Henry Middleton

Drawing of a man in a powdered wig.

Henry Middleton, President of the Continental Congress. The New York Public Library Digital Collections.

(1717 - 1784) Henry Middleton was born in 1717 in Charleston, SC. He was the second son of Susan Middleton and Arthur Middleton, the acting governor of South Carolina. In 1774, at the outset of the American Revolution, Middleton was selected as a delegate to the Continental Congress. He served as the president of the First Continental Congress following the departure of Peyton Randolph. Opposed to declaring independence from Great Britain, Middleton resigned from the Second Continental Congress in February 1776. He was succeeded in Congress by his son, Arthur Middleton, who later became a signer of the Declaration of Independence. 

After Middleton's return to South Carolina, he was elected president of the provincial Congress and served on the council of safety. In 1776, he and his son, Arthur, helped frame a temporary state constitution. In 1779, he became a state senator in the new government. In the 1780 Siege of Charleston, the British captured Charleston, and Middleton accepted defeat and status as a British subject. However, at the end of the American Revolution, he was not punished because of his previous support of the Revolution.