Thomas Smith Grimké

Last updated

Thomas Smith Grimké (September 22, 1786 – October 12, 1834) was an American attorney, author, orator and social activist.

Contents

Parents and education

Thomas Grimké was the second of fourteen children borne to jurist John Faucheraud Grimké, and Mary ("Polly"), daughter of Thomas and Sarah (Moore) Smith, of Charleston, South Carolina. He graduated from Charleston College, and entered the study of law under John Julius Pringle, then Attorney General of South Carolina, in 1804. He suspended his legal studies to enter Yale College in the fall of 1805. After completing courses at Yale, Thomas expressed a desire to prepare for the ministry, but yielded to the wishes of his jurist father and was admitted to the bar in May 1809. Thomas practiced law in Charleston, South Carolina. In 1830, Thomas received an honorary degree of Doctor of Laws from Yale.

On 17 March 1827, Thomas advocated, in an address before the Bar Association of South Carolina, the codification of the laws of that state. He was a member of the State Senate in 1826-1830, and in 1828 made a speech in support of the federal government on the tariff question. [1]

Thonas had a distinguished career in the South Carolina courts. He is perhaps best known for the case of M'Cready v. Hunt, focusing on states' rights, which was brought before the South Carolina Court of Appeals in 1834. The case involved a "test oath" passed by the South Carolina legislature in November 1832. The oath required that members of the state militia pledge "faithful and true allegiance" to the State of South Carolina. The law was vague on the underlying and contentious issue of sovereignty, and did not specifically state whether allegiance to the state was superior to allegiance to the federal government. However, dispute over the oath immediately erupted. The "Nullifier" faction asserted that allegiance to states had precedence over allegiance to the federal government, while "Unionists" asserted that the federal government had primacy over all states.

Eventually, a legal case on the validity of the test oath reached the state Court of Appeals in Columbia. Attorney Robert Barnwell Rhett, of Beaufort, argued for the test oath with the support of state Governor Robert Y. Hayne. He was opposed by a trio of young Unionist attorneys, James L. Petigru of Charleston, business attorney Abram Blanding of Columbia, and Thomas. The June 2nd, 1834 decision from the three judges fell 2 to 1 for the Unionists. "Nullifiers" immediately called for the impeachment of the two jurists. "Nullifier" legislators responded to the decision by calling for a constitutional amendment to legalize the test oath and assert the primacy of allegiance to South Carolina. [2]

Social activism

Thomas was an active advocate and donor to the temperance movement and a prominent member of the American Peace Society. He was active in forming a South Carolina chapter of the American Colonization Society, which endeavored to send free blacks to Africa, to what would become Liberia.

He was also an advocate and lecturer upon the reformation of education in America, particularly urging the use of the Bible as a text-book in schools. Though a fine classical scholar, he opposed both classics and mathematics as elements of an education. [1] He was an early advocate of spelling reform, as a means of simplifying education, and used his original spelling method in his own publications after 1833. Thomas was elected a member of the American Antiquarian Society in 1833. [3]

He advocated absolute non-violence, holding that even self-defensive warfare was wicked. When asked what he would do if he were mayor of Charleston, and a piratical vessel should attack the city, he is said to have replied that he would marshal the Sunday-school children in procession, and lead them to meet the invader, [1] which caused his ideas to be met with much ridicule.

Family

The Grimké family were German by descent, and his paternal grandmother's family was French Huguenot. On January 25, 1810, he married Sarah Daniel Drayton of Charleston, who died on July 23, 1867. The couple had six sons. His siblings included the noted orators and abolitionists Sarah Moore Grimké and Angelina Grimké Weld. His brother and law partner Henry W. Grimké was the father of children by an enslaved woman. Although he did not free them, Angelina and Sarah helped them once they became aware of the sons' existence: Archibald Grimké became a journalist and diplomat, and Francis J. Grimké, a Presbyterian minister. Frederick Grimké (1791–1863), another brother, was for some time presiding judge of the Ohio Court of Common Pleas, and from 1836 to 1842 was a member of the Ohio Supreme Court, from which he resigned to devote his time to "philosophical studies". [1]

Death

Grimké died of cholera on October 12, 1834 while on a lecture tour and a visit with family members in Ohio. He was buried in Columbus, Ohio. He received a 3-page obituary in the African Repository and Colonial Journal , including material from "a Charleston paper", which communicated that in his honor, members of the Chatleston bar would wear mourning (black) for 30 days. [4] A sermon preached in Charleston on the occasion of his death was subsequently printed in the Episcopal publication Gospel Messenger (volume 11, December, 1834).

The contemporary doctor Daniel Drake remembered him in these terms:

It may be trule said of Mr.G. that he was a Christian scholar, a Christian orator, a Christian philosopger, and a Christian gentleman. He had resolved the whole duty of man, in every situation and relation of life, into the simple and sublime principple of obedience to God, and was himself a luminious example of conformity, in practice, to his own theory of moral obligation. The preservation of the Union was one of his cherished themes... [5] [ full citation needed ]

See also

Notes

  1. 1 2 3 4 Wikisource-logo.svg  Wilson, J. G.; Fiske, J., eds. (1900). "Grimké, John Faucheraud"  . Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography . New York: D. Appleton.
  2. Ford, pp. 148-149.
  3. American Antiquarian Society Members Directory
  4. "The Hon. Thomas Smith Grimke". African Repository and Colonial Journal . 10 (10): 289–291. December 1834.
  5. Drake, Daniel (1834). Discourse on the History, Character, and Prospects of the West: Delivered to the Union Literary Society of Miami University, Oxford, Ohio, at Their Ninth Anniversary, September 23, 1834. Truman and Smith. p. 53-54: "Thomas S. Grimké."

Related Research Articles

William Johnson (judge) US judge of the Supreme Court and legislator

William Johnson Jr. was a state legislator and judge in South Carolina, and an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court from 1804 to his death in 1834.

Angelina Grimké American abolitionist and feminist

Angelina Emily Grimké Weld was an American abolitionist, political activist, women's rights advocate, and supporter of the women's suffrage movement. She and her sister Sarah Moore Grimké are the only white Southern women who became abolitionists. The sisters lived together as adults, while Angelina was the wife of abolitionist leader Theodore Dwight Weld.

The nullification crisis was a United States sectional political crisis in 1832–33, during the presidency of Andrew Jackson, which involved a confrontation between the state of South Carolina and the federal government. It ensued after South Carolina declared that the federal Tariffs of 1828 and 1832 were unconstitutional and therefore null and void within the sovereign boundaries of the state.

Thomas Corwin American politician

Thomas Corwin, also known as Tom Corwin, The Wagon Boy, and Black Tom was a politician from the state of Ohio. He represented Ohio in both houses of Congress and served as the 15th Governor of Ohio and the 20th Secretary of the Treasury. After affiliating with the Whig Party, he joined the Republican Party in the 1850s. Corwin is best known for his sponsorship of the proposed Corwin Amendment, which was presented in an unsuccessful attempt to avoid the oncoming American Civil War.

Loyalty oath oath to a person or organization through which the allegiance to them is summoned

A loyalty oath is a pledge of allegiance to an organization, institution, or state of which an individual is a member. In the United States, such an oath has often indicated that the affiant has not been a member of a particular organization or organizations mentioned in the oath.

James Hamilton Jr. Governor of South Carolina

James Hamilton Jr. was an American lawyer and politician. He represented South Carolina in the U.S. Congress (1822–1829) and served as its 53rd Governor (1830–1832). Prior to that he achieved widespread recognition and public approval for his actions as Intendant (mayor) of the city of Charleston, South Carolina in 1822, during the period when plans for a slave rising were revealed. As governor, he led the state during the Nullification Crisis of 1832, at the peak of his power.

Robert Y. Hayne American politician

Robert Young Hayne was an American lawyer, planter and politician. He served in the United States Senate from 1823 to 1832, as Governor of South Carolina 1832–1834, and as Mayor of Charleston 1836–1837. He was vocal proponent of the states' rights doctrine, in collaboration with John C. Calhoun and James Hamilton Jr.

Sarah Moore Grimké American abolitionist

Sarah Moore Grimké was an American abolitionist, widely held to be the mother of the women's suffrage movement. Born and reared in South Carolina to a prominent, wealthy planter family, she moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in the 1820s and became a Quaker, as did her younger sister Angelina. The sisters began to speak on the abolitionist lecture circuit, joining a tradition of women who had been speaking in public on political issues since colonial days, including Susanna Wright, Hannah Griffitts, Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Anna Dickinson. They recounted their knowledge of slavery firsthand, urged abolition, and also became activists for women's rights.

Grimké sisters

Sarah Moore Grimké (1792–1873) and Angelina Emily Grimké (1805–1879), known as the Grimké sisters, were the first nationally-known white American female advocates of abolition of slavery and women's rights. They were speakers, writers, and educators.

Philip Phillips (lawyer) lawyer and politician

Philip Phillips was an American lawyer and politician from Cheraw, South Carolina, Mobile, Alabama, and Washington, D.C. He was a member of the Democratic Party who served as the U.S. Representative from Alabama. Subsequently, he was a prominent lawyer in Washington, D.C., much involved in the political events surrounding the American Civil War.

Archibald Grimké American lawyer and diplomat

Archibald Henry Grimké was an American lawyer, intellectual, journalist, diplomat and community leader in the 19th and early 20th centuries. A graduate of freedmen's schools, Lincoln University (Pennsylvania), and Harvard Law School, he later served as American Consul to the Dominican Republic from 1894 to 1898. He was an activist for rights for blacks, working in Boston and Washington, DC. He was a national vice-president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), as well as president of its Washington, DC, branch.

Colonel Thomas Patterson Brockman, was the son of Henry Brockman and Susannah Patterson. He was born in the Greenville District, South Carolina. Brockman was a merchant and planter in the Greenville District and also owned land in the Spartanburg District. According to the 1850 slave schedules, he possessed thirty slaves in Greenville. He was also a member of the South Carolina House of Representatives and the South Carolina Senate.

James L. Petigru American politician

James Louis Petigru was an American lawyer, politician, and jurist in South Carolina. He is best known for his service as the Attorney General of South Carolina, his juridical work that played a key role in the recodification of the state's law code. He was also known for opposing nullification and, in 1860, state secession.

John Lyde Wilson American politician (1784-1849)

John Lyde Wilson was the 49th Governor of South Carolina from 1822 to 1824 and an ardent supporter of dueling.

The Moors Sundry Act of 1790 was a 1790 advisory resolution passed by South Carolina House of Representatives, clarifying the status of free subjects of the Sultan of Morocco, Mohammed ben Abdallah. The resolution offered the opinion that free citizens of Morocco were not subject to laws governing blacks and slaves.

Henry William de Saussure American politician

Henry William de Saussure was an American lawyer, state legislator and jurist from South Carolina who became a political leader as a member of the Federalist Party following the Revolutionary War. He was appointed by President George Washington as the 2nd Director of the United States Mint, was a co-sponsor of the legislation that established the South Carolina College which was to become the University of South Carolina and was given the title of Chancellor as a justice of the SC Equity Court, also known as chancery court. In this capacity he wrote and codified much of the state's equity law still in use today. He served as Intendant (Mayor) of Charleston while his son, William Ford de Saussure, likewise, served as Intendant (Mayor) of Columbia, SC.

John Faucheraud Grimké American judge

John Faucheraud Grimké was an American jurist who served as Associate justice and Senior Associate Justice of South Carolina's Court of Common Pleas and General Sessions from 1783 until his death. He also served in the South Carolina state legislature from 1782 until 1790. He was intendant (mayor) of Charleston, South Carolina, for two terms, from 1786 to 1788.

South Carolina Court of Appeals Intermediate appellate court of South Carolina

The South Carolina Court of Appeals is the intermediate-level appellate court for the state of South Carolina.

John Rutledge Former Chief Justice of the United States and American politician

John Rutledge was an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States and also its second Chief Justice. Additionally, he served as the first President of South Carolina and, later, its first Governor after the Declaration of Independence.

Frederick Grimke was a judge and author in the U.S. State of Ohio who served on the Ohio Supreme Court from 1836–1842.

References