A U.S. Congressman and later a U.S. Senator, David Settle Reid served as North Carolina’s governor from 1851 until 1854. The Democrat is known for playing an instrumental role in the demise of the North Carolina Whig Party with his adroit debating in the 1848 election. He is also known for being supportive of public education and for defending what he believed to be southern rights.
Thomas Bragg served as the governor of North Carolina from 1855-1859. Bragg’s terms have been noted for the broadening of manhood suffrage and for internal improvements, most notably the North Carolina Railroad.
During the late 1800s and early 1900s, much like Governor Charles Aycock, Governor William W. Kitchin was part of a new wave of Democratic leadership in North Carolina—a group that earned a reputation for being progressive in regards to government regulation while promoting white supremacy.
Charles B. Aycock served as Governor of North Carolina (1901-1905), when a “strange amalgam of views toward race and reform,” writes historian Milton Ready, “came together in the move by Democrats to do away with the black vote without violating the Fifteenth Amendment or eliminating a vast number of white illiterate voters through the suffrage amendment.”
Lesser known than his Progressive predecessors, including Governor Charles B. Aycock, the “Little Giant of the West” nevertheless implemented significant conservation and transportation programs. Early in his political career, Locke Craig was a Populist who supported William Jennings Bryan’s presidential candidacies; however, the Buncombe countian soon worked to help the White Supremacy movement regain control of North Carolina, became a Democrat who served in the North Carolina House and lost the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate. He became Governor of North Carolina in 1912.
Richard Caswell was not only one of the first of delegates chosen to represent North Carolina at the first Continental Congress but he was also the first and fifth governor of the Tar Heel State.
The Brookings Plan was a collection of reforms proposed by the Brookings Institution, a Washington, D.C. think tank. Searching for economic solutions to the state’s financial problems, Governor O. Max Gardner commissioned the plan shortly after the onset of the Great Depression.
John Owen served two, one-year terms as a North Carolina governor, after he had served in the House of Commons, as a state senator, and on the Council of State. He is known for being an advocate for primary public education and internal improvements and for warning against what he considered abolitionist attempts to spark civil unrest. He is the brother of James Owen, slaveowner of Omar Ibn Said, author of the only known American slave narrative written in Arabic.
A lawyer and the last governor elected by the General Assembly, Richard Dobbs Spaight, Jr., served as the chief executive of North Carolina for one term (1835-1836). Before then he had served as a state legislator and U.S. Congressman, and afterward he practiced law in New Bern. Many of his cases were pro bono.
A New Bern native and father of North Carolina Governor Richard Dobbs Spaight, Jr., Spaight was a leading Federalist delegate to the Constitutional Convention and governor of North Carolina from 1792 to 1795. He later allied with Jeffersonian Republicanism after disagreeing with Federalist support for the Alien and Sedition Acts (1798).