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Edward Rutledge

1749-1800

Edward Rutledge, the first of the South Carolina delegation, who affixes his name to the Declaration of Independence, was born in the city of Charleston, November, 1749. He was the youngest, son of Doctor John Rutledge, who emigrated from Ireland to South Carolina, about the year 1735. His mother was Sarah Hert, a lady of respectable family, and large fortune. At the age of twenty-seven, she became a widow with seven children. Her eldest son was John Rutledge, distinguished for his patriotic zeal during the revolution. Her youngest son was the subject of the present memoir.

   Of the early years of Edward Rutledge we have little to record. He was placed under the care of David Smith, of New-Jersey, by whom he was instructed in the learned languages; but he appears not to have made as rapid attainments as some others, although, as a scholar, he was respectable. Before he had devoted as much time to academic studies, as would have been desirable, he commenced the study of law with his elder brother, who, at that time, was becoming the most eminent advocate at the Charleston bar. Although at this time he was still young, he was capable of appreciating the advantages which he enjoyed, and was strongly impelled to exertion, by the brilliant and successful example which his brother held constantly before him.

   In 1769, at the age of twenty years, he sailed for England, to complete his legal education. He became a student at the Temple. He derived great advantage from an attendance upon the English courts, and houses of parliament. In the latter place, be had an opportunity of listening to the eloquence of some of the most distinguished orators who lived at that day.

   In 1773, he returned to his native country, and entered upon the duties of his profession. He was at this time distinguished for his quickness of apprehension, fluency of speech, and graceful delivery. Hence he early excited the admiration of those who heard him, and gave promise of that future eminence to which he was destined to arrive.

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Last modified January 1, 2004