Writer, conservationist. Hampton was born in Columbia on July 8, 1897, to Frank Hampton and Gertrude Gonzales. He was educated at Porter Military Academy in Charleston, then Randolph Macon Academy in Front Royal, Virginia. He attended the University of South Carolina, where he studied English, history, and foreign language, graduating in 1919. In 1930 he married Mary Rebecca DeLoache. The two had a daughter, Harriott. Mary died in 1970 in a car accident, and Hampton married Elizabeth Heyward McCutcheon two years later.
Soon after graduation from college, Hampton took a job as writer for the State newspaper. He was most interested in writing about sports, and in 1930 he began writing the “Woods and Waters” column about outdoor sports. “Woods and Waters” was essentially a crusade for the state’s natural lands. In the column and in public speaking engagements around the state, Hampton promoted sportsmanship and wise use of the state’s natural resources. His enthusiastic writing style and conservation ethic gained him a following among the state’s outdoorsmen and conservationists, and his work had a far-reaching influence on the public’s concept of game and fish. His leadership was instrumental in the creation of the Wildlife and Marine Resources Department and the organization of the South Carolina Game and Fish Association, forerunner of the South Carolina Wildlife Federation. One of Hampton’s greatest successes was his role in saving the Congaree Swamp, now Congaree Swamp National Park, for which he actively lobbied the General Assembly and anyone else who would listen. For a lifetime of work on behalf of the state’s natural resources, Hampton has been called the father of South Carolina’s conservation movement.
Hampton published two books: the autobiographical Woods and Waters and Some Asides, and a book of poetry, Random Rhymes, both published by the State Printing Company. Hampton died in Columbia on November 16, 1980, and was buried at Trinity Cathedral. His legacy, along with his body of work, is the Harry Hampton Memorial Wildlife Fund, a charitable organization that supports outdoor conservation and education programs through the state Department of Natural Resources, including the Palmetto Sportsmen’s Classic.
Coleman, Nancy. “He Speaks for the Wilderness.” South Carolina Wildlife 27 (January–February 1980): 14–18.
“Harry Hampton, Conservationist, Journalist, Dies.” Columbia State, November 17, 1980, p. A1.