During the Whig Era of North Carolina politics in the 1830s, several groups, politicians, and citizens promoted anti-slavery sentiment. One such politician was North Carolina Supreme Court Justice William J. Gaston who wrote two opinions that favored both slaves and black freedmen in the 1830s. The two cases, State v. Will (1834) and State v. Manuel (1838), became hallmarks of the antebellum anti-slavery movement.
Subject: Political History
Robert Vance and Samuel Carson, two North Carolina natives and politicians, dueled on November 5, 1827. Although the General Assembly had outlawed the practice of dueling in 1802 after the Stanly-Spaight duel of 1802, Vance and Carson agreed to settle a political dispute with pistols. During the duel, Carson shot and wounded Vance who died a day later. Although Carson became somewhat of a pariah in North Carolina, he later helped create the Republic of Texas.
Born in Caswell County, Bedford Brown grew up on his family farm and later attended the University of North Carolina. Brown served in the North Carolina House of Commons and Senate before his service in the U.S. Senate (1829 – 1840). After his resignation, Brown worked on his family farm at Rose Hill.
Born in Raleigh in 1801, William H. Haywood, Jr., served as a U.S. Senator from 1843 until 1846. He studied at the University of North Carolina, was admitted to the bar in 1822, and he later practiced in Raleigh. As a Democrat, Haywood served in the state legislature until moving to the U.S. Senate. Haywood resigned from office in 1846 and he practiced law until his death in 1852.
Willis Smith and Frank P. Graham endured a pivotal Democratic primary election in 1950. Both candidates contented for the U.S. Senate seat left open by Senator J. Melville Broughton’s death. During the race, Smith and Graham divided on social issues, particularly racial integration. Smith’s calculated attack of Graham’s liberal social views proved successful as he won the primary and eventually the 1950 Senate election.
Frank Porter Graham was President of UNC Chapel Hill, United Nations arbiter and US Senator (1949 to 1950).
Incumbent Joseph Abbott lost the U.S. Senate election to political veteran Zebulon Vance in 1870. Abbott filed a complaint concerning Vance’s eligibility to serve in the Senate, relying on the 14th Amendment and its provision that Confederate supporters could not hold office in the U.S. Congress. After a year of deliberations, the Senate Elections Committee ruled in Vance’s favor, but Vance resigned before the committee issued its verdict. Matt Ransom was elected to replace Vance in 1872.
Born in Transylvania County, Augustus Merrimon served as a U.S. Senator from 1873 to 1879 and as Chief Justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court from 1889 until 1892. After his service in the Confederate Army, Merrimon became a state superior court judge and he was involved in the impeachment of Governor William Holden. Chief Justice Merrimon died in office on November 14, 1892.
On October 8, 1826, Matt Whitaker Ransom was born in Warren County. After graduating from the University of North Carolina and studying law, Ransom started to practice law in his hometown. Ransom served as a general during the Civil War, after which he served in the Senate for over twenty years, becoming the president pro tempore in the 53rd Congress.
Willie Mangum, born in 1792 in Durham County, served as a North Carolina Senator for nearly 20 years. Mangum studied at the University of North Carolina in 1815, and was admitted to the state bar in 1817. In 1823, Mangum was elected to the national House of Representatives, and in 1830 he became a N.C. Senator. During President John Tyler’s tenure, Mangum served as the Senate president pro tempore.