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Stephen Decatur Miller

Stephen Decatur Miller (May 8, 1787 – March 8, 1838) was an American politician, who served as the 52nd Governor of South Carolina from 1828 to 1830. He represented South Carolina as a U.S. Representative from 1817 to 1819, and as a U.S. Senator from 1831 to 1833.

Stephen Decatur Miller
Stephen Decatur Miller.jpg
United States Senator
from South Carolina
In office
March 4, 1831 – March 2, 1833
Preceded byWilliam Smith
Succeeded byWilliam C. Preston
52nd Governor of South Carolina
In office
December 10, 1828 – December 9, 1830
LieutenantThomas Williams
Preceded byJohn Taylor
Succeeded byJames Hamilton, Jr.
Member of the South Carolina Senate from Claremont District
In office
November 25, 1822 – December 10, 1828
Preceded byRobert Witherspoon
Succeeded byJohn Isham Moore
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from South Carolina's 9th district
In office
January 2, 1817 – March 3, 1819
Preceded byWilliam Mayrant
Succeeded byJoseph Brevard
Personal details
Born(1787-05-08)May 8, 1787
Waxhaws, South Carolina
DiedMarch 8, 1838(1838-03-08) (aged 50)
Raymond, Mississippi
Political partyNullifier

Life and careerEdit

He was born in Waxhaw settlement, South Carolina and graduated from South Carolina College in 1808. After he studied law, he practiced in Sumterville.[1] Stephen Decatur Miller was married twice. His first wife, Elizabeth Dick, died in 1819. None of their three children lived to adulthood. Miller remarried in 1821; his second wife was a girl sixteen years his junior, Mary Boykin (1804−1885). They had four children together. Despite the age difference, their marriage was happy and passionate.[2]

During his successful campaign for the Senate on a platform of abolishing tariffs, he made a speech at Stateburg, South Carolina in September 1830 where he said "There are three and only three ways to reform our Congressional legislation, familiarly called, the ballot box, the jury box and the cartridge box".[citation needed] Stephen Miller renounced his political career in 1833 and ventured into farming in Mississippi. He died in Raymond, Mississippi, in 1838, leaving his wife and children in debt.[3]

Their daughter Mary Boykin Miller (1823–86) married James Chesnut, Jr. (1815–85), who later became a U.S. Senator and a Confederate general. Mary Chesnut became famous for her diary documenting life in South Carolina during the Civil War.[4][5]


  1. ^ NGA Biography of Stephen Decatur Miller Archived 2007-09-30 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ Muhlenfeld, Mary Boykin Chesnut, chapter 2.
  3. ^ Muhlenfeld, Mary Boykin Chesnut, chapter 2.
  4. ^ SCIway Biography of Stephen Decatur Miller
  5. ^ NGA Biography of Stephen Decatur Miller Archived 2007-09-30 at the Wayback Machine


Muhlenfeld, Elisabeth, Mary Boykin Chesnut: A Biography (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press 1992).

External linksEdit

  • United States Congress. "Stephen Decatur Miller (id: M000755)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.
U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
William Mayrant
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from South Carolina's 9th congressional district

Succeeded by
Joseph Brevard
Political offices
Preceded by
John Taylor
Governor of South Carolina
Succeeded by
James Hamilton, Jr.
U.S. Senate
Preceded by
William Smith
U.S. Senator (Class 3) from South Carolina
Served alongside: Robert Young Hayne, John C. Calhoun
Succeeded by
William C. Preston