Born in Charleston, William Moultrie (1730-1805) served in the South Carolina House of Commons, and in 1761, became involved in the Cherokee War. In 1775, he was elected to the first South Carolina Provincial Congress, and was named colonel of the Second Regiment of the Colonial Army. He gained arms for the Continental forces by seizing public arsenals in the Charleston area. He also supervised the construction of defenses around Charleston, including that of a fort on Sullivan's Island. Moultrie and a small group of men defended this fort against a British attack in 1776 and saved Charleston from invasion. The fort was renamed Moultrie in his honor, and he was appointed a brigadier general in the Continental Army. In 1779, he again defended Charleston from a British attack. However, in 1780, after Charleston had been under siege for six weeks, Moultrie had to surrender the famine-threatened city. He was captured and kept prisoner for nearly two years. In February of 1782, he was exchanged and went on to serve in the army until the end of the war. After serving in the state House of Representatives, Moultrie was elected governor of South Carolina from 1785 to 1787, and again from 1794 until 1796. Moultrie's first term as governor came as the state was still recovering from war conditions. He devoted much time to strengthening South Carolina's credit and to persuading the Tories to leave the state before they became a source of unrest. As governor, Moultrie also helped plan the new state capitol in Columbia. Portrait by Rembrandt Peale.
Courtesy of the Gibbes Museum of Art/Carolina Art Association.