Laurence Massillon Keitt

Black and white photograph of Laurence Keitt

Laurence M. Keitt, U.S. Congressman from South Carolina. Circa 1860. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

(1824-1864)  Keitt was born in Orangeburg District, S.C. to George Keitt and Mary Magdalene Wannamaker Keitt.  He pursued classical studies and graduated from South Carolina College (now the University of South Carolina) at Columbia in 1843.  He studied law and was admitted to the bar in 1845 and commenced practice in Orangeburg.  He served as a member of the state house of representatives, 1848-1853, was elected to the Thirty-third and to the succeeding Congress (March 4, 1853-July 16, 1856); and censured by the U.S. House of Representatives on July 15, 1856, for his role in the assault made upon Senator Charles Sumner of Massachusetts on May 22, 1856.  Keitt resigned and was elected in a special election to the Thirty-fourth Congress to fill the vacancy caused by his own resignation, and reelected to the two succeeding Congresses.  Her served as chairman of the Committee on Public Buildings and Grounds, delegate to the secession convention of South Carolina; member of the provisional congress of the Confederacy in Montgomery, Ala., in February 1861 and in Richmond, Va., in July 1861; raised the Twentieth South Carolina Regiment of Volunteers and was commissioned its colonel on January 11, 1862 and subsequently promoted to the rank of brigadier general.  He was wounded in the Battle of Cold Harbor, near Richmond, Va., and died as a result of his wounds the following day.