 9, 1761.

                    Henrietta became ill soon after her marriage; she "lived quietly, and took no part in social or political life."  She had great wealth of her own, she was the "wife of the most successful lawyer" in South Carolina, and she was "well fitted by birth and education to grace any society; however, she did not have great physical strength and died in 1792, leaving two children.  Her son, Henry Middleton Rutledge, became a prominent citizen of Tennessee; her daughter, Sarah, never married.

                    Some time after Henrietta's death, Edward married Mary Shubrick Eveleigh.  Mary was apparently Edward's first choice for a wife, but there was great opposition to their courting.  Mary's father, Thomas Shubrick, opposed the match, and Edward's father, Andrew Rutledge, would not "allow his son to pay his addresses to Miss Shubrick."  Mary and Edward were obedient and married according to the wishes of their parents - the usual custom of that day.  Mary and Edward remained friends.  When Edward's wife and Mary's husband both died within the same year, the two came together again and married.  They "lived most happily" together, but they did not have any children.

                    Mary was a "devoted step-mother and friend to Sarah Rutledge."  After Edward's death, Mary and Sarah lived together and devoted their time to charitable work - caring for the poor, befriending the friendless, etc.  Sarah was most devoted to carrying for orphans and homeless girls, and she looked after their "maintenance and education."

                    Facts and quotes are from Wives of the Signers, pp. 264-266.          

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