Jurist, U.S. senator. Born on January 28, 1779, on Limerick Plantation near Charleston, Huger was the only son of Daniel Huger, a member of the First United States Congress from South Carolina, and Sabina Elliott. The younger Huger graduated from the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University) in 1798. On November 26, 1800, he married Isabella Izard Middleton, daughter of Arthur Middleton, a signer of the Declaration of Independence. The marriage produced ten children.
Huger was admitted to the Charleston Bar in 1811. He practiced law from 1803 until 1819 represented St. Andrew’s Parish in the state House of Representatives, where he gained a reputation as one of its ablest and most respected members. Of Huger, John Belton O’Neall wrote that when he spoke, “all was silent, and his counsels generally prevailed.” During this time he also attended to large land-holdings throughout the state.
As a legislator, Huger vigorously espoused the doctrine of representative democracy over the doctrine of instruction by constituents. As a Federalist, he refused to follow his party’s opposition to the War of 1812. In 1814 he was commissioned by the state as a brigadier general, but the war ended before his brigade was called up.
On December 11, 1819, Huger was elected judge of the Court of General Sessions and Common Pleas where he served until 1830, when he resigned to participate more actively in the nullification debate. He was again elected to the state House of Representatives, this time from the parishes of St. Philip’s and St. Michael’s. A Unionist delegate to the state nullification convention, Huger strongly opposed the Ordinance of Nullification in 1832 and 1833. After being defeated in that debate, Huger temporarily retired from politics to tend to his business interests, which included landholdings in Richland, Sumter, and Charleston Districts and approximately two hundred slaves. In 1838 he returned to politics as a state senator for St. Philip’s and St. Michael’s Parishes, serving for four years.
Following John C. Calhoun’s resignation from the United States Senate in 1843 to serve as secretary of state in the cabinet of President John Tyler, Huger was elected by the legislature to take Calhoun’s place as a states’ rights Democrat. He served from March 4, 1843, until March 3, 1845, when he resigned to return the U.S. Senate seat to Calhoun.
In April 1852, as a delegate for St. Philip’s and St. Michael’s Parishes, Huger attended South Carolina’s states’ rights convention in Columbia, where he again urged moderation in the continuing debate over sectional interests. He held numerous other offices and memberships in professional and social organizations and was a trustee for both the College of Charleston and South Carolina College. Huger died on August 21, 1854, on Sullivan’s Island, and was interred in Magnolia Cemetery, Charleston.
Bailey, N. Louise, ed. Biographical Directory of the South Carolina House of Representatives. Vol. 4, 1791–1815. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1984.
O’Neall, John Belton. Biographical Sketches of the Bench and Bar of South Carolina. 2 vols. Charleston, S.C.: S. G. Courtney, 1859.