LOWNDES, William, (brother of Thomas Lowndes), a Representative from South Carolina; born on “Horseshoe” plantation, near Jacksonborough, St. Bartholomew’s parish, South Carolina, February 11, 1782; pursued classical studies in England and at home; studied law; was admitted to the bar in 1804 and commenced practice in Charleston, S.C.; also engaged in agricultural pursuits; member of the State house of representatives 1804-1808; captain of militia in 1807; elected as a Republican to the Twelfth and to the five succeeding Congresses and served from March 4, 1811, until May 8, 1822, when he resigned; chairman, Committee on Ways and Means (Fourteenth and Fifteenth Congresses), Committee on Expenditures in the Department of the Treasury (Fifteenth Congress); nominated by the general assembly of South Carolina for the office of President of the United States in 1821; died at sea while en route to England October 27, 1822; remains were buried at sea.


DAB; Ravenel, Mrs. St. Julien. Life and Times of William Lowndes Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1901; Vipperman, Carl J. William Lowndes and the Transition of Southern Politics, 1782-1822. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1989.


A biography has been published on William Lowndes, the South Carolina statesman for whom the
USS Lowndes APA 154 World War II ship was named.

William Lowndes and the Transition of Southern Politics. 1782-1822 has been researched and
authored by Dr. Carl Vipperman, Professor Emeritus of the University of Georgia.

The 326-page book is the most comprehensive work ever published on the distinguished
Congressman and State Legislator whose leadership and actions played a key role in shaping the
nations destiny in a changing political environment in the early 1800s.

The influence and actions of William Lowndes played a key role in developing a strong Navy and
national defense system. It was therefore appropriate that his name was chosen by the U.S. Navy
for the USS Lowndes APA 154 ship of World War II. Counties in Alabama, Georgia and
Mississippi were also named for Lowndes.

William Lowndes chaired many key committees in the US House of Representatives and was
described by longtime Speaker of the House Henry Clay as "the wisest man I ever knew." The
South Carolina Legislature voted unanimously to nominate Lowndes as a candidate for President
of the United States. However, he declined to seek or campaign for the nation's highest office.

Despite his tremendous influence, Lowndes was apparently a very humble man who shied away
from personal recognition. His political philosophy represented "civic virtue" requiring service
for the public good without any personal gain. He annually destroyed all records of his actions.
Therefore, his accomplishments have never previously been fully documented in South Carolina's
recorded history.

Dr. Vipperman's book on William Lowndes and the Transition of Southern Politics, 1782-1822,
brings to light the important role this statesman played in the history of South Carolina and the
United States.

Lowndes is being memorialized during the 1996 Reunion of the USS Lowndes at Myrtle Beach
with a resolution adopted by the South Carolina General Assembly. Original copies of the
resolution will be presented to the Reunion group and two direct descendants of the
Congressman - his great, great grandson William Lowndes III and his son William Lowndes IV,
both of Spartanburg, South Carolina

Dr. Carl J. Vipperman, Professor Emeritus of the University of Georgia, has
provided the Reunion one of the few remaining copies of his book on William
Lowndes and the Transition of Southern Politics, 1782-1822.
The University
of North Carolina Press at Chapel Hill, North Carolina is publisher of the
William Lowndes book. The supply of the latest printing is exhausted.



Book Synopsis

"Vipperman's study of William Lowndes
deals with a significant figure in an informed
and informative manner. Reflecting recent
scholarly interest in republicanism, the au-
thor has made good use of the concept to
help us understand both Lowndes and his
political world. The volume is also a pleasure
to read."—Robert M. Weir, University of
South Carolina 

William Lowndes (1782-1822) of
South Carolina ranked among the
most influential congressmen of his
time, but his reputation has been overshad-
owed by such contemporaries as John C.
Calhoun and Henry Clay. In this first schol-
arly biography of the southern statesman,
Carl Vipperman establishes Lowndes's place
in history, at the same time providing valu-
able insights into our understanding of the
development and decline of republicanism.
After two terms in the South Carolina leg-
islature, Lowndes was elected to the United
States House of Representatives in 1810,
serving until illness forced him to retire in
1822. The dominant political philosophy of
Lowndes's era was traditional republicanism,
which provided for a mixed and balanced
distribution of power to prevent its abuse by
either the majority or the minority. As an
heir to the republican tradition, Lowndes
had helped forge a compromise in South
Carolina in 1808 that kept the Palmetto
State's planter elite—rather than the popular
majority—firmly in power. 

But this was a time of political transition,
in which the rising spirit of democracy chal-
lenged the elitist character of republicanism
and advocated majority rule. In 1820, an ag-
gressive northern majority in Congress at-
tempted to impose a slavery restriction on
the admission of Missouri to statehood while
simultaneously promoting a protective tariff.
These actions—the first perceived in the
South as an unprovoked assault on a dis-
tinctly southern interest and the other a pro-
motion of a distinctly northern interest at
southern expense—demonstrated to the
South its minority status in the Union. 

To Lowndes and his southern colleagues,
the conduct of the northern numerical ma-
jority marked an alarming departure from
traditional republicanism and a move toward
the unstable realm of democracy, raising fun-
damental questions concerning the nature of
the Union and the legitimate limits of gov-
ernmental power. 

The strength of traditional republicanism
was fading even as William Lowndes served
his last years in Congress. How he embraced
this philosophy and how it affected his re-
sponse to public issues is a major theme of
this study. In linking Lowndes's career to the
fortunes of republicanism, Vipperman pro-
vides insights not only into the man's public
life but also—on a larger scale—into the ori-
gins of intersectional controversy that led
eventually to the Civil War. 

Carl J. Vipperman, associate professor of
history at the University of Georgia, is au-
thor of The Rise of Rawlins Lowndes, 1721-1800. 

ISBN 0-8078-1826-7 

Fred W. Morrison Series in Southern Studies 

The University of
North Carolina Press 
Post Office Box 2288
Chapel Hill, NC 27515-2288