Continental Colonel William Washington
This bio was graciously contributed by Stephen E. Haller, Senior Director of Collections for the Indiana Historical Society and author of William Washington: Cavalryman of the Revolution.
After the War: 1782-1810
In contrast to his six years as a soldier, William Washington was content to enjoy thirty years after the war as a South Carolina planter in the affluent, peaceful pursuit of agriculture. The extensive real estate holdings brought to the marriage by Jane were all near the Elliott family mansion at Sandy Hill (12,000 acres; no longer standing). The couple had two children, Jane and William, Jr. Although an active member of the South Carolina General Assembly for 17 years, William was not overly ambitious for a political career and refused offers to run for governor of his adopted state.
During George Washington's 1791 Southern Tour, the President bent his rule of avoiding overnight stays in private homes. He spent two days at Sandy Hill, ascribing the visit to "motives of friendship and relationship." When the President returned to Mount Vernon, he kept a lively correspondence with his cousin on agricultural topics. William's fervor for horse racing was also a passion of his fellow planters. The South Carolina Jockey Club listed Washington as one of the five "most conspicuous gentlemen of the Turf" in the two decades following the American Revolution.
France and the United States became embroiled in a brief undeclared war in 1798, and President John Adams appointed William Washington a brigadier general under General George Washington. Although he had hoped to continue his peaceful life at Sandy Hill, William responded that he "had indulged the pleasing hope that I had made a final retreat into the peaceful shades of retirement, but I shall not hesitate at this momentous crisis...to obey the summons of my country."
William Washington died on March 6, 1810. He is buried in the old Elliott private cemetery with his wife Jane, who died on December 14, 1830, near Rantowles Bridge over modern U. S. Route 17, which was the scene of his first cavalry fight with Lt. Colonel Banastre Tarleton in 1780. Washington's memory was publicly honored several times after his death. On April 19, 1827, Jane presented his scarlet battle flag to the Washington Light Infantry at a ceremony held in front of the couple's house on the Charleston Battery (still standing), and they have continued to preserve the relic. They tried to erect a monument in memory of William and Jane, but when unable to place it at the couple's gravesite, they selected Magnolia Cemetery and held an elaborate ceremony in 1858. The names of William's battles appear on the base of a 17-foot marble monument: Trenton, Cowpens, Hobkirk's Hill and Eutaw Springs.
1. Haller, Stephen E..; William Washington: Cavalryman of the Revolution
Topic Last Updated: 3/16/6/2003
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