Rawlins Lowndes

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Rawlins Lowndes (17211800) was an American lawyer and jurist from South Carolina. He served for a brief time during the Revolutionary War as president, and then governor, of South Carolina. His sons, Thomas and William Lowndes, both served in the U.S. Congress.

Lowndes was born on the island of St. Kitts in the British West Indies in January of 1721.

At the young age of 21, Lowndes was appointed as the Provost-Marshall of South Carolina. He served in this role for ten years, from 1742 to 1752. Lowndes was first elected to the South Carolina General Assembly, the colonial legislature, in 1749. During his years as a South Carolina political leader, Lowndes acted as a guiding force in South Carolina’s revolutionary government. He served as a member of the First and Second Provincial Congresses, the First and Second General Assemblies, and the First and Second Councils of Safety. In 1776, Lowndes served as one of eleven committee members charged with the responsibility of writing a draft constitution for South Carolina.

Despite his involvement in challenging increasingly harsh British measures leading up to the American Revolution, Lowndes opposed armed rebellion and independence from Britain.

The South Carolina General Assembly elected Lowndes to serve as the chief executive of South Carolina on March 7, 1778. Lowndes, as President of South Carolina, approved major changes to the state constitution on March 19, 1778. The first change was minor, changing the title of South Carolina’s chief executive office from president to governor. The three major changes removed the governor’s power to veto legislation, created a Senate elected via popular election, and disestablished the Church of England in South Carolina. When British forces threatened South Carolina in 1779, Lowndes led a meager 10,000 troops to save Charleston. Despite his resistance, Charleston fell to the British and Lowndes was taken as a prisoner, ending his term as President.

After returning to South Carolina in 1778, Lowndes rejoined the South Carolina General Assembly, just in time for the debate on ratification of the newly submitted U.S. Constitution. Lowndes opposed the new constitution for its restrictions on slave trade, which he viewed as the South’s primary source of financial and political stability; for the interventionist power it gave to the U.S. Congress to regulate interstate commerce; and for the realignment of power to a Federal government, which he thought would bring an end of the independence of states. Eventually,

After serving as President of South Carolina, Lowndes was elected into the South Carolina House of Representatives in 1787 and represented the parishes of St. Philip and St. Michael until 1790.

Lowndes died in Charleston, South Carolina on August 24, 1800.

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