JAMES HOPKINS ADAMS was born in Minervaville, South Carolina and raised by his grandparents after the death of his parents. He received a bachelor’s degree from Yale in 1831 and was a Brigadier-General of Cavalry in the South Carolina Militia. He owned Live Oak cotton plantation, and served as a trustee of South Carolina College from 1841 to 1861 and director of the Exchange Bank of Columbia. Prior to being elected governor, he was a member of the South Carolina Nullification Convention of 1832-33 (which addressed the issue of whether states could nullify federal law) and served in both the South Carolina House of Representatives and the South Carolina Senate. During Adams’s gubernatorial term, the issue of slavery was of paramount concern, and the governor’s proposal to reopen slave trade-which he advocated as a means of rooting out illicit trafficking-was rejected by the state legislature. After leaving office, Adams was director of the Bank of Chester, South Carolina from 1857 to 1861 and a founder of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Congaree, South Carolina. An unsuccessful candidate for the U.S. Senate in 1858, he was a member of the South Carolina Secession Convention of 1860-1861, a signer of the South Carolina Ordinance of Secession, and one of three commissioners sent to Washington, DC to negotiate the transfer of federal property in South Carolina to state control.
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.