He was born in England, immigrated to America near Charleston, and acquired land in Georgia in 1765. He was appointed commander of Georgia's continental militia, but declined the position, and was elected to attend the Continental Congress. After signing the Declaration of Independence, he returned to Georgia and served in the legislature there, helping to draft the state's constitution. As president of the Council of Safety he lead an unsuccessful attempt to invade Florida. He was cleared of wrongdoing in this undertaking and ran unsuccessfully for Governor. He challenged his chief political foe, Lachlan McIntosh, to a duel, which was fought on May 16, 1777. Both were wounded: McIntosh survived, but Button Gwinnett died three days later of his wounds.