Monday, June 21, 2010

The political side....

Lately, I’ve been exploring the topic of war-time politicians from North Carolina. Probably not surprising is the lack of biographical material on these leaders of the Old North State. What I want to do is to create a list and see if I am missing anything (or anybody).

There are numerous books about Zebulon Baird Vance. They include:

(1897) Dowd – Life of Zebulon B. Vance.
(1937) Yates - Zebulon B. Vance as War Governor of North Carolina, 1862-1865.
(1941) Adler – Zebulon B. Vance and the “Scattered Nation”
(1958) Yates – The Confederacy and Zeb Vance.
(1961) Camp – Governor Vance: A Life for Young People.
(1963) Shirley – Zebulon Vance, Tar Heel Spokesman.
(1966) Tucker - Zeb Vance: champion of Personal Freedom.
(1980) Szittya – Man to Match the Mountains: the Childhood of Zebulon Baird Vance.
(1985) Cooper – Zeb Vance: a Leader in War and Peace.
(1995) Weinstein – Zebulon B. Vance and “The Scattered Nation.”
(1971) Vance – My Beloved Zebulon: the Correspondence of Zebulon Baird Vance and Harriett N. Espy.
(2004) McKinney – Zeb Vance, North Carolina’s Civil War Governor and Gilded Age Political Leader.
(2005) Mobley – “War Governor of the South” : North Carolina’s Zeb Vance and the Confederacy.

And then there are two volumes of letters covering through 1863, one dissertation (Shirley 1959), and one bachelor’s thesis (Centon 1912). I must admit that I do not own all of these – and I am confused by the Adler (1941) and Weinstein (1995) titles of the same name. Maybe someone who has seen both can help. But I do own the majority.

I think Zeb is pretty well covered, historiography speaking. Let me also propose this question: has any other War-time governor been the subject of more books? I could only find five books on Georgia’s Joe Brown; I found no biographies on Florida’s John Milton, nor on Alabama’s John G. Shorter. Do I need to look further?

Moving on. What about North Carolina’s other war-time governors? John G. Ellis has no biography. Henry Toole Clark has one, and recently published (2009). North Carolina’s post-war governor, William Woods Holden, has one (1987). Then of course, there is Edward Stanly. He is North Carolina’s other war-time governor, appointed by Lincoln, who did not serve a full year. Stanly was the subject of a biography released in 1974.

To my knowledge, the only other Tar Heel to receive a book-length biographical study is Thomas L. Clingman, in a book by Thomas E. Jeffrey released by the University of Georgia Press in 1998. Of course, Clingman is not really a war-time politician. He did serve as a US Senator prior to the war, and largely North Carolina’s equivalent of Rhett or Yancey or Yulee. Clingman became a Confederate general.

So there is my list. Anyone know of any more book-length treatments of North Carolina Civil War politicians?

There need to be more. William W. Avery, who helped spilt the Democratic party, needs a biography. So does James T. Leach, a Confederate Congressman who advocated peace and largely led North Carolina’s Peace Party. How about our other Confederate leaders in the senate: George Davis, William T. Dortch, Edwin G. Reade, or William A. Graham? At the end of the war, Davis was serving as the Confederate Attorney General. And I don’t think any of the members of the House have a biography.

Well, there is my overview. What do you think? What have I missed?


Anonymous said...


Great list -- I would add something on Jonathan Worth. Richard Zuber has one called, "JW: A Biography of a Southern Unionist."

He was from the Piedmont, Quaker country, and as LT Gov (I believe) fought very hard to protect those who didn't want to fight, while still serving the state.

btw, I enjoy your posts quite a lot!

Michael Hardy said...

Thanks for the note. As the story goes, Governor Vance was arrested in May 1865, and President Johnson appointed William Woods Holden governor. In November 1865, a state wide election was held for members of Congress, a governor, legislators, etc. Jonathan Worth ran against Holden, and won, serving until 1868. Holden ran again in 1868, won, and shortly thereafter, became North Carolina’s only impeached governor. I don’t have Zuber’s book on Worth, but I’m going to look for it.