"S" is for Smith, Benjamin (1717-1779)

May 30, 2019

Credit SC Public Radio

"S" is for Smith, Benjamin (1717-1779). Merchant, politician, planter. A native Carolinian, Smith inherited a two thousand acre plantation at the age of eighteen. His real interest, however, was in trade. In 1735 he began a twenty-seven year mercantile career. By mid-century, his involvement in the lucrative slave and fur trades made him one of the wealthiest merchants in the colony. In 1746 St. Philip’s elected him to the Commons House where he served almost continuously until his death. Smith was an influential member and was Speaker of the House (1755-1763). As rebellion against England increased, Smith generally supported the patriots’ cause. As an assistant judge, for example, he advocated opening the courts during the Stamp Act controversy. After Benjamin Smith’s death, his estate lent the South Carolina government during the Revolution nearly £275,000.