D. Wyatt Aiken

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David Wyatt Aiken
D. Wyatt Aiken - Brady-Handy.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from South Carolina's 3rd district
In office
March 4, 1877 – March 3, 1887
Preceded by Solomon L. Hoge
Succeeded by James S. Cothran
Member of the South Carolina House of Representatives from Abbeville District
In office
November 28, 1864 – December 21, 1866
Personal details
Born (1828-03-17)March 17, 1828
Winnsboro, South Carolina
Died April 6, 1887(1887-04-06) (aged 59)
Cokesbury, South Carolina
Resting place Magnolia Cemetery, Greenwood, South Carolina
Political party Democratic
Profession journalist, farmer
Military service
Allegiance  Confederate States of America
Service/branch  Confederate States Army
Years of service 1861–64
Rank Confederate States of America Colonel.png Colonel
Commands South Carolina 7th South Carolina Infantry
Battles/wars American Civil War
- Peninsula Campaign
- Northern Virginia Campaign
- Battle of Antietam
- Gettysburg Campaign

David Wyatt Aiken (March 17, 1828 – April 6, 1887) was a Confederate army officer during the American Civil War and a postbellum five-term United States Congressman from South Carolina.

Biography[edit]

Early life[edit]

Aiken was born in Winnsboro, South Carolina, and received his early education under private tutors. He attended the Mount Zion Institute in Winnsboro and graduated from South Carolina College in Columbia in 1849. He taught college for two years before marrying Mattie Gaillard in 1852 and engaging in agricultural pursuits, owning a plantation and travelling extensively in Europe and throughout the United States. He became the editor of the Winnsboro News and Herald, and was married a second time to Miss Smith of Abbeville, where Aiken settled and continued to farm. In 1855, Aiken became a founding member of the State Agricultural Society.

Civil War, Reconstruction[edit]

In 1858 Aiken attended a political convention in Mobile, Alabama, and began speaking publicly in favor of secession.[1] With South Carolina's secession and the advent of the Civil War, Aiken enlisted in the Confederate Army as a private in the 7th South Carolina Infantry. He was later appointed adjutant of the regiment and in 1862 was elected its colonel. He led it in the Peninsula and Northern Virginia Campaigns. He was severely wounded by a shot through his lungs at the Battle of Antietam in September 1862. After his lengthy recovery, he commanded his regiment in the Gettysburg Campaign in Joseph B. Kershaw's brigade, seeing action near the Peach Orchard in the Battle of Gettysburg. However, lingering effects of his wound soon forced Aiken to administrative duty in Macon, Georgia for a year, before he resigned from the Confederate army in mid-1864 and returned home.

He was a member of the State house of representatives from 1864–66 and served as secretary and treasurer of the Agricultural and Mechanical Society of South Carolina in 1869. Aiken was a prominent figure in the Reconstruction-era Democratic party and a leader in efforts to suppress the voting rights of recently emancipated slaves. He publicly called for the assassination of a black state legislator, Benjamin F. Randolph, saying “never to suffer this man Randolph to come into your midst; if he does, give him four feet by six.”[2] On October 16, 1868, Randolph was assassinated by three men in broad daylight. Aiken was detained by state authorities on suspicion of being an accessory-before-the-fact, and freed on $5,000 bond. No one was ever brought to trial for Randolph's assassination.

Grange activist, magazine publisher[edit]

In 1872, Aiken was an activist on behalf of The National Grange of the Order of Patrons of Husbandry, more commonly known as the Grange, organizing 76 local chapters across South Carolina. Aiken was a member of the executive committee of the National Grange from 1873–85, served as its chairman in 1875, and was president of the South Carolina Grange from 1875–1877. Starting in 1869, Aiken was a correspondent of The Rural Carolinian, a magazine for southern planters and farmers.[3] He eventually became editor and owner and held those positions until 1877.[1]

Congressional service, death[edit]

Aiken served as a delegate to the Democratic National Convention at St. Louis in 1876, and was elected as a Democrat to the Forty-fifth and to the four succeeding Congresses (serving from 1877 until 1887). He was chairman of the Committee on Education in the Forty-eighth and Forty-ninth Congresses. With his health declining, Aiken became an invalid during his last term in office and was not a candidate for renomination in 1886.

Aiken died in Cokesbury, South Carolina, and was buried in Magnolia Cemetery in Greenwood, South Carolina.

His son, Wyatt Aiken (1863–1923), also served in Congress and a first cousin, William Aiken, Jr., became a Congressman and Governor of South Carolina.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Zuczek, Robert (2006). Encyclopedia of the Reconstruction Era: A-L. Greenwood Publishing Group. pp. 26–27. 
  2. ^ Shapiro, Herbert (January 1964). "The Ku Klux Klan During Reconstruction: The South Carolina Episode". The Journal of Negro History 49 (1): 35–36. 
  3. ^ Jacques, D. H. (December 1875). "To the Readers". The Rural Carolinian 6 (15): 785–787. 
United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Solomon L. Hoge
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from South Carolina's 3rd congressional district

1877-1887
Succeeded by
James S. Cothran

 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.