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File:Francis Wilkinson Pickens.jpg

Pickens circa 1860


Governor-elect Francis W. Pickens in 1860 (from Harper's Weekly)

Francis Wilkinson Pickens (April 7, 1805 – January 25, 1869) was an American lawyer and politician who served as the 69th Governor of South Carolina when the state seceded from the United States during the American Civil War.

Early life and career[]

Pickens was born in Togadoo, St Paul's Parish, in Colleton County, South Carolina.[1] He was the son of former Gov. Andrew Pickens and a grandson of Gen. Andrew Pickens, an American Revolutionary soldier at the Battle of Cowpens and former U.S. Congressman. A cousin of his grandmother was South Carolina Senator John C. Calhoun. His son-in-law was Confederate General and U.S. Senator Matthew C. Butler, a son of congressman William Butler (1790-1850); grandson of congressman William Butler and a nephew of Senator Andrew Butler.

Pickens was educated at Franklin College (now a part of the University of Georgia) in Athens, Georgia, and at South Carolina College in Columbia.[1] He was admitted to the bar in 1829, the same year that he constructed "Edgewood," a mansion in Edgefield. He joined the Democratic Party and served in the South Carolina house of representatives from 1832–34, where he was an ardent supporter of nullification. As chairman of a sub-committee, he submitted a report denying the right of Congress to exercise any control over the states.

Pickens served in Congress as a representative from South Carolina from 1834 until 1843 (5th District 1834–37; 6th District 1837–39; 5th District 1839–41; 6th District 1841–43). He was a member of the South Carolina state senate from 1844 until 1846. He was offered the position of Minister to England by President James K. Polk, and the Minister to France by President John Tyler, but declined these diplomatic posts. He served as a delegate to the Nashville Southern Convention in 1850. Twice a widower, he married Lucy Petway Holcombe (1832–1899) on April 26, 1856 and in 1858 had Douschka Pickens. Under President James Buchanan, Pickens was Minister to Russia from 1858–1860, where he and his wife were befriended by Czar Alexander II.

American Civil War[]

Under his administration as Governor of South Carolina (1860–1862), the state seceded and demanded the surrender of the Federal forts in Charleston harbor. He strongly advocated the secession of the Southern states but he did not sign the South Carolina ordinance of secession, as is commonly reported. He protested against Major Robert Anderson's removal from Fort Moultrie to Fort Sumter, and offered to acquire the fort from the United States as part of an equitable settlement of the assets and debts of what Pickens considered to be now-dissolved federal union.[citation needed] On January 9, 1861, Governor Pickens sanctioned the firing upon the relief steamship Star of the West, which was bringing supplies to Anderson's beleaguered garrison. He also approved of the subsequent bombardment of Fort Sumter. He remained a fervent supporter of states rights.

Later life[]

Pickens died in Edgefield, South Carolina, and was buried at Willow Brook Cemetery in Edgefield.


  1. 1.0 1.1 Wakefield, Sherman D. (1976). "Pickens, Francis Wilkinson". in William D. Halsey. Collier's Encyclopedia. 19. New York: Macmillan Educational Corporation. p. 26. 

External links[]

Template:Start box |- ! colspan="3" style="background: #cccccc" | United States House of Representatives Template:USRepSuccessionBox Template:USRepSuccessionBox Template:USRepSuccessionBox |- ! colspan="3" style="background: #FACEFF;" | Diplomatic posts

|- style="text-align: center;" |- style="text-align:center;" |width="30%" align="center" rowspan="1"|Preceded by
Thomas H. Seymour |width="40%" style="text-align: center;" rowspan="1"|United States Ambassador to Russia
1858 – 1860 |width="30%" align="center" rowspan="1"| Succeeded by
John Appleton |- Template:S-off |- style="text-align: center;" |- style="text-align:center;" |width="30%" align="center" rowspan="1"|Preceded by
William Henry Gist |width="40%" style="text-align: center;" rowspan="1"|Governor of South Carolina
1860 – 1862 |width="30%" align="center" rowspan="1"| Succeeded by
Milledge Luke Bonham |- |} Template:Governors of South Carolina

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