Izard, Ralph

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Izard, Ralph

IZARD, RALPH. (1742–1804). American diplomat, U.S. Senator. South Carolina. Born on 23 January 1742 near Charleston, South Carolina, Izard was the son of a wealthy planter. Sent to school in England when he was 12, Izard graduated from Cambridge in 1761, and returned to South Carolina in 1764. In 1769 he left America with his wife, Alice De Lancey, and lived in Europe for the next decade, where they became the patrons of the American painter John Singleton Copley. The Izards were living in London when the Revolution broke out. Though his wife's family was Loyalist, Izard reluctantly sided with the Americans. In the fall of 1776 they moved to Paris, where Izard assisted Alexander Gillon to raise funds to purchase warships for the United States.

On 7 May 1777, Congress appointed Izard commissioner to Tuscany. The only problem was that the latter state had no intention of receiving the representative of a would-be state they had not yet recognized. Unable to do anything constructive in the diplomatic field, Izard teamed up with his good friends Arthur and William Lee in an attempt to mar the work of Benjamin Franklin. The Lees and Izard felt that they should handle the negotiations with the French government rather than the plebian Franklin, whom they did not trust. However, Franklin outmaneuvered them and Congress recalled Izard in June 1779. As soon as he reached Philadelphia, however, he discovered that Congress had passed a resolution approving his conduct on 9 August 1780.

In 1782 he was elected to the Continental Congress, and he served until 1783. He declined to run for governor of South Carolina, but served in the legislature and in 1789 was elected to the U.S. Senate. He was president pro tempore in the Third Congress. In 1795 he retired from public life. Two years later he was invalided by a stroke. He died 30 May 1804.

SEE ALSO Continental Congress; Franklin, Benjamin; Lee, Arthur; Lee, William.


Izard Papers. Columbia, S.C.: South Caroliniana Library, University of South Carolina.

Rogers, George C., Jr. Evolution of a Federalist: William Laughton Smith of Charleston (1758–1812). Columbia, S.C.: University of South Carolina Press, 1962.

                             revised by Michael Bellesiles

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