Henry Middleton

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Henry Middleton (1717 – June 13, 1784) was a plantation owner and public official from South Carolina. He was the second President of the Continental Congress from October 22, 1774, until Peyton Randolph was able to resume his duties briefly beginning on May 10, 1775.


Early life

Henry Middleton was born in 1717 near Charleston, South Carolina to Arthur Middleton (1681–1737) and Susan Amory Middleton, on the family plantation, "The Oaks". His father was a wealthy planter who had served as an acting governor of the Province of South Carolina. He was educated in England, but then returned to South Carolina to inherit his father's plantation. He gained much influence and authority from his wealth and abundant landownings, which included 50,000 acres (200 km2) of land in South Carolina, along with about 800 slaves.[1]

Political career

State politics

Middleton started his career by becoming a Justice of Peace, and soon after, a member of the King's Council in America. He became a member of the South Carolina House of Commons where he was elected speaker a total of 3 times.[1] He became Commissioner of Native American Affairs in 1755, and was elected to the South Carolina Colonial Council.[2] Middleton gained recognition for his courageous, calm and steady temperament during the Anglo-Cherokee War between 1760 and 1761. He resigned from public offices in 1770, to focus on business.[2]

Continental Congress

In 1774, Middleton was elected as a delegate from South Carolina to the First Continental Congress. During tenure as a member of the Congress, Middleton was not a supporter of immediate independence from Great Britain, himself remaining loyal to the crown.[1] In October 1774, Middleton was elected as the President of Continental Congress[1], when previous president Peyton Randolph was forced to return to Virginia to take his position as Speaker of the Virginia House of Burgesses.[2] Although Middleton's term was only for a length of 4 days, a Petition of Congress to King George III, drafted by John Jay was approved, and sent to Great Britain during his term.[2] Randolph was re-elected as president of the second congress in 1775 in which Middleton also served as a delegate until his resignation in 1776, citing ill health.[1] He was succeeded by his son, Arthur Middleton.

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