JOHN LAURENCE MANNING was born at Hickory Hill, Clarendon County, South Carolina. He attended Princeton University and in 1836 received a bachelor’s degree from South Carolina College, where he later served as a trustee and Alumni Association President and established scholarships. A planter by trade, he served in the South Carolina House of Representatives from 1842 to 1846 and in the South Carolina Senate from 1846 until 1852, when he was elected governor. During his gubernatorial term, Congress passed the Kansas-Nebraska Act, which repealed the Missouri Compromise of 1820 and once more raised the issue of expansion of slavery into the territories. [Under the Missouri Compromise, Maine was admitted as a free state while Missouri was enabled to form a state constitution absent any restrictions on slavery, but with the proviso that slavery would be excluded from any land in the original Missouri territory north of the boundaries of the new state of Missouri. The Kansas-Nebraska Act nullified this compromise by permitting Kansans and Nebraskans to decide the slavery issue for themselves with the knowledge that the former would permit slavery.] Manning spoke the words: “[N]o man can tell the consequences of the dissolving of the Union; but a people who is not willing to risk all in defense of constitutional government does not deserve its blessings.” After leaving office, he was offered the position of U.S. Minister to Russia by President James Buchanan but declined appointment. He was a member of the South Carolina Secession Convention and a signer of the Ordinance of Secession. He served in the South Carolina Senate from 1861 to 1865 and in the South Carolina House of Representatives from 1865 to 1867. Although elected to the U.S. Senate in 1865, he was denied the seat along with other southern Senators.
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.
Father of South Carolina Governor Richard Irvine Manning
Grand-uncle of South Carolina Governor James Burchill Richardson