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“A” is for Alston, Joseph (ca. 1778-1816)

“A” is for Alston, Joseph (ca. 1778-1816). Governor. A native of Georgetown District, Alston studied for the law and was admitted to the bar, but rarely practiced. Rather, he devoted his career to the management of his extensive rice plantations in All Saints Parish. In 1801 he married Theodosia Burr, daughter of Vice President Aaron Burr. Although unambitious, he entered politics at the urging of his father-in-law. He was a member of the S.C. House of Representatives (1802-1812) and served as Speaker from 1805-1809. Alston’s support of upcountry demands for reapportionment of the legislature led to the adoption of the constitutional amendment of 1808. In 1812 he was narrowly elected governor. Joseph Alston’s administration was one of the most discordant in the history of the state because of several impolitic actions he took.

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Dr. Walter Edgar has two programs on South Carolina Public Radio: Walter Edgar's Journal, and South Carolina from A to Z. Dr. Edgar received his B.A. degree from Davidson College in 1965 and his Ph.D. from the University of South Carolina in 1969. After two years in the army (including a tour of duty in Vietnam), he returned to USC as a post-doctoral fellow of the National Archives, assigned to the Papers of Henry Laurens.