Soldier, lawmaker, governor, and diplomat, Davie is best remembered as the principal founder of the University of North Carolina. Despite his many accomplishments, Davie’s ardent Federalism fostered a growing voter disenchantment with him, and he spent his last years living in a self-imposed political exile.
As businessman, Revolutionary War veteran, signer of the Constitution, territorial governor, and United States Senator, William Blount spent his lifetime looking for opportunities. No place in the late-eighteenth century United States offered better opportunities for a person with Blount’s disposition and connections than did the trans-Appalachian frontier. Ultimately Blount’s grasp exceeded his resources, leading Blount to devise a desperate plan that failed—and led to his expulsion from the United States Senate.
A Federalist who represented North Carolina in the United States Congress from 1791 until 1803, William Barry Grove supported the ratification of the Constitution and thwarted the Democratic-Republic agenda. He earned a reputation as pro-British and anti-French and a supporter of Federalist foreign policy.
A representative of North Carolina at the signing of the Declaration of Independence, William Hooper risked death and sacrificed his personal income to secure the creation of the United States. He later pursued a Federalist political ideology, which many North Carolinians disagreed with, and served as a federal judge until shortly before his death.
Edward Vail, resident of Edenton, North Carolina, is most known for his support of American Independence. He served on North Carolina’s Committee of Correspondence prior to the American Revolution and was a colonel in the State Militia.
James Iredell (1751-1799) was a leader of the North Carolina Federalists during the state ratification debates of the federal Constitution. Following ratification, President George Washington appointed the North Carolinian to the U.S. Supreme Court, where he served until his death in 1799. His best-known opinion is his dissent in Chisholm v. Georgia (1793) that provided the basis for the subsequent adoption of the Eleventh Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Originally, the term “Federalist” referred to supporters of the federal constitution of 1787. Though the Federalist Party existed for less than half of a century, it helped define the new nation. Though they may have lost many political battles, Federalists may have won the war, for their vision of a cosmopolitan and industrialized America eventually came to fruition.