The Life of Arthur Middleton

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Arthur Middleton1742-1787Representative for South Carolina at the Continental CongressArthur Middleton was the son of Henry Middleton and Mary Baker Williams. He was born in 1742, at Middleton Place, near the banks of Ashley, South Carolina. At the early age of twelve, he was sent to the School of Hackney in London. After spending two years there, he went to the School of Westminster. The advantages of Westminster resulted in a thorough acquaintance with the Greek and Roman classics, in which he is said to have greatly excelled. At the age of eighteen or nineteen, Middleton became a member of the University of Cambridge. His companions often tempted to engage him in their youthful follies, but fortunately he escaped the corruption of their ways and devoted extra time to the improvement of his mind. By the time he was twenty-two; he was a graduated bachelor of arts and left the university with the reputation of an accomplished scholar and also a moral man.

By means of his father’s kindness, he was now permitted to travel. After visiting several parts of England, he continued en route to other parts of Europe where he spent two years, mainly in the southern areas. In Rome, he spent several months indulging himself in the exquisite cuisine and luxuries that were afforded him. Here he greatly improved his taste for music and painting; and even became well versed in the principles of sculpture and architecture.

Soon after his return to South Carolina, he was affianced to the daughter of Walter Izard, Esq. Still having a fondness for traveling; soon after his marriage he embarked on another visit to Europe, accompanied by his wife. In this tour he visited many places in England and passed through several of the principal cities in France and Spain. In 1773, Mr. Middleton once more returned to America, settling down on the banks of Ashley.

The father of Mr. Middleton was, at this time, a man of great wealth; but the present welfare of the country was plundering to a state of despondency. In the spring of 1775, Mr. Arthur Middleton was chosen on a secret committee, who was involved with the security of the country. With the authority that had been given, the committee immediately took possession of the public magazine of arms, ammunition, and moved them to a place of safety. In February 1776, the provincial legislature of South Carolina appointed a committee to prepare and report a constitution, which “should most effectually secure peace and good order in the colony, during the continuance of the dispute of Great Britain”. This duty was assigned to Mr. Middleton and ten others.

Mr. Middleton was soon after elected by that body as a representative of South Carolina in the Congress of the United States, assembled in Philadelphia. Here he had an opportunity of inscribing his name on the greater character of American liberties. At the close of 1777, Mr. Middleton relinquished his seat in Congress and returned to South Carolina, leaving behind the character of a man of the purest patriotism, of sound judgment, and unwavering resolution.