The historian Irving Brant, who wrote a six-volume biography of James Madison, once complained about his subject’s modest place in America’s historical memory. “Among all the men who shaped the present government of the United States of America, the one who did the most is known the least.” In a modest effort to redress this Madisonian neglect, here are five things we should all know about America’s fourth president.
Subject: Political History
Luther Hodges was the 64th Governor of North Carolina (1954 to 1961). He also served as United States Secretary of Commerce from 1961 to 1965. Hodges was known for his role in creating Research Triangle Park.
A North Carolina native, Hiram Rhodes Revels was the first African American to serve in the U.S. Senate and in U.S. Congress
Josephus Daniels was a prominent journalist and newspaper editor from North Carolina. He purchased the Raleigh News and Observer in 1894 and became a leading “New South” political commentator. He was appointed by President Woodrow Wilson to serve as Secretary of the Navy during World War I. He later served as ambassador to Mexico under President Franklin Roosevelt.
Governor O. Max Gardner implemented the Live at Home Program in 1929. The initiative encouraged farmers to increase food and livestock production in order to improve farm conditions and provide for year round family farm consumption.
Born on May 16, 1891, in Beaufort County, North Carolina, Herbert Bonner served for nearly 25 years in the U.S. Congress. As a representative of the state’s First District, Bonner sought to create jobs via federal programs for his constituents. Bonner also chaired the Committee on Election of President, Vice President, and Representatives and the Committee on Merchant Marine and Fisheries. Bonner passed away after his fight with cancer on November 7, 1965.
During the Whig Era of North Carolina politics in the 1830s, several groups, politicians, and citizens promoted anti-slavery sentiment. One such politician was North Carolina Supreme Court Justice William J. Gaston who wrote two opinions that favored both slaves and black freedmen in the 1830s. The two cases, State v. Will (1834) and State v. Manuel (1838), became hallmarks of the antebellum anti-slavery movement.
Robert Vance and Samuel Carson, two North Carolina natives and politicians, dueled on November 5, 1827. Although the General Assembly had outlawed the practice of dueling in 1802 after the Stanly-Spaight duel of 1802, Vance and Carson agreed to settle a political dispute with pistols. During the duel, Carson shot and wounded Vance who died a day later. Although Carson became somewhat of a pariah in North Carolina, he later helped create the Republic of Texas.
Born in Caswell County, Bedford Brown grew up on his family farm and later attended the University of North Carolina. Brown served in the North Carolina House of Commons and Senate before his service in the U.S. Senate (1829 – 1840). After his resignation, Brown worked on his family farm at Rose Hill.
Born in Virginia in 1887, Willis Smith studied law at Trinity College, and he served as a inheritance tax lawyer from 1915 until 1920. After serving in the state legislature, Smith ran for the U.S. Senate in 1950 after the death of Senator J. Melville Broughton. Smith defeated Frank P. Graham in the Democrat Party runoff, and he thereafter served in the Senate until his death in 1953.