Langdon Cheves, an American statesman, born at Rocky River, S. C, Sept, 17, 1776, died at Columbia, June 25,1857. He received little early education, but was admitted to the bar in 1800, and rapidly attained eminence. In 1808 he was elected from Charleston to the general assembly, of which body he became a leader. He was a representative in congress from 1811 to 1816, and was a zealous supporter of the party which carried the declaration of war. His speech on the merchants' bonds in 1811 was admired both for its ability and eloquence. He was chairman of the naval committee in 1812, and of the committee on ways and means in 1813, and constantly opposed the restrictive system. When Henry Clay was sent as commissioner to Ghent, Mr. Cheves succeeded him as speaker of the house, being elected by the federalists combined with the anti-restriction democrats over Felix Grundy, the candidate of the strict administration party. He retained this office till 1815, and not one of his decisions was reversed by the house. The bill for the recharter of the United States bank in 1815 was lost by his vote. He voted first to make a tie, and then gave a second and casting vote to defeat it.
Declining a reelection to congress after the close of the war, he was chosen one of the superior judges of the courts of law of South Carolina. The national bank having been rechartered in 1816, that institution under injudicious management had become hard pressed and was on the verge of stoppage in 1819, when Cheves was elected president of its board of directors. By a rigorous system of retrenchment, and by making credits only upon sufficient securities, the bank was saved, and specie payment maintained at the principal centres of commerce. Resigning this arduous office after three years, he became chief commissioner under the treaty of Ghent for settling some of its provisions. He returned to South Carolina, where he devoted himself to his plantation, and though retaining his interest in public affairs, declined to accept public office. Although as early as 1830 he had favored a withdrawal of the South from the Union, he was opposed to the scheme of nullification of 1832. Though advocating a southern confederacy, he opposed the unsupported action of a single state as suicidal.
In 1850 he became a delegate to the Nashville commercial convention, and in 1852 was a member of the state convention of South Carolina, in which he exerted his influence against the idea of separate state secession. As a literary man he is known not only by his speeches, but by many occasional letters and reviews. He was buried with public honors in the Magnolia cemetery, near Charleston.