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“W” is for Wigg, James (born ca. 1850)

“W” is for Wigg, James (born ca. 1850). Legislator. Wigg was born an enslaved person in Beaufort County. As a youngster during the United States military occupation of the Sea Islands he came to the attention of an army officer who took Wigg back to Washington after the war and enrolled him in the Whalen Institute. Wigg returned to Beaufort and became a large landowner and prosperous cotton farmer on St. Helena Island. He was elected to the S.C. House of Representatives in 1890 and later served as a delegate to the 1895 Constitutional Convention. Wigg was one of a small group of Black delegates who maintained a heroic but futile rearguard action against the dominant White Democratic majority. In the end James Wigg and the other delegates from Beaufort County refused to sign the 1895 Constitution.

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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.