Daniel Gould Fowle (1831-1891)

Written By North Carolina History Project

The first governor to live in the current executive mansion, Daniel Fowle died while in office.  He is most known for advocating for a college for women that later was called University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

A Washington (Beaufort County) native, Daniel G. Fowle received a solid education in eastern North Carolina before leaving to attend Princeton University.  The Princeton alumnus returned to North Carolina and opened a law practice in Raleigh.  
When others clamored for war in 1861, Fowle opposed secession.  Yet after it seceded from the Union, he sided with his native state, helped create the 31st North Carolina, and built fortifications to encounter advancing Federals.  The Confederate troops held out only briefly on the Outer Banks.  In 1861, Fowle was captured at Roanoke Island.  

Fowle’s political career began during the Civil War.  After his release as a prisoner of war, he was elected as a state representative.  Governor Zebulon Vance later appointed him as adjutant general, but Fowle resigned (something that became his modus operandi when disagreeing with superiors).  He then returned to the state legislature to represent his Wake County district.

During Reconstruction, Fowle was appointed by Governor Holden to serve as a superior court judge.  He resigned, however, because he refused to allow his position to serve merely as a rubber stamp for the military district commander’s actions (At this time ten of the former eleven Confederate states had been divided into five military districts).  Fowle’s popularity in the Democratic Party increased, and in 1868 he became chairman of the Democratic Party in North Carolina.  

His foray into statewide and national elections, at first, was unsuccessful.   He lost the 1880 gubernatorial election and he lost a Congressional race in 1884.  He won the 1888 gubernatorial race in great part because he had pledged to regulate railroads.  Throughout his time as governor, Fowle tried, rather unsuccessfully, to balance industrial and farmer interests.  He achieved victory on the education front, however.  His idea for a school for women (now called UNC-G) was implemented.