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Thomas Jefferson Withers

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Thomas Jefferson Withers (1804 – November 7, 1865) was an American politician from South Carolina who served in the Confederate States Congress during the American Civil War.



Withers was born in York County, South Carolina,[1] and was elected as a state court judge in 1846, to fill the vacancy left by the election of Andrew Butler to the US Senate.[2] He represented the state in the Provisional Confederate Congress in 1861 and signed the Confederate States Constitution although it was reported that when taking the oath to the new constitution, he refused to kiss the Bible.[3]

Withers is also notable for the sexually explicit letters he wrote in 1826 to a college friend, future governor James Henry Hammond, with whom Withers had a homosexual relationship. The letters, which are housed among the Hammond Papers at the South Caroliniana Library, were first published by researcher Martin Duberman in 1981, and are remarkable for being rare documentary evidence of same-sex relationships in the antebellum United States.[4][5]

Withers married a Miss Boykin (sister-in-law of Stephen Decatur Miller, governor of South Carolina),[1] with whom he had several children.[6] Withers died at Camden in Kershaw County, South Carolina,[7] and was interred at the Quaker Cemetery in the same city.


  1. ^ a b Perry, Ex-Governor B. F. (June 27, 1872). "Sketch of Hon. T. J. Withers". Yorkville Enquirer. York, South Carolina. p. 1. Retrieved May 11, 2019.
  2. ^ "Elections by the legislature". Edgefield Advertiser. Edgefield, South Carolina. December 16, 1846. p. 2. Retrieved May 11, 2019.
  3. ^ Akers, Merton T. (February 4, 1961). "Confederate States Meet. (Another In Series Of Articles On Civil War History)". Latrobe Bulletin. Latrobe, Pennsylvania. UPI. p. 14. Retrieved May 11, 2019.
  4. ^ Duberman, Martin Bauml. "'Writhing Bedfellows': 1826." Journal of Homosexuality 6, no. 1 (1981): 85-101. Reprinted in The Gay Past: A Collection of Historical Essays. Eds. Salvatore J. Licata, and Robert P. Petersen. New York: Haworth Press, 1981. ISBN 0-917724-27-5
  5. ^ Rupp, Leila J. (1999). A Desired Past: A Short History of Same-Sex Love in America. University of Chicago Press. pp. 6, 50–51. ISBN 9780226731551.
  6. ^ "Distressing Occurrence". The Abbeville Press And Banner. Abbeville, South Carolina. March 11, 1858. p. 2. Retrieved May 11, 2019.
  7. ^ "Death of Judge Withers". Edgefield Advertiser. Edgefield, South Carolina. November 22, 1865. p. 2. Retrieved May 11, 2019.