According to John Adams, Edward Rutledge was not exactly one of the more stellar members of congress. He was “a swallow, a sparrow, a peacock; excessively vain, excessively weak, and excessively variable and unsteady; jejeune, inane and puerile….uncouth and ungraceful…”
As you may well have guessed, he opposed John Adams and those who wanted to declare independence for much of the Congress, and he had much to do with putting off the vote in order to try to organize a resistance. It wasn’t that he was against independence so much as he couldn’t see the rush, partiularly when they had no army to speak of. Eventually, however, seeing that independence was the wish of most of his colleagues, he went along with it, but not before protecting his home of South Carolina from Thomas Jefferson’s incendiary comments against the slave trade that were in the initial draft of the Declaration. It was in large part thanks to Edward Rutledge – believed by some, though not all, to be the youngest member of the Congress at 24 – that the sections regarding the slave trade were stricken from the final document.
During the Revolutinoary War, Rutledge served as Captain in the Charleston Battalian of Artillery, and was captured during the siege of Charleston. Ultimately released in a prisoner exchange, he ended up serving his state as Governor, although he died before the completion of his term.
Travel along with us on Bow Tie Tours to meet all of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence, and to see where it was written, and where it was signed.