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(half title page) Party politics in North Carolina, 1835-1860
(series title page) The James Sprunt Historical Publications, Published Under the Direction of the North Carolina Historical Society, J.G. de Roulhac Hamilton, Henry McGilbert Wagstaff, Editors, Vol 15, Double Number, Nos. 1 and 2, Contents, Party Politics in North Carolina, 1835-1860
(running title) James Sprunt Historical Publications, Party Politics in North Carolina
Hamilton, Joseph Grégoire de Roulhac, 1878-1961.
Durham, N. C.
Call number Cp970 J28 v. 15, no. 1-2 (North Carolina Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)
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The following studies in North Carolina political history appeared in the Sunday issues of the Charlotte Observer from March 21 to August 22, 1915. In response to a considerable number of requests that they be preserved in a more permanent form they are now, through the kind permission of the editor of the Observer, here reprinted, substantially in the form in which they were first published.
In presenting these sketches of one phase of North Carolina history during one of the most important periods of the State's existence I wish to make it clear that the work is in no sense exhaustive. There are undoubtedly many sources of information to which I have not at this time access which would throw additional light on the motives and spirit of the various characters that appear. I have, however, striven to make the accounts furnish a faithful portrayal of the outlines of party movement and action, regarding the entire investigation simply as a preliminary to future work in the same field. They are written in the hope that they may to some slight extent stimulate interest in the whole question of the party history of the State, in which is to be found the explanation for many of the conditions and facts of the social and economic history of North Carolina, not only in the period covered by the investigation but in those extending to the present.
In the investigation I have placed my main reliance in the newspapers of the period and in a large number of letters to which I have access. I have, in addition, made very free use of all the secondary material available bearing on the subject. It is impossible in such a work as this to give credit individually, and I therefore take this opportunity of expressing my indebtedness to all the writers who have worked in this same period. I have made use of them all and am under heavy obligations to a number of them.
J. G. DE R. H.Chapel Hill, Oct. 1, 1915.
The convention of 1835 marks the end of an era in North Carolina. In politics it closes one distinct period of history and naturally at the same time ushers in another and, in this case, a greatly different one. Called into existence by the people after a period of discontent which had lasted for nearly half a century and after a bitter struggle lasting nearly half as long which resulted even in a threat of revolution, the convention of 1835 was the token of a sectional victory--the triumph of the West over the East--but it was also much more. It was a great democratic victory--the triumph of the mass of the people of the State over a reactionary minority hitherto impregnably entrenched and apparently invincible.
The convention was not, however, a clear and complete victory. Like practically every other body of its kind, it could not carry out fully the ideas of either party to the struggle. Compromise was inevitable since the conservative forces were still in power and were thus able to dictate terms. The West, too, elated with victory, was content with less than the needs and aspirations of democracy demanded and in addition, the western leaders, after all, could scarcely be called progressive, even as the word was then recognized elsewhere than in North Carolina, and so the work of the convention was only a step, although a great one, in a democratic direction.
It will be remembered that the Constitution of 1776 was in its practical operation far from democratic. The Bill of Rights contained indeed a significant statement of political theory, the importance of which should not be under-estimated, but which in practice was denied through the entire period which followed. It was: "That all political power
is vested in and derived from the people only." In its real sense this had never been even an ideal of North Carolina. When the constitution made the county, along with certain towns arbitrarily chosen, without reference to size or population, the basis for representation for both Senate and House of Commons, it followed inevitably that the government was not administered by representatives of the people but by the representatives of a section, for the county basis put controlling power in the hands of the East which as the older settled section had the larger number of counties and saw to it that the predominance was retained. Nor was government in time administered for the people. The West grew until it had a majority of the white population of the State, but government continued to be administered for the benefit of the East. And so it became true that a particular class, the landholders, of one section controlled the State.
How true these facts were may be seen from the following figures: Of the 64 counties of the State, 36 were east of Raleigh. While these 36 counties contained only 41 per cent of the voting population of the State, they furnished 58 per cent of the General Assembly. Their voting population was only 8.7 per cent of the total white population of the State but it chose a majority of the General Assembly and thus controlled the state government.
When the various restrictions and qualifications of the constitution are taken into account, the undemocratic nature of the instrument is still more apparent. While any freeman--and this included free persons of color--who paid his taxes was qualified to vote for a member of the House of Commons, the right to vote for a member of the Senate was restricted to those who owned a freehold of 50 acres. Here was a check upon any possible radical tendency of the lower house. There was little need to fear radicalism there, for, in order to avert any possible danger of such a thing, it was required that no person might be a member of that body unless he possessed in the county which he represented not less than one hundred acres of land in fee or for the term of his life. In order that
the Senate might be the stronghold of the landed, and hence, in the view of the framers of the constitution, the safe class, no person could be a senator unless he possessed in the county which he represented not less than 300 acres of land in fee. The governor, endowed with no power, limited in practically every official act by the Council of State, and entirely dependent upon the legislature which chose him for a term of one year, must nevertheless be a member of the landed class. "No person under 30 years of age, and who has not been a resident of this State above five years and having in the State a freehold in lands and tenements above the value of one thousand pounds, shall be eligible as Governor."
These are examples of the undemocratic provisions of the constitution of 1776. Others worthy of note were the provisions imposing a religious test for office-holders, designed to exclude not only atheists, but also Jews and Roman Catholics, and prohibiting any minister of the gospel from being a member of the General Assembly while he continued in the exercise of his ministerial functions.
Nowhere did the people exert any influence upon the government save in the election of the General Assembly. This body chose the governor and other officers, the judges being chosen for life. There were no state-wide campaigns and really no state-wide issues. Men chosen by localities for local reasons controlled the government and it is not to be wondered at that they should have done so in an entirely local way. Often the people in remote parts of the State had never heard the name of the man selected by the legislature to be the chief magistrate of the commonwealth, if commonwealth it could be called. Under the constitution there was no way provided for amendment and the reactionary party finally in part denied that the constitution could be amended. It was a sacred instrument, adopted by the fathers for all time; to change it was to lay hands upon the ark of the covenant, and such action would be attended with every evil result as a penalty.
The movement for reform which finally resulted in the
convention of 1835 was not entirely a local one, although it was dominated by local conditions. The West, because its vital economic interests demanded it, desired a large extension of the activities of the State. It wanted highways and railroads connecting it with the East to furnish an outlet for its produce, an inlet for the outside products that it wanted, and as a means of communication with the outside world. One statement of fact will sufficiently sum up the economic problem which confronted the West during this period. Salt brought in the East from 40 to 50 cents a bushel. In Iredell County, which used over five hundred bushels annually, it brought $1.50. The same was true of every commodity in every western county. The West wanted relief from commercial dependence upon Virginia and South Carolina because of an intense state feeling, heightened by economic pressure. It wanted a system of public education that its children might be emancipated. In short it wanted North Carolina to become a land of opportunity that the exodus of its sons to other States might be checked. In spite of the fact that the West was increasing in population faster than the East, its loss of population was also much greater. The loss of North Carolina was appalling. It was estimated in 1815 that in the preceding twenty-five years 200,000 North Carolinians had gone to other States and in 1819 Archibald D. Murphey expressed the belief that as many as 500,000 had gone "to people the Wilderness of the West." Judge Gaston said in the convention that the case of North Carolina was the reverse of that of the lion's den in the fable; here all the tracks led away and none came back. The needs of the western part of North Carolina excited little interest or sympathy in the East where conditions were very different. Commercial dependence bothered that section little. Communication was much easier for obvious reasons and the economic system based upon slavery seemed at the time highly desirable. Aristocratic in tendency and in tradition, it also scorned the type of democracy which rapidly came to the front in the West.
For it was to democracy that the West came through economic pressure and to a less degree through the natural tendency of the frontier. And so this movement for reform while local in its inception may properly be regarded as a part of the rise of that new and militant democracy which we best know by the name Jacksonian. But because its animus and impetus were largely local the movement lagged behind that which appeared in many of the other States, nor did it go as far. Neither, be it said, did it affiliate with Jacksonian Democracy politically.
The convention of 1835, while its work was really a compromise, took a number of genuinely progressive and democratic steps. It abolished the county unit of representation and created a new system. The House of Commons henceforth was to consist of 120 members apportioned according to population, but every county, regardless of population, was entitled to one representative. As there were only 64 counties at that time, the retention of the county as the primary unit did not greatly interfere with the representative character of the body. The East still retained its advantage and as federal population included three-fifths of the slave population, the advantage was increased. The county basis was entirely abolished for the Senate thenceforth to be composed of 50 members, and a district basis substituted, the districts being laid off according to the value of property listed for taxes. Here again the advantage was potentially with the East.
The most democratic steps taken by the convention were the emancipation of the governorship from the legislature by putting the election of the chief executive in the hands of the people, and the adoption of a regular method of amendment of the constitution. Significant, too, of the new spirit was the submission of the changes made by the convention to the people for ratification. Another step of somewhat the same nature was the abolition of the restriction upon Roman Catholics, but no relief was given to Jews or other non-Christians. The old practice of annual elections was abolished, in
spite of the protests and even tears of Nathaniel Macon, who thought he saw the foundations of the temple of liberty falling about him, and a biennial system was substituted, accompanied by biennial sessions of the legislature. As the expenses at that time of the legislature ranged from a fourth to more than a half of the total expenditure of the State, this was an exceedingly important step. But the property qualifications of the members of the legislature and the governor remained unchanged as did the freehold qualification for voting for senators. The right to vote was taken away from free persons of color.
Governor Swain submitted the amended constitution to the people in November. Every eastern county but one, Granville, voted to reject, and of course every western county voted for ratification. The majority for ratification was 5,165. The election on the amendments, if one might judge from the newspapers, excited but little general interest. The truth is that the press and the people did not think in statewide terms. There was no party issue here and while doubtless there was much local discussion in every county, it did not appear in the press.
Unquestionably the reforms of 1835 had many interesting and important effects outside the field of politics. A volume might be written on the one subject of internal improvements and another on education as affected by these reforms. But as the general subject limits the discussion here to politics, it is well to look at the matter from that standpoint alone. Nowhere were the effects more immediate, more interesting and more revolutionary.
Up to this time North Carolina never had had an opportunity in state affairs for united party action and party expression. As a matter of fact prior to 1835 there was in North Carolina no state party organization; there was only a state of mind. In presidential elections there had been more or less spasmodic and rudimentary attempts at organization, but state politics was entirely localized with in the counties. The disastrous effects can readily be imagined. No real progress
was possible under such a system. The best approach to political union, therefore, that had hitherto been possible had been a bitter sectionalism which still further paralyzed every attempt at progress and which had driven thousands from the State. A stamp was then placed upon North Carolina politics, the effects of which survived for many years, if indeed we may yet speak in the past tense.
This was now changed. The gubernatorial elections began united and state-wide party politics which more than any other influence checked localism within North Carolina so far as it was checked. It made necessary the party convention and the effective party organization, which while possibly outgrown and hence unpopular now, were, nevertheless, at that time the best instruments then devised for expressing the collective will of the people, and they were thus genuinely democratic. The convention and the party organization also served as a check to localism. And finally came the biennial campaign for the governorship, which with all its faults was a great educational factor as well as an enemy both to localism and to sectionalism. Out of it came the party platform and party responsibility to the people, with happy effects both on government and on the people. All of this did not come at once. It was some years before there was a frank recognition of the fact of party government during which time it was still the custom to deplore the rise of party spirit. Sectionalism still remained and still remains; localism still remained and still remains; political ignorance was still present and has never disappeared; but North Carolina ceased to be a decadent community. Its progress was slow as compared with many of the States, but it moved forward and it has never retrograded. The era of parties has been the era of progress. Much of this was due to the fact that party division was close, for each acted not only as a restraint upon the other but also as a spur. The tracks still pointed away from the door but there were hardly as many tracks. The penny-wise policy, characteristic of the old regime, was not abandoned, but it was modified seriously
as with genuine democratic spirit the people learned the needs of the State and began to recognize the responsibilities of a commonwealth. The hatred of taxation, however beneficial the results might be, remained still to confound the plans of those leaders who dreamed of a period of great expansion and great progress in which the people of the State would enter upon the enjoyment of their noble heritage. This fact must be constantly borne in mind in considering the whole of the following period.
The party history of the period cannot possibly be clearly understood without a knowledge of the social and economic conditions of the State at its beginning, and, in addition, a view of the general political tendencies of the people will be valuable. Because of the very nature of the conditions, we unfortunately have all too small a record of them, but enough material has come to us to indicate at least the general outlines.
In 1835 North Carolina was almost at a standstill compared to the other States. The checked growth in population was indicative of the arrested development in other respects. Each census had of course shown a growth of total poulation, but standing third in relative rank in this respect at the time of the first census in 1790, in 1800 the State had dropped to fourth place, had maintained that position in 1810, had dropped to fifth in 1820, and in 1830 went to sixth and in 1840 stood seventh. The figures are as follows:
In every census period certain counties showed a loss. In the first period Bertie, Caswell, Craven, Halifax, Jones, Martin, Mecklenburg, Nash, Pasquotank, Tyrrell, and Wilkes, all lost, some of them heavily; in the second, Bertie, Bladen, Halifax, Hertford, Sampson, Tyrrell and Warren; in the third, Bertie, Chatham, Franklin, Greene, Hyde, and New Hanover; and in the fourth, Currituck and Rowan. It remained for the census of 1840 to show the desperate condition in which the State really was. In that period the
following counties, 31 out of a total of 68 lost: Bertie, Brunswick, Buncombe, Burke, Camden, Carteret, Caswell, Chowan, Columbus, Craven, Currituck, Duplin, Granville, Halifax, Hertford, Johnston, Jones, Lenoir, Macon, Martin, Mecklenburg, Montgomery, Northampton, Onslow, Pasquotank, Person, Pitt, Richmond, Rowan, Tyrrell and Washington. Of course some of these losses in every period are to be explained by division of the counties, but with that taken into consideration, the situation was appalling. Another disquieting fact in connection with the population was that the negro increase was more rapid than the white, the total growth of the negro population from 1790 to 1840 being an increase of 154.4 per cent while the per cent of increase of the white was only 64.4. The figures are as follows:
|Per Cent Increase|
|Census of 1790:|
|White. . . . .||288,204|
|Free Black. . . . .||4,975|
|Slave. . . . .||100,572|
|Census of 1800:|
|White. . . . .||337,764||17.19|
|Free Black. . . . .||7,043||41.56|
|Slave. . . . .||133,296||32.53|
|Census of 1810:|
|White. . . . .||376,410||11.44|
|Free Black. . . . .||10,266||45.75|
|Slave. . . . .||168,824||26.65|
|Census of 1820:|
|White. . . . .||419,200||11.36|
|Free Black. . . . .||14,612||42.33|
|Slave. . . . .||205,017||21.43|
|Census of 1830:|
|White. . . . .||472,843||12.79|
|Free Black. . . . .||19,543||33.74|
|Slave. . . . .||245,601||19.79|
|Census of 1840:|
|White. . . . .||484,870||2.54|
|Free Black. . . . .||22,732||16.31|
|Slave. . . . .||245,817||.08|
The explanation of this slow growth did not lie in a low birth rate. Although vital statistics are lacking, there is no doubt of the fecundity of North Carolinians of that day; large families were the rule throughout the State. Rather the explanation is to be sought in the steady emigration from the State to the West and South and in the absence of immigration; the outside world offering many inducements to North Carolinians, while the State itself offered few to natives and none to outsiders.
That such was the case is not wonderful. Internal conditions were such that opportunity was denied to all save a favored few. Means of communication were lacking, as were the means of education, and as a result, with every natural resource and opportunity, the State was poor and steadily growing poorer, and in relative rank as to wealth was lower than in respect to population. Not only was it poor, however: it was worse. It was ignorant. And its ignorance spread like a pall over the whole State dwarfing for a time every promise of growth, and retarding irresistibly every forward movement. Joseph Caldwell, not a man given to rash speech, said in 1829 that North Carolina was 300 years behind the rest of the world in enlightenment, and while his estimate may have been excessive, the general truth contained in it is undeniable.
The effects of the poor facilities for communication and commerce generally have already been intimated. Transportation cost so much that for a large part of the State agriculture, necessarily the main resource of the State and particularly so because of the presence of slavery, was profitless save to furnish one's own supplies. A barrel of flour in 1829 in the town of Hillsboro just about paid for a barrel of salt. Manifestly, there could be but small profit in growing grain. And so it was with everything else. In one way grain was profitable, and so grain was grown and fruit was
grown--to furnish food for the distilleries, hundreds and thousands of which poured out their debauching flood throughout the State. In 1811 there were 159 in Edgecombe alone and more than 50 in Caswell. It is scarcely necessary to add that drunkenness was common.
While the prevailing ignorance and the sectional struggle already discussed made it very difficult for the enlightened to accomplish anything towards relieving the situation, the State was nevertheless affected by the new spirit following upon the war of 1812, and in 1815 it entered upon a policy of aiding internal improvements. This was done under the inspiring leadership of that far-seeing dreamer and statesman, Archibald D. Murphey. In consequence the State in a short time became a stockholder in a large number of companies and it also created an internal improvement fund. Thus in a sense the State became committed to a policy of internal improvement, but the immediate results were far from encouraging, since most of the enterprises failed and the movement for a time received a set-back. But the agitation was productive of good results in that the majority of the newspapers and a large number of influential men were educated by it and became firmly committed to the cause.
In other ways the State was little affected. Agriculture, even in the East where the problem was not nearly so acute, still remained of the most primitive sort and, under the blighting curse of slave labor land deteriorated steadily and rapidly. In spite of the fact that a million acres and more of new land was taken up between 1815 and 1833, the total value of the land was less at the later date by $106,048.80. One reason for this will be discussed later in another connection, but the main reason is to be found in the words of the memorial drawn up by a committee of an internal improvement convention in 1833: "Her wasted fields, her deserted farms, her ruined towns, her departing sons, all reproach us with supine neglect." Wiley in 1852 described the situation thus:
A purchaser of lands could easily find a seller in almost every owner; indeed almost every house and plantation exhibited in their decaying aspect the most unmistakable words, "For Sale." This melancholy sentence was ploughed in deep black characters upon the whole State and even the flag that waved over the Capitol, indicating the sessions of the Assembly, was regarded by our neighbors of Virginia and South Carolina as an auctioneer's sign!
The reward of labor had "ceased to be a stimulus to industry and enterprise," and so a steady tide of emigration rolled away from the State carrying enterprise, industry, youth, and ambition, not to mention the actual wealth which went in their wake to build new commonwealths on the frontier to the lasting impoverishment of the old mother State. A gentleman in Asheville wrote in 1827 that every day saw a stream of emigrants moving by, sometimes as many as fifteen wagons going together and the account might be duplicated many times.
Educationally, the State in 1835 was scarcely moving, if indeed there was any movement. That in part explains the failure of internal improvements. As "Old Field" said in the Raleigh Register in 1833, "The people will have to learn to spell internal improvements before they can comprehend the meaning of the term." The elaborate plans of Murphey in 1817 failed, but in 1825 the Literary Fund was established, a step in the right direction it is true, but one not highly productive at first except to the legislature which year after year used its proceeds to pay its own members. Year after year through half a century the legislature had displayed utter apathy toward everything which meant the upbuilding of the State and its people. Its time was consumed with small things almost entirely and in the playing of what we call at a later date "peanut politics." Its expenses meanwhile, were nearly always more than half the total expenditure of the government. In his last message to the legislature in 1836, Governor Swain said:
The history of our State legislation during the first half
century of our political existence, will exhibit little more to posterity than the annual imposition of taxes amounting to less than $100,000, one-half of which constituted the reward of the legislative bodies by which they were levied, while the remainder was applied to sustain the train of officers who superintend the machinery of government. The establishment of schools for the convenient instruction of youth, and the development of our internal resources by means beyond the reach of individual enterprise, will seem scarcely to have been regarded as proper objects of legislative concern.
In the State in 1835, there was not one school house for every 15 miles square, not a single high school, and only a few good academies, the whole number of the latter being certainly less than half and possibly less than a third of the number of counties. In 1811 while two-thirds of the adult white population of Edgecombe County could read, only one-half the adult white males and less than one-third of the women could write. In the whole State, according to Wiley, nearly every tenth white man was totally illiterate and nearly one-half the white people of every county were uneducated. The people had no thirst for knowledge; in many cases it was dreaded, despised, and hated. We are again indebted to Wiley for an expressive description. Said he:
The educated and uneducated grew up with a carefully inculcated dislike for home--the latter looking to other States as opening wider fields for exertion in the race for improvement; the former taught to believe that talents and requirements could not be appreciated in North Carolina. It is no exaggeration to say that the State was a great encampment while the inhabitants looked upon themselves as tented only for a season and every year the highways were crowded with hundreds of emigrants whose sacrifices and losses in selling out and moving would have paid for 20 years their share of public taxes sufficient to have given to their homes all the fancied advantages of those regions where they went.
The results were just those to be expected, and well might Robert Potter say in the Legislature of 1836 in his strong and statesmanlike speech advocating the passage of his bill for the establishment of an agricultural college in the State:
I will not say North Carolina is a great State and I am proud of her because she is not. . . . If the genius of North Carolina were now to present herself to you, who are charged with the destinies of her people, instead of the majesty of a guardian goddess--instead of a radiant brow, and an eye flashing light and dignity on this assembly, you would mark her with a pallid front, and "sad and shrouded eye," and in the hollow accents of despair, she would demand of you, "Why sit ye here all the while idle?" Why assemble here from session to session and expend your time upon ephemeral objects while you neglect the very salvation of the Republic? Why meet you here from year to year to scuffle over subjects unimportant to the public and trifling in themselves, or to squabble about the disposition of a clerkship or a judgeship whilst the people for whom all this is intended--for whose benefit Government was established, laws erected, and judges appointed--whilst the people are left to rust in primeval ignorance--"rotting from sire to son and from age to age," deaf as the adder and dark as Erebus? She would tell you you were a degraded and despised community; but only so because you would be so.
Let us now look at some of the aspects of the case other than those already mentioned. We have seen the general character of the legislature during the period and we need no further information to be certain that the system of taxation was inequitable as well as inefficient. Its inefficiency made it dear to the people for they wanted no other sort, but they nevertheless complained bitterly of the system and made its inequity an excuse for the most widespread and shamelessly open evasion and fraud. Much of the land was not listed at all and much more was greatly undervalued. The poll tax--most inequitable of all taxes--played a large part in the system, bringing in more than the land, but thousands of slaves were not listed for it. It is doubtful if ever another
community hated taxation as did the North Carolina of that period, and so no legislature would have dared reform the system even had they ever felt any inclination to do so, just as no legislature dared to spend money. The attitude of the small politicians of the period--and most of the politicians were of the small variety--towards the spread of enlightenment is interesting. No plain citizen from outside the political group could ever call one of them to account or tell the truth about one, without the likelihood of an impassioned statement from the quasi-statesman concerned that his accuser was striking a blow at the liberties of the people through the party which he himself represented; while no one was able to speak the truth as to the condition of the State without the probability of being accused of a lack of patriotism, of falsehood, or of worse.
In the State in 1832 were twenty-five newspapers, distributed as follows: one each in Rutherfordton, Charlotte, Salem, Greensboro, Hillsboro, Milton, Wilmington, Washington, Tarboro, Edenton, Halifax, Windsor, Oxford, and Warrenton; and two each in Salisbury, Fayetteville, New Bern and Elizabeth City. Raleigh had three. Not nearly the whole number, however, could be regarded as at all permanent and all had very small subscription lists because in truth North Carolina had no reading public, not even a public that read newspapers. Another interesting indication along somewhat the same line is furnished by the postal receipts of the State. In 1831 the total receipts from North Carolina were $28,750, while in Virginia they were $84,078, in South Carolina $47,993, in Tennessee $31,423, and in Georgia $54,233.
There were, however, certain hopeful signs, some of which have been mentioned already. In 1835 the religious condition of the State was better than it had ever been and was improving rapidly. The Baptist State Convention had just been founded, the Episcopal Church long in a seemingly hopeless state of depression and apparently moribund, was reviving, and the Methodist and Presbyterian communions were extending
their influence widely. In many ways the moral and humane sense of the people was beginning to manifest itself as in the movement against maiming, corporal punishment and imprisonment for debt; for a penitentiary, for an insane asylum, and a school for the deaf and dumb, and for temperance.
Coming finally to political conditions, we find that they bore a normal relation to the social and economic conditions. Hugh McQueen in his address before the literary societies of the University in 1838 made this enlightening statement:
Every unfledged nestling in politics turns with an aye of solicitation to a seat in the State Legislature. Every politician of mature age, whose character is not in a positive degree insufferable is looking forward with tumultuous eagerness to a place in the Hall of National Representatives, to a situation in one of the Cabinet departments, or in the diplomatic service of the country. Every decent citizen is panting for some post of public preferment and profit, those who have not been sufficiently fortunate to obtain any other post are posting their way with a provident share of speed to the Republic of Texas. Politics, indeed, appear to swallow every other interest, and the whole surface of the earth seems covered with politicians as Egypt once swarmed with locusts.
In spite of all the interest which the people of North Carolina felt in politics, there was no sense of responsibility for the needs of the State; such was the indifference that usually there was scarcely a pretense of interest in the subject. Patriotism may have been present in the people--in view of the later history of the State undoubtedly was--but it was the type of patriotism that makes a people ready and even willing to die for the State, but not to live for it. In war they could be heroic with a simplicity which is one of the attributes of greatness; in peace, they could not even be, or rather were not, good citizens in the fullest sense of the term. Civic responsibility, civic pride, and civic ambition all were lacking. The question why this was so is fairly
easily answered. Quoting Doctor Wiley again, "Down to the period of the Revolution, the people of North Carolina were united in nothing but in dislike of the reigning powers; were bound together by no general sympathies except a common love of liberty." This had unquestionably formed a state habit of mind. At the period of which we speak, the State as a whole was ignorant, shockingly so, even for that time, and ignorance bred a type of individualism that knew nothing of community spirit and that apparently could not develop it. The only community sense that the mass of the people of the State possessed in this period was a universal desire to be let alone and permitted to "gang their ain gait" and a common hatred of any movement which might require the raising of taxes. Herein lies the explanation of the political and social immobility of the State. It was this which made exiles of thousands of her sons who were ambitious for themselves and their community. It was this condition which made North Carolina, in the words of Henry Clay, "a good State to come from," and which gave South Carolinians, and a little later Virginians, under their breath, the opportunity to call North Carolina "the Rip Van Winkle of the States." It was this that made many forward-looking North Carolinians bitter; that made Archibald D. Murphey write in 1819 to Thomas Ruffin:
I am getting disgusted with North Carolina; and if things do not change for the better, I shall quit the State as soon as I get my debts paid off. I have just completed a paper for the principal engineer on the ways and means for making her a great State. But I see clearly that it is all idle labor, at least for this generation. Those who labor now will meet with nothing but vexation, chagrin and disgust. Another generation will profit by their labors. The spirit of the present is radically mean and grovelling.
Another example of the same feeling is contained in the following quotation from a letter written by a North Carolinian
living in the far South to a brother who was still in the State:
I congratulate you upon your appointment. I hope it will not turn your head, as I do not think that any honor North Carolina can bestow should have that effect upon any one so well poised as you, and who is so conscious of the perfect contempt excited by her niggardly policy and dearth of high and ennobling patriotism. I was almost in hopes that her wise men would have abolished her Supreme Court, and by that means have driven from the State the eminent men who yet linger within her limits, thereby leaving her barren of talent and a prey to the silly demagogues who rule her destinies.
This then was the condition that confronted the real leaders of the period. Not all the great men produced by North Carolina left the State. There were many among those who remained who dreamed great dreams for the State, who saw clearly and with a statesman's vision. As far as the people themselves were concerned it is undoubtedly true that the homely and individual virtues were possessed by them in a high degree. They were honest to the core, save where taxes were concerned, simple and unassuming, in the main industrious, and on the whole God-fearing. Their lack was a community lack of breadth of view and community consciousness.
In December, 1837, over the signature of "Mentor," a prominent North Carolinian began a series of articles which ran in the Standard during several months. In them was displayed a remarkably clear understanding of the defects in the attitude of the people. The first paper began:
It is discouraging to witness the apathy which prevails in North Carolina about all State affairs. There is no subject connected with the operations of the General Government which does not enlist the zeal of our politicians and command the attention of those who have leisure to discuss it; whilst the more immediate concerns of the people of North Carolina are wholly disregarded, or else noticed in a manner
that is even stronger proof of indifference than absolute silence. I do not complain that the politics of the Nation attracts attention. Far from it. But my complaint is that there is a general indifference to the policy of the State; that the latter is wholly absorbed by the former interest.
If a sense of duty and feelings of patriotism ever move a public man of this State to venture upon any plans for her aggrandizement--to throw himself against a current of narrow prejudices, strengthened by long habit; what is the support our press gives him in the struggle? That portion of it which agrees with him in National politics perhaps may send forth one or two plaudits, whilst the other is satisfied with an exhibition of extraordinary liberalty in venturing to believe that he is really more honest and patriotic than they had believed was possible in any man of his politics.
A later number of the series contained the following:
I am unable to assign all the reasons for it, yet the fact is undeniable that our State in general exhibits a lively sensibility of late years to the question of who shall be our next President whilst her own leading men manifest little anxiety about what is to be the destiny of North Carolina. We are all in theory advocates of State rights and yet we do not seem to consider that State rights are secure only when there are State interest to protect. We deprecate the patronage and power of the national government, (I speak not of this or that Administration) whilst there are few if any who do not greatly enlarge that patronage and increase that power by infusing into all our State elections the party politics of the general government. We can reckon to a man the sentiments of our State representatives in reference to those questions of National policy that divide us into parties; but I doubt if the best informed men on such topics can tell the opinions of any 10 members of the next Assembly upon any great question of our State affairs. We spend our time, talents, and money, to denounce the encroachments of Federal power; to uphold or oppose the policy that is recommended by our National officers, and I do not complain of it; popular vigilance is the best security for public liberty; but we leave little or no time,
we give no portion of our talents or money to advocate the interests of North Carolina, and establish a policy for the State.
These two paragraphs best describe the basis of politics in North Carolina in 1835 and for some years thereafter.
With this view of the general situation in North Carolina we can turn our attention to party development.
The North Carolina legislature of 1835 was elected while the convention was still in session and met before the result of the ratification election was known. The Democrats, or the friends of Jackson's administration, as it is proper to call them, since that was the dividing line of parties, were in a large majority in each house and elected their candidates for speakers without difficulty, William D. Moseley of Lenoir, being chosen in the Senate and William H. Haywood of Wake, in the House of Commons. Richard Dobbs Spaight, Jr., was chosen governor over William B. Meares. Many of the party desired Moseley for governor, but he declined even to consider being a candidate. Governor Spaight came of a distinguished family, being the son of Richard Dobbs Spaight, who besides being governor himself, had played a very prominent part in the political life of the State during the preceding generation. He had been killed some years before in a duel with John Stanly. The son was educated at the University where he graduated in 1815. He became a lawyer and almost at once entered politics, being elected to the House of Commons in 1819. He then served three years in the Senate. He had also been one term in Congress from 1823 to 1825. From that time he served continuously in the state senate until his election as governor. He had twice been defeated for speaker and he had also been a receptive candidate for governor and for United States senator in 1830. At first, like most eastern men, he had strongly opposed a convention, but he became converted and the bill was finally passed largely through his influence. He was a member of the convention and was chairman of the committee on rules which acted as a steering committee. He was not a candidate for governor at the time of his election and in fact did not know that his name was to be presented.
He was an ardent supporter of Van Buren which was in North Carolina the final test of good Democracy.
Strong as the Democrats were in the legislature, the congressional elections of 1835 gave much encouragement to their opponents. Of the delegation of thirteen, the Whigs elected seven. William B. Shepherd of Pasquotank, Ebenezer Pettigrew of Washington, Edmund Deberry of Montgomery, Augustine H. Shepperd of Stokes, Abraham Rencher of Chatham, James Graham of Rutherford, and Lewis Williams of Surry. The Democratic members were Jesse A. Bynum of Halifax, Jesse Speight of Greene, James J. McKay of Bladen, M. T. Hawkins of Warren, William Montgomery of Orange, and Henry W. Connor of Catawba. And in North Carolina at this time, the complexion of the congressional delegation was regarded as of tremendous importance, and victory there was usually of far greater interest than carrying a state election.
An explanation of the situation in the State as concerns national affairs will not only make the reasons for this attitude clear, but will also best serve to explain the whole political situation. North Carolina had not accepted Jackson unreservedly and many of his acts had alienated whole sections of his followers. This was particularly true of his action in the case of nullification in South Carolina, and to a much greater degree, of his destruction of the United States Bank. As far as nullification itself was concerned, there was really but little division of sentiment, but opinion varied as to the President's method of meeting it. In respect to the bank, North Carolina feeling had changed greatly in the years which had intervened since its creation. At first universally suspected and even hated, in recent years it had been gaining ground steadily. Branches had been established in the more important places and of greater import, men like Mangum and Gaston favoring it threw the weight of their influence in its behalf and sentiment for it spread. The matter now brought about an interesting and important series of happenings.
Willie P. Mangum was at this time one of the most important figures in the political life of North Carolina. Born in Orange County, May 10, 1792, he was prepared for college in Fayetteville and Raleigh, and graduated at the University in 1815. Studying law with Judge Duncan Cameron he was admitted to the bar in 1817 and was immediately successful, but his inclinations were all towards politics and in 1818 and again in 1819 he was a member of the House of Commons from Orange and took a prominent place. In 1819, two years after he received his license, he was elected a judge of the Superior Court over George E. Badger and William Norwood, but only remained on the bench for one year. In 1823 he defeated Daniel L. Barringer for Congress and was re-elected in 1825, defeating Rev. Josiah Crodup, a Baptist minister and one of the most accomplished politicians in the State. In 1824 Mangum was a strong supporter of Crawford for the presidency and voted for him when the election went to the House of Representatives. In March, 1826, he resigned and in August was appointed by Governor Burton to the Superior bench to succeed Judge Paxton, but the legislature failed to confirm the election and chose Robert Strange. In 1828 he was an elector on the Jackson ticket, and was a strong Jackson supporter. In the same year he was chosen without opposition to succeed Thomas Ruffin on the Superior bench and served until 1830 when he resigned to become a candidate for United States senator. He withdrew in favor of Iredell as far as Macon's vacant seat was concerned but in 1830 he was elected over Governor John Owen, Judge John R. Donnell, Richard D. Spaight, and Montford Stokes. He was at this time still a Jackson man, but as time went on, he drifted away from Jackson and the Democratic party. He was not a protectionist and so was not in full sympathy with Henry Clay, but while not a nullifier, he opposed Jackson's South Carolina policy and violently opposing his bank policy, voted for the resolution of censure. As North Carolina Democrats made support of Jackson and consequent hatred of the bank and of
nullification not only cardinal virtues, but required doctrine, Mangum was soon entirely out of sympathy with the Jackson wing of the old Republican party, and when the legislature of 1834, after a very long and most bitterly contested struggle instructed him and his colleague, Bedford Brown, to vote for Benton's resolution to expunge the resolution of censure, he denied absolutely the right of the General Assembly to take such action and announced on the floor of the Senate his intention of ignoring the instructions as of no validity. Bedford Brown, on the other hand, accepted the instructions, which accorded with his inclinations, and endorsed the principle involved. His term expired at this session and he was triumphantly re-elected.
Bedford Brown was scarcely a less striking figure in North Carolina politics than Mangum. Born in Caswell County in 1792, he was a student at the University for one year, and the next, 1815, he was elected to the House of Commons from Caswell along with Romulus M. Saunders, another prominent figure of the time, and served for three terms. He was a member of the House again in 1823, and in 1828 was elected to the state Senate to succeed Bartlett Yancey. The following year he was re-elected and was chosen speaker, and while filling that position, a deadlock having occurred in the election of a United States senator to succeed John Branch who had entered Jackson's cabinet as secretary of the navy, he was elected to the position. He was already a strong supporter of Jackson and while in the Senate became his close personal friend.
The difference between the views of the two senators gives a good idea of the opinions of the two factions in North Carolina soon to become political parties. Brown was a strict constructionist and a strong State's rights man of views very similar to those of Nathaniel Macon. This type formed the Democratic party. Mangum, on the other hand, represented the latitudinarian, anti-Jackson, pro-bank group which soon formed the Whig party. Brown's supporters were mainly in the east and hence were those who had fairly consistently
opposed constitutional reform in the State, while Mangum found his chief support in the West which had supported Jackson in 1824 but abandoned him after 1828, largely because the East had turned a somersault and accepted him. The West, therefore, became Whig territory, and the organization formed for securing constitutional reform, became a potent factor in state politics after reform was secured. Indeed, it was this which made the State Whig for the long period which followed.
But to return to the question of instructions, Mangum, conscious of the support of the anti-Jackson men in the State, and with constitutional reform in sight which would greatly increase the political power of his followers, relied upon the prospects of immediate victory. To the Jackson supporters he at once became a hated object, the feeling being sharply intensified by the fact that he had formerly been himself a supporter of the President. Wherever possible, pressure was brought to bear by his opponents. The grand jury of Edgecombe County passed a vote of lack of confidence in him and calling upon him to resign and the Democratic press attacked him sharply, suggesting the same course.
Soon after the election of Governor Spaight and the adjournment of the legislature of 1835, the question of candidates for the first popular election was raised. The two political influences in the State of greatest power were the Standard, a paper established in Raleigh in 1834 by Philo White, and now edited by Thomas Loring, its political position being best understood by its motto, which was: "The Constitution and the Union of the States--they must be preserved," and the Register, established in Raleigh in 1799 by Joseph Gales and continued under the editorial control of Weston R. Gales. The latter had been at the time of its establishment a Republican paper, but it was at this time definitely aligned with the opposition to Jackson who called themselves National Republicans, but were already being generally called Whigs. In a sense it may be regarded as the organ of the party. Both papers were very active in calling
attention to the names of suitable persons for the governorship and the other papers of the State were not less enterprising. Almost without discussion the pro-Van Buren, or rather pro-Jackson, forces settled upon Governor Spaight for re-election. Indeed it was almost necessary that they should, for in ability, in character, and in record they had no better man and they could not afford to neglect him. The Democrats of Macon County held a meeting in February, 1836, and placed his name in nomination and their example was followed by Lincoln and Warren almost immediately. Early in March the Standard placed his name at the head of its editorial columns as its candidate and thereafter none of the party questioned the wisdom of the choice while Democratic meetings in a majority of the counties definitely endorsed him.
There was more difficulty in choosing a candidate for the opposition. Mangum's name was mentioned in 1835, but he did not desire the position, or care to leave the Senate. In addition, he would have been a dangerous candidate on account of the heat aroused by the instructions question. He was, moreover, in a sense, already a candidate for vindication and would not help the ticket. He was, however, denounced by the Standard as a "blue light Federalist speechifier during the war." In a short while the anti-administration candidates narrowed down to Edward B. Dudley of New Hanover, and Thomas G. Polk of Rowan, who had been named by Fayetteville and Salisbury papers respectively. Early in January Polk wrote a letter to the Western Carolinian, which had nominated him and, declining to have his name considered, endorsed Dudley for the nomination. Two weeks later a Whig mass meeting in Wake County formally nominated Dudley as a supporter of Hugh L. White of Tennessee for the Presidency. This was really the keynote of the campaign; local issues had no part in the choice of candidate and the candidates appealed for support on the ground of the strength of their loyalty to the presidential candidates of their respective parties. When Dudley
wrote accepting the Wake nomination, he said nothing whatever about state issues or the needs of the State, but devoted nearly all the space of his letter to denunciation of Van Buren, saying among other things, "To say all in one sentence: He is not one of us. He is a Northern man in soul, in principle, and in action, with not one feeling of sympathy or interest for the South." The Standard denounced this view as narrow, unpatriotic and entirely characteristic of a "nullification candidate."
Edward B. Dudley was a native of Onslow, which county he represented in the House of Commons in 1811 and 1813, and in the Senate in 1814. He then moved to Wilmington where he at once became prominent. He represented New Hanover in the House of Commons in 1816, 1817, 1834, and 1835. He also served one term in Congress from 1829 to 1831, but refused to return on the ground that Congress was not a fit place for any person who wanted to be honest. Dudley was a man of great wealth, of liberal and large views, of genial disposition, but at the same time of a firmness and courage that at times approximated very closely to obstinacy. He was a man of large frame and imposing presence and while he was possessed of no remarkable ability, he had a great fund of practical common sense, a possession which has rightly been called uncommon. As was to be expected he was an earnest opponent of instructions to senators in theory and had opposed it in practice. He was a staunch friend of railroads and other internal improvements and at this time was president of the Wilmington & Raleigh Railroad, soon to become the Wilmington & Weldon Railroad. It was his interest in internal improvements which made him especially acceptable to the West.
The campaign continued throughout the spring and summer and was of course an entirely new thing for North Carolina. The candidates were not on the stump, but they were constantly writing letters and conferring with interested politicians. A feature of the campaign was the banquets at various places where great enthusiasm was aroused. But
nowhere were state issues discussed if indeed it can truthfully be said that there were any state issues. The national political situation swamped and overwhelmed that of the State. It was indeed a far cry to that time when men resigned from the Senate, the Cabinet, and even from the chief justiceship of the Supreme Court of the United States to run for governor or even lesser state offices. The change of attitude undoubtedly helped the national government, but it proved highly disastrous for the States.
The campaign was accompanied by many charges and counter charges, and the press was unsparing in its criticism and denunciation of opponents. Both the Standard and the Register were inclined to carry the matter rather far, but each had much to say of the offenses of the other. The Standard early in the year, under the heading, "Editorial Courtesy," had the following to say on the subject:
It is our sincere desire to be on terms of at least editorial courtesy with all our brethren of the type. But when an editor of a paper loses all respect for himself and his vocation, and so far violates the common decencies of society, as to use the billingsgate of a fish market, or the ribaldry of a tap-room, in combatting the arguments of a contemporary, we have laid it down as a rule for guidance, during the whole course of our editorial life, to decline a contest with such a man. And whenever an editor has assailed us from behind a mud-battery, with the weapons he may have grasped from the ditch, it has been our practice to pass by on the other side. For the odds would be against us, not being skilled in such warfare, nor having the material with which to carry it on. But even were it otherwise, we could acquire neither reputation nor glory in obtaining a victory in such a contest--for however well directed might be our discharges, the enemy would be but revelling in his wonted element! We would always prefer putting up with the scurrility of a chimney-sweep rather than soil our garments with chastizing him.
During the campaign the Democrats attempted to prove that Dudley was inclined to abolitionist views because as a member of the legislature he had voted for a resolution which
condemned any interference by Congress with slavery in the District of Columbia, but which conceded the right of Congress to interfere. Dudley, interestingly enough, made the identical charge against Van Buren upon almost the same ground. Leading Democrats in the State had already drawn from Van Buren a statement of his views on the question which were substantially the same as those held by Dudley and the majority of North Carolinians. In other words it was entirely a feigned issue. In the same way nullification played a large part in the campaign. The Whigs charged Spaight with having attempted to establish a newspaper in the State in the interest of nullification. This was disproved, and the Democrats were equally unfortunate in their attempts to prove that the Whig leaders almost without exception had nullification sympathies. They were, however, able to make considerable capital of the fact that Calhoun and the other South Carolina nullifiers were opposing Van Buren and acting in other ways with the Whigs. Just at this time Calhoun had an exceedingly small following in North Carolina. He had been very strong in the State prior to the nullification controversy and his break with Jackson, and he was destined again to be accepted as a leader by those who now opposed him most bitterly, but in 1836 both factions disclaimed him, the administration followers with peculiar bitterness. The Standard never lost an opportunity of abuse and criticism, the following extract being characteristic: "There was a time when Mr. Calhoun was suspected and when the patriots of our country dreaded his criminal ambition. But that time is past; he is now known; and is as much entitled to the political confidence of the American people, as Judas Iscariot was to that of the faithful eleven--and no more."
Other questions which entered the campaign were the bank and senatorial instructions. The last-mentioned was practically the only subject brought up which bore any relation to a state issue. This was so because of the Mangum incident. His term in the Senate was about to expire, and he
was a candidate for re-election. The Democrats, therefore, sought to arouse as much feeling on the subject as possible.
Both sides had much to say of the evils of party spirit. The Democrats being in office, naturally deprecated it more than their opponents who were trying to get in. In 1835 the Standard had condemned the opposition very harshly for attempting to elect the speaker of the House of Commons and it now had much to say in the same vein about the opposition to Governor Spaight's re-election.
The North Carolina Whigs generally had accepted Judge Hugh L. White as the most suitable opponent for Van Buren and practically every leader was pledged to him and nearly every Whig meeting endorsed his candidacy. But when General Harrison's name was brought out, a strong disposition favorable to him was apparent, not that he was a first choice; it is doubtful if the Whigs really had any choice; still he was regarded as a good compromise candidate in the event of the election's being thrown into the House of Representatives. In other words, the Whigs wanted to defeat Van Buren; if with White, well and good; if not, with someone else, whoever he might be. Jackson, after all, was the national as well as state issue with the North Carolina Whigs, as to a great extent he was the issue with the North Carolina Democrats, for many of the latter were not wildly enthusiastic over Van Buren except as Jackson's choice for his successor.
The state election came in August, and its results were in doubt for some time. Finally it was clearly evident that Dudley was elected though his majority--4,043--was not known until the legislature canvassed the vote after the national election. The complexion of the legislature remained in doubt until the session began, but both sides claimed control.
The election returns are interesting. The following western counties were carried by Spaight: Ashe, Caswell, Haywood, Lincoln, Macon, Mecklenburg, Person, Rockingham, Surry and Yancey. Person always voted with the East
but not so the others, and the split shows interesting Democratic strength in the West. Dudley carried the following eastern counties: Beaufort, Brunswick, Carteret, Camden, Columbus, Granville, Halifax, Hertford, Hyde, Jones, Northampton, Pasquotank, Perquimans, Richmond, Tyrrell and Washington. He was an eastern man and was well and favorably known in that section of the State, a fact which of course counted for much in the election. But the general result does indicate that sectionalism was decreasing and points to the existence of two political parties geographically coincident.
The Democrats were greatly upset at the result. They made many explanations of which the following, appearing in the Standard in September, while not quite typical, is not much more laughable than many others, and probably it had much more truth. In any event it furnishes a shocking commentary upon political conditions in the State: "They even condescended in some distant parts of the State where the people were not familiar with the names and policies of the candidates to represent Governor Spaight as the candidate of the opposition and General Dudley as the candidate of the Administration party." The truth is that the day of the Democrats in state affairs was over for many a year. The tardiness of the emancipation of the West had permitted the growth and development of a party there which in alliance with certain elements of the East could easily control the State, and under normal conditions it did so for 14 years.
The election was watched with great interest outside the State as bearing upon the national campaign. There was little comfort for the administration. Van Buren wrote Bedford Brown that the administration could not deceive itself as to what the result indicated for November so far as North Carolina was concerned. But in the State the Democrats did not lose heart. As national politics had dominated the state campaign, at least so far as the leaders were concerned, the chief interest of the year was still to come in the presidential election. So they lost no spirit, but
rather redoubled their exertions. The Whigs, on the other hand, being over-confident, grew slack. The Democrats were fortunate in enlisting Nathaniel Macon in the cause, and he finally consented to be a candidate for elector on the Van Buren ticket. The old leader was heart and soul for Van Buren just as in later years, he had been for Jackson, and his presence on the ticket undoubtedly helped it. The Democrats made much of it, and the last political effort of Macon was crowned with success. He died the next year.
The election resulted in the selection of Democratic electors with a popular majority of 9,240. It was the expiring flicker of Jacksonian Democracy in North Carolina national elections, the last triumph of the Democrats in a national election there for twenty years. Then, under the pressure of new national problems, the State returned to the Democratic fold, but the Democracy of 1856 was not Jacksonian; rather it was that of Calhoun.
The geographical division of the vote was somewhat the same as in the state election. In the West the Democrats gained Buncombe, Orange and Stokes, and in the East they gained Columbus, and lost Pitt. Their majorities in many cases were, however, considerably increased. The explanation lies wholly in the hold of Jackson upon the State.
The legislature as elected turned out to be a tie between the parties on joint ballot, but for some reason not known, John B. Muse of Pasquotank, a Whig, resigned before the meeting, and his successor was a Democrat. This gave that party a majority of one before the successor was elected. The Senate chose Hugh Waddell of Orange, a Whig, as speaker over W. D. Moseley, and the House of Commons elected William H. Haywood over William A. Graham. Governor Spaight in his message endorsed public education and internal improvements, both of which were to be the main reliance of the Whigs in the period of their supremacy.
On November 26, Mangum, who received the electoral vote of South Carolina for President, interpreting the election
as an endorsement of the doctrine of instructions, as indeed in part it was, and realizing that he had no hope of re-election, resigned from the United States senate. Judge Robert Strange of Fayetteville, a strong Democrat and a firm believer in the doctrine of instructions, was chosen for the unexpired term and, a few days later, for the new term. His majority was the party majority of one.
The legislature of 1836 differed but little from its predecessors. Much of its time was spent in the consideration of small things, but a hopeful sign was the increasing interest manifested in the development of railroads. Not yet was the State prepared for a state system of internal improvements or even for state aid on any extended scale, but the interest manifested during the session in private ventures argued well for the future. Among its acts worthy of mention were those providing for the draining of the swamp lands of the State, the receipts from the sale of drained lands to be turned into the Literary Fund, and the appropriation of $200,000 for the purpose; the acceptance by almost a unanimous vote of the surplus revenue of the United States Government; and the amendment of the Internal Improvement Fund act. The Raleigh and Columbia, the Norfolk and Edenton, and the North Carolina Central Railroad Companies were incorporated, and the charters of six other roads were amended to their advantage. Provision was made for the laying out of a state road from Franklin across the Nantahala Mountain to the Georgia line. The county of Davie was erected. Five judges, Owen Holmes, who did not accept, Richmond M. Pearson, Frederick Nash, John D. Toomer, and John L. Bailey, were chosen and a number of solicitors besides the regular state officers. In none of the elections is it possible to trace partisanship. In fact a considerable majority of the officers chosen were Whigs. Two elaborate series of resolutions, both introduced by Kenneth Rayner, failed to pass. One was a very strong pro-slavery argument addressed to Congress, while the other called for the distribution of the proceeds from the sale of public lands among the States proportionately. The latter was at this time the plan of Henry Clay and was very popular among North Carolina Whigs.
Governor Dudley was inaugurated on the first of January, 1837, and in his inaugural address made a strong plea for progress. The following is the highly significant part of his message in that it was the keynote of the Whig party at its best stage:
As a State, we stand fifth in population, first in climate, equal in soil, minerals and ores, with superior advantages for manufacturing and with a hardy, industrious and economical people. Yet, with such unequalled natural facilities, we are actually least in the scale of relative wealth and enterprise, and our condition daily becoming worse--lands depressed in price, fallow and deserted--manufacturing advantages unimproved--our store of mineral wealth undisturbed, and our colleges and schools languishing from neglect. It is a true but melancholy picture, and it is our business to prescribe the remedy. In the want of capital and of that generous confidence which should exist between Government and the people, mutually, to assist and support each other, I think I find the evil, and the corrective is palpable. Increase your circulating medium, give to industry and enterprise their proper incentives, and make interest the connecting tie between ourselves and our constituents and we at once seize hold of their confidence and affections and arrest the torrent of emigration which is desolating our State.
The year 1837 had little of political interest outside of the congressional campaign which, concerned, properly enough it is true, only with national affairs, excited genuine and widespread interest. It must not be supposed that the interest in national affairs indicated any unusually strong national feeling. States' Rights sentiment was powerful in North Carolina throughout the entire period from 1776 to 1860. The reasons for the fact have already been discussed and will cause further comment later.
The congressional elections were therefore hotly contested in most cases. The Whigs gained one seat only to lose it during the term of the next Congress through a change of opinion on the part of the member. William B. Shepard of Pasquotank, a Whig, was succeeded by Samuel T. Sawyer
of Chowan, and Jesse Speight of Greene, a Democrat, was defeated by Charles Shepard of Craven, who was a moderate Whig. These were the only changes made in the delegation.
With the congressional canvass completed, the politics-ridden State turned its attention to a discussion of suitable candidates for the presidency in 1840 and to incidental mention of possible and gubernatorial candidates in 1838. In the Whig camp there was little need for discussion, for the party was committed heart and soul to Henry Clay. But party lines were in a way very loosely drawn and so it was felt to be necessary to sing his praises in and out of season in order to draw the hesitant and the doubting to his standard. Practically no one else was mentioned at this time. All the Whig papers were enlisted in his behalf and they considered no one else. In the same way the Whigs took Governor Dudley's renomination for granted, and no other candidate was suggested.
In the Democratic ranks there was the same unity as to a presidential candidate. Van Buren's supremacy was undisputed and the only quarrel was with the opposition. So Clay and Webster were consistently accused of yielding on all points to the abolitionists, while Harrison was mentioned only to belittle him. For the governorship the Democrats had apparently no one to offer. In February, the Standard, stating that a considerable number of leading Democrats agreed with it, took the ground that the governorship ought not to be contested, declaring that if the office was to be put on a party basis, it would be "disturbing to the repose of the State." "If the official conduct of the executive officer of a State is unexceptionable, it certainly gives him claim to election. In the case of Governor Dudley, so far, no dissatisfaction has been given to the people of the State." Declaring that the question of abolition was the only issue, that therefore the State should be undivided, and that Dudley had never been a party governor, it continued: "It may be said that the opposition had no regard to the claims of Governor Spaight who had done nothing to provoke hostility.
True! but the conduct of the opposition can furnish no plea to Democratic Republicans for desertion of their principles. The time was (though we fear it has gone by) when the orthodox Democratic creed taught that in the selection of State officers we should ask what were their opinions of State matters; in choosing National officers, what do they hold on National affairs. That this has not continued to be the plan of selection may be attributed to the proscriptive spirit of the Federal party." In view of the facts of the case, this last assertion of the Standard is interesting, and yet, as will be seen, it is true that the Whig party in North Carolina first began to apply the spoils system to state affairs.
It is difficult now to understand just the reasons for the Standard's position as to Dudley. It is true that he had always been exceedingly popular and that he had grown more so during his term of office. In addition, the Standard had no one to offer in opposition and it later appeared that the editor at the time believed that Dudley would vote neither for Clay, Webster, nor Harrison, and that he was opposed to the re-establishment of the United States Bank. As Dudley was on record in believing that a protective tariff was unconstitutional, it can readily be seen that he was not an unattractive candidate as Whig candidates went. Here is probably the explanation of the Standard's action. However, that may be, the position taken was not popular with the rest of the Democratic press and criticism was very sharp from all quarters of the State.
In the meantime, Dudley had seriously considered refusing to be a candidate for re-election. He told John Branch, who was a warm personal friend, of his intention. Branch, who, although he had revolted against Jackson after the break-up of the cabinet and his own consequent retirement from the Navy Department, had now returned to his full Democratic allegiance, warned him against undue haste in making his decision; and Dudley later decided to be a candidate. In July, a group of Wake County Democrats met at the house of one of their number and nominated
Branch. He was informed of this action by a letter dated July 4, in which he was asked to define his opinion on the Independent Treasury and the Bank of the United States, and three days later he replied accepting the nomination. In his letter he declared that the immediate issue was that of the establishment of the bank, but that behind it lay the menace of a loose construction of the Constitution when the South could only be safe under a system of strict construction. "For Governor Dudley I entertain personally the highest respect and esteem and nothing could induce me to oppose his re-election, but the paramount consideration above alluded to." The Democratic press and leaders accepted his candidacy, but the Standard, in announcing its support of the nominee, declined to retract any of its former statements as to the campaign.
The Whigs immediately accused Branch of inducing Dudley to run only to contest his election himself. They also called attention to the fact that Branch had been recently nominated in Leon County, Florida, for membership in a constitutional convention which the people were trying to secure, and said that this was proof positive that he was a citizen of Florida and hence ineligible to office in North Carolina. They also used against him with some effect his famous speech in the legislature of 1834 which gave an inside account of the break-up of the cabinet, and in which he had expressed no flattering opinion of Van Buren.
John Branch was a native of Halifax County. Born in 1782, he graduated from the University in 1801 and studied law under Judge John Haywood. He was, however, possessed of great wealth by inheritance and never practiced his profession. In 1811 and from 1813 to 1817 he represented his county in the state Senate, being speaker in 1816 and 1817. In the latter year he has was elected governor and served for the three terms, the maximum number under the constitution. He returned to the state Senate in 1822 for one term and in 1823 was elected United States senator to succeed Montford Stokes and was re-elected in 1829. In March,
1829, he resigned to become secretary of the navy under Jackson. Parton says of him: "Mr. Branch was not one of those who achieve greatness, nor one of those who have greatness thrust upon them. He was born to it. Inheriting an ample estate, he lived for many years upon his plantations and employed himself in superintending their culture. He was a man of respectable talents, good presence, and high social position." When the cabinet was broken up Jackson offered him the governorship of the territory of Florida, a position he was later to hold under President Tyler, but while Branch owned much property in Florida and the position might not have been uncongenial, he was in no mood to accept anything at the President's hand and peremptorily refused to consider any appointment. Returning to North Carolina, he was at once elected to Congress. He was in the legislature in 1834 and he was a member of the convention of 1835 and quite prominent in its activities. Such was the distinguished career of the Democratic candidate.
The campaign such as it was, for in the modern sense there can scarcely be said to have been any, was very dull with little to arouse interest. Also because Branch was not nominated until July, it was very short. Immediately after his nomination it was evident that a mistake had been made in bringing him out so late and there was really never any hope of his election. National discussion, as always, predominated and the United States Bank was the chief issue. The Standard now had a sub-motto: "The people against the Bank." Once more, too, nullification sentiments and sympathies were charged against political opponents. But a change was coming over some of the people. This is best indicated by the fact of the Standard's reprinting Calhoun's speeches in the Senate on various subjects and endorsing them. The abolition movement was making considerable headway by 1838 and the effects were easily visible in North Carolina. This question also entered into the campaign.
In spite of the dullness of the campaign, the press waxed
bitter. Parenthetically it may be said that there have been but few if any campaigns since when at least a part if not all of the press was not bitter. It has been a characteristic of North Carolina political campaigns. Speaking of the bitterness, the Standard said: "We have before us three of the leading Whig papers of North Carolina, published within a month in which collectively the terms loco foco, imposters, agrarians, senseless loafers, sluggish idlers, swaggering penniless braggarts are used as applicable to the Democratic Republican party." The charge was true and is particularly interesting in that it shows the tendency of the Whig party in North Carolina, in spite of the facts of its foundation and its geographical strength to become a party of the classes as distinguished from the masses.
The election came and Dudley carried forty-three counties with a majority of more than 14,000. The total Whig vote increased only 336 votes while the Democratic vote decreased 9,797. A Whig legislature was chosen with control of both houses and a majority on joint ballot of fourteen. Mangum--who had declined to be a candidate for Congress the year before, probably because he was afraid that Doctor Montgomery would defeat him, a fear not entirely unfounded,--was a candidate for the Senate from Orange, but was defeated, to the unholy joy of the Democrats who made special efforts to that end. Mangum said during the campaign with some truth: "The Van Buren party would rather see the devil unchained and put in the Legislature than to see me elected."
The Whigs, naturally were very jubilant, the Register expressing their feeling in the following editorial:
The keynote North Carolina has struck
Of victory full and entire,
In the "slough of despond" Locofoco is stuck
As deep in the mud as the mire.
It is with feelings such as we have rarely experienced that we announce that North Carolina, too, has cast down her idols, and joined in the loud chorus of triumph and joy,
which commencing in Maine, has been now reverberated from almost every State in the Union. Yes, the Old North is now emphatically "redeemed, regenerated, and disenthralled." After a fight of war to the knife and the knife to the hilt, victory has perched upon the Whig banner, under the glorious folds of which so many gallant States have taken shelter. Make way then for us and proclaim to the utmost verge of the Union that North Carolina has elected a Whig Governor! a Whig Senate!! and a Whig House of Commons!!!
The legislature met in November and the Whigs elected the officers. Andrew Joyner of Halifax, was chosen speaker of the Senate over Louis D. Wilson of Edgecombe, and William A. Graham of Orange, speaker of the House over Michael Hoke of Lincoln. Governor Dudley's message contained bitter criticism of the protective tariff and also of the financial measures of Jackson's and Van Buren's administrations. It also strongly endorsed the re-establishment of the Bank of the United States and made a plea for the state banks. A large part of the message, which was unusually long for that day, was taken up with these matters. He suggested an entailed homestead, urged continuance and elaboration of the system of internal improvements, and urgently recommended the creation of a system of public schools. Struck with the lack of suitable and prepared teachers, he suggested the plan since adopted of providing free tuition at the University for those would agree to teach for a certain term of years.
In his inaugural which came later in the session, the Governor again urged public education and internal improvements. The address showed evidence of considerable party heat and rancor. Declaring that the stability of the State's institutions was threatened by the levelling spirit prevalent, he called upon the people to hold it in check. This part of the address excited considerable hostile comment, the Standard saying that it was "a political firebrand wantonly and gratuitously thrown into our councils at a time when
conciliatory language was of vast importance to the interests of the State."
Towards the close of the campaign, the Democrats quite frequently made the charge that the Whigs planned in the event of their controlling the legislature, to instruct the two Democratic senators, and thus force their resignation. No sooner was the result certain than it became evident that they had some such intention, and soon after the session opened, Kenneth Rayner of Hertford, introduced a series of resolutions designed to embarrass the senators. Declaring that a great crisis had arrived in the political history of the country, in which it was the duty of the people's representatives to express their opinions calmly and dispassionately, the resolutions condemned the passage of the expunging resolution, and called for a counter resolution by the Senate condemning that action; condemning the proposed sub-treasury scheme; and endorsing the distribution policy. The final resolution was the important one. It was as follows: "Resolved, That our Senators in Congress will represent the wishes of a large majority of the people of this State by voting to carry out the foregoing resolutions."
These resolutions had been the subject of prolonged Whig caucuses and were finally decided upon after advice was taken from practically every leading member of the party in the State. Their form was a matter of considerable importance and much care was taken in regard to it. In the long debate which followed upon their introduction, the whole purpose of the Democrats was to amend the resolutions so as at least to commit the Whigs to an endorsement of the principle of instruction; but all attempts at this were futile. The Whigs had the power and were determined to use it and, if possible, to drive Brown and Strange from the Senate; but they were unwilling to accept the doctrine of instructions. And so, by a strict party vote in each house, they defeated every amendment and passed the resolution. David S. Reid immediately moved a resolution endorsing the votes of the
two senators against certain abolitionist measures, but this was defeated by a party vote.
As soon as the senators received the resolutions, they wrote expressing the belief that the General Assembly was not exerting their undoubted right of instruction and expressing their readiness to obey or resign whenever instructions should be given, but asking for correction if their construction of the resolutions was at fault. This action put the Whigs in a difficult position, and they had no answer to give that would not commit them in a way that they did not wish. In the House the letter was laid on the table, but in the Senate the following resolution was adopted by a party vote:
Resolved, That the resolutions passed by the General Assembly, and transmitted to our Senators in Congress are sufficiently plain and intelligble to be comprehended by any one desirous of understanding them; that we believe this communication anticipating the reception of said resolutions, and making inquiry as to their meaning, is not in good faith; and that it would be incompatible with the self-respect of this General Assembly to make any reply to it.
On January 14, 1839, Senator Brown presented the resolutions to the Senate and defended his course and that of his colleague who joined him in the defense. They then announced their intention of presenting their resignations at the next legislature. Henry Clay took upon himself the defense of the North Carolina Whigs and answered them rather discourteously. Brown and Strange both replied to him so effectively as to delight the heart of every North Carolina Democrat and equally disgust that of every North Carolina Whig.
The legislature of 1838 did not spend its entire time playing politics, though it must be confessed that the major portion of it was devoted to that dear delight of North Carolinians of the period. Constructive legislation of great importance was enacted, the most vital and significant act being the passage of the law providing for the establishment of the public school system. This went into effect at once and the first school established under its provisions opened its doors on January 20, 1840. Of great importance also were acts authorizing a State subscription of $750,000 to the Fayetteville & Western Railroad Co., the endorsement by the State of bonds of the Raleigh & Gaston Railroad Co. to the amount of $500,000, and the incorporation of the Weldon Railroad Company. Sectionalism was apparent among the Whigs in regard to internal improvement and it was exceedingly difficult for western Whigs to persuade those from the East to support all the projects contemplated, most of which were thought to be chiefly of importance to the West. To interest them, therefore, a resolution was passed directing the Board of Internal Improvements to employ an engineer to ascertain if an inlet could be opened at Nag's Head between Albemarle Sound and the Atlantic Ocean. Another resolution requested the State's delegation in Congress to use all efforts to secure the aid of the federal government in opening the inlet. The western members, be it said, speaking generally, did not care at all whether an inlet was opened or not. In the internal improvement legislation there was a clear line of demarcation between the Whigs and Democrats, although in no case was there absolute division along party lines. Generally speaking, however, Democrats were opposed and Whigs favorable to internal improvements.
Other acts of interest and importance were the erection of the counties of Cherokee and Henderson, the passage of
resolutions instructing the governor to obtain all possible information as to the number of insane in the State and to report plans for an asylum to the next legislature, and to secure information in regard to penitentiaries, orphanages, and reformatories. Among the private acts were those incorporating seven private schools, Davidson College and the Greensboro Female College. The name of the Literary and Manual Labor Institution in Wake County was changed to Wake Forest College. Four textile and two iron manufacturing companies were chartered. These acts all show awakening interest in matters that were vital to the highest degree and they were hopeful signs.
Politics never grew quiet in North Carolina during 1839. The Rayner resolutions and the failure of the two senators to regard them furnished material for mutual recrimination until the congressional campaign was well under way. The Whigs, as soon as the legislature adjourned, declared that the Democrats had refused to obey instructions and thus in a sense at last they endorsed the doctrine. The Democratic members of the legislature held a meeting in January with Weldon N. Edwards as chairman and issued an address to the people defending the senators and attacking the Whigs for their behavior. In the same address they condemned the Rayner resolutions and the suggestion to establish a national bank. A more important and significant part of the address was the call for the appointment of a central committee of the party to receive nominations for governor in 1840 and in case a demand for a state convention was at all general to call one. The demand was already strong and this section made the call certain.
The congressional elections occupied the usual time and attracted the usual interest. Nominations were made by both parties in every district except the twelfth where James Graham, the sitting Whig member, had no opposition. The contests were very bitter in most instances and, somewhat to the surprise of all the State, resulted in a substantial gain for the Democrats, eight of their candidates being successful.
They were: J. A. Bynum, J. J. McKay, M. T. Hawkins, William Montgomery, Henry W. Connor, all of whom were old members, John Hill--who defeated for one term Augustine H. Shepperd--Charles Fisher and Charles Shepard. The last mentioned had left the Whig party the fall before while in Congress and was now triumphantly endorsed by his district in spite of the activity of the Whigs who spared no efforts to defeat and thus rebuke him. S. T. Sawyer, who had done the same thing, was defeated by Kenneth Rayner who was now regarded as one of the most important of the Whig leaders in the State. The other Whig members chosen were Lewis Williams, who could not be defeated, James Graham, Edmund Deberry, all old members, and Edward Stanly who now entered upon a brilliant but violent and erratic career in Congress. Just before the election the Raleigh Register published a forged letter from Doctor Montgomery to a fellow Democrat. The letter was one calculated to injure Montgomery greatly, but it attracted more attention after the election than it did before, and it was comparatively easy then to prove the spurious nature of the document to the satisfaction of all except the Register. It need hardly be said that it was the cause of much vituperative language.
In the campaign the Democrats began the selection of "Committees of Vigilance," forerunners of the later local organizations of both parties. Each party already had central committees, and the way was now ready for the important democratic step--the creation of the state conventions. All summer the idea grew in favor not only with the Democrats but with the Whigs, and, consequently in August the Whigs and in October the Democrats issued calls for conventions, the Whigs to meet on November 12, 1839, and the Democrats on January 8, 1840. At once there followed for each party a series of county meetings designed not only to elect delegates but to arouse the people and secure some expression of opinion as to gubernatorial candidates.
Little difference of opinion could be discovered among the Whigs; the leaders had already seen to that. During the
legislature of 1838-1839 the Whig members in secret caucus had settled upon John M. Morehead, of Guilford, as the proper person to run, and their quiet work in his behalf settled the question. Nearly every county meeting that condescended to a discussion of state affairs endorsed him, Guilford leading the way in August. William J. Alexander of Mecklenburg was the only other man mentioned.
Among the Democrats there was no such unanimity of opinion and preference. William H. Haywood, Romulus M. Saunders, Weldon N. Edwards, Louis D. Henry, Bedford Brown, Henry W. Connor, William D. Moseley, and William A. Blount were all endorsed by one or more county meetings, but it soon became evident that a large majority of the party favored Haywood. About twenty counties endorsed him formally, but in November he announced that under no circumstances could he be a candidate. There was still some hope that he would reconsider, and the matter was not regarded as settled and a number of counties endorsed him afterwards. Saunders was a second choice and one far behind in popularity.
The Whig convention, the first state political convention in the history of North Carolina, met in Raleigh on November 12. Thirty-four counties were represented by 91 delegates. James Mebane of Orange, called the meeting to order and ex-Governor John Owen was chosen president. A committee of thirteen, one from each congressional district, was appointed to report the business of the body. Morehead was nominated for governor and Clay and Talmadge were endorsed as candidates for President and Vice President. James Mebane and John Owen were selected as delegates at-large to the national convention. The platform of the party was in substance as follows: It favored: (1) economy in government; (2) reform in the revenue system; (3) reduction in the number of government employees; (4) selection of government employees "without discrimination of parties;" (5) an amendment to the Federal Constitution to abolish the electoral college; (6) One term of four years for the President;
(7) A National bank; (8) A division of the proceeds of the public lands among the States on a basis of Federal population; (9) Public education; (10) Strict construction of the Constitution. It opposed: (1) Jackson's spoils system; (2) Appointments of members of Congress to Federal offices during their terms in Congress; (3) Making judicial appointments for partisan reasons; (4) Interference of Federal officers in elections; (5) Protective tariff; (6) The Federal Government's making internal improvements "except such as may be stamptwith a National character;" (7) The Sub-Treasury scheme; (8) Federal interference with slavery.
John Motley Morehead, the Whig candidate for governor, was born in Pittsylvania County, Virginia, July 4, 1796. Two years later his parents moved to Rockingham County, North Carolina, where he lived until his marriage in 1821. His early education was received at Doctor Caldwell's famous academy and in 1815 he entered the junior class of the University of North Carolina where he graduated in 1817. Upon leaving the University he began the study of law under Judge Murphey. Here he received the inspiration of his foremost later achievements, for Murphey's influence upon him was very great and he not only received instruction in law from his teacher but acquired the dominating idea of his later career. Murphey, too, was fortunate. Himself an idealist, he had powerfully proclaimed a theory as well as outlined a plan of action in respect both to the education and internal improvements. But practical men, political leaders of a different sort and at the head of an organized party were needed to bring about success in putting his ideas into actual execution. Bartlett Yancey and later Calvin H. Wiley did this work in education; it was Morehead's privilege to have Murphey light his torch for leadership in internal improvements. He was admitted to the bar in 1819 and began practice at Wentworth. In 1821 he was a member of the House of Commons from Rockingham and, after his removal to Guilford he represented that county in the House in 1826 and 1827. He also was a delegate to the convention of 1835.
He had been a strong Jackson man and was a Jackson elector in 1832. He was eminently progressive and had a consistent record of interest and activity in behalf of education and internal improvements. He was not only a most successful lawyer, but was a man of affairs in the large meaning of the term.
Physically, Morehead was a fine specimen of a man. He was tall and broad-shouldered, well proportioned and erect, with a clean shaven and massive, yet fine, and highly intellectual face. He was possessed of an iron constitution and was given to hard work. He had a most cordial and delightful manner which carried with it an assurance of candor and sincerity and which never left him whether on the stump or in personal conversation. He was a rather jocular man, but seems not to have possessed any great fund of real wit or humor. Of sterling integrity, he made a strong candidate.
It was understood before the convention that Morehead would canvass the State, and he at once agreed to do so. His letter of acceptance was characteristic of the time and place. All of it was devoted to national affairs in respect to which he was entirely in accord with the Whig doctrines.
The Democratic convention met in Raleigh, January 8, 1840, and remained in session two days. Thirty-eight counties, eleven of which were from the West, had representatives present. The most extreme western counties represented were: Ashe, Stokes, Iredell, and Burke. Louis D. Wilson of Edgecombe, presided. A committee of twenty-six, two from each congressional district, was appointed to recommend measures and candidates, and a committee of thirteen to draw up an address to the people. The platform as finally adopted endorsed Van Buren, the independent treasury plan, and strict construction of the constitution; it denounced a national bank and the abolition movement. Weldon N. Edwards and Louis D. Henry were chosen delegates at-large to the national Democratic convention, and the appointment of district delegates was recommended. Judge Romulus M. Saunders was unanimously nominated for governor. He
was at the time on the Superior bench, but he at once resigned. He was called into the convention and addressed it. His letter of acceptance, like Morehead's, was devoted to national affairs, but he declared for public education and internal improvements if the two policies could be carried out without the State's going into debt, the last being a very safe qualification.
Romulus Mitchell Saunders was born in Caswell County in 1791. He received his preparation for college in that county and was a student at the University for two years, but was dismissed for some infraction of the strict code of rules then prevailing. He studied law in Tennessee under Judge Hugh L. White and was admitted to the bar of that State in 1812. The next year he came home and in 1815, in company with Bedford Brown, was elected to the House of Commons. The next year he was in the Senate, but returned to the House in 1818, 1819 and 1820, being speaker for the last two terms. In 1820 he was elected to Congress and served there three terms. During this period he was the intimate friend of Macon and Yancey. In 1824 he favored Calhoun for the presidency as long as the South Carolinian was a potential factor in the contest, after which he leaned to Crawford for whom he finally voted in the House of Representatives. Unlike the majority of North Carolina politicians who favored Crawford and opposed Jackson--and Saunders opposed him violently--he did not become a Whig, but saw the light and in 1828 was a strong supporter of the Old Hero over John Quincy Adams. In 1828 he was chosen attorney-general of the State and held the office until 1833 when he resigned to accept from Jackson the appointment as commissioner on the French Spoliation Claims where he served with Judge Campbell of Tennessee, and Judge Kane of Pennsylvania, and made a considerable reputation for ability. In 1835 he was chosen a judge of the Superior Court. Saunders probably held more offices than any man in the history of the State and there was never a more assiduous office-seeker. His letters are full of his desire for
this office or that; for even when he was in office, he would devote much thought and anxiety to finding something better to try for. It was this propensity of his which gave Judge Badger the opportunity to say in 1853 when someone asked him who would succeed Bishop Ives of the Episcopal Church who had just joined the Roman Catholic Church, "I do not know, but Judge Saunders will undoubtedly be a candidate for the place."
Saunders was an experienced and able politician and campaigner, in no sense a statesman, but a man of genuine ability and of keen intellect, really of power far above the average, of fine presence, and of strong common sense. He was probably as strong a man as his party could have nominated with the one possible exception of William H. Haywood, and it is doubtful if the latter would have done as well on the stump as Saunders.
The campaign was formally opened in March when both candidates spoke at Orange Court. Hillsboro was an important political center at that time and the entire State watched with interest for reports of the debate. Each side claimed that its candidate had utterly demolished the other, and it is difficult at this distance to know the truth save that neither was demolished. But the evidence seems to indicate that Saunders had rather the best of it on account of his greater dexterity and fuller information due to his larger experience in such work. He held this advantage for some time, but Morehead was learning the game and the majority of the people were already with him, a fact of more importance than ability in debate. But there was never a time when he was able to put Saunders to rout. Joint debates were held in a large number of places well distributed about the State, and, in addition, each candidate carried out an extended program of speeches lasting from early March until the election in August. As examples, Saunders, between April 25 and May 22, spoke at Stantonsburg, Plymouth, and in Beaufort, Tyrrell, Pitt, Hertford, Bertie, Gates, Martin, Northampton, Halifax, Granville, and Wake counties. In
some of these he held several meetings. Morehead between April 23 and May 22 spoke in New Bern, Washington, Halifax, Jackson, Edenton, Hertford, Elizabeth City, Camden court house, Currituck court house, Windsor, Williamston, Louisburg, Oxford and Raleigh. Throughout the State, in East and West, both traveled, meeting the people and discussing national issues.
The relations between the candidates were good throughout, though each made charges against each other of abolition sympathy, of federalism, of nullification sentiment, and of other things too numerous and too absurd to chronicle. Neither attempted oratory, but when arguments were attempted, appealed to common sense. Unfortunately real arguments were not common. Neither of them was a demagogue, and yet each resorted to the tricks and manners of one. The story is familiar of how Saunders challenged Morehead, saying, "Whar, sir, does the gentleman git his authority for that thar statement? I ask him whar?" to be answered by Morehead's seizing two books and holding them with the words, "In them thar dokiments, sir. That's whar." Morehead devoted much of his time to denunciation of the extravagance of the Democratic national administration, an argument of greater weight nowhere than in North Carolina. He rang the changes on this, condemning the administration for furnishing the White House, for improving its grounds, for furnishing soap and towels to the government employes, and for using so much ice. He demanded of Saunders the reason for the last mentioned "extravagance," and, when the latter replied that Washington wells were bad, that cisterns had to be used, making ice a necessity, said with emphasis that the government might as well pay for the bread and meat for the clerks as to furnish them with water. These are characteristic examples of the methods of the candidates.
The campaign and campaign arguments were not confined to the gubernatorial candidates. The press was actively engaged. Every politician was hard at work and nearly every voter was in this year at least a politician. Bitter
charges of every sort were bandied back and forth. The Democrats urged against Morehead his friendship for the negroes and his opposition to the disfranchisement of the free negroes by the convention of 1835 as evidence that he favored abolition. The Whigs retorted that Saunders, while in Congress, had presented memorials to Congress in 1824 and 1825 from the North Carolina Manumission Society, a clear proof, so they said, that he was a full-fledged abolitionist. Saunders at once declared that times had changed because of the rise of the abolition movement in the North. He avowed himself not only an opponent of abolition but even of emancipation unless the freedmen were compelled without exception to leave the State. Saunders was right when he said that times had changed. The abolition movement was having a marked political effect as is shown by the constant reference to the question by both partes. It was probably the favorite argument against both Van Buren and Harrison. The dismissal of Lieutenant Hooe from the navy by a court martial on the evidence of two negroes produced a storm of protest from North Carolina Whigs and put the Democrats much on the defensive with no arguments that the people generally would accept.
Naturally the panic exerted a strong influence and hard times bred a discontent with the party in power which was hard to allay. The Democrats had difficulty in meeting the arguments of their opponents on this point. Many Democrats were favorable to the Whig policy of distributing the proceeds from the sale of the public lands among the States, and this lessened Democratic strength. The Democrats, contrary to the usual impression, manifested little apathy. It is true that they did not deem a Whig victory in the nation within the range of possibility, but they were on their mettle in spite of the fact that from the beginning they fought a losing fight and probably knew it. They attacked internal improvements, or rather the method and manner in which they were promoted, which they declared extravagant, wasteful, and ineffective; but the majority of the people wanted internal
improvements. Again the Democrats accused Dudley of bad faith and of lending the money of the State to Whigs to the entire exclusion of the Democrats, but no one paid much attention to the charges. One thing forced them to be somewhat broader than the Whigs,--they were under the necessity of conciliating the West.
The Whig arguments, many of them absurd in the extreme, were received with hearty approval and applause by the party which was in a mood to care nothing for truth, consistency, common sense, or logic, if only the Democracy was sharply attacked. Charles Manly, in a joint debate with Saunders, made three charges against Van Buren--in the eyes of the Whigs final and damning: 1, With riding in a splendid carriage drawn by four horses; 2, with sending to the postoffice for his mail instead of walking to get it himself; and 3, with wearing silk stockings. No words can express the sanctimonious horror with which the Whigs received these conclusive proofs of Van Buren's unfitness for re-election. A new method had entered politics, controlling it entirely, and the Democrats, to their honor be it said, were not prepared for it.
Both parties had central committees answering to the executive committees of later days. These were both very active, but that of the Whigs was more fertile in expedients as well as more efficient in organization. The first work they accomplished was to perfect a most elaborate county organization which included a committee in every precinct, all working together. Hundreds of meetings were held by each party, but the Whigs suddenly began a series of young men's meetings which greatly disquieted and disgusted the Democrats who found themselves seriously handicapped by the charge that a young man had no chance in their organization. Then, too, the use of emblems, of campaign songs and cries, the perpetual series of processions, barbecues, and meetings, the systematic appeal through noise and excitement to emotion, to passion, and to prejudice, bewildered the Democrats who regarded it all as sheer demagoguery of the worst type,
--as indeed most of it was,--and doubtless were chagrined at their inability to meet like with like. There is much that was bad about it all, but no student of the period can fail to see that at its worst it was better than the apathy and localism which had formerly prevailed. All of it is significant in that it marked the growth of a new sort of democracy which was at least interested. The student also is forced to wonder if the men in North Carolina did much that summer and autumn besides attending political meetings. The Whigs made much of the log cabin argument, and it was a poor sort of community from the Whig standpoint that did not have some sort of representation of a log cabin. In Raleigh a huge log cabin was erected which was called Harrison Hall. It served as an assembly hall for the semiweekly meetings of the Tippecanoe Club, all of which partook of the nature of celebrations. The disgust of the Democrats knew no bounds and they at once charged that the lumber used was state property, a charge which, it is needless to say, was false.
On June 30, Bedford Brown and Robert Strange carried out their pledge and sent to Governor Dudley their resignations from the United States Senate, to take effect upon the meeting of the next legislature. Both declared that they could not regard the Rayner resolutions as instructions, but said that they wanted the endorsement of the people. This action spurred both sides to renewed efforts in the contest.
Both Whigs and Democrats had taken great interest in the national conventions of their parties. John Owen was quite a prominent member of the Harrisburg convention though he was not, as is usually stated, president of that body. He was urged to take the nomination for Vice President and could have had it; but he declined and by this narrow margin lost the presidency. Mangum was a receptive candidate for the nomination, but Tyler was regarded by the convention as a better sop to the Clay Whigs and was chosen. North Carolina Whigs were bitterly disappointed at Clay's
failure to receive the nomination for President, but they accepted Harrison and soon warmed to him.
At the Democratic convention, which met in Baltimore in 1840, Weldon N. Edwards was a prominent figure, being a vice-president, on the committee to prepare the address to the country, and on the nominating committee. The Democratic convention did not nominate a candidate for Vice President and the question was referred to the States. Therefore in June the Democratic central committee called a state convention to meet in Raleigh on July 9. Henry Fitts of Warren, presided over the meeting at which twenty-nine counties, mostly in the east, were represented. There was much sentiment for James K. Polk of Tennessee, in the State, but R. M. Johnson seemed for every reason a more available candidate and received the endorsement of the convention. The meeting was utilized to urge Democratic activity.
Two meetings were important for the Whigs. In June a great demonstration in Wilmington celebrated the putting into operation of the Wilmington and Raleigh Railroad. Morehead and Dudley were prominent among the speakers of the meeting and the Whigs generally used the occasion to emphasize their devotion to the cause of internal improvements. In the same month the railroad and the completion of the new Capitol were magnificently celebrated in Raleigh, and a second and like opportunity was thus given for the dissemination of Whig doctrines.
In July a great Whig meeting was held at Salisbury for Rowan and fifteen neighboring counties. The presence of two soldiers of the Revolution was a feature of the occasion. Speeches, processions, banquets, log cabins, coon skins and live coons, and hard cider all united to make the day truly characteristic.
The election which came in August only intensified party enthusiasm. The early returns indicated Democratic success, but in a short time the completeness of the Whig victory was apparent. Morehead carried forty-one counties
out of the sixty-six then existent and his popular majority was 8,581. Twenty-two of the counties were in the East and this is indicative of the fact that the Whig party was outgrowing the sectionalism which had been occasioned by the peculiar conditions of its origin in North Carolina. Of the western counties the Democrats carried only Ashe, Lincoln, Mecklenburg, Rockingham, Stokes, and Yancey. A Whig legislature was chosen at the same time.
Although defeated the Democrats did not slacken their efforts. Saunders did not at all lessen his activity and remained on the stump until November as did Bedford Brown, Louis D. Henry, and others. The Democratic papers became more active, addresses were issued urging interest and hard work, and the charges against opponents were doubled and redoubled. The Whigs felt that their cause was safe, but they determined not to be deceived as they had been in 1836. So every effort was put forth. To revive all possible drooping interest a Whig convention was summoned to meet in Raleigh on October 5. It was a scene of wild enthusiasm. Judge Gaston's "Carolina" was sung for the first time in public and the words were then published for the first time. A letter was read from Henry Clay in which he declared the contest to be between the President and the people, between arbitrary power and constitutional liberty. John Owen presided and ten of the most prominent Whigs of the State made speeches, including George E. Badger, Edward Stanly, D. M. Barringer, Kenneth Rayner, Lewis Williams, and Rev. Josiah Crudup. The sensation of the meeting was Badger's speech. He had been exceedingly active in the campaign and was regarded as the greatest power of the party in the State. His speech, which was printed in pamphlet form and given wide circulation, was a powerful effort. Interestingly enough, he dictated it, while walking up and down in his office, and it was transcribed by Henry W. Miller. It had great effect and did much to bring him the high honor he presently received.
A word as to the previous career of Badger is in order
since with this campaign he assumed a leading position in North Carolina politics. Born in New Bern in 1796 he was there prepared for college. He was a student at Yale for two years, but his means failed and he returned home and commenced the study of law under John Stanly. At the age of nineteen years he was admitted to the bar and almost immediately he was appointed solicitor for his district. In 1816 he was a member of the House of Commons from Newbern. While there he formed the acquaintance of Thomas Ruffin, then speaker of the House and a strong friendship developing between the two, Ruffin, who had just been elevated to the bench, asked Badger to go to Hillsboro and take his practice. Badger consenting, moved to Hillsboro and lived there for several years, removing later to Warrenton, the former home of his wife. In 1820 he was elected to the Superior bench and served for five years, retiring at the end of that time to Raleigh where he again began the practice of law. In politics Badger was by inheritance and temperament a Federalist, and while in 1828 he was a strong supporter of Jackson and was commonly supposed to be slated for the position of attorney-general in the latter's cabinet, he broke with him by 1832 and in 1836 was a Whig leader. Badger was pre-eminently a lawyer and there he attained his greatest reputation, but he was a logical and powerful speaker, and of great power in political campaigns. Personally he was with his intimates a genial, humorous man, noted for his charm in conversation and for his inexhaustible fund of anecdotes. He was in strong contrast to Graham who was always severely grave and formal and who possessed great dignity and impressiveness of manner. Unlike as the two were in manner, it is most likely that they differed little, if at all, in their inner attitude towards the mass of the people.
Returning to the convention, it issued a declaration of principles in which the following appeared: "We declare the leaders of the Party in Power unworthy the confidence of a free people because they have violated every pledge they have given to the Nation." That party in power was attacked
for extravagance, currency evils, the spoils system, opposition to the will of the people, the destruction of the bank and the substitution of the sub-treasury scheme, the scarcity of specie and the issue of treasury drafts, and the increase of the officers of the army and navy. Harrison was endorsed as a distinguished stateman who was the foe of all evil, corruption, and usurpation of power, and "because in his character and services he more nearly than any man now living approaches to the Father of his Country, the illustrious Washington."
A ripple of excitement was caused during the presidential campaign when William Montgomery and M. T. Hawkins, two Democratic members of Congress, issued from Washington a circular against Harrison. Immediately Stanly, Lewis Williams, Rayner, and Deberry replied defending Harrison. Stanly also wrote a reply addressed to the people of his district as did James Graham. Harrison was spared no charge that might injure him. If one might believe the Democratic papers he was not only the climax of incapacity and inefficiency, but also a man guilty of every possible cruelty and wrong.
The election resulted in the choice of Harrison electors by a popular majority of 13,141. He carried forty-five counties.
Several interesting things became apparent in the campaign, first and most important of which was the marked effect which abolition agitation in the North was having upon the minds of the people of North Carolina. The second is the existence among the Whigs of a line of cleavage between what were known as "Federal" Whigs and "Republican" Whigs. The factions could unite perfectly against the common enemy, but they had no undying love for each other. The factions thus formed and thus apparent remained in existence as long as the Whig party was alive in North Carolina.
The legislature of 1840 organized by electing Andrew Joyner of Halifax, speaker of the Senate over Louis D. Wilson of Edgecombe, and William A. Graham speaker of the House of Commons without opposition. The Whigs had a safe majority in the Senate and a very large one in the House and thus felt able to carry through any program which might be determined upon.
Governor Dudley's message was an elaborate review of national political history for the past twelve years, particular attention being paid, however, to the questions of the bank and the sub-treasury. In closing this portion of his message, he congratulated the State on the sweeping Whig victory. He also congratulated the people on the completion of two railroads, and made an elaborate plea for and defense of railroads. In connection with works of improvement in general he announced that the survey of the Nag's Head project had been successful. He expressed the belief that the State was too poor to carry out at the time all the schemes of internal improvement planned, but urged that work be carried on consistently and not be stopped. He recommended that the legislature take some steps for the relief of the unfortunate and the criminal, suggesting the establishment of asylums and a penitentiary. Calling attention to the influence of sectionalism in the selection of judges, he recommended the adoption of the district system. On the whole, the message was an exceedingly able document.
The message, however able, made small impression at the time upon the Whigs in the legislature. Their minds were set on politics, not on statecraft. The election of two United States senators to them seemed to outweigh every other consideration and their whole attention was directed to it to the exclusion of everything else. It was the same story that has been a familiar one ever since. The majority of the members
of the legislature have been selected in at least two out of every three elections--with the feeling then excited controlling the third--not on the basis of what they proposed to do or were capable of doing for the State, but on account of their preference for United States senator. Not the least of the benefits of the popular election of senators is the removal of this obstacle to the efficiency of state legislatures.
Nine names were before the legislature for choice. The division already mentioned as existing among the Whigs now became very prominent. The Federal Whigs had as favorites for the two places Gaston, Badger, Williams, Caldwell, and Graham, while the Republican Whigs supported Mangum, William B. Shepard, John Owen and Governor Dudley. Feeling was very strong between the two wings, but never strong enough to threaten seriously any lack of united action. The lines of division are not always entirely clear to us to-day. In a sense the names indicate the prevailing views of each faction. So far as definite action was demanded, the Federal Whigs wished support of the United States Bank made a test, while the Republican Whigs thought the senators should be left free to act as occasion seemed to demand.
The method of securing party unity was a caucus. North Carolina Whigs had been in the habit of denouncing the caucus and the convention, but, as in 1840, they had adopted a convention, they now definitely adopted the caucus as the machine to secure party regularity. The legislature had scarcely assembled before one was called. It was not easy even for the caucus to concile all the differences in the party. One name was immediately eliminated. William Gaston's election had been suggested without his being consulted and early in November he wrote to a friend declining the use of his name. His chief reason was his disinclination to leave the bench. He could have been elected without difficulty so great was his popularity and his deserved reputation for ability. The Democrats were of course supporting Brown and Strange, but of the Whigs it is likely that they preferred Dudley and Shepard. After much discussion, a great deal
of it acrimonious, and many meetings, the caucus through a compromise between the two factions settled on Mangum for the long term and on Graham for the short one, and they were elected, Mangum receiving 99 votes to Brown's 65, Graham 98 to Strange's 64. Badger, who was thus passed over, was recommended by the caucus to President Harrison for the position of attorney-general in his cabinet.
The elections were generally accepted, but bitter criticism was heard from the Whigs in a number of quarters, particularly in regard to the selection of Graham, who was not at all well known and who was of comparatively limited experience. This feeling was particularly noticeable in the East, where the choice of both senators from Orange was very unpopular. They conceded Mangum's claims for a place though they had small love for him or confidence in his consistency or in his motives, but they were unable to accept with calmness or silence the election of Graham. Mangum himself was not without enemies and opponents. The Register was bitterly opposed to his selection and Badger, apart from any personal interest, was also opposed. Mangum's career had indeed been rather inconsistent. Its general outlines have already been indicated, but it is interesting to note in addition his record on various public questions. He voted against the recharter of the Bank in 1832 and against the distribution of public land receipts. He was at this time opposed to a protective tariff and to internal improvements by the national government. He had been on both sides of the bank question. The following authorized statement of his political views in 1838, in fact one written at his own request, is interesting:
Willie P. Mangum says he never voted for a bank in his life, neither State nor Federal. He further says he never voted to appropriate a cent in his life in favor of Internal Improvements by the General Government without the District of Columbia. He further says that he never voted in favor of a tariff of protection but did and said everything in his power to defeat every measure of that description. He
further says that he has uniformly voted in favor of economical appropriations and has strongly disapproved of the increase of expenditures to upwards of $38,000,000, at one or two years and the general increase at all times for the last four or five years by the general Government. That he professes and hopes that he has acted uniformly upon the principles of strict construction of '98 and '99, and that he never consented to be harnessed by any party so as to deviate from the above principles. And he defies any documentary proof in contradiction of any of the essential principles contained in the above. Mr. Mangum further says that he is decidedly opposed to the present Administration, believing that the head of the Government and many of his friends have violated the most if not all the essential principles contained in the above.
The Democratic view was somewhat different. The Standard in June, 1842, said:
Mr. Mangum has been Federal and anti-Federal; Jackson and anti-Jackson; Calhoun and anti-Calhoun; Clay and anti-Clay; Nullifier and anti-Nullifier; Bank and anti-Bank; Land Distribution and anti-Land Distribution; Bankrupt Law and anti-Bankrupt Law; Internal Improvements and anti-Internal Improvements; Instructionist and anti-Instructionist. In a word there is hardly a respectable politician of the State old enough to have been associated with him ten years or more, who cannot remember the period when Mr. Mangum has been upon his side and upon the other also.
Both Graham and Mangum were in the legislature, the latter as senator. Both resigned at once. Graham's resignation made necessary the election of a new speaker and Robert B. Gilliam of Granville, was chosen over ten Democrats, only one of whom, Michael Hoke of Lincoln, received more than five votes.
The election of senators effected, the majority turned to the disposition of the other offices. The party was deeply infected with the spoils doctrine though they had denounced it unsparingly in national affairs and were still doing so. The Democrats, while approving the system in the national
government, along with the rest of the Jackson administrative policies, had never adopted it in the State. Upon the Whigs, largely, rests the responsibility for its introduction. In 1834 a Democratic House of Commons elected an opposition speaker and the legislature, Democratic on joint ballot, re-elected Swain, a Whig governor, and Hill, a Whig secretary of state. The treasurer resigned and a Whig was chosen. In the case of the lesser offices no party distinction was made. In 1835 the Whig secretary and comptroller were re-elected by a Democratic legislature and Whigs were also chosen to most of the lesser offices and positions. In 1836, when the Whigs came into power in the Senate, they defeated Moseley for speaker on account of party. With the rise of party government this was entirely proper and it is only mentioned to show the tendency of the Whigs to make party affiliation the test of qualification. The Democrats at the same session had a majority on joint ballot and re-elected the Whig secretary, filled a vacancy in the comptroller's office with a Whig, elected four Whig judges--all that were chosen--and two Whig solicitors out of three elected. In 1838 the Whigs elected both speakers and all the clerks but two. The secretary of state, the comptroller, and all seven councillors were Whigs. The treasurer resigned and a Whig was elected to the vacancy. Of the seven Superior Court judges at the time five were Whigs, and of the six solicitors five were Whigs; the attorney general was a Democrat.
At this session Hill was unanimously re-elected secretary of state and W. F. Collins, the Whig comptroller, was also re-elected. In the election of solicitors, David Outlaw, a Whig, was chosen in the first district over Asa Biggs, a Democrat; in the sixth, Hamilton C. Jones, a Whig, was chosen over Bartlett Shipp and J. R. Dodge, the incumbent, both of whom were Whigs; in the seventh, James W. Guinn, the Democratic incumbent, was replaced by John Gray Bynum, a Whig. J. R. J. Daniel, the Democratic attorney general, was defeated by Hugh McQueen, a Whig. Two judges were chosen, William H. Battle, a Whig, being elected over Romulus
M. Saunders to succeed Judge Toomer, and M. E. Manly, another Whig, was elected over Edward Hall to succeed Judge Saunders. The Whigs in the summer campaign had declared that Saunders ought not to be elected governor if for no other reason than that he had been nominated while on the bench. They were determined now to prevent his return. The Council of State was divided between the parties.
The work of the legislature in connection with internal improvements is particularly interesting. To assist the Wilmington and Raleigh Railroad, its bonds to the amount of $300,000 were endorsed in return for a mortgage on the road. It will be remembered that in 1836 the legislature had authorized the Board of Internal Improvements to take three-fifths of the stock of the road. The position of the parties in these two legislatures on the questions alluded to is of interest as an indication of the general situation.
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Following out the precedent set in 1839 and to aid immediately the Raleigh and Gaston Railroad, which in January, 1841, suspended operations, the legislature heeded a
special message of Governor Morehead recommending action and endorsed its bonds to the amount of $300,000. For the sake of securing the State against loss, it was provided that the road should give a mortgage and that the stockholders personally should also give a bond of half a million dollars. It was also provided that no dividends should be paid until the road was out of debt. The road was authorized to charge up to ten cents a mile. Even the Democratic press favored the relief of the Raleigh and Gaston which was regarded as highly important. State aid was extended to a turnpike from Rutherford County to Buncombe County. The usual resolution was passed asking federal aid in opening Roanoke Inlet near Nag's Head. This was done amid the jeers of the Democrats who professed--and rightly so--to see in it nothing but buncombe of the purest ray. Sectional feeling was very strong among the Whigs and particularly so after the election of senators. William B. Shepard, who had declined to return to Congress in order to go to the legislature and work for the interests of the East, and particularly for the reopening of the inlet, which was the pet scheme of the northeastern section of the State, attacked the Whigs in a sharp speech for considering the West alone. He declared that when in power they were not to be distinguished from Democrats and he intimated that their promises were not at all to be relied on. His speech was not at all welcome to the Whigs and those from the West resented it openly and bitterly. Their champion was Thomas L. Clingman, now entering upon a career of unusual interest and importance. He proceeded to read Shepard out of the party, declaring that the latter was only piqued because he had failed of election to the United States Senate and that his charges were false. True to his cult, one which he shared with the other politicians, he charged that Shepard was attacking the great Whig party for selfish reasons. Shepard's reply was very able and exceedingly caustic. In answer to the last charge, he said: "Artful and cunning men always sound the tocsin of party, when they wish, for a selfish purpose to impose upon others; 'The
party is in danger' has been the cry ever since the birth of the Albany Regency, of hypocrisy and meanness."
Other interesting doings of the legislature were the appropriation of $3,000 to repair and refurnish the governor's mansion, notable only for the criticism it later excited, the loan of $10,000 to help Wake Forest College, the incorporation of five academies, eight turnpikes and six manufacturing plants. The effect of the anti-slavery propaganda was to be seen in several laws lessening the rights of slaves and free negroes. The State Library was re-established, a new and improved school law was passed, and three new counties, Cleveland, Caldwell and Stanley, were established. Elections in the State for the first time were made uniform as to time. A strong series of resolutions condemning any use of the public lands save their sale and the distribution of the proceeds among the States was passed after considerable debate. The delegation in Congress was requested to urge this view and a Democratic amendment substituting the word "instruct" for "request" was defeated by a strict party vote. The Democrats took much comfort in thus putting the Whigs on record in opposition to the right of instruction--as if there was need of putting them more on record than they already were--saying that the Whigs were denying a right in which all North Carolinians believed. This was of course far from true, but it was so far true that the Whigs were afraid to stand on such ground, and they replied that they had not denied the right of instruction, but were only unanimously voting down factious opposition. Many North Carolina Whigs believed in instructions and the party dared not make the issue.
As a matter of fact the Whigs could not afford to make many clear cut tests of principle. The component elements of the party were too heterogeneous and there were too many shades of opinion included. This was of course the great weakness of the party both in State and Nation. In the campaign of 1840 they had called themselves Democratic Whigs, Democratic Republican Whigs, and even Democrats. As
soon as the election was won they began to say that they were the Democrats because "the majority are necessarily the Democrats."
The legislature ignored one proposal which was destined to be heard from again. Green W. Caldwell of Mecklenburg introduced a bill for a constitutional amendment which would remove the freehold qualification for voting for members of the Senate. The Whigs did not think the proposal required any special attention, regarding it only as a manifestation of the "levelling" character of the Democratic party. The Whig party in North Carolina cannot be said to have been aristocratic; no party in North Carolina could ever be or ever have been that with any possibility of success or even of continued existence as a party. But an aristocratic tendency was easily perceptible and this increased as the party gained strength in the East. It was its western strength which kept the party in the straight path. But the leaders, many of them, in private had small confidence in the people or in their ability to rule, if indeed their attitude may not be properly described as contemptuous. This was particularly true of the so-called Federal Whigs. This point of view was not unknown to some in the State; but the fact of continued Whig success and supremacy during a period of fourteen years is proof positive that it was never known generally. The Democrats felt it and their speakers and their newspapers emphasized it at every opportunity but they could not make the people believe it. It is to be remembered that the Whig leaders, regardless of their essential democracy or lack of democracy, were in the main high-minded, patriotic men who were, several of them, statesmen of high rank, who would have attained even higher place in almost any other State than North Carolina. They were in their prime in the early forties and were backed by a united and highly organized party. The Democrats, in contrast, had no leaders of even local first rank. They had no leader who, commanding the undivided support of the party, could perfect an organization which might hope to challenge the superbly organized
Whig machine. Bedford Brown lacked magnetism and was inclined to abstractions. Robert Strange was a fine, high-minded man, but he was fanciful and high-flown and was utterly unable to reach the people effectively. Saunders was primarily a politician. Louis D. Henry of Cumberland, had many qualities of leadership, but was vulnerable at many points. A number of young men gave promise, notable among whom were Charles Shepard, whose career, however, was to be cut short a year or two later. Not only in statesmanship, but in practical politics the Whigs were superior and it was no wonder that they distanced their opponents with considerable ease.
In another respect the Whigs had an advantage. In 1840 there were thirty-one newspapers in the State, twenty-five of which were political. Of these seventeen were Whig and eight Democratic. This would have been a greater advantage than it was but for the presence in North Carolina of 59,609 white adults who could neither read nor write. Another thing which weakened the Whig press was the fact that practically every editor was a Northern man. Gales of the Register was by descent and in point of view English and, in spite of the history of the newspaper, was distinctly Federalistic. The Democrats, therefore, had much to say of "Yankee editors" and "Northern Influence." Until 1841 the Standard was edited by Thomas Loring, who was a Northerner, but he left it in that year and started a paper of his own which three years later was supporting the Whig candidates and Whig doctrines, while the Standard was advertised for sale. Out of this apparent loss of Democratic strength was to arise a new and far more efficient leader of the Democracy and a new power in North Carolina.
The congressional elections in 1841 came in May and the campaign thus followed close on the heels of the legislative session. In March the North Carolina banks all suspended specie payments and the unsettled financial conditions played some part in the campaign, all to the advantage of the Whig party. Most things were to Whig advantage at this time and
the remarkable thing is that they were not able to accomplish more in the election now described. As it was they succeeded in winning three additional seats.
In the first district, Rayner was again returned, defeating R. H. Ballard. In the second, J. R. J. Daniel, who had been ousted from the position of attorney-general, replaced Jesse A. Bynum, who, after four terms, declined to be a candidate. He defeated William W. Cherry. Edward Stanly was unopposed in the third, Charles Shepard declined to run in the fourth and William A. Washington of Craven, a Whig, defeated Dr. Josiah O. Watson. In the fifth, James J. McKay was as strong as ever and defeated Mr. Baker, a Whig opponent. Three Democrats--M. T. Hawkins, the sitting member; William Russell and Archibald H. Arrington--contested the sixth, the last-mentioned being successful. Edmund Deberry maintained his strength in the seventh and defeated Edward McCollum. Romulus M. Saunders defeated Dr. James S. Smith of Orange in the eighth. A. H. Shepperd, after a term's absence, defeated David S. Reid in the ninth. Two Whigs--Abraham Rencher and Jonathan Worth--waged a heated contest in the tenth, the former winning easily. Henry W. Connor, after twenty years of consecutive and active service, declined to be a candidate again in the eleventh and Green W. Caldwell succeeded him, defeating D. M. Barringer. Two Whigs--James Graham, the sitting member, and Thomas L. Clingman, the new and rising star of the West, contested the twelfth, Graham winning but with some difficulty. In the thirteenth, Lewis Williams, the "Father of the House," then serving his thirteenth consecutive term, was chosen for the fourteenth and last time. He died February 23, 1842. His opponent was R. Murchison. After his death Anderson Mitchell was elected to succeed him.
The Whigs were naturally highly elated at their increased majority, but the change in national affairs and national politics caused by the death of President Harrison and the accession of John Tyler was soon to dampen their ardor considerably. The discussion of that, however, belongs to another chapter.
The break in the national Whig party resulted from Tyler's vetoes of the two bank bills, beyond inflicting keen disappointment, had but small effect in North Carolina. The Whig party in the State was too strongly intrenched to be seriously injured. It intensified their devotion to Clay and they were entirely in sympathy with the quarrel with the President. Badger resigned from the cabinet and Mangum took a leading part in the activities of the Whigs in Congress, offering the resolution in the caucus for a Whig address against Tyler and in general directing the work of the caucus in organizing against him. He gained such reputation and influence in this way that on May 31, 1842, upon the resignation of Senator Southard, of New Jersey, he was chosen president pro tem. of the Senate to succeed him and thus was placed in direct succession to the presidency. He was elected again at the succeeding session and the President's fortunate departure from the deck of the Princeton a few moments before the explosion which killed two members of his Cabinet alone probably prevented Mangum's accession to the presidency.
The Democratic convention of 1842 met on January 10, at Raleigh. Only twenty-four counties were represented and about one hundred delegates were present. It was not a particularly enthusiastic gathering but its work is interesting. Henry Fitts of Warren was the presiding officer and Louis D. Henry of Cumberland, was unanimously nominated for governor. The platform demanded the resumption of specie payments by the North Carolina banks, but practically all the rest of it was devoted to national affairs. The Whigs were sharply attacked for spending three thousand dollars on the funeral of President Harrison. This piece of petty peanut politics excited the anger and contempt of William H. Haywood who made a vehement but entirely fruitless protest
to the convention against it. The convention was notable for the appearance and prominence of four men who were later to be party leaders of note and influence, namely, W. W. Avery, David S. Reid, Thomas Bragg, and John W. Ellis, the three last-named future governors of the State. All made speeches which excited comment. Henry also appeared and made a speech which was regarded as exceptional. Soon after the convention he wrote a letter of acceptance which was a document of alarming length containing not one word in regard to state affairs. His platform as drawn from his letter was as follows: "Free Trade--No Taxes for Protection--No Monopolies or Exclusive Privileges--Bank Reform."
Louis D. Henry was born in New Jersey in 1788 and graduating from Princeton in 1809 came to North Carolina to read law under his uncle, Edward Graham of New Bern. Upon his admission to the bar he settled at Fayetteville and soon gained distinction in his profession. He was a fiery and aggressive speaker, but was noted for the charm and courtesy of his manner. He was a man of extensive knowledge gained from wide reading. His temper was high and about 1812 he became involved in a quarrel with Thomas J. Stanly over a trivial matter and a duel followed resulting in the death of Stanly. In 1821 and 1822 he was a member of the House of Commons from Cumberland County and in 1830, 1831 and 1832 he represented the borough of Fayetteville. Van Buren appointed him minister to Belgium, but he declined to serve. He did, however, accept from Van Buren an appointment as commissioner to settle claims against Spain. Out of his services in this capacity the Whigs obtained some amusing campaign material.
The Whigs had been somewhat of the opinion that the opposition would not name a candidate for governor and they now asked with apparent wonder why there should be any opposition to Morehead, at the same time attributing it to what they called the unappeasable appetite of the Democrats for office. There had been doubt as to the holding of a state
convention but the action of the Democrats removed this, and on April 4, 1842, the Whig convention met at Raleigh. H. P. Poindexter was temporary chairman and Alfred Dockery was president. Thirty-five counties were represented. The platform repudiated Tyler and declared the Whigs for the future absolved of all responsibility for his acts. Morehead was unanimously nominated for governor and Henry Clay was declared to be the first, last, and only choice of the party in North Carolina for the presidency in 1844. This started the movement in his favor and other States followed. It had been thought that a candidate for the vice-presidency would also be named, but no mention was made of one and the opposition declared that the omission was due to a desire and expectation that some other State would name Badger for the position. How far this is true cannot at this date be determinated. The platform also declared for distribution. The convention recommended the same thorough county organization which had been so successful in 1840, but the party had to some extent lost its head and, being entirely confident, did nothing.
The campaign had many of the characteristics of those which had preceded it. There was the same denunciation, the same charges, and the same demagogical politics. Each party interestingly enough still charged the other with federalism. Needless to say, each party also studiously avoided the discussion of state affairs. The central committees of each issued long addresses without more than the mere mention of the State. Each party tried to emphasize the extravagance of the other and since the Whigs were in power in State and Nation, the Democrats had the decided advantage here. The funeral expenses of President Harrison continued to be denounced as did the furnishing of the new Capitol and the refurnishing of the governor's mansion. The Standard, calling attention to Morehead's horror in 1840 at the extravagant use of "soap and towels" in Washington, said, "That a man who talked so much about 'soap and towels' should have been cautious about bringing in such a bill for
'napkins'; that he who lauded gourds as proper vessels for drinking should not have given $3.75 for sugar tongs, $3.50 for butter knives, $45 for a set of dining table, $30 for tea trays, $95 for a set of plated ware, $10.50 for one soup ladle, 50 cents a piece for tumblers, $4.50 for decanters, $2.50 for a punch bowl, nor anything for 'nut crackers.' We do not say this is wrong; only so far as it is wrong to profess one thing as a candidate and do another as Governor."
The Whigs as far as possible retaliated in kind. They denounced Henry at every turn for having received a salary as commissioner of $5,304.31 and the Register printed the figures in heavy black type at the head of a column in every issue. When Henry went to Washington in 1836 to take up his duties as commissioner, he announced to the secretary of state that he had convened and organized. The story was now revived and the Whigs promptly dubbed him "The Great Convener." The Register which made fun of him during the whole campaign, said:
If Mr. Henry, when but a commissioner, was able to assemble by himself, then, he was, by himself, an Assembly. Supposing him elected Governor of the State of North Carolina, he will also by virtue of his office be a Captain General, and therefore, it clearly follows that as soon as he shall convene as Governor in the City of Raleigh, he will be in his own proper person a GENERAL ASSEMBLY.
The canvass was opened early in the spring at Hillsboro where both candidates were present but only Henry spoke. He was in very bad health, and fearing that he would be unable to continue the campaign, he at once went to the West and canvassed it from February to May when he gave up and retired from the canvass. The Whigs now felt easy and relaxed all their efforts.
On May 20, the Democrats had a great ratification convention in Salisbury, called for the purpose of impressing the West. It issued an address most of which as usual was in regard to national affairs, but in which the state Whig Administration was charged with the spoils system, proscription,
and extravagance. The meeting was expected by the Whigs at least, to take some action in the way of nominating a presidential candidate. There was much Calhoun preference observable among the members of the convention but no action was taken. Robert Strange, Michael Hoke, Bedford Brown, and David S. Reid were the chief speakers at the meeting and letters were read from Calhoun, Levi Woodbury, and James Buchanan.
One fairly significant fact of the campaign was the holding of a meeting in Lenoir County to protest against the freehold qualification for voting for senators. Every mention of the subject strengthened it for a future issue.
The election was held in August amidst the repeated warnings of each party that fraud was to be expected from the other. There is no indication that there was any. Morehead's majority was only 3,532, or 5,049 less than in 1840. But the total vote in 1840 was 80,000, which was nearly 15,000 larger than in any previous election. At this election the total vote was 72,000 and nearly all the loss fell on the Whigs, the Democratic vote being less than two thousand short of the figures of 1840. Whig overconfidence, increased by Henry's leaving the active canvass, was responsible. But the reduced majority was a small thing compared to the loss of the legislature. The Democrats, who were well organized for them and who had never relaxed their efforts, won both houses and thus had not only the election of a United States senator to succeed Graham, but also the redistricting of the State under the census of 1840 for Congress, for the state Senate, and for the House of Commons.
Democratic sentiment in the State was growing very favorable to Calhoun during this period and there were many of the party leaders, notable among whom was Saunders, who were frankly advocates of his nomination for the presidency in 1844. The State was not at all enthusiastic for Van Buren although there were many of his friends to be found. On September 2, a great dinner in Calhoun's honor was given at Shocco Springs, then a seat of fashion and noted
as a gathering place for politicians. John Branch presided and made one of the speeches. Calhoun was of course the chief speaker. Among the others were Saunders, J. R. J. Daniel, and Charles Shepard. Letters were read from Thomas H. Benton, Levi Woodbury, William R. King, James Buchanan, Jacob Thompson, Silas Wright, Thomas W. Ritchie, T. W. Gilmer, and many others of less note in the Demacracy.
Before the legislature convened, the tariff of 1842 became a law and went into effect. By this bill the North Carolina Whigs were placed in a dilemma. Mangum by this time was in effect a high tariff man, and while he voted against the bill, he made no secret that had his vote been needed to pass it, he would have voted affirmatively. Graham also voted against it but he endorsed it in 1844 and would probably have voted for it if necessary. In the House Stainly tried to avoid voting on the question at all but was forced to do so and voted for it. The rest of the Whigs and all the Democrats voted against it.
The legislature met at the customary time. Louis D. Wilson of Edgecombe was chosen speaker of the Senate over Andrew Joyner, and Calvin Graves of Caswell, speaker of the House over D. M. Barringer of Cabarrus. The State watched with much interest to see what attitude the Democrats would take in relation to the disposition of the offices within the gift of the legislature. Many Democrats frankly favored the spoils system and a series of able articles entitled, "The General Assembly," which appeared in the Standard in the autumn, had advocated a clean sweep of the Whigs. When the legislature met, the Democrats to some extent had abandoned the non-partisan attitude which had hitherto characterized them. Charles Manly, for nineteen years clerk of the House, was turned out in favor of Louis H. Marsteller who had shortly before been ousted by the Whigs from his position of collector of the port of Wilmington. John H. Wheeler, a Democrat, was elected treasurer, defeating Charles L. Hinton, the Whig incumbent, two Democratic
solicitors were chosen and a Democratic attorney-general to succeed Hugh McQueen who resigned, and seven Democrats were elected to the Council of State. The last mentioned elections in particular aroused the wrath of the Whigs. But the Whig secretary of state was unanimously re-elected and the Whig comptroller was re-elected.
Governor Morehead's message was a statesmanlike utterance devoted mainly to the question of internal improvements and containing a large number of specific recommendations on the subject. A proposition to print five copies for each member was defeated as useless extravagance and one copy for each was finally ordered to be printed.
The election of United States senator at first occupied much of the attention and thought of the majority. Bedford Brown, desiring endorsement after his resignation, was of course a candidate, and R. M. Saunders, on the strength of his campaign against Morehead in 1840 and the feeling against Brown was also in the race. Others mentioned were Louis D. Henry, Charles Shepard, William H. Haywood, Charles Fisher, and Robert Strange. The contest was accompanied by the most bitter hostility and as Moore says, "shameful contention." Much outside pressure was brought to bear in favor of Brown which probably injured as much as it helped his cause. Jackson, Silas Wright, and Thomas H. Benton all wrote letters urging his selection. The caucus met and took four ballots in all of which Brown led, but Saunders and his friends would not yield. Brown then suggested to Saunders that both should withdraw in the interest of harmony, but Saunders, relying on gaining some Whig votes, refused to consider it. The Whigs, anxious to split the Democratic party, were loudly supporting Saunders, but they did not carry their support to the point of voting in a body for him. Brown behaved very well in the whole matter, for in the beginning he had instructed his supporters to withdraw his name in the event that Saunders led in the caucus. The political preferences of the two men probably had some influence in the contest. Brown was a strong supporter of Van Buren
while Saunders, as has been already mentioned, was an avowed supporter of Calhoun. When the election came, a deadlock resulted. After the first five ballots none were taken for some days. In this period the Standard angered many by a protest against the sacrifice of the interests of the party for those of a faction. The Standard was supposed by many to be controlled by William H. Haywood and on that account many Democrats disliked it. Finally on the ninth ballot, the Democrats abandoned both Brown and Saunders who had been withdrawn, and elected Haywood. Brown and Saunders were very bitter against each other and the breach in the party did not heal easily.
The legislature with its Democratic majority was not inclined to any liberal policy of internal improvements. The report of the committee on the subject strongly condemned the methods of state aid already adopted and declared that as the State was in no financial condition to assist any general scheme of internal improvement, the time and money spent on investigations and surveys was sheer waste. The bonds of the Wilmington and Raleigh Railroad, which the State had endorsed, had in the meantime gone to protest and an act was passed authorizing the Literary Board to invest $50,000 in redeeming them, and at the same time a completeinvestgationof the affairs of the road was ordered. The Democrats doubtless hated to spend the money on such an object, but the name of the State was dear to all and repudiation was abhorred. The whole matter of the loans made from the Literary Fund now came up. The publication of the names of the borrowers was ordered despite the protests of the Whigs. The reason of their opposition appeared when the report showed that of the fifty-five borrowers, forty-seven were Whigs who held $97,469, of the total loans of $108,955. Much Democratic criticism followed which was keenly resented by the Whigs. How far politics had really entered into the making of loans cannot be discovered, but the efforts of the Whigs to stifle the investigation would lead to the
belief that there was at least an element of truth in the Democratic charges.
The legislature devoted considerable time to the question of the banks and to the financial situation generally. W. B. Shepard introduced a relief bill which provided for the loan to the people of the counties in proportion to their federal population of treasury notes to the amount of a million dollars. On January 2, 1843, the stockholders of the State Bank offered to surrender their charter and it soon became known that if the relief bill passed that the bank would wind up its affairs. The relief bill failed, partly because of this pressure and the Standard which was very friendly to the State Bank at once charged it with attempting to control the legislature.
The movement for a penitentiary was much stronger at this session and it was also proposed to work criminals on the public roads. There was need of some reform of the system of punishment. Twenty-five crimes were punishable by death for the first offense and five more for the second offense. Innumerable offenses were punished with the pillory or whipping post or both. The State was awakening to the fact that whipping, generally speaking, made bad citizens and much opposition was manifest.
Catawba, McDowell and Union counties were established and ten academies, two manufacturing companies and seven military companies were incorporated. The State was redistricted, the number of congressional districts under the new appointment falling from thirteen to nine. The Whigs of course opposed the districting, charging a gerrymander. In all the three kinds of districts there was doubtless some gerrymandering, but so has there always been in North Carolina, and there were no striking instances of it.
Probably the most interesting political happening of the session was the series of discussions of a set of resolutions introduced by Cadwallader Jones, Jr., of Orange. They declared the right of the legislature to instruct United States senators and the duty of the latter to obey or resign. They further declared that North Carolina would never consent
to an imposition of taxes for a particular interest or occupation and condemned the tariff of 1842 as such a tax and also as a violation of the compromise of 1833. The bankrupt law was also condemned. The refunding of the fine imposed upon General Jackson by Judge Hall in 1812 was demanded and the senators were instructed and the representatives were requested to assist in carrying the resolutions into effect. The Whigs resisted the resolutions at every step by offering very skillfully prepared amendments to every section, all of them designed to embarrass the Democrats and by demanding a roll call on every possible question. The Democrats stood solidly together on every point, voted down the amendments, some of which they themselves offered later independently and passed to keep their record clear, and carried the resolutions through both houses without any substantial change.
On May 31, 1843, Loring announced his retirement as editor of the Standard, and William W. Holden wrote his salutatory. He declared himself ever to have been "a Democratic Republican of the school of '98 and '99," and stated that he was now a Democrat because the members of that party "have always approved themselves the friends and supporters of equal rights; because they have ever been, and are now, the advocates of the many against the few; because whilst they yield to the Federal Government the exercise of its acknowledged and undoubted constitutional power, they at the same time guard with peculiar vigilance the freedom, sovereignty, and independence of the respective States."
William Woods Holden, one of the most interesting of the figures of North Carolina history and destined to become one of the most dominant in the politics of the State, was born in Orange County in 1818. Trained in the office of Dennis Heartt, the editor of the Hillsboro Recorder, he was an enthusiastic Whig. Going to Raleigh in 1837, he studied law and obtained his license. At the same time he became an associate editor of the Star the Whig paper edited by Lemay which was in a sense representative of the Republican Whigs just as the Register was the organ of the Federal Whigs. He
displayed unusual ability but there was small hope of his being able to become the editor of a Whig paper and he faced the prospect of giving up journalism, to which his talents inclined him, or of remaining in a subordinate position. It is extremely likely that he was beginning to feel himself out of sympathy with the dominant forces in the Whig party as they inclined more and more towards aristocratic opinions. At this juncture James B. Shepherd offered to sell him the Standard on very easy terms if he would conduct it as the organ of the Democratic party. Holden accepted with less than ten minutes deliberation and threw himself into the work of advancing Democratic principles with an ability, and an enthusiasm which indicated clearly that his heart was indeed in his new cause. The Whigs sneered at him publicly, cursed and reviled him in private, and laid up a store of hatred for him which was to have momentous influence in North Carolina during the next three decades. The Democrats accepted him not only cheerfully and heartily, but as a gift from Heaven, and his influence grew rapidly. With his assumption of control the Standard gained new force and strength and the Democratic party entered upon a new era. Holden was a tremendous fighter and he was an intuitive, adroit, and masterly politician. It is no exaggeration to say that under his leadership and through it the Democrats developed an organization while the power of the Whigs steadily waned. One of his first acts and one which showed his foresight was the removal of Van Buren's name from the head of the Standard's editorial column as the Democratic candidate for 1844. He knew intuitively that its presence might be of great embarrassment later.
The congressional elections attracted the usual attention. The results showed that the Democrats had elected five, Archibald H. Arrington, J. R. J. Daniel, James J. McKay, David S. Reid, and R. M. Saunders. The Whigs elected four, Thomas L. Clingman, who this time defeated James Graham, D. M. Barringer, Edmund Deberry, and Kenneth Rayner. Stanly was defeated by Arrington of Nash. It
was during this campaign that Stanly coined a phrase which is now world-wide. The news reached him that Nash County, which was almost solidly Democratic, would not allow him to speak within its borders. Stanly had not intended going to the county at all, but he throve on opposition of this kind and at once announced a date on which he would speak in the county. On the appointed day he faced a tremendous crowd, practically all his political opponents, and began his speech. Reciting the facts which had led to his coming he closed his explanation as follows: "I realize that I am facing the unterrified Democracy of Nash County, but I want you to know and to bear witness that I face you unterrified." "The unterrified Democracy" has been a political phrase ever since.
The political pot of 1844 began to boil in North Carolina by September, 1843, and by the middle of October, both parties had issued calls for state conventions to meet in December. The Democrats were particularly active and confident, probably because of their success in 1842 and in the congressional elections of 1843.
The Whig convention met first, assembling in Raleigh on December 8. It was an enthusiastic and united body of 200 delegates, representing 52 counties, and was the largest convention that the State had had to this time. S. F. Patterson was temporary chairman and George E. Spruill was president. Edward Stanly and Charles Manly had both been mentioned for the nomination for governor, and Stanly went so far as to write declining it. There was no need for his anxiety on the subject. William A. Graham was an easy favorite and was nominated unanimously. Clay was endorsed and the platform declared for a national bank. It also declared for tariff duties as opposed to direct taxes and favored incidental protection from the duties. Distribution as usual was endorsed. Morehead's administration was highly commended. George E. Badger and Edward B. Dudley were chosen as delegates to the national convention.
William Alexander Graham was born near Vesuvius Furnace in Lincoln County in 1804. Prepared for college in Mecklenburg County, at Pleasant Retreat Academy in Lincolnton, and at the Hillsboro Academy, he matriculated at the University in 1820 and graduated in 1824 with high honors in a very distinguished class. He studied law under Judge Ruffin and was admitted to the bar in 1827. His political life began in 1833 when he was elected as a borough member from Hillsboro to the House of Commons. He was re-elected twice in succession and was the Whig candidate for speaker at the last session. In 1836 he was a member of the
House from Orange County and in 1837 was the Whig candidate for Congress from that district but was defeated by Dr. William Montgomery. The next year he returned to the House and was elected speaker over Michael Hoke. In 1840 he was re-elected both to the House and the speakership, and, as will be remembered, was soon after elected to the United States Senate. After his defeat for re-election he had again engaged in the practice of his profession.
Graham's letter of acceptance, which was quite an elaborate one, was devoted almost entirely to the discussion of national finance. He expressed regret at his call to the office, saying that it broke in upon his agricultural pursuits. Holden took this phrase as the text for a very clever editorial in which he said:
When and where did the delicate lawyer-like hands of William A. Graham become accustomed to the handles of the plough? Will nobody enlighten us? The truth is, the idea is perfectly ridiculous. This reluctant "breaking away" from "agricultural pursuits" was put in for no other purpose than that of conveying to the minds of the farmers of the State the impression that he is a practical farmer. . . We believe Mr. Graham does live in the center of a 10-acre patch. This extensive farm is bounded on the south by the waters of the Enoe--on the north by the Oxford road--on the east by a magnificent branch at least two feet wide--and on the west by the ancient village of Hillsboro, and over all look proudly down the Ocanechee Mountains. We shall therefore call him the Ocanechee Farmer, a pretty title and romantic. And now imagine him out at work. Of course his coat is off, his sleeves rolled up, and his whole soul set against being broken off from his "agricultural pursuits." He ploughs along; and ever as he gets to the turning row he kicks the mud from the ploughshare with his elegant slipper, and swears, with all the sternness of a man bent on making corn that he will farm it. Anon he denounces the late Federal Convention for "breaking in" upon his "agricultural pursuits," casts a last melancholy look at his beloved grubbing hoe; and then in a spirit of beautiful desperation, rushes to
his office, seizes his pen, and signs the letter of acceptance. The deed is done. Henceforth his corn will grow; but oh! agony! he will not see it.
The Democratic convention assembled just a week after the Whig meeting. It was not so large a body, the delegates numbering only 141, and only 31 counties, of which nine were western, being represented. Louis D. Henry of Edgecombe, presided and with Charles Fisher was chosen a delegate to the national convention. Michael Hoke of Lincoln, who was an open and expressed candidate for the nomination and the first in the history of the State, was unanimously nominated for governor. The platform which was rather elaborate, condemned a national bank, endorsed a tariff for revenue, expressing strong opposition to protection and the tariff of 1842. It also condemned direct taxes. It expressed approval of the veto power which was then being sharply condemned by the Whigs on account of their experience with Jackson and more particularly with Tyler, favored the return of Jackson's fine, and approving of "properly regulated State banks based on specie capital," demanded regulation of the North Carolina banks by the legislature.
The Democratic candidate for governor was like Graham a native of Lincoln County. Born in 1810, he was six years younger than his opponent. He received most of his education at Captain Partridge's famous school at Middletown, Connecticut, and later studied law under Judge Tucker of Virginia, and Robert H. Burton of North Carolina. He was deeply interested in politics and had been a member of the House of Commons for five terms from 1834 to 1842.
The chief event of 1844 in the minds of the Whigs was Clay's visit to the State. He had been previously invited repeatedly, but had never been in the State until April, 1844, when he visited Raleigh and Wilmington at both of which places he spoke. The writer recently talked with a North Carolinian who heard him in Wilmington. His comment was that the speech was very fine, but that it was "cast in the shade" by one delivered by William W. Cherry of Bertie.
At both places immense crowds attended, but the Raleigh meeting was naturally the larger and more important. From all over the State the Whigs poured out to greet their idol. Men travelled hundreds of miles in wagons and on horseback, camping on the way and in Raleigh to hear and see the great Whig chieftain. He reached Raleigh in the evening and was met outside the town by a large delegation and carried to the governor's mansion. That night there was a huge demonstration with speeches at the capitol from many local and visiting Whigs, including: B. W. Leigh of Virginia, and "Parson" Brownlow of Tennessee. The next day Clay was welcomed at the capitol by Badger and introduced by Morehead, after which he delivered a long address which, while he said it was not intended to be political, was of course an appeal for the Whig policies.
Badger's enthusiasm for Clay at this time provoked the Standard to publish the following sentiments concerning him, which Badger, as a member of the Jackson committee, had written in 1828:
You have seen the Secretary of State challenging to mortal combat a member of Congress for daring in his place on the floor of the Senate to examine with freedom and expose with boldness the conduct of the Secretary. You have seen the same officer, forgetful of what belongs to his high station, assume the character of a traveling speechmaker and harangue public gatherings in Kentucky, Pennsylvania and Virginia, boasting of his intrepidity and his virtue, and discharging his malignity towards Jackson, sometimes in gross abuse, and sometimes in impious appeals to heaven.
By this time the question of the annexation of Texas was the dominant issue in the minds of every one. All the possible candidates for presidential nomination had been asked to define their views and Van Buren had at once given his which were unequivocal in their opposition to annexation. Clay had hitherto refrained from expressing his own views but as Van Buren seemed certain of the Democratic nomination, it appeared to Clay that here was his opportunity to
dismiss the Texas question from the presidential campaign and thus be able to fight the Democrats on his chosen issues of the bank and the tariff without the public attention being diverted. Therefore, while he was in Raleigh, after consultation with Badger, Stanly, and Morehead, he wrote his famous "Raleigh letter" in which he expressed in no uncertain terms his opposition to such expansion. Sentiment in the State was divided, but, generally speaking, the Whigs opposed and the Democrats favored annexation. When the treaty finally came before the Senate, Mangum voted against it and Haywood for it.
Clay was duly nominated by the Whig convention which met in Baltimore on May 1. North Carolina had a full delegation present but took no especially prominent part in the deliberations. Richard H. Hines was one of the vice-presidents.
In the Democratic convention which also met in Baltimore in the same month, quite the reverse was true. Romulus M. Saunders was easily the most prominent figure in the body. He called the convention to order and, as soon as it was organized, moved to adopt the two-thirds rule which defeated Van Buren, to secure whose nomination for vice-president in 1832, it had first been devised. The North Carolina delegation had no particular candidate. Henry was for Van Buren and Fisher was for Calhoun. Saunders was also for Calhoun but did not think that he could be nominated. The delegation was not even a unit on the question of the two-thirds rule, dividing evenly on it. The vote of the State on the various ballots is interesting.
Polk's nomination was welcomed by North Carolina Democrats for he was popular in the State and they felt much pride in his North Carolina birth and the fact of his having been educated at the University. The Whigs at once said that he was a small man whose unfitness for the presidency was indicated by the fact that he was not voted for in the early ballots of the convention and that the ability of the convention to unite on him after the long contest showed that he was a weak man. They also argued with much length and gravity that his grandfather had been a Tory in the Revolution. The Democrats retorted that he was a signer of the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence and the Whigs argued that any copy of that sacred document which bore the name of Ezekiel Polk was of necessity a forgery. This characteristic argument lasted during the entire campaign.
The state campaign got under way early. Plans were made for a joint canvass, but Graham was taken desperately ill and for a time his life was despaired of. After his recovery he entered upon the campaign and at several places he and Hoke met. The chief subject of debate was annexation which Hoke defended and Graham opposed. Graham paid comparatively little attention to the East, but canvassed the West rather thoroughly. His attention to the West caused the Democrats to revive to some extent the talk of sectional division.
The campaign was very spirited throughout. Graham was somewhat stiff and formal and never under any circumstances lost his dignity. He was the most cultured of all the governors of North Carolina, and was a man of majestic presence who always attracted attention. Mr. Nash says of him: "He was at this time the handsomest man in public life in North Carolina. The tones of his voice were mellow and harmonious, and, though not strong, well modulated. His action was free, easy and graceful, on occasion warming into energy. His matter was carefully arranged so as to give his argument the effect of cumulation. He was fair and
stately, and perfectly honest and sincere in the position he took. His public addresses, though always orderly arranged, are never closely reasoned. He knew the danger of a logical short cut in dealing with public questions. Its beauty and force could be appreciated only by the initiated, and such were not his fellow citizens whom he was addressing. He very seldom dealt in sophistry. Indeed so practical a mind as his could rarely do so. In short the matter of his public speeches was interesting and instructive, while his manner was always attractive." Hoke was a man of great charm and enthusiasm of manner. Magnetic, a good popular orator and debater, and generally liked, he made a formidable opponent. His character was above reproach in every relation of life and his ability far above the average. In sharp contrast to Graham, he was possessed of much humor and readiness of wit. The two in joint debate furnished an interesting contrast. Quoting Mr. Nash again: "Graham, more learned, more experienced, calmer, more dignified and impressive; Hoke more nimble, quicker, brighter and more entertaining."
The campaign was devoid of any special interest. There was, however, a good deal of journalistic activity. In June Loring finally took the plunge he had apparently been meditating for some time and announced his support of the Whigs. The Standard was intensely active in the campaign and its strength alarmed the Whigs who never lost an opportunity of denouncing it and its editor. The Fayetteville Observer,whose editor was particularly hostile to Holden on account of his apostacy, said editorially during the campaign: "Of all the vile, unscrupulous blackguard sheets published in the United States, we doubt if there be one that will compare in these particulars with the Raleigh Standard,acting notoriously upon the principle of never retracting one of its thousand of falsehoods and never abandoning one, however often refuted, it is perfectly callous to public opinion and occupies itself wholly in devising and collecting foul slanders which it dins into the public ear, until some of its readers, we have reason to think, actually believe those fables to whose utter
falsehood not even constant reiteration can close the eyes of their hired originator and propagator."
In July the Whigs held their great western meeting at Statesville. Graham, D. M. Barringer, H. C. Jones, and Waddy Thompson of South Carolina, were the speakers. The assembled crowds were also entertained by a great barbecue.
The election resulted in a Whig victory, Graham's majority being 3,153 in a total vote of 82,019. The legislature was Whig in both houses, but by a majority of only two in the Senate. In September Hoke died of malaria contracted in his canvass of the East and a very promising career was thus cut short.
The presidential campaign was conducted with much enthusiasm for the rest of the time, the central committees of both parties issuing various addresses to the people and as far as possible perfecting their local organization. The Democrats were entirely hopeful of the results in the Nation, but they had small hope for carrying the State, it being still very clearly manifest that the Whigs could maintain their control. The returns of the election showed a majority for Clay of 3,390 in a total of 62,488. The vote in the presidential election was smaller than that in the state election by nearly twenty thousand and each party lost practically the same number. The only explanation seems to be that the people at last were taking a greater interest in state than in national elections.
When the legislature met four members of the Senate had died and the new elections had caused a tie. The election of a speaker came when the Democrats, on account of an absent Whig, had a majority of one. A deadlock followed since the Democratic candidate, Louis D. Wilson, would not vote for himself. Later the Democrats sought to elect Thomas N. Cameron or Weldon N. Edwards. The Whigs, who supported in turn Joyner, Dockery, and Francis, finally proposed to the Democrats to throw dice for the speaker. The offer was contemptuously refused. They then offered to
allow the Democrats to elect the speaker if they themselves should be allowed to name all the clerks and doorkeepers and upon the refusal of the Democrats to consider this offer, they expressed their readiness to surrender all the lesser positions for the speakership. The Democrats, finally despairing of ever electing one of their party, concentrated on Burgess S. Gaither of Burke, a moderate Whig, and elected him. In the House Edward Stanly was elected speaker over Calvin Graves.
The session of the legislature so far as work accomplished was not of more than average interest and importance. The Whigs were very bitter over the election of Gaither and when they found a little later that Ennet of Onslow, had presented a forged certificate of election which he, however, at the time believed to be genuine, and although he had later received and presented the correct one, they expelled him. He was triumphantly re-elected immediately. The Texas question was in the minds of everyone and the House of Commons finally passed, by a majority of eleven, resolutions condemning annexation, but they did not represent the sentiment of the State. The Whigs had opposed annexation because the Democrats wanted it and because Clay opposed it. Upon reflection and after Clay's "Alabama letter" many of them were now frank expansionists.
Among the more important legislation were acts giving authority for the foreclosure of the mortgage which the State held upon the Raleigh and Gaston Railroad and instructing the governor to bid as high as three hundred thousand dollars for it; providing for the submission of the question of a penitentiary to the people at the next election; authorizing the Wilmington and Raleigh Railroad to issue $100,000 in bonds to be endorsed by the State to redeem similar bonds which had become due; making provision for the education of poor deaf mutes and blind persons; and providing for the preservation of certain historical records of the State. As evidence of the growth of humanitarian sentiment, two laws may be mentioned which were designed to prevent imprisonment
for debt except in case of fraud and to set aside an exemption from execution of tools for one laborer, one bed, bedstead and covering for every two members of the family, two months provisions for the family, four hogs, and all necessary household and kitchen furniture up to the amount of fifty dollars.
Some interest was excited by the election of officers. John H. Wheeler was ousted from the treasurership in favor of Charles L. Hinton. Wheeler and Governor Morehead had disputed on the question of the right of the governor to receive compensation as a member of the Internal Improvement Board, both Dudley and Morehead having drawn per diem as members. The Whigs now retaliated by attempting to cast discredit on Wheeler, making insinuations as to the entire honesty of his administration of the treasurer's office, but they were unable to make a case. Judge Gaston had died since the last legislature, and Governor Morehead had nominated Badger to his Democratic Council of State to fill the vacancy. The council refused to accept him, and Frederick Nash was finally selected, and the legislature confirmed the election. David F. Caldwell took his place on the Superior bench.
Graham in his inaugural, which was a splendid address of lofty patriotism and high tone, condemned the habit of the people of North Carolina of devoting so much of their time, attention, and interest to the discussion of national affairs, and made a strong plea for internal improvements and education.
When Congress assembled in December, 1844, for the short session, the immediate annexation of Texas was determined upon. William H. Haywood introduced a bill for the purpose, which erected a slave State out of part of the Republic and annexed the rest to Nebraska as non-slaveholding white territory. In defending it he endorsed the view that Congress could legislate on the subject of slavery in a territory with entire propriety and constitutionality. As a matter of fact, no one in North Carolina at this time would have
taken any other position. Haywood's bill made no progress in the Senate, and he was really the author and chief promoter of the bills known as Benton's bills, one of which finally passed as the joint resolution by which annexation was accomplished. Mangum voted against it. In the House all the North Carolina Democrats voted for it and all the Whigs against it. Rayner complained that he was in favor of annexation as were many of the other Southern Whigs, but that they were opposed to the particular method employed and that the Democrats would not give them a chance to explain their position.
The congressional elections of 1845 were notable for the fact that both parties held nominating conventions in practically every district. The canvass was prosecuted with great vigor, the tariff and Texas being the chief subjects of discussion. In the first district, the Democrats made no nomination, and Clingman, having won the Whig nomination, seemed to have things all his own way. He had made a good many enemies in his own party and his voting at the previous session for the repeal of the rule against the reception of abolition petitions had not increased his popularity. So during the last few weeks of the campaign, James Graham, who had contested with him for the nomination, offered himself as an independent Whig and, receiving the solid Democratic vote and dividing the Whig vote, was elected. In the second district, D. M. Barringer was re-elected over Charles Fisher. In the fourth, Jonathan Worth defeated Alfred Dockery in the Whig convention, but the latter bolted and was elected. The Democrats had no candidate. These three were the only districts which the Whigs carried. The Democrats won six, thus gaining one. David S. Reid was successful over A. B. McMillan in the third. J. C. Dobbin, defeating J. H. Haughton, succeeded R. M. Saunders in the fifth. Saunders declined to run and was at this time bitterly disappointed at his failure to secure a cabinet position which he and almost every one else had expected him to obtain. A little later he was appointed minister to Spain. James.
J. McKay was re-elected in the sixth, defeating Thomas D. Meares. J. R. J. Daniel defeated R. S. Bond in the seventh. Henry S. Clark was successful over R. S. Donnell in the eighth. Asa Biggs won in the ninth, defeating David Outlaw who had entered the campaign, taking the place of the brilliant W. W. Cherry, who died after receiving the nomination.
The warfare between the Fayetteville Observer and the Standard continued and the former in its venom exceeded the bounds of decency. In May it contained the following editorial notice:
People talk about a Mr. W. W. Holden in a very ugly manner hereabouts. There are naughty folks that even accuse him of this very crime of treason--treason to his friends, his benefactors, his party. They charge him with having bartered his conscience for filthy lucre; of suddenly crossing over to the enemy in the broad day-light, and belying his whole past life.
Even good Democrats in this vicinage quietly admit these charges, and we must frankly tell our august accuser and judge, that no man of any party here regards or respects him. Those he acts with constantly fear him--they know not how soon in the very thickest of the fight he might turn his weapons; while the uncharitable Whigs loathe him, as being diseased with a vile leprosy that has not left a single virtue unconsumed amid his thousand meannesses and vices.
Holden in a dignified reply said:
No notice can be taken of Mr. Hale according to the usages of gentlemen, for he has long since proclaimed himself by his own pen, as well as by his own deeds, without the pale of honor. . . So we shall strike the Observer from our exchange list, and, in so doing, call upon the press of the State to sustain us in an effort to promote the just courtesies and proprieties of life.
The Democratic central committee in October, 1845, announced that January 8, 1846, the anniversary of Jackson's victory at New Orleans, would be fittingly celebrated by the meeting of the Democratic convention in Raleigh. The Whig convention was soon after summoned to meet on January 12.
County meetings of both parties were held, the Whigs, however, failing to display the same activity as their opponents because it was already a settled fact that Graham would be renominated. The Democratic meetings for the most part contented themselves with pledging support to the nominee of the convention, but some went further and endorsed particular candidates. Calvin Graves, W. W. Avery, Charles Fisher, Weldon N. Edwards, James J. McKay, D. W. Courts, W. F. Leak, and Asa Biggs were among those thus mentioned. Party sentiment seems to have been fairly closely fixed upon Charles Fisher, but he declined a few days before the convention met to allow the use of his name.
The convention met on the appointed day. Thirty-five counties were represented by one hundred and fifty delegates. George Bower of Ashe County, who in spite of advanced age, had ridden over one hundred miles on horseback through the most inclement weather to be present at the convention, was temporary chairman, and Louis D. Henry was president. The nomination of a candidate for governor was made by ballot of the counties, the first time such a plan was tried in the State. Only sixty-seven delegates voted in this and all of them cast their ballots for Green W. Caldwell of Mecklenburg. The platform denounced a national bank, declared for a low tariff, and endorsed the administration on all other matters as well. The Democratic state committee was created to take the place of the central committee. Speeches were made by Louis D. Henry, R. M. Saunders, Burton Craige,
Abraham W. Venable, Robert Strange, John W. Ellis, Thomas Bragg, James S. Smith, R. P. Dick, John H. Wheeler, John F. Hoke, J. L. Clemmons and a number of others.
The Whig convention assembled on January 12. Dr. F. J. Hill was the presiding officer throughout. Forty counties sent a total of one hundred and forty-one delegates. Graham was unanimously renominated and appeared and addressed the convention. The platform declared for a revenue tariff with incidental protection, favored distribution, and demanded Oregon without war. It declared the bitter opposition of the party to the sub-treasury. Speeches were made by Badger, Henry W. Miller, John Kerr, and Edward Stanly.
On January 20, Caldwell, on account of ill health and other personal reasons, not least of which probably was his disinclination to make the contest against Graham, declined the Democratic nomination. For some time it was seriously questionable if any other nomination would be made. Walter F. Leak of Richmond County, was then nominated by county meetings and newspapers in Lincoln, Catawba, Mecklenburg, Union, Montgomery, and Anson, and declared himself a candidate before the people. On March 17, the Democratic state committee, or such members as could be gotten together in Raleigh, ignoring Leak, nominated James B. Shepard of Wake, who had declined to be a candidate before the convention. Leak at once announced his intention of remaining in the field because of his being so deeply committed and because much of his support was still behind him. Another ground for his action was the expressed belief that the conduct of Democratic affairs was in the hands of a clique of Raleigh politicians. The term "Raleigh politicians," in those days, carried much the same signification to the rest of the State that "New York politician" does today. Holden was the particular person against whom the charge was directed, and he was undoubtedly responsible for Shepard's nomination.
Shepard, immediately after his acceptance, entered upon an active campaign, going to the East at once and reserving the West for his last work. He had most of the party behind him, but enough strength remained with Leak to make success impossible for either. Much influence was brought to bear upon Leak to induce him to withdraw but apparently without effect. But on April 18 he wrote to Shepard suggesting the reference of their claims to a full meeting of the state committee, and that in the meantime both should retire from the canvass. Shepard agreed at once to the first suggestion, declined to consider the second, and a meeting of the committee was at once called. On May 18, the committee decided in favor of Shepard, and Leak withdrew.
James Biddle Shepard was a native of Craven County; a member of a distinguished family, and a man of great wealth. He was educated at the University where he graduated in 1834 at the head of his class. He studied law in Philadelphia, covering the entire course in a few months, and was at once admitted to the bar. His talents were great, but he was indolent and having no need to obtain practice he paid little attention to his profession. He was appointed United States district attorney in 1840 by Van Buren to succeed William H. Haywood, but he resigned after a few months. He was a member of the Senate from Wake in 1842 and a member of the House of Commons in 1844. At both sessions he displayed great activity and talent. He had much reputation as a speaker and was much in demand. He was the author of an epic entitled "North Carolina," which was greatly praised by his friends at the time of its publication, but which is deservedly unknown today.
The campaign, if we may judge from the press of the day, was devoid of any great interest. Shepard was a good campaigner, for he was a good "mixer" and his ability as a speaker won him attention wherever he appeared. Also he was deeply interested in if not hopeful of success. He covered the State very thoroughly and met Governor Graham a number of times in joint debate in which, if he did not
cover himself with glory, he at least held his own fairly well. Graham, however, had grown greatly in the affection and esteem of the people, and Democratic factional disputes had had their effect. In the midst of the campaign two things happened which had a disastrous effect upon the Democratic cause. The first was the outbreak of the war with Mexico. The Whigs immediately took the stand that the war was unjustifiable and that it was brought on entirely by President Polk. They did not dare, however, to advocate what many of them would have preferred, namely, a policy of non-support of the war, bitterly as they attacked it. But they did little to help the cause. Ten companies of volunteers were asked for and by July, 1846, forty companies had answered the call. But Democrats were the moving spirits behind all the war preparations. A large majority of Whigs were opposed, and they made their opposition count in the campaign. It must not be supposed, however, that the war brought Whig victory; that was already fated, but it did increase the party majority.
The other happening was the sudden resignation of William H. Haywood from the United States Senate. Haywood was not the sort of man to be bound very closely by any party. He was a Democrat but an entirely independent one. When he accepted the election to the Senate, he excited much surprise by writing a letter to the legislature in which he declared that he demanded the right of a certain independence in his political action. The occasion of his resignation was the tariff bill of 1846, drafted largely by James J. McKay, who was now chairman of the committee on ways and means, but commonly known as the Walker tariff because of the part Robert J. Walker, the secretary of the treasury, had in making it. When the bill was before the House, all the North Carolina Democrats voted for it. Haywood had favored the McKay tariff bill of 1844 which had provided for a somewhat higher scale of duties than the bill of 1846; but he had been steadily coming to believe in protection, and he now opposed the Walker tariff because its duties
were too low to have any perceptible protective influence. Haywood had been a close friend of President Polk at the University of North Carolina, and the intimacy continued in Washington. It was assumed that Haywood desired to be the President's spokesman on the floor of the Senate and for a time he was so regarded by some. But Polk was a strict party man, and it was impossible for two such men to remain in substantial agreement. It became known that Haywood was opposed to the bill, and Polk used every possible argument to induce him to vote for it and not to resign. His diary records very interestingly their interviews on the subject. Haywood, however, was obdurate and accordingly resigned in preference to voting for the bill. This made the passage of the bill very doubtful, but it finally got through by one vote. Haywood's action was in strict accordance with the Democratic doctrine of senatorial responsibility, but few Democrats were able then or thereafter to see it, and he was bitterly denounced by Democratic press and Democratic speakers, in and out of the State, as a traitor, apostate, and renegade. His resignation hurt the Democratic party in the campaign.
Haywood was not without defenders. Thomas H. Benton in a speech in the Senate commended highly his purity of character and motive. Polk himself in his diary says:
After the Cabinet adjourned, and about 3:30 o'clock, I was astonished to learn that Senator Haywood had today addressed a letter to the Vice President resigning his seat in the Senate of the United States. It was a great error, and I am sure that he will greatly regret it. The fate of the tariff bill will now depend on the vote of Senator Jarnegan. If he votes as he declared he would today, the bill will still pass. I sincerely regret Mr. Haywood's course. I was at college with him and have ever been his friend. I believe him to be an honest and pure man, but a man of great vanity and possessing a good deal of self esteem. He is, I think, ambitious, and had probably a desire to have some participation or authorship in effecting the contemplated tariff reform. From some feeling of this sort, and without due reflection, I conjecture,
he took ground against the tariff bill, and, having committed himself, was of too proud a spirit, when he found himself separated from all his friends, and that none of them would go with him, to recede. He is, moreover, nervous, and in an excited state, no doubt, tendered his resignation. I give not the slightest heed to the painful insinuations which I learned this evening are made by illiberal persons as to the motives and causes which have induced his course. I differ with him in my opinion and think he has erred in his resigning, but that he has done so from good motives, and from the causes stated above I have little doubt.
Haywood himself published an elaborate and able defense of his course, addressed to the people of North Carolina. It had little effect upon the public mind, and he was never again in public life. The Whigs, it is needless to say, now expressed great admiration for him and used his treatment by the Democrats as a party text.
The election resulted in Graham's selection by a largely increased majority, 7,859 in a total vote of 78,113. The legislature was Whig in both branches. A very small vote was cast on the penitentiary proposition which was defeated.
The election was not well over before the Whigs revealed what was to be the chief part of their program, namely, the re-districting of the State. It was not popular with the people, but the leaders were bent on it. Whig leaders in fact were beginning to ignore the people's opinions to a considerable extent, feeling so secure that they failed to realize the danger of their course, and, in consequence, their day was nearing its end. They had always felt the same superiority, but they now were rather free in expressing it. They began to have a sense of ownership of the government, a most dangerous sign at all times, one usually boding ill for the people in the beginning, but in a democratic community presaging the inevitable doom of the party or at least of their leadership. They were progressive in actual policy as evidenced by their work of education and internal improvements, but in attitude, in theory, and in political practice, they were reactionary
to a high degree. An example is to be found in a political incident of 1846. Governor Graham appointed Weston R. Gales, the editor of the Register, a member of the Literary Board. The Standard commented adversely and the Register at once rebuked Holden for presuming to interfere in a private matter. This was highly characteristic of the Whig attitude in general.
When the legislature met, Andrew Joyner was chosen speaker of the Senate over Louis D. Wilson, and Edward Stanly was elected in the House over D. W. Courts. A clean sweep was then made of all Democratic officials who could be ousted and Whigs replaced them. Whigs also at this time composed the Literary Board and Board of Internal Improvements. There was naturally considerable competition for the vacant senatorship. Badger, Morehead, Stanly, Clingman, J. W. Osborne, and William B. Shepard were all mentioned. Clingman was an open and avowed candidate and was present in Raleigh to look after his interest. The contest, however, was between Badger and Shepard and the former was selected by the caucus. He was accordingly elected over Asa Biggs. Mangum was re-elected over James J. McKay to whom the Democrats gave the honorary support.
Graham's message was largely devoted to questions of state finance. He urged an increase of the state revenue by an adequate assessment of lands and polls in the State and also recommended certain new taxes. He recommended assistance to the construction of certain roads and canals and reported his purchase for the State of the Raleigh and Gaston Railroad. Through suggestion he recommended the redistricting of the State.
The work of the legislature may be summed up briefly. The State was re-divided up into new congressional districts with careful gerrymandering calculated to give the Whigs six certainly and possibly seven members. This was done under the lead of Rayner, and the Democrats coined the expression, "a Raynermander." The North and South Carolina, the Charlotte and South Carolina, the Roanoke, and the Wilmington
and Manchester Railroads were chartered. Alexander, Gaston, and Polk counties were erected. Authority was given for the endorsement of the bonds of the Wilmington and Raleigh Railroad to the amount of $100,000, to redeem similar bonds to the same amount which had come due. Somewhat similar action was taken for the Raleigh and Gaston Railroad. A session of the Supreme Court to be held at Morganton once a year was provided for.
One action of the legislature excited particularly hostile criticism from the Democrats as well as from some Whigs. The troops that were being raised for the war lacked funds to equip them and to transport them to Charlotte or Wilmington, the points where they were mustered into the United States service. An appropriation of $10,000 was accordingly moved. The Whigs would not let it pass until after long debate and bitter opposition from the Democrats they had inserted a preamble beginning with the words, "Whereas by the action the Executive and the subsequent sanction of Congress, this Republic is involved in a foreign war," which they felt made their position clear. Green W. Caldwell was captain of the company from Charlotte and when the news of this clause came to him and his men, they declined to receive any money under the resolution and finally disbanded. Caldwell was later appointed a captain in the United States army. Many of the troops as well as all the Democratic politicians were deeply offended by Governor Graham's conduct in relation to the field officers of the regiment which was sent. Passing over the volunteers who were mainly Democrats and a number of them with military training, he selected as colonel, Robert Paine, of Edenton, a bitter anti-war Whig; as lieutenant colonel, John A. Fagg of Buncombe, another of the same persuasion, neither of whom were volunteers but both of whom accepted. Montford Stokes of Surry, a Democrat trained at West Point and a volunteer, was appointed major. The overwhelming preference of the regiment itself for Louis D. Wilson, who was captain of one of the Edgecombe companies and it was for this reason that
the legislature, after placing the selection in the hands of the regiment, repealed the act and vested the appointment in the governor. Wilson was soon after appointed a colonel in the United States army and died in Mexico of yellow fever.
The later history of the regiment has certain interesting features. Paine proved himself to be a vain and petty tyrant who knew nothing of military matters and less about handling men. He won the hatred of the regiment immediately. In Mexico the feeling became very intense and finally he shot two of his men without justification, one of whom later died. He was at once arrested by Generals Wool and Cushing, but was later released probably in the interest of discipline. His officers petitioned him to resign and he charged two lieutenants, George E. P. Singletary and Joseph S. Pender, with inciting mutiny. General Wool gave to each a dishonorable dismissal, but they came to Washington and were both reinstated by the President. There can be no doubt that petty partisanship played a large part in the selection of officers for the regiment and in its command.
The congressional elections of 1847, in consequence of the gerrymander, resulted in the victory of the Whigs in six of the nine districts. Thomas L. Clingman came back in the first district, defeating John Gray Bynum, another Whig. In the second Nathaniel Boyden defeated Joseph M. Bogle, also a Whig. In the third D. M. Barringer was successful, the Democrats making no nomination but voting largely for W. F. Leak. A. H. Shepperd defeated J. L. Clemmons in the fourth. R. S. Donnell defeated W. K. Lane in the eighth, and in the ninth Asa Biggs, the incumbent, was retired in favor of David Outlaw. In the fifth, Abraham W. Venable, a Democrat, was elected over John Kerr, a Whig. In the sixth which was made a solid Democratic district, there was a many-sided contest. J. R. J. Daniel, the incumbent, received the convention nomination, but Archibald H. Arrington, also a member of Congress, M. T. Hawkins, a former member, Henry I. Toole, who called himself a Taylor Democrat, Dr. R. C. Pritchard, all Democrats, and Sidney Weller,
a Whig, were candidates. Hawkins and Weller withdrew in May and Pritchard in July but the others remained in the race. Daniel was elected. The new arrangement of the districts put James C. Dobbin and James J. McKay both in the seventh district and Dobbin declined to be a candidate against McKay, whom he thought entitled to re-election. McKay was opposed by Robert K. Bryan of New Hanover, an independent Democrat, and by William R. Hall of Brunswick, a Whig, but was re-elected.
The campaign of 1848 was formally opened by the Whig convention which met February 22, but in reality the Democrats, animated by some new spirit, had begun it in the autumn of 1847. The convention representing twenty-eight counties with about one hundred and twenty delegates present was a different sort of body from what Whig conventions had usually been. It cannot be said that the delegates lacked confidence, but they were notably lacking in spirit.
Richard Hines was the president of the convention. The platform condemned the Polk Administration for the war which they pronounced "an unauthorized aggression upon the rights of a neighboring Nation." The delegates were much divided in their sympathies as to presidential candidates, and while the majority were still loyal to Clay in their hearts, some few favored Taylor and a smaller number still believed Scott the proper candidate. All, however, wanted to win regardless of platform or candidate. So after a series of resolutions, embodying the leading features of Clay's then recent Lexington speech, had been adopted, the convention endorsed Clay, Taylor and Scott. John Kerr was the Taylor leader in the convention and was chosen a delegate to the national convention as was John M. Morehead, who strongly favored the nomination of Clay.
The public and the convention itself was much in the dark as to a choice of a candidate for governor. Not so the group of Whig leaders in Raleigh. Many persons had been mentioned including Richard Hines, Andrew Joyner, Dr. F. J. Hill, John Kerr, Edward Stanly, James W. Bryan, Lewis Thompson, Josiah Collins, William B. Shepard, Kenneth Rayner, and David L. Swain. Rayner and Kerr had peremptorily refused to be considered. But none of these suited the plans of the leaders and to the great surprise of the State, Charles Manly, who was one of the well-known
Whigs who had not been mentioned in connection with the nomination, was chosen by the convention. This greatly displeased many Whigs, particularly in the East. They had felt that the nomination was due that section and they could not see why Manly should have been chosen. A number of the Whig papers were outspoken in their displeasure, the North State, published at Washington, going so far as to say that it had been brought about by a "nefarious plot of political jugglers." Others denied that Manly had any particular qualifications for the office, saying as did the Democrats that he was merely an office-holding lawyer. At the time of his nomination he was secretary of the University trustees, county attorney for Chatham, bank attorney, attorney for the Literary Board, attorney for a life insurance company, member of the Literary Board, and clerk of the House of Commons.
Manly was a native of Chatham and was born in 1795. Prepared for college by Mr. Bingham, he entered the University of North Carolina in 1811 and graduated in 1814. Upon his graduation he went to Raleigh as a tutor and studying law there was admitted to the bar. He served as reading clerk of the House of Commons for a number of years and in 1830 was elected chief clerk and, with one intermission, held the position for ten terms. In 1823 he was appointed clerk to the commission to settle claims under the Treaty of Ghent and served for one year. He had been for many years secretary of the trustees of the University. He was a presidential elector in 1840 and for a number of years was a member of the Whig central committee, part of the time being chairman. He was a man of great charm of manner, probably the most cordial of all the governors of the State, and was noted for his ability to entertain any group in which he might be thrown. He was really a man of considerable ability, but his propensity for rather slangy joking at all times prevented the fact from being generally recognized. He was in no sense progressive; in fact as compared to Morehead or Graham he was a reactionary.
The Democratic convention met on April 12. Weldon N. Edwards was president. Twenty-five counties sent one hundred and sixteen delegates. The platform prepared by the ready pen of William W. Holden, contained a strong endorsement of the administration's settlement with Mexico, of the independent treasury, of the tariff of 1846, and, in fact, of all the Democratic measures. Polk was also personally endorsed. It denounced the Whigs for encouraging the enemy in the late war and pronounced them guilty of moral treason, condemned the preamble of the war appropriation bill passed by the preceding legislature as well as the appointment of the regimental officers as opposed to election by the regiment. The increasing state debt called for more censure as did the redistricting of the State and, turning to national matters, the Wilmot Proviso. Weldon N. Edwards and Robert Strange were elected delegates to the national convention, with A. W. Venable and W. S. Ashe as alternates.
A number of men had been locally nominated for governor, most prominent of whom were Charles Fisher, D. W. Courts, Robert Strange and Walter F. Leak. The last named had published a long letter expressing his willingness to be the nominee, but declaring himself unalterably opposed to any personal canvass of the State.
The committee to choose a candidate had a very difficult time. Their choice, whoever he might be, seemed doomed to certain defeat and it was hard to select the best person to lead the forlorn hope. In the committee, Holden, R. P. Dick, W. K. Lane, and James B. Shepard urged the selection of David S. Reid of Rockingham. His name was finally presented to the convention and unanimously ratified.
The Democratic nominee was a native of Rockingham County and was born in 1813 and was thus only 35 years old, Manly being 53. His lack of years was one of the Whig charges against him in the campaign. He received only a common school education prior to his study of law and was never what might be called a learned lawyer. In fact his reputation rests upon his public career. He began this as a
member of the state Senate where he served from 1835 to 1841. In 1843 he was elected to Congress and served two terms until he was gerrymandered out of office. He was known as a hard campaigner, and as an exceedingly bold and fearless leader whose ability was excellent, whose judgment was almost unerring, and whose honesty and sincerity could not be doubted. In him the Democrats found the wisest, safest, and most resourceful political leader the party had from the time of Nathaniel Macon's prime to 1860.
A committee of the convention notified him of his nomination and to their horror he declined it. Holden had the letter in type and about to go to press, but, knowing it meant certain defeat for the party if published, he determined to hold it back. A consultation with several other Democrats resulted in the sending of a messenger on horseback, riding day and night, with a letter to Reid urging him to reconsider and, accepting the nomination, to come to Raleigh prepared to enter the campaign. Reid did accept and when he reached Raleigh had a long conference with his friends on the subject of the campaign. With Dr. Josiah Watson, James B. Shepard, W. W. Holden, Perrin Busbee, Jerry Nixon, W. T. Rogers and Mark Williams present he said: "Gentlemen, this nomination was not sought by me, and it has been my purpose for a long time if I should be a candidate for a State office before the people, to broach one issue, which I deem very important. What I mean is that the state constitution shall be so amended by the mode prescribed by that instrument itself, that all voters for the House of Commons shall be allowed to vote for senators. What do you say to my taking this ground in the canvass? I mean, of course, no disrespect to the convention that nominated me, but I wish to discuss this question before the people. I want your opinion. I will consult our friend, Dr. S. A. Andrews at Goldsborough, and friend Samuel R. Street at Newbern, and friends at Beaufort, and then I will decide what I will do."
Holden's later accounts of his part in the selection of the issue vary. In his memoirs he says that Watson, Shepard,
and Busbee were inclined to decide against broaching it and that he, Nixon, Rogers and Williams favored it. In the campaign he declared that he favored the change but had doubts of the wisdom of bringing it forward in this campaign but had nevertheless pledged his support to it. This is probably the correct account. Some years later he declared that he had urged its being made the issue. It has been frequently suggested that Douglas while in the State had proposed it to Reid as a good campaign proposition. But Douglas denied it as did Reid and Holden and there is no reason to believe that anyone but Reid was responsible. It was no new suggestion as has already been seen.
The first joint debate of the candidates was held at New Bern on May 10. Manly devoted his entire time to the late war and other national questions. Reid in his speech replied briefly to Manly and then avowed his belief that a change in the constitution was necessary. He called his proposition "free suffrage," a good campaign title which won immediate favor. He discussed the question at length giving his reasons for it and showing the absurdity of the existing arrangement. Manly was called upon for reply, but saying that the proposition was a complete surprise to him, he was not prepared to express himself upon it then but would do so the next day at Beaufort. When he replied then he condemned it as a new issue sprung upon him and upon the people with no public demand behind it and declared his entire opposition to it and pleaded that the principle engrafted on the constitution by the fathers for the security and protection of the landed interest should be preserved. "As well," said he, "abolish the Senate as extend the privilege of voting for senators to those who have no land." He also expressed his fear of a convention. Reid was prepared for this, for he recognized the timidity of the people as to any changes in the established system, and so he endorsed the legislative method of amendment.
Most of the Whig papers at first opposed free suffrage and then many tried to ignore it. A few from the beginning
admitted that it would do little harm if adopted. The Register naturally attacked it, pronouncing it demagoguery of the worst type. The usual term with which the Whigs attempted to damn it was "agrarianism." A characteristic opposition editorial appeared in the Wilmington Commercial, part of which follows:
Among the measures which follow in the train of free suffrage, or rather among those which are advocated by the movers of this scheme, is the desecration of the Bible and the abolition of matrimony. This is the consummation so ardently desired, by Jacobins in politics and levellers in sociology; they go hand in hand in the work; whatever restrains the passions, or curbs the ardor of political proscription, is hostile to the feelings and designs of both.
It is a distinguished feature in those monstrosities, that while they assume the largest liberty for themselves, they have the very smallest regard for the rights of others. The command. "Thou shalt not steal," comes in the way of the taxing the property of the landholder without his consent. "Thou shalt not covet," is adverse to the equal division of property. "Thou shalt not commit adultery," is against the abolition of matrimony, and the cherished licentiousness of the levellers; and "As ye would that men should do unto you, do ye even so to them," scatters all the doctrines of the whole tribe, to the winds. So that before this "progression" can be brought to its grand climacteric, the Bible must be put away, as behind the "spirit of the age," in its doctrines and admonitions.
We believe the Democratic leaders are at fault in this pursuit. They never can induce the sober, thinking people of North Carolina to hazard the violation of the principles of republican government, and take a step which may lead to the removal from the Ark of the great Charter of temporal and eternal blessedness and hope; and to trample beneath the feet of deriding licentiousness the banner of the Cross, under the influence of which we have so long and so gloriously prospered, and through the counsels of which our institutions were reared.
This has a familiar ring even today.
Towards the end of the campaign many Whigs weakened and a large number openly favored the amendment, particularly in the Whig stronghold of the West. This was so apparent that some Whig papers condemned the Democrats for introducing it into the realm of party politics, saying that it was not and, from its very nature, ought not to be a party question. This was a not uncharacteristic point of view. In the view of many of the Whigs, nothing which touched deeply the whole people of the State should be brought forward by a party--if that party was the Democratic. As a matter of fact the Democratic party deserves eternal praise for finally centering the attention of the State upon a real state issue, unconnected with any national matter and touching only North Carolina. In many ways it transformed the State.
The Democratic rank and file accepted free suffrage gladly. It was good Democratic doctrine, it "took" with the people regardless of politics, it alarmed the Whigs, and it promised victory. And like the Whigs, the Democrats wanted victory. Holden threw himself into the fight, ably supplementing Reid's really magnificent campaigning, and the Standard was full of strong arguments for the change. It was easy to find arguments. North Carolina was the only State in the Union which had such a distinction between the voters for the two houses and, in addition, it had not any real reason for existence. On the stump Manly with his slangy humorous speeches vainly attempted to force the fighting to the war issue, and, failing in that, to some other national question. Reid made no attempt to imitate Manly's characteristic methods but in a mood of stern seriousness, remembering the mental and political habits of the people, fostered and encouraged for many years by leaders who did not want them to be too much interested in state affairs, he answered briefly and spiritedly the national arguments of his opponent and devoted the major part of his time to the issue which touched the State.
The Democrats were finding themselves. The Standard
carried the following at the head of its editorial page which is indicative of the new progressive spirit which was manifesting itself in the party:
The Independent Treasury, and no National bank.
The tariff of 1846.
The United States against Mexico--No "aid and comfort" to the enemy.
Indemnity in Territory from Mexico, and no Wilmot Proviso.
Sound, specie-paying State banks, with the individual liability clause, and honestly and impartially conducted.
A safe, prudent, and judicious system of Internal Improvements, with justice to all parts of the State.
Our Common School System, improved and amended, and the right of every boy and girl in the State to an education.
A thorough Reform in the Administration of the Government of North Carolina.
Free Suffrage--or the right of every freeman in the State, who pays his taxes, to vote for members of both branches of the General Assembly.
We have thrown our flag to the winds, with our principles clearly and boldly inscribed upon it; and we now call upon the Whig presses to come forward and inform the people of North Carolina what they are for and what they are against. Let them speak out at once, if they intend to speak at all for the August elections are near at hand.
It must not be supposed that because a state question was uppermost in the minds of everyone that national affairs played no part in the campaign. They played a large part and to the advantage of the Democrats. Just at this time the Federal Whigs were distinctly in the ascendant and while no one in the State quarreled with their Union proclivities, the Democrats and many Whigs were deeply dissatisfied with their views and conduct in relation to the slavery question. The Whig press had bitterly attacked the Wilmot Proviso, partly, it must be confessed, because it was
introduced by a Democrat. The Register, for example, had said:
The unanimity with which the members of both parties from the non-slaveholding States have supported this slavery restriction proviso convinces us that we have no right to expect justice at the hands of either. It behooves the whole South, then, to cast about, and decidedly and unflinchingly resist any and every project which must inevitably tend to advance the unholy and mischievous purposes of those who have openly and willingly violated the Missouri Compromise. . . . It is time for distinctions to sleep, and for the South to present a united front.
As the Register was the party organ this might be supposed to be an authoritative statement of party opinion. But the party did not live up to the doctrines here expressed and the Whig platform ignored the whole matter. The Democrats were not slow to say what was really the truth that this omission was due to the fact that the party was led by the anti-slavery Northern element, committed to hostility to slavery, and that the North Carolina Whigs were attempting to keep on good terms with them so as to win a party victory even at the price of surrendering somewhat of their opinions. A rift was apparent among the Whigs, foreshadowing the large secession from the party which was to take place in the early years of the following decade. Badger admitted the right of Congress to legislate for the territories concerning slavery. This was the view which North Carolinians generally had previously held. But Mangum denied emphatically the correctness of the doctrine. Badger also in order to prevent the rise of vexing questions, was opposed to the acquisition of any territory from Mexico and voted against the treaty of peace although he considered the war iniquitous. Mangum voted for it. Boyden favored the surrender of all claims against Mexico and wanted to surrender a part of Texas. Barringer in 1846 had voted that the war was brought on by the act of Mexico, but in 1848 he voted that the war was brought on unconstitutionally
and unnecessarily by President Polk. In the Summer of 1848 Mangum, Barringer, Shepperd, Clingman, and Outlaw with the three Democratic members of Congress, voted for the Clayton Compromise: Badger, Boyden, and Donnell voted against it. Clingman was waking to a knowledge and comprehension of the strength of the anti-slavery movement in the North and was beginning to attempt to secure a union of Northern and Southern Whigs on some common ground which would stop the agitation and save the party. He favored the extension of the Missouri Compromise line to the Pacific.
John M. Morehead was president of the Whig National convention. The delegation was much divided in sentiment as appears from their vote.
North Carolina Whigs, as has been said, really wanted Clay, but they wanted above everything else to win, and Taylor was accepted with sincerity and enthusiasm. His being a Southerner and a slaveholder seemed to them, too, to guarantee a cessation of the anti-slavery agitation. It is said on apparently good authority that Kenneth Rayner was offered the second place on the ticket and declined. But there is no contemporary evidence of this offer.
In the Democratic national convention the North Carolina delegation agreed informally to support James Buchanan and James J. McKay. When the balloting began they cast the first and second ten votes for Buchanan and one for Levi Woodbury, after which they voted for Cass. McKay's candidacy for the vice-presidency aroused no interest and he received only two votes from other delegations.
The state and national campaigns were pushed by both parties. Each side had naturally much condemnation for the other's candidates. The Whigs were loud in their assertions that Cass was not entirely sound in his views on slavery and
in their hearts many Democrats agreed with them that such a thing was only too possible. The Democrats were equally loud in their pronouncements as to Taylor's unfitness and of Fillmore's abolitionist views. Both sides were affected. Cass was looked upon with suspicion by Democrats and Whigs began to fear that Northern influence in the party boded ill for the South and slavery. The Southern Whigs were badly out of touch with the other wing of the party and only the reassuring facts in connection with Taylor already alluded to kept them line. They began to feel that it might be well for the individual State to look to united action at home and this combined with the popularity of Reid's program greatly weakened the party in the state election. Only the power of the strong organization prevented their defeat in the Summer elections.
Manly was elected by the slender majority of 854 in a total of 84,218. The Democrats had made a net gain of ten counties. The legislature was tied in both houses. From the standpoint of Democratic prospects at the beginning of the campaign it was really a victory, and they so regarded it. Free suffrage of course was chiefly responsible.
The presidential campaign waxed as the gubernatorial contest waned. An interesting and really highly significant fact of the campaign was the holding of free soil meetings in several places in the State and the selection of a Van Buren electoral ticket which received in the election forty-seven votes in Guilford, sixteen in Orange and thirteen in Chatham. It was the last public expression of anti-slavery sentiment in the State for some time. Public feeling was strongly favorable to slavery, and the growing minority which hated it with increasing hatred was a silent element in the population of the State.
Taylor carried the November election by 8,154 in a total vote of 81,280. North Carolina Democrats in common with many other Southern Democrats had failed to do their part, and Taylor's vote in the South is significant because of the proof it furnishes of the growing sectional feeling. A
Southerner and a slaveholder, albeit a Whig, he was more acceptable to a certain class of Southern Democrats than a man of their own party who had even won the title later so opprobrious in the North of "a Northern man with Southern principles."
The campaign of 1848, the last accompanied by complete Whig victory, saw the Democratic party alert and progressive, ready to take control of the State. It was committed to public education and largely committed to internal improvements. The Standard, the very best indicator of Democratic sentiment, took a strong favorable position at the close of the campaign for both and the last obstacle to Democratic success before the people was thus removed.
The session of the General Assembly which met in November, 1848, will always stand out in North Carolina as one of the most important in the history of the State, if indeed it may not be regarded as the one of chief importance. In its accomplishment for the State and in its debates were visible the changes which were steadily being wrought in the very fabric of the commonwealth. It is hard to associate it with those predecessors of which Swain was so justly critical; in fact there was little similarity in spirit, since in this later period the State and its people were steadily and rapidly being re-made.
As has already been noted, the legislature in both houses was evenly divided between the two parties after the election. Several vacancies occurred before the meeting, but the special elections made no change in the relative standing of the two parties. At the opening, the Democrats offered to yield the speakership of the House of Commons, if the Whigs would yield in the Senate. The Whigs contemptuously refused, arguing that since they had elected the governor the Democrats ought to concede both positions to them. In the Senate they nominated Andrew Joyner and the Democrats selected Calvin Graves. In the House Robert B. Gilliam and James C. Dobbin were respectively the Whig and Democratic nominees. Organization was deferred in both houses until the third day when the Democrats withdrew Dobbin's name, allowing the Whigs to elect Gilliam. The Whigs still refused to yield, but on the sixth day they offered to compromise and let Graves be elected if the Democrats would agree to make no changes in the clerks. This was agreed to, and of the eight lesser positions the Whigs retained five.
After organization, the election of a United States senator claimed all the attention of the members who spent most of their time caucusing and scheming. Badger was the regular
Whig candidate, but many Whigs did not like him, and his attitude on the slavery question and the war had alienated the strongly pro-slavery Whigs. Nothing was needed to alienate the Democrats who as a rule detested him. They had small hope of electing a Senator by a regular nomination so they made none and hoped for some stroke of good fortune which might enable them to defeat the will of their opponents. As to Badger, they yielded not at all.
The Whigs claimed that since the State had voted for Taylor that the Democrats had no moral or even legal right to oppose the Whig choice for senator, and, fearing the certain deadlock might be prolonged until the end of the session, they finally introduced into the Senate the following resolution which was defeated by a party vote, one member being absent:
Whereas, this is a Government in which all political power is vested in and derived from the people;
Whereas, it is the manifest duty of Representatives to carry out strictly the known wishes of their constituents in the discharge of all their elective duties;
Whereas, the free people of this State have recently, at the ballot box, declared their political preference in a voice which their representative agents ought not to slight or disregard;
Whereas, respectful deference on the part of the minority for the will of the majority, when legally and constitutionally expressed, is true republicanism;
And, whereas, all delay and management, under pretense, however fair and imposing, the object of which is to defeat the will of the people thus expressed, are contrary to the spirit and genius of the Government;
Resolved, That a message be sent to the House of Commons, proposing that the two houses, on Tuesday next, at 12 o'clock, proceed to the election of a United States Senator.
As the balloting proceeded, the Democrats began to throw a good deal of their strength to Clingman, who was most anxious for the election. He was deeply dissatisfied with Badger's views; he was growing to have the same feeling of
hopelessness about the Whig party. A committee of Democrats asked him for an expression of his political views and in December he replied that he was opposed to the establishment of a national bank, opposed to the repeal of the Walker tariff, although he favored certain modifications of it, and that he was opposed to the Wilmot Proviso as wrong in principle and, in addition, unconstitutional. This satisfied the Democrats. The deadlock continued for some time but finally Badger won enough votes to receive the necessary majority and was elected.
There was a long contest over the election of a Supreme Court judge to succeed Judge Daniel who had died during the year. The governor and council had appointed William H. Battle and had filled his place on the Superior bench by the appointment of Augustus Moore. B. F. Moore had been appointed attorney-general to succeed Edward Stanly who had resigned to become a member of the legislature, service in the hurly-burly of some sort of legislative chamber having become almost a necessity to his fiery soul. The legislature at once confirmed the appointment of the two Moores, but after a long contest Battle was defeated by Richmond M. Pearson, the Democrats supporting Strange. Battle was then voted for to succeed Pearson on the Superior bench, but John W. Ellis of Rowan, a member of the House, was chosen. The retirement of Ellis from the legislature had an important bearing upon the later action of the legislature. These two elections were brought about by an agreement between several Whigs and Democrats to end the contests by exchanging votes, the latter voting for Pearson and the former for Ellis.
The free suffrage issue of the preceding campaign found its echo in a resolution for a constitutional amendment introduced into the House by James Sheek of Surry. This, after a hard filibuster by the Whigs and the rejection of a substitute proposed by Rayner, providing for a convention, passed its second reading by a vote of 75 to 26, 28 Whigs voting for the measure and five Democrats against it. It passed its
third reading by a vote of 75 to 21. The Whigs thus apparently gave up the fight, and Democratic success in 1850 was practically assured. The resolution went to the Senate and was discussed at length there. It received a majority, 25 to 19, but did not get the three-fifths vote necessary for a constitutional amendment on its passage through its first legislature.
Very early in the session, Walter L. Steele of Richmond, a Whig, introduced a series of resolutions on the subject of slavery, which declared the territories the common property of the States, denied to Congress any power to prohibit any citizen from carrying into them his property in slaves, a property guaranteed by the Constitution, and asserted that the only conditions which the Constitution imposed upon a State for admission into the Union was that its own Constitution should be republican in form. They denied the principle of the Missouri Compromise, but offered to accept its extension as a compromise. The resolutions expressed devotion to the Union. Many of the Whigs were opposed to these, regarding them as a thrust at Badger, the Register saying that they were "tomfoolery" and the work of "political mountebanks," but almost as many considered them as entirely proper, eminently timely, if indeed not rendered absolutely necessary by the national situation. After many Whig amendments, designed to weaken or discredit the resolutions, had been voted down by a combination of both parties the resolutions were referred to a committee of which James C. Dobbin was chairman and a substitute was reported by it which differed very little from the original. These passed their second and third readings practically without opposition. In the Senate they were introduced by William B. Shepard, the best representative of the strongly pro-Southern, pro-slavery Whigs of the East who were not at all behind the Democrats in their suspicion and dislike of the North and in their insistence upon proper guarantees of Southern rights. The resolutions were scarcely opposed at all in the Senate. But while there was little open opposition
it was only because no Whig wanted thus to go on record. They sought in many ways to discredit the resolutions and spread the report that if they were passed Badger would resign. It is needless to say that their adoption led to no such result.
These purely political questions having been settled, let us now look at the constructive work by which this legislature is best known. A significant fact was the governor's devoting his entire message to state affairs. He again recommended improvements in the system of assessment and taxation, showing conclusively that both were bad. His argument for internal improvements was a powerful one. In it he said:
In surveying our Territory, with an eye to the present interests and wants of the people, I am more than ever impressed with our destitution of facilities for cheap and speedy transportation. In this regard, however unpleasant may be the admission, I am forced to the conviction, that we labor under greater disadvantages than any State in the Union. And we never can be equal competitors with their citizens in our agriculture, the predominant pursuit among us, until these disadvantages are in a great degree overcome. The man who is obliged to transport in wagons over no better roads than ours, a distance varying from 60 to 250 miles, at the speed of 25 miles per day, can no more contend for profits with him who has the advantage of railroads or good navigation, than can be spinning wheel with the cotton mill. Had we ever been in a more favorable situation in this respect, and had the impediments which now beset us been imposed by human powers, no sacrifice would be esteemed too great to effect our deliverance and restore our prosperity.
His general argument contained a recommendation for a road from Raleigh to Charlotte by way of Salisbury, the benefits of which he stated as follows:
It is commended to us as a great North Carolina improvement, appealing to our interest and State pride, by arguments which it were almost criminal to overlook. First, it
would open to the market of the world an extensive region of the State, reaching from the Capitol almost to the Blue Ridge, of great fertility and capacity for indefinite improvement, by reason of its agricultural, mineral, and manufacturing resources; containing in the counties within 25 miles of the most direct route, more than 230,000 souls; and within 50 miles, more than one-half of our whole population, who are far removed from places of trade, and dependent entirely on the common wagon and common road for all their transportation. The occasion will not permit me to dwell on its numberless benefits in this regard, which will readily occur to any one who looks on the map of the State, with the eye of a statesman and patriot. Second, it would add incalculably to the business and value of one at least, (and ultimately of both) of our present railroads in which the State has so deep an interest, and make them productive stocks. Third, it would unite the middle and eastern with the western section of the State, in a domestic trade and exchange of productions too cumbersome for the present mode of conveyance beside facilitating travel for health and social intercourse. Fourth, by running over the most practicable routes from Raleigh to Salisbury, and thence turning southwestward to Charlotte, it would bisect the State for more than a hundred miles, bringing the most remote on either side within 50 miles of the railroad, and would be in a favorable location for being extended still further west, from the former places, and to connect advantageously by means of turnpike roads with the northwestern part of our territory.
He also thought that later branches might be built to Goldsboro and Fayetteville and that the road might buy the Raleigh and Gaston road. Concerning the crying shame of the State's lack of care for the insane he urged reform. Miss Dix was at this time in the State and had lately been travelling over it. Of her he said:
A distinguished person of the gentler sex, who has devoted much of her life to the pious duty of pleading the cause of the lunatic, before States and communities, has recently traversed a considerable part of this State in search of information respecting these unfortunates among us, and will probably
ask leave to present their case to you at an early date. I cannot too earnestly commend the cause itself, or the disinterested benevolence of its advocate.
Before taking up the railroad legislation it is well to mention that the first bill passed by the legislature was the one creating the State Hospital for the Insane. Miss Dix, accompanied by Governor Swain, was heard by the legislature, a fact rather remarkable in North Carolina of that day, but the bill failed to pass its second reading. It was later reconsidered upon motion of James C. Dobbin, fresh from the death-bed of his wife and fulfilling her dying request, who made the great speech of the session and won the day, the bill passing by a vote of 101 to 10. Provision was made for the erection of a first rate building and a special tax was levied on land and poll for the space of four years to pay for it.
With the passage of this bill the friends of progress drew a breath of relief. There was reason; its passage was really epochal in the State's history. It had no real connection with the railroad measures, but it had a very important effect upon them. Up to this time the proposition for a central railroad had gained little ground, the chief reason being that the Charlotte and South Carolina Railroad had offered to run their line from Charlotte to Danville with only a "naked" charter without state aid of any sort. Quite naturally the members of the legislature from Mecklenburg to Rockingham were all in favor of the project which was in the immediate charge of John W. Ellis, who introduced the bill. The chief opposition came from Edward Stanly, who occupied a very strong position in the entire discussion, since his section was not directly affected by any of the measures proposed, but who strongly favored any system which would build up North Carolina. He announced his intention of fighting the "Danville Connection" which he called the "Danville Sale." "But," said he, "the friends of this South Carolina and Virginia bondage were not to blame so long as the North Carolina Assembly failed to give her people a real
North Carolina system. This failing, I, too, go for Danville."
A bill embodying Governor Graham's plan had been introduced but had apparently no possible chance of passing. As soon as the hospital bill was passed the calendar was crowded with bills for canals, plank roads, turnpikes, short line railroads, law reforms, rights of married women, and every conceivable thing, but no one dared to champion a complete central system until W. S. Ashe undertook to formulate a bill. Ignoring their Raleigh and Gaston project and paying as little attention to Beaufort Harbor and Ducktown copper, the bill provided for the subscription by the State for $2,000,000 of the total $3,000,000 stock in the North Carolina Railroad to run from Goldsboro to Charlotte. The bill was introduced but it made no progress until the friends of the Danville Connection renewed the fight. But Ellis had been elected a judge and his leadership was missed. Finally Stanly, who had been taunting the advocates of the bill, said that they had sold out to Virginia and South Carolina, referring to Richmond as only a "Great Slave Mart," and to Charleston as "surviving solely on pretensions." Rufus Barringer then offered to throw the strength of the Danville Connection to any bill which provided for a general North Carolina system. The offer was accepted, the Danville Connection bill was tabled and the bill embodying Graham's suggestions and which had a favorable place on the calendar, was amended by substituting after the enacting clause the Ashe bill. It was rejected by a vote of 49 to 56, but reconsidered, and, on January 18, 1849, passed by a vote of 60 to 52. Barringer tells the rest of the story better than anyone of this generation could. Said he:
The chances in the Senate were all in doubt. That body was Democratic; and up to this time, no special effort had been made to draw the old ship from its Jeffersonian moorings. And such men as Henry W. Conner, John H. Drake, A. B. Hawkins, John Berry, George Bower, W. D. Bethel, George W. Thompson, and John Walker were hard to lead
and could not be driven. And above them all sat Speaker Calvin Graves, a recognized force from a county just under the nose of Danville, and devoted to Richmond. The speaker was tall, angular, and singularly ugly in feature; but his character was high; he was strictly impartial, and with all courtesy in bearing. From first to last no one could divine a leaning either way. But now a mighty effort was made to teach these born men of the plow and of the people a new tenet of republican faith, an awakening to what the State owed the public. Judge Romulus M. Saunders and W. W. Holden both stepped forward and made strong appeals for the new departure. But all to no purpose. And then some of the Whigs, left out by the Ashe bill, stood aloof. From these and other causes, it was seen from day to day, in all the preliminary skirmishes, as also in the final struggle, the result would be very close, and that all might hang on the "Baptist Enigma," Calvin Graves.
By consent, the first and second readings were chiefly formal, to get the measure in shape, and to secure all sides and parties a just showing. This was after the old style, quiet North Carolina way, when, as a hundred years before, Dissenters and Churchmen were alike honoring King, Queen and Royal Governor by naming towns, counties and mountain peaks after them, but at the same time, solemnly resolved to hurl them instantly from power "if they did not do exactly the fair thing." So here, every courtesy was shown opposing parties and interests until January 25, when the bill came regularly up, after full debate, and was put on its third and final reading. The Senate chamber was packed with visitors and strangers from all quarters to see the fate of the momentous struggle, now so full of weal or woe to the dear "Old North State," and which might settle here once for all the mighty effort to awake North Carolina from the long sleep of her death-like "Rip-Van-Winkleism."
Speaker Graves calmly announced: "The bill to charter the North Carolina Railroad Company and for other purposes is now upon its third reading. Is the Senate ready for the question?" Feeble responses said, "Question." The roll call began; and as feared nearly every Democrat voted "No." The tally was kept by hundreds, and when the clerk
announced 22 yeas and 22 nays, there was an awful silence. The slender form of Speaker Graves stood up, and leaning slightly forward, with gavel in hand, he said: "The vote on the bill being equal, 22 yeas and 22 nays, the chair votes 'Yea.' The bill has passed its third and last reading."
The railroad and hospital bills were not the only progressive measures passed. The deaf and dumb institution was reorganized, the Fayetteville and Western Plank Road Company chartered to build a road from Fayetteville to Salisbury, the State taking three-fifths of the stock; the Raleigh and Gaston re-incorporated with a provision in the charter that when half a million dollars should have been spent on the road by the stockholders it should be released from all liability to the State, and state aid was given for an extension to Weldon; bonds of the Wilmington and Raleigh to the amount of a quarter of a million dollars were endorsed; and provision was made for the improvement of the Cape Fear and Deep Rivers above Fayetteville, the State taking stock to the amount of $40,000. Other legislation worthy of note were acts protecting the property rights of married women, revising the revenue system, laying off the counties of Alamance, Watauga and Forsyth, and one repealing the act creating the county of Polk. The growing activity of the abolitionists resulted in the passage of an act making the stealing of a slave or the enticement of one to leave the master a capital offense. The governor was instructed to issue an annual Thanksgiving proclamation. This act met with much condemnation from many of the Baptists of the State, who declared it the beginning of a union of Church and State.
Surely nothing need be said to prove that the State had entered upon a new era. Much of the credit for the awakening must be given to Reid and his free suffrage issue. A state issue had been needed for years, and now when it came, it had the same effect that the reform issue of the thirties had. The State was shaken from Murphy to Manteo, and "Rip Van Winkle" was at last awake.
The year 1849 in North Carolina, as elsewhere in the United States, was one of shifting political opinion, angry discussion, and doubtful and uneasy watching. Slavery was suddenly the theme of every agitator, North and South, and to many thoughtful patriots it seemed as if the sad day was really approaching when the Union would be severed. The congressional elections were heatedly contested, but the Whigs retained their majority of the delegation. Clingman won in the first without Democratic opposition; in fact he was so rapidly coming to the Democratic position that the Whigs were his most likely opponents. Joseph P. Caldwell was elected in the second over Mr. Hill, a Democrat, who ran without party nomination. There was a sharp contest in the third where Green W. Caldwell, the Democratic candidate, faced Alfred Dockery, Alexander Little, and S. P. Ingram. His chances seemed excellent when Edmund Deberry came out and was triumphantly re-elected. In the fourth A. H. Shepperd was again returned, defeating Doctor Keen. In the eighth James W. Bryan was nominated by the Whigs, but soon withdrew; and Edward Stanly took his place and defeated W. K. Lane. In the ninth David Outlaw defeated Thomas J. Person. The three Democratic districts all had contests. Henry K. Nash tried conclusions with A. W. Venable and was defeated. W. J. Clarke, a Democrat, unsuccessfully opposed J. R. J. Daniel in the sixth, and McKay, declining to run again after fourteen years' consecutive service, was succeeded by W. S. Ashe who defeated David Reid, another New Hanover Democrat.
When Congress met, the attention of the whole State was riveted on Washington. But while Congress was discussing Clay's proposed compromise there was considerable interest in political quarters in the various Southern proposals that were made to force just action. In the press the line was
fairly clear, the Democratic papers, headed by the Standard, taking the position that there should be official action by the Southern States in unison to oppose anything less than the full demands of the section, while the Whig press, led by the Register, opposed such action and favored compromise in Congress. Individual Whigs in large numbers took the full Southern position and accepted Democratic leadership. The proposed Nashville Convention aroused the ire of the Federal Whigs, but the Democrats almost unanimously endorsed it. The Democratic papers urged Governor Manly to call a special session of the legislature to approve the plan and elect delegates, or, in default of that, to call the council together to take official action or to issue a proclamation on the subject. He would not consider the suggestions and the State was not officially represented in the convention. Almost all the Whig papers denounced it as a disunion gathering, the Star alone insisting that it had a most worthy purpose, and thus bringing down upon itself the denunciation of the Register and the Federal Whigs. Stanly and John Kerr were fiercely denouncing it in public addresses, while in the southeastern part of the State so-called Southern Rights conventions were being held at which fiery resolutions were adopted with great enthusiasm. The Whig attitude was caused by a genuine fear of anything which might endanger the Union. "Certainly not," wrote Badger to Crittenden, "for the privilege of carrying slaves to California, or of keeping up private gaols by slave dealers in this district [District of Columbia]". And Badger was never more right. He and Mangum exerted an important influence upon the passage of the Compromise by keeping Webster in the notion of his famous Seventh of March Speech which he delivered only because of their urging and after he had changed his mind several times. They also kept him in line in the later voting. Mangum was not on particularly good terms with the administration and took a much more pronounced Southern position than did Badger. But the latter's speech in March on the slavery question satisfied even the Standard which was ever critical of his opinions and actions.
The votes of the North Carolina delegation in Congress on the compromise measure were somewhat indicative of the lines of division of opinion. No vote was recorded in the Senate on the Utah or Fugitive Slave bills. Neither Mangum nor Badger voted on the California Bill. Both voted against the abolition of the slave trade in the District of Columbia and both voted for the New Mexico Bill. On the Texas Bill Mangum was paired with no indication of his preference and Badger voted affirmatively. In the House, Ashe, Caldwell, Deberry, Outlaw, Shepperd, and Stanly voted for the Utah Bill and none opposed it. Caldwell and Stanly voted for the admission of California and Ashe, Clingman, Daniel, Deberry, Outlaw, Shepperd, and Venable voted against it. Caldwell, Deberry, Outlaw, Shepperd, and Stanly voted for the New Mexico Bill and Ashe, Clingman, Daniel and Venable, against it. Every member of the delegation voted for the Fugitive Slave Law. Ashe, Deberry, Caldwell, Clingman, Outlaw, and Venable voted against the abolition of the slave trade in the District and none of the delegation voted for it.
The address to the Southern people issued by the Southern members of Congress was signed by Mangum, Clingman, Venable, and Ashe. Clingman had now completely lost the support of the Register and all the Federal Whigs, but Democratic sentiment had changed in the same ratio as that of their opponents and the Standard and other Democratic papers were already expressing full approval of his views of slavery and the tariff. His relations with his fellow Whigs in Congress were strained, and he and Stanly, after a long period of ill-feeling, finally in March came to blows in the House. Stanly and Inge of Alabama, fought a duel in February.
Secession sentiment was strong in certain parts of the South and the question began to be discussed in the North Carolina papers. The Standard rather featured these discussions, taking strong ground on the subject in defense of the abstract right, and urging the possible necessity. This
view was combatted by the Whig press, and in August Badger attacked the theory in the Senate in one of his strongest speeches. The North Carolina Democrats in the main disliked the compromise, and their feeling on the subject directed their thoughts to the secession question though there was little or no inclination on the part of any responsible person in the State to resort at the time to any such remedy.
In July, William A. Graham was appointed secretary of the navy by President Fillmore. This position and that of minister to Spain were all that the North Carolina Whigs received from the administration, except inside the State. Barringer and Stanly were aspirants for the Spanish post and the former received it. It was hinted at the time that Mangum was also casting his eye in the same direction, but there is no evidence that this was the case and it was probably untrue. In the State there was a clean sweep of the Democrats from federal office. The Whigs had claimed in the campaign that there would be no recourse to the spoils system, and that the office holders would remain undisturbed unless there was more against them than their politics; but no such thing was possible at that time any more than it is to-day.
The state campaign had been eagerly looked forward to by the Democrats since the election of 1848. In 1849 Holden wrote to Reid asking him to be a candidate again. Reid consented on the condition that he should not be required to approve the Nashville Convention and the chartering of the North Carolina Railroad. Holden told him that he need not commit himself on either question, and that they were both outside and above party. In 1850 a Democratic caucus was held in Raleigh at which Reid was nominated. John S. Eaton presided. Asa Biggs offered a resolution to amend the constitution so as to forbid any appropriation for internal improvements unless it was approved by the people at the polls. Intense excitement followed with threats from the friends of internal improvements of breaking up the party, and Biggs withdrew his motion. After this there was scattered
Democratic opposition to internal improvements but never again was there party opposition.
Reid's name recurred in the resolutions adopted by county meetings, but others were mentioned, notably James C. Dobbin in the East. W. F. Leak was again a candidate and was now willing to canvass the State. There was really quite a good deal of opposition to Reid and in May he wrote a public letter declining to run again because the party was not united on him. In the letter he urged free suffrage as the issue on which the party would win. No Whig candidate other than Manly was mentioned, but there was much quiet opposition to him in the party. It was nevertheless clear that he would be the nominee.
The Whig convention met on June 10. James T. Morehead presided. The convention was addressed by John Kerr, then making quite a reputation in the party as an orator because of his fiery denunciation of the Democrats in general and Reid in particular, Henry W. Miller, W. H. Rhodes, and, after his nomination, by Manly, who paid high tribute to the so-called "Raleigh Clique" of Whigs, saying among other things that "if the locofoco city of Sodom had had such a group it would have been saved." This expression excited so much anger among the Democrats that in the printed speech it was changed. The platform endorsed the principles of the party, expressed devotion for the Union, and demanded an adjustment of the slavery question. It also expressed full approval of the compromise measures and gave Taylor a hearty endorsement. On the question of free suffrage it "straddled" as it did on a new Democratic doctrine which some of the Whigs were trying to seize, namely, the election of judges by the people for a term of years. On these two questions, the platform said the sense of the people should be taken since they had a right to alter the fundamental law if they wished. Manly had already announced his continued opposition to the change of system. By this plank of their platform the Whigs deprived themselves of any possibility of united action. Their adoption of it was
entirely characteristic of the party which found it difficult if not impossible to take a position and be ready to fail rather than abandon it.
The Democratic convention assembled on June 13. Thirty-eight counties had delegates present. Asa Biggs was temporary chairman and Robert Strange president. Speeches were made by R. M. Saunders, W. J. Clarke, Duncan K. McRae, and James G. Shepherd. Reid was unanimously nominated. The platform condemned Taylor's administration, expressed devotion to the Union, the existence of which it declared threatened by the situation in national affairs. Declining to concede the right of Congress to legislate on slavery in the territories, it expressed the willingness of the party to abide by the terms and spirit of the Missouri Compromise. It closed with a strong declaration for free suffrage and the popular election of judges for a term of years. This last change had first been urged in the State by Holden in the Standard and had met with considerable favor with both parties. Reid accepted the nomination and immediately issued an address to the people of the State in which he discussed the issues in a bold, straightforward way. He and Manly opened the campaign at Wentworth on June 29 and continued it actively until just before the election.
A considerable number of Whig papers declined to support Manly because of his opposition to free suffrage, some of them going so far as to raise Reid's name as their candidate. The tide was so clearly and so strongly setting in favor of the amendment that Manly, seeing that his continued opposition would certainly defeat him, wavered. Canvassing the West he practically yielded the point and attempted to restore the failing fortunes of his party by bringing forward as a necessary accompaniment of free suffrage the change of the basis of representation from federal to free white. This was exceedingly popular with the western Whigs, but in the East it produced a storm. It also aroused the fears of the strong pro-slavery advocates who saw, or pretended to see, in it a great menace to the South. They declared that the passage
of such an amendment by a Southern State would not only encourage the anti-slavery forces but would actually seal the doom of the South. Reid on the stump made it clear that the two propositions had no connection.
Every possible charge was brought against Reid, most of them false and known to be so. An amusing incident was the attempt of Manly who was a staunch Episcopalian, to arouse the hostility of the Baptists against Reid, who was himself a devoted Baptist, because in the legislature he had voted against the State's making a loan to Wake Forest College. Manly also accused him repeatedly of having voted for the Wilmot Proviso although Reid was not a member of Congress when it was brought up. When forced to the wall he would answer that Reid had voted for the Oregon Bill which was the same thing, and at the next opportunity he would make his original statement. This was also a favorite ground of attack by the Register.
The presence and activity of two Wesleyan Methodist abolitionist ministers in Guilford County during the campaign aroused the anger of the pro-slavery element, and the failure of the grand jury of Guilford to find a true bill against them served to increase the feeling.
Manly never had a chance during the whole campaign and the election was only a confirmation of the expectation of every one. Reid's majority in a vote of 88,019 was 3,345. In the legislature the Democrats had a majority of four in the Senate and ten in the House of Commons. In state affairs the day of the Whig party was done. How gracefully the result was received by an element in the party, by no means small, can be seen from the following editorial of the Register. It serves also to explain in part why the party had fallen upon evil days:
There can be but little, or no doubt, therefore, that David S. Reid is elected governor of North Carolina. How does that sound to Whig ears--to the ears of those Whigs who have fixed upon our good old State for the first time since the amendment of the Constitution, the burning reproach
of having a locofoco Governor, and the indelible disgrace of having chosen such a Chief Executive officer.
Some Whig papers, notably the Greensboro Patriot, however, were more generous, as well as more sensible, and showed a better feeling.
The legislature organized by the election of Weldon N. Edwards as speaker of the Senate over Andrew Joyner and James C. Dobbin as speaker of the House over Kenneth Rayner. An unusual thing about the membership was the presence of seven ex-congressmen, R. M. Saunders, Kenneth Rayner, William H. Washington, William B. Shepard, W. N. Edwards, Green W. Caldwell, and J. C. Dobbin. The Democrats were determined to have a party organization of both houses and so followed the example set by the Whigs in 1846 and gave their opponents only a doorkeeper. When the election of state officers came they were more liberal and re-elected Mr. Hill secretary of state. But C. L. Hinton was replaced as treasurer by D. W. Courts, and W. F. Collins as comptroller by W. J. Clarke. The desire of many Democrats for a districting of the State for members of Congress was not gratified since the party leaders deemed it unwise, in view of the important matters before the legislature, such as the free suffrage amendment, for which `Whig votes were necessary to stir up any more party feeling than was necessary. In addition, a new apportionment was almost due under the census of 1850, and they thought it best to wait.
The legislature spent a large part of its time in discussing the slavery question, and mingled with this came inevitably renewed discussion of secession. Evidence of the new feeling present in the State was the appointment of a new joint committee on federal relations.
Early in the session, William B. Shepard introduced a series of resolutions in which after declaring the Constitution of the United States a compromise of conflicting interests and that whenever its provisions were so perverted or enlarged as to cause it to fail to secure its objects to even the weakest member, it ceased to be the Constitution to become
the creature of a dominant majority, alien in interest to the oppressed, there occurred the following statement:
Resolved, That although we love the Union of the States and view its destruction as a great calamity, we nevertheless regard the right to secede from it as a right of self-defense and protection, which the people of North Carolina have never surrendered, and never can surrender with due regard to their own safety and welfare, and that whenever a majority of the people of North Carolina shall solemnly resolve that they cannot safely remain in the Union, it is not only their right, but it is their duty to secede, and to punish such of her citizens as refuse submission to her will as rebels and traitors.
Resolved, That whilst we claim the right of secession as a right reserved to the people, and not surrendered by the Constitution, we believe it to be an extreme remedy, and one which should not be resorted to unless all means to preserve the Union and to protect the property and insure the welfare of the people, have manifestly failed.
Resolved, That the fugitive slave bill lately passed by Congress is in conformity with the provisions of the Constitution, and that its repeal or any alteration tending to impede an owner of a slave from retaking his property, will be regarded as undoubted and sufficient evidence that a majority of Congress was unrestrained by the express provisions of the Constitution, and that the time has arrived when it becomes the duty of the people of North Carolina to decide whether they will submit to an unlimited Government, or will resist its encroachments boldly and effectually.
They further declared that it was the duty of the United States to protect property in slaves and denied its right to prevent slavery in the territories, and declaring that the admission of California was an injustice to the South, they invited the other slave States to make common cause with North Carolina in demanding adequate protection. These were debated with great heat for a large part of the session and called forth a number of very able speeches, the two most notable being those of Shepard himself in the Senate and Dobbin in the House. Of the two the former's was the
most logical and the latter's was the most eloquent. "He took the ground boldly that the States are sovereign; that they have a right to judge of infractions of the Constitution, and of the mode and measure of redress--in a word that a State in the last resort has a right to secede from the Union and take care of her own interest and honor." He declared the right of secession not a "constitutional" right, but a "reserved" one, but one that never ought to be exercised except in the last resort. "Much should be borne for the sake of the Union, for the day of its dissolution will be the darkest day for human liberty the world has ever seen." The resolutions were finally defeated in the Senate by a vote of 31 to 16, 14 Democrats and two Whigs voting for and 10 Democrats and 21 Whigs against them. In the House the same resolutions were discussed in the committee of the whole but never came to a vote.
Governor Manly's message was a long and able document. It contained an earnest plea for the Union and a long and elaborate discussion of the question of constitutional amendment which showed plainly that the Governor was still opposed to change.
Both houses passed strong anti-protective tariff resolutions by large majorities, Whigs joining with Democrats in the condemnation of what they rightly termed sectional legislation.
Another proposition exciting considerable attention was one to repeal the charter of the North Carolina Railroad. This was debated for some time and then postponed indefinitely by a vote of 80 to 36.
Naturally the greatest interest of the members was in the question of amendment. The committee rejected popular election of judges and several other amendments, including one to forbid appropriations by the legislature for internal improvements unless they were approved by the people, but reported favorably one for free suffrage. The popular election of judges came up again before the houses but was rejected by both.
The resolution for free suffrage passed the House by a vote of 75 to 36 and when it reached the Senate was rejected, the required majority failing, three-fifths being required for the first legislature and two-thirds for the second. The Whigs in the main were opposed and the Register exultantly proclaimed after its failure: "Free suffrage lies among the slain." Most of the party, being politic and knowing the sentiment of the mass of the people, were not so open in their rejoicing. Another bill at once passed the House, 89 to 24, and this probably had some effect for the Senate reconsidered and passed the original 33 to 17. Throughout the debates the Whigs sought in every way to obscure the issue and finally centered their opposition on the method and advocated a free and open convention elected on the same basis as the House of Commons. A bill to take the sense of the opinion on this proposition, introduced by a Democrat, passed the House 67 to 40 and was defeated in the Senate. This greatly alarmed the eastern Whigs who feared an attempt to adopt the white basis of representation. After the adjournment of the legislature, thirty-six Whig members joined in an address to the people on the subject of constitutional reform, urging a convention as the proper method. This thus committed a part of the party to opposition to the pending amendment, and made the convention an issue for the next campaign.
In spite of the time consumed by the discussions referred to, the session was not unproductive. One hundred and ninety-two public laws and twenty-nine public resolutions were passed besides a mass of private legislation. Among the more important laws were those creating a geological and agricultural survey, chartering many railroads, turnpikes, and navigation companies, and laying off the counties of Jackson, Madison and Yadkin.
The following resolution which was adopted by large majority is interesting for the light it throws upon the temper of the members:
Whereas a message has recently been transmitted to the Senate by his Excellency David S. Reid, inclosing "resolutions for the promotion of peace" forwarded by the Governor of Vermont, as having passed the Legislature of that State; and whereas the Legislature of the said State has recently passed an act for the nullification of an act of Congress, passed at its last session, on which the peace and harmony of this Union mainly depend; Therefore,
Be it resolved, That the Governor of this State be requested to send back to the Governor of Vermont the aforesaid "resolutions for the promotion of peace" with the declaration that North Carolina knows too well what is due to herself to receive from a sister State resolutions of that character, when the State so adopting and transmitting them, has been the first in the Confederacy to assume to herself the right of violating the Constitution of the United States, and bringing into jeopardy the peace and safety of the Union.
The congressional campaign of 1851 in most of the States was largely devoted to the discussion of the Compromise of 1850. In North Carolina this was the case in several of the districts, but in three the question of secession was made the issue by the Whig candidates, two of whom were successful. Mangum, Shepperd, Deberry, Outlaw, and Caldwell signed the pledge to support no man for office who did not favor the compromise. By this time the Democrats had grudgingly accepted it so there could not be much of an issue made of it.
In the first district Clingman ran as a Southern Rights Whig and defeated Burgess S. Gaither who accused Clingman of secession tendencies and spent much of his time denouncing South Carolina for its attitude and declaring that if elected he would vote for the use of force to check secession there. In the second, J. P. Caldwell was elected without opposition. In the third, secession was the subject of the whole campaign. Green W. Caldwell was nominated by the Democrats and Alfred Dockery opposed him, breathing fire and brimstone against South Carolina, and was triumphantly
elected. James T. Morehead was elected without opposition in the fourth. A. W. Venable was elected in the fifth over Calvin Graves who was supported by the Whigs as a "Union" Democrat. J. R. J. Daniel was chosen in the sixth over Henry W. Miller. W. S. Ashe had no opposition in the seventh. Edward Stanly made secession the issue in the eighth and defeated Thomas Ruffin of Wayne. In the ninth David Outlaw was re-elected, defeating W. F. Martin, a Democrat. The Northern papers followed the campaigns of Gaither, Dockery, and Stanly with much interest, particularly that of Stanly, whose election was hailed in the North as a great Union victory. When Congress met he received twenty-one votes for speaker, all from the North, except that cast by Dockery, and most of them from New England. They were of course due to his widely heralded opposition to slavery and secession.
Such campaigns were naturally not unnoticed in the State. The Whig press made every Democratic candidate a disunionist in addition to being a demagogue. The Democratic press saw in every Whig candidate a submissionist who cared nothing for the interest or honor of his State and section. The Register and Fayetteville Observer more than ever were slanderous in their comment. The Whig papers carefully avoided being forced to give their real opinions as to secession as a principle, but no such caution animated the Democratic papers, particularly the Standard which was the chief defender of the right of secession, though it did not advocate invoking it now. Its belief is best expressed in the following contemporary editorial:
We have heard the idea recently expressed that a State has no right to secede from the Union--that there is no help from oppression except by revolution; in other words, that the States are the creatures and dependents of the Federal Government and, of course, subject to its physical coercion. Such an assumption, we humbly submit, is unsupported by any testimony derived from the Constitution itself or any
single circumstance attending its foundation or adoption. It is, moreover, at war with all regular ideas of free republican Government and the undoubted independence of the States, as that independence has been displayed in their separate organizations since 1787. We hold that as no State could originally have been forced into the Union, none can be forced in or rather prevented from going out.
The campaign of 1852 loomed large in advance to both parties. The Democrats ardently desired to hold their advantage and to prove to the Whigs and to themselves that it was not merely accidental and temporary; the Whigs with equal longing hoped to regain their lost position and prestige, to have again in possession the government of the State for which they had come to feel that they had a title in fee simple, and the snatching away of which by the Democrats they had not ceased to regard not only as high handed presumption, but actual robbery without shadow of legality. Then, too, the next legislature was a particularly important one, since upon it would fall the responsibility of redistricting the State for the two houses for the next twenty years, and for Congress for the next decade. A United States senator was to be elected to succeed Mangum, and the free suffrage amendment was to be passed on for final submission to the people. Naturally both sides were determined to use all their energy and thought to win.
The Whig convention met late in April and its character was not such as to raise the hopes of the party, since but few of the well known leaders of the party were present and since there was a marked lack of the unity and confidence charactertistic of the victorious past. John Winslow was temporary chairman and F. B. Satterthwaite was president. Thirty-eight counties were represented. Speeches were made by Dr. F. J. Hill, H. W. Miller, H. K. Nash, Joseph Banks, R. E. Troy, R. I. Wynne, J. G. McDugald, and John Winslow. A. H. Sheppard, F. J. Hill, H. K. Nash, and H. W. Miller were elected delegates to the national convention. The platform endorsed Fillmore and Graham for the nominations, but declared willingness to support any nominee who favored complete acceptance and support of the compromise. It opposed intervention, condemed the legislation of Congress
in regard to public lands, and declared the purpose of the party to resist all efforts to alienate the sections and thus weaken the Union. On constitutional reform the party still "straddled," declaring that if constitutional changes were to be made that they favored an open convention, chosen on the basis of the Commons, if the people wanted it. This was merely an attempt to stave off free suffrage, or equal suffrage, as it was now generally called, without taking an open and definite stand against it. They were well aware that there was small likelihood of a convention's being called in North Carolina, and it was one of the last things that the party as a whole desired, but the very hopelessness of securing one, made the demand an eminently safe one and the very best block to the passage of the suffrage amendment, and at the same time they could boast of a democratic spirit in making the demand.
There had been comparatively little discussion of a candiate for governor, and there was really a wide division of opinion as to the sort of candidate that should be chosen. The Greensboro Patriot had demanded that the convention should take a definite stand on the suffrage question and that it should nominate a man of decided and well-known views on the question. On the other hand, the Register said the convention should select the party candidate without reference to his views on state reform or state questions generally. It was fairly safe to predict that the latter view would prevail. Shortly before the convention Alfred Dockery made a public announcement that he could not accept the nomination if it should be offered to him. It was clear, really, by this time, that John Kerr would be the choice of the convention. He was well known in the party, had a considerable reputation as a stump speaker, and was well thought of by the group of Raleigh leaders, the "Raleigh Clique," which controlled the party. He was nominated unanimously. Kerr was born in Pittsylvania County, Virginia, in 1811, and was educated in Virginia. He studied law under Judge Pearson and settled in Caswell County where he had many relatives and
where he developed quite an extensive practice. He was also a farmer. Up to this time he had never held any elective office. He was a stormy and fiery debater of good though not unusual ability.
The Democratic convention met on May 13. John S. Eaton was temporary chairman and Duncan K. McRae president. Forty-two counties were represented, the largest number any Democratic convention had thus far had. There was much enthusiasm and decided unity. Speeches were made by R. P. Dick, R. M. Saunders, Abram Rencher, and J. C. Dobbin. Reid was unanimously renominated, no other name having been mentioned. He appeared and addressed the convention, thereby exciting the ire of the Whigs who, forgetting that Morehead, Graham, and Manly had done the same thing, insisted that it was improper conduct on the part of the governor.
The platform declared for a strict construction of the Constitution of the United States, for the independent treasury, for a tariff for revenue only, for economy in the federal administration, and asserted devotion to the Union and desire for its preservation by a strict and faithful observance of the Constitution and impartial justice to all its parts. It affirmed willingness to abide by the Compromise and insisted upon the Fugitive Slave Law, refusing support to any man who was not pledged to it. It renewed the party opposition to distribution which was again being much discussed in North Carolina by the Whigs as well as by a number of Democrats. Robert Strange was declared the choice of the party for Vice President. Reid's administration was heartily endorsed and devotion to the cause of free suffrage was affirmed, strong opposition being declared at the same time to a change to the white basis for representation. J. C. Dobbin, R. M. Saunders, W. N. Edwards, and G. W. Caldwell were chosen as delegates to the national convention.
Interest in the State in national politics was exceedingly keen. The Democrats were fairly well united on James Buchanan, but the Whigs were divided, or at least the leaders
were. Whig sentiment was overwhelmingly favorable to Fillmore, and the Register had raised his name with that of Graham early in the fall of 1851. But Badger was thought to be for Scott--though this was a mistake--and Mangum and Stanly were openly so, both on the ground of availability. Even the Register, seeing the trend of sentiment, began in March to hint that Scott would not be unacceptable. Mangum was chairman of the Whig caucus in Washington which was broken up by division because it declined to pledge party support to the full terms of the Compromise. Clingman and Outlaw were among the seceders and signed the address drawn up by those who left. Morehead, Dockery and Stanly stayed in the caucus in the hope of a compromise which they declared absolutely necessary. Scott's silence on the Fugitive Slave Law hurt him in the State, as did the suspicion, loudly voiced by the Democrats that he was Seward's candidate. And so many of the Whigs grew very bitter towards Mangum because of his identification with Scott's candidacy. This feeling was so strong that Mangum refused to take the nomination for Vice President which was offered him after Scott was chosen. The North Carolina delegation in the national convention voted for Fillmore until the end. On the twelfth ballot the clerk by mistake announced that the vote of North Carolina was cast for Scott. A stampede was about to begin when he corrected the error, but this was not enough for the North Carolina delegates and their chairman at once arose and said in a loud voice, "North Carolina casts ten votes for Fillmore and none for Scott." Crittenden and Dawson in addition to Mangum declined the nomination for Vice President and William A. Graham received it almost unanimously.
When the Democratic convention met in Baltimore, R. M. Saunders was temporary chairman. Dobbin, the chairman of the delegation, took a very prominent part on the floor. The delegation voted for sixteen ballots for Buchanan solidly. On the seventeenth Douglas got one vote from North Carolina which had increased to four by the thirty-fourth.
From the thirty-fifth to the forty-eighth they voted solidly for William L. Marcy of New York. When on the forty-ninth ballot North Carolina was called, Dobbin rose and said:
Mr. President, pardon me for obtruding one word before North Carolina casts her vote. We come to pander to no factious artifices here--to enlist under no man's banner at the hazard of principles--to embark in no crusade to prostrate any aspirant for the sake of sectional or personal triumph. We come to select one in the array of noble spirits in our ranks to be our great leader and champion in the glorious struggle for the great principles of democracy. Again and again have we tendered the banner to the North. Save our happy Union, guard well the rights of the States, say we, and you can have the honor of the standard-bearer. Zealously and sincerely have we presented the name of Buchanan, that noble son of the Old Keystone, around whom the warmest affections of our hearts have long clustered. We have turned to New York and sought to honor one of her distinguished sons, whose splendid administrative powers have just been so faithfully eulogized by my friend from Mississippi. We now feel that in the midst of discord and distraction, the olive branch, if tendered once more, cannot be neglected. We feel that the hour now has come when the spirit of strife must be banished, and leave to reign in her place the milder and gentler and holier spirit of a liberal patriotism. Come, Mr. President, let us to the altar and make our sacrifices for our country. We now propose with other friends the name of one who was in the field just long enough to prove himself a gallant soldier; who was in the councils just long enough to demonstrate that he is the statesman of the strong mind and honest heart; who has exhibited to his countrymen, in his career of legislation, that he knew the rights of the South as well as the North, the East and the West; whose sterling principles of democracy are strong, solid, and enduring like the granite hills of his own New Hampshire home--Gen. Franklin Pierce. Come, Mr. President, let us strike now--now--for harmony and conciliation, and save our principles and our country.
A scene of wild excitement followed, the convention was stampeded and Pierce was nominated on that ballot, although his highest vote before that ballot had been twenty-nine, and he had lost votes since that time.
The state campaign began as soon as Kerr was nominated for he was on the stump before the Democratic convention met. As soon as Reid was nominated he went out also and the first joint debate occurred at Raleigh in June. Kerr devoted nearly all his time to the discussion of national affairs and when he finally turned his attention to the real issue he said that if the people wanted it he was in favor of calling a convention, but that he was unalterably opposed to the legislative method of amendment. He never would openly and directly oppose free suffrage, but he always insisted that the constitution, as it was, was "the most perfect constitutional instrument ever devised by the wit of man." The Register in an analysis of Kerr's practical views stated that he thought free suffrage in itself harmless, but feared it because it would open the way for "tinkering" with the sacred instrument, but really he was entirely opposed to any change, being as the Register's article indicated entirely reactionary. His arguments against constitutional change if read aloud to-day might be taken for an echo of the campaign of 1914, so perfectly does it match those employed then and for the same purpose. Kerr was not alone in his opposition. It was more clearly apparent in this campaign than ever that the Whig leaders were entirely opposed to reform and that any apparent leaning towards it was merely for popular favor. The rank and file were divided, the West genuine in its demand for an open convention to make a number of needed reforms, and the East, fearing the possible change to the white basis, being frantically opposed to a convention and, rather less so, to free suffrage.
The campaign was very heated and charges and counter charges rang from the stump and filled the columns of the press. The Whig press as usual was vehemently abusive, and, as usual, the Register took the lead in this sort of thing.
Every Democratc candidate was a demagogue in its phraseology and some epithet such as "dirty" was apt to precede the title. It attacked Reid bitterly, always calling him "Holden's tool," "Holden's Man Friday," or the "prince of demagogues," and it denied to him honesty, ability, or decency. There were at this time twenty Whig and eleven Democratic newspapers in the State, but the odds were somewhat lessened by the fact that several of the former refused to support Kerr because of his attitude towards suffrage reform and a number more declined to support Scott, some being for Webster and some for Fillmore. The Whigs were much alarmed by this defection, and Graham wrote the Wilmington Commercial, which was associating his name with that of Webster, asking that his name should be withdrawn. There was also a considerable defection among prominent Whigs, notable among whom were Clingman, who came out in a long public letter in advocacy of Pierce's election, and Rayner, who refused to take any part in the campaign because of his opposition to Scott.
The campaign was largely conducted on the free suffrage and convention issues. Kerr, in his effort to please both East and West, became involved in contradictions which hurt him in both sections. Reid, having a single position to support, was more fortunately placed.
The result was never in doubt. Reid was elected by a majority of 5,564 in a vote of 91,570, a gain of over two thousand over 1850. The legislative elections caused surprise and bitterness, however, to the Democrats. They held the Senate by the narrow majority of six, and the Whigs captured the House and had a majority of two on joint ballot, with the possibility of electing the Senator if the party vote was united, but with small hope of carrying the amendment or of redistricting the State to suit themselves.
The presidential campaign lagged after the state election, for the people lost interest. Graham's name gave the Whig ticket strength in the State that was sufficient to save it. By a strange co-incidence William R. King, the Democratic candidate
for Vice President was also a native North Carolinian and a former student of the University.
Scott and Graham received a popular majority of 1,697 in a total vote of 64,933. The total vote was more than 26,000 short of that in the state election, and the majority was smaller by more than 6,000 votes than Taylor's in 1848. As in state affairs, so in national, the day of the Whig party in North Carolina had really reached its end. It was to continue to exist, an opposition, minority party, a shadow of its former self and steadily losing strength, based more, indeed on opposition to the Democratic party than on definite political principles of its own, yet furnishing sufficient opposition to keep the latter's organization at a high point of efficiency without ever really threatening its control of the State.
Governor Reid was compelled to call the legislature into extra session in October to enact a new electoral law under the apportionment of 1850 which gave North Carolina only eight members of Congress and hence only ten electoral votes. W. N. Edwards was elected speaker of the Senate over Andrew Joyner, the perennial candidate of the Whigs, and Dobbin was defeated by John Baxter in the House.
Governor Reid in his special message suggested that the regular session should be abandoned, and this was done, the legislature not adjourning when the particular purpose of the session was accomplished. In his regular message he urged the ratification of the amendment, arguing against a convention and a change in the basis of representation. His message also contained an endorsement of public education and internal improvements and urged reform of the taxation system.
The portion of his message relating to free suffrage was referred to a select committee which reported adversely to the Governor's recommendation. A minority report endorsed the governor's view and urged action. The amendment passed the House by the requisite two-thirds' majority, but on November 31 it was defeated in the Senate, thirty-one
to sixteen. Reconsideration was immediately decided upon and, on December 3, it failed again by a vote of thirty-three to fifteen, Speaker Edwards not voting. His vote would have carried it and his action, as might be imagined, greatly angered the Democrats, although he was known to oppose the amendment and had opposed it before his election. No attempt was made to pass a new bill, but a bill to submit to the people the question of a convention failed in the House.
The Democrats were deeply distressed at the failure of the amendment but were not disheartened, for they knew that a large majority of the people wanted it. The opposition Whigs were jubilant, the Register saying, "We are unwilling to believe that there is a husting in the State from which any one who begins to croak about free suffrage will not be driven with hisses and scorn."
The attempt to elect a senator caused a long drawn out contest. Dobbin was the nominee of the Democratic caucus, but Saunders still had his eye on the place and refused to vote for him until it was too late and several other Democrats followed his example. Some of these voted for James B. Shepard. The Whigs nominated Rayner but never voted for him with any regularity and they later supported N. W. Woodfin. Throughout they cast votes for Saunders, who always made a bid for Whig support, or any other Democrat they thought they might encourage to stay in the fight and whose candidacy might embarrass the organization and prevent the election of Dobbin. Dobbin's conduct in the matter, like most things in his career, was very fine. Wheeler says of him, "All of us who were members of the legislature can remember the intense excitement of the time. The opposition was able, active, and not over-scrupulous. They could not elect; but by aid of one or two marplots of the other side could prevent the election of the Democratic candidate. Amid all of this excitment Mr. Dobbin appeared the only calm and considerate person among us. After some forty ballotings he requested that a caucus be called, and with unaffected sincerity and glowing eloquence he requested his
name to be withdrawn and some other person voted for. He saw with sorrow the party distracted by jealousies, and a fearful chasm of disorder had been opened, engulfing its unity, if not its very existence. He withdrew his name; but it was in vain. If he could not be elected no other person should be, and the State had only one senator for a long time." Towards the end of the session a number of the Democrats voted for Clingman but without result.
Chief Justice Ruffin resigned during the session and Judge Battle was elected to succeed him on the bench, Judge Nash becoming chief justice. Saunders, to the disgust of the Democrats, who not unnaturally blamed him for a large part of their woes, was elected to the Superior bench to succeed Battle.
One notable accomplishment of the session was the establishment of the office of superintendent of common schools and the election of Calvin H. Wiley to fill it. He was a Whig member from Guilford who had proposed the creation of the office two years before, but failing, had come back and was now successful. His work in the position needs no description here.
The session was also notable for the incorporation of a large number of railroads, turnpikes, and plank roads. No less than forty-one of the latter were chartered. The two most important railroads were the Atlantic and North Carolina from Beaufort to Goldsboro, and the North Carolina and Western, later the Western North Carolina, from Salisbury to the Tennessee line.
The laying off of the congressional districts and the apportionment of the House of Commons was accomplished without much difficulty, but the laying off of the senatorial districts was accompanied by an attempt on the part of the Whigs in the House, who had failed to carry their point, as indeed had the Democrats, to let the legislature adjourn sine die under a joint resolution adopted some time previously, without passing the bill. Their idea, apparently, was that the resulting situation would force the call of a
convention. Their plan, if they had any, was twice defeated by Speaker Baxter, a Whig himself, who, to prevent such action, twice violated the rules of the House by peremptorily cutting off debate and forcing a vote on the Senate's resolution to receive the adjournment resolution. He then resigned and was immediately re-elected.
The early months of 1853 saw Badger nominated by President Fillmore to be associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. This was done after an understanding had been reached that the Senate would confirm the nomination which however, it failed to do. Another national honor paid a North Carolinian was the appointment of Dobbin to be secretary of the navy in President Pierce's cabinet. His distinguished services in this capacity are known to-day to only too few North Carolinians. Among the things he accomplished were the establishment of the apprentice system, the system of promotion for merit, the system of a retired list on pay, and the construction of six first-class steam frigates, the first in the service. In his last report was the following which is of particular interest today:
I deem it my duty candidly to express my opinion that our Navy is not only too diminutive to be expected to contend fairly with that of other respectable Nations, is insufficient to give protection to our commerce, but is unquestionably too feeble to command the waters of our own coast. . . . I could not if I would disguise the truth that even a respectable Navy must necessarily involve large expenditures. But it is equally true that without naval strength a six months' war with any Nation with a powerful marine would in the seizure of rich and valuable cargoes, in the destruction of fleets of merchantmen, and in plundering defenseless points along the coast, cost us more, than a squadron of invincible men-of-war. . . . I regard the steady increase of naval strength not as a war, but as a peace measure--a measure of defense involving grave questions of commercial security and National independence. Negotiations and diplomacy will be exhausted before war is made upon a Nation of brave men, powerful and ready for the conflict. . .
There is much in the proud consciousness of National strength that stimulates trade, emboldens enterprise, and nerves the arm of commerce. And while I by no means suggest the policy or the necessity of so large a naval force as many powerful Nations foster, yet it is desirable and attainable, too, that the American citizen, whether in the opulent emporiums along the coast or in the rural retreats of the interior, or borne in his adventurous spirit to traffic in the thronged ports of the strong or the insecurer ports of the barbarous and weak, should gather confidence and courage and energy from the reflection that he belongs to a Government recognized by all as able to avenge his wrongs and vindicate his rights.
The congressional campaign of 1853 had little in it worthy of particular note, save the revival of the distribution issue. The districts were much changed by the new law and their numbers have no reference to those of the former districts. In the first H. M. Shaw, a Democrat, defeated David Outlaw. Thomas Ruffin of Wayne, was opposed unsuccessfully by W. C. Loftin, an independent Democrat. In the third, Duncan K. McRae was a candidate, but, being appointed consul to Paris, withdrew, leaving W. S. Ashe and W. F. Leak, the latter running as an advocate of distribution, to fight it out. Ashe was elected. In the fourth, which seemed safely Democratic, there was much opposition to Venable, the sitting member, because he had voted for the Bennett land distribution bill and because he was opposed to the acquisition of Cuba. A. M. Lewis, who was another Democratic candidate, proposed a convention to settle their respective claims, but Venable, hoping for Whig support, refused and both stayed in the race. The Whigs then brought out Sion H. Rogers who made distribution the issue with Lewis and was elected. In the fifth Morehead declined to run again and John Kerr was successful, the Democrats making no nomination but voting generally for Abraham Rencher. J. P. Caldwell had been much opposed to Scott the year before, so the Whigs dropped him and brought out R. C. Puryear who defeated George D. Boyd, the regular Democratic
candidate. Burton Craige and James W. Osborne faced each other in the seventh and conducted the most spirited campaign of all the candidates, in which Craige, in spite of the inclination for South Carolina political ideas with which the Whigs charged him, was successful. Burgess S. Gaither again opposed Clingman in the mountain district and with the same result, Clingman, who was now, to all intents and purposes, a Democrat, but with much Whig strength, defeating him with ease. In spite of the new apportionment having been made partly by Whigs, the Democrats had won five of the districts.
North Carolina Whigs in the autumn of 1853 began to gird up their loins for the contest of the coming year. The leaders had not yet discovered that the sceptre had departed from Israel and were unable to believe that Democratic victory in 1850 and 1852 was due to anything else but accident, plus David S. Reid. With Reid's approaching ineligibility they were confident of being able again to regain their lost ground. The leaders were not at all in close touch, however, with the people and had no conception of the changes being wrought in the very fibre of popular sentiment in the State. Their artistocratic tendencies in politics were more clearly recognized, too, by the people. The Wilmington Journal in the spring of 1854 gave the following analysis of the Whig attitude which, while it may have been exaggerated, was nevertheless fundamentally true:
The Whigs appear to think this world of ours composed of two very different and distinct classes--themselves and their candidates who, dwelling in the odor of "Respectability" are above and beyond criticism, and must be handled with silk gloves properly scented--and the mere rabble, the "Locofocos," comprising a majority of the voters of North Carolina who are utterly unworthy of respectable treatment.
The aspect of national affairs also immeasurably helped the Democratic party. Hope as the South might that the compromise of 1850 would be a finality, there was small reason at that or any other time to believe that such would be the case and as a matter of fact few really believed it, for the slavery question was patently one that from its nature could not yet be closed. The menance of the situation from the Southern standpoint was the attitude of the Northern Whigs. Consequently these things, with the firm hold that the old leaders of the party had upon its machinery, were leading to a steady and growing exodus of Whigs to the Democracy.
These were of two classes. The more numerous was probably that composed of those who were uneasy as to Southern interests and who were fearful of the tendencies of the Northern Whigs, believing that their hostility to slavery was a menace not only to any real unity in the party but to the South as a whole. Many of these were young men who were inclined to be particularly extreme in their advocacy of the Southern position, but older leaders such as Clingman were also to be found. The second class was composed almost entirely of young men who wanted to get into the more open atmosphere of the Democratic party and to enjoy its greater opportunities for political advancement. It is scarcely necessary to add that this class was also profoundly affected by the free suffrage issue.
On December 3, 1853, the Whig convention issued the call for the state convention to meet February 21, 1854, and immediately Whig meetings were held throughout the State, marked by increased enthusiasm and confidence. The Democratic committee did not meet until January 25, and the date selected for their convention was April 19.
In the meantime momentous action was being taken in Congress. In January, Stephen A. Douglas introduced the Kansas-Nebraska bill, which, in spite of the fact that a deliberately and grossly distorted view of his action has since led to general misunderstanding of his purposes, was nevertheless a veritable Pandora's box of national ills. By it the Missouri Compromise was definitely repealed and the principles of popular or "squatter" sovereignty were substituted to determine the question of slavery in the territories. The bill was pending for more than four months and during that time was the subject of much discussion in North Carolina.
Practically all the Democrats hailed the bill joyfully as a settlement of the slavery question. Douglas became more popular than ever in the State and the Democrats asked the Whigs if they could now justify the epithets such as "dirty little demagogue" which they had so freely applied to him
in the past. The latter were at first disposed to opposition for purely party reasons, but it was faint-hearted opposition. The following comment of the Register, soon after the introduction of the bill is highly significant:
We confess that we doubt the utility of disturbing the Missouri Compromise, which was acquiesced in by the South as the condition of the admission of Missouri as a slave State--though we hardly know what modification our views may undergo. The North may say that by attempting to repeal the solemn slavery restriction clause, the South has violated a solemn compact, and it will be difficult to refute the charge.
But the growing sectional feeling evoked in defense of slavery was very strong and that combined with Badger's hearty endorsement and support of the bill determined the Whig attitude. In the House Puryear and Rogers voted against it, but the rest of the delegation voted for it and John Kerr made an elaborate speech in advocacy of it which with Badger's speeches won enthusiastic commendation from the Democrats. The Whig convention in February endorsed the principle of non-intervention by Congress in respect to slavery in the territories but went no further. The rank and file of the party, however, soon accepted the bill as entirely as the Democrats and its passage was hailed by all without distinction of party as a great Southern triumph.
In neither party was there at the beginning of the preconvention movement any outstanding candidate. George Davis, James W. Osborne, Edwin G. Reade, D. M. Barringer, Alfred Dockery, David Outlaw and Joseph B. Cherry were all mentioned as Whig possibilities. In the Democratic party there was at first even wider variation, John W. Ellis, Asa Biggs, William H. Thomas, Abraham Rencher, George Bower, Thomas Bragg, Cadwallader Jones, Columbus Mills, and W. W. Avery all being discussed. The West was loudly claiming the candidate, with Ellis, Mills, or Avery as favorites, but Ellis and Avery at once declined to be considered and Mills had no chance whatever.
In the fall of 1853 Holden and Daniel W. Courts, the state treasurer, gave much time to a consideration of the question of a candidate. They finally settled upon Thomas Bragg and when he attended the winter term of the Supreme Court, Holden had a conference with him at the Yarborough House at which Bragg consented to be the party candidate if there was no serious opposition to him in the party. Holden then called the Wake County Democrats to a meeting and resolutions were passed endorsing Bragg. Other counties rapidly followed suit and it was generally understood before the convention met that he would be selected.
The Whig convention organized with Joseph B. Cherry as temporary chairman and chose Richard S. Donnell president. The renewed activity and confidence of the leaders was seen in the presence of 185 delegates from 41 counties. The platform was very short. It expressed the devotion of the party to the Constitution and the Union and avowed a determination to resist all attempts to alienate one section from another. Once more it demanded the distribution of the proceeds from the public lands. Its expression concerning slavery in the territories has already been noted. As a matter of course it condemned the Pierce administration. On the free suffrage question it had the following to say: "Resolved, That we are of opinion that the people of North Carolina desire a change in the Constitution of the State, and that this can be most wisely and safely done by a convention of delegates, elected by the people; therefore, we recommend to the Legislature to call such a convention, and, in submitting the election of delegates to the people, so to provide, as to preserve the present basis of representation in the Legislature."
The platform closed with an endorsement of common schools and internal improvements. When the nomination of a candidates came, Alfred Dockery was unanimously chosen.
Alfred Dockery was born in Richmond County in 1797 within a mile of the place where he spent his life and where
he finally died. Deprived by poverty and by the necessity of assisting in the support of a large family of any opportunity of education, he, nevertheless, rose through industry, character, and native ability, not only to considerable wealth, but to high political position. His public life commenced in 1822 when he was a member of the House of Commons. He served as a delegate to the convention of 1835 and in 1836 was elected to the State Senate and was continuously a member until 1845 when he was elected to Congress over Jonathan Worth, the regular Whig candidate. He served only one term, but in 1851 was again a candidate and won, as will be remembered, on the issue of upholding the Union against secession. He was a plain man of hard sense, genuinely devoted to the State and its people, and an earnest advocate of public education and internal improvements. He was an effective campaigner and a strong man on the stump. An amusing instance of his methods has come to us from his campaign with Worth. The latter was a poor and comparatively unknown lawyer when he ran for Congress and on one occasion he unwisely attempted to win the sympathy of the crowd by calling attention to Dockery's wealth, particularly as evidenced by his fine brick residence. He had scarcely mentioned this when Dockery jumped to his feet and rushing to the front of the platform extended both arms and cried: "Yes, and it was these old yaller hands of mine that built all of it."
The Democratic convention indicated even more enthusiasm and confidence than the Whig meeting. Forty-nine counties were represented and the high-water mark to that time of 200 delegates was reached. Asa Biggs was temporary chairman and Abraham Rencher president. According to expectation Bragg was nominated unanimously. The platform declared for a rigid construction of the Constitution of the United States as a grant of limited powers. It endorsed as usual the independent treasury, condemned a national bank, favored a tariff for revenue, and opposed protection, endorsed the administrations of Pierce and Reid,
approved the Kansas-Nebraska bill, and opposed distribution. In three strong planks it discussed state questions, taking firm ground for free suffrage, internal improvements and common schools.
Thomas Bragg was a native of Warren County. His father, a carpenter and contractor, was a man of fine sense and a firm believer in education. There were four sons, all of whom were distinguished. John Bragg graduated from the University in 1824 and after five years' service in the North Carolina legislature removed to Alabama where he won reputation as an editor, lawyer, judge, and a member of Congress. He was later to be a member of the secession convention of Alabama. William Bragg was a captain in the Confederate service and was killed in battle. Braxton Bragg is too well known for any notice here. Thomas Bragg was the ablest of the four. He was born in 1810 and received his early education under Rev. George W. Freeman, who later became Bishop of Arkansas, and Rev. James H. Otey, who became Bishop of Tennessee. Later Bragg was sent to Partridge's Academy at Middletown, Conn., where he remained three years. Studying law under Judge John Hall, he was admitted to the bar and began practice at Jackson, at once winning reputation in the profession. As a matter of fact he was easily the greatest lawyer who held the executive office in the period under discussion. He served as a member of the House of Commons in 1842 and was chairman of the judiciary committee, then the chief honor on the floor. His only other public service was as a presidential elector in 1844, 1848, and 1852, when he canvassed against William W. Cherry, Kenneth Rayner and D. A. Barnes in succession and proved himself in their class as a debater and campaigner.
The campaign began as soon as Dockery was nominated. Bragg met him in joint debate several times before his own nomination, not as an avowed candidate, but simply as a political opponent. The campaign continued until the election accompanied by the most complete and therefore the most
arduous canvass of the State up to that time. Dockery attempted to make internal improvements the chief issue because his own chief interest was there and because Bragg had never been strong in his support of them. The proposed Western Extension of the North Carolina Railroad was popular in the State and Bragg's failure to take a strong position in favor of it made the prospect for his election look dark when Holden warned him of the danger and Bragg at once gave his hearty endorsement to the proposed measure.
Having thus strengthened himself Bragg had the advantage as to the other issues of the campaign. The Whigs had been much divided on the question of free suffrage and the plank of their platform which was a compromise, did not even meet with individual Whig approval. The party leaders did not like free suffrage any better than they had done when it was first proposed. The Register during the campaign denied that the party had ever opposed it, but in addition to the absurdity of the claim, the party leaders and the Whig press, including the Register, still sneered at it as "Reid's hobby," "a demagogue's pet" and "Douglas' present." The mass of the people, however, irrespective of party, wanted the reform and the Democratic record on the question, in spite of Weldon N. Edwards' casting vote which had defeated it in 1852, was fairly clear.
The Whigs as usual claimed internal improvements and public education as their own. True as that had been in the past, it had now ceased to be so. Under Democratic rule both systems had been greatly extended, and to the Whig charge that continued Democratic control and conduct of state affairs would be ruinous, the Democrats were able to reply by pointing to the fact that the State was more prosperous than ever before and that North Carolina bonds were selling for the first time at a premium.
The election resulted in a majority for Bragg of 2,061 in a total vote of 95,349. Compared to the result of 1852 the Whigs had gained in every congressional district but the first and the seventh, their total gain being 3,505. The legislative
result, however, showed greater Democratic strength. In the Senate there was a clear Democratic majority of twelve, and in the House one of ten. Among the Whigs in the House were four so-called Southern Rights Whigs who usually acted with the Democrats so the strength of the latter was even greater than their majority.
The politics of this year indicated two things which might menace the continued triumph of the Democratic party. One was the resurgence of the question of distribution. Many Democrats were tempted by the possibility of so much money's coming to the State as a free gift and a Democratic newspaper was established in advocacy of the policy, but the time was not ripe and only one issue appeared. The other threat lay in the rise of the Know Nothing party and its extension South. The existence of the party was much discussed in the summer, and in the autumn a meeting of the new party was held secretly in Raleigh. The Democrats attacked it bitterly for its religious intolerance and declared it merely abolition in disguise. The Register and the members of the Whig party generally were inclined to take a much more charitable view of it and in fact were ready to join the new movement.
When the legislature met, Warren Winslow of Cumberland was chosen speaker of the Senate over Joseph B. Cherry of Bertie and S. P. Hill of Caswell, speaker of the House over J. S. Amis of Granville. Governor Reid in his message recommended the renewed passage of the free suffrage amendment and also urged the popular election of judges. Just as strongly he asked for a reform of the entire revenue system of the State. He devoted a considerable portion of the message to the questions of internal improvements and public education and closed with the suggestion that the threatening aspect of national affairs should be considered by the legislature.
The election of two United States senators made the session notable from the politicians' point of view. The Whigs had some hope that Badger's earnest support of the
Kansas-Nebraska bill might cause his re-election by the Democrats. The Register had gone so far as to say that this would probably fuse the two parties in the State and sever all connection with the Northern Whigs who were so detested by the Democrats and now, be it said, by many of the Whigs. But such action was not generally expected.
Dobbin signified to his friends before the legislature met his wish that his name should not be presented. The candidates were Biggs, Reid, Clingman, and Craige. The following was the caucus vote, forty-four being necessary to a choice:
|Biggs. . . . .||42||50||--||--|
|Reid. . . . .||35||36||37||46|
|Clingman. . . . .||11||--||21||21|
|Craige. . . . .||--||--||25||19|
|Thomas Ruffin. . . . .||--||--||2||--|
|Totals. . . . .||88||86||85||86|
The Whigs supported Badger and D. M. Barringer.
Governor Reid's acceptance of the election created a vacancy in the gubernatorial office which under the constitution was filled by the speaker of the Senate. It was the view of the Democrats that the speaker not only became governor but continued to fill his legislative office as well. The Democratic leaders submitted the question to Judge Ruffin who declared it his opinion that Winslow must remain as speaker. The Whigs attacked this view and much time was consumed in argument on the question but numbers prevailed and for a month Warren Winslow was both governor and speaker of the Senate. At the expiration of that time Bragg was inaugurated. In his inaugural address he endorsed the proposed constitutional amendment, declared his intention of supporting the movement for internal improvements, and in his discussion of national affairs showed himself to be a potential secessionist.
In the election of state officers the Democrats followed
party lines very closely, electing only one Whig, that being William Hill, the secretary of state. After the filling of places the legislature had time to consider the important question of constitutional amendment. William A. Graham, who was a member of the Senate, introduced an amendment to the bill providing for the submission to the people of the question of an unlimited convention. The bill ignored the need of a two-thirds' vote of each house to call a convention and won the instant opposition of the Democrats on that score as well as on the merits of the question. It provoked a long discussion and was rejected as were various other amendments proposed by the Whigs. The original bill then passed by the following vote:
For--Senate: Democrats 30; Whigs 5. House: Democrats 64; Whigs 29.
Against--Senate: Democrats 3; Whigs 12. House: Democrats 0; Whigs 18.
A strong series of resolutions, introduced by Thomas Settle, endorsing the Kansas-Nebraska act was tabled. This was the only national question which came before the legislature and it was probably smothered to avoid the waste of time in discussion.
Important railroad legislation was enacted. Additional stock to the amount of one million dollars was taken in the North Carolina Railroad; the authorized stock of the Atlantic and North Carolina was increased with the provision that the State should still hold its two-thirds of the whole amount of the stock; the Western North Carolina Railroad was incorporated to run from Salisbury to some point on the French Broad beyond the Blue Ridge, the State agreeing to take as much as $1,400,000 of the stock; the Wilmington, Charlotte and Rutherford Railroad was incorporated to connect Wilmington and Charlotte, the State agreeing to take four hundred thousand dollars in stock and six hundred thousand dollars more when the road was extended to Rutherfordton.
Among the most important acts of the session was the
passage of a new and greatly improved revenue act which was expected to relieve the State of any uneasiness as to funds. It was a step to reform, but the tax question was one which remained unsettled.
The congressional campaign of 1855 was chiefly interesting for the prominence of the Know-Nothing question in the campaign. The American or Know-Nothing party, which had for its cardinal principles opposition to immigration and the participation of recent immigrants in politics and opposition to the Roman Catholic Church, was now spreading very rapidly in North Carolina, where there had never been any alien problem and where none was likely to arise and where there was only a handful of Roman Catholics and no Catholic problem, and by the summer the estimated membership was thirty-five thousand. Some Democrats joined the order, but, discovering shortly that in North Carolina at any rate it was nothing but the old Whig party in disguise, soon abandoned it. It was through the public withdrawal of such members that the State as a whole was first informed of its presence. James B. Shepard was the best known Democrat to join and he remained a member. Probably the leading member in the State was Kenneth Rayner who in 1855 secured the adoption by the national council of the third or "Union" degree, notable for its oath of allegiance to the Union, which he wrote. The Democrats viewed the order with horror for a double reason. They disliked its nature, being opposed to a secret political society, and they recognized its identification with the Whig party. Press and platform orator vied in denunciation of it and Judge Saunders at Buncombe Superior Court, when the grand jury asked for instructions upon the subject, charged that it was an illegal and hence indictable conspiracy.
In the first district H. M. Shaw, the sitting member, was renominated and was defeated by Robert T. Paine, an American. In the second, Thomas Ruffin was re-elected over Thomas J. Latham, an American. Warren Winslow was chosen in the third over David Reid, a former Democrat but
now an American. In the fourth the Democrats nominated George W. Thompson of Wake, and, upon his refusal, L. O'B. Branch, who defeated James B. Shepard. In the fifth John Kerr, the Whig member, was dropped partly because of the vigor of his advocacy of the Kansas-Nebraska bill and more because of the corresponding vigor of his opposition to the Know-Nothing movement. Edwin G. Reade was chosen in his place and, though the Democrats supported Kerr who now joined their party, was elected. In the sixth the Democrats nominated George W. Boyd who declined to run and A. M. Scales was chosen. R. C. Puryear, the Whig incumbent, defeated him. Burton Craige was again successful in the seventh, defeating S. N. Stowe, an American, as was Thomas L. Clingman in the eighth who defeated L. B. Carmichael.
The steady growth of the Know-Nothings gave much encouragement to the entire opposition in the fall and winter of 1855, and, as by that time the organization was an open one, many difficulties due to its secrecy were removed and hope rose again that the Democracy might be overcome.
The American convention met at Greensboro, April 10. C. T. N. Davis of McDowell, was temporary chairman, and Sion H. Rogers, president. The platform was the usual Whig platform with two changes. One of these was a plank declaring the approval of the party of the adoption of a scheme of internal improvements which would not add any burdens to the people in the way of taxation. This qualification shows the influence of a feeling that was gaining strength in the opposition. Since the Democrats had accepted internal improvements, there were many of the opposition who were against any further development and still more who were indifferent on the subject. This feeling in a lesser degree extended to common schools as well. The other change in the platform is to be seen in the resolution which follows:
Whereas there exist various and conflicting opinions among Whigs and Democrats both as to the propriety of amending the State Constitution, as well as the manner and extent to which amendment should be made;
Resolved, That in order that the paramount principles of Americanism may not be trammelled in the ensuing contest by vexed State questions made up by former political organizations, the American party, eschewing sectional issues in the State as in the Union, declare their purpose of abiding by and maintaining the representative basis of the present Constitution.
This resolution was entirely indefinite on the question of amendment and left opposition leaders free to oppose any
change. The Register, throughout the campaign, bitterly opposed the adoption of free suffrage as did several other papers and a number of leaders.
Only two names had been mentioned in connection with the nomination, George Davis and John A. Gilmer, and the former was not a candidate. For that matter, neither was Gilmer, who wrote a public letter declining to consider the nomination, but when he was unanimously selected, he reconsidered and accepted. The convention was a shouting, enthusiastic, and confident assembly of two hundred and fifty delegates.
John Adams Gilmer was born in Guilford County in 1805. He received his education under Dr. Caruthers and then taught in Laurens County, South Carolina, for several years. Returning to North Carolina he studied law under Judge Murphey and was admitted to practice in 1833. He faced in the practice of his profession the most eminent members of the North Carolina bar and his rise was naturally slow; yet in comparatively few years he won a distinguished place among distinguished colleagues. In 1846 he was sent to the state Senate and served for five terms, proving himself a legislator of ability. A man of unusual geniality and charm of manner, and a good mixer, he was widely popular, and his choice as a candidate was about the best that his party could have made.
The Democratic convention met as usual in Raleigh, assembling four days after the American meeting in Greensboro adjourned. James E. Williams of Caswell, was temporary chairman and Jesse E. Shepherd of Cumberland, president. Forty-six counties were represented by about two hundred and seventy-five delegates. The platform endorsed the principle of popular sovereignty and commended the behavior of Northern Democrats in relation to slavery and sectional questions generally. It condemned the Know-Nothing party as dangerous in tendency and practice. It declared Pierce and Dobbin the choice of the North Carolina Democracy for President and Vice President. When state
affairs were reached, free suffrage, internal improvements, and common schools received hearty and unqualified endorsement. Bragg was unanimously renominated and W. S. Ashe, W. W. Avery, Bedford Brown and R. R. Heath were appointed delegates to the national convention.
The campaign was uninteresting and today affords a depressing view of political conditions generally in the State. According to the Democrats, the American party was a secret society organized in the interest of the abolition movement and controlled entirely by a small group of leading abolitionists. The American argument was even more banal. Democratic success, according to the Know-Nothings, meant the absolute control of American politics by the pope with the strong likelihood of his emigration to the United States to become President, or at least to become governor of North Carolina. The similarity between this argument and those used in opposition to the ratification of the United States Constitution in the Hillsboro convention of 1788 is striking. Every attempt was now made to arouse religious prejudice and feeling against foreigners.
The slavery question played probably a much greater part beneath the surface than is apparent to-day. Not that it did not appear openly. The assault of Brooks upon Sumner met with considerable approval and the Standard said that the former was "indeed a noble specimen of the true Southern gentleman." To so great an extent had the slavery question debauched the morals of the community. The North Carolina delegation in Congress also supported him, and Reade won some criticism by voting, alone of all the Southern members to censure Keith for his part in the assault.
The opposition still controlled the major part of the State press and of the thirty-seven political papers in the State, twenty-two supported Gilmer. They were the Asheville Spectator, Concord Gazette, Greensboro Patriot, Charlotte Whig, Lexington Flag, Hillsboro Recorder, Raleigh Star, Raleigh Register, Milton Chronicle, Weldon Patriot,
Murfreesboro Patriot, Elizabeth City Sentinel, Edenton Banner, Plymouth Villager, Washington Times, Wilmington Herald, Fayetteville Argus, Fayetteville Observer, Asheboro Bulletin, Salisbury Watchman, Salisbury Herald, and Ocean Banner.
Just at the close of the campaign a great American rally was held at Guilford Battle Ground at which Morehead, Graham, Davis, Rayner, and Henry K. Nash were speakers. The proceedings of the meeting, the enthusiasm displayed here and elsewhere, and the activity of the leaders, all go to indicate the hopefulness and indeed, confidence of victory, which the opposition unquestionably felt. Gilmer made a strong campaign and enthusiasm was continuous. But the Democrats were excellently organized, North Carolina did not like secret political societies and the Americans could not shake off the facts of its origin, and Bragg was a powerful campaigner. The result showed a majority for Bragg of 12,628 in a total vote of 102,568 and the legislature was Democratic in both houses, the majority being sixteen in the Senate and forty in the House.
The state campaign out of the way, the Democrats entered into the presidential contest with great vigor, determined at last to carry the State which had not chosen Democratic electors since 1836. Buchanan had long been a favorite in the State and Pierce's defeat was probably not a cause of very deep regret. The opposition, of course, had no hope of carrying the State and were divided among themselves. Kenneth Rayner was nominated for Vice President by the Northern wing of the American party which seceded from the convention which nominated Fillmore. He declined to accept the nomination, but the fact of his nomination served as a peg on which the Standard and the Democrats generally could hang some more charges of abolitionist tendencies among the opposition. In the closing days of the campaign he went to Pennsylvania where he made a number of speeches advocating a coalition of the opposition to the Democrats in Pennsylvania in order to defeat them in that State. These
speeches of his were highly commended by the Republican press and leaders, and, in consequence, Rayner was bitterly criticised at home by the Democrats and privately by many of his own party.
Probably the most significant and interesting happening of the presidential campaign in North Carolina was the Hedrick case at the University. Benjamin S. Hedrick, professor of agricultural chemistry, was a native of Davidson County and an alumnus of the University. A product of an anti-slavery community, his feeling against slavery had been strengthened by residence in the North, and by 1856 he had come to see the peculiar institution in its true light as the greatest burden borne by the mass of white people of the South. In state politics he was a Democrat and in August voted for Governor Bragg, but in a response to a direct question, addressed to him on election day by one of the students, he replied that he would vote for Fremont if there was an electoral ticket in the State. The matter came to Holden's ear and in the issue of the Standard of September 17, he hinted strongly at the presence of a Fremont supporter in the faculty of some college of the State. On September 29, he published a letter from J. A. Engelhard, then a law student in the University, signed "Alumnus," in which he made the charge, but without mentioning Hedrick's name, and after attacking him bitterly, demanded the dismissal of the offending professor from the University. Interestingly enough, the article was full of denunciation of the dismissal of Judge Loring from the Harvard faculty because of his up-holding the fugitive slave law. Hedrick was a man of high spirit and could not endure attack without any answer. Accordingly he sent his "Defense" to the Standard which, on October 4, published it.
The Defense was a manly acknowledgement of his political beliefs and of his opposition to slavery. Incidentally his argument was unanswerable. Great excitement followed. Meetings of the executive committee of the trustees and of the faculty followed. The former was restrained from immediate
action and the latter drew up a series of resolutions declaring that the views of Hedrick were not shared by the rest of the faculty. The press was filled with denunciation, the Standard, of course, taking the lead. The trustees were urged by popular clamor to dismiss Hedrick peremptorily and they finally yielded and October 19, the executive committee dismissed him, although legally it had no power in the matter. The incident stands out as clear proof of how far slavery had annihilated free thought and free speech in the South as well as in the North.
Secession was discussed during the campaign with more interest than ever before in the State. Holden was an avowed advocate of secession in the event of Fremont's election and a considerable number of Democratic leaders were in full agreement with him. Clingman in October issued an address to the people of North Carolina in which he outlined a definite plan for disunion if Fremont should be successful. Another indication of the definite nature of the Democratic opinion on the subject was the meeting in Raleigh in October of Governor Wise of Virginia and Governor Adams of South Carolina, who were guests of Governor Bragg ostensibly to attend the State fair. Other Southern governors were expected but failed to come. An informal consultation was held at the governor's mansion and several prominent men were invited to be present, including W. W. Holden, M. A. Bledsoe, and L. O'B. Branch. Instead of being a radical meeting it was the contrary, owing to the conservative position taken by Governor Bragg. The presence of the two visiting governors attracted attention and the opposition charged that it was the conclusion of a definite disunion plot and the press denounced the supposed "schemes of treason and disunion," and demanded to know by what right governors of other States came to North Carolina to perfect plots and thus "hitch North Carolina to the car of disunion."
The election resulted in the choice of Buchanan electors by a majority of 12,914 in a total vote of 72,060. The loss
of more than 30,000 votes in the total as compared to the state election can be explained by the fact that Democratic success was certain and that many of the opposition were in sympathy with the Democrats on national questions and, feeling entirely secure, stayed away from the polls.
When the legislature met, W. W. Avery was elected speaker of the Senate over M. L. Wiggins and Jesse G. Shepherd speaker of the House over James M. Leach. Most of the governor's message was devoted to discussion of internal improvements and public education, but he commented on the alarming political situation and recommended the furnishing of arms to military schools.
The session was devoid of any particular interest. The opposition was so outnumbered that all they could do was to try and call public attention to every action of the majority in the hope that somewhere might be found the basis for popular opposition. They were particularly angry when the speaker of the Senate refused to entertain a proposed amendment to the bill for the suffrage amendment which was now on its final passage. An amendment to it would serve to postpone its submission to the people for two more years and make necessary its passage by another legislature and it was of course with this in view that it was offered. The amendment bill passed the Senate thirty-nine to eight, all the negative votes except one--that of William Eaton--being cast by Americans, and passed the House ninety-eight to five, all the negatives coming from Americans. D. F. Caldwell of Guilford, offered an elaborate protest against its passage, declaring his opposition to the principle and to the method. His protest is an excellent statement of the traditional Whig attitude on the subject.
The congressional campaign of 1857 was even more uninteresting than the state campaign just described. A bitter quarrel between John W. Syme, the editor of the Raleigh Register and the Hales of the Fayetteville Observer, betrayed a certain cleavage of sentiment in the opposition and plans were immediately made among the opposition leaders
either to drive Syme out or establish a new organ for the party.
In the first district, H. M. Shaw was again the democratic candidate and Robert T. Paine declining to run again, W. N. H. Smith received the American nomination but was defeated. In the second Thomas Ruffin was elected without opposition as were Winslow, Branch, and Craige in the third, fourth, and seventh respectively. S. E. Williams was the Democratic candidate in the fifth, opposed by Maurice Q. Waddell of Chatham and John A. Gilmer, both Americans. The case of the last two was finally submitted to a committee which decided in favor of Gilmer, and Waddell withdrew. Gilmer was elected. Reade, the sitting member, had refused to be a candidate. In the sixth A. M. Scales defeated R. C. Puryear and in the eighth Clingman defeated Z. B. Vance, who was now forging to the front as a power in western politics.
The free suffrage amendment was submitted to the people at this election and in a total vote of 69,477 received a majority of 30,713 and thus became a part of the Constitution.
The general results showed small encouragement to the opposition to further connection with the American movement, and from this time it rapidly disappeared.
During the Fall of 1857 there was much discussion of distribution and it was evident that many Democrats were seriously inclining towards that policy. Walter F. Leak made a formal announcement of his candidacy for governor on that issue, and Duncan K. McRae of New Bern, was known to favor the policy. It was, however, early evident that the Democratic party would maintain its traditional stand in opposition. Of course, the question had no real bearing on state affairs directly, since its decision was purely national, but once more state issues had disappeared and national questions dominated state politics to the great detriment of the State.
In January, McRae made speeches at Wilmington, Fayetteville, Goldsboro, Raleigh and Hillsboro in which he advocated distribution. At this time he was uncertain if he would be a candidate for governor, and was undoubtedly waiting to see what action would be taken by the Democratic party. So far as the candidates for the regular Democratic nomination were concerned, a movement for Holden had appeared early in 1857 and had gained strength steadily.
This did not at all suit the plans and calculations of the dominant forces in the party. Holden was easily the strongest leader in the party but he was disliked by a large number, and the more aristocratic elements were bitterly opposed to him and feared his policies as well as his personal power. Another very serious threat to his chances lay in the strength in the Democratic party of the Whigs who had recently joined and who still hated him for his apostacy--or, in other words, for doing early the very same things they had done late.
All the elements of opposition looked about for a candidate and finally found one in Judge John W. Ellis, who declined to leave the bench or to be a candidate, but who
was known to be willing to accept the nomination. Jesse G. Shepherd was spoken of for the nomination but developed little strength. W. W. Avery, who was very popular in the west, developed considerable strength and was regarded seriously by the other candidates. Judge S. J. Person was endorsed by several counties, but refused to allow the use of his name. A. W. Venable's name was also constantly mentioned in connection with the nomination.
The Democratic executive committee called the convention to meet at Charlotte. This caused great surprise and in the east great dissatisfaction. It was regarded as a stroke in favor of Ellis' candidacy, and Holden's friends were very fearful of its effects upon his candidacy.
In the contest which followed and which was the first pre-convention campaign in the political history of the State, a great deal of bitterness developed and at times it seemed certain that a compromise candidate would be nominated. As was to be expected the Democratic press of the State took an active part in this campaign. Among others the Charlotte Western Democrat, Winston Western Sentinel, Fayetteville Argus, Goldsboro Tribune, Warrenton News, and Williamston Banner were for Holden, while the Wilmington Journal, Salisbury Banner and Elizabeth City Pioneer were for Ellis.
Even the opposition press took sides, usually in a sarcastic way, but sometimes in earnest. The Register said in April, "Although not entitled to a seat in the Democratic pew, we have all along been a strong Holden man. We think he is entitled to the nomination and are of opinion that it would be a burning shame if one who has spent his life in making great big men out of the very smallest sort of materials should be refused the reasonable reward he so urgently seeks."
The Fayetteville Observer, after quoting part of the first scene of the fourth act of Julius Caesar, said, "Mr. Holden 'is a tried and valiant soldier' who has 'groaned and sweat under the business' until he has made the Democratic party
all powerful in North Carolina. Without him these Democratic lawyers would never have been judges. Governors, Congressmen, legislators--would have been scarcely heard of. But the work is done. And when he or his friends for him ask a participation in the honors of the victory, it is only natural, now as then, that his creatures should 'take down his load and turn him like the empty ass, to shake his ears and graze in commons.' How dare an editor of a newspaper, a man who has worked with his own hands, aspire to reward from the Democratic party?"
Both candidates behaved with dignity in this period. The Standard was entirely impartial and a stranger would not have known that it was Holden's paper. As the time for the convention came both sides became more confident. It was practically a certainty that Avery would withdraw and it was thought that Holden would get his strength. Holden was placing his chief reliance in Avery's strength and there is no shadow of a doubt that if the modern device of a primary had been employed that he would have been overwhelmingly chosen. But the mass of the party had no direct control and the nomination was dictated by politicians. The Register said that the reason Ellis received such strong support from lawyers was clear--every one of them expected to be chosen to fill the judgeship he would vacate.
When the convention finally came there was a great outpouring to Charlotte. The convention assembled on April 14 and organized with Capt. John Walker of Charlotte, "The Wheelhorse of Democracy," as temporary chairman and C. M. Avery of Burke, as president. It was the largest convention that had been held in the State to that time. Fifty-nine counties were represented by 454 delegates in person and twelve other counties were represented by proxies. This left only four counties unrepresented.
The most noticeable thing about the delegates was the startling number of recent Whigs, some of whom were exceedingly prominent and influential in the convention.
The platform commended the administrations of President
Buchanan and Governor Bragg and endorsed the policy of internal improvements. Concerning distribution it had the following to say: "That we regard the distribution of the public lands or their proceeds as unconstitutional, anti-Democratic, and impolitic, and its agitation at this time as eminently unpatriotic because being wholly impracticable, the sole tendency of such agitation must be to divide and distract the only party upon which the South can rely for the defense of her rights and interests in the Union."
After the adoption of the platform attention turned to the nomination of a candidate. It was certain by this time that Ellis had a simple majority, but Holden's supporters thought that if the two-thirds rule could be adopted that their candidate would win. The motion, however, was tabled by a small majority. If adopted, it would probably have defeated both candidates. By this time Avery had formally withdrawn, so the contest was between Holden and Ellis. After the failure of the motion, Ellis was nominated on the first ballot, receiving the vote of forty counties against twenty-seven for Holden. The official vote stood 25,051 to 21,594, with 1,203 scattering. Holden took his defeat well and at once urged his friends to activity in behalf of the ticket. This was a disappointment to the Whigs, who had confidently predicted a serious breach in party solidarity as a result of this contest within the party, a new thing in North Carolina politics.
John Willis Ellis was a native of what is now Davidson County, but was then Rowan. He was educated at Randolph-Macon College and at the University, graduating from the latter in 1841. Studying law under Judge Pearson, he was admitted to the bar in 1842. In 1844 he was elected to the House of Commons and was re-elected in 1846 and 1848. While a member of the legislature he was elected judge and thus had been on the bench for ten years. There he had made a fine reputation in spite of his inexperience when he was chosen. He was a man of no exceptional ability, but was universally
popular because of his genial and charming manner and because of his entire sincerity in every relation.
In the meantime a sharp division of sentiment had taken place in the press and in the ranks of the opposition as to the proper course for the party to pursue in relation to the campaign. One faction, headed by the Register, favored support of an independent Democrat without holding a convention; the other headed by the Greensboro Patriot and Flag, favored united party action through a convention and the nomination of one of their own party. Leak had withdrawn in February, so McRae was the only independent Democrat discussed for support. Agreeing with the Register were the following papers which, as a Western Whig editor said, had "gone over to the Beast": the Wilmington Herald, Weldon Patriot, Salisbury Watchman, Kinston Advocate, Newbern Express, Salem Press and Louisburg Eagle; while those which with the Patriot and Flag favored independent action were the Asheville Spectator and Elizabeth City Sentinel. Their view was expressed in the following comment of the Patriot and Flag: "So far as we are concerned, we can never consent to see the great American Whig party--strong in numbers, strong in intellect, strong in the correctness of its principles and the justice of its cause, consent to enter into a fight headed by a Democrat."
The convention advocates finally called upon Henry W. Miller, chairman of the executive committee, to call a meeting of the committee for the purpose of calling a convention. He replied that since the last campaign there was no committee and that he had no power in the matter. As it was usual for the party executive committee to last from convention to convention this answer excited comment and question, and the Standard hinted that possibly a change of heart politically on the part of the chairman was the explanation. In April, on the question of Southern rights, Miller declared himself a supporter of Buchanan's administration and because of his opposition to the principles of "Black Republicanism" declared
his intention of acting in the future with the Democratic party.
On April 26 McRae declared himself a candidate for governor on the issue of distribution. He also expressed his opposition to any further increase of the State debt for new internal improvements and asked for non-partisan support. In other respects he was frankly still a Democrat in belief. But like the Democrats of the old school he was lukewarm, if not indeed hostile, to state-supported internal improvements and this won him additional favor from the Whigs, who were relapsing into the former Democratic attitude in the same proportion that the Democrats occupied the former Whig position. In consequence he received the support of the Whigs.
The campaign was extended and given up almost entirely to the discussion of distribution and possible further extension of the system of internal improvements. In the preceding legislature the Whigs had shown a tendency to oppose the western extension and this question figured largely in the campaign. The contest waxed warm at times and Ellis and McRae actually came to blows at Beaufort.
In May Asa Biggs was appointed United States district judge to succeed Judge Henry Potter who, after a service of 56 years, had died the year before, and Governor Bragg at once appointed Clingman to succeed Biggs in the Senate. Thomas Lanier Clingman was born in that part of Surry County which has since become Yadkin, in 1812. He graduated from the University in 1832 and studied law and in 1835 was elected to the House of Commons from Surry. He then moved to Buncombe and in 1840 was elected to the state Senate. In 1843 he was elected to Congress, was defeated for re-election by James Graham, but was again elected in 1847 and had served there ever since. As will be remembered he had left the Whig party in 1852.
Clingman's promotion to the Senate, left a vacancy in the mountain district and a warm contest took place there between W. W. Avery and Zebulon B. Vance.
The result of the election was never in doubt during the campaign. Ellis' majority was 16,383 in a total vote of 96,475, the legislature was Democratic with a majority of fourteen in the Senate and forty-four in the House, and Vance defeated Avery with a majority of more than two thousand.
During the autumn a most interesting political struggle developed. Holden's defeat emboldened to open opposition many of his party who disliked him but had hitherto feared him too much to attack him. From every quarter came attacks upon him and accusations of disloyalty to Ellis and to the party. Holden, as has been said, had behaved very well, accepting his defeat with good grace rather than otherwise and giving to Ellis very loyal support. All this counted for nothing in the desire of his enemies to crush him. The fight was redoubled when it became evident that his name would be presented to the legislature for election to the United States Senate. Here begins the breach between Holden and the States' Rights Democracy which he had organized and led, a breach which in time, although he was the foremost advocate of secession, drove him into the ranks of Union men simply because of the efforts of his enemies in his own party.
His first step was rather towards closer relations with the rank and file of the party. He became an earnest advocate of the popular election of judges and endorsed heartily the movement for ad valorem taxation which was really directed against property in slaves, and endorsed at first the movement in Wake County which led to the organization of the Wake County Workingmen's Association which was the most active organization for a reform in taxation.
When the legislature met Henry T. Clark of Edgecombe, was chosen Speaker of the Senate over Ralph Gorrell of Guilford, and Thomas Settle, speaker of the House, over Denis D. Ferebee. The matter of first interest before the body was the election of senator. During the autumn the State had been full of the rumor of a combine which was said to
have existed between Clingman, Holden, Biggs and Bragg by which Holden was to be elected governor, Biggs was to resign from the Senate to go on the federal bench, Clingman was to be appointed by Bragg to succeed him and Bragg himself was to be elected to the Senate to succeed Reid.
The story may or may not be true. In any event the failure of Holden to secure the nomination for governor broke the plan somewhat. He was told by his friends that the "combine" had not acted fairly by him and was urged to contest with Bragg for the place in the Senate. He finally consented after his relations with Governor Bragg had become much strained. Before the legislature met he resigned from the Literary Board to which Bragg had appointed him. But the opposition to him was too strong and on the first ballot the vote stood: Bragg, 40; Holden, 36; Reid, 18. On the second ballot Reid's friends who were angry with Holden for entering the contest, went for Bragg and the vote was Bragg, 58; Holden, 36. Holden was later rather regretful that he had opposed Reid even in this way. Bragg was thus elected to succeed Rei, who was greatly hurt by his defeat, and Clingman succeeded himself.
The session lasted ninety-five days, the longest in the history of the General Assembly to that time. It had no record of achievement corresponding. Its early days were spent in selecting the senators, everything else of course being subordinated and it spent a large part of its later time in discussion of the Danville Connection. In 1848, it will be remembered, application had been made for a charter for a road from Greensboro to Danville and in this legislature the proposition was renewed through the influence of John M. Morehead, who was a member of the legislature. A tremendous fight followed directed at first against the proposition on its merits and gradually developing into an attack on Governor Morehead who was known to be the author and inspiration of the bill. The East felt that the North Carolina Railroad would suffer, and against the proposition were arrayed the Standard, the Register, and a large number of prominent
men including R. R. Bridgers, W. T. Dortch, Pride Jones, John W. Norwood and Dennis D. Ferrebee. Morehead endured the personal attacks for five days and then rose to make one of the most remarkable, powerful, and successful personal defenses in the legislative history of North Carolina. The Danville Connection, however, was defeated.
A proposition for a convention of the people then came up and was defeated, as was a resolution, introduced by M. A. Bledsoe of Wake, looking to the ad valorem taxation of all property, but which had for its chief purpose the imposition on slave property of some adequate and equitable share of the tax burden.
Jonathan Worth, who was a Whig member of the Senate, brought in a report on the condition of the Western North Carolina Railroad which reflected bitterly upon the management of its president, Charles F. Fisher. Fisher replied and a war of words ensued lasting for nearly two years in which politics played as large a part as the railroad question.
Ellis's inaugural related chiefly to internal improvements in which he had always been deeply interested, but, in a somewhat conservative way, it also touched upon the question of the protection of States' rights. The allusion is as follows: "We are not prepared for the acknowledgement that we cannot enjoy all our constitutional rights in the Union. Should that day unfortunately come, but little doubt need be entertained that our people will act as best comports with their interests and honor and with the sacred memories of the past to whatever the result may lead."
At the close of the session the opposition appointed a state executive committee and began preparations for an active congressional campaign. The year was interesting politically. Holden's struggle with his enemies, particularly those in Wake County where he was engaged in a bitter fight with Cantwell and Whitaker, two rival editors, continued and caught the attention of the whole State without regard to party. The most popular accusation made against him was of attempted domination and the following editorial
comment of the Standard was so misinterpreted as to form a base for the charge: "The Standard speaks the sentiments, and has the confidence of the Democratic masses of the State, and because of this, and for no other reason, it can kill and make alive."
When Postmaster General A. V. Brown died in 1859 it was supposed that Reid would succeed him, but the condition of his health stood in the way and President Buchanan telegraphed an offer of the position to L. O'B. Branch. The latter was out of reach and did not receive it and the President appointed Joseph Holt. In December, 1860, when Howell Cobb, on account of the secession of Georgia, resigned as secretary of the treasury, Buchanan offered the place to Branch, who declined to accept.
The Standard and the Register were carrying on their usual warfare and the latter became so bitter and so hostile to the administration and the Democratic party that it finally was able to say, "The Standard asks who we will support for the presidency. We answer that we will support any opponent of rotten and corrupt Democracy who is not an abolitionist or Black Republican; and furthermore, we say that as between an abolitionist or Black Republican and a Democrat we will make no choice."
The congressional elections were dominated by the sectional agitation. In the first district, W. N. H. Smith, who was again the Whig candidate, defeated H. M. Shaw. Thomas Ruffin was re-elected in the second without opposition. Winslow was unsuccessfully opposed in the third by M. J. McDuffie, an independent Democrat. In the fourth Linn B. Saunders, another independent Democrat, was defeated by Branch. In the fifth there was the same array of candidates as two years before, S. E. Williams being the Democratic candidate, John A. Gilmer the Whig, and M. Q. Waddell an independent Whig. Gilmer was elected. A. M. Scales was defeated by James M. Leach, the Whig candidate in the sixth. In the seventh Burton Craige was re-elected over S. H. Walkup, who was nominated by the Whigs and
declined, then reconsidered and ran. Vance was again successful in the eighth, defeating David Coleman who had withdrawn from the campaign two years before in favor of Avery. The Whigs had thus elected four members of Congress and were highly pleased with the result. The total vote in the elections, however, showed a Democratic majority of 5,934.
When Congress met in December a deadlock ensued which lasted until February. Gilmer came very near to election as speaker at one time and at another Smith was elected, but before the result was announced several members from Pennsylvania changed their votes. He could at any time have secured the election if he would have agreed to allow the Pennsylvania changed their votes. He could at any time have and means, which they wanted packed in favor of a protective tariff, but he did not care to have it on such terms, and William Pennington, a New Jersey Republican who was serving his first and last term in Congress, was chosen.
The Whigs, highly delighted with the result of the congressional elections of 1859, nerved themselves to further achievements, and determined to carry the election of 1860. The executive committee at once summoned a state convention to meet in Raleigh in February and county meetings followed. It soon became evident that a considerable element of the party favored adoption of the principle of ad valorem taxation as a party issue likely to carry the election. It was equally clear that the Democratic party would not accept it.
The Whig convention met on February 22. R. C. Puryear was president of the meeting. It was a large and enthusiastic body of over two hundred and fifty delegates representing fifty-three counties. John Pool of Pasquotank, Alfred Dockery and George Davis were the only persons mentioned for the nomination and the first mentioned was chosen unanimously. William A. Graham was endorsed for the presidential nomination. The platform advocated ad valorem taxation of all property, demanded a convention of the people to make that and other necessary changes in the constitution, proclaimed the devotion of the party to the Union and demanded its preservation, and bitterly condemned the Democratic administrations, state and national.
John Pool, the nominee for governor, was born in Pasquotank in 1826. He graduated at the University in 1847 and was admitted to the bar the same year. He was immediately very successful in his profession and became known as one of the strongest lawyers in his section of the State. He had been a member of the state Senate in 1856 and in 1858 where he had been one of the leaders of the opposition and had won some reputation. He was a cool, self-reliant, ambitious and utterly unscrupulous man who was willing to win on any terms.
The party was by no means united on its chief issue as many Whigs were utterly opposed and even Pool himself had opposed it and voted against it in the Legislature of 1858. Kenneth Rayner was a strong opponent of the policy from the time it was proposed in the county meetings. Writing to Judge Ruffin in February he said,
Well the convention of the "opposition" party has come off and they have passed a resolution in favor of ad valorem taxation and recommending a convention to change the Constitution so as to enable the Legislature to pass such a tax bill. I voted against it and I will not sustain, but will oppose it before my people. Mr. Badger made a speech in favor of it and Graham who was here is also in favor of it. It was carried by an overwhelming majority, many Eastern men voting for it. I wish I could tell you and talk to you. I could tell you many things about influences which have been at work that would astonish you. As to the effect of this thing--as to the prospect of its being engrafted on our State policy--all now depends upon the action of the Democratic convention, to meet here on the 8th of March. I have conversed with several prominent Democrats and I think they are inclined to oppose it. If the Democratic convention also endorses it, of course the measure will go through the next Legislature with but little resistance. If the Democratic convention takes ground against it, there will be to a very considerable extent a re-organization or recasting of parties.
You insisted on my staying and attending the convention of my party to oppose this thing, and I was in great measure influenced by your wishes. Now I beg of you to attend the convention of your party for the same purpose. I think the prominent Democrats are disposed to take ground against the measure, but they are evidently alarmed and need the strengthening influence of able, calm and dispassionate men of their party. By coming down here and attending the convention you may prevent the carrying out of this mischievous and pernicious measure--for such I regard it.
In March Rayner wrote again:
As I wrote you before, I am most decidedly opposed to this notion of ad valorem taxation, as proposed to the late opposition
convention in this place, and I intend to oppose it with all the power and influence I possess.
What I have to ask of you is this--to sit down when you have a leisure hour, and write down the objections to this measure in the way it strikes you most forcibly--of course I do not wish to tax you so far as to write all the minute details of the subject; but what I desire is that you will present the salient points of the argument.
Having been a member of the Convention of 1835--and therefore in a measure one of the parties to the compact or compromise entered into on this subject, I feel that I am particularly called on to resist this measure.
When the election came Rayner voted the Democratic ticket, declaring that the Constitutional Union party was only a negation.
On the other hand Democrats were favorable to ad valorem, including for some time W. W. Holden. But after the Whig convention he was silent and finally opposed it.
The Democratic convention met at Raleigh, March 8. About three hundred delegates attended, representing sixty-one counties. W. W. Avery was temporary chairman and David S. Reid president. The platform was entirely Southern in the extreme sense and contained a distinct secession threat. Its reply to the Whig demand for ad valorem taxation was a straddle--an endorsement of equality of taxation within the limits of the constitution--a most comfortable statement that might be interpreted as conditions required to mean anything or everything. Governor Ellis was renominated without opposition and W. W. Avery, W. W. Holden, Bedford Brown and W. S. Ashe were chosen delegates to the national convention.
The joint debate was a heated one devoted largely to the state issue in spite of Ellis' efforts to keep national questions to the fore. The Whigs had a powerful argument in the inequality of the taxation system in favor of the slaveholders. The Workingmen's Association had put forth statistics to show that 187,842 slaves, worth $112,568,800 went untaxed, while those taxed, at the poll rate of 50 cents, 159,925 in
number and worth $139,000,000, paid only $75,462. The same amount in taxes would be paid by $31,000,000, loaned out while the slaves on whom it was paid were valued at $250,000,000. The discrimination is apparent. It was evident in other ways. Land worth $1,000 paid a tax of $1.50 and a negro worth $1,800 yielded to the State only 50 cents. It is evident that the issue was not a genuine party issue, but one between slaveholders and non-slaveholders. But for the situation of national affairs undoubtedly a new alignment of parties would have resulted and since the non-slaveholders were in the great majority, the ultimate issue is not at all uncertain. The Whigs had made no demand for any exemptions and Ellis used this very cleverly to arouse the people against the plan, telling them that ovens, pots, pans, chickens, and eggs would be taxed. He had on his side the settled disinclination of North Carolinians, suspicious then as now, to meddle with the existing tax system even when relief is promised to the masses. The Whigs of course had a very powerful argument in the fact that North Carolina was the only Southern State that did not tax slaves as property.
The interposition of the national campaign alone saved Ellis from defeat if we may judge from the material now available on the subject. Pool was a stronger man on the stump, was a stronger man in intellect and power generally, and he had the popular and equitable side of the question at issue. Many Whigs had come into the Democratic party on account of the national situation, for John Brown's raid was dominating national politics in the State, but the state issue had won a considerable number of Democrats away from their party, most of them from the non-slaveholding class. Ellis had a majority of 6,340 in a total vote of 112,586 and the Democrats won the legislature with a majority of twelve in the Senate and ten in the House.
Returning now to the national campaign, it will be remembered that the Democratic convention met at Charleston in April. W. W. Avery was chairman of the platform committee
and presented the majority report and defended it in a speech. Holden was prominent in the convention and made a Union speech. W. S. Ashe spoke in quite the opposite vein, warning the convention when the minority report was adopted that it meant the secession from the convention of the Southern delegates, and Bedford Brown also gave a similar warning. When the delegates from the Cotton States withdrew, the North Carolina delegation refused to go and by their action undoubtedly prevented the withdrawal of the delegations from the Border States. When the balloting for the presidential nomination began, North Carolina voted thirteen times as a unit for R. M. T. Hunter, twelve times for Lane, and six times for D. S. Dickinson. Then, until the balloting ceased, her vote was divided between Lane and Douglas, the latter receiving one vote, that of R. P. Dick.
When the convention met at Baltimore, all the North Carolina delegation withdrew except Dick, Holden and J. W. B. Watson. The others joined the seceders in Richmond and took part in the nomination of Breckinridge and Lane. North Carolina Democrats were overwhelmingly in favor of Breckinridge; and while Holden was for some time doubtful whom he would support, he finally decided to favor the Breckinridge ticket with the understanding that the electors would vote for Douglas, if by doing so they could defeat Lincoln. He had returned from Charleston strongly impressed with the necessity of preserving the Union but in a month he was again arguing in behalf of secession. Editorially he said:
But it is said that the Supreme Court may in the future be an unsafe tribunal for the South; that the Black Republicans will obtain control of it and turn its decisions against the slaveholding States. That may be so. At present it is certainly a safe tribunal for the South. It may be changed and no doubt will be, if the Black Republicans should obtain possession of the Government. But what of that? Must we wait until this change is made? Shall we permit Lincoln to pervert the whole power of the Government and in addition to turn the Supreme Court against us? We are for
meeting the enemy at the threshold--for vanquishing him or being vanquished long before his law, his adjudications against us are made. If the people of the South are true to themselves they will never be troubled by the decisions of Black Republican judges. But if they submit to the inauguration and rule of Black Republicans they will bind themselves to submit to the decisions of abolition courts.
The various elements in the country which could not accept the principles of either branch of the Democratic party or of the Republican party met in April and organized the Constitutional Union party with the platform "The Constittion, the Union, and the Enforcement of the Laws," nominated John Bell of Tennessee, and Edward Everett of Massachusetts. These received the enthusiastic support of the North Carolina Whigs led by Badger and Graham.
In August a Douglas convention was held in Raleigh with thirty-one counties represented which chose an electoral ticket. Douglas was present and address the convention. R. P. Dick was the chief leader of the group and was assisted by Thomas Settle, D. K. McRae, H. W. Miller, and a number of lesser lights. Their campaign was active but entirely hopeless. It however gave great alarm to the Breckinridge Democrats who were fearful of losing the State to Bell, who seemingly developed great strength as the campaign progressed.
On the whole the campaign was moderate in tone. After the division of the party the situation was so evidently serious that most speakers were very conservative in expression of opinion. In January Holden, as a result of the John Brown raid, was advocating in the Standard war preparations and telling B. S. Hedrick, who had written him a letter, that he would not publish it, but that if he came South with the abolition invaders that the State would welcome him and them "with bloody hands to hospitable graves," but in the autumn this sort of talk was chiefly notable in its absence. Rather there was a sort of stillness, a tenseness, of waiting, of hoping against hope that the impending calamity of Republican
success with its undesired consequences might be averted.
The result of the election was as follows:
|Breckinridge. . . . .||39,711|
|Bell. . . . .||36,640|
|Douglas. . . . .||2,245|
With this election ends an era.
Politically and socially North Carolina in 1860 showed a very remarkable development as contrasted with the North Carolina of 1835. The very atmosphere of the community was different. The phenomenal advance of internal improvements and of public education had liberalized the people to an extent almost undreamed of in 1835. The greater part of this development had taken place in the last decade prior to 1860.
In population the growth of the State can be seen from the following table:
|Per Cent. Increase||Rank|
|1840. . . . .||484,870||2.54||10|
|1850. . . . .||553,028||14.05||12|
|1860. . . . .||629,942||14.42||15|
|1840. . . . .||22,732||13.31||8|
|1850. . . . .||27,463||20.81||5|
|1860. . . . .||30,463||10.92||6|
|1840. . . . .||245,817||.08||5|
|1850. . . . .||288,548||17.38||6|
|1860. . . . .||331,059||14.73||7|
|1840. . . . .||753,419||16.31||7|
|1850. . . . .||869,039||2.1||10|
|1860. . . . .||991,464||14.2||10|
Of this population only 3,298 were foreign born, a very slight increase in the number over 1850. In both census years this was the lowest number of any of the States in the Union. Of the natives of other States, 22,044 were living in North Carolina while 272,606 were living outside the
State. This population in 1850 lived on 56,963 farms with an average acreage of 316. There were in the State 1,184 farms of over 500 acres and only 311 with over 1,000 acres.
The material changes were also striking. In 1850 the State had 248 miles of railroad, and in 1860, 889. In the former year there were 18 banks and branches, while in the latter there were 60, and the capital had almost doubled. In the real value of property, real and personal, there was an increase of 58.17 per cent, the amount for 1860 being $358,739,399, and for 1850 $226,800,472. The rank of the State in this respect in 1850 was 11, and in 1860, 20. The assessed value in 1860 was $292,297,602. The State was of course agricultural and its rank in this respect compared with the other States is interesting:
|Wheat. . . . .||14|
|Corn. . . . .||11|
|Rye. . . . .||13|
|Oats. . . . .||16|
|Peas and beans. . . . .||2|
|Irish potatoes. . . . .||22|
|Sweet potatoes. . . . .||2|
|Butter. . . . .||29|
|Cheese. . . . .||24|
|Wool. . . . .||18|
|Flax. . . . .||6|
|Rice. . . . .||3|
|Tobacco. . . . .||5|
|Horses. . . . .||13|
|Asses and mules. . . . .||11|
|Oxen. . . . .||21|
|Milch cows. . . . .||14|
|Other cattle. . . . .||13|
|Sheep. . . . .||15|
|Swine. . . . .||8|
|Value of stock. . . . .||15|
In manufacturing there had been considerable development with the promise of more. The manufacturing situation in 1860 is best seen from the following:
|Number of establishments. . . . .||3,689|
|Capital. . . . .||$9,693,703|
|Cost of raw material (annual). . . . .||$10,203,228|
|Number of hands|
|Men. . . . .||12,106|
|Women. . . . .||2,111|
|Cost of labor. . . . .||$2,689,441|
|Value of product. . . . .||$16,678,698|
Government was comparatively inexpensive and in the amount of taxes paid in the different States, North Carolina stood twenty-first in 1860 as against fifteenth in 1850.
Intellectually, the State was improving. Twenty years of public schools, with the system for eight years of that time under Calvin H. Wiley, were beginning to show results. The school situation in the two census years appears in the following:
Number of schools 1850, 2,657; number of teachers 2,730; number of pupils 104,095; amount expended $158,564; number of schools 1860, 2,994; number of teachers 2,928; number of pupils 105,025; amount expended $268,719.
There were also many private schools and academies, each class showing an increase over 1850. The number of illiterates had decreased from 73,566 in 1850 to 68,128 in 1860.
While in many respects the outlook was encouraging, the State was still ridden by national politics, ever the curse of the people. With the adoption of the free suffrage amendment which had performed an incredibly valuable service to the State in awakening interest in state affairs, it looked as if the people would relapse into their former indifference. In 1860 the question of ad valorem taxation gave promise to renewed interest in State politics. The following extract
from a letter written in 1857, shows the feeling of the few who recognized the greatness of the evil:
It was intended by the framers of our governmental organism, both State and Federal, that the will of the whole people should be ascertained in the way just pointed out (Legislative elections in the States), and experience has taught us, that any departure from our organic laws, and any lack of due observance of them while in force, are attended with direful results. This was never more obvious than in the case of this State. Who can say, without fear of successful contradiction, that North Carolina, with all her natural advantages, is not this day, far behind her sister States in an agricultural, manufacturing, and commercial point of view? Is she not rather following slowly in the wake of other States? We are forced to admit that she is. And why? Is it because she has no rich and productive soil that invites the industry of the husbandman? No. Is it because the manufacturer cannot manufacture cotton fabrics, woolens, flour, tobacco, shoes, boots, etc., etc.? No. Is it because a widespread and enriching commerce would not certainly grow out of a well directed system of agriculture and manufactures, fostered by an extensive system of internal improvements? No. There is, in fact, no good reason--there never has been any plausible reason, why North Carolina should not soon be in advance of most of the States of the Union, in point of her agriculture, manufactures, and commerce. On the contrary, there are many powerful reasons why she should be a great and prosperous State. She possesses the natural elements that form the sure basis of wealth and power, and these only require the hand of industry properly applied to develop them in all their strength and worth. Her soil, for the most part, is rich and astonishingly productive, and is susceptible of the highest state of cultivation. She has water power unsurpassed, sufficient to drive any amount of machinery. She has harbors on her seaboard that will compare favorably with the best on the Atlantic coast, and the surface of her territory is such that railroads, leading from almost every point of trade, may be built with a very moderate outlay of means.
Why, let me ask, have all these advantages been so long
neglected? There must be some cause for this novel condition of our State. Our people are intelligent, industrious, and enterprising when properly encouraged, and it is not because they are wanting in these indispensable requirements of success. If we will look at the leading characteristics of our Legislatures and legislation, we may find the prime cause of all our backwardness and neglect of precious and valuable interests and advantages. The Legislature and legislation have almost uniformly been of a partisan and political character. Whig, Democrat, or American, Federal politics entered chiefly into the election of legislators, and the result was political legislation. Witness the proceedings of our Legislatures, and say if this is not true. What do our Governors and legislators talk about for the most part, but Federal politics and the offices to be filled? How much time has been lost in electing our Senators to Congress, our Attorney Generals, and solicitors--in discussing empty resolutions touching matters with which the State Legislature had nothing to do. Look to the journals of, and the debates in the Legislature, and every conservative man will learn to his supreme disgust. One will be astonished and dispirited to see how completely Federal politics control our best interests, and that too, in our halls of State legislation. Look to our legislation upon matters of pressing and practical importance, and no one can fail to see how great detriment the whole State has sustained from time to time by political and office-seeking Legislatures. Look, for example, at our system of internal improvements, the great mainspring of commercial wealth and prosperity at this day. Who can tell where it begins, or where it is eventually to end? What is the settled policy of the State upon this great matter of public concern? Who can tell? What great points of trade and commerce are to be united by railroads and navigators? What have we not now, roads giving our seaboard and the whole State a direct connection with the great heart of the Mississippi Valley, so that our State might enjoy the incalculable benefits of that commerce that ought to belong to it? Misguided honesty and political legislation is the cause. Who dares to say that ever upon the internal improvement interests of the State, Federal party politics has not exerted an unwholesome influence?
Indeed, the time has fully come when the people of North Carolina ought to look to her immediate interests--when her people ought to throw off party ties in the election of Governor and members of the Legislature, and when their votes should be influenced in these elections by questions of State policy solely. Politicians and office seekers should be trampled under foot, and the people should call upon the candidates for office and not the candidates upon the people to elect him.
The slavery situation in the State furnishes a most interesting field of study. North Carolina, like Virginia in the early years after the Revolution and even thereafter, looked upon slavery as an evil. During all these years anti-slavery sentiment was freely expressed and various organizations were founded for securing emancipation, the most notable being the North Carolina Manumission Society with headquarters at New Garden which had over 30 separate branches by 1830. Naturally the feeling was strongest among the numerous Quakers in the State and they were the most active, but it was not at all confined to them. Cotton growing was a negligible interest in the State and the large plantation was the exception. Hence slavery was not nearly so profitable and the interest was not so shielded as in some of the other Southern States.
The rise of the abolition movement in the North with its loud, unjust, violent, and threatening attacks upon slave-holders as well as slavery changed this condition. The Southampton insurrection only hastened the process. Opponents of slavery within the State ceased to agitate against slavery and began to defend it. The Manumission Society and kindred organizations disappeared. Laws against the negro, whether slave or free, became, on the statute books at least harsher and more rigid. The free negroes were deprived of the suffrage. By 1849 opposition to abolitionist doctrines had entered politics and each party regularly charged as its most damning indictment against the other that it had a leaning in national affairs towards the abolitionists, or that it was controlled by them. Politics, not economics, solidified North
Carolina sentiment in favor of slavery, and politics was responsible for the complete suppression in behalf of slavery of free thought and free speech which now followed in respect to the whole question. Not that slavery was not increasingly valuable, viewed from one angle. With Virginia, North Carolina discovered that the breeding and selling of slaves to the Southern market paid well, and hence the prices of slaves in North Carolina rose steadily until in 1859 and 1860 they reached their highest point. It is said that in those two years the two States sold more than 100,000 slaves to the South. If that be true, and there is no reason to suppose it false, the reason for the advance in the price of slaves is clear.
In spite of these facts, slavery was a curse to the vast majority of white people in the State. Consider the question of slave ownership, by no means the most important consideration. In 1860 there was a total of 34,658 slaveholders owning 331,059 slaves. The distribution of the latter is most interesting.
|Slaveholders||No. Slaves Owned|
|6440. . . . .||1|
|4017. . . . .||2|
|3068. . . . .||3|
|2546. . . . .||4|
|2245. . . . .||5|
|1887. . . . .||6|
|1619. . . . .||7|
|1470. . . . .||8|
|1228. . . . .||9|
|4044. . . . .||10 to 14|
|2029. . . . .||15 to 19|
|1997. . . . .||20 to 29|
|870. . . . .||30 to 39|
|474. . . . .||40 to 49|
|423. . . . .||50 to 69|
|188. . . . .||70 to 99|
|118. . . . .||100 to 199|
|11. . . . .||200 to 299|
|4. . . . .||300 to 500|
It will be noted that more than half of the slaveholders--18,316--owned not more than five slaves, and therefore that their real economic interest lay with the non-slaveholders. If we add those who owned less than ten, most of whom were of the same class, we find the total is 24,520, leaving the small total of 10,158 who owned ten or more. Of course the total of the slaveholding class was greater than the number of slaveholders since their families must be included. The relative numbers were approximately 173,290 of the slaveholding class as against 456,652 in the non-slaveholding class.
For the non-slaveholders and that part of the other class mentioned above slavery was a bond and a shackle. Labor was not only cheapened but degraded and the door of opportunity was to a great extent closed. Consciousness of this came slowly to the State as a whole, but the flood of immigrants moving to the free North and West to found there abolitionist families is testimony beyond impeachment that the more progressive elements of the non-slaveholding population were finding it out individually.
It cannot be said that anti-slavery feeling ever died in North Carolina, for among the Quakers at least it survived, but it was silent from 1835 until after 1850. By that time a new leaven was at work, due to better education, better means of communication with the other sections of the State and the rest of the world, and visible and growing evidences of the effects of slavery. Daniel R. Goodloe, who left the State in 1844, and in 1848 became one of the editors of the National Era, an abolition paper published in Washington, was the first of a group of North Carolinians to become outspoken and active opponents of slavery. He became convinced by the arguments used in the State in 1831 in defense of slavery that it was wrong, and further study and reflection made him believe it wrong for other than humanitarian reasons. Hinton Rowan Helper, the most important of the North Carolina abolitionists, hated the negro and based the entire argument of his famous Impending Crisis on the economics of slavery and the non-slaveholders, and his main thesis was
unanswerable. He represents perfectly the point of view of the educated and thinking non-slaveholder. Hedrick also represents the revolt against slavery for economic and social reasons.
One of the clearest indications of the spread of anti-slavery sentiment is to be seen in the fact that by 1860 the New York Tribune, the most hated probably of all the anti-slavery newspapers, had about 200 subscribers in the State and other similar papers were also circulated in increasing numbers. Abolitionists traveled over the State ostensibly as peddlers, booksellers, or preachers, but really circulating tracts, newspapers, or Helper's book. In 1860 four were known to be engaged in this work in Guilford County alone. They were George W. Vestal, Daniel Worth, Samuel Turner, and Jesse Wheeler. It is not doubtful that there were many more in the same locality as well as in other sections. It became increasingly difficult to convict such offenders and finally they were regularly tried by juries composed entirely of slaveholders.
The final and by far the most significant movement against slavery took, as was to be expected, an economic form. The demand for ad valorem taxation of slave property was a conscious attempt to secure justice in taxation and unconsciously was a movement of the non-slaveholders, led by the artisan class, against slavery itself. There is to my mind scarcely a doubt that had not the war intervened the issue would have led to a complete reorganization of parties which in time--and no long time--would have put the State in the hands of the non-slaveholders and ultimately would have made of North Carolina a free State.
The State in 1835 was decadent; in 1860 it was steadily moving forward. One can almost believe that the very nature of the people was being changed. The rapidly growing expenditure of public money for internal improvements and public education was heartily approved by the majority of the people. Conservative they still were, but they were awake and from economic progress were looking to intellectual and
political progress. The future was bright and the horrors of the war and of reconstruction are intensified to the student of North Carolina history because of the wonderful educational work that they interrupted, the progressive spirit that they stifled, and the faith in the future that they destroyed.
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