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Hugh S. Legare (1841–1843) - Attorney General

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Hugh Swinton Legare was born in 1797 in Charleston, South Carolina. He attended the College of Charleston and South Carolina College, read law in the United States, and then studied various subjects in Europe.

Legare returned to South Carolina in 1820 to manage his family’s plantation. He served in the state legislature from 1820 until 1822, when he failed to secure a third term. Practicing law for two years before returning to the state legislature in 1824, Legare served until 1830, when he was elected state attorney general; he held that post for two years. He then spent four years as charge d’affaires to Belgium before winning a seat in the United States Congress in 1836. Legare served one term, lost his bid for reelection in 1838, and returned home to practice the law.

Legare supported the election of Whig presidential candidate William Henry Harrison, but following the death of Harrison in 1841 and the subsequent resignation of Harrison’s cabinet members, Legare became new President John Tyler’s attorney general in 1841. While in his cabinet post, Hugh Swinton Legare also served for three months as secretary of state ad interim before dying in office in 1843.

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Consulting Editor

William Freehling

Professor Freehling is a senior fellow at the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities and the emeritus Singletary Professor of the Humanities at the University of Kentucky. His writings include:

The Road to Disunion, 1776–1861 (2 volumes; Oxford University Press, 1990 and 2007)

The Reintegration of American History: Slavery and the Civil War (Oxford University Press, 1994)

Prelude to Civil War: the Nullification Controversy in South Carolina, 1816–1836 (Oxford University Press, 1992)