A member of the colonial legislature, during the American Revolution he attended the Continental Congress and served as that body"s presiding officer for a few days in 1774. Henry was educated in England before returning to South Carolina to inherit his father"s plantation.
He left Congress before it declared independence. Back in South Carolina, he served as president of the provincial congress and senator in the newly created state government. After his capture by the British in 1780, he accepted defeat and returned to the status of a British subject until the end of the war.
Henry"s father Arthur Middleton was a wealthy planter who had served as an acting governor of South Carolina.
He became one of the largest landowners in the colony, owning 50,000 acres (200 km2) and about 800 slaves. After Mary's death in 1761, Middleton would go on to marry twice more, second to Maria Henrietta Bulletin (in 1762) and third to Lady Mary McKenzie (in 1776).
Middleton served in a variety of public offices in South Carolina. In 1774, at the outset of the American Revolution, Middleton was selected as a delegate to the Continental Congress.
He served as that body"s president during the last few days of the First Continental Congress, following the departure of Peyton Randolph.
Middleton opposed declaring independence from Great Britain, and resigned from the Second Continental Congress in February 1776 when more radical delegates began pushing for independence. After Middleton"s return to South Carolina, he was elected president of the provincial congress and, beginning on November 16, 1775, served on the council of safety. In 1779, he became a state senator in the new government.
When Charleston was captured by the British in 1780, Middleton accepted defeat and status as a British subject.
This reversal apparently did not damage his reputation in the long run, due to his previous support of the Revolution, and he did not suffer the fate of having his estates confiscated, as many Loyalists did after the war. Middleton died on June 13, 1784 in Charleston.
He was Governor of South Carolina (1810–1812), United States. Representative (1815–1819), and the minister to Russia (1820–1830). Some of Middleton"s children married into prominent families.
His descendants include the politician Baldur von Schirach, through the latter"s mother Emma Middleton Lynah Tillou.
Member South Carolina. House of Commons, 1742-1755, speaker, 1747, 54, 55: commissioner Indian affairs, 1755. Member His Majesty’s Council for South Carolina., 1755-1770.
Member Continental Congress from South Carolina., 1774-1776, president, October 1774-May 1775.
Member commission to frame temporary South Carolina. Constitution, 1776; member legislative council.
Member newly created South Carolina. Senate, 1779.
Married Mary Williams, 1741. Married second, Maria Bulletin, 1762.