John Lyde Wilson

black and white photograph of John Wilson

John Lyde Wilson. Wikimedia Commons.

(1784-1849)  Wilson was born in Cheraw District to John Wilson and Mary Lyde. He studied law in Baltimore and was admitted to the South Carolina Bar in 1807. ilson married Charlotte Alston and they had two daughters. Charlotte died in 1817, and Wilson married Rebecca Eden and they had three children.

He served four terms in the General Assembly from 1806 to 1817. In 1817 he was elected to the state Senate, where he served until 1822. During his last term he served as president of the Senate for several days until he was elected governor on December 7, 1822.  As governor, Wilson was an ardent advocate of states’ rights. Legislative resolutions during Wilson’s tenure declared that protective tariffs were unconstitutional and that Congress was without authority to tax the citizens of one state to pay for improvements within another. Another accomplishment during his term was the abolishment of the state Court of Equity. He also advocated, unsuccessfully, a more humane revision in laws affecting South Carolina’s black population. Simultaneously, Wilson warned his constituents to guard against antislavery influence in Congress and the northern states, insisting on “a firm determination to resist, at the threshold, every invasion of our domestic tranquility.” Wilson proved less diligent in maintaining the financial records of his office, however, and he was threatened with impeachment for failing to account for his contingent funds in a timely manner.

Wilson served in the Senate from 1826 to 1829. Afterward he retired from public office to concentrate and published Code of Honor: or Rules for the Government of Principals and Seconds in Duelling that addressed such topics as responses to insults, appropriate time between an insult and the duel, weapons, paces, roles of a participant’s “second,” and even the wording to be used.