Henry Laurens was the head of one of South Carolina’s most prominent families. He was an extremely wealthy planter and merchant, and an ardent supporter of the Revolution. In 1775, he served as president of South Carolina’s First Provincial Congress. A year later he was elected president of the state’s Council of Safety. In July 1777, he was elected to the Continental Congress. He served with distinction as the president of that body from November 1777 until 1779, when he resigned to serve on a diplomatic mission to the Netherlands. He was captured en route and imprisoned in the Tower of London for fifteen months before he was exchanged for General Cornwallis.