Get Today in Masonic History into your Inbox. Sign up today for one of our email lists!

TODAY in Masonic History:

Facebook Twitter Google

Thomas Bennett, Jr. was Born

Today in Masonic history Thomas Bennett, Jr. was born in 1781.

Thomas Bennett, Jr. was an American politician.

Bennett was born in Charleston, South Carolina on August 14th, 1781. He was born into an upper class family. He would be educated at the College of Charleston, the oldest college or university in South Carolina. From a young age, Bennett, with his father, would run a lumber and rice milling operation near the city. He would also work as an architect and a banker, running the Planters and Merchant Bank of South Carolina and the Bank of the State of South Carolina.

Prior to 1804, Bennett would be elected as Intendant (mayor) of Charleston which was a prosperous center of trade. In 1804, Bennett would be elected to the South Carolina House of Representatives. It would be his first of three non-consecutive terms in the South Carolina Legislature.

In 1818, Bennett would be elected a second time to the South Carolina Legislature, this time to the South Carolina Senate.

In 1820, Bennett would be elected by the General Assembly as the 48th Governor of the State of South Carolina. He would be elected to a two year term. Twelve years before Bennett took office as the Governor the United States had implemented a prohibition on the African slave trade. Two years before he took office, in 1818, the South Carolina Legislature repealed a law prohibiting interstate slave trade with South Carolina. Bennett as one of his first issues came out strongly against the interstate slave trade which forcibly moved more than a million African-Americans to the Deep South.

In 1822, at the end of Bennett's term, Charleston residents became alarmed when an alleged slave rebellion was uncovered. Alleged conspirators were rounded up by a locally formed militia and a special court met in secret to determine the guilt or innocence of the accused. Six men were put to death from the trial. Bennett was greatly concerned by the behavior of the court and reached out to the Attorney General who informed him that habeas corpus, relief from false imprisonment, was only available to freemen, most of the accused were slaves. After the trials had ended, Bennett published an article suggesting the insurrection had been exaggerated, he lost the public debate though to the current intendant of the Charleston who argued that people were saved by the quick action of the city. Bennett also submitted a report to the legislature critical of the secret proceedings of the court.

After leaving the Governors office he would return to Charleston. In 1837, he would return to the South Carolina Legislature where he became well known as a Unionist opposed to secession.

Bennett would pass away on January 30th, 1865.

Bennett was a member of Solomons Lodge No. 1 in Charleston, South Carolina.