Ramsay, David

David Ramsay

b. 2 Apr 1749 (Old Style?), Drumore Township, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania
d. 8 May 1815, Charleston, South Carolina

Title: Chairman of Congress
Term: 23 Nov 1785 - 12 May 1786
Chronology: 23 Nov 1785, elected to the office of the Chairman of Congress, session of Congress, City Hall, New York City [1]
12 May 1786, term of delegate (and subsequently as the Chairman of Congress) is deemed to have expired [2]
Attended the College of New Jersey (1762-1765); taught school in Maryland and Virginia; decided to pursue a career in medicine and enrolled in medical school of the College of Philadelphia; received his Bachelor of Physic in 1773; practiced in Cecil County, Maryland (1773-1774); upon moving to South Carolina, he settled in Charleston, where he was elected member of the state House of Representatives (1776-1783); during the Revolutionary War, he served as surgeon of the Charleston Battalion of Artillery in the Revolutionary Army; was captured at the fall of Charleston in May 1780 and spent 11 months imprisoned at St. Augustine, Florida; elected delegate to the Continental Congress from South Carolina (1782-1783); re-elected to the Congress by the General Assembly of South Carolina 11 Feb 1785 and took seat 13 May 1785; elected the Chairman of Congress (23 Nov 1785) to serve for the period of incapacity of President John Hancock; requested to be relieved of serving in the Congress in a letter communicated to the House of Representatives of South Carolina on 13 Feb 1786; left Congress upon the expiration of his one-year term; married Martha Laurens, daughter of Henry Laurens (23 Jan 1787); stood as candidate in election to the U.S. Congress (1789), but lost to William L. Smith, whose election he unsuccessfully contested; was known as historian of South Carolina, who wrote several historical works, and was considered the father of American copyrights; was elected to the State Senate of South Carolina and served as president of that body (1791-1797); was shot by a maniac on 6 May 1815, in Charleston, and died on 8 May 1815.
Biographical sources: Biographical Directory of the United States Congress (2005), p. 1779.

[1] Journals of the Continental Congress, 29:883.
[2] The credentials of Ramsay as delegate of the State of South Carolina to the Congress were read and entered in the Record of Credentials when he first attended the session 13 May 1785 (Journals of the Continental Congress, 28:351-352). According to the credentials, he was authorised to serve until 7 Nov 1785 and to continue sitting in the Congress until he is relieved of duties by the legislature. Since Article 5 of the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union prescribed annual rotation of delegates "in such manner as the legislatures of each State shall direct", Ramsay considered that his one-year term as delegate (and subsequently as the Chairman of Congress) expired 12 May 1786 and left the Congress (Journals of the Continental Congress, 30:264).
  Image: engraving by J.B.Longacre from a drawing by C.Frazer after a painting by C.W.Peale.
Last updated on: 03 Apr 2010 01:02:32