Curtis Hooks Brogden (1816-1901)

Written By Kellie Slappey

Curtis Hooks Brogden served the state of North Carolina for half a century as a state representative, state senator, state comptroller, U.S. Congressman, lieutenant governor, and finally as the 42nd governor.

Curtis Hooks Brogden was born on November 6, 1816 to yeoman farmers, Pierce and Amy Brogden, in Wayne County, North Carolina. Although Brogden attended school, he was primarily self-educated. 

During the 1830s, the “Age of the Common Man,” Brogden was attracted to the political philosophy of Andrew Jackson. In 1838 the autodidact was elected as the representative for Wayne County to the North Carolina House of Common. He served there for seven terms. In 1857, Brogden was elected by the General Assembly as the state comptroller and served through the Civil War.

 During his political career, Brogden developed a close friendship with William Woods Holden, the editor of the North Carolina Standard and a governor of the Tar Heel State during the turbulent Reconstruction years.  When the North Carolina Republican Party was formed in 1867, Brogden joined Holden in its ranks.  A year later, Brogden was elected to serve as the Wayne County state senator.  He served in this post for three terms, and Brogden remained a fervent Holden supporter and voted for the governor’s acquittal in the impeachment trial.

In 1872, Curtis Brogden was chosen to run on the Republican ticket for lieutenant governor. Brogden served a year and a half as the lieutenant governor before Tod Caldwell died and the Wayne County native became the executive of the state in 1874.

As governor Brogden made stronger efforts than his Republican predecessors to compromise with the Democrat-controlled state legislature.  Brogden concentrated his efforts on education.  He reopened the state’s flagship university (UNC) and emphasized the need for a state supported black college. Governor Brogden also made efforts to lower the state debt and called for consolidation of railroad holdings. Brogden chose not to run for re-election and instead ran for a seat in the U.S. Congress, which he won in 1877.

Curtis Hooks Brogden retired in Goldsboro and died on January 5, 1901; he was buried in Willowdale Cemetery.