Henry Middleton (b. 1717 – d. 1784) America’s second elected President was one of the wealthiest planters in the South, the Patriarch of the most powerful families anywhere in the nation.
His public spirit was evident from an early age. He was a member of his state’s Common House from 1744 – 1747. During the last 2 years he served as the Speaker.
During 1755 he was the King‘s Commissioner of Indian Affairs. He was a member of the South Carolina Council from 1755 – 1770. His Valor in the War with the Cherokees during 1760 – 1761 earned him wide recognition throughout the colonies, and demonstrated his cool temper leadership abilities while under pressure.
He was elected as a delegate to the first session of the Continental Congress and when Peyton Randolph was forced to resign the presidency, his peers immediately turned to Middleton to complete the term. He served as the Fledgling Coalitions President from October 22, 1774 until Randolph was able to resume his duties as President briefly beginning on May 10, 1775.
Afterwards, he was a member of the Congressional Council of Safety, and helped to establish the young nation’s policy toward the encouragement and support of education. In February 1776, he resigned his political involvements in order to prepare his family and lands for what he believed was inevitable war, but he was replaced by his son Arthur, who, eventually became a signer of both the Declaration of Independence, and the Articles of Confederation, he served time as an English P.O.W., and was twice elected governor of his state.