Alfred Moore Scales was born on November 26, 1827 in Rockingham County on his family’s plantation, Ingleside. Scales first studied at the Caldwell Institute in Greensboro before transferring to the University of North Carolina in 1845.
Scales studied law under the tutelage of Judge William Battle and passed the bar exam in 1852. Scales practiced law in Madison, North Carolina. He marred Katherine Henderson in 1862 and although they had no biological children they raised his niece, Kate Scales as their own daughter. Alfred Scales served as the solicitor for Rockingham County in 1852 and the Rockingham Representative to the NC House from 1852-1853, 1856-1857, and finally again from 1866-1869. Scales was elected to represent the Tar Heel State in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1857-1859 and 1875-1884. During the Civil War Alfred Scales volunteered for Confederate service and was a member of the Rockingham Guards, which became Company H of the 13th Regiment. Scales became a brigadier general and was seriously injured during battle at Chancellorsville and Gettysburg.
In 1884 Alfred Scales was nominated as the Democrat candidate for governor of North Carolina. Scales defeated the Republican candidate, Tyre York, by 20,000 votes. As Governor, Scales avoided contentious issues, such as prohibition, and worked to foster reconciliation among former Confederates and Republicans. No major government programs or innovations were implemented during his tenure. Scales focused mainly on repairs and improvements of already existing programs, including schools, roads, and the Department of Agriculture.
In 1889, Scales returned to the private sector and became the President of the Piedmont Bank. Alfred Scales died on February 9, 1892 and was buried in Greensboro in the Green Hill Cemetery.