JOHN DRAYTON was born in “Drayton Hall” near Charleston, South Carolina. He attended the College of New Jersey (Princeton University), studied at Inner Temple in London, and in 1807 received his LL.D. from the College of South Carolina, whose establishment he had recommended. He served in the South Carolina House of Representatives from 1792 to 1798, was Lieutenant Governor of the state in 1798, and served as President of the Board of the College of South Carolina from 1801 to 1802. Elected again as Lieutenant Governor, he became governor after the death of Edward Rutledge in January, 1800 and was elected in his own right later that year. Prohibited by the state constitution from being reelected within four years after the expiration of his term, Drayton left office in 1802 and went on to serve in the South Carolina Senate from 1805 to 1808 before being elected to a third term as governor. During his tenure as governor, legislation was enacted restricting the emancipation of slaves, and a cotton culture grew based on slavery. Drayton was an advocate of public education, which he hoped would help integrate different ethnic groups. In his final term, South Carolina’s constitution was amended to extend suffrage to all white men. After leaving office, Drayton was appointed Judge of the U.S. Court of the District of South Carolina, serving from 1812 until his death in 1822. He authored a number of works, including A View of South Carolina and Memoirs of the American Revolution.
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.