Governor, congressman. Manning was born on May 1, 1789, in the portion of the Camden judicial district that became Claremont County. He was the son of Laurence Manning, South Carolina’s first adjutant general, and Susannah Richardson, daughter of Revolutionary War general Richard Richardson. In 1814 Manning married his cousin Elizabeth Peyre Richardson. The marriage produced nine children, including future governor John Laurence Manning and Richard Irvine Manning II, whose own son would serve as governor from 1915 to 1919. Manning attended Mount Bethel Academy in Newberry District and graduated from South Carolina College in 1811. He served as a captain in defense of Charleston during the War of 1812. Following the war he became a planter in Clarendon District, owning fifty slaves by the time of his death.
In 1822 Manning entered politics by securing election to the state House of Representatives from Clarendon. He served until December 1824, when he resigned his seat following his election as governor. As governor, Manning accompanied the marquis de Lafayette on his March 1825 journey from Columbia to Charleston during his tour of the United States. Although a nationalist, Governor Manning saw the General Assembly begin to take stands against the Bank of the United States and internal improvements. As a result of the Tariff of 1824, legislators formally adopted a nullification stance, despite Manning’s opposition.
In 1826 Manning made an unsuccessful bid for a seat in Congress as a Union Party candidate. In 1830 he was defeated by James Hamilton, Jr., in the contest for governor. Manning returned to the General Assembly, however, representing Clarendon District in the state Senate from 1830 to 1833. A staunch opponent of nullification, he voted against the Ordinance of Nullification as one of the few Unionist delegates to the 1832 Nullification Convention. He also served as a vice president at the 1832 Union Convention, which protested against nullification.
In 1834 Manning won a special election to fill a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives left vacant by the death of James Blair. Manning took his seat in December 1834 and secured reelection to Congress the following year. Early in 1836 he spoke in favor of the gag resolution on slavery presented by his House colleague Henry L. Pinckney, which sought to diminish the volatile issue of antislavery petitions presented to Congress. Manning died suddenly while in Philadelphia on May 1, 1836. He was interred in the cemetery of Trinity Church in Columbia.
Bailey, N. Louise, Mary L. Morgan, and Carolyn R. Taylor, eds. Biographical Directory of the South Carolina Senate, 1776–1985. 3 vols. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1986.