South Carolina’s Caribbean-Born Former Governor

Late Governor Rawlins Lowndes.
Late Governor Rawlins Lowndes.

By NAN Contributor

News Americas, CHARLESTON, South Carolina, Fri. June 10, 2016: There is no denying the historical links between Barbados and South Carolina but did you know that at one time there was actually a Caribbean-born national who served as governor of the southern state?.

Governor Rawlins Lowndes was the 32nd Governor of South Carolina and served between March 6, 1778 – January 9, 1779. He was born on the Caribbean island of St. Kitts in what was then considered the British West Indies in January 1721.

At the young age of 21, Lowndes was appointed as the Provost-Marshal of South Carolina. He served in this role for ten years, from 1742 to 1752. Lowndes was first elected to the Royal Assembly, the colonial legislature, in 1749.

During his years as a South Carolina political leader, Lowndes was a guiding force in South Carolina’s revolutionary government. In 1776, Lowndes was 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.

On March 7, 1778 South Carolina General Assembly elected Lowndes President of South Carolina after John Rutledge. Lowndes approved major changes to the state constitution on March 19, 1778. The first changed 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.

After serving as President of South Carolina, Lowndes was elected to the South Carolina House of Representatives in 1787 and represented the parishes of St. Philip and St. Michael until 1790. As assemblyman, he strenuously opposed the motion to accept the federal Constitution, to the clause giving power to congress to regulate commerce; and to the centralization of power which would accrue to the federal government.

During the same period, he was intendant (mayor) of Charleston, from September 1788 to September 1789.

Lowndes died in Charleston, South Carolina, on August 24, 1800 at age 79.

His sons, Thomas and William Lowndes, both served in the U.S. Congress.