John Faucheraud Grimké
|John F. Grimké|
|Associate justice, South Carolina's Court of Common Pleas and General Sessions|
|Intendant (mayor) of Charleston, South Carolina|
|South Carolina state legislature|
|Born||December 16, 1752|
|Died||August 9, 1819
Long Branch, New Jersey
|Alma mater||Trinity College, Cambridge;
John Faucheraud Grimké (December 16, 1752 – August 9, 1819) was an American jurist who served as Associate justice and Senior Associate Justice of South Carolina's Court of Common Pleas and General Sessions from 1783 until his death. He also served in the South Carolina state legislature from 1782 until 1790. He was intendant (mayor) of Charleston, South Carolina for two terms, from 1786 to 1788.
Life, education and war service
Grimké's maternal grandparents were Huguenots who left France after the Edict of Fontainebleau stripped Protestants of their rights. His paternal grandparents were German merchants from Alsace-Lorraine, who came to South Carolina in the 17th century. Their name was originally "Grimk" until changed by Grimké's grandfather, John Paul Grimké, a silversmith whose work rivaled that of Paul Revere.
Educated in the law in England at Trinity College, Cambridge, and at the Inns of Court of the Middle Temple, Grimké signed, with Benjamin Franklin and others, a 1774 petition to King George III and the British government protesting against the Boston Port Act. After the outbreak of hostilities in the American Revolutionary War in 1776, Grimké returned to South Carolina and joined the Continental Army as a Captain in Charleston's Regiment of Artillery. He was promoted to Major in 1778, and later that year became Deputy Adjutant General, holding the rank of Colonel. He became a prisoner of the British in the Siege of Charleston in 1780, and was paroled. Arrested the next year on a flimsy pretext, he was imprisoned for five weeks, which he considered to have nullified his parole. As such, he joined the army of Nathanael Green, serving until the end of the war. He served as an officer under Colonel Samuel Elbert, under the extended Georgia command of Major General Robert Howe, and saw service in several famous battles, such as Eutaw Springs and Yorktown.
Grimké was elected a judge of the superior court in 1783, and in 1799 became senior associate. Princeton gave him the degree of LL.D in 1789. As a member of the legislature, he served as speaker of the South Carolina House of Representatives in 1785-86, and a member of the convention of 1788 that adopted the Federal constitution.
In 1811, political enemies in the South Carolina legislature attempted to remove Judge Grimké from his position as a judge by impeachment, but he was easily acquitted of the charges.
Grimké was described by John Belton O'Neall as a "stern, unbending judge" who tolerated nothing. Yet Grimké held a high opinion of the abilities of women and believed his daughter Sarah Grimké would have made a good lawyer had she been born a boy and allowed to practice. He also believed that women should be allowed to be Executrixes of estates.
In 1785, Grimké served as a member of a three-man commission designated to revise, digest and publish the state laws. While the commission’s final report was not adopted by the state, some recommendations were adopted into law. Grimké’s research resulted in the publication of Public Laws of the State of South Carolina (Philadelphia, 1790), which served for several decades as a standard legal reference. The book contains information on the English statutes which extended to or were generally received in the American Colonies; and includes references to English cases and decisions on those statutes.
He also published Revised Edition of the Laws of South Carolina to 1789, Law of Executors for South Carolina, Duty of Justices of the Peace (2nd ed., 1796), and, anonymously Duties of Executors and Administrators of Estates (New York, 1797) around the time he was breaking his father's will in the Charlestown Equity Courts.
A son of John Paul Grimké and Mary Faucheraud, John Faucheraud Grimké was a member of Charleston’s upper class and was well known in society. (His uncle Frederick Grimke 1705-1778) was the father of Elizabeth Grimke (1742-1792) the wife of John Rutledge). In 1784, he married Mary Smith, known as "Polly", a descendant of Thomas Smith, whose extended Charleston family was both wealthy and influential. The couple maintained a large slave population at Belmont, their rice plantation, and their other up-countries properties, as well as in their house in Charleston at 321 East Bay Street. Mary Grimké was particularly strict with the slaves, often to the distress of her daughters, Sarah and Angelina. Grimké himself may have had questions about slavery, but he never publicly took a stand against the system under which he became a rich man, nor did he take any action to oppose it. Ironically Mary Smith was a cousin several times removed of Abigail Adams and her husband John Adams the parents of John Quincy Adams a leading opponent of slave power.
John and Mary Grimké had fourteen children, three of whom died in infancy. Their children included Sarah Moore Grimké and Angelina Grimké, noted orators and abolitionists; attorney and reformer Thomas Smith Grimké, and Henry W. Grimké. Another son, Frederick (born in Charleston 1 September 1791; died in Chillicothe, Ohio 8 March 1863), a graduate of Yale, moved to Ohio, where he became a judge and state supreme court justice.
John and Mary Grimké's mixed-race grandchildren, through their son Henry W. Grimké, included journalist and diplomat Archibald Grimké, Francis J. Grimké, a Presbyterian minister, and John Grimké (d.1918).
After the attempted impeachment, Grimké's health deteriorated, and when the leading doctors in Charleston could find no cure, he was advised to go to Philadelphia to consult a physician there. He took his daughter Sarah with him as nursemaid and companion. The doctor could not determine the cause or nature of Grimké's affliction, and suggested that sea air might help. Grimké and his daughter moved to a boardinghouse in Long Branch, New Jersey, where, shortly after, he died of his unknown wasting disease. He was buried in Long Branch.
- "John Faucheraud Grimke" on the Preservation Society of Charleston website
- Perry, p.17
- "Order Book of John Faucheraud Grimké" The South Carolina Historical and Genealogical Magazine v.13 n.1 (January 1912)
- Perry, pp.31-32
- O'Neall, John Belton. Biographical Sketches of the Bench and Bar of South Carolina. Vol 2. Charleston, 1859.
- Poston, Jonathan H. The buildings of Charleston: a guide to the city's architecture University of South Carolina Press, 1997. ISBN 157003202. p.557
- Perry, pp.43-44
- Perry, p.34
- Lerner, Gerda, The Grimké Sisters From South Carolina: Pioneers for Women's Rights and Abolition. New York, Schocken Books, 1971 and The University of North Carolina Press, Cary, North Carolina, 1998. ISBN 0-19-510603-2
- O'Neall, John Belton. "Biographical Sketches of the Bench and Bar of South Carolina. Vol 2." Charleston, 1859.
- Perry, Mark. Lift Up Thy Voice: The Grimké Family's Journey from Slaveholders to Civil Rights Leaders. New York: Viking Penguin, 2001
- Wilson, James Grant; Fiske, John, eds. (1900). "Grimké, John Faucheraud". Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography. New York: D. Appleton
Arnoldus Vander Horst
|Mayor of Charleston, South Carolina
1786 – 1788