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

South Carolina From A to Z
SC Public Radio
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"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.

Dr. Walter Edgar has two programs on South Carolina Public Radio: Walter Edgar's Journal, and South Carolina from A to Z. Dr. Edgar receivedhisA.B.degreefromDavidson 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.