While governor, he urged the improvement of public education. His accusations that corrupt legislators sold “their votes for money and for whiskey” did not win him many friends in the General Assembly.
Governor. Henagan was born on June 7, 1798, in Marlboro District, the son of Darby and Drusilla Henagan. He studied medicine and eventually opened a medical practice. However, most of his attention was directed toward his planting interests and politics. Initially, he lived in Marlboro, but by the 1840s he resided in Marion District. He had landholdings in both districts and owned thirty-one slaves. Henagan married twice. His first wife was Mary Savage Gibson, and they had nine children. After her death he wed Ann Maria Wickham Ellerbe, a widow.
From 1834 to 1838, Henagan represented Marlboro District in the S.C. Senate. In 1838 the General Assembly elected him lieutenant governor. After Governor Patrick Noble’s death, he was sworn in as governor on April 17, 1840. While governor, he urged the improvement of public education. His accusations that corrupt legislators sold “their votes for money and for whiskey” did not win him many friends in the General Assembly. He left office on December 10, 1840, and he settled in his wife’s home district, Marion. In 1844 the voters of Marion District elected him to the S.C. Senate and reelected him in 1846. In December 1846, after being elected to a four-year term as secretary of state of South Carolina, he resigned his senate seat. Henagan died on January 10, 1855, and was buried in Marion District.
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.