BENJAMIN FRANKLIN PERRY was born in Pickens County, South Carolina. He was sent to North Carolina for preparatory schooling, went on to study law, and was admitted to the South Carolina Bar in 1827. He became a journalist, editing the Greenville Mountaineer (beginning in 1832) and Patriot and Mountaineer (1855-1858), and founding Southern Patriot. His involvement in politics was extensive, beginning when he was a delegate to the Union Convention of 1832 and the Nullification Convention of 1832-33 (which addressed the issue of whether states had the power to nullify federal law). He was also a member of the South Carolina House of Representatives for a number of non-consecutive terms during the 1830s, ‘50s, and ‘60s and a member of the South Carolina Senate from 1844 to 1848, and has been credited with having selected the site for the state Capitol in Columbia during his tenure in the state legislature. He was a Presidential Elector in 1848, a delegate to the Democratic State Convention in 1852, a delegate to the Democratic National Convention of 1860, and a Confederate States District Judge in 1864. Appointed Provisional Governor of South Carolina by President Andrew Johnson when the Civil War ended, he proceeded despite Radical Republican criticism to reappoint all state officials who had held office at the end of the war, which enabled him to gain approval from delegates to the state Constitutional Convention for the popular election of governor and presidential electors, for equal representation throughout the state based on property and population, for the abolishment of the parish system, for the popular election of judges for terms of four years, and for ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. After South Carolina’s 1865 Constitution was adopted, Perry declined to run for governor. He was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1866 but was denied his seat. However, he was a delegate to the National Union Convention in 1866 and the Democratic National Conventions of 1868 and 1876. In 1872 he was an unsuccessful candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives.
Sobel, Robert, and John Raimo, eds. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1978, Vol. 4. Westport, CT: Meckler Books, 1978. 4 vols.
The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, Vol. 12. New York: James T. White & Company.