Stephen Elliott was born on November 11, 1771, in Beaufort, South Carolina. He attended Yale University, and was later elected to the South Carolina state legislature, and became the first president of the state bank in 1812. Elliott spent time studying literature and science, and enjoyed botany extensively. He founded the Literary and Philosophical Society of South Carolina, was President of the Charleston Library Society, and was the founder of the Southern Review, an earlier version of the current literary magazine. Elliott was an author and was the first professor of botany at the Medical College of South Carolina. He is most remembered for his published book Botany of South Carolina and Georgia, which depicted many Southern species. He died in 1830 in South Carolina.
Elliott was grouped in the South Carolina cottages at Mountain Lake Biological Station. In describing him, Lewis said simply, “banker, author, legislator, today remembered as the first great native-born botanist.”