Richard Caswell Memorial, Kinston
A memorial plaque mounted on stone is erected near the presumed location of Richard Caswell's grave. The plaque sits on the stone slab, approximately three feet high, and is made of metal, likely bronze. The plaque was cast as the front elevation of a Greek revival architectural style building. In relief on the building’s pediment are several components from the Great Seal of the State of North Carolina, to include the state motto” Esse quam videri” meaning "To be, rather than to seem". Also prominent are the figures Liberty and Plenty facing towards each other. A bas-relief eagle in flight is directly below the pediment with the inscriptions appearing below the eagle’s spread wings.
This monument is in the same style used at another Kinston site to commemorate Robert F. Hoke, a Civil War general who lead his regiment against the Union Army at Kinston. The Robert Hoke Memorial was dedicated several months later in 1920.
Front: SOUTH OF THIS MARKER, 166 YARDS, IS THE GRAVE / OF RICHARD CASWELL, THE FIRST GOVERNOR OF / NORTH CAROLINA AS AN INDEPENDENT STATE / "I WILL MOST CHEERFULLY JOIN ANY OF MY / COUNTRYMEN, EVEN AS A RANK AND FILE MAN, / AND WHILST I HAVE BLOOD IN MY VEINS FREELY / OFFER IT IN SUPPORT OF THE LIBERTIES OF MY COUNTRY." / (CASWELL TO HIS SON IN 1775) / ERECTED 1919 BY / THE NORTH CAROLINA HISTORICAL COMMISSION, / CITIZENS OF LENOIR COUNTY AND CASWELL-NASH CHAPTER, D.A.R.
North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources, Governor Caswell Memorial Site
September 1, 1919
35.266700 , -77.621500 View in Geobrowse
"CSS Neuse and Governor Caswell Memorial," North Carolina Historic Sites, historicsites.nc.gov, (accessed April 12, 2019) Link
"Grave of Richard Caswell," Kinston in Lenoir County, North Carolina, The Historical Marker Database, HMdb.org, (accessed April 13, 2013) Link
Angley, Wilson. 2005. "Richard Caswell," NCpedia.org, (accessed April 12, 2013) Link
North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources. "Military-Political Leader Richard Caswell," ncdcr.gov, (accessed May 8, 2023) Link
North Carolina Historical Commission. Seventh Biennial Report (Raleigh: Edwards & Broughton Printing Company, 1919), 17, (accessed April 12, 2013) Link
Sampley, Ted. “Searching for Richard Caswell’s Grave: The Evidence,” Olde Kinston Gazette (Kinston, NC), March, 1999 Link
Thompson, Jessica Lee. “The Great Seal of the State of North Carolina,” North Carolina History Project, http://northcarolinahistory.org, (accessed February 29, 2016) Link
“Kinston Pays Homage to the Memory of Caswell,” Greensboro Daily News (Greensboro, NC), September 2, 1919, 14
North Carolina Historical Commission, Citizens of Lenoir County, Caswell-Nash Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution
The monument was funded by $100 provided by the donations of citizens and $100 appropriated by the North Carolina Historical Commission.
The monument was unveiled on Monday September 1, 1919 beginning at 10:30 a.m. with a patriotic song. The Reverend Charles Read from the Queen Street Methodist Church began the ceremony with an invocation, and the Honorable H. E. Stacy gave the keynote speech. The day was a holiday for county officials and citizens to commemorate one of Lenoir County’s most well-known and revered statesmen.
Richard Caswell served as both the first and fifth governor of North Carolina. He was a surveyor and lawyer and served in the Continental Congress. President of the provincial congress that drafted North Carolina's first constitution in 1776, he took the oath of office as the State's first governor in 1777.
The Great Seal of the State of North Carolina is full of symbolism. Read more about the history of the Great Seal, symbols, figures of Liberty and Plenty in "The Great Seal of the State of North Carolina" by creators of "North Carolina History Project."
This plaque design, approved by the state legislature was used over a period of years in memorials associated with the North Carolina Historical Commission. Other examples of the same plaque design are Daniel Boone and Nathanael Greene in Lexington, Arsenal Memorial in Fayetteville, and Bentonville Battlefield marker in Bentonville.
[Additional information from NCpedia editors at the State Library of North Carolina: This person enslaved and owned other people. Many Black and African people, their descendants, and some others were enslaved in the United States until the Thirteenth Amendment abolished slavery in 1865. It was common for wealthy landowners, entrepreneurs, politicians, institutions, and others to enslave people and use enslaved labor during this period. To read more about the enslavement and transportation of African people to North Carolina, visit https://aahc.nc.gov/programs/africa-carolina-0. To read more about slavery and its history in North Carolina, visit https://www.ncpedia.org/slavery. - Government and Heritage Library, 2023.]
There has been debate about the exact location of Caswell's grave and its proximity to the marker. No proof could be provided until 2008 when Dr. Charles Ewan, Professor of Anthropology at East Carolina University, performed an excavation that provided relatively strong evidence that Caswell is buried where the marker indicates. However, no definitive proof has been established.
The marker is located on West Vernon Avenue (Route 70/258) near the entrance to the CSS Neuse and Governor Caswell Memorial historic site in Kinston, North Carolina, in Lenoir County.
The marker is located about six feet from the road. It is surrounded by mature shade trees and grass.