Biography of Barnwell, Robert Woodward - Archontology
Barnwell, Robert Woodward

Robert Woodward Barnwell

b. 10 Aug 1801, Beaufort, Beaufort County, South Carolina
d. 5 Nov 1882, Columbia, Richland County, South Carolina

Title: Chairman of the Congress [1]
Term: 4 Feb 1861 - 4 Feb 1861
Chronology: 4 Feb 1861, elected by acclamation, session of the Congress, State Capitol, Montgomery, Alabama [2]
  4 Feb 1861, ceased to exercise the duties of office with election of a successor [3]
Son of a prominent South Carolinian politician; was educated at the Beaufort College and Harvard; elected to the U.S. Congress (1829-1833); became the third president of the South Carolina College (1835-1841); spent a few years as a planter in Beaufort, where he involved himself in local issues; was appointed to fill a temporary vacancy in the U.S. Senate (1850); served as a commissioner to the federal government from South Carolina regarding the secession (1860); was elected to the Confederate Provisional Congress in Montgomery, Alabama (1861-1862); appointed Chairman of Congress (4 Feb 1861), but later that day, he handed the presidency over to Howell Cobb, who was elected President of Congress; cast the deciding vote in the South Carolina delegation which carried the State for Jefferson Davis (9 Feb 1861) and made him President of the Confederate States of America; was a member of the Confederate States Senate (1862-1865); after the Civil War, he worked as faculty chairman at the University of South Carolina (1866-1872) and manager of a private school for girls.
Biographical sources: Biographical Directory of the United States Congress (2005).

[1] The only reference to the title of Barnwell when he presided over the Congress is found in Confederate Congress Journal, 1:10: "Mr. William P. Chilton, of Alabama, called the Congress to order, and moved that Mr. Robert W. Barnwell, of South Carolina, be appointed to preside temporarily over the Congress and until its permanent organization; and said motion was unanimously concurred in. Mr. Barnwell assumed the chair, and tendered his thanks to the Congress for the proof of their confidence and respect. The Chairman then called on the Roy Dr Basil Manly, of Montgomery, who offered up an impressive prayer to Almighty God in behalf of the Congress and the States whose interests it represents."
[2] Confederate Congress Journal, 1:10.
[3] Confederate Congress Journal, 1:16.
  Image: portrait by William Scarborough (courtesy of the McKissick Museum, University of South Carolina, and the South Caroliniana Library); special thanks to Jay Williams, McKissick Museum, University of South Carolina; Beth Bilderback and Brian J. Cuthrell, South Caroliniana Library; Grace Morris Cordial, Beaufort County Public Library.