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Hugh S. Legaré

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Hugh Legaré
United States Secretary of State
Ad interim
In office
May 9, 1843 – June 20, 1843
PresidentJohn Tyler
Preceded byDaniel Webster
Succeeded byWilliam S. Derrick (ad interim)
16th United States Attorney General
In office
September 13, 1841 – June 20, 1843
PresidentJohn Tyler
Preceded byJohn J. Crittenden
Succeeded byJohn Nelson
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from South Carolina's 1st district
In office
March 4, 1837 – March 3, 1839
Preceded byHenry L. Pinckney
Succeeded byIsaac E. Holmes
United States Minister to Belgium
In office
September 25, 1832 – June 9, 1836
PresidentAndrew Jackson
Preceded byPosition established
Succeeded byVirgil Maxcy
7th Attorney General of South Carolina
In office
November 27, 1830 – November 29, 1832
GovernorJames Hamilton Jr.
Preceded byJames L. Petigru
Succeeded byRobert Barnwell Rhett
Personal details
Hugh Swinton Legaré

(1797-01-02)January 2, 1797
Charleston, South Carolina, U.S.
DiedJune 20, 1843(1843-06-20) (aged 46)
Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
EducationUniversity of South Carolina, Columbia (BA)

Hugh Swinton Legaré (/lɪˈɡr/ lih-GREE; January 2, 1797 – June 20, 1843) was an American lawyer, diplomat and politician from South Carolina who served as the 16th United States Attorney General under President John Tyler.

Legaré served as Attorney General of South Carolina from 1830 to 1832 before President Andrew Jackson appointed him as the acting minister to the new Kingdom of Belgium. On his return to the United States, he was elected to represent Charleston in the United States House of Representatives but lost re-election to Isaac E. Holmes.

Following the 1841 death of President William Henry Harrison and the resignation of Whigs from the cabinet, Legaré was named United States Attorney General by John Tyler. He served as Attorney General until his death in office on June 20, 1843. For the final month of his life, Legaré also served as United States Secretary of State ad interim following the resignation of Daniel Webster.

Life and career[edit]

Legaré was born in Charleston, South Carolina, of Huguenot and Scottish ancestry.

Partly due to his inability to share in the amusements of his fellows, as a result of a vaccine-related deformity suffered before he was five that permanently stunted the growth and development of his legs; Legaré was an eager student and was president of the Clariosophic Society at the College of South Carolina (now University of South Carolina at Columbia), from which he graduated in 1814 with the highest rank in his class and with a reputation for scholarship and eloquence.[1]

After graduation, he studied the law for three years, did advanced work in Paris and Edinburgh in 1818 and 1819 and in 1822 was admitted to the South Carolina bar.

After practicing for a time in Charleston, he became a member of the South Carolina House of Representatives, serving between 1820 and 1821 and then again between 1824 and 1830. He also founded and edited the Southern Review between 1828 and 1832.

From 1830 until 1832 he was the Attorney General of South Carolina, and he supported states' rights, he strongly opposed nullification. He was Attorney General until he was appointed chargé d'affaires to Brussels in 1832, serving there until 1836.[1] In 1838, he was elected as a member to the American Philosophical Society.[2]

On his return he was elected to the 25th Congress as a Democrat, but failed in a re-election bid the following term. In 1841 President John Tyler named him Attorney General of the United States and he served in that office until his death. He also served as Secretary of State ad interim from May 8, 1843, until his death.

He died in Boston while attending ceremonies for the unveiling of the Bunker Hill Monument. He died, by "internal strangulation..the twisting of the intestine upon itself."[3] He was first interred in Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and was later re-interred in Magnolia Cemetery in Charleston. The USCGC Legare, which is a medium endurance cutter, was named in his honor.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Chisholm 1911.
  2. ^ "APS Member History". search.amphilsoc.org. Retrieved 2021-04-09.
  3. ^ Vermont Telegraph June 28, 1843


Further reading[edit]

  • The Writings of Hugh Swinton Legaré, South Carolina, 1846. (2 vols.)
  • Hollis, Daniel Walker (1951) University of South Carolina, volume I: South Carolina College, Columbia: University of South Carolina Press.

External links[edit]

Legal offices
Preceded by U.S. Attorney General
Served under: John Tyler

Succeeded by
U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from South Carolina's 1st congressional district

Succeeded by
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Position established
U.S. Chargé d'Affaires to Belgium
Succeeded by