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).
A Bertie County native, a College of New Jersey (Princeton University) graduate, and part of the Marache Club, David Stone served not only as Governor of North Carolina (1808-1810) but also as a state legislator in the House of Commons (1790-1795, 1810-1811), as a U.S. Representative (1799-1801), and as a U.S. Senator (1801-1807, 1812-1814). As governor he worked to protect personal property rights and promoted education in the Jeffersonian spirit. As a US Senator, he was censured by the General Assembly for opposing war efforts.
An influential supporter of the ratification of the U.S. Constitution, Archibald Maclaine may have been even more influential if not for his defense of Tories within the state. One of the original trustees of the University of North Carolina, Maclaine was known for his belief in the law and order and for his willingness to stand in the minority for issues he supported.
Born in Chester County, Pennsylvania, Hugh Williamson was a physician and polymath who served as one of North Carolina’s delegates to the Federal Constitutional Convention. Active in the debates at the Convention, Williamson was a leading intellectual in Revolutionary and post-Revolutionary America.
Political debate often brings out the worst in people. Thankfully dueling is now outlawed, but the personal pettiness that saturates the political process makes me long for the spirit of the good ol’ days to be placed in a modern-day boxing ring, where the disgruntled can find satisfaction and then get on with the business of genuine debate
Noted for its similarities to the Declaration of Independence, “Principles of An American Whig” (1775) was written by North Carolinian and later United States Supreme Court Justice James Iredell. The essay reveals that a budding American independence movement had been blossoming into political maturity.
A group of Democratic-Republicans/Jeffersonians who feared government encroachment and disliked Federalist policies, the Warren Junto was in many ways more Jeffersonian than Thomas Jefferson. The Warren Junto became a political force during the early 1800s.
Born into wealth, Benjamin Smith died in poverty. From 1810 to 1811, Smith served as governor of North Carolina. Although a Democratic-Republican, he never abandoned his former Federalist inclinations.
The second, and to date the last, North Carolinian to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court, Alfred Moore was appointed in Fall 1799 to succeed Justice James Iredell after the first Supreme Court justice from North Carolina had died. Before then, Moore had battled Tories and the British during the American Revolutionary War and had served in the North Carolina House of Commons. After being nominated twice by the state Senate to run for U.S. Senator, Moore was defeated both times by Republican opponents: Timothy Bloodworth and Jesse Franklin. Moore was considered one of the state’s outstanding attorneys and leading Federalists.
On March 27, 2007, Pulitzer Prize winner Gordon Wood discussed his recent book, Revolutionary Characters: What Made the Founders Different, at a North Carolina History Project Headliner Luncheon. His entire lecture can be viewed here.