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Thomas Sumter

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General Thomas Sumter (August 14, 1734 - June 1, 1832) was a hero of the American Revolution and went on to become a longtime member of the Congress of the United States. Sumter was born in Virginia came to South Carolina at age 30 and settled in Stateburg in the Camden district. He married the widow Mary Jameson in 1767 and together they opened several small businesses and became successful plantation owners. Due to his wealth and the respect in the community he was able to form a local militia group.

In February of 1776 he was elected Lieutenant Cornel of the second regiment of riflemen. He participated in several battles in the early months of the war, including the campaign to prevent an invasion of Georgia.

After the British surrounded Charleston, South Carolina they actively started to search for Sumter who had to escape to the up-state. There he formed a resistance group, recruiting men from South and North Carolina to fight the British Army. He was elected Brigadier General. He and his troops fiercely fought the British and continuously disrupted supply chains and lines of communication.

His fierce battle style and his lack of fear earned him the nickname "The Gamecock". After the revolutionary war, he started his political career and served under the first four Presidents of the United States. He was a member of the United States House of Representatives from 1780-1793 and from 1797-1801. He served in the US Senate from 1801-1810.

When he died on June 1, 1832, Thomas Sumter was the last surviving American officer of the American Revolution.

The county in which Stateburg, SC is now located was named Sumter County in 1800 and the county seat is the city of Sumter. Both, Sumter High School and the nearby University of South Carolina use the nickname Gamecock for their athletic teams.

Sumter would be most famous throughout history, however, for another of his namesakes — Fort Sumter, a defended US Army outpost at the entrance to Charleston Harbor the shelling of which precipitated the beginning of the American Civil War.

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