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Commemorative Landscapes of North Carolina
Commemorative Landscapes of North Carolina
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  • Monument Name

    Governor Caswell Monument, Kinston

  • Type

    Obelisk

  • Subjects

    Historic Political Figures

    Historic Military Figures

    Historic Civic Figures

    Revolutionary War, 1775-1783

  • Creator

    D. McMenanim Washington, D.C., Builder

  • City

    Kinston

  • County

    Lenoir

  • Description

    The monument is a tall granite obelisk that rests atop a darker granite plinth, with the entire stucture sitting on a three tier base. The monument has a history of accidental damage, removal, replacement, and relocation, with the image above showing the monument likely in its original location. The original monument consisted of a 16 foot high obelisk of Richmond granite which sat on a foundation of three bases. The top of the base was capped with Roman arches.

    Images: Postcard image of the monument in front of the historic Hotel Tull, Kinston, N.C., most likely the 1908 replacement

  • Inscription

    Front: Richard Caswell, / their first Governor / under a free Con- / stitution. / Called to / the head of af- / fairs in North Caro- / lina in the struggle with Great / Britain for Independence, he gave / himself up to the service of his country / without stint and without compensation.

    Side: Born August 3d, 1729, / Died 10th of November, 1789; / An accomplished surveyor, and able / lawyer, a skillful financier, a successful / soldier, a profound statesman, a devoted / patriot and an honest man - the an- / nals of North Carolina for forty years attest his virtue, his /capacity and his services.

    Side: Deputy Surveyor of the Colony, Member / of the Colonial Assembly, Colonel of / the Colonial Forces, Member of the / Provincial Congresses, Delegate to / the Continental Congress, Pub- / lic Treasurer, Colonel of the / Revolutionary Forces, Brig- / adier-General, President / of the Congress that / framed the first State / Constitution, four / times elected / Governor of / North Carolina, / Comptroller Gen- / eral, elected Delegate / to the Convention to / frame the Federal Constitution, Member of the / State Convention to ratify the / Federal Constitution.

  • Custodian

    City of Kinston

  • Dedication Date

    August 3, 1881

  • Decade

    1880s

  • Geographic Coordinates

    35.259010 , -77.580980 View in Geobrowsemap pin

  • Supporting Sources

      "Caswell Memorial Monument," The News and Observer (Raleigh, NC), March 22, 1881 Link

      "The Caswell Monument," Fayetteville Observer (Fayetteville, NC), July 29, 1881 Link

      Clark, Walter. "How Can Interest Be Aroused in the Study of the History of North Carolina?" (Wrightsville, NC: Teachers' Assembly, 1901), (accessed May 29, 2012) Link

      Sampley, Ted. "Richard Caswell's Grave," Caswell County Historical Association, (accessed November 5, 2012), from, Sampley, Ted. "The Evidence," Olde Kinston Gazette (Kinston, NC), March 1999. Link

      “Caswell Memorial Association, Kinston Journal (Kinston, NC), August 4, 1881

      “Caswell Memorial Association,” Kinston Journal (Kinston, NC), March 31, 1881

      “Caswell,” The Historical Marker Database, HMdb.org, (accessed September 1, 2017) Link

      “Unveiling the Monument,” Kinston Journal (Kinston, NC), July 28, 1881

  • Public Site

    Yes

  • Materials & Techniques

    Polished granite

  • Sponsors

    Caswell Memorial Association, State of North Carolina

  • Monument Cost

    Sources conflict. An August 4, 1881 <i>Kinston Journal</i> article gave the cost at $1,800 yet a July 28, 1881 article in the same newspaper gave the cost at $5,000.

  • Monument Dedication and Unveiling

    A crowd of 12,000 was thought to be in attendance for the ceremony on a day so hot a military parade was canceled due to the soldiers falling out with sun stroke that resulted in one death. Former Governor and then U.S. Senator Zebulon Vance was orator for the day. Speaking on the “nativity of the Colony of North Carolina,” Vance said that: “No people who ever occupied the earth had a more honorable or illustrious parentage. She was conceived in the brain of the most remarkable and accomplished man of his age, of our English speaking race.” After Vance’s lengthy speech the monument was unveiled by Governor Thomas Jordan Jarvis, E.F. Cox, H.F. Grainger and Colonel G.C. Moses.

  • Subject Notes

    Richard Caswell served as both the first and fifth governor of North Carolina. He was a surveyor and lawyer and served in the Continental Congress. He was president of the provincial congress that drafted North Carolina's first constitution in 1776, and he took the oath of office as the State's first governor in 1777.

    The original monument was erected at the intersection of Queen and Caswell Streets in 1881. It was damaged by fire in 1895 and replaced in 1908. In 1929 the Daughters of the American Revolution erected an iron fence around the monument. And in 1934 the second monument was damaged in street paving and subsequently removed to the city landfill. Sections of the monument were subsequently recovered and reassembled, and today the monument sits in front of the Lenoir County Courthouse.

  • Location

    The original monument sat at the intersection of Queen and Caswell Streets, Kinston
    Today the monument sits in front of the Lenoir County Courthouse in the 100 block of South Queen Street at the intersection with East King Street. The Lenoir County World War I and World War II Memorial is nearby, on the left side of the courthouse grounds and the Town of Kingston Commemoration Marker on its immediate left.

  • Landscape

    The landscape of the original installation consisted of commercial buildings at the city center. In the monument's present location, it sits on the front lawn of the Lenoir County Courthouse, to the right of the building.

  • Former Locations

    The monument originally sat at the intersection of Queen and Caswell Streets.

  • Approval Process

    Funding for the monument was originally obtained through a $500 appropriation by the State Legislature in February, 1881. A supplement to the funding bill gave Governor Jarvis discretion in selecting the monument's location at either his grave site or in Kinston with the city being his final choice. The Caswell Memorial Association was formed in March, 1881 to raise additional funds and guide building of a monument “worthy of the departed hero.” E.F. Cox was chosen as association president.

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