Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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McDUFFIE, George, governor of South Carolina, born in Columbia county, Georgia, about 1788 ; died in Sumter district, South Carolina, 11 March, 1851. He was of humble parentage, and began life as a clerk in a mercantile establishment in Augusta, Georgia His talents attracted the attention of William Calhoun, who sent him to Dr. Moses Waddell's school in Wilmington, North Carolina, and subsequently to South Carolina college, where he was graduated with first honors in 1813. He then studied law, was admitted to the bar in 1814, and began to practise in Edgefield, South Carolina In 1818 he was sent to the South Carolina legislature, where he proved himself an able writer. A political controversy with Colonel William Cumming, of Georgia (q. v.), about this time, led to several duels, in one of which McDuffie received wounds from which he never fully recovered. In his earlier writings he advocated consolidation doctrines in opposition to the state-rights views that he subsequently espoused. His various papers on this subject were collected in a series of pamphlets entitled " The Crisis." In 1821 he was elected to congress as a Democrat, serving from 1821 till 1834, when he resigned. In December, 1823, he advocated the expediency of changing the constitution so as to establish uniformity in the mode of electing the members of the house of representatives, and also in the mode of choosing presidential electors, and as chairman of this committee he made an elaborate report in January, 1825. He opposed congressional appropriations for internal improvements, and also argued against the proposed congress of Panama, a favorite measure of President John Quincy Adams. As chairman of the committee of ways and means he endeavored to maintain the Bank of the United States, was a frequent assailant of the protective tariff, and engaged in important debates. In December, 1830, he ***text missing impeachment trial of Judge James H Peck, for the prosecution, in a speech of great power. He had been originally a supporter of President Jackson, but opposed him on the state-rights issue, and was one of the most ardent and eloquent champions of nullification, which he regarded not as a constitutional but as a justifiable revolutionary measure. He was the author of the address to the people of the United States that was issued by the South Carolina convention of 1832. in 1834 he left congress, after making a vehement speech against the administration, and in the same year he was elected governor of South Carolina, which office he held until 1836. He then retired to private life, but in 1842 was elected to the United States senate in place of William C. Preston, who had resigned, and served until 1846, when he relinquished his place, owing to impaired health. In congress few men have treated with more ability such a variety of difficult subjects. He was one of the most successful planters in the state, and delivered an oration before the State agricultural society. For many years he was commonly called General McDuffie, as he had been a major-general in the state militia. He published a "Eulogy on Robert Y. Hayne" (Charleston, 1840), and was the author of numerous addresses.
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