John Rutledge

John Rutledge, (1739-1800), South Carolina Signer of the Constitution

Charleston native John Rutledge, like two of the other three signers of the Constitution from South Carolina, built his wealth through a law practice. Like the other three signers he earned and inherited extreme wealth, claimed membership in the Anglican/Episcopal Church, and held a substantial number of slaves. He joined the Patriot cause early on and served in one capacity or another until just after the Constitutional Convention. Some historians consider Rutledge the most eloquent and most brilliant of the South Carolina grandees who autographed the two great documents of the Republic.

The oldest child of seven, John was primarily educated by his father until latter teen years when he studied under a tutor and began to read law. Sent to England and the Middle Temple, he absorbed the English legal history and practice and even won a few cases in the English courts. He returned to Charleston, began a lucrative law practice, added his primogeniture fortune, and married, eventually fathering ten children. At twenty-one he was a member of the legislature and at twenty-five the South Carolina attorney general.