Born on his family's plantation on the Tuggaloo River in St. Paul's Parish, Francis W. Pickens (1805-1869) attended Franklin College (now University of Georgia) at Athens, Georgia, and South Carolina College. He began a law practice in the Edgefield District in 1829, served a term in the state House of Representatives, and was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1834 to fill a vacancy caused by the resignation of George McDuffie, who had been elected governor. He was also a member of the state Senate from 1844 until 1846. In 1856, President Buchanan appointed Pickens to be the U.S. Minister to Russia. He served until 1860, when he returned to South Carolina and was elected governor. As governor, he supported secession and gave the order for the troops to fire on the Union ship, "Star of the West," as it was attempting to deliver reinforcements to Fort Sumter. He also issued the demand to Major Anderson to surrender the fort, resulting in the beginning of the Civil War. After the war, Pickens retired to his plantation, where he remained until his death in 1869.
Courtesy of the South Caroliniana Library.