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Born in Charleston, Bennett was educated at the College of Charleston. In a partnership with his father, Bennett ran a lumber and rice milling operation. He also was employed as an architect and a banker in charge of the Planters and Merchant Bank of South Carolina and the Bank of the State of South Carolina.
Bennett was elected to a number of local positions for the city of Charleston, including Intendant (mayor), and gained election to the South Carolina House of Representatives on three non-consecutive occasions. In 1818, he was elected to the South Carolina Senate and the General Assembly elected him as the Governor of South Carolina in 1820. As governor, Bennett denounced the interstate slave trade that had been re-allowed by the repealing of a law against it in 1818. In light of the slave rebellion led by Denmark Vesey in 1822, Bennett came to view the institution of slavery as a necessary evil.
After leaving the governorship in 1822, Bennett returned to Charleston where, in about 1825, he constructed a house, today known as the Gov. Thomas Bennett House and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Later, he returned to the legislature one more time as a state senator from 1837 to 1840 and became well known as a Unionist. He died on January 30, 1865 and was buried at Magnolia Cemetery in Charleston.
|Governor of South Carolina|
1820 – 1822
John Lyde Wilson