Daniel Henry Chamberlain

On this date in 1835, Daniel Henry Chamberlain was born in West Brookfield, Mass. He graduated from Yale with honors in 1862 and became a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army. He was elected attorney general of South Carolina (1868-72) and served as governor from 1874-77. Chamberlain was elected during a period of waste and corruption in state government and high taxation, abuses which his administration, regarded by history as honest, temporarily ended. Chamberlain was to be the last Republican to fill a high office in South Carolina until the late 1960s.

The gubernatorial election of 1876 was marked by irregularities on both sides. The votes of two counties had not been counted. Wade Hampton, Chamberlain’s rival and a war hero, claimed victory. Two state governments were in effect for about a year while Chamberlain refused to leave office. When President Rutherford B. Hayes removed all federal troops from the South, Chamberlain left office. Chamberlain was a planter, lawyer, author (writing Charles Sumner and the Treaty of Washington) and professor of constitutional law at Cornell University. His rationalist views were not well-known, but he wrote an article for the North American Review, later reprinted in The Freethinker, describing himself as “a Freethinker.” D. 1907.

Public domain photo: South Carolina Department of Archives and History

Freedom From Religion Foundation