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 You are in: Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs > Bureau of Public Affairs > Bureau of Public Affairs: Electronic Information and Publications Office > Biographies > Biographies Listed Alphabetically by Last Name
Picture of David H. WilkinsBIOGRAPHY

David H. Wilkins
Ambassador, Canada
Term of Appointment: 06/29/2005 to present

David H. Wilkins presented his credentials to Canada’s Governor General on June 29, 2005, becoming the 21st United States Ambassador to Canada. Mr. Wilkins had been nominated by President George W. Bush on April 27, 2005, and was confirmed unanimously by the United States Senate on May 26, 2005.

Wilkins resigned from the South Carolina House of Representatives where he served for 25 years–11 as speaker of the House–effective June 21, 2005, to accept the ambassadorship. 

David H. Wilkins was elected speaker of the South Carolina House of Representatives in December 1994. He was the first Republican elected speaker in the South since Reconstruction and retired as one of the longest-serving speakers in the country.

Speaker Wilkins began his legislative career in 1980. He quickly rose through the ranks in the House of Representatives, serving six years as chairman of the House Judiciary Committee and 2 years as speaker pro tem before being elected speaker.

In his 25 years in the Legislature, David Wilkins has been on the cutting-edge of most major reform initiatives. He wrote or co-sponsored the legislation on welfare reform, property tax relief, education accountability, LIFE scholarships, judicial reform, government restructuring, and truth-in-sentencing. He was also instrumental in crafting South Carolina’s historic ethics bill and played a key role in the relocation of the Confederate flag and the fight to ban video gambling.

Throughout his distinguished career, Wilkins has received numerous awards including the 2004 Excellence in State Legislative Leadership Award from the National Conference of State Legislatures, 2004 Distinguished Service Award from the South Carolina Municipal Association, 2001 Distinguished Service Award from the South Carolina Association of Counties and the 2000 Palmetto Leadership Award from the South Carolina Policy Council. He has been named Outstanding Legislator of the Year by a wide range of organizations from the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce to the South Carolina Realtors’ Association, as well as being named the National Republican Legislator of the Year. He has also earned top leadership awards from the state Republican Party.

Wilkins has received honorary degrees from numerous state institutions including Clemson University, the University of South Carolina, The Citadel, Francis Marion University and the Medical University of South Carolina.

A strong supporter of President George W. Bush, Wilkins served as state chairman of the Bush-Cheney ’04 campaign and as co-chair of the South Carolina Bush for President campaign in 2000. He was appointed by the President to the Board of Visitors to the United States Academy at West Point in 2002.

Wilkins is past president of the National Speakers’ Association and past chairman of the Southern Legislative Conference.

A native of Greenville, South Carolina, David Wilkins graduated from Greenville High School and received his undergraduate degree from Clemson University and his law degree from the University of South Carolina School of Law. After service in the Army, he returned to Greenville where he practiced law for more than 30 years.

Released on July 7, 2005

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