James Louis Petigru was born in the Abbeville District. He graduated from South Carolina College with an A.B. degree in 1803, achieving first honors. He taught school in Beaufort, read law under William Robertson, and was admitted to the Bar in 1812. He practiced first in Beaufort and then in Charleston. He married Jane Amelia Postell in 1816.
He served successively as Solicitor and then as Attorney General of South Carolina. He was a known codifier of laws and United States District Attorney. Mr. Petigru has been recognized both within and without the State of South Carolina as one of America’s great lawyers. He is renowned for the fact that though he vigorously opposed secession, he never lost the respect and admiration of his fellow-South Carolinians. The first two buildings which housed the University of South Carolina’s Law School bore his name. “In the admiration of his Peers; In the respect of his People, In the affection of his Family, His was the highest place.” (From his epitaph).