Wade Hampton I

Wade Hampton (early 1750s – February 4, 1835) was an American soldier and politician. A two-term U.S. Congressman, he may have been the wealthiest planter, and one of the largest slave holders in the United States, at the time of his death.[1]

Wade Hampton I
Wade Hampton I.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from South Carolina's 4th district
In office
March 4, 1803 – March 3, 1805
Preceded byRichard Winn
Succeeded byO'Brien Smith
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from South Carolina's 2nd district
In office
March 4, 1795 – March 3, 1797
Preceded byJohn Hunter
Succeeded byJohn Rutledge, Jr.
Personal details
Bornearly 1750s
Colony of Virginia, British America
Died(1835-02-04)February 4, 1835 (aged approximately 82–83)
Columbia, South Carolina, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic-Republican
Professionplanter, soldier, politician
Military service
Allegiance United States of America
Branch/service Continental Army
 United States Army
Years of service1777 - 1781; 1808 - 1814
RankMajor general
Battles/warsAmerican Revolutionary War
1811 German Coast Uprising
War of 1812


Born in the early 1750s, sources vary on Hampton's exact birth year, listing it as 1751,[2] 1752[3] or 1754.[4] He was the scion of the politically important Hampton family, which was influential in state politics almost into the 20th century. His second great-grandfather Thomas Hampton (1623–1690) was born in England and settled in the Virginia Colony. Thomas Hampton's father, William, a wool merchant, sailed from England and appears on the 1618 passenger list of the Bona Novo. The ship was blown off course and arrived in Newfoundland. It would arrive in Jamestown the following year, 1619. He would send for his wife and three children to arrive in Jamestown in 1620.

Military careerEdit

Hampton served in the American Revolutionary War as a captain in the 2nd South Carolina Regiment (1777-1781) and as the lieutenant colonel of a South Carolina volunteer cavalry regiment. He was a Democratic-Republican member of Congress for South Carolina from 1795 to 1797 and from 1803 to 1805, and a presidential elector in 1800.

He was appointed to the US Army as colonel of Regiment of Light Dragoons in October 1808, and was promoted to brigadier general in February 1809, appointed as the top military officer in the Territory of Orleans.[5]

He used the U.S. military presence in New Orleans to suppress the 1811 German Coast Uprising, a slave revolt which he believed was a Spanish plot. In the same year, he purchased The Houmas, a sugar plantation in Ascension Parish, Louisiana. This may have been a gift for his daughter and son-in-law, as the son-in-law was managing the plantation by 1825.

During the War of 1812, Hampton commanded the American forces in the Battle of the Chateauguay in 1813, leading thousands of U.S. soldiers to defeat at the hands of a little over a thousand colonial Canadian militia and 180 Mohawk warriors, then getting his army lost in the woods. On April 6, 1814, he resigned his commission and returned to South Carolina.

Later lifeEdit

Thereafter, he acquired a large fortune through land speculation. Hampton had a mansion, now known as the Hampton-Preston House, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, in Columbia, South Carolina. At his death in the 1830s, it was said that he was the wealthiest planter in the U.S. and possessed some 3,000 slaves amongst his holdings.[6] In his anti-slavery compendium American Slavery As It Is, Theodore Weld cites a witness who heard him boasting that he killed some of his slaves for a nutritional experiment. The witness represents Hampton's words as: "[T]hey died like rotten sheep!!"[7]

Wade Hampton I is interred in the churchyard at Trinity Episcopal Church in Columbia, South Carolina's capital city.

His son Wade Hampton II and grandson Wade Hampton III also became prominent in South Carolina social and political circles.


Fort Hampton, a fort in Alabama, was named in honor of General Hampton.[8]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Bridwell, Ronald E. (2016). "Hampton, Wade I". South Carolina Encyclopedia. University of South Carolina.
  2. ^ Wade Hampton III Biography, Robert K. Ackerman
  3. ^ Wade Hampton I Congressional Biography
  4. ^ Adams, Henry (1986). History of the United States during the Administrations of James Madison. Library of America. p. 493.
  5. ^ Heitman p. 78
  6. ^ http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~msissaq2/hampton.html The Wade Hampton Family, The Issaquena Genealogy and History Project, Rootsweb, retrieved May 7, 2017
  7. ^ American Slavery as It Is: Testimony of a Thousand Witnesses, p. 29, retrieved May 27, 2020
  8. ^ Harris, W. Stuart (1977). Dead Towns of Alabama. Tuscaloosa, Alabama: University of Alabama Press. p. 42. ISBN 0-8173-1125-4.


External linksEdit

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from South Carolina's 2nd congressional district

Succeeded by
Preceded by Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from South Carolina's 4th congressional district

Succeeded by