U.S. senator. DeSaussure was born in Charleston on February 22, 1792, the son of Chancellor Henry William DeSaussure and Eliza Ford. He graduated from Harvard University in 1810. After his admission to the bar in 1813, he practiced law in Columbia. He married Sara Davie, a daughter of North Carolina governor William Richardson Davie. A son, Colonel William Davie DeSaussure, was killed at the Battle of Gettysburg in 1863.
DeSaussure served as intendant (mayor) of Columbia from 1826 to 1828. In 1846 Richland District elected him to the state House of Representatives, where he served until 1850. In 1852 he was chosen to complete the term of Robert Barnwell Rhett in the U.S. Senate and served from May 10, 1852, until March 3, 1853. Although in office less than a year, DeSaussure considered the Senate to be “grand theater, the arena where proud Sovereignties are fighting for their rights.” An ardent supporter of southern rights, DeSaussure at one time courted Pennsylvania senator James Cooper to encourage his state to join the secession movement, enticing Pennsylvania with promises of a monopoly on the southern market for coal, iron, and manufactures. DeSaussure remained politically active after leaving the Senate. He represented Richland District at the Secession Convention in 1860 and signed the Ordinance of Secession. In later years he resumed his law practice and remained active in the affairs of South Carolina College (later the University of South Carolina), where he served as a trustee from 1833 to 1865. DeSaussure died in Columbia on March 13, 1870. He was buried in the First Presbyterian Church Cemetery.
May, John Amasa, and Joan Reynolds Faunt, eds. South Carolina Secedes. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1960.