MEMOIRS OF AN OCTOGENARIAN
Gateway of Bellamy Mansion
JOHN D. BELLAMY
MEMOIRS OF AN OCTOGENARIAN
Printed in U. S. A.
OBSERVER PRINTING HOUSE
CHARLOTTE, N. C.
JOHN D. BELLAMY
JOHN D. BELLAMY
Former Member of Congress,
State Senator and
Dean of The North Carolina Bar
These narratives and memoirs are truthful and faithful portrayals of events occurring between the years 1839 and 1942, divided into several respective periods.
While each narrative relates events happening primarily in North Carolina, there is much that is pertinent to the National Political Conventions and to the Administrations of President William McKinley and President Theodore Roosevelt, while the author was a member of the 56th and 57th Congresses of the United States.
If these notes be of interest in recalling a glamorous phase of American life that has vanished, and of value in connecting that period with the mighty Nation of today, my aspirations will be gratified.
JOHN D. BELLAMY.
January 1, 1942.
|Adams, John—President of United States||50|
|Andrews, A. B.—Vice-President Southern Railway||116|
|Ashe, William S.—Congressman||6|
|Bailey, Joseph W.—U. S. Senator, from Texas||130|
|Bailey, Josiah W.—North Carolina; U. S. Senator||50|
|Battle, Kemp P.—President University of North Carolina||107|
|Beery, B. W.—Shipbuilder||5|
|Bellamy, Dr. John D.—Secessionist and Slave Holder||1|
|Bellamy, Dr. W. J. H.—Prominent Physician||111|
|Belmont, O. H. P., Jr.—U. S. Congressman from New York||153|
|Bigelow, Poultney—Author; Malden-on-Hudson||183|
|Bryan, William Jennings—Senator; Candidate, three times, for President||173|
|Butler, Benjamin F.—General, and Governor of Massachusetts||30|
|Butler, Marion—Legislator and U. S. Senator from North Carolina||106|
|Cannon, Joseph G.—Native North Carolinian; Congressman from Illinois; Speaker||145|
|Cantwell, Col. John L.—State Militiaman; Seized Ft. Johnston for Confederacy||7|
|Clark, Champ—Congressman and Orator||153|
|Clark, Walter—Judge Superior and Supreme Court, North Carolina||200|
|Clarkson, Heriot—Judge Superior and Supreme Court, North Carolina||158|
|Cleveland, Grover—Governor of New York, President of United States||89|
|Cockran, Burke—Congressman from New York||175|
|Cole, E. P.—A.M. of William and Mary College; Judge||85|
|Colston, Raleigh E.—Confederate General, Professor; Commander of Egyptian Forces||34|
|Connor, Henry G.—Judge Supreme Court, North Carolina; U. S. District Judge||176|
|Crawford, W. T.—Congressman from North Carolina; unseated||128|
|Cutlar, DuBrutz—Confederate Sequestration Officer||70|
|Daniels, Josephus—Editor, Secretary of Navy, U. S. Ambassador to Mexico||111|
|Davis, George—Confederate State Senator; Officer in Jeff Davis's Cabinet||28|
|Davis, Jefferson—President of The Confederate States||28|
|Davis, John C.—Religious Fanatic||91|
|Devane, D. J.—Distinguished Lawyer||75|
|Devère, Schele—Baron, and Professor of German at University of Virginia||1|
|Dockery, O. H.—Congressman; Defeated by Author||134|
|Dolliver, Jonathan P.—Republican Leader of 56th Congress||127|
|Duke, R. T. W., Jr.—Lawyer; Attorney for Koontz Brothers, Bankers||144|
|Empie, B. G.—Recorder and State Senator||75|
|Fiesole—Capital of Tuscany||191|
|Fowle, Daniel G.—Orator and Governor of North Carolina||95|
|Gage, Lyman J.—Secretary of Treasury under McKinley||149|
|Gilmer, John A.—Judge Superior Court, North Carolina||81|
|Gilmer, John A., Sr.—Declined Seat in Lincoln's Cabinet||81|
|Gordon, Mrs. Mason—Nee Robertson, Friend of Martha Jefferson||40|
|Hall, Col. E. D.—Made Confederate Charge at Marye's Heights||89|
|Harrihan, W. J.—President of Railroads, S. A. L., and C. and O.||156|
|Haskell—Governor of Oklahoma||174|
|Hargrove, Colonel John||47|
|Henderson, D. B.—Congressman, Speaker of 56th Congress||120|
|Henry, R. L.—Congressman, Texas||153|
|Hepburn, Admiral—Member of Geneva Conference||178|
|Hepburn, “Pete”—Congressman from Iowa||120|
|Herring—Judge, from Texas||153|
|Holt, Thomas M.—Governor of North Carolina; Cotton Manufacturer||95|
|Howell, Andrew J.—Minister, Poet||199|
|Hoxie, Mrs. Vinnie Ream—Sculptor and Painter||151|
|Inland Water-Way Canal—Opposition of Speaker Cannon||146|
|Iowa—Chief Officers of 56th Congress||120|
|Johnson, Andrew—President of the U. S. and the Pardon||22|
|Johnson, Joseph E.—General; Wounded at Seven Pines||21|
|Jones, Hilliary F.—Admiral; Geneva Conference||178|
|Jones, Pembroke—Capitalist; Owner of Airlie Estate||184|
|Kelly, Colin P.—Captain; Hero killed in Phillipines||21|
|Kitchen, Claude—Speaker of Congress||128|
|Kitchen, William Walton—Congressman, Governor of North Carolina||128|
|Knox, John—Scotch Clergyman of Edinburgh||196|
|Koontz, Luther—Banker of New York||144|
|Levy, T. Jefferson—Congressman from New York||125|
|Lillington, Alexander—Governor of North Carolina||162|
|Lindbergh, Charles E.—Flight to France||190|
|Linney, Romulus Z.—Republican, 56th Congress||127|
|Martin, C. H.—Congressman from North Carolina||134|
|Martin, Thomas—U. S. Senator from Virginia||144|
|Mary, Queen of Scotts—Execution||196|
|McClelland, George B.—Congressman, New York||112|
|McKinley, William—President of United States||124|
|McLaurin, John L.—U. S. Senator from South Carolina||130|
|Morehead, Mrs. John L.—Entertainer at Washington||151|
|Morrison, Cameron—Governor and U. S. Senator||136|
|Napoleon—Fortification at Waterloo||193|
|New Deal—Author in favor of it||50|
|Osborne, Francis I.—Attorney-General and Judge United States Court||134|
|Owen, Robert L.—Senator from Oklahoma||174|
|Peebles, Robert Bruce—Judge of North Carolina Court||197|
|Penrose, Boies—Congressman from Pennsylvania||141|
|Polk, Leonidas L.—President of State and National Farmers’ Alliance||102|
|Pou, E. W.—Congressman from North Carolina||128|
|Price, James—Populist, North Carolina||139|
|Pritchard, Jeter C.—U. S. Senator and U. S. Circuit Judge||142|
|Purnell, Thomas M.—Scallawag—Judge of U. S. District Court||176|
|Quarles, Julian M.—Congressman from Virginia||144|
|Randolph, Mrs. Martha Jefferson—Author of “Life of Jefferson”||41|
|Ramson, Matt W.—U. S. Senator from North Carolina; Ambassador to Brazil||32|
|Reynolds, Robert R.—U. S. Senator from North Carolina|
|Richardson—English Solicitor, Manchester, England||99|
|Richardson, Mrs.—Author and Wealthy Donor||99|
|Roosevelt, Franklin D.—Three Times Elected President of the United States||199|
|Russell, Daniel L.—Judge, Congressman, Governor; Saved from Impeachment||67|
|Sherer, J. B.—President of Davidson College||36|
|Sherman, James S.—Vice-President of United States||140|
|Sherman, W. T.—Yankee General; Atrocities of March through South||23|
|Sibley, Joseph—Democrat in 56th Congress; Republican in 57 Congress||126|
|Slave Market in Wilmington, North Carolina||14|
|Small, John H.—Member of 57th Congress||128|
|Smith, Alfred E.—Governor of New York; Candidate for President||198|
|Smith, Benjamin—Early Governor of North Carolina||3|
|Stevens, Thad—Pennsylvania Congressman; Hater of the South||151|
|Stocks or Whipping Post in Wilmington, North Carolina||25|
|Taft, William H.—Judge; President; Chief-Justice; Great Patriot||176|
|Tammany—Debt of Gratitude due by Southerners||51|
|Theta Delta Chi—College Fraternity||85|
|Tilden, Samuel J.—Elected President, but unjustly counted out||89|
|Tillman, Ben—U. S. Senator from South Carolina||129|
|Townsend, Scudder—Member of Congress; Judge of New York||153|
|Turner, Josiah—Editor; Legislator; Confederate Congressman||114|
|Turrentine, Rev. Morgan C.—Minister for Slaves on Grovely Plantation||19|
|Ullery, F. B.—Chicago Capitalist||54|
|University of North Carolina||106|
|University of Virginia—1873 to 1875||1|
|Underwood, Oscar—Congressman and Senator from Alabama||112|
|Walters, Harry—Railroad President; Capitalist||155|
|Warner—Congressman from Ohio||150|
|Wheeler, General Joe—Member of 56th Congress||126|
|Wilmington—Largest Naval Stores Port in World; Creosote Plants||162|
|Wilson, Rev. Joseph R.—Father of Woodrow Wilson||114|
|Wilson, Woodrow—Boyhood in Wilmington; President of Princeton and of the United States||112|
|Young—Democratic Congressman, from Norfolk, 56th Congress; Unseated by Dr. Wise||129|
When I was a student at the University of Virginia, in 1873, I majored in German, taking a very extensive course in what was then called Parallel German, in order to equip myself for the practice of admiralty and maritime law. This course included the reading, in German, of the works of Schiller, Klopstock, Richter, Goethe, and other German writers.
Living in the port of Wilmington, where ships came from all parts of the world to load with cargoes of naval-stores—especially from the great German ports of Bremen, Hamburg and Danzig—I felt it was most essential that I be familiar with the language of that country, to enable me capably to conduct the trial of legal cases. To this end I faithfully endeavored.
While yet a student, I was recommended by my professor, Baron Schele Devère, to fill the Chair of German in one of the Kentucky colleges, the compensation being one hundred dollars a month. Although I was fully cognizant of the great honor conferred upon me by this recommendation, I felt that it must be declined. I had definitely decided to pursue the profession of law, and could let nothing interfere with this decision.
I was graduated from the University of Virginia as a Bachelor of Law, in 1875, and have been an active attorney until this date, January 1, 1942. On the sixtieth anniversary of my graduation from my beloved Alma Mater, I had the pleasure of arguing two cases before the Supreme Court of the State, in Raleigh, North Carolina.
The great poet, Goethe, published his renowned autobiography at the mature age of eighty years. Though a brilliant piece of work, it was designated by the simple title “Aus Meinem Leben.” Memory of my vivid interest in this book, recently suggested to me the propriety of writing my own biography. This I have done, and have called it “Memoirs of an Octogenarian.”
I was born in the City of Wilmington, North Carolina, on the corner of Dock and Second Streets, on the 24th of March, 1854, in the former residence of Governor Benjamin Smith. My father, Dr. John Dillard Bellamy, was a native of All Saints’ Parish, South Carolina, having been born on September 18, 1817, on his father's plantation on Winyah Bay—adjoining
Francis Marion's on one side, and Robert Heriot's on the other.
The name Bellamy is of French derivation, and was originally spelled “Bellamie”—meaning wonderful friend.
All of the Bellamy ancestors were born in South Carolina. John Bellamy, the first of the name in Carolina, was an Original Grantee of St. John's Parish, Charles Towne—his grant being located between the Ashley and Cooper Rivers. In 1665, he had sailed from Holland to the Barbadoes, and from there to the Carolina coast, with Sir John Yeamans. A short while later, he had settled at Goose Creek, a few miles above the city, where he spent the remainder of his life. His son, John, had reached maturity and was managing his own plantation on the Santee, in All Saints’ Parish, in 1690. John, the eldest son of the next generation, removed to Buck's Creek, and it was his son, John, who owned the plantation on Winyah Bay, where my father was born. These Bellamys were gentlemen of culture and wealth—leaving a splendid heritage to their posterity. I am the seventh generation to be named “John Bellamy.”
When my father moved to Wilmington to live, in 1837, he read medicine in the office of the noted physican, Dr. William James Harriss, as was customary in those days for students who intended to go to medical colleges for their degrees. In 1839, he was graduated, with honors, from Jefferson Medical College, of the University of Pennsylvania, and returned to Wilmington to begin the practice of his profession. On June 12th, of the same year, he was married to Eliza McIlhenny Harriss, daughter of his first medical instructor, and his wife, Mary Priscilla Jennings. His plans were completed to leave in July and spend his honeymoon in Europe—taking Cousin Laura Rothwell as companion for his young wife—when the sudden death of his father-in-law changed everything. His wife was not willing to leave her bereaved mother, and it was imperative, also, that the young physician immediately take charge of Dr. Harriss's practice. So, they remained in Wilmington, living in the Harriss home for a number of years.
My father was a splendid gentleman. I can truly say, as did Plato of Socrates: “He was the wisest, fairest, and best man I have ever known!”
Dr. John Dillard Bellamy and his wife, Eliza McIlhenny Harriss—my father and mother—had the following children: Mary Elizabeth, who married William J. Duffie, of Columbia, South Carolina; Marsden, who became a prominent attorney of Wilmington, married Harriet Harllee, of Mars Bluff, South Carolina; William James Harriss married Mary W. Russell, and was a famous physician of Wilmington and vicinity; Eliza and Ellen remained single, and lived in the old home, after the others married; I, John Dillard, came next, and married Emma M. Hargrove, daughter of Colonel John Hargrove, of Granville County, North Carolina; George, known as the “Duke of Brunswick” because of his political connections, married Kate Thees; Chesley Calhoun was never married, and died in early manhood; Robert Rankin, the youngest, was a very prominent druggist; he married Lilly Dale Hargrove, a sister of my wife. The various ones who married have left families of cultured men and women, of notable achievement.
It was about the year 1846 that my father bought the Benjamin Smith residence. This house had been built for Governor Smith at the zenith of his career, under a ground lease from Mrs. Ann Claypole, in 1805. On the records of the Register of Deeds of New Hanover County, there is the contract for this building, between Mrs. Claypole and Benjamin Smith, prescribing the number of stories, thickness of brick walls, and interior finish. It became his town residence while Governor of North Carolina—his permanent home being “Belvedere,” in Brunswick County. The Wilmington residence eventually was bought by my father, Dr. John D. Bellamy. He and my mother lived there until they built their new home, at Fifth and Market Streets, in 1859.
Governor Smith, whose town residence my father bought, was for years a wealthy man; he was the earliest and greatest benefactor of the University of North Carolina—having given the proceeds of twenty thousand acres of land in Tennessee for its Literary Fund. Yet, he died in poverty—actually in prison bounds for debt, in Smithville, the town named in his honor!
He was buried at night, by torch-light, in the Smithville graveyard, to escape an alias writ, Ca Sa, (Capias ad Satisfaciendum) issued in hourly contemplation of his death. Old
Mrs. Stuart, whom I knew intimately, told me she had helped prepare his body for burial, and had held the torch at the grave, before dawn! The services were conducted by General Swift, Commander of the garrison at Fort Johnston.
When Sheriff Leonard arrived the next day, Governor Smith had already been buried, and his body had become a part of the dust of the earth! The sheriff could serve no writ. It was no longer enforcible!
I will say, in passing, that Governor Benjamin Smith was a brother of George Smith, and that they were grandsons of Landgrave Thomas Smith. “Landgrave” was the title of nobility created by the Locke Constitution of Carolina. Mrs. William Dry, wife of the Collector of the Port of Old Brunswick, and Mrs. R. Barnwell Rhett, of Charleston, were sisters of George and Benjamin.
During their early lives, there was a quarrel between the brothers regarding the dividing line of Orton and Liliput Plantations, which they respectively owned, and upon which they lived. A duel was fought with pistols, and Benjamin was thought to have been killed. Mrs. Dry, being very much alarmed, persuaded George to leave immediately for Charleston, and stay with his sister, Mrs. Rhett, until the affair was settled. Benjamin, however, recovered and lived many, many years. The Rhetts, having no children, adopted George—giving him their name and making him sole heir to all their property. It was thus that he became the celebrated R. Barnwell Rhett, Jr., of South Carolina!
Early in 1875, I was in Smithville, conversing with Mrs. Stuart. She told me that many years before, she had been sitting on her porch, when a well-dressed, splendid looking gentleman approached, and introduced himself as R. Barnwell Rhett, Jr., of Charleston, South Carolina. He asked if she could give him any assistance in locating the grave of his brother—Governor Benjamin Smith—and she told him that she certainly could; she could show him the identical spot, as she had helped bury him.
Mr. Rhett employed several negroes to excavate the grave, but found only a few bones, and they could not be identified. Mrs. Stuart, remembering how often she had heard the Governor complain of pain in his left side caused by the bullet he had received during the duel, suddenly stopped the work. Procuring
a flour-sifter from her home, she returned, and carefully and gently sifted the ashes of the grave—the memories of that night, so long ago, stealing over her! Finally, she found the flattened, lead bullet, on the left side of the grave—and thus identity had been proven! Mr. Rhett had the remains removed to St. Philip's Churchyard, at Old Brunswick Town, and placed a marble slab to the memory of his brother, Benjamin.
I went to school when quite young, and took great interest in historical events of that era, recalling distinctly the secession of South Carolina from the Union. The Ordinance of Secession was passed in Charleston on the 20th of December, 1860. South Carolina had felt herself aggrieved by the efforts of the Northern people to abolish slavery, and to disregard and encroach upon her reserved rights. In 1859 and 1860, things had come to such a pass that when a slave owner went to New York on business, he would be forced to hire and take a free negro servant with him, for a slave servant would be so tampered with by the abolitionists that he would leave his owner, and would never be recovered. I recollect that my parents, although owners of hundreds of slaves, had to hire Betsey Keeter, a free negro woman, as nurse for their infant son when they went North. No abolitionist would attempt to interfere with a free negro; only the slaves would they entice away.
The day after Secession was passed, December 21, 1860, the Minute Men fired one hundred guns on the streets of Wilmington in honor of South Carolina's course. In the afternoon of the same day, one hundred and one guns were fired across the river at the Beery Shipyard. The one gun was added by Mr. Benjamin Beery, a Secession Democrat, in honor of United States Senator Wigfall, of Texas, who, in a speech in the United States Senate, enthusiastically approved South Carolina's action.
While South Carolina was proceeding in her course and the Secession Movement was being debated in her Convention, a newspaper published in Chicago, claiming to be the mouthpiece of the Republican Administration, came out in an editorial and stated that the acts of South Carolina and other Southern States were all bluff; that the chivalrous men of the South were cowards, they had no pluck, and would eat dirt! (See Wilmington Journal, December 21, 1860). I do not think Lincoln was responsible
for this; but, neither was the action of South Carolina affected in the slightest! Her statesmen had decided upon her course; she was determined to exercise her reserved right to secede.
In 1860, and prior, Wilmington was a Whig center; there were few Democrats in the community. My father, being a South Carolina Secessionist, and a follower of John C. Calhoun, became the leader of the Democratic Party in this immediate section; he was Chairman of the Democratic Association for twenty years before the Civil War. He was an advocate of William S. Ashe, a close family friend, who became a member of Congress, from Wilmington District.
At that time, my father was the largest stockholder of the Wilmington and Weldon Railroad—the parent road of the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad. Through his influence, Mr. Ashe was made president of this road. My father had placed in his possession one hundred shares of the stock—in order that he might qualify for the position. Later, Mr. Ashe was killed in an accident on this same road, near Rocky Point. After the Civil War, a certificate for this stock was returned to my father, by his son, Mr. Samuel A. Ashe, the historian. He stated, in my presence, that his father had requested its return to Dr. Bellamy, with thanks. It had been only a loan.
On December 21, 1860, when the Minute Men fired a salute in honor of South Carolina's departure from the Union, Wilmington had very few Democrats; Mr. Benjamin Beery was a Democrat, as was my father and Mr. William S. Ashe, Dr. William Wilkins, who was killed in a duel fought with a Whig, Colonel John D. Taylor, Mr. John Walker, Colonel John L. Cantwell, Mr. John J. Hedrick, and a few others; but the majority of the country people in and around Long Creek, Harrell's Store, South Washington, Top-Sail, and other sections, were Democrats.
When my father found that the most prominent people in Wilmington were chiefly Whigs—the Moores, the Hills, deRossets, Waddells and Davises—and, being Union men, would not take part in the celebration of South Carolina's withdrawal from the Union, he bought all the empty tar barrels in Wilmington and had them strewn along Front Street, from Campbell to Queen, and on Market Street from the river to Ninth Street,
and had a great bonfire and procession at night, three days before the Christmas of 1860. He procured a band of music, and headed the marching column himself, at Front and Market Streets, with his little son and namesake, the author, by his side, bearing a torch upon his shoulder! It was a night to live always in his memory, and of which he was ever afterwards proud!
Prior to the breaking out of the Civil War the commerce of Wilmington was quite large. I distinctly recall that ships carried cargoes of turpentine, rosin, peanuts and lumber to the West Indies, and came back with cargoes of molasses, mahogany, bananas, oranges, lemons and guava jelly. The molasses was imported in hogsheads, and when unloaded on the wharves would require the bungs to be pulled, to prevent the heat from bursting them. As a boy, my companions and I would go down and catch the molasses as it exuded from the openings. We would get buckets of it and carry it to our homes and have molasses and peanut candy made. Likewise, certain vessels loaded with naval stores would sail to New England, and they would return with shiploads of ice, in large blocks! These were unloaded on elevated platforms and run into ice-houses especially made for that purpose; the boys would eagerly pick up the broken lumps of ice and use it—greatly relished in hot weather!
The Civil War started with the firing on Fort Sumter and the joining in the Confederacy by Alabama, Florida and other Southern States; troops were sent here by the Governor of North Carolina to take possession of the forts which had been seized for the Confederate Government by Colonels John Cantwell and John J. Hedrick, both avowed Secessionists and members of the State Guard. When it became necessary to throw up the embankments at Fort Fisher, my father and other large slave owners furnished hundreds of slaves to assist in strengthening the fortification around Fort Fisher and Fort Caswell, making no charge to the Confederate Government. They thought it a patriotic duty they owed to their country and would not accept any compensation.
When Fort Fisher fell, towards the end of the year, and Forts Caswell and Anderson got into Union hands, the Federal troops marched to Wilmington and took possession of the city, and immediately seized my father's residence, at Fifth and
Market Streets, and used it for headquarters; first, for Admiral Porter and General Alfred Terry, then General Schuyler Colfax, and later General Joseph R. Hawley, a Brigadier-General in the Federal Army, though a native of Stewartsville, Richmond County, North Carolina. My father had to pay severely for this aid and participation in the so-called Rebellion. Besides his own activity, he sent two sons to Virginia—one in the Army, the other in the Navy—and was preparing to send me, another son, in the event the war lasted long enough.
My father's residence, which was seized by the Federal authorities and occupied as the Federal Headquarters, was erected by him immediately preceding the Civil War. Its construction began in 1857 and was completed the latter part of 1859, or early in 1860. In the construction of this residence, it is remarkable that all the carpentry work was performed by negroes, chiefly free negroes. The masonry and plaster work, the cornices and other ornamental work on the walls was also done by negroes. As a matter of fact, in ante-bellum days, white men generally refused to ply the trade of carpenters and masons, thinking it beneath their dignity. So the employment of the negro carpenters and masons was not a matter of choice but one of necessity.
This building has, on three sides, most beautifully proportioned Corinthian columns, with exquisitely carved capitals, and has been greatly admired by connoisseurs. It was designed by my sister, Mary, who afterwards became Mrs. William J. Duffie, of Columbia, S. C.; she had great talent as an artist. The plan of the building was turned over by my father to Mr. James F. Post, contractor and builder—a Northern man who had settled in Wilmington some years before. The house cost my father, as he often told me, many thousands of dollars to construct and furnish, and the amount of its cost was only one year's profit that he made at Grist, now Chadbourn, in Columbus County, from his turpentine and rosin business. The architectural details of the residence were prepared for Mr. post by Rufus F. Bunnell, of Stratford, Connecticut, an eminent architect. Very recently—in 1940—the grandson of Mr. Bunnell, who is Professor of Architecture in Cornell University, came to Wilmington and visited my sister, Ellen, and produced the original drawings
THE BELLAMY MANSION.
that had been prepared for my father, in 1858. Mr. Bunnell informed me that he is now using the plans of this Bellamy residence in his classes on American Architecture at Cornell University, Ithaca, New York. On one occasion, Dr. James C. Baylies, then editor of the publication known as “The Iron Age,” of New York, visited Wilmington—spending a week here; he told me that he had lived nearly four years of his life in Athens, Greece, and was very fond of architecture; that while many of the Corinthian columns, there, were much taller and larger in circumference, none were more beautifully proportioned than were those around my father's home.
All the oil paintings on the walls of this residence, in the parlors and sitting-room, were the production of my sister, Mary.
The photograph of the residence shows it as it now stands, having been taken in the year 1941. The grounds around the residence were more spacious than they now are, extending in front about fifty feet farther on Market Street, and a like distance on Fifth Street; after the Civil War, the two streets were opened by the city and the fence had to be withdrawn and built in its present position.
When the Civil War broke out, the Confederate Government had sequestration officers appointed to condemn, for the Confederate Government, debts due by the Southerners to the Northern merchants. In the Wilmington section, Mr. DuBrutz Cutlar was made the sequestration officer. He found that my father still owed Northern merchants several thousand dollars for the Corinthian columns around his home and for the furnishings of this house; by so-called proper procedure, he condemned these debts, and my father had to pay them to the Confederate Government; after the war was over, when he was least able to pay, the Northern merchants sued him, and again he had to pay these very same debts! Such is the exigency of war.
After the occupation of Wilmington, the Federal Government seized all of my father's property, including Grovely Plantation, in Brunswick County, his plantation in Columbus County, his stores and buildings in Wilmington, and the residence described, on Market and Fifth Streets. The Freedman's Bureau, which
was established by the United States Government to take care of and feed the recently emancipated slaves, was put in possession of all his property—save his residence, which was occupied by General Hawley. Wilmington became the center of the Freedman's Bureau for the negroes of North and South Carolina—from Sumter to the coast, and from the vicinity of Wilmington northward and eastward. Consequently, they came to Wilmington in great hordes and remained here. Many thousands of these negroes dominated the City of Wilmington and the County of New Hanover, politically and otherwise, until the riot of 1898. To show what an influx of negroes came and remained in Wilmington, the population in 1865 and 1866 was about one-fifth white and four-fifths negro, and the old County of New Hanover had a tremendous Republican negro majority.
I was about twelve years of age when President Lincoln was assassinated. Most people, including my own father, deplored, with great horror, the act of assassination! Yet, the statement by some southern papers, that the South went into mourning, was not true! The South thought, while not approving it, that President Lincoln's death might change the course of the war to her advantage, rather than to her detriment. However, it proved a dreadfully unfortunate event! Most of us who are students of history know, and believe, that President Lincoln would have treated the South with greater consideration and leniency; that he would have compensated her for the loss of her slaves, and would not have allowed her to be oppressed afterwards by the reconstructionists.
Many thought that Andrew Johnson, who next became President, would be tolerant to the prostrate South; but he was a renegade and proved to be a very bitter foe.
Had Great Britain not deserted us and had recognized the independence of the Confederacy, undoubtedly the South would have won its cause; but, in the Providence of God, it was preordained otherwise. We would have had thirteen sovereign states, which for a time would have confederated, but in less than a generation would have been at odds and possibly at war with one another, contesting the boundary lines, quarreling over slack enforcement of fugitive slave laws, placing restrictions
on interstate commerce and other similar disputes, instead of the great and powerful nation that we are today.
I remember as a boy how we took the news of our successes and defeats, in the battles in Virginia. Whenever news came of Confederate victories at Manassas, Bull Run, and other places, my companions and I would throw up our arms and cheer lustily! But, thereafter, when came the sad tidings of a battle lost and numbers of relatives and friends killed, we would go behind the house and put our faces in our caps and weep, softly. Such was the feeling evoked by the war.
Although our fondest hopes decayed, we now think it was all for the best; we went through fire and sword to realize it. We never have and never will surrender our belief in the truth and righteousness of the fundamental principles for which we then contended.
England, however, did not give us substantial aid, as promised, consequently we had to look out for ourselves—running the blockade with our side wheel ships, importing almost everything in the shape of clothing, spinning wheels and cotton cards for our people, and Nassau bacon for our soldiers in the field. Looking back, it is wonderful to reflect how the Southern States maintained their independence as long as they did! They cheerfully suffered at home, and had to send to practically all the neutral ports of the world for food and other supplies.
We had in the Navy, Admiral Semmes, of the “Alabama,” Captain John N. Maffitt, of the “Florida,” and Captain James Iredell Waddell, of the “Shenandoah.” They ravaged the seas and did millions of dollars worth of damage to the Federal commerce! It was a sad day for the South when the “Kearsage” sank the “Alabama” off the coast of France, near Cherbourg. The Commander of the “Kearsage” was none other than Admiral John Ancrum Winslow, who was born in Wilmington, North Carolina, on Market Street, but went into the Navy from Boston, Massachusetts, where his father afterwards lived. He had a brother, a Confederate surgeon, residing here during the war.
Admiral Semmes was a very chivalrous and gallant Commander, and he accused Admiral Winslow of unchivalrous Naval conduct in changing his ship's condition, but Winslow thought
that all was fair in love and war. After the “Kearsage” signaled for the fight, when the battle began off Cherbourg, Semmes began firing and struck her broadside, time and again! But, the “Kearsage,” a wooden ship, had been wrapped round and round with iron chains, during the night, by Admiral Winslow, after he had signaled for the fight, and the chains warded off the blows of her enemy. Finally, in her unprotected condition, the “Alabama” was sunk by the shells from the “Kearsage.” In the Navy Yard, at Washington, there is preserved an unexploded shell which was imbedded in her unprotected stern post by the “Alabama.” Admiral Semmes published his naval exploits in the volume entitled “Service Afloat,” the most entertaining and instructive naval narrative I ever read.
After the Civil War, Captain Maffitt settled in Wilmington, and there married his second wife, Miss Martin. His eldest son, Eugene, who was an Ensign on the “Alabama” when she was sunk in the English Channel, came here and married the sister of his father's wife, living in Wilmington until his death. Captain Maffitt was a very entertaining and broadly educated sea-captain. He became a magistrate in New Hanover County, and frequently tried cases at his residence on Greenville Sound. On one occasion I appeared before him, in the trial of a case of the State against Gilbert Whitfield. Gilbert was a tenant who did not pay his rent, and was indicted for moving his crop without paying the landlord. I took the position that the act of the Legislature in making it indictable for a tenant to move the crop without satisfying the landlord's lien could not be applied to this case, as Gilbert swore that he didn't sell, make away with, or dispose of any of the crop whatsoever with any intent to defraud; he and his family had eaten what crop he had made, to keep them from starving, and that was not a violation of the law. Captain Maffitt decided with me that the law could not apply to a case of that kind and dismissed it. He then invited us, the counsel on both sides, into his home, and said to us, “Come in and let's tap the Admiral”! Bringing out a decanter of very fine brandy, he insisted that we take a drink with him, in which invitation we gladly acquiesced. I said to him, “Captain, why did you say ‘Let's tap the Admiral’?” “John,” he replied, “that is an expression we had in the Southern Navy
during the war, when asking a friend to take a drink. It arose in this way: My ship, the ‘Florida’, was in the port of Marseilles, Frances, and the Admiral, who was aboard our ship, died while there. We knew we had to bring his remains home, so we took his body ashore and had it sealed within a leaden coffin, after embalming it in the best French brandy. It was then placed in the ship for the purpose of bringing it back to America, to the port of Mobile.
“On the trip, the mate of my ship came to me and said, ‘Captain, the seamen go down to the hold of the ship and say, “Boys, it is time to tap the Admiral,” and I desire to know what it means?’ So, we concealed the mate behind the barrels in the hold, to keep watch for the seamen. Joyously they came, with nails and wheat straws in their hands! The nails were pushed into the casket, the straws inserted and the brandy quaffed! Of course, the men were put in irons, the holes of the casket were sealed, more brandy added, and the Admiral's body brought back to America. So that, my friend, is what it means to ‘Tap the Admiral’!”
Captain Maffitt lived happily with his wife and family, on Greenville Sound, and was one of the most entertaining gentlemen I ever knew; not only did he leave behind him a splendid wife but several children, who certainly have reflected honor on their father. Among them is my friend, Clarence Dudley Maffitt, his eldest son.
Captain James Iredell Waddell was a very gallant Naval officer, who was in the Old Navy, but resigned and became an officer in the Confederate Navy. He fought Farragut's fleet, with the “Louisiana,” below New Orleans, and to prevent his ship from falling into the enemy's hands, blew her up. He afterwards commanded the “Shenandoah,” and captured nine vessels of the Federals, off Madeira, and then started to Behring Sea and the Arctic Ocean and destroyed innumerable whaling vessels, and continued his operations after the war had been over for several months. He carried the “Shenandoah” to Liverpool and surrendered her to the British authorities. Captain Waddell was born in Pittsboro, the summer home of the Wilmington planters, but all his family were from Wilmington.
I recall very vividly the old Slave Market in Wilmington that was situated on Front Street, at its intersection with Market. A wooden platform was temporarily erected in the street just in front of the old Market House. A number of slaves would be seated thereon—men, women and children—and an auctioneer would cry out the subject of his sale, giving the age, sex and capability of the slave to be sold, just as they sold livestock, then and now. A good female would bring about three hundred dollars; children, according to their age, from fifty to one hundred dollars each; and a capable male from five hundred to one thousand dollars. I know that my father, being moved by the entreaties of a slave wife to prevent her husband being carried to Mississippi, paid one thousand dollars for the husband, a good cooper. There was nothing cruel in the treatment of the slaves to be sold, for they were well cared for, the only objection was that human beings were traded as merchandise. Many of the slaves sold found good Christian masters and received the kindliest treatment in their new homes and became civilized and elevated from their former savage condition. I say today, having been reared among the negroes, that they and their white owners became reciprocally fond of each other, and the slaves in many instances were allowed to buy their own freedom at a nominal price. I knew a free negro, James Sampson, who lived in a splendid two-story dwelling, in Wilmington, and reared a very respectable family. He actually owned twenty-five negro slaves, whose freedom he had bought and held in his name.
In speaking of the Slave Market, I once knew of a very well-to-do planter, who lived at Scott's Hill, who came to Wilmington and bought a negro woman at the auction on Market Street. Being a fine cook, he paid five hundred dollars for her. One day, about six months after her purchase, he was passing the same market and the auctioneer offered for sale three negro children; he could not get a bid for them, and looking at the gentleman, said: “I am going to sell these children at any price I can get. How much will you give?” “One hundred dollars for the three,” offered the man. The auctioneer said, “They are yours!” They proved to be the children of the cook he had previously bought, and the reunion brought much joy
and delight. The farmer had not the slightest idea that they were his cook's children when he made the bid.
Afterwards, when peace was declared and my father had received his pardon for his participation in the so-called Rebellion, we moved from Robeson County and came back to our home in Wilmington, and took possession of all our property again. It was in a terrible condition.
Grovely Plantation, in Brunswick County, is located on Town Creek and consists of nearly ten thousand acres, my father having bought a great many adjoining tracts to keep settlers from coming too near—to interfere with his negro slaves. This old estate was entered by Maurice Moore, in 1750, and was called, by him, “Spring Garden.” He afterwards sold it to John Baptista Ashe, who changed its name to Grovely Plantation, which name it still bears. It is remarkable that Grovely is composed of a number of tracts of land generally consisting of about 640 acres each.
The plantation had, beside the manor house, many other buildings—overseers’ houses, barns, stables, and the like.
The manor house, in which we spent a great part of our summers, must have been built in Colonial times and was a very substantial and comfortable structure. Near the home was a dairy and the turkey, peafowl and chicken yards, also large orchards and vineyards. My father generally ran over fifty mules and plows; he raised from six hundred to eight hundred heads of cattle, and a like number of sheep, and never killed less than fifteen hundred heads of hogs per annum, with which he used to feed his slaves in Brunswick County, Columbus County, and the slaves of his plantation in South Carolina. He planted, during the Civil War, about two hundred and fifty acres of wheat, which seemed to thrive in that soil equally as well as in the wheat growing section of the state. Having no rice fields on Grovely, I have known him to get, at one time, three thousand bushels of rough rice, which he bought from Colonel Thomas C. Miller, at Orton Plantation; this was hulled by his slaves in wooden mortars, with wooden pestles, and winnowed on elevated platforms.
In the heyday of Grovely Plantation my father cultivated twenty-four hundred acres of arable land, worked by his negroes,
who lived in cabins on “The Line.” He raised wheat, oats, corn, peanuts, and other grains, and his barns were always filled to overflowing and groaning under their weight.
The Wesleyan Methodist preacher (employed by the year by my father) held his services on each alternate Sunday, baptising infants and marrying the slaves.
On Sundays, when I was a boy about eight or ten years of age, contemporary negro boys, at least fifty in number, would come down from “The Line” to the dwelling where we lived. They were always neatly dressed in the woolen and cotton cloths produced by the spinners and weavers on the hand looms of the plantation. My parents permitted me to go with these boys into the woods and on the streams until church time, when I would accompany them to “The Line,” and attend their religious services. There was no shouting, no emotional outbreak at these services. I can truly say I have never seen a more attentive religious audience, than that composed of the slaves; nor have I ever heard more stirring music than their native spirituals. However, on the Sundays that the white minister did not come, they frequently had their own preachers, and it was at such times that the services became extremely emotional, having the mournings and shoutings that so often occur at camp meetings.
During the week, the girls and boys held their dances every night, having among themselves negro musicians who played the banjo and guitar very well. You could hear the figures of the square dance called, and the loud and boisterous singing and dancing for miles off! It often continued till quite late—but not after twelve o'clock! There was much innocent merriment and joy. Both young and old slaves were very contented with their lot. During the entire Civil War, not one of the slaves on Grovely Plantation ran away, but remained happily there, until the war was over. Even then, they were permitted to continue occupying their old dwellings without any charge, until they started purchasing homes elsewhere—when they began to realize their freedom. Many remained for years, however, and were hired to cultivate the soil, until a great fire raged and swept over the ten-thousand-acre tract, destroying every negro cabin, barn, every loom-house and spinning-house, every overseer's dwelling,
carpenter and cooper shops, and even the manor house! Not a building of any kind was left on the whole plantation!
Crops were devastated, and hundreds of negroes were homeless!
This made me very sad. It was the charm of my life to hear the singing and dancing at the old slave-quarters at night! Remembrance of the wild, weird music, and the rhythmic, swaying shadows cast a fascination that has remained deep within me, always!
With the abolition of slavery and the burning of slave quarters, things were completely changed. I cannot express my feelings regarding that period half so beautifully, or pathetically, as has the gifted, negro poet—Paul Dunbar—in “The Deserted Plantation”:
- “Oh, de grubbin’-hoe's a-rustin’ in de co'nah,
- An’ de plow's a-tumblin down in de fiel’,
- While de whippo'will's a-wailin’ lak a mou'nah
- When his stubbo'n hea't is tryin’ ha'd to yiel’.
- In de furrers whah de co'n was allus wavin’,
- Now de weeds is growin’ green an’ rank an’ tall;
- An’ de swallers roun’ de whole place is a bravin’
- Lak dey thought deir folks had allus owned it all.
- An’ de big house stan's all quiet lak an’ solemn,
- Not a blessed soul in pa'lor, po'ch, er lawn;
- Not a guest, ner not a ca'iage lef’ to haul ’em,
- Fu’ de ones dat tu'ned de latch-string out air gone.
- An’ de banjo's voice is silent in de qua'ters,
- D'aint a hymn ner co'n-song ringin’ in de air;
- But de murmur of a branch's passin’ waters
- Is de only soun’ dat breks de stillness dere.
- Whah's de da'kies, dem dat used to be a-dancin’
- Ev'ry night befo’ de ole cabin do’?
- Whah's de chillun, dem dat used to be a-prancin’
- Er a-rollin’ in de san’ er on de flo’?
- Whah's old Uncle Mordecai, an’ Uncle Aaron?
- Whah's Aunt Doshy, Sam, an’ Kit, an’ all de res’?
- Whah's ole Tom de da'ky fiddlah, how's he farin’?
- Whah's de gals dat used to sing an’ dance de bes’?
- Gone! Not one o’ dem is lef’ to tell de story;
- Dey have lef’ de deah ole place to fall away.
- Couldn't one o’ dem dat seed it in its glory
- Stay to watch it in de hour of decay?
- Dey have lef’ de ole plantation to de swallers,
- But it hol's in me a lover till de las’;
- Fu’ I fin’ hyeah in de memory dat follers
- All dat loved me an’ day I loved in de pas’.
- So I'll stay an’ watch de deah ole place an’ tend it
- Ez I used to in de happy days gone by,
- ’Twell do othah Mastah thinks it's time to end it,
- An’ calls me to my quarters in de sky.”
My father had bought, in Charleston, a slave known as Nero. He was a splendid specimen of humanity, very black, about six feet three inches in height, and as strong a man as I ever saw. He was never married, but his reputation was that he had about forty illegitimate children. He was foreman of the slaves under the overseer. This Nero claimed he was an Arabian Prince who had been kidnapped on the coast of Africa and sold into slavery. Nero wrote Arabic, or some other language, which we did not understand. He was a great astronomer and at night would go out and look up at the stars and approximately tell the correct time. He could also accurately predict rain. Altogether, he was a very intelligent man and seemed to appreciate my father's kindness, because he always looked after his interests very faithfully. Nero was the most unmerciful slave foreman I ever knew. He would whip the slaves with cowhides and they would complain to my father of his cruelty. When my father learned of Nero's acts, he always sent for him and disapproved and condemned them. Nero was allowed to make money by odd jobs, which he hoarded and buried.
My father, being a Wesleyan Methodist, always employed a Methodist minister to preach to his slaves on Sunday, bury them when they died, and perform their marriage and baptismal rites. This minister was a young college graduate from Alabama, by the name of Morgan C. Turrentine, who had been preaching to the negroes and Indians in Alabama, and whom my father brought to Wilmington and paid a good salary to perform the services for his slaves. My father, being a physician, always attended to their physical needs himself, assisted by his skilled mid-wives. Mr. Turrentine was an educated gentlemen, highly recommended by Dr. Whiteford Smith, of Wofford College, South Carolina, and was the progenitor of the Turrentine family now living here.
We happened to be, my father and I, at Grovely Plantation, when Fort Fisher fell, and Fort Anderson was evacuated, and the Confederate troops retreated to Wilmington. He had sent a flat-load of provisions and wood to Wilmington, and when it reached Lower Town Creek Bridge, the Federal troops seized it and drove the Confederates back towards Wilmington. In the battle that took place, Colonel Simonton, afterwards Judge of the United States Circuit Court of South Carolina, was captured and placed on my father's flat, with other captives, and carried to Wilmington with the provisions and turned over to the Federal authorities. I recollect, well, having gone down in a buggy to Lower Town Creek Bridge to see about the condition of the flat and the progress it had made, when the Confederate troops, who were retreating, passed by and told my father he had better go back, as the Federals were advancing and our troops were retreating; just about that time, minnie balls came whistling through the air and falling like rain all around us! We rode rapidly back to our home at Grovely and left immediately for Floral College, where our family were refugees until the close of the war.
About the first of July, 1862, there came to Wilmington from Monticello, Florida, two relatives of my father, Mrs. G. W. Parkhill, neé Bellamy, and her sister, Maggie Bellamy, who brought with them two children of Colonel Parkhill—Charlie B. Parkhill and his young sister, Emmie. Mrs. Parkhill stated that Colonel Parkhill had been killed in battle at Fair Oaks or Seven Pines, near Richmond. They left Charlie and his sister in Wilmington and went to Richmond, with the view of finding the body of Colonel Parkhill and having it properly interred. In this same battle, General Joseph E. Johnson was severely wounded, as also Colonel James Johnson Pettigrew, and had to be taken from the field. I had a brother there, but he escaped injury. Mrs. Parkhill found the Confederate troops had been driven back to Richmond, and the body of Colonel Parkhill buried by the Federals within their lines.
A flag of truce had to be procured from President Davis to allow Mrs. Parkhill to search for the body of her husband. He had been killed in the first engagement, on June 27, 1862. When the colonel's body was located, Mrs. Parkhill carried it to Richmond, where it was interred, and a suitable monument erected to his memory.
Charlie Parkhill later became Attorney-General of Florida, and a member of the Supreme Court. He always cherished for me a warm friendship, and during the First World War, begged me to use my influence as a former Congressman to get him into the War Department. I went to Washington and, with the aid of the Florida members of Congress, obtained for him the position of Assistant Judge-Advocate-General. His gratitude to me was boundless. He was afterwards made State Prosecutor in the Tampa District. He died there, leaving a very cultured and prominent family.
Cousin Emmie Parkhill married Hon. Dannert H. Mays, Congressman from the Monticello District, and their daughter was the mother of the gallant and lamented Colin P. Kelly, the hero of the Philippines, who sank the Japanese Battleship “Haruna.” Captain Kelly himself was killed in the bombing, but he saved his crew. His grandmother is very proud of his
achievement—and the whole world shares this pride! The Congressional Medal of Honor was posthumously awarded to his widow.
The treacherous Japanese had attacked us, unprovoked and without warning! They had actually had combat in the Pacific while negotiations for peace were going on in Washington!
After the surrender, in 1865, and my father had been deprived of all of his property, a proclamation was made at Washington that it was necessary to file a formal application for pardon before a participant in the Rebellion would be restored to his civil rights. So my father proceeded to Washington, and was told by other applicants that President Johnson could not be approached personally, and therefore it was necessary to employ and pay a fee to a certain man who had influence with the President and could easily approach him. After spending some time there, he decided to employ the mediator to present his application. He did so, and paid him a large fee, but after several months, getting no results, he was induced by friends to employ, at further great expense, another who claimed to have influence with the President. This last person did finally present the formal application and get a personal interview for my father! He met the President in his private office, who, after finding out he had been a rank Secessionist, originally from South Carolina, and a large slave owner, told him if he would make out a bill of sale for all of his slaves to the United States Government, and take the prescribed oath for future loyalty, and swear that he would not hereafter acquire any property whatever in slaves, or make use of slave labor, he would issue him a pardon, restoring his property which was then in the Government's possession. The President turned him over to William H. Seward, Secretary of State, who exacted the oaths required, and upon his compliance with the other conditions, his pardon was issued. Evidently President Johnson thought that some day the Government might pay the owners of the slaves freed, as England had repeatedly done in her colonies, and the bill of sale was to prevent any future claims to compensation.
I have in my possession the pardon, with his oath attached, signed by President Johnson, and attested by William H. Seward, Secretary of State, with the certificate of the Secretary of State, having a black seal of wax and black ribbon attached, enclosed in a large envelope bordered in black, evidence of mourning for President Lincoln. My father returned to his family, in Robeson County, with his pardon in his pocket, feeling that at least he might recover some of his property. When in Congress I saw the bill of sale in the records of the office of the Secretary of State, and it is there now. It is in my father's own hand-writing, and he said he voluntarily made it.
My father had been a very wealthy man at the breaking out of the Civil War, having brought nearly a thousand slaves from South Carolina and afterwards purchasing others, with their increase. He had these slaves divided proportionately into about three groups. One-third being left on his farm in South Carolina, carrying one-third to his plantation, Grovely, in Brunswick County, and the other third to his turpentine farm in Columbus County, at Grist's, now known as Chadbourn. He believed the war would not terminate as soon as it did. He had two sons in Virginia, in the Army and Navy, and the next one to go was I. So during the winters of 1863 and 1864, and the early part of 1865, although he shod his negroes with good shoes, he made me, and also my younger brother, go barefoot during the winters. He said it would toughen and harden us, and that when my time came to go to Virginia, I would be able to stand the exposure of the battle fields; and the result was that I never had, from that day to this, any serious illness—owing much of my longevity to this enforced practice in my rearing.
I can recollect, while going out in winters with my feet bare, in the snow and ice, that I always went on the side of the fence where the sun shone through the cracks of the rails and melted the snow! It was warmer!
With great vividness I remember, also, how in March, 1865, after Sherman had burned Columbia and left the South so poor “that a crow would have to carry its rations in order to exist,” General Francis P. Blair, of Sherman's army, came
with his corps, consisting of General Hicklenlouper's Brigade and other troops, through Robeson County, where we were refugeeing. The corps that came immediately around our home consisted of Germans of Hickenlouper's Brigade, who could speak very little English, and German officers were in command. They were hirelings of the United States Government to assist in fighting the South, very much as the Hessians were hired during the Revolutionary War. It had been rumored that my father was a very wealthy man, and immediately these Hessians drew their steel ramrods out of their muskets, and began to pierce the ground all around our home and other places on the premises, to find what treasure they could unearth. They found the silver my oldest sister had buried under the steps. They also discovered a valued deposit in which was my father's diploma from Jefferson College, of the University of Pennsylvania. They carried the diploma in a tin can to the army surgeon, who was a graduate of the same institution, and he immediately extended his protection to our family. So after the bummers had gone through our home and cut open the locked bureau drawers with axes and stolen every valuable they could find, the surgeon came to our house; my mother made up a bed in the parlor and gave him a comfortable place in which to sleep while the troops remained there. He really was of considerable protection in preventing further depredation on the premises.
I recollect several incidents of that occupation. One was that an officer, with three or four Germans, came into our home, although the doctor had given us protection, and demanded that my mother give them the contents of her safe, which contained milk, butter and other food. Of course she had to comply! Immediately, they started to drink the milk, and remarked, “Mrs. Bellamy, is this milk poisoned?” She said, “Of course not.” They then said, “Before we drink any more of it, you must drink some yourself!” So, my mother drank a cup of milk, before they would drink the remainder. They left us without food and penniless for nearly a week, after the troops continued their march to Fayetteville and Wilmington and through to Bentonville. The army also induced to leave, and took with them, all of our servants, former slaves that we had, leaving not one. Having heard about the pitiable
condition we were in, Mr. Daniel L. Russell, the father of former Governor Russell, was a friend and former patient of my father, and living about four miles from us, sent us a load of meal, meat and other provisions, together with a negro cook, which relieved our terrible plight. Some years afterwards, my brother, Dr. Bellamy, married the only daughter of this same Mr. Daniel L. Russell.
I recollect another fact; while a boy, two bummers seized me, held me, and took off a nice pair of shoes, which I had put on to prevent them from being stolen! I was left in my stocking feet, in the cold rain, in the back yard! And that Yankee had my shoes!
These bummers, as we called them, were very cruel and frightful in their acts. A certain lady living in the neighborhood had money and jewels, which she had hidden in the mattress of her bed. Someone told them about this and they went to her home and found her sick in bed. They asked for her money and she denied having it. They pulled her out, raised up the mattress, found her valuables, and took them! As a punishment, they knocked in the top of a hogshead of molasses, which they found in her barn, and dipped her, head and all, into the barrel!
In my childhood days the stocks were erected, at the old courthouse on Princess Street between Second and Third, where criminals were punished by being given nine lashes on the naked back! I attended school just around the corner, and at recess would go to the stocks to see the criminals whipped. They were also used for another purpose. A person convicted of manslaughter was sentenced to be branded, in the middle of the hand, with the letter M. The culprit would be put in the stocks, and the hot iron placed in the palm of his hand, and the sheriff would not remove the iron until he said, three times, “God save the State.” I saw one Nick Carr, who had killed his neighbor in a dispute over a division fence, subjected to this branding. As soon as Carr had repeated, three times, “God save the State,” and the iron was removed, he placed his hand in his mouth and with his teeth tore out the flaming letter M. I saw the individual for many years after this incident, and his hand showed only a large scar, the scarlet letter completely gone. These stocks
remained there until about the year 1870, when they were torn down and removed.
I also recall the Civil War—its beginning, continuance and conclusion. Wilmington, at the breaking out of the Civil War and for years after that, until about 1870, was the greatest Naval Stores port in the world. Before the Civil War, I have seen all together a million barrels of rosin piled upon the wharves of Wilmington, on both sides of the river, for half a mile, and have seen vessels flying the flags of all nations in the harbor, from Greece, Russia, and ports in the English Channel, London, Liverpool, Edinburgh, and Glasgow. During the Civil War the river was full of side-wheel vessels, called blockade-runners, whose owners bought cotton in Wilmington and ran the blockage with their cargoes; cotton then brought fifty cents to one dollar a pound in gold. At that time, almost all of the residences in Wilmington were occupied by tenants, the most prominent of the blockade-runners. They were apparently men of wealth, who lived prodigally while the rest of our Southern people were economizing in every respect.
These blockade-runners led a very riotous life. On Sunday evenings after a very luxurious dinner, which at least a dozen of their friends attended, they would have the cloth removed from the table and two game cocks without gaffs would then be turned loose and immediately begin to fight and continue until one or the other was exhausted. A pile of twenty dollar gold pieces would be stacked at each end of the table, the amount wagered on the favorite cock! Much merriment and joy would be expressed over the victory. Then, a servant waiting on the table, who had a wooden rake, would draw in the piles to the winners. This occurred in the residence I now own and occupy, at Sixth and Market Streets, having a long table in the hallway on which the cocks fought. This exhibition took place not every Sabbath, but quite often, and one of our boy friends, who lived nearest the scene, would come around and cry out, “Cock Fights, Cock Fights!” We knew what it meant, and would assemble on the rear porch and watch the proceedings through the open door.
The City of Wilmington, from Market and Second Streets down to the river, had numerous brokerage shops, with English,
French, and German gold piled high in the windows, and exchange was bought and sold, just as it is done today on Lime Street, in Liverpool, England. These were flush days in Wilmington, notwithstanding its privations.
During the Civil War, one Roberts lived here, across the street from our home; he was quite friendly to our gang of boys; afterwards, he became Hobart Pasha, of Turkey. There also lived here prominent English, French and German merchants, all engaged in blockade-running, shipping cotton to various European ports, and especially to Constantinople. The town was full also of Confederate soldiers, who encamped at Camp Lamb in the northern part of the city, at the present site of Delgado Cotton Mills, now Spofford Mills, and in South Wilmington, drilling to aid in the defense of the city and the fortifications on the river.
Yellow fever ravaged the city in the year 1862, and I recollect, well, having stood in our home, on Market and Fifth Streets, watching wagon-loads of corpses go by to Oakdale Cemetery, of those who had died of that malignant disease. It raged again in the latter part of 1864, and so many people died from the plague, it almost depopulated the town. I remember that one day, during the epidemic, our family was getting ready to leave the city when Mr. James S. Green, Treasurer of the Wilmington & Weldon Railroad, came by on horse back and holloed to my father, “Dr. Bellamy, aren't you afraid to be here while the fever is raging?” My father replied, “Yes, we are preparing to leave, now. Are you going to stay?” Mr. Green replied, “Yes, I am immune and not afraid.” In less than a week after we had left Wilmington and moved to Robeson County, our refugee home, we saw in the Wilmington papers that Mr. James S. Green had died the day before, from yellow fever.
The plague and war and negro domination left us in a terrible condition for two decades after the war, from which we were very slow in recovering. I am pleased to say, however, that in 1941, there have been great expenditures of many millions of dollars by the government for a camp at Holly Ridge, known as Camp Davis (built by General James B. Crawford), a shipyard in Wilmington, and the erection of
thousands of dwellings for officers and troops; the influx has been so great that the population has tripled!
I have described the attitude of the old families of Wilmington who were Whigs and their opposition to Secession, but think it just and right to state here that, after North Carolina had passed the Ordinance of Secession and President Lincoln had issued his proclamation calling for troops to subjugate the seceding states, these families became as enthusiastic and loyal Confederates as were the Secession Democrats. Many of them sent their sons to the battlefields of Virginia, numbers of whom were killed. Honorable George Davis, who was regarded as the idol of the people of the Cape Fear by the old families, was made Confederate States Senator, in Richmond, and afterwards Attorney-General in the Cabinet of President Jefferson Davis. I recollect well when the seat of the Confederate Government was removed from Montgomery, Alabama, to Richmond, Virginia. When President Davis and the members of his Cabinet arrived in Wilmington, on their way to Richmond, people welcomed them, en masse! We had quite a large reception at the depot of the Wilmington & Weldon Railroad, then on Nutt Street. My father, being a warm and enthusiastic supporter of President Davis, and a Secession-Democrat, was very prominent in the reception; he escorted me across the mall, and introduced me to the President, who put his hand on my head and said to me, “Young man, you will live to be a good man and make a valiant soldier, I know.” The train departed shortly thereafter, carrying the visitors to Richmond, where they established the new capital for the Confederate States.
I remember well, also, the first attack of the Federal Fleet on Fort Fisher, which was sometime in December, 1864. I recall with vividness the bombardment, which continued all day and night of Saturday and the next day, Sunday, which was Christmas, 1864. The shells, which exploded like sky rockets in the darkness, could be easily seen from Wilmington and also from Grovely Plantation in Brunswick County, where my family were at that time. I remember the final bombardment, January 15, 1865, and how quickly we left this section and went to our retreat at Floral College, in Robeson County,
near Maxton, then called Shoe Heel, where the family resided for the remainder of the war and for the early part of the succeeding year.
An amusing incident of the last bombardment of Fort Fisher remains in my memory. There was a Mr. Thomas Cowan, who owned a plantation called Old Town, on the site of the first settlement on the Cape Fear River at the mouth of Town Creek. He was a rice planter of considerable magnitude and ownd a good many slaves. He had sent his family from Old Town to Pittsboro to escape the enemy, but he remained at home with his faithful negroes. Mr. Cowan was afflicted for several years with rheumatism, and he had to be undressed at night and picked up by a body-servant and put to bed, and likewise prepared for breakfast, next morning. His chief body-servant was a negro named Gabe Hill, who happened to be my client during the early days of my practice of law. Gabe described to me the bombardment of Fort Fisher, which was very severe. He said that a shell from the Federal Fleet was thrown a great distance over the river and struck the corner of the room in the second story of the dwelling in which Mr. Cowan slept, tearing off a portion of it. Mr. Cowan, who had not taken a step in several years, jumped out of bed, ran down the stairs into the yard, and cried out, “Gabe, come here, the Yankees are about to kill me!” From that time on he began to walk and continued to walk, and joined his family in Pittsboro. This shows that fear will sometimes, like faith, cure many ills.
After the final fall of Fort Fisher and the capture of Wilmington, our old home on the corner of Market and Fifth Streets, Wilmington, was first occupied by Admiral Porter and General Terry, then by General Schofield, and by General Colfax, and latterly by General Joseph R. Hawley. After the surrender of General Lee, my father thought it was to his interest to come to Wilmington, from his home in Robeson County, to look after his affairs. Here he found the Federal Government had not only seized his residence but his plantation, Grovely, in Brunswick County, his stores in Wilmington and his extensive turpentine lands and other business at Grists, in Columbus County. Of course, not being able to go to our old
home, we had to go to the home of a relative, a Mrs. West, whose three sons were kinsmen and school mates of mine.
When General Hawley occupied our residence as Headquarters, he had sentries placed around the house, both on Market and Fifth Streets; one sentry at a post on Market Street, another on Fifth Street, the guards walking their beats day and night, and most of the time consisted of negro soldiers.
One day I was with my school mates, in their home next to the present City Hall, when a band struck up music and started down Third Street to Market, and up Market to Fifth, to the Headquarters of General Hawley, our home. There were in the procession about three thousand people, chiefly negroes. Being attracted by the music and procession, my school mates and I went along behind. The band stopped at my father's residence, fronting on Market Street, and played several national airs; immediately, General Hawley came out on the piazza and introduced to the audience the Chief-Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, the Honorable Salmon P. Chase. Even then Chief-Justice Chase had the presidential bee in his bonnet. He claimed to have been, in politics, a former Democrat, and was a candidate for the nomination for President against General U. S. Grant. He took the position that the Southern States were never out of the Union, their efforts at secession having been unsuccessful, and being restored to their former status as states of the Union, they were entitled to representatives not only in Congress but in the Electoral College. He bid therefore for the delegates that would be elected to the Presidential Convention, thinking thereby that with what other delegates he could get in the North he might be nominated for President; but he was woefully disappointed, for General Grant was nominated and elected; General McClelland, a Democrat in opposition to him, was defeated.
Another keen memory was the explosion of the Powder Ship, anchored off Fort Fisher, by General Benjamin F. Butler, who was afterwards known as “Beast” Butler or “Spoon” Butler, being given that denunciatory appellation by the ladies of New Orleans. He was later made Governor of Massachusetts. He conceived the idea that the fortifications of Fort Fisher,
being composed of sand and marl, dug from the seashore, could be shaken down by a great explosion. So he induced the Federal Government to fit out a vessel with tons of powder and dynamite and to run it near the shore of Fort Fisher. The crew then went out to sea and left a slot match on it to ignite the powder. The explosion took place and the people of Wilmington thought it was the most severe earthquake they had ever experienced! It shook the windows in the houses and the crockery from the shelves of the dining rooms, but it had no effect whatever on the stability and strength of the Fort, even making it stronger by settling the sand instead of undermining it. The press at the time ridiculed Butler for this vain attempt.
I was one of Governor Jarvis's party, in the year 1880, when North Carolina had a display of her agricultural, mining, and manufacturing products at what was called the National Boston Exposition. Jarvis had become governor on the elevation of Governor Vance to the United States Senate, and he was the first governor who made efforts to attract Northern capitalists to invest in our cotton and mining industries.
The Governor of Massachusetts then was General Benjamin F. Butler, of the Fort Fisher explosion incident! I was introduced to him by Governor Jarvis as one of his party from Wilmington. He said he was very glad to meet me and welcomed us to Boston. He then turned to me and said, “Mr. Bellamy, I am going to give you and your party a hearty welcome to Boston, and make your stay a pleasant one; but the welcome will be different from the one you extended to me when I had the Powder Ship exploded near Wilmington! Ours will be far more cordial, I hope.”
Our stay was a very pleasant and memorable one. Our party was quartered at the best hotel and many were the courtesies extended us by the people of Boston. When we got ready to leave and went to pay our hotel bills, we were told that we owed nothing, that we had been the guests of the State of Massachusetts.
Governor Butler was a very able man; he was heavy in stature, with a very large head and expansive forehead—denoting intellect. In conversation, he was very clear and
emphatic in expression. He had the heaviest eyebrows and largest eyelids I ever saw; in ordinary posture, the enormous lids completely covered his eyes, but upon sitting erect, they rolled back like a curtain and exhibited very piercing and intelligent eyes. Although he had been sent to Congress by a Massachusetts constituency, he was very bitterly criticized by a majority of them, and he always replied in equally bitter invective. He wrote a book, a sort of biography, called “Butler's Book,” in which he vigorously criticized his enemies and critics. This book was lent to me by United States Senator, Matt W. Ransom, of North Carolina, a copy having been presented to him by General Butler. It is very racy and interesting, very rare, and bold in criticism. It is worth reading by any student of history; but I could never efface from my mind his conduct in New Orleans, in issuing a military order against the ladies of that city, which was not only greatly criticized in the United States, but also in the press of Europe.
My educational advantages were these: At the age of six years, I was first sent to a school in Wilmington, conducted by George Washington Jewett and wife. This Mr. Jewett was a ship carpenter by trade, from Augusta, Maine. He had received a very fine education in Maine, and was a particularly thorough Latin and Greek scholar, as I found years after, in the High School conducted by him in Wilmington.
During the Civil War, I attended a school in Robeson County, at Floral College, which was taught by Mrs. Sheppard Nash, wife of a Presbyterian minister. Here I received the rudiments of a good education. After the family returned from Floral College, where they had temporarily resided, and my father had received his pardon and been restored to his civil rights, I attended, for two years, a High School conducted in Wilmington by Honorable Hamilton McMillan, a native and resident of Robeson County. In this school, I won the prizes in almost every class that I was in, and besides, got a prize for being the best orator in the school. Later, it was Mr. McMillan who placed me in nomination for Congress, in 1894, in the Convention at Lumberton. I was defeated and Honorable James A. Lockhart secured the nomination over me.
For some reason, Mr. McMillan returned to Robeson County, and discontinued his school. In the latter part of 1865 or 1866, Mr. George W. Jewett, of ante-bellum days, began a High School at the corner of Second and Chestnut Streets, Wilmington, now occupied by the family of Dr. Thomas F. Wood. Mr. Jewett was the most thorough instructor I have ever known, and a great many of the young men of Wilmington who afterwards became prominent in business life—the Sprunts, Springers, Hardings, Stevensons and others—attended this school. That was practically the only education that some of them received, but it was a thorough one. Mr. Jewett had a wonderful faculty for impressing his students and making them learn, whether they would or not. Greek, Mathematics, and Latin, he was particularly proficient in,
and I have never known, yet, a single student who attended his school who wasn't a good Latin and Mathematics scholar, and a number of them good Greek scholars. This school continued for several years; then, there came to Wilmington, from Virginia, one of the finest teachers and characters I ever knew, in the person of General Raleigh E. Colston, a distinguished Confederate Brigadier-General, who established a military school in the city, called the Cape Fear Academy. He, with his faculty of professors, taught Mathematics, French, History, Literature and Latin very efficiently. He was a strict disciplinarian and he had a very fine corps of cadets, who were well uniformed and equipped.
I rose from private to corporal, and through the various grades, to captain. In the year 1870, General Robert E. Lee, the famous Confederate Commander-in-Chief, made a tour through the South, and on his return, came through Wilmington. At that time I was Captain of the Wilmington Military Company. We met the train on which General Lee came, at the present site of Navassa, my company being clad in its best uniforms, with their muskets, bayonets and swords splendidly polished! We were accompanied by a delegation of the most prominent people in Wilmington. Among them were Mr. Adrian H. Van Bokkelen, who had a son killed in the Confederate Army, Colonel William L. deRosset, David C. Worth, William Calder, F. W. Kerchner, Colonel John D. Taylor, Colonel O. P. Meares, and other prominent citizens. Also, with us, was the Honorable George Davis, who had been a member of the Confederate Senate and Attorney-General in Jefferson Davis's Cabinet.
We met General Lee and escorted him, from Navassa, on the train; reaching the depot, on Front Street, we formed our ranks and followed the carriage in which General Lee and Mr. Davis rode to the latter's residence, on Second Street, between Walnut and Red Cross, where General Lee was entertained until the next day. He then proceeded on his return trip to Richmond. It was a great honor conferred on me to have been Captain of the Cadet-Corps that escorted General Lee, and was reviewed by him in front of Mr. Davis's residence! The people of Wilmington thronged the balconies and
streets to show their profound respect, reverence, and love for the great Confederate Leader and Chieftain.
General Colston had the reputation, during the War between the States, of being a very fine disciplinarian and instructor of tactics. Through the influence of his military friends, he was invited by the Khedive of Egypt to become Military Commander of his forces, at a very large salary. It is said to have been so large that he could not decline the offer. Having accepted, he severed his connection with his school in Wilmington, went to Egypt, and served the Khedive for nearly a decade.
On a visit to America, on one occasion, he came to Wilmington and paid a visit to a number of the most prominent of his old cadets. His description of his work in Egypt was very instructive and entertaining. He found the status of the ordinary Egyptian very low; his utter lack of national pride and patriotism, and his evasion of military duty by all kinds of subterfuges made his task of building up their morale a very difficult one.
During the fall of 1871, having completed my preparatory work under General Colston, I went to Davidson College—my mother hoping and expecting she would make a Presbyterian clergyman out of me. I recall having gone on the Carolina Central train from Wilmington to Wadesboro, and from there to Charlotte by stage coach with Alex Sprunt, Jr., my school mate and friend; we both entered Davidson at the same time. Having been exceedingly well prepared, I applied for admission to the Junior class, but he said that he had not completed as many courses, so he would enter the Sophomore. Consequently, I graduated a year ahead of him. Alex Sprunt was as pure, able, conscientious, hightoned, Christian young man as ever lived, and became quite a celebrated Presbyterian minister in after life. He held several prominent charges, and particularly that of the First Presbyterian Church of Charleston, South Carolina, where his congregation almost worshipped him for his ability and noble character.
I entered Davidson College in the fall of 1871, and graduated in the summer of 1873, with the degree of A.B. While there, I took an active part in the Philanthropic Society, being its commencement orator; I, also, entered into such sports as
were then in vogue. While most of the students were preparing for the ministry, a large per cent were being trained for other vocations in life.
I had an opportunity to observe the surroundings of the college and village and I can truthfully say the moral atmosphere was the finest I have known in any college or community. There was no drinking of alcoholic beverages, no immorality, observable; no gambling, no profanity or other questionable acts.
The institution had a very learnéd faculty, consisting of Professor J. R. Blake, assisted by Dr. Charles Phillips and Professor W. J. Martin, who were called there when the State University closed. There was a Professor Paul P. Wynn, who was one of the finest instructors in Greek and Latin I ever knew, and Professor Richardson, a professor of Modern Languages. In fact, Dr. Basil L. Gildersleeve, of the University of Virginia, told me on one occasion that the best prepared men that came from the southern colleges, at that time, were from Davidson; that the standard of education was very high there; and it is a pleasure for me to know and state here that Davidson College, today, is the equal of any college in the South. This institution, my Alma Mater, did me the honor of inviting me to deliver the commencement address, while Dr. Scherer was President, about the year 1899 or 1900, when I was a member of Congress. I am, today, the eldest living alumnus of Davidson College.
After the departure of General Hawley's troops from Wilmington, the military authorities continued in possession of the state. I distinctly recall General E. R. Canby, who supervised the elections when the Convention of 1868 was called to form a new Constitution—abolishing slavery, and forever forbidding the right of a state to secede. This General Canby issued a printed circular prescribing which citizens had the right to vote for delegates. As I recall, it allowed all negroes of twenty-one years or more to vote, and all those white citizens who did not take an active part in the Rebellion. Consequently, very few substantial white people were included in these premises! I possessed, until very recently, one of those Canby circulars;
unfortunately, I have misplaced it, or I would insert it, here, in full.
To this Convention were elected one hundred and twenty delegates—eighteen carpetbaggers, fifteen negroes, eighty-seven scallawags and thirteen Conservatives or Democrats. The Convention carried out the dictates from Washington, abolishing slavery forever and the right of secession. It did adopt one clause which was worthy of the support of our people—that was the one declaring “that all property shall be taxed uniformly and ad valorem!” This is still retained.
After the new Constitution had been declared adopted and members of the Legislature voted for, there came into North Carolina a horde of carpetbaggers from the North and West, and they obtained control of the state government and nearly all the county and municipal governments. This was the Legislature that issued forty-two million dollars of fraudulent bonds to Swepson and Littlefield, that were subsequently repudiated for fraud.
Some of these carpetbaggers were fairly good men but the majority were vultures, who, after they had robbed the treasuries, flew back to their homes in the North. One carpetbagger, a former Brigadier-General in the Federal Army, had a good reputation for honesty and integrity. He was General Joseph C. Abbott, from Massachusetts. He became a Republican United States Senator and really did enter into the business life of the community. Gen. Abbott established one of the largest saw and planing mills then in the state and built a town, in Bladen County, called Abbotsburg, which is still existing and still bearing his name, but having little evidence of General Abbott's munificence. His mill and manufacturing plant in Bladen failed and went into bankruptcy. He died shortly afterwards.
Among the other carpetbaggers who came to this immediate section of the state, after the Constitution of 1868 had been ratified, were: Major J. W. Schenck, who became Sheriff of New Hanover County, until succeeded by General Stephen H. Manning, from Maine; one Major J. C. Mann, who became Clerk of the Court and defaulted for a large amount of money, as also did James Heaton, his successor; Major W. S. Waldron,
who became Register of Deeds; Dr. Silas P. Wright, who became Mayor and was afterwards driven from office, in the 1898 Revolution; T. C. Servoss, City Treasurer; one E. H. McQuigg, who became the chief trial magistrate of the city; G. Z. French, who became a Legislator and afterwards Postmaster, succeeding E. R. Brink, also a carpetbagger; Lawson E. Rice, and others. All of them became very obnoxious to our people, but the most decent of the lot was General Manning, who was Sheriff for a great many years, and Colonel F. W. Foster, who became Chairman of the County Commissioners and a lumber manufacturer, later. Mr. Daniel L. Russell, Jr., a scallawag and a Reconstruction Judge at twenty-one years of age, was the chief adviser and head of the Republican carpetbag clique. It was said that he made large sums of money from them, who each had to contribute to his charges for being their boss. This same man afterwards became a member of Congress and Governor, and was most vindictive toward his former Democratic friends and associates who had ostracized him for his conduct towards them.
Manning, who was an educated man, a graduate of Bowdoin College, Maine, by reason of his large salary and accumulations, had become sheriff, and had lodged himself as permanent sheriff of the county, under Russell's guidance; he was greatly opposed by the better class of Republicans, who determined to beat him at all hazards. The Democratic Party, then very small in number, tried in every way to get rid of what was then called “the corrupt ring,” and was sought after by the Republicans opposing Manning, to unite with them and put up some good man for sheriff to beat Manning. These Democrats, among whom was the author, visited Elijah Hewlett, a very honest and respectable farmer, to ask him to accept the nomination to be supported by the two factions, Democrats and recalcitrant Republicans. This Mr. Hewlett was a very handsome man but of uncertain political affiliations at that time, which made him an ideal candidate. He was the father of the present Chairman of the County Commissioners and grandfather of Addison Hewlett, Jr. All of us contributed to a large campaign fund, and we sent to Boston, Massachusetts, for a negro native of Wilmington, who had
graduated at Harvard, having been a former barber of this city. Those who knew him represented him to be a magnificent speaker and campaigner. His name was Alex Moore. When he arrived, he arranged torchlight processions, bands of music and open air meetings nearly every night. The negro masses became greatly aroused, and flocked to his meetings. Moore carried with him, and put on the rostrum by his side, a fierce bulldog, which, as a matter of fact, did resemble Manning closely. He denounced Manning as a Republican bulldog, who did not have the sense of this bulldog by his side! He drew such large crowds that the Russell-Manning Republicans said they knew they were beaten if they could not stop the mouth of that negro! So Russell had one of his heelers make an affidavit that Moore was indebted to another negro, Sampson, in the sum of fifty dollars, and was a non-resident. A warrant of arrest was issued by a negro magistrate, and the warrant made returnable after the election, ten days off, and Moore was placed under a bond of one thousand dollars for his appearance and trial after election day. The Hewlett faction, for which I had been employed as counsel and adviser, went before the magistrate and demanded an immediate trial, reading to the magistrate that clause of the Constitution guaranteeing a speedy trial to one charged with crime. The magistrate said, “Mr. Bellamy, it looks as though you are right, and I am going to give Mr. Moore an immediate trial; but before doing so, I must send for Judge Russell and ask him to advise me.” In came Russell. The court-room was crowded with Hewlett-ites and Manning-ites on separate sides of the room. The magistrate said to Russell, “Mr. Bellamy, who represents Moore, demands that I give him an immediate trial, and I am inclined to do so.” Russell then spoke up, saying, “I am not going to let Mr. Bellamy bulldoze you and make you give Moore an immediate trial!” He looked fiercely at me! I returned the look, straight in the face, and replied, “And I shall not allow you to bulldoze this Court!” Then Russell, having his stick in his hand, struck at me, grazing my arm and knocking off one of my cuff-buttons. Having no weapon near, I grabbed a chair and hit Russell over the head! Then came a fight! The advocates of each side pitching into each
other, like bees in a hive! In the meleé, I jumped up on the table, better to observe the fracas. Russell, who was a very large, corpulent man and less active, fell to the floor and the fighting crowd trampled upon him until he crawled out to the sidewalk, and was last seen puffing and blowing, going down the street in his soiled linen duster, without his hat! Manning, however, was counted out by the Republican election board, and Hewlett put in. Manning's stronghold in New Hanover County was broken forever, and he went back to Maine, from which place he never returned. Thus ended the reign of the carpetbaggers in New Hanover County.
I was graduated from Davidson College in June 1873, and decided that I was not suited to be a Presbyterian clergyman, and disappointed my mother. I told my father that I wanted to read and practice law, to which he readily assented. I returned to Wilmington to prepare myself to go to the University of Virginia. Nearly all of the universities of the Southern states were closed at that time. Even my sisters had to economize and wear one less dress in order to save money to enable me to go to the University of Virginia. The consequences were that I was so impressed with the necessity of frugality, because of the trust imposed upon me by my family, that I led quite an abstemious life there. When the older students would go home to spend the numerous holidays, I remained at Charlottesville, to save the expense of the railroad fare to Wilmington and return.
During the Christmas season of 1873, I was forced by necessity to remain in Virginia. A friend of my family, Miss Hattie Hart, of Wilmington, who had married Mason Gordon, a prominent lawyer of Charlottesville, invited me to dine with her on Christmas Day. This was very welcome news, and I went and enjoyed the Christmas dinner and the festive occasion, immensely. But the event of the day was the following: Mr. Gordon's mother, neé Robertson, was there, who was said to be ninety-four years old, and could not hear at all; the only way she could communicate with you was with a slate that she carried around with her. She would ask you a question and you would have to write the answer on the slate. This Mrs. Gordon was known in her younger days as a great
belle, in Virginia. She had been an intimate friend of Martha Jefferson (afterwards Mrs. Randolph), the daughter of President Thomas Jefferson, who lived a few miles distant, in the beautiful mansion of Monticello.
The conversation which took place between Mrs. Gordon and me was substantially as follows: She stated that her son had told her that I was from North Carolina, and she wanted to know if I knew Judge James Iredell. She said that the gurls (girls) around Charlottesville and Monticello were friends of Martha Jefferson and guests, frequently, at her home; they were very fond of Mr. Iredell, and she stated he was the most elegant and graceful dancer she ever knew. Mrs. Gordon was frequently entertained at Monticello and there she met Mr. Iredell, Mr. John Jay, the Chief-Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, and Marquis de LaFayette, the great French Commander, who aided General Washington in the capture of the English Forces under General Cornwallis, at Yorktown. Mrs. Gordon remarked that the favorite dance enjoyed those days was known as the Virginia Reel; it was not this peculiar form of embracing, known as the German, years afterwards introduced in this country. All the girls sought to have Mr. Iredell as a partner! While they found Marquis de LaFayette a very polished and elegant Frenchman, he was the most bungling dancer ever known, and as far as they could, without offense, they shunned him—in the dance!
Martha Jefferson afterwards married John Randolph, and wrote “The Private Life of President Thomas Jefferson.” It was quite an interesting event in my life that I was permitted to have a conversation with a lady, in 1873, who had known, intimately, President Jefferson and his family, and who related to me the above incidents.
President Jefferson's granddaughter married the Honorable John W. Epps, a member of Congress from Virginia, who afterwards moved to Florida and left many distinguished descendants that live there yet—most refined, elegant and cultured people.
I met, on Wrightsville Beach, in the Summer of 1940, a very elegant lady from Albany, Georgia, who was Mrs. Francis
Wetherbee, formerly Miss Pattie Epps, a daughter of Theodosia Burr Bellamy Epps, a lineal descendant of Thomas Jefferson and a daughter of Randolph Epps, and niece of Major Burton Bellamy, the largest planter in Florida.
While I was a student at the University of Virginia, in the year 1874, there were many of our Southern people so impoverished that numbers of the students, even from Texas, wore the cast off Confederate uniforms of their fathers, and almost all the students wore shawls, for an overcoat was a rarity.
Among the medical students of that year were Dr. Samuel Westray Battle of North Carolina; Doctors Tanner and Bohannon, of Lynchburg, Virginia; Dr. Hibbet, of Nashville, Tennessee; Dr. DuBose, of Georgia—to all of whom I became very much attached, as I saw them daily, their rooms being in the same row with mine. They were graduated in the spring of that year, 1874, and all went to Philadelphia to be coached by one Dr. Meares for entrance into the United States Navy; the examination there was also attended by a great many students from the North and West.
Every one of the medical students of the University of Virginia, without exception, passed the examination, and were made assistant-surgeons of the United States Navy. Many of the others were not so successful. I was interested in them, as I took a course in Medical Jurisprudence with them. Those splendid doctors arose to distinction as surgeons in the Navy and I have always been greatly interested in any allusions to them in the Navy Journals.
Also in that class were Charles W. Dabney, Joshua Gore, Ralph Henry Graves, and Herbert Troy, who were elected professors of the University of North Carolina when it reopened in 1875. Each became distinguished in his profession.
I was graduated at Charlottesville in 1874, receiving diplomas in the Schools of German, Medical Jurisprudence, History and Literature, and Junior Law. The next year, in June 1875, I received the degree of Bachelor of Law, and came immediately to Wilmington, where I began to practice, and am still engaged actively in my profession.
After graduating in law, in 1875, I went to Raleigh to undergo an examination for license to practice. The Supreme Court, at that time, held its examinations in what is now the auditor's office; but, devoting only one week to the examination of students, would adjourn before I finished my course at the University of Virginia and got my B.L. Degree. I wrote to Colonel Robert Strange, of Wilmington, then an extensive practitioner in the Supreme Court, and asked him to see if I could be given a special examination, as it was impossible to leave Charlottesville at that critical time to make the trip to Raleigh. Colonel Strange interviewed Chief-Justice Pearson regarding the matter, and was instructed to wire me that if I were rash enough to take an examination alone, before the five judges, to come later and they would give me one. So, at the appointed time, after the adjournment of court in the evening, I went to the office of the judges and there met Chief-Justice Pearson, Justice William B. Rodman, Justice Edwin G. Reade, Justice William B. Bynum and Justice Thomas Settle. This was probably the ablest Supreme Court that had ever sat in North Carolina, and when I walked in and went up to the Chief-Justice and told him my mission, he said, “Young man, sit down. You are from Wilmington, aren't you?” “Yes, your Honor,” I replied. “I knew your father in Wilmington,” he said. “In fact, I courted my last wife there; she was the widow of John Gray Bynum, who was at one time a practicing lawyer of your city. He left her with one son and I paid court to her and married her.” I told him I had heard my brothers speak frequently of John Gray Bynum, the Junior. He said, “I am only telling you this because of my pleasant recollection of Wilmington and its people. I had several terms of the Superior Court there.” He continued, “Mr. Bellamy, how long have you been reading law?” I told him. He said, “Did you graduate?” I said, “Yes, your Honor.” “Well,” he said, “I am very much engaged now in a matter which worries me. While I am Chief-Justice, I am a very poor man, and I have saved only enough money to buy a place in Yadkin County. In examining the title the other day, I saw that the deed, made to the man who is about to sell the property, contains the clause ‘to have and to hold to him during the term of his
natural life, and after death, to his heirs forever’.” He said, “The man has a number of heirs, and I am afraid to buy it.” He asked, “What do you think of it?” I said, “Judge Pearson, I would buy it, if I were you, particularly if you are getting a bargain. The man who is going to sell the land has a fee simple title that he will convey to you. Your title will be absolutely good, according to the rule in Shelly's case.” He turned around and said, “Young man, go over there and tell the clerk to issue you your license,” and it was signed by the five Supreme Court Judges!
Judge Pearson was a very practical man and put the rule in Shelly's case in a different manner from any I had ever known. While this same judge was guilty of holding that the judiciary was exhausted, and once refused to enforce the writ of Habeas Corpus, he was really the greatest common law lawyer I ever knew. Any lawyer reading his decisions in the reports of the Supreme Court of North Carolina will be impressed with that fact. They have never been surpassed for clearness of thought and expression and practical application. The writ was issued for prominent citizens who were arrested and charged with being engaged in the Ku Klux Klan, in July, 1870, as decided in the case of Ex Parte Moore, Carr, Wiley and about forty others, for which he was properly criticized. The writ of Habeas Corpus, the enforcement of which was refused by Judge Pearson, was afterwards issued and enforced by Judge George W. Brooks, United States District Judge, of Elizabeth City, North Carolina.
I practiced law before Judge Brooks when he presided over the United States District Court held in Wilmington. I recall having been induced to aid Judge Edward Cantwell in libelling an English vessel, for an English subject by the name of Snow. Having just graduated in a course of admiralty law, at the University of Virginia, I was eager to aid Judge Cantwell in his efforts. In employing me to assist him, of course neither Judge Cantwell nor I was advertent to the fact that there was a treaty existing between the United States and Great Britain declaring that no English seaman or subject could libel
an English vessel in a United States, or a foreign, port. The libel, however, was served and the case was set for trial; on the opening day, there came into the court-room a large Englishman, reminding me of the picture of John Bull, in uniform and braid, with a sword buckled at his side and wearing a cocked hat. He was the British Consul at Charleston, South Carolina, his name and title being, Consul-General H. B. Walker. Honorable George Davis was by his side, as counsel. This British Consul was attended by a number of his staff from Charleston. The case was called, and Judge Cantwell and I announced our readiness for trial. Immediately, Walker arose and addressed the Court and said with the permission of his counsel, Honorable George Davis, he wished to file for the British Government, and deliver to the Court, a written protest, which he had prepared, against this breach of the treaty between Great Britain and the United States. He said Snow was a British seaman and his ship was a British bottom, and under the treaty it was a violation of the international agreement between Great Britain and America to allow any English seaman to libel an English vessel in a foreign country. Judge Brooks asked that the treaty be read to him, and immediately thereafter he promptly dismissed the case at the cost of the libelant. Of course, the proctors thought this was the end of the matter; but, a few days thereafter, there came a communication from the Secretary of State, John W. Foster, in Washington, addressed to Judge Edward Cantwell, claiming that he and his associate had grossly violated the treaty between Great Britain and America, and he called for an explanation from us, as the British Ambassador at Washington demanded that our government take cognizance of this action; that he disapproved it and wanted an explanation from the counsel who instituted the libel. Both Judge Cantwell and I made elaborate apologies which were satisfactory to Secretary of State Foster, and he transmitted it to the English Ambassador. There the matter dropped, very much to our satisfaction.
Less than two years after I began the practice of law, I was married to Miss Emma May Hargrove, daughter of Colonel John Hargrove, of Granville County, North Carolina, and his wife, Mary Williams Grist, of Beaufort County, on December 6, 1876, at “Hibernia,” the ancestral home of the family, by the Reverend William S. Pettigrew—a very pious and spiritually minded Episcopal minister.
My wife was quite a belle—being known for her beauty and charm, to which the passing years have added only grace! Our life together has been ineffably happy and exceptionally free from sorrow. God has blessed us with the following children: Eliza McIlhenny, who married J. Walter Williamson; William McKoy, who married Anne Thornton Spence; Emmett Hargrove married Lillian Maxwell; Mary Hargrove married J. Leeds Barroll, Jr.; Marguerite Grist married Nelson MacRae. We have, also, ten splendid grandchildren who are well qualified to perpetuate the family.
Just previous to my election to the 56th Congress, I completed my new home at the intersection of Market and Sixth Streets. It is a handsome residence having three stories, with large comfortable rooms. The interior was decorated by the well known firm—Duryea and Potter, of New York—creating a background of spacious beauty for my wife and daughters.
We have loved this home, whose walls have been hallowed by the lives of three generations, and we have delighted in entertaining, so it has become rather noted for its lavish hospitality. Nothing gives more pleasure than “The festive board and Thou”! It has been our supreme pleasure to make it the mecca of family and friends.
At the time of our marriage, the Rev. Pettigrew was serving the churches at Ridgeway, Henderson, and St. John's at Old Williamsboro. He was a native of Tyrrell County, and a brother of General James Johnston Pettigrew, of Gettysburg fame.
Colonel John Hargrove was a prominent Whig of Granville County, representing it in the Senate of 1848, as did his brother, William Turner Hargrove, in a previous one. The Colonel was a very handsome man, chivalrous and elegant, and one of the
last ante-bellum gentlemen who believed in the duel as a proper way to settle disputes—although he, himself, was never called upon to practice it.
He was a large land owner, was Colonel on the Staff of Governor Charles Manly, in 1849, and was Colonel of the Home Guard, in 1864.
In my early married life, my family spent many summers at “Hibernia.” This is the original tract of six hundred and forty acres granted in 1742, to Richard Hargrove, Gentleman, by the Earl of Granville, and has never been out of the Hargrove family. It is now the property of my wife, in continuous succession for two hundred years. It is located near Townsville and Williamsboro, and not far from “Burnside,” “Pool's Rock,” and other famous plantations. The original grant, signed by the Earl of Granville, is in the possession of the family.
In years gone by, at each of my visits, Rev. Pettigrew would arrive to enliven my stay at Col. Hargrove's. I took quite a fancy to him, for he was noted for his Low Church practices in association with the other Protestant denominations. He had been a farmer and business man and in early life, somewhat of a politician; he not only took great interest in the campaigns but was a member himself of the Secession Convention that voted North Carolina out of the Union, in 1861. It was quite interesting to hear his comments on the ability and character of his political associates, and particularly those in the Secession Convention. He was justly proud of the career of his brother, General James Johnston Pettigrew, and his achievements at Gettysburg. It was his division that made the farthest charge up Cemetery Ridge—as was claimed by General George Pickett and his friends. I became convinced that General Pettigrew was truly one of the greatest soldiers and scholars our state has ever produced. Rev. Pettigrew never tired of telling of the greatness of his brother. I admired this clergyman not only for his Christian character but for his broad church views. He would preach in another Protestant church without his gown, and would invite other denominations to preach in his, for which he was greatly criticized by the High Church Episcopalians.
He baptized our three eldest children, and the records are inscribed in the annals of Old St. John's Church, at Williamsboro.
Among the incidents of the United States District Court was one particularly notable one. In the early days of 1875, or 1876, the Croatan Indians in Robeson County, then known as Scuffletonians, were great violators of the United States Internal Revenue Law. They would manufacture, extensively, corn whiskey, apple and peach brandy, in the swamps of Robeson County. I have known as many as fifty indictments against these people for their violation of the Internal Revenue Law. On this occasion that I speak of, Colonel Neill Archie McLean, of Lumberton, North Carolina, who was a gifted lawyer and had been a Colonel in the Confederate Army, and the father of Neill Archie McLean, a prominent member of the Bar of Robeson County in later days, was defending one of the Lowrys for this crime, and the evidence was not strong for the government but sufficient to allow the case to go to the jury. Colonel McLean made a very powerful speech in behalf of his client, and in the course of his remarks he condemned the Federal Internal Revenue Law against the manufacture and sale of whiskey, and frequently in his speech, instead of calling the law the Internal Revenue Law he denounced it as the “Infernal Revenue Law,” and tried to array the sentiment of the jury against prosecutions of this kind. In his political campaigns, Senator Vance, in a number of his speeches in the state, had on the stand denounced these Internal Revenue Law enforcers. He called them “red legged grasshoppers, who cruelly and recklessly, without the slightest suspicion, arrested the farmers for making peach and apple brandy, which they had always made!” He criticized the enforcement of this law, and so did Colonel McLean. When it came to a reply for the closing argument of the United States District Attorney, who should it be but Richard Cogdell Badger, of Raleigh, the son of Honorable George Badger, former Judge and United States Senator! He became very personal in his remarks and actually denounced Colonel McLean for the speech that he had made. He stated that McLean had made, during the Civil War, a great effort to overturn the United States Government; that instead of acquiescing in the result, he now became
a denouncer of this government, which had been very liberal to him, for his participation in the Rebellion; that Colonel McLean's speech was violent treason! Immediately, Colonel McLean turned around and assaulted Badger in the presence of the court. But the court was not as severe as Mr. Badger, and ordered the Marshal to arrest both parties, and, upon explanation of each and apologies, the lawyers were excused and the case went to the jury. A unanimous verdict was given by the jury that the defendant was not guilty! This was a very exciting scene, and I am the only member of the Bar, now living, who witnessed it.
I have always taken an active interest in Democratic politics. I have always had great admiration and respect for Franklin Roosevelt. I coincided with him in all of his views on the New Deal and in his present efforts of preparedness to defend America against Hitlerism; I was also with him in his views on the reconstruction of the Supreme Court. I never could understand why a number of our Southern representatives, particularly my friend, Josiah W. Bailey, didn't support him in his views on that subject. It has always been the practice of every political party to control the Supreme Court by appointment of its judges when they could. John Adams, you may recall, appointed John Marshall, Chief-Justice of the United States, in order to prevent Thomas Jefferson from making the appointment. It was a midnight appointment, being made the night before Thomas Jefferson was inaugurated the next morning. Jefferson's views coincided more with the views of our people than did those of Adams, the Federalist, but nevertheless, he deprived President Jefferson of this appointment. If anyone will read the decisions of the Supreme Court for three or four years after Marshall became judge, they will observe that he delivered nearly every judicial opinion that was made, and they were all tainted with Federalist ideas and doctrines. Even Grant, when President, tried to reconstruct the Supreme Court and made Chase Chief-Justice, in order to legalize, by judicial decision, the issuance of greenbacks instead of coin, in payment of the government war debt. Yet the Constitution plainly says that Congress shall have “power to coin money and regulate the value thereof.” This certainly does not mean that Congress has power to use greenbacks and paper money instead of coin. But, as it turned out after the failure
of Secession, it has become a decision which benefitted the country very much. Why President Roosevelt should not appoint judges who would favor his policies of the New Deal is a matter incomprehensible to me, and I could never understand why certain of our senators did not support him in this matter. I am glad to say that Josiah W. Bailey, who was in error, in my opinion, in not supporting the President's policy in that respect, has been one of the most staunch and able supporters of the Roosevelt administration in all his other views. I will say that I know Senator Bailey well, and I regard him as the best equipped senator both by education, political wisdom, clearness of views and expression as an orator, and by his forcible writings, that North Carolina has sent to Congress since the Civil War. I hope the people of North Carolina will have wisdom enough to keep him there until his days of usefulness have passed.
Many of our Southern people are great critics of the Tammany Organization in New York, and its opposition to Grover Cleveland and other Democrats, in its efforts to control the patronage of New York. I have never approved of this—and to the contrary have always condemned it. But, whatever Tammany did or does, the Southern States should never forget that when they were under military rule and had few friends in the North, the Tammany Democrats of New York stood shoulder to shoulder with the few Southern members of Congress, in preventing congressional legislation which had for its purpose the humiliation and forcible subjection of the South to arbitrary military rule and reconstruction. It was my privilege to form, in after years, the acquaintance of a great many of the Tammany leaders in the National Conventions, and they impressed me with the fact that many of them were real patriots and the mainstay of the Democracy, in the State of New York.
When I graduated from the University of Virginia, in 1875, and came back to my home in Wilmington, among my old classmates and friends there was Matthew J. Heyer, afterwards President of the Southern National Bank and the Atlantic Bank and Trust Company, and also Chairman of the Democratic Executive Committee of New Hanover County. Mr. Heyer approached me and told me that since I had graduated with distinction from the University of Virginia, the Executive Committee wanted to
nominate me, though I was just twenty-one years of age, for the Lower House of the Legislature, from New Hanover County. I made a thorough canvass, but so great was the negro majority that had been caused by the influx of the negroes brought here by the Freedman's Bureau, that an untutored negro was nominated for the office and defeated me by a twenty thousand majority. This political condition remained very much the same until the year 1890.
While you may say I inherited my Democracy from my father, a South Carolina Secession Democrat, the principles of Democracy were further instilled into me by my education at the foot of Monticello, Charlottesville, Virginia. I have taken considerable interest in politics from the time I graduated and came back to Wilmington. I was overwhelmingly defeated by a negro for the Legislature, but I took an active part in the politics of New Hanover County from that time, having been chairman of the Executive Committee. Notwithstanding our efforts to overcome the Republican majority in the county, which was something tremendous, I continued active until the year 1890, when I was persuaded to run for the State Senate from the Twelfth District, and was the first Senator elected from New Hanover County, after the Civil War.
In the year 1875, I was elected County Attorney of Brunswick, and it became my duty to attend the monthly meeting of the County Commissioners, at Smithville. I would go down on the Steamer Wilmington, with John W. Harper, Master, a most genial officer, with a statewide reputation, and spend at least two days at the hotel kept by Miss Kate Stuart; each night while there, I was invited by the officers of the Garrison to play a social game of cards.
Fort Johnston was then, as it has always been, an army post, with a regiment of troops stationed there. The Government had built a large number of dormitories for the soldiers and more pretentious quarters for the officers, and this fortification was continued as an army post for many years.
Speaking of Miss Kate Stuart—the proprietress of the hotel. She was a highly educated woman, well read and brave as a lion. On one occasion, the child of the captain of one of the Clyde Line Steamers, whose family then resided in Smithville,
fell off the wharf in front of Miss Kate's hostelry. The cries of her companions brought Miss Kate to the wharf, where she saw the little girl struggling in the water, which was about fifteen feet deep. She jumped into the river with all clothes on and rescued the child. Those who witnessed the act described it as a most daring feat. The United States Government presented her a medal, and the master of the steamer, in full appreciation of her heroism, ever afterwards blew a salute in her honor as he passed Smithville, going out or coming from the sea.
I was not only Miss Stuart's lawyer but her friend, and when the question of the removal of the county seat from Smithville to Bolivia had apparently carried by a considerable majority, she employed me to contest the election, which I did with success. I told the Supreme Court, in my argument, that I represented Miss Stuart in the contest; that the question involved was a close one, and being so, I hoped the Court would consider the interest of Miss Stuart, whose home would be broken up if the courthouse were removed. Every member of the Supreme Court was her personal friend, staying at her hotel when holding Brunswick Court. They all knew that Miss Kate was a woman of noble character, and was a heroine. So, the wise justices, finding the question so subtle they hardly knew how to decide it, held a conference, and unanimously agreed to sustain Miss Kate's contention! The election was to be considered void and Smithville was to remain, as it is today, the county seat of Brunswick County.
Years later, when Miss Kate died, Southport lost not only its most outstanding citizen, but its brightest bit of local color!
Both before the Civil War and afterwards, many of the Fort Johnston officers married Smithville girls, notably General W. H. C. Whiting, Major J. H. Hill and Colonel J. A. Brown, of Confederate War fame, all graduates of West Point. After the war, the Misses Prioleau married Captain Mellon and Captain Newcombe, respectively.
The Garrison was afterwards removed from Smithville, and it remained a sleepy little town—a most delightful summer resort—until some years afterwards, when the President of the Illinois Central Railroad, with George M. Pullman, conceived the
idea of running a continuous line of railroads from Smithville to Chicago.
The people of Chicago were so certain that this through line would be built that a large number of very prominent citizens, educated men, moved from Chicago to Smithville and settled there in anticipation of the boom that would come. There came Mr. E. B. Stevens, a member of the Chicago Stock Exchange; W. H. Pyke, Mr. Pullen, Mr. Farguson, a Civil Engineer, Dr. Ullery, and others, who invested largely in Smithville property, and changed the name of the town from Smithville to Southport. The President of the Illinois Central and Mr. Pullman, of sleeping car fame, both having died, the project collapsed and was never materialized.
Southport is now attracting considerable attention of the government and should be a naval base, because of its splendid harbor, that would aid greatly in the defense measures now being established; I am glad to say the government has repurchased and is re-fortifying Fort Caswell, which a few years ago it so unwisely sold.
In mentioning Southport, I recall that, between 1875 and 1885, the courts were largely attended by the most prominent lawyers of the Wilmington section. I rarely missed one, in all the years of my early career; and attended many, later on. There came from Wilmington, also, Mr. William A. Wright, Adam Empie, Mauger London, W. S. and D. J. Devane, Edward Cantwell, Marsden Bellamy, D. L. Russell, and others, and many laymen of prominence such as Colonel John D. Taylor, William Watters, David S. Cowan, and Colonel D. C. Allen. Mr. David S. Cowan was four or five times a candidate for nomination for the Legislature, from Brunswick County. While Mr. Cowan was a splendid and cultured gentleman, he did not take well with farmer delegates or the masses. After having lost several times in his efforts to secure a nomination from Brunswick, he went to Raleigh and, through the influence of friends there, secured the passages of a bill cutting off the territory where he lived, near Acme, and annexing it to Columbus County, being the whole of Old Ransom Township. He then secured his nomination from Columbus County, and was elected several times to the Legislature from that county. Mr. Cowan was a very ambitious
man, and by his persistence and maneuvering gratified his ambition. He really made a very fine public official.
My brother, George H. Bellamy, commonly known as the “Duke of Brunswick,” dominated the politics of Brunswick County almost to the day of his death. He served many times as legislator in the Lower House and also in the Senate, until he was appointed United States Marshal for the Eastern District of North Carolina, by Woodrow Wilson, whom he knew well as a boy, in Wilmington. He then practically retired from politics.
At Brunswick Court, when the lawyers before mentioned would assemble on the porch fronting the sea and river and Bald Head Lighthouse, the elderly lawyers would reminisce, giving us younger ones much valuable information—telling ludicrous incidents happening before the Civil War. I recall how Judge Edward Cantwell, who graduated from Harvard, in the same class with Henry W. Longfellow, and was very fond of Longfellow's poems, would stand on the porch, looking toward the revolving light of Bald Head gleaming in the distance, and would recite “The Lighthouse,” with great effectiveness. We gave him hearty applause, and thus encouraged, to our great delight, he would continue with “Lines on the Jewish Cemetery at New Port” and “The Day is Done,” and others.
This Judge Cantwell was quite a learnéd man, but he was not practical. He changed his politics and became a Republican judge—for which he was greatly criticized.
In the year 1925, I was especially requested by the Executive Committee of the North Carolina Bar Association to prepare and deliver a paper on the Bar of the Lower Cape Fear before the Association at its next meeting. I consented, and delivered the address on July 2, 1925, at Asheville, North Carolina. It was very much complimented at the time by my legal associates. A number of them, hearing I intended to publish my memoirs, have requested that I include this address—which is now out of print. It is as follows:
THE BAR OF THE LOWER CAPE FEAR
AN ADDRESS DELIVERED BY
HON. JOHN D. BELLAMY
NORTH CAROLINA BAR ASSOCIATION
ASHEVILLE, N. C.
JULY 2, 1925
Mr. President and Members of the North Carolina Bar Association:
Your Executive Committee requested me to prepare a paper for this occasion and suggested as a subject “Reminiscences of The Bar of the Lower Cape Fear.” Having just completed a half-century's experience in the actual practice at that Bar, it was with very much pleasure that I yielded to their request. I deemed it a patriotic duty that I should aid in the preservation of the annals of our profession during that era.
The year 1875 was the transition period between the activities of the lawers that received their legal education and training in the ante-bellum schools and those who came afterwards in the Reconstruction Period, after the ratification of the Constitution of 1868 and the adoption of the Code System of Pleading; an innovation not at all relished by the lawyers of the old school. It was most interesting and flattering to the young lawyers, trained under the code system, to have the old and experienced lawyers of the olden time seek their aid and advice as to the manner of preparing and filing pleadings and conducting causes under the new system. They frankly avowed
that they knew nothing about and could not comprehend the hateful new innovation placed unwillingly on them and for which they had no respect. However, the new system, or procedure, grew and expanded, and by reason of its simplicity became deeply rooted in our judicial system. Many of the old lawyers passed away before it became thoroughly fixed and understood; year by year, it has grown in popular favor, and no lawyer of the present time would under any circumstances wish to return to the old modified common-law practice, with all its technicalities and refinements, which was in force in our state prior to the adoption of the Code System.
When your speaker came to the Bar, in the year 1875, it was truly the beginning of a new era, as the decade of readjustment had just ended. The State University at Chapel Hill, which had been closed for years, was reopened, with a number of your speaker's classmates of that year, in the University of Virginia, having been called to professorships in that institution. The Bar of the Lower Cape Fear became deeply interested in the future of the University, for most all of them had been college graduates, many having graduated from Carolina, in its previous palmy days.
The Lower Cape Fear Bar consisted of as able, profound, astute and cultured set of lawyers as ever adorned their profession; they practiced under a code of ethics which was the exemplification of courtesy and consideration for each other, which inculcated the strictest honesty and fair dealing to clients, and had a religious respect for the observance and enforcement of the law.
Many of the names which will be mentioned suggest learning, patriotism and chivalry. They were veritable leaders in religion, in affairs of state, in literature, in commerce and finance; and they established a prestige for the profession of law which has not been fully sustained by the profession of the present generation.
There had passed away, before I became a member of this Bar, that gifted and well educated lawyer and belles-lettres scholar, Griffith J. McRee, the author of the “Life of James Iredell,” and his relative, Thomas D. Meares, a more brilliant lawyer; Joshua G. Wright, a most elegant speaker
and cultured lawyer; and Samuel J. Person, a former Superior Court Judge of splendid ability and unusual attainments.
The Bar of the Lower Cape Fear, then in actual practice, consisted of William A. Wright, Mauger London, George Davis, Duncan K. McRae, Robert S. French, Edward Cantwell, Adam Empie, William S. Devane, DuBrutz Cutlar, Robert Strange, Marsden Bellamy, William S. Norment, Benjamin R. Moore, Daniel L. Russell, Junius Davis, Thomas W. Strange, E. S. Martin, Charles M. Stedman, and I, the last two mentioned being the only living members left on the stage of action.
This paper deals only with those members of the profession who have passed to the “Great Beyond,” and as my friend, Major Stedman, is now living, it is permissable at least for me to say, that having left the Lower Cape Fear and settled in a new field in the center of the state, he has won for himself a national reputation as a statesman and member of Congress, a cultured and elegant gentleman, whose life and character is a subject of great admiration and emulation.William A. Wright
Mr. William A. Wright was the oldest member, the dean of the Bar. He was the son of Judge Joshua Grainger Wright, one of the judges of the olden time and brother of the late Joshua Grainger Wright, who died a few years previous to the year 1875. Mr. William A. Wright was not only a good lawyer but a good business man, who accumulated a considerable fortune. He was regarded the best corporation lawyer of his day and drafted most of the charters of the corporations formed in those days. He was General Attorney of the Wilmington & Weldon Railroad and noted as a conveyancer. He was seldom in the courthouse but had the most lucrative office practice in Wilmington; he afterwards formed a co-partnership with Major Charles M. Stedman, and with the ability, zeal and energy of the younger lawyer, the firm justly possessed the largest law practice of that day. Mr. Wright was one of the most courteous men I ever knew and in social life and in the company of his professional associates, he was full of the wittiest anecdotes and most interesting narratives. In Mr. Wright's day, he occasionally attended a court in some
adjoining county. It was the custom of the lawyers to travel together and lunch at some midway point in the forest, under the branches of a spreading oak. At those gatherings, it was a rare privilege for the young lawyer to be present and hear Mr. Wright narrate his spicy, risqué anecdotes and utter his wise sayings. Much good feeling and good cheer abounded; each sumptuous repast was always regaled with a very appetizing beverage, a custom which has passed away and not likely to be restored. One one occasion, our party reached Onslow County where Judge John Kerr, of Alamance, was to preside the next day. On Sunday morning, the Clerk of the Court conveyed a message to Judge Kerr from the congregation of the Baptist Church that the pastor was absent and they desired him to fill the pulpit that day. Judge Kerr consented and the members of the Bar who had come in from Wilmington, Kenansville, Kinston and New Bern were all invited to attend the services, which, of course, they accepted. I, being present, recall with great vividness the occasion and the powerful sermon of the eloquent speaker and pointed application to many an individual in the audience was striking. Suffice it to say that no abler nor more eloquent discussion of the text in its manifold applications was ever made and his plea for righteousness found lodgment in the minds of all his audience. The sermon on the same subject by the celebrated Bishop Butler, taught in various schools and colleges, was not any stronger either as a literary or theological production than that of the Preacher-Judge, John Kerr.Mauger London
A contemporary of Mr. Wright, and of nearly the same age, was Mauger London. Mr. London was a very able man and the most astute lawyer I ever knew. He possessed a very fine legal mind and was indeed a very great common-law lawyer. Neither he nor his rival, Mr. Wright, possessed any eloquence as a speaker, but both had the same clear, terse and forcible power of expression which carried conviction. Chief-Justice Pearson on one occasion, inquiring of his friend, Mr. London, said: “London was a fine lawyer and possessed that rare faculty called horse-sense and it was a pleasure to have
him present an argument to the court with such pith and force.” Mr. London had two sons, Alexander T. and John, who practiced law at this Bar for a short time and then moved to Alabama, where they both won great distinction as lawyers. Mr. London was always regarded as a very safe legal adviser and continued to practice until he was past eighty years of age. He was, however, a skeptic, had no political preference and was as free from sentiment as it is possible for one to be.
Mr. London, in the prime of his professional life, had quite a legal encounter with Mr. George Davis. There was a large industrial enterprise formed in Wilmington known as the Clarendon Iron Works, which was formed for the purpose of utilizing coal from the deposits in Chatham County, in the early fifties, and manufacturing iron products in Wilmington. Many of the most enterprising citizens of Wilmington invested large sums of money in the foundry which extensively manufactured the products of iron, but finally failed. A deed of trust was made to protect a large number of local creditors. The deed was proved in New York by the makers, their acknowledgment being taken before a commissioner of affidavits for North Carolina, residing in New York, and was brought back to Wilmington and registered. A northern creditor, a Mr. DeCourcey, who had a large claim, sued the corporation and recovered judgment for his debt, through his counsel, Mr. London. Execution was issued and levied on the property included in the deed of trust. Mr. London told me that he went to Mr. George Davis, who represented the trustees and the secured creditors, and told him that he, London, was going to sell under the execution, as in his opinion the deed was invalid as to his client's debt, as the instrument was not properly proved. Mr. Davis replied: “London, you don't know what you are talking about! Your position is silly, although yours, London. We'll see.” London sold the property under execution, worth about one hundred thousand dollars, and bought it for a song. He then brought suit of “DeCourcey v. Barr,” reported in Busbee's Equity, page 181, and recovered the whole property, the court deciding that under the existing statute, relative to the proof of instruments for registration, a commissioner of affidavits had no power to take a probate or acknowledgment of
a deed and such proof was a nullity and was void and conferred no lien under our registration law as against creditors. In consequence of this decision the Legislature at its next session corrected this omission in the statute and the question never arose again. The winning of this case, said Mr. London, brought down on his head the ire and wrath of practically the whole community, for all were interested in the property; and although his relationship with the people was very extensive, both by blood and marriage, he never really assuaged their resentment.George Davis
Mr. Davis was born and reared in Wilmington and became the most prominent and distinguished member of the Lower Cape Fear Bar. He was the idol of the old Whig element of this section. His life and services as an orator and statesman and his career as a member of the Confederate States Senate and Attorney-General in the Cabinet of President Jefferson Davis has been a number of times portrayed in several biographies. One, especially able, written and delivered by that eminent judge and splendid citizen, Judge Henry G. Connor, which prevents this writer from attempting to give any extensive sketch of this great citizen. It is, therefore, of Mr. Davis as a lawyer that I speak, here. I knew him, quite well; have often been associated with, and against him.
He was a most thorough, painstaking and laborious lawyer. He never tried a case until he had given it a most thorough, studious and elaborate preparation, as he did with his speeches and addresses—they were of the choicest rhetoric and appropriate metaphors. They showed the result of great industry and intense thought. Several of his friends have told me that notwithstanding Mr. Davis was originally a Union man and opposed to Secession, when his state seceded he, like Lee and Jackson and a host of other Southerners, threw his whole heart and soul into the cause. Upon the fall of the Confederacy, to which he had become devoted. Mr. Davis became a changed man—changed from the bouyant and radiant orator and spirit of former days, to a serious, critical and almost pessimistic temper. I have always made an allowance for this change of spirit because of the strenuous times through which he passed
and the weighty responsibilities that had been cast upon him. He was like Father Ryan, the poet priest, who, lamenting the lost cause, said in one of his beautiful poems:
- “Oh, give me the land where the ruins are spread,
- And the living tread light on the hearts of the dead;
- Oh, give me the land that hath story and song,
- To tell of the deeds of the right with the wrong.”
He had no toleration for new ideas. He did not believe in popular education—it was a heresy with him. He was a Cavalier, not a Puritan. On one occasion he said to me, “This thing you boys are advocating, called progress, and the introduction of new notions is wrong; it is but a synonym for graft, for rascality.” He despised hypocrisy and hated demagoguery. He was a great stickler for decorum. On one occasion, seeing a young lawyer who had not been long at the bar, sitting in the courtroom, while the court was in session, with his feet elevated, resting on the table in the presence of the court and jury, Mr. Davis came by and tapping the young man gently on the shoulder, said to him, “Young man, no gentleman will put his feet on the table in the presence of the court and jury.” The young man became very much incensed at the remark, but dropped the matter, as he did his feet.
But with it all Mr. Davis was a great man and great lawyer—a noble old Roman—and I feel sure that North Carolina lost a great judge when Mr. Davis declined to accept the Chief-Justiceship of the Supreme Court which was tendered him by Governor Vance.Duncan K. MacRae
Quite the opposite of Mr. Davis on general temperament was Colonel Duncan K. MacRae. Colonel MacRae was not only a very fine lawyer but the most eloquent orator and lecturer that North Carolina has ever produced. He was high-spirited, but a very companionable man. He was the most agreeable man to be associated with in the trial of a cause that I have ever known. It was a great pleasure and privilege to appear with him. He would consult with you freely and he always put the young associate foremost, giving him the privilege
and making him present the first argument to the court and jury, frequently suggesting what the young lawyer should say, and when he concluded, the colonel would take the young barrister by the hand and shake it, telling him he had made a good speech and impressed the court and jury. This, of course, made the young men feel elated. Duncan K. MacRae was a very remarkable man, and I account it a great privilege to have had his confidence; on more than one occasion he told me much of his career. It is said of him that in 1824, when about seven years old, he made a very eloquent speech of welcome to Marquis de LaFayette on his first visit to Fayetteville, named in his honor, and the Marquis highly praised the effort. He had made a very great reputation as an orator when a young man in the defense of Mrs. Ann K. Simpson, his boyhood sweetheart, who was indicted and acquitted of the murder of her husband. Many of the old residents of Fayetteville say it was the most magnificent and eloquent defense ever made in the Cumberland Courthouse. The trial of Ann K. Simpson was published in pamphlet form and is found today in many of the old libraries. It contains, in full, the trial and its incidents, and the remarkable speech of the young lawyer. It was probably the first criminal trial published in this manner in this state, and among the few up to that time published in the nation.
Colonel MacRae practiced law not only in Fayetteville but in Raleigh, Hillsboro, Oxford and Memphis, but for the longer period of time, in Wilmington. In ante-bellum days Colonel MacRae was an internal improvement Democrat, and took the Whig position in the distribution of the public lands, and in the Convention of 1858, that nominated MacRae for Governor, expecting to line up the remnant of the old-line Whigs with them on this issue. The defection was not as great as was expected, and Colonel MacRae was defeated at the polls by a large majority.
It was in 1853 that Colonel MacRae contested with Hon. William S. Ashe for the election to Congress, in the Wilmington District. Mr. Ashe was an exceedingly able and popular man, but had opposition, as all candidates do. The opposition, together with the old Whig element, supported MacRae; and
the Democratic Party, seeing the defection of a large number towards MacRae, and deeming it wise politics to call him down and force his withdrawal, a number of influential friends and others repaired to Lumberton, where they met him, having in their pocket a commission from the President of the United States, appointing him Consular-General to Paris. The Colonel told me they actually drugged him, obtained from him a signed card withdrawing from the race, which they published. The first thing he really knew, when he came to normalcy, he was on the Atlantic Ocean, with his commission in his pocket, a passenger on one of the best steamers of the day, bound for Paris.
During the Civil War he was a gallant and intrepid commander; on the first call for troops by the Governor, he was chosen Colonel of the Fifth Regiment of North Carolina Militia, and proceeded with his command into Virginia. He saw active service in most all of the important engagements and displayed great bravery and ability, being severely wounded at South Mountain. He told me that in the celebrated engagement at Williamsburg, where General Winfield Scott Hancock won his soubriquet of “Hancock the Superb” for his conduct in opposing the Confederate troops in one of the hardest fought battles of the war, that General Hancock remarked that Colonel Duncan MacRae's Fifth North Carolina Regiment should have the word “Immortals” inscribed upon their standards. In this battle, the Confederate troops covered themselves with glory, their Commander, Colonel MacRae, having been brevetted for the occasion, time and again stubbornly repulsed Hancock and his troops, evincing the greatest bravery and leadership.
When the war was over, Colonel MacRae settled in Memphis, Tennessee, where he became a very prominent lawyer, having formed the co-partnership of MacRae & Sneed, and practiced with signal success. In his active career he lost his health. He told me that his physician advised him that he could not live unless he retired from business for a time and refrained from taking any alcoholic stimulant. The doctor advised him to go to Florida, take a gun and dog and live in the open for a period, and he accepted the advice. While
there, on one occasion he became drenched from a shower of rain, and being very cold, he was constrained to take a stimulant. He took the drink and it put him into a fervent glow, making him feel splendid. He continued to take it day by day until he felt himself perfectly well, and then returned to Memphis. His doctor called to see him and congratulated him upon his restoration to health, assuring him if he had not heeded his advice he would have come back a dead man. He said he would not resist telling him what he had done. His doctor said, “Colonel, you really are a well man, but yours is an exceptional case.”
While in Memphis, Colonel MacRae bought a lottery ticket, trying for the capital prize, but ill-luck followed him; he got hard up financially and sold a fourth part of his ticket; needing more money, he sold next a half; and needing more again, he sold the residue for the price of half its cost. The next week the lottery was drawn and that ticket drew the capital prize of one hundred thousand dollars.
He returned to North Carolina to live and took rank as one of the foremost men of the Bar. He appeared for his kinsman, Colonel T. W. Strange, in his trial at Asheville, the case being transferred from Waynesville. He was employed in the celebrated case in the United States Court of Matthews v. The Carolina Central Railroad, with such eminent lawyers as Judge Dillon of New York, author of the work on Municipal Corporations, Edmond Robinson and Charles Steele, Daniel L. Russell, and others. In this case, he received a fee of five thousand dollars; desiring to invest it for his declining years, he placed it in cotton contracts and lost every dollar. He then asked his friends if they could not get Governor Scales to appoint him to the judgeship made vacant by the death of Allmond A. McKoy. A great effort was made, but the Governor refused—and this ended his career! He lamented the fact that he had been born under an unlucky star, and that fate had been unkind!Colonel Robert Strange
Among the lawyers who achieved great reputation for ability and character at the Bar, was Colonel Robert Strange. He was the son of Judge Robert Strange, who was also a
United States Senator. The latter once resigned his seat in the Legislature rather than heed instructions against his conscience!
Colonel Strange, though he practiced under the old system of procedure, readily and easily adapted himself to the new code, and became the best pleader at the Bar. He was a very able lawyer, and a high-toned, Christian gentleman. He had the confidence and respect of his colleagues, and of the people at large to a greater degree than any practitioner of my day. He was a very handsome man, and had wonderful poise, before both court and jury.
Colonel Strange left three sons: Col. Thomas W. Strange—a fine lawyer and a courteous gentleman; Bishop Robert Strange—that distinguished and most beloved character of the Diocese of East Carolina; Joseph W. Strange,—the successful business man of New York.Daniel L. Russell
Daniel L. Russell was one of the members of that Bar who is entitled to mention, as the history of the Lower Cape Fear would not be complete without it. He was always the subject of intense criticism, and there was a great tendency, if not a determination, among many of our best citizens to ignore his existence. He was a man of very great ability and possessed a very clear intellect. He was not a profound lawyer, because he lacked application, seldom read a judicial decision and relied chiefly on conceding and admitting the law, apparently mitigating against his cause, but had wonderful tact in differentiating it from the position contended for by him. He arose in the stormy times of the Reconstruction Period. He was born with great wealth for that day, was educated at the best schools of the state and at the University. He was possessed of an imperious nature and could not brook opposition, and really had the most checquered career of any man of that period. In an old album of 1860, possessed by one of his classmates at the University, which it was then customary for collegians to keep, he wrote as his motto, “Love and War.”
When the War of Secession broke out, he left college, quickly volunteered, and threw his whole soul, apparently,
into the struggle. He equipped, at his own expense, a company of Brunswick County volunteers, became its captain, and tendered it to the Confederacy. It was assigned to duty at Fort Fisher, where he and his company were kept for about one year. He tired of the dull monotony of the seashore that prevailed there and the uneventful life became a bore. He asked to be transferred to the Army of Virginia, where the war was then being waged, so that he could see more active service. Being refused this request by the War Department, he attempted to forcibly withdraw his company from the Fort and to carry them to Virginia to place them with the military authorities there. He chartered a boat at his own expense, defied the Commandant of the Fort, and was about to march his company aboard when he was arrested by military authority, cashiered, and deprived of his command. He was about to be summarily dealt with, according to the laws of war, when through the efforts and influence of Honorable George Davis, then a Senator, in Richmond, in the Confederate Congress, he was paroled and released, and went back to his farm.
Thenceforth, all the zeal and ardor he first possessed for the Confederate cause was turned into the most bitter and implacable hatred of that cause, for which all of his friends and neighbors were then fighting and for which many had already sacrificed their lives. The conscription authorities endeavored to humiliate him by putting him back into the ranks, but his father, a wealthy and influential planter, had him nominated and elected to the Legislature and appointed County Commissioner of Brunswick County before he was of age, and given other civil appointments to keep him out of the army. It was under these circumstances, after being arrested by a conscription officer, that he sued out a writ of Habeas Corpus and was taken to Richmond Hall, Yadkin County, where Chief-Justice Person released him, deciding the case as reported in Winston's Report, page 463. About this time the cause of the Confederacy collapsed, Reconstruction came on, and, although then scarcely eligible by age, he was elected a Reconstruction judge. He was bitter toward his people and specially toward his old associates, and in turn was
hotly denounced as a scallawag and completely ostracized, and even hated. The Democratic press of that day never relaxed its criticism, never relented. When his term of office expired, he had made a reputation for ability, but his very name was desecrated, for he was the brains of the party in power, and all of the offensive acts of the regime of scallawags and carpet-baggers in the east were laid at his door; consequently, the bitter dislike of the people of his section continued, and he never retrieved their respect to the day of his death. He afterwards became a member of Congress from the Wilmington District, defeating the gifted and idolized Waddell, and made there a reputation for ability. Subsequently, he was Governor of the State, residing in Raleigh. After his election he gloated over his success and triumph over his former foes, and in assuming the duties of his office he displayed his vindictiveness, the first words of his inaugural address being, “There is retribution in history.” While there in office he had a chequered career, barely escaping impeachment. He was a man of great ability, a forceful and strong debater, an intense partisan and relentless hater. His history reads like a character of the French Revolution. He arose, figured largely on the horizon of his day, and died, and it is strange to say that in a pamphlet entitled “Chronicles of the Lower Cape Fear,” noted for its inaccuracies rather than for any historical merit, he is not even mentioned as existing or ever having existed; but surely he was the most conspicuous figure of the period.Robert Strange French
Robert Strange French was a member of the Bar, and possessed more than ordinary legal talent. He had been a superior court judge whose term expired and was succeeded by one of the Reconstruction judges. He had practiced at Lumberton, N. C., but upon his retirement from the bench became an active member of the Wilmington Bar. He became the associate in the practice with Judge Samuel J. Person under the firm name of Person & French. The firm had a large and lucrative practice in the Cape Fear section, and on the death of Judge Person, some years prior to 1875, Judge French practiced alone.
Judge French was a large man in physique, very amiable in disposition, and was regarded as one of our most able equity lawyers. He was generally selected by the Bar as commissioner in chancery or referee to settle causes, and as a rule his decisions were so satisfactory that seldom were there exceptions to his findings. He possessed a great deal of dry wit and humor, was an inveterate punster, hardly surpassed in this respect in his day by any one save Rev. Joseph R. Wilson, the father of President Woodrow Wilson. He was a very pleasant companion. On one occasion, going down the river to attend Smithville or Southport Court, as the steamboat passed abreast Orton Plantation, there was an old, dismantled lighthouse, having nothing about it left to indicate that it ever was one, standing on the shore, near which was a sturgeon fishery. As the boat came near, a number of vultures, alarmed by the boat's approach, flew up and lit upon the abandoned structure. A young lawyer, standing near, said, “Judge, why do they call that a lighthouse?” He promptly replied, “My young friend, it is because the buzzards light there.” On another occasion, traveling on a Seaboard train with the writer, going to Lumberton, an inquisitive countryman, mistaking him for one of the McCallums of Robeson County, said: “Mister, which one of the McCallums are you?” He promptly replied, “My name, Sir, is ‘What you may call em’.” The answer in both instances seemed to give complete satisfaction, both to the young lawyer and the inquisitive countryman. He was an ardent whist player and would never permit talking in the game, as he always said, “Whist meant silence.” Judge French left a number of descendants, who are among our best people.Dubrutz Cutlar
Another member of the Bar, who possessed many of Judge French's qualities as a lawyer, was Dubrutz Cutlar, Esq. He was a native of Alabama, but all of his forbears were North Carolinians. He was a Christian gentleman, who had many friends but not a large practice. These friends, however, had a most exalted opinion of his ability as a legal adviser, and it is but justice to say that he was truly one of the safest legal advisers of that day. Mr. Cutlar never sought office,
but he was appointed during the Civil War, by President Davis, a sequestration officer to condemn and forfeit to the Confederate Government debts owing by citizens of the South to northern creditors, and seize and take possession of any alien property in the Confederate lines. It is sad to relate, however, that while he performed his duties ably and impartially, when the Confederacy proved unsuccessful and collapsed, these same debtors, ruined by the war, had to repay to the Northern creditors the same debts which they had been forced to pay to the Confederate Government. In a number of instances that came under the personal observation of the writer they were financially ruined and forced into bankruptcy.
Mr. Cutlar was a most careful and reliable investigator of titles to real estates and was a splendid conveyancer and drew many of the most important contracts of his day and many of the wills of our wealthiest citizens. He was known as a good office lawyer, who cared little for the active practice in the courts. He was one of the few members of the Bar of that day who was a real athlete, and he frequently exhibited this power.Colonel Alfred Moore Waddell
A contemporary of Mr. Cutlar, and about the same age, was Colonel Alfred Moore Waddell, who achieved fame as a Congressman and politician, orator and essayist, and who, had he devoted himself to the law rather than to politics, would have been a very successful lawyer. Colonel Waddell was the son of that very distinguished old lawyer, Hugh Waddell, the best type of the old school gentleman and lawyer I ever knew—the embodiment of courtesy and gentleness. While Hon. Hugh Waddell had retired from the Bar some years before the writer became a practitioner, he recalls him vividly, with his courtly bearing, as he walked the streets of Wilmington in his declining years, then beyond the age of eighty, hand in hand with his lovely wife and companion of his long married life. They were like two school children and sweethearts, attracting the gaze and admiration of passersby as a most remarkable instance of a lovable and companionable comradeship.
Colonel Alfred Moore Waddell was a good lawyer, but did not appear to like the practice. As a member of Congress he made a national reputation as an orator and campaigner, and was much sought in the North as a political speaker in the presidential campaigns. Much of his life has been written by others. Colonel Waddell was a man of courage, and in trying times was a leader. Twice in his career he came under the personal observation of the writer. In the early 70's, when Wilmington and New Hanover County were absolutely under the control of a large negro population, which had drifted there from South Carolina and other parts of the country, attracted by the Freedman's Bureau, a national institution that gave rations and clothing to the recently emancipated slaves; a howling mob of negroes, being led by a notorious white man by the name of James Heaton, seized and took possession of the town; several thousands of the mob smashing windows, ruining property, and were about to set fire to the town. The weak and puny carpetbagger government, which even the negroes did not respect, could not quell the riot. Alfred Waddell, calling together a handful—hardly more than one hundred—of brave and fearless men, with a gun in his hand, led a charge on the large mob of negroes, put it to flight, and in less than an hour drove the rioters to their homes and restored order. The weak and pusillanimous government continued to function once more in peace. Colonel Waddell, at the time, was a writer, who dropped his books and responded to the appeal to have order restored. Again, in 1898, under similar circumstances, he called on and drove out of office the weakling, Mayor Silas Wright, an old time carpetbagger, and in a most skillful manner—under the form of law but in terrorem—made each officer resign seriatim, filling his place with a reputable citizen and property holder, one by one, until an entire new board of aldermen and officers were placed in charge of the city government, and the former disreputable member expelled from the town, never to return again. Colonel Waddell was elected Mayor; he made Wilmington a safe and desirable place in which to dwell forever. He was from time to time re-elected to that position, showing the confidence and esteem of his fellow townsmen. Colonel Waddell was a very
entertaining writer and possesed great literary ability; he was the author of a number of biographies, and contributed to many of the literary magazines of the day. He was a good raconteur and very fine company.Marsden Bellamy
A contemporary of Strange, Cutlar, Waddell and others mentioned was Marsden Bellamy, who was educated at the State University, but like others, at the early age of seventeen, with the enthusiasm of youth, volunteered with his college mates and joined the Confederate Army—first in the Cavalry, then in the Navy. After the war, he received his legal education under Judge W. H. Battle, and came to the Bar about 1870, where he was an able and conspicuous member and a very skillful practitioner to the day of his death.
It is with pardonable pride that I state that Marsden Bellamy was, in my opinion, the greatest and most effective jury lawyer that lived in his day. The writer has repeatedly seen the presiding judge of the courts, when he was speaking, repress the ardor of the audience in expressions of vociferous approval of his speech. I have never seen, in the courthouse, the jury and audience alike swayed by eloquence as it was in his case. Many are living today who will bear willing testimony of his great force and forensic power. When he had the last speech in the case he seldom lost a verdict.
He has left a splendid family of sons and daughters, several of his sons being honorable, talented men of the law and medicine, worthy descendants of their famous father.Oliver Pendleton Meares
Among the positive and forceful characters of the Lower Cape Fear was Oliver Pendleton Meares. He had practiced for years with success, when the interest of the State demanded the creation of a Circuit Court to include Mecklenburg as well as New Hanover County. Judge Meares was appointed to preside in this position, which he filled for years with ability. He had been Colonel of the 18th North Carolina Regiment during the Civil War, and showed courage and ability. He was a strong speaker and one of the most vigorous
and denunciatory speeches it has even been my lot to hear was in the defense of General William R. Cox, of Raleigh, who was then Chairman of the state Democratic Executive Committee. General Cox had been indicted, before a United States Commissioner at Wilmington, for violating the Federal election law when he sent the celebrated telegram to the Robeson County Committee in which he urged them to “hold Robeson and save the State.” General Cox was triumphantly acquitted at the trial, the acquittal largely due to the able speech of Judge Meares. Judge Meares was as free from cant and hypocrisy as any man I ever knew, and would frequently speak the unpleasant truth which actually wounded, and made him unpopular with many people. He was the brother of Thomas D. Meares, the elder, who was also a very able lawyer, and who had died before the writer came to the Bar; they were sons of William B. Meares, who in the forties and fifties was said to have been one of the ablest men of his day, reared in the Cape Fear section. He had for years been a member of Congress and was admired for integrity and ability, and possessed, it was said, an exceedingly strong personality and vigorous intellect.Major Fred D. Poisson
Major Fred D. Poisson was a member of this Bar, of the best education, having been a graduate both of Brown University and Trinity College, Connecticut, and of more than ordinary ability as a lawyer. He left the Bar to go into the Confederate Army and returned a Major, after seeing active service. He had been, under the old system, a clerk and master in equity, and his records and reports are still preserved and show much ability, and his equitable findings were generally correct. Had the malady, which in the olden time seized so many members of our learnéd profession, not cut short his earthly career, he would have made a very fine judge and chancellor. He left some descendants, among them a rising young member of the Wilmington Bar.Adam Empie
Mr. Adam Empie was the chief admiralty and criminal lawyer of that period. He was a graduate of William and Mary College,
and a scholarly lawyer, devoted to his profession. He eschewed politics. He often told me he did not think a lawyer should be a politician; that personally he would make a Republican or a Democratic speech for a good fee any time; that his services were at the disposal of the public for a proper consideration in any honorable cause.
Mr. Empie was the most considerate lawyer of his day to the younger members of the Bar. He would offer and actively assist any younger member seeking aid at any and all times. He was, therefore, very popular with the younger set. He was very successful as a jury lawyer and made very large fees in admiralty causes. He was the father of Brooke G. Empie, who was a lawyer of ability and who became Legislator and State Senator, and at one time Judge of the Recorder's Court, and Swift M. Empie, now living, a member of the Bar.William S. and Duncan J. Devane
William S. and Duncan J. Devane were both fine lawyers and practiced together. They both had seen long service in the Confederate Army, William S. attaining the rank of Colonel, and Duncan J. Devane that of Major.
Major Duncan J. Devane was the abler lawyer of the two, very studious, and possessed as fine judicial temper as any man I ever knew. He never became a judge, as he did not desire that position, but had he so chosen, his ambition could not have been gratified, as he was a member of the party that in his day was a hopeless minority.
Major Devane tried his cases well. He was a graduate of Davidson College, leading his classes, with Judge Armistead Burwell being second; the two men were very much alike in ability, bearing and general temper.Captain William S. Norment
Captain William S. Norment was, in the 70's, the Solicitor of the Fourth Judicial District. He was a tall Scotchman, far above six feet, and very affable in his manner. He had seen very active service in the Confederate Army, once wounded and at another time having a miraculous escape from a bursting shell, without injury. He was a very agreeable man and possessed the
rare faculty, seldom possessed by solicitors, of not becoming the slightest irritated or disturbed by interruptions while engaged in trying a cause, always giving a pleasant response. He made a strong speech and won many convictions. After resigning his office, he practiced in Wilmington with some success, and afterwards returned to Lumberton to live. There he practiced law with Col. Foster French, the firm being French & Norment. He died in Lumberton, leaving a name highly respected for integrity and ability.Colonel Benjamin R. Moore
Colonel Benjamin R. Moore came to the Bar in early life, but practiced a short while and then abandoned his profession to become an active planter on the coast. He returned to the Bar when the Criminal Circuit was formed and O. P. Meares made judge, and was appointed solicitor; to the surprise of his professional brethren he proved himself to be a good lawyer and became the most active solicitor of his day, making most powerful and convincing arguments in criminal cases and winning for himself a reputation for oratory and eloquence scarcely equalled as a prosecuting officer.
Colonel Moore was a native of Person County, and died without leaving any descendants.Edward Cantwell
Among the practitioners during that period was Edward Cantwell. He was an unusual character. He possessed a fine theoretical legal education, but was not a practical man. He was a graduate of Harvard University, and a friend and classmate of Longfellow, the poet. He was one of the early writers or compilers of law books and the author of “Cantwell's Justice,” which still may be found in a number of the old libraries of the State. He was appointed a Criminal Court judge and held this position for a short while, when he resigned the office with disgust. He had a fair practice, chiefly criminal. He frequently raised very curious legal questions in a trial, and never yielded, with any degree of cheerfulness, when an adverse ruling was made. I recall, with much vividness and some amusement, his defense of a negro deputy sheriff, Joe Whitney, who was indicted for assault and battery with force and arms. An alleged murderer,
whom the deputy had arrested as a suspect a few moments after the homicide had been committed, was made to go with him to the corpse and touch the wound to see whether it would flow blood; the prisoner resisted, and the officer exercised force, for which he was indicted. Judge Cantwell insisted that Whitney was not guilty of any crime, had no motive to commit it, and was justified in doing what he had done, because it was an old custom which had prevailed for many centuries in European countries, from which many of our ancestors had come, to conduct a prisoner, suspected of the crime of murder, to the corpse and force him to touch the wound; if it bled, the prisoner was guilty, and if it did not, he was innocent and was released; and Judge Cantwell brought into the courtroom a number of old novels and German and English histories to prove this, as a complete defense for his client, and insisted upon reading them to the jury. The judge ruled them out and refused to permit them to be considered, as no such custom could excuse such an outrage!
Judge Cantwell became very much enraged, and made spurious remarks regarding the judge!
He was a very entertaining conversationalist, knowing many poems, and often reciting them, well. This was a treat to his professional brethren.
Judge Cantwell did not accumulate anything financially from his profession, and died quite a poor man. He was an honorable citizen, highly respected in the state.Junius Davis
Mr. Junius Davis was the son of Hon. George Davis. He was a good lawyer and tried a case well. Like most sons of a distinguished father, the lesser was obscured by the light of the greater luminary. He never held or sought office and confined himself strictly to the practice of the law. Upon the death of his father he succeeded to the position of Counsel of the Atlantic Coast Line system, where his advice and services were highly appreciated and much relied upon by that rapidly developing railroad system. Many thought he was as good a lawyer as his father, but he did not possess the slightest gift of oratory; yet, he always made a strong and forceful argument and tried his
case with much skill. He was the father of Thomas W. Davis, now General Solicitor of the Atlantic Coast Line system.E. S. Martin
E. S. Martin spent many of his earlier years in the counting house and came to the Bar late in life. He was a very courteous and chivalrous gentleman, and a good business lawyer. His forte was as a referee and accountant. He performed this work well, and was conscientious, upright, and had the confidence of his professional associates. He died never having been married.
The Bar of the Lower Cape Fear consisted of the lawyers at Wilmington who in those days practiced in the courts of the surrounding counties. The Federal District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina was held in Wilmington, and there came to this court a number of very excellent lawyers each term, who may be considered lawyers of the Lower Cape Fear.Neill Archie McLean
Colonel Neill Archie McLean, Sr., of Robeson, regularly attended this court and had a very large practice, especially representing the Croatan Indians, who, in that day of license, were charged with violation of the Internal Revenue Laws to a larger degree than they are now charged with the violation of the Volstead Act and the Prohibition Amendment.
The United States Courts during that era did not have the confidence of our people as now; they were looked upon as foreign tribunals set up in our midst to annoy and bedevil our people in the enforcement of the oppressive internal revenue laws. With this feeling prevailing very generally, when a jury could possibly strain its conscience, a prisoner was promptly acquitted.
Colonel McLean was a forceful lawyer and died comparatively young, leaving a distinguished son, the late Colonel Neill Archie McLean. The younger McLean was really a more tactful and resourceful lawyer than his father.James C. MacRae
There came to this court during that period, James C. MacRae, from Cumberland; from Harnett, Dan Hugh McLean;
from Sampson, Parson Stewart, and others. These deserve special mention, and it is of them as lawyers that I write.
James C. McRae was a half brother of Colonel Duncan M. MacRae. He first came into prominence as a warm advocate of the first attempt to pass a prohibition law for North Carolina, which was overwhelmingly defeated; but shortly thereafter, he was elected Solicitor for his judicial district. As Solicitor he won for himself a high reputation for ability and a conscientious discharge of duty. He was then made Judge, and James D. McIver became Solicitor. When the latter's term was ended, he combatted Judge MacRae for the judgeship and beat him very badly. McIver was a Presbyterian elder, and when it came down to a contest between the two men, both of splendid ability, McIver being orthodox and MacRae having forsaken that faith and become an Episcopalian, in a district composed chiefly of Scotch Presbyterians, it was not difficult to foretell the result.
Judge MacRae was a liberal practitioner at the Bar, courteous to his brethren, and was successful in his cases. He was elevated to the Supreme Court bench, which he adorned, and conducted the Law School at the University with great ability, establishing a reputation as an instructor of law, as is so well and generally known. He died much lamented by our people, and left a number of sons, who are now practitioners of law.Dan Hugh McLean
Dan Hugh McLean frequently represented clients in the District Court. He was a very charming and companionable man and generally liked by the Bar. He had been prominent in politics, and on several occasions missed the nomination for Congress by a very small vote. This experience and acquaintance with men of this district, from which the juries in the United States Court were drawn, enabled him to select a jury of the views which he wanted them to entertain. Dan Hugh McLean was an orator in every sense of the word, and some of his speeches which I have heard were very eloquent and of a very high order.Jonathan LaFayette Stewart
Among the lawyers who attended this court was Jonathan LaFayette Stewart of Sampson County, who was not only a
very fine lawyer but a very eloquent and able preacher of the Gospel. He was usually called Parson Stewart. He was born near Aberdeen, Mississippi, in 1835. He graduated from the University of North Carolina in the class of 1857, and read law under Dr. Samuel Phillips. After receiving his license he practiced for a short time in the courts of Orange and adjoining counties, and then went to Clinton, Sampson County, entering into the practice of his profession there, combining with it the principalship of the Clinton Female College. Entering the Baptist ministry he became one of the foremost preachers of his denomination and was for about thirty years moderator of the Eastern Baptist Association; he was a Trustee of the University of North Carolina, represented Sampson County as a Democrat in the State Senate, following the Reconstruction period, and was a judge of the County Court of Sampson for a number of years. He was a very excellent trial lawyer, and his exceptions to testimony when made were based on reason and precedent and were generally sustained. In the presentation of his case to the jury he was convincing, and the writer's experience with him as an adversary was that when Parson Stewart had the concluding argument, Stewart won. His calling as a Baptist preacher enabled him to become acquainted with a large number of citizens and to ascertain their views and inclinations on all subjects, and however much his opponent's acquaintance extended, Stewart knew them better, and he could never feel safe with Parson Stewart's jury. He was a good business man, was for many years President of Clinton's first bank, and was also President of the Clinton Railroad, which was afterwards consolidated with the Atlantic Coast Line. By his knowledge of business law he accumulated a considerable fortune. He commanded the respect of his people and died at the age of eighty-five, leaving behind him a good reputation for ability and character, both as a lawyer and a gentleman.
In these reminiscences I have confined myself to the period between 1875 and 1900, and only to those who practiced then and have gone to their eternal rest during and since that time. There was never anywhere in the state, during that or any previous period, a Bar of more highly educated lawyers, who practiced their profession along higher, ethical lines; they were all leaders in their special lines. The Bar today would do well to emulate their example and endeavor in every possible way to restore the standard of the profession to the ideals of that period.
The old system of rotation of judges, which brought the judges of the west to the east, and vice versa, and which ought never to have been abolished or modified, was in force in that period. When we recall Judge Shipp, with his ability and humor; Judge Gudger, with his urbanity and social ability; Judge Graves, with his wisdom and dignity; Judge Armistead, with his splendid poise and judicial bearing; Judge Ferguson, with his wisdom and capacity to effect amicable adjustments in bitterly contested actions, by reason of his ability and fairness; Judge John A. Gilmer, an able judge and lovable character and a son of Hon. John A. Gilmer, of Greensboro, N. C., who declined the appointment from President Abraham Lincoln to a seat in his first Cabinet, and who became afterwards a member of Congress of the Confederate States; and other distinguished men, not now recalled, we realize such a system, with such wonderfully able and upright judges, who formed the courts before whom these men practiced their profession, made that period the Golden Era of the Lower Cape Fear Bar.
At some other time and in some other place, it is the purpose of the writer to record his experiences with other members of that Bar during the latter quarter of a century, and while it cannot be said that they have in every respect maintained the prestige of the earlier period, yet there still exist some very able and cultured lawyers, hardly surpassed in ethical conduct, legal learning and forensic ability by the lawyers of the olden time. Higher education and ethical requirements are being advocated and are gradually being established to elevate the tone
and standard of the profession, and the future outlook for the restoration of the profession to that position of leadership and influence which it once wielded is at this period most promising. May it soon come!
After I was examined for license by Chief-Justice Pearson, I immediately began the practice of law in Wilmington and the surrounding counties. My uncle by marriage was Captain W. S. Norment, then Solicitor of the Fourth Judicial District, the Judge being Almond A. McKoy. The court in Smithville convened in September of that year, and Captain Norment, the Solicitor, being afflicted with rheumatism, was unable to attend; he requested me to take his place and prosecute his docket, which I did with alacrity, and secured a great many convictions. The experience was quite valuable for a young lawyer, and really was an introduction to the active practice of law. Shortly thereafter, I was made County Attorney of Brunswick County, with a meagre but sufficient salary.
The Associate-Justices of the Supreme Court at that time were Reade, Rodman, Settle and Bynum. This was truly one of the ablest Supreme Courts that ever sat in North Carolina. The Attorney-General, of Granville County, was none other than Colonel Tazewell L. Hargrove, that very gallant and intrepid defender of South Anna Bridge, near Richmond, Virginia, whose feats of courage and stubborn resistance covered him and his regiment with imperishable fame. (See Judge Devin's pamphlet on Colonel Hargrove, his address delivered at Oxford, N. C.) Colonel Hargrove was an ante-bellum Democrat, having represented Granville County a number of times in the Legislature. He had two uncles who were Whigs, and each represented Granville in the Senate. While his relations with his kinsmen were friendly and cordial socially, yet for some reason he disliked other prominent ante-bellum Whigs. After the war, when a realignment of parties was attempted to be made, he told me that his old Whig foes had called a Convention in Oxford of all former Democrats and Whigs, and had taken charge of the meeting. They changed the name of the Democratic Party to Conservative or Liberal Party before he reached Oxford from his home in Townsville. After going into the hall, being a little late, he objected to this change of name, and Judge Gilliam,
the Chairman, ruled him out of order. As he retired from the Convention Hall he told the old Whigs and Judge Gilliam that they had taken complete control of the Convention and changed the name of his party; that he protested and would not be a party to such an act; that the Democratic Party, with its principles antagonistic to the Whig Party, was immortal! It was not dead and could never die! They turned down his protest and treated him rather rudely; he retired from the hall and shouted to them as he left, “I fought you for many years before the war and I will continue to fight you now!” He related this to me after my marriage to a near relative of his.
The Colonel then became a Republican in the days of the carpetbaggers, which I think was unjustifiable; but he made an able Attorney-General for four years, from about 1874 to 1878.
I immediately got a good, lucrative law practice in Wilmington, and tried a great many cases before Judges John Kerr, John A. Gilmer, Eure, Graves, Gudger, Avery, Shipp, Shephard, MacRae, Ferguson, Justice, Connor, Walter Clark, Hoke, George Brown, and R. T. Bennett. In fact, in those days the Rotating System of Judges was in existence. It was the wisest system that could be devised for North Carolina. The distance from Wilmington to the Tennessee line is as far as Wilmington is from New York and it is nearer from Cherokee County to Columbia, South Carolina; Atlanta, Georgia; Montgomery, Alabama; Frankfort, Kentucky; and Nashville, Tennessee, than it is to Raleigh, our capital. Our state is very long from east to west while comparatively narrow from north to south. The people of the Asheville section knew more of the Tennessee and South Carolina and Georgia people than they did of their eastern North Carolina brethren. The Charlotte section likewise was affiliated with South Carolina and Virginia more than with the eastern section; even the sub-Piedmont section, Union, Anson and Richmond in the south, were affiliated with South Carolina, as were the counties of Person, Granville, Warren, Halifax, and North Hampton with Petersburg and Richmond. The different sections of the state knew very little of the people of the other sections, and the railroads—the Coast Line, the Seaboard, and Southern, crossing it from north to south, contributed to this territorial isolation. Our forefathers, seeing this, devised the Rotating
System for the judges to contribute to the unification of our people, and to a great extent it did so. The judges from Buncombe, Haywood and Lincoln, and other western counties, came to the eastern or coastal plain sections and held the courts, and the other judges from the Piedmont, Central and Northern sections did likewise. The judges, who were generally the most influential, prominent and patriotic citizens, mingled with the lawyers and best citizens of the other sections and became acquainted with the agricultura, manufacturing, nautical and fishing interests of the east, and vice versa; our eastern judges became acquainted with the habits, customs and interests of the west, and thus a unity of feeling was fostered. But, some ambitious lawyers, who wanted to be judges, induced the Legislature to break up this statewide rotation and confine it to the few counties around the residences of the judges, so they could go home more frequently. Thus, that wise old system was replaced, and since the convention system has been abolished and the primary system substituted there is little or nothing left to bring together and acquaint the people of the different sections with each other. Without regard to whom it helps or hurts the Legislature should restore the old system; I feel assured that there are plenty of able and patriotic lawyers now living who would be too glad to accept the honor, however much it is attended with inconvenience. In other words, patriotism has been relegated to the rear for the ease and comfort of the individual. I have entertained at various times, at my home, these central and western judges, and they always expressed themselves as much pleased to be able to preside in a different section of the state. I recall, also, the great wisdom displayed by Judge Ferguson, of Haywood County; the wit and able ruling of Judge Shipp; the learning, patience, and display of common sense in administering the law, of Judge Graves; the emphatic clearness of expression of the charges of Judge Hoke; the dignity, impartiality and kindness of spirit of Judge Connor; the affability and kindness of heart, in administering justice, of Judge Gilmer; the businesslike methods and promptness of Judge Clark; the vigorous charges, and eloquence in his occasional sermons off the bench, by Judge Kerr, as well as his dignity in
holding his court—and the other judges before whom I appeared in trials of causes.
I will state here, to the credit of North Carolina, there was never during all the years of my practice an intimation of the slightest dishonest or questionable act of any judge ever elected or appointed by the Democratic Party in North Carolina.
Speaking of the humor of Judge Shipp—on one occasion, at Carteret Court, he tried a man for an assault with a deadly weapon, to-wit, a clam. The defendant's counsel contended that a clam was not a deadly weapon. He was heard patiently by the court, but the night before, Judge Shipp had eaten some clams, that had made him deathly sick. He humorously replied to the lawyer in his argument that the court would take judicial notice of the fact that clams were deadly weapons, as last night they came very near killing him.
On another occasion, Judge Connor, who was afterwards appointed United States District Judge, was riding on a railroad pass, sent complimentary to all judges and other state officers; he overheard two passengers, going to the court he was about to hold, discussing the propriety of a judge riding on a railroad pass, which at that time was opposed by the Farmers’ Alliance. In trying a railroad case the next day, in an effort to be absolutely impartial, he found himself leaning against the railroad in his rulings. He stopped the trial, entered a mistrial, and returned his pass, and forever afterwards refused them. He said, “In my effort to be impartial I became unconsciously partial.”
In referring to my experience at the University of Virginia, in the years of 1873, 1874 and 1875, and to my college fraternity, the Theta Delta Chi, I will state that among my fraternity brothers there, whom I recollect, were Patrick Henry Ward, from Marion, South Carolina; Edward Pleasant Cole, from Williamsburg, Virginia; Peter Merriweather Boyden, of Virginia; George S. Thomas, of Richmond, Virginia; Bryan Callahan, of Texas; K. S. Nelson, of Culpepper County; and Logan, of Salem, Virginia. Ward became a very prominent lawyer; Cole, a Judge of the Supreme Court of California; Thomas, a professor of Greek in Tulane University, Louisiana; Boyden, a
prominent Episcopal minister in Maryland; James M. Dunlap, a prominent physician of Anson County, North Carolina.
Fraternity brother Logan was one of the finest literary characters I ever knew. He was afflicted with some pulmonary trouble and, as it was customary as well as the duty and pleasure of his brothers to visit him, I frequently did so. On one Sunday evening, I went to his room on Monroe Hill, at the University. I recall him sitting up in bed, with his red flannels on, reading. He asked me if I had read Tennyson's last poem, just out—“Locksley Hall.” I had not read it at that time, so he requested me to listen to some parts which he thought very beautiful; his voice was tremulous, and he read it pathetically. It made a deep impression on me, and I am still fond of it. A few days afterwards he was carried to his home in Salem, Virginia, where shortly thereafter he died—to our sincere regret.
In one of his conversations, Logan asked me if I had seen and read Edgar Allan Poe's very rare “Original Manuscripts” in the University of Virginia library; I had not, but immediately repaired to the library and saw the famous papers. Among these were criticisms of Longfellow, the New England poet, and accusations of his being a plagarist. Poe, it seems, was accidently born in Boston, of a Virginia actress, who soon left Boston for Richmond, her former home. He had received some severe criticism of his “Raven,” the “Gold Bug,” and other productions, from the Boston critics, among whom was Longfellow, he thought; so he scanned all of Longfellow's productions, and denounced him the veriest plagarist that ever wrote!
In these manuscripts, Poe drew a black line in the middle of a white page and placed on one side Longfellow's “Hiawatha,” “Ceramos” and other poems, and on the opposite side the original poems, the source from which they were taken, the “Kala Walla,” the “Russian Epic,” and a number of others, and proved his case. I must say, however, that I admire a great many of Longfellows poems. I love “Day is Done,” and others; they are filled with the divine afflatus, showing the highest poetical genius.
I was an active member of the Theta Delta Chi fraternity in my college days, but I have never given it much attention since. I am proud to say, however, that it is one of the strongest
national organizations, today, of all the college Greek letter fraternities. I have given an account in these narratives of the ties which still exist among its members, and how, in an emergency in after life, it came to my assistance when a member of the 56th Congress.
This Theta Delta Chi fraternity, in ante-bellum days, had chapters in the Southern colleges and one at the North Carolina State University. The latter was composed of some of the best young men of the state—the Lindseys, of Greensboro, the McConnaugheys and Kerr Craig, of Salisbury, J. Alston Bullock, of Granville County, the McAfees, of Tennessee, and others; but the Civil War coming on, this Chapel Hill chapter went down and has never been revived. The only chapters, south of the Mason and Dixon Line, are the Nu Chapter at the University of Virginia, and the Epsilon Chapter at the William and Mary College, at Williamsburg. I have frequently met Kerr Craig and J. Alston Bullock, in after life, and they have often expressed the desire that their chapter at the University of North Carolina could be revived. For some reason, I am sorry to say, it has never been done.
In the National Convention of 1884, Grover Cleveland was nominated for President, notwithstanding the violent opposition of Tammany Hall, which likewise opposed his nomination at Chicago in the Convention of 1892.
In 1884, the Republicans nominated James G. Blaine, who was opposed by the Republican faction known as Mugwumps, and was championed by a Presbyterian clergyman, Rev. S. D. Burchard. During his campaign, Reverend Burchard addressed a gathering of ministers concerning James G. Blaine, ending his speech with these words, “We are Republicans and do not propose to leave our party and identify ourselves with those whose antecedents have been Rum, Romanism, and Rebellion.” Mr. Blaine did not protest this language and the expression, being widely circulated, gave offense to the Roman Catholics and others, and Blaine lost New York State and the Presidency.
The chances of Cleveland's election were considered very good by our National Committee, and word was sent to North Carolina and other Southern States that we must make a herculean effort to carry the states for him. At that time, I was either chairman of the County Executive Committee, or prominently connected with the party, and the “Boys,” as we called ourselves, went to work and organized as completely as we did in the Samuel J. Tilden campaign. At every polling precinct, we had stationed stalwart Democrats, who caused minor disturbances at the polls in their efforts to overthrow the vast negro majority, or at least to reduce it. Colonel Edward Hall was then Chief of Police of Wilmington, and he sent his agents to the large negro wards to prevent, as he said, any unduly vigorous action on the part of the Boys; none such was contemplated. Colonel Hall became very offensive in his insinuations, so we declared we would remember his action, telling him that “time, at last, will make all things even.”
Cleveland was elected by 219 to 182 votes in the Electoral College. We, all, felt jubilant, as much as we were depressed, in 1876, when Samuel J. Tilden was clearly elected, but cheated out of his electoral votes by the Electoral Commission.
I must say, here, that the action of South Carolina, Florida and Louisiana, then under military rule, with soldiers being stationed at the polls by the Federal Government, in their anxiety to gain control of their local government, sacrificed Tilden. Those three states became weak-kneed in our efforts to seat Tilden, and many of the Northern Democrats favored the seating of Tilden by force, if necessary. It was then said that South Carolina, Florida, and Louisiana were offered by the Republicans in Washington the restoration of the control of their state governments and troops withdrawn if they would allow the electoral votes of those states to be counted for Hayes. Whether or not this unholy agreement was made with certainty, we know not, but we do know that those states were very anxious to regain control of their state governments, and that Governor Hampton and the Democratic state officers were installed in South Carolina, as was the case in Florida and Louisiana, and the Electoral Commission then declared Hayes elected, by giving the electoral votes of these states to him.
The intense feeling among the Northern Democrats, aroused by the outrageous decision of the Electoral Commission, caused almost a rebellion among the supporters of Samuel J. Tilden. The prospect of another civil war became imminent, but the advice of that great statesman, who placed love of country above ambition, prevailed, and the nation in general acquiesced. It was many months, I recall, before that feeling of rank injustice subsided.
In the year 1886, North Carolina had a number of negro Republican Congressmen in Washington, among them being a West India negro by the name of O'Hara, who represented the Newbern District. Colonel Lott W. Humphrey, of Goldsboro, was a prominent Republican politician. Furnifold M. Simmons, then a young lawyer, had married the daughter of Colonel Humphrey, who was hostile to O'Hara for some reason, and it is said he induced his son-in-law, Simmons, who practiced law in Newbern, to seek the nomination for Congress in the Democratic party. Mr. Simmons was nominated and ran against O'Hara. The district was overwhelmingly Republican, and no one expected Simmons to be elected. I had known Mr. Simmons quite well and met him, with Clem Manly, also of Newbern, at
the Onslow County courts. Mr. Simmons and I became good friends socially as well as politically. O'Hara, in the November election, apparently had received quite a majority over Simmons, before the Returning Board met at Kinston. The day prior to the meeting of this important body, Colonel Humphrey wrote me and said Simmons was my friend, and that he wanted me to send to him, at Goldsboro, that night, two of the shrewdest negro politicians in Wilmington, to go with him the next day, to be present when the reports were made. I went to two negro clients, George W. Price, Jr., and George L. Mabson, both of whom had been members of the Legislature one or more times, from New Hanover County, and told them that Colonel Humphrey wanted to consult with them on the question of the validity of O'Hara's election, and advanced them each ten dollars on account of expenses, which Colonel Humphrey had sent me for them, stating to them that Colonel Humphrey would make further arrangements when they reached Goldsboro. I never knew what took place between these negroes, Colonel Humphrey, and the Returning Board; but, a few days afterwards, the newspaper chronicled the fact that O'Hara had been counted out and declared Furnifold M. Simmons elected. However, I did learn that O'Hara was fully satisfied with the result, and that he did not appeal from their decision. What caused O'Hara to withdraw is only a matter of conjecture.
In the practice of my profession there was a very remarkable and notable case tried in the Superior Court of New Hanover County, in the year 1888, before Judge Robert Winston, of State against John C. Davis, who was charged with false pretenses, forgery and embezzlement. Davis was a poor boy, from Carteret County, who came to Wilmington and worked in the cotton mills as a weaver. While working at his looms, he borrowed books from various lawyers in Wilmington and read law, and finally was admitted and licensed to practice law. He left the mill employment and, being an ardent Methodist, became a prominent member of the Fifth Street Methodist Church. He was very clever and became successful at the law, and received the entire practice of the members of his church. So prominent was he in the affairs of the church that they sent him as a delegate to the Sunday School Ecumenical Council that held its session in
London. There he took a prominent part in the Convention and spoke from the same platform with the great English statesman, William E. Gladstone. By his travels, his views of life were expanded and he became very ambitious. On his return to America, his church being then a small and unpretentious edifice, he induced the members to build a larger and more costly structure, which became the present handsome Fifth Street Methodist Church, in Wilmington. He was a class leader and chairman of the building committee of the church. The improvement plans were very expensive and he, personally, contributed large sums of money to aid in the work. Among the church members were a number of very well-to-do ladies—widows, who had extensive life insurance money. He became their lawyer and offered to invest their funds. He would go to their homes and get their money and, on receiving it, would kneel down and pray, asking God to bless the investment and enable them to get larger returns than the little bank interest that they were receiving. For some time, he would give them as much as fifty per cent interest, mailing checks for it monthly; when the number of sister-clients in the church gave out, he would see any old rich miser in the vicinity of Wilmington, get his money and give him monthly payments at a very large investment rate—thus tickling the miser's avarice. Davis always gave them a mortgage, either proved by himself as a witness, or duly acknowledged before a notary, and properly registered, on property he did not own.
He even bought a set of chimes, which were placed in the steeple of the church and gave out each Sunday most enjoyable music that could be heard for miles. Finally, a day of reckoning came, as it turned out that all the mortgages he gave to his clients were rank forgeries. He was arrested by one or more of his patrons and tried for the crimes, but he still had friends to rally to his aid! They employed me to represent him in his defense.
The case came on for trial before Judge Winston. After investigating all the facts, I came to the conclusion that Davis was a crazy, religious monomaniac, and put in a plea in his defense, before a very intelligent jury, that he was crazy. The case was submitted to the jury after argument, and the verdict
was that the defendant was insane. The prisoner, being in the box, arose and addressed the court and said that he had fooled the jury, that he was not insane, that he had as much sense as the judge, the counsel in the case, or any of the jury! The judge told Davis that as he had deceived the jury, he was going to set aside the verdict and have him tried again. He replied to the judge, that he ought to do so. Then, pulling out of his pocket a little Testament, he read the verse “When the Lord is for me, what care I for those against me.” He said: “Judge, you can't hurt me.” The judge called me to the bench and said, in an undertone, that first he thought Davis was feigning insanity, but now he knew he was crazy; then the court sentenced him, for a number of years, to the insane department of the penitentiary. The superintendent of the penitentiary said that Davis made a model prisoner, but on one occasion escaped from the guards, left Raleigh, and when found he was in Carteret County, kneeling and praying over his mother's grave.
This case attracted attention all over the country, particularly among the Methodist brethren. Some years after this, when released from prison in Raleigh, Davis went to Washington, D. C., to live and became prominent in a church there. He began the same practices, raising money in the same way, and remitted much of it to his former victims in Wilmington in payment of a large part of all the money lost by them on him. He actually “robbed Peter to pay Paul.” He was indicted in Washington, convicted, and sentenced to the penitentiary for the same crimes, and I have learned that he died there.
Judge Robert Winston, in the trial of this case, displayed wonderful tact; the people unanimously agreed he was a great judge—possessing Solomonic wisdom in his charge to the jury and his sentence to the defendant.
This Judge Robert W. Winston was not only a very wise Superior Court judge but was a most successful practitioner of the law until he retired from the profession and became a prolific author; he compiled biographies of prominent Americans, such as President Andrew Johnson, General Robert E. Lee, and other important men. He was one of four exceptionally able brothers, all of whom I knew well, but I regarded him as the ablest and most versatile.
In the year 1888, Solomon H. Fishblate was elected Mayor of Wilmington, having been nominated by the Democratic Party. He had four associates on the Board of Aldermen, two Democrats and two Republicans. Mr. DuBrutz Cutlar and I were candidates for City Attorney, and we had quite a contest. I was elected after many ballots, and in 1892, I was again elected without opposition.
Mayor Fishblate was a Jew, and had many enemies among the people, but only for that reason. Having been associated with him for a number of years, as adviser in many business transactions, I will say I found him always honorable in his dealings, charitable to the poor and needy, an able financier, and a true and faithful friend upon whose word you could rely implicitly.
The Board of Audit and Finance was then in existence. I recall that they had a very large sinking fund consisting of about two hundred thousand dollars in bonds, the coupons on which they continued to collect, having levied a tax to pay them. As City Attorney, I advised that they should cancel these bonds, stop collecting the coupons and levying the tax when our tax burden was already too heavy. They refused to take my advice and a clash between us arose. Shortly thereafter, I was elected to the State Senate and the first bill that I introduced was one compelling the Board of Audit and Finance of Wilmington to retire those bonds! It became law, the bonds were cancelled and the city's debt decreased two hundred thousand dollars. Such financiering should have been corrected, much sooner!
When I was elected the second time as City Attorney, in 1892, Major William Nehemiah Harriss was Mayor of Wilmington. He had been elected several times and had made a very able and progressive mayor; Wilmington had improved greatly under his administration. Major Harriss has always been a very versatile man. He was a successful ship broker and agent, unusually well informed on maritime law; Captain of the Wilmington Light Infantry, and Clerk of the Superior Court of New Hanover County for a great number of years. Most of the judges who have held the courts here have pronounced him the most efficient clerk they ever knew. In his younger days he had much to do with redeeming our county and city from the blight of negro
domination. Today he is capable of filling any office in the gift of the people, notwithstanding he has reached three score years and ten.
It is pardonable for me to say here that in the year 1837, my grandfather, Dr. William James Harriss, was Mayor of Wilmington when he died. His son, Dr. William White Harriss, was Mayor about 1868 or 1870. His grandson, Major William N. Harris, was Mayor in 1892.
Another grandson, my nephew, Hargrove Bellamy, is the present Mayor—recently elected. I hope and believe he will make good and be a credit to the community and himself, as his forbears have been.
In the year 1888, Daniel G. Fowle, resident in Wake County but a native of Beaufort—that county so celebrated for making judges out of its lawyers—was nominated for Governor by the Democratic Party, and Thomas M. Holt, of Alamance County, for Lieutenant-Governor. They were both elected. The campaign of that year was remarkable in that Judge Fowle made a most able and brilliant canvass. He made speeches in almost all the counties in the state; in the eastern counties, which had large negro populations and in many instances negro majorities, he aroused the people to such a point they determined to throw off the galling yoke which had borne so hard upon them. Many of our eastern counties, that previously had been Republican, were made Democratic.
I recall Judge Fowle's speeches. He was a splendidly educated man, I think a graduate of Princeton, New Jersey, very handsome in person and as fine an orator as I ever heard speak on the stump. His language was very smooth and his addresses always clothed in the best of rhetoric; his appeals to his audiences were very effective. His running mate, Colonel Thomas M. Holt, was a very practical and logical talker. He was one of the best business men in the state and a large and successful manufacturer of cotton goods, at New River.
Governor Fowle was inaugurated on January 17th, 1889, but died in office in April, 1891. He was succeeded by Lieutenant-Governor Thomas M. Holt, who became Governor on April 8th, 1891. Governor Holt, as Lieutenant-Governor, presided over the Senate at its session in January and February, 1891, with great
ability and with absolute impartiality. Its members were farmers and doctors. There were only four lawyers in that body, of which I was one, being the Senator from the Twelfth District, which was composed of New Hanover and Pender Counties. A description of that Senate and its activities are partially set forth later in these narratives.
In the early part of 1890, one George Smith, from Bolton, England, made his appearance in Wilmington after the death of Mr. Thomas Smith, claiming that he was the only child and heir of this Thomas Smith, an Englishman who had settled in Wilmington about the year 1865. Thomas Smith was a seafaring man and had married, in Wilmington, a very fine woman, and had a splendid family of boys and girls. His wife was a very industrious woman, and had aided her husband so well that he had accumulated a great deal of property, including the two valuable corner stores at the southeast and southwest intersection of Front and Market Streets. The old adage “A sailor has a wife in every port” was again proven to be true! According to his family in Wilmington, Mr. Smith would go back to Bolton, England, every four or five years, to visit his relatives. After his death, it was learned that he was lawfully married to another woman in Bolton before he was married in Wilmington, and that George Smith, the claimant, was the only child of the Bolton marriage. He brought suit in the United States Court to declare the Wilmington marriage a nullity and that he was the sole heir. Marsden Bellamy, my brother, and I appeared for the defendants, the Wilmington wife and children, and I was sent to England to investigate the claim. I found, to my surprise, a most perfect system of records, containing the date of Smith's first marriage to the English lady by an Episcopal clergyman, her name, age, when she was baptised, when she died; where and by whom she was buried; that she was married before the time Smith married the Wilmington lady. (The most complete records exist in England that are in any country in the world; necessarily so, because of the law of primogeniture; those records affecting marriage and birth require the greatest accuracy in order to establish matters of descent.) Depositions were taken by the plaintiff, and I was present to cross examine the witnesses and verify the records. I cabled my brother, at Wilmington, and advised him to endeavor to compromise, but the claimant's lawyers were so certain of their case they refused to
do so. There was no loophole by which we could save our Wilmington clients. The worst of it all was that the plaintiff, George Smith, was so avaricious and hostile that he almost pauperized the Wilmington heirs and gave them not a penny. This was probably the hardest case in which I was employed in my practice of many decades.
On my trip to Europe, I sailed on the Cunard steamer “Servia,” and in the ten days passage over, I met some interesting characters. Among these was a Mr. Joseph Burke, of upper New York. On account of the crowded condition of the ship, Mr. Burke and I were assigned to the same state-room, having an upper and lower berth. I was given the lower, as I was the first applicant. Mr. Burke was an old man and I insisted upon exchanging berths, as he was too feeble to use the upper one. I found him a most interesting and highly educated Irishman.
He had accompanied Jenny Lind, the great singer, in her tour through America, conducted by P. T. Barnum, and through England and other countries. Many were the little incidents of that association which were extremely interesting, and we became warm friends. I did not hear from him again until he saw that I had been elected a member of the 56th Congress and the first telegram of congratulations I received was from Mr. Burke. In the telegram, he stated that his nephew, Charles H. Burke, of South Dakota, a Republican, was also elected and said he hoped his nephew and I would be as good friends as he and I were.
The sequel to this, as I have detailed in these sketches, was that when I had a contest over my seat in Congress, Charles Burke was on the Committee of Privileges and Elections, to which my contest was referred, and it was on his motion that the contest was declared unworthy of consideration and was dismissed.
During this visit to England, I found out many interesting facts about the system of farm tenancy. I met a half-brother of Thomas Smith, Joseph Hibbard, who lived in a four-story brick dwelling in the country, near Bolton, England. He had his stable and cow barn on the ground floor, his kitchen, dining room and pantry on the second, and his
living-room, parlor and bed-rooms on the other floors. I said to him, “Mr. Hibbard, I presume you own this farm and this dwelling?” He said, “No, I am a tenant of Lord Elsmere. I was born in this house, as also was my father, grandfather, and great grandfather, all of us living here, and have been tenants of the Lords Elsmere during all that time.” I saw the most beautiful sheep and cattle grazing on barley and clover and tankard turnips, the tops of which turnips had been eaten out by sheep and held a gallon of rain water. These roots were quite as large in diameter as a half-bushel measure. Mr. Hibbard said, “I presume I will die here, like my forefathers, and my children will continue to live here.” I cite this to show, in contrast, the short tenancy system in America. I also said to Mr. Hibbard, “This is the richest looking soil I have ever seen,” and he replied, “The soil here is naturally very poor, but this farm has been occupied, tilled, and fertilized for a thousand years and it is now quite fertile and will produce in abundance almost any crop.”
On this same voyage I met a very handsome gentleman of Uvalde, Texas, who introduced himself as Colonel John A. Baker. This gentleman, as I afterwards learned, had been born and reared in my home town. A Colonel of a Confederate regiment, he had been captured by the Federal troops near Plymouth, North Carolina, and had been carried off to prison, in New York. When the war was over, he had been paroled and had taken the oath of loyalty to the United States, but had never put in any appearance again in Wilmington, his native place, and none of his companions had ever heard of him until I told them of this incident.
While in Bolton, I had some business with a distinguished English solicitor who, while residing in Manchester, maintained a law office with three English barristers in Bolton. He extended me a number of courtesies and on one occasion invited me to dine with him in Manchester. His name was Richardson; he lived in a beautiful home, elegantly furnished, and had a wife and only one child, a girl about fifteen years old. The wife was said to be very weathy, and she maintained a charity hospital, in London, at her own expense. She and her daughter were both very beautiful and she a
very ambitious woman, I was informed. In the course of conversation during the evening, she asked if I were acquainted with Colonel W. F. Cody. I told her yes, that I had represented him on one occasion. She said he was one of the handsomest men she had ever seen, and the elite of Manchester, Liverpool and London vied with each other in entertaining him. I told her that in America he was known as “Buffalo Bill,” and was the owner of the largest circus in the world. She seemed very much interested, saying that he was charming in conversation.
Later in the evening, Mr. Richardson told me he had stood for Parliament three times as a Conservative, from Manchester, and had been defeated each time. His wife had recently induced him to accept a nomination as a Liberal, as she wished to have the honor of being the wife of an M. P., especially when in London! Mrs. Richardson financed the campaign for him; but, to his surprise and her regret, he was again unsuccessful. He asked what I thought of his failure. I said, “Mr. Richardson, you deserved it! It is the just reward of a turn-coat.”
After dinner we repaired to the parlor and were entertained most pleasantly by the young daughter. She was a gifted musician, playing selections on the piano-forte, the harp, and the violin; finding that I was also very fond of vocal music, she then sang English ditties, very charmingly, and followed these by several of the newest songs that were then in vogue in the United States. Can any American girl equal this?
This Mrs. Richardson was, besides being a wealthy philanthropist, an author of some repute. She had published three or four literary productions, her last being “From Home to Rome,” which gave a most interesting account of celebrated places, art galleries, and famous men she had met in traveling through France, Spain, Italy and Germany. She presented me with an autographed copy of this book, and I found it of invaluable assistance in my second journey through those countries. On leaving for America, she presented me also with a quantity of Maundy money which Queen Victoria had
distributed among her subjects, on Maundy Thursday of that year, which she requested that I give to my daughter, Eliza.
In July 1890, a band of Democrats, composed of Frank H. Stedman, formerly of Cumberland County, Owen Fennell, John L. Dudley, J. W. Reiley, J. T. Kerr, George L. Morton, and the author, agreed to form a political club to enable us to redeem New Hanover County from negro domination. They insisted that I should be nominated for the State Senate from the Twelfth District, composed of New Hanover and Pender Counties; Stedman for Sheriff; Owen Fennell for County Treasurer; John L. Dudley for Register of Deeds; George L. Morton and J. T. Kerr for the Lower House of the Legislature, and several others for County Commissioners, whose names I do not recall. I was elected by a clear majority. There was a contest in the courts over the returns from Cape Fear Township, New Hanover County, but the other candidates, when the returns were canvassed and the vote of that township, for gross irregularity, thrown out, were also declared elected, and were inducted into office. This naturally broke the strength of and ended, for a season, the Republican misrule in Wilmington.
Having been nominated for the Senate in the summer, after my return from Europe, I began actively the campaign in both counties. The Farmers’ Alliance was then absolutely in control in North Carolina. They framed, and had printed, circulars containing reforms which they expected to put through the Legislature of 1891, and required all candidates for the Legislature throughout the state to agree to accept as a condition of their support. The Alliance sent a committee of farmers to me with these Alliance demands, with the request that I sign them before the Alliance members would support me. I declined, telling them that while I was in favor of most of their demands I would not sign any agreement which would control my judgment in advance as to what I would do, in the event of my election. I will say that, notwithstanding my refusal, the Alliance members all voted for me, for many of them were my personal friends and clients.
I voted when in the Senate for nearly every measure they advocated, but it was the result of my judgment that they were all for the common good.
The Senate was presided over by my friend, Lieutenant-Governor Holt, who conducted the affairs in an able and impartial manner. I was appointed Chairman of the Committee on Corporations, and on the Judiciary Committee and other committees. I began to take part actively in its proceedings, and was the author of many bills which became law, some of which are alluded to in my experiences, as hereinafter detailed.
I referred in this narrative to my being elected as the first Democratic Senator from the Twelfth North Carolina District, after the Civil War. The Legislature of 1891 was a very remarkable body in that ninety per cent of its members were farmers and not lawyers. Colonel L. L. Polk, head of the Farmers’ Alliance of North Carolina, had his headquarters in Raleigh. It was said that his meetings were held at night, in the third story of the capitol, during that session, and all legislation that was proposed in either body had to pass his approval. This Colonel Polk I met on one occasion, and he said that he had inquired about me of Dr. Dunlap, and R. E. Little, of Anson County, who were Davidson men with me, and also of Judge Bennett, and they informed him that while I was a good lawyer and a well educated man, that I was patriotic enough to vote for any and all measures which were for the good of the state. I was then a farmer, as I am now, as well as a lawyer, and I told him that I would advocate and champion all such measures which were for the public good. He had been a Davidson College student, with Judge Bennett, Judge Armistead Burwell, Judge McIver, and Honorable E. L. Gaither, and that made him feel rather friendly to me. Colonel Polk really had the most complete confidence of the farmers of North Carolina, being the President of the North Carolina Farmers’ Alliance, and afterwards President of the National Farmers’ Alliance; while in this office, he died, in Washington, D. C. The farmers in the state and in the National Alliance broke their allegiance to their old parties, and in North Carolina specially they broke away from the Democratic Party, and allowed less patriotic leaders to carry the bulk of them to the Republican Party, and in that way elected D. L. Russell,
a Republican, as Governor, which I believe Colonel Polk would not have permitted had he lived. In Kansas, the National Farmers’ Alliance brought Colonel Polk, its national leader, to Kansas, and he aroused the farmers of both parties to such a frenzy that they defeated John J. Ingalls, the foremost Republican statesman, and other prominent Kansas politicians. Colonel Polk, had he lived, would undoubtedly have been nominated for President of the United States, and would have formed a new party, which no man as yet has been able to establish.
The Senate of 1891, of which I was a member, had only four lawyers, and being from the mercantile community of Wilmington, the farmers had an erroneous idea that lawyers generally were hostile to their interests, and they defeated a great many lawyer-candidates for the Legislature of North Carolina. After being in the body for a while, I won the confidence of the farmers and they kept me busy drawing their bills for them, as they were unskilled and quite ignorant in such matters. I was one of the authors of the State Railroad Commission Bill, as hereinafter detailed, and drafted the charter for the Negro Agricultural College at Greensboro, and as a compliment to me, the trustees appointed a prominent negro educator, Dr. James B. Dudley, of Wilmington, its first president. I introduced many other bills that were passed by that body. The volume of laws enacted by the Legislature of 1891 was larger than any other ever passed, and truly all the acts were very much in the interest of good government in North Carolina.
There was one event, however, in that body which is very memorable. Senator Zebulon B. Vance, then in the United States Senate, was very much opposed to what was called the Sub-Treasury plan, of which Harry Skinner, a member of the House from Pitt County, claimed he was author. Through the influence of Mr. Skinner and others in the House, and Marion Butler and some others in the Senate, there was prepared and offered a resolution in both bodies instructing Governor Vance to support the Sub-Treasury plan in the United States Senate in toto, or he would be defeated for re-election. It was thought that this was Skinner's scheme to get Vance to refuse
to agree to support it, and then Skinner would be elected. Harry Skinner was a Democrat and really a very brilliant man. Senator Audrey, of Charlotte, a very wise and patriotic farmer, Representative Patterson, of Lenoir, Wilson G. Lucas, of Hyde, and I, formed a little coterie to endeavor to defeat the Butler-Skinner plan. By it, Senator Vance was left no discretion whatever, and the plan itself was contrary to his views. Our few friends named above served notice on Butler and Skinner that we would oppose and defeat that resolution—as we had enough senators pledged to do so. The Butler crowd then agreed to modify it to such an extent that we could allow it to pass. So Senator Audrey and I and others, whom I do not now recall, repaired to the Yarborough House in Raleigh, where Senator Vance was staying. We went thoroughly over the whole despicable situation, submitting the modified instructions to him, for approval. Then I saw, for the first time in my life, a great man—as Senator Vance was—put his hands to his head and cry loudly, as he said to us, “Just think of it, Boys! I was Colonel of a Confederate Regiment during the war; I was Governor of North Carolina during the strenuous times of the Civil War; I have been Governor of the State since, and have tried to serve my people according to what I thought was for their best interest in the United States Senate, and for them now, in my latter days, to suspect me of unfaithfulness to them and show their want of confidence in me is cutting and humiliating in the extreme.”
We tried to console the Senator, and after a while, got down to business. The resolution of instructions was further altered and finally accepted. We took it up to the Senate and allowed it to pass, and Senator Vance was re-elected for the last time.
Josephus Daniels, Editor of the Raleigh News and Observer, had just begun to show his influence as a writer, editor, and political adviser. I frequently consulted with him, as I learned to esteem him very highly. During my career, when the railroad lawyers were hostile to him, I never waivered in my support of him, as I regarded him as an able man and a great patriot, even then showing the elements of greatness, which he has since achieved. I take pleasure in making this simple
statement now, at almost the close of my career. I think that Daniels is really a great editor, a statesman and diplomat, and he and his family are quite an addition to the educational, political and social element of North Carolina.
In my younger days, I had a great fondness for advocating the building up of Wilmington industries. I took a great part in establishing the first basket, crate and butter-dish factory in Wilmington, which I am sorry to say did not prosper; this was because the manager, who went North on a business trip, became intoxicated and made a foolish contract which bankrupted the company.
Wilmington was then without street cars. E. K. P. Osborne secured a charter for a system in Charlotte, North Carolina, and I secured the charter for the Wilmington Street Railway. I even mortgaged the home in which I lived to raise sufficient money to equip it with cars, rails and Texas horses. Everybody who knew me said John Bellamy was the biggest fool ever born in Wilmington to do such a rash act as to mortgage his home to finance such an uncertain project! After it had been running about two years, successfully, some Northern capitalists came down and offered to buy me out; I made terms with them by which I not only obtained every dollar that I had put into it, with interest at eight per cent, but, in addition thereto, made $70,000.00 net profit—over and above all costs. Then the opinions in Wilmington were reversed—again verifying the truth of the old maxim that “Nothing succeeds like success.”
Osborne's system in Charlotte was successful, and was later sold to Mr. Latta, of that city.
While a member of the Senate, as before stated, I took a deep interest in Governor Vance's re-election to the United States Senate, but my chief recollection of that body is that of my association with Lieutenant-Governor Thomas M. Holt, President of the Senate. We took quite a fancy to each other, and I became his main dependence in the friction between the Butler element and him. I found Governor Holt to be a man who despised demagoguery, possessed splendid executive ability, and very congenial with me. He told me that when he became governor he wanted to make me a judge of the State
Superior Court, or of the Supreme Court of North Carolina upon the first vacancy occurring. I replied that I appreciated the compliment and his friendship immensely, but at that time the salary was only five thousand dollars per annum, and the income from my profession was at least twenty thousand dollars a year, and I could not afford to accept the honor; therefore, he need not consider me in respect to any appointment of that kind. His long friendship I have cherished from that day to this, and also that of his family and friends.
I have somewhat described the Legislature of 1891. The political acquaintances and affiliations I then made served me greatly in after life. Lieutenant-Governor Holt, as President of the Senate, appointed me chairman of a committee sent by the Senate and House to visit the State University, at Chapel Hill, to inspect its condition and needs. At that time, the Senate had only one of its members a graduate of Chapel Hill, and that one was Marion Butler, from Sampson County. Our committee repaired to Chapel Hill and thoroughly inspected the University, and I must say the buildings and grounds were in a very dilapidated condition; I recall that what was known as the East Building had the stone steps knocked out of place, helter skelter; the floors were in a terrible condition, having large holes in them and planks laid over; nearly all the window glasses were broken out, and in most instances pillows and rugs were stuffed in to keep out the cold winds. I had never before visited the institution; I had been educated at Davidson College, North Carolina, and at the University of Virginia. Both of these institutions were kept in splendid condition, especially the University of Virginia—which was the pride of Virginia. A few years prior to this inspection I had visited Princeton, Harvard, and Yale Universities, all richly endowed and kept in perfect condition. On comparing these, in my mind, with Chapel Hill, my state pride was wounded, and I felt keenly humiliated! On my return to Raleigh, I made a speech in the Senate, describing the dreadful condition of our State University as contrasted with those other colleges mentioned. I prepared and introduced a bill to grant the University ten thousand dollars a year, for two years, for repairs. It being debated, Marion Butler, representing the Farmers’ Alliance
and being one of the few members of the Senate who was a graduate of the University, said the Alliance was pledged to economy and reform, and he was opposed to such extravagance as advocated by the Senator from New Hanover. An amendment was sent forward by Mr. Butler cutting the appropriation to five thousand dollars and limiting it to that amount. In replying, I told the senators, who were nearly all farmers, that the floors of the University building were more dilapidated than any of their barns, and that they ought to be ashamed to allow it to remain in such a condition! However, Butler and the farmers under his influence allowed the bill to pass and it became law. Shortly thereafter I received the following letter, which I have just found:
University of North Carolina
Chapel Hill, N. C., March 11, 1891
My dear Sir; The faculty of this University requests me to thank you most heartily for your efforts in our behalf. While we cannot accomplish all we wish with the appropriation, we can do much. This is the first money ever granted us for repairs, in all our history; after spending it judiciously, we hope that the next General Assembly will properly supplement it. Your wise activity in behalf of our institution, which to our regret is not your Alma Mater, gives us peculiar gratification.
Kemp P. Battle
In my college days, the State University was closed; hence it was that I attended the other institutions.
In 1892, efforts were made in the General Assembly, by the radical wing of the Alliance, to deprive the University of all state aid whatever; this movement was defeated by educational leaders through the coöperation of the more conservative members of the Farmers’ Alliance; this same radical element fused in the November election of 1894 with the Republicans
and elected the entire state ticket—superior court judges, four Populists and three Republican members of Congress, and a majority of the General Assembly; the latter elected, at its session in January 1895, two United States Senators, one Republican and the other a so-called Populist.
In the State Senate, the farmers at first were skeptical about the patriotism of all lawyer members; but, having gained their confidence, I continued to show my interest in the public welfare by drafting a Railroad Commission Bill, which I patterned after that of the Missouri and the Georgia Railroad Commissions. To my gratification, the Alliance caucus adopted and approved my bill. I was then a railroad lawyer, but realizing that public sentiment had so crystallized in favor of the regulation of railroads, and really being in favor of the policy, myself, I advised with Major John R. Kenly, of the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad, Colonel A. B. Andrews, of the Southern, and Judge Leigh R. Watts, of the Seaboard Air Line, as to the propriety of acquiescing in its passage. The bill at first was crude; I submitted a copy of it to my railroad friends, telling them that it would certainly pass and they should make the best of it, asking them to make any suggestions that should be inserted in order to be fair to the railroads and public alike. I recall Major Kenly recommended the clause requiring the Commission, in fixing rates, to take into consideration the competition by water transportation; also, that in requiring the railroads to make their annual reports, it should require them to have the reports made for the Commission at the same time. There were other suggestions, all of which were incorporated in the bill and became law. Major Wilson, a railroad engineer, was made chairman, assisted by two commissioners, one a farmer, the other a business man.
In a recent article by my friend, R. C. Lawrence, he attributed to Marion Butler the authorship of the Railroad Commission Bill. He was in error. A committee was appointed by Governor Holt to consider and prepare a bill for that purpose. The Governor appointed me, as the lawyer member of the committee, and my recollection is that Marion Butler and Captain Ardrey, and probably others, were also on it. Butler came to me, saying that since I was the senior attorney of this group and was honestly and sincerely in favor of such a bill, that he and the other members wanted me to prepare it. I did so, taking the Missouri and Georgia Commission Bills and copying
from them such portions as would apply to North Carolina. I prepared it in my office in Wilmington, and on completion, inserted in it the provisions suggested by my railroad friends, and submitted it to the committee, who adopted it without reading it. Butler said he wanted to submit it to Colonel L. L. Polk, the Alliance leader, who had his office in one of the upstairs rooms of the Capitol, so I allowed him to take it. The next day, Butler returned the bill to me, stating that Colonel Polk approved it. The committee, its chairman—it may have been Butler, but I am not certain—and the Senate approved it and sent it to the House. This is the true history of the Railroad Commission Bill.
In the famous Legislature of 1891, we had the usual number of pages, who waited on the members; but there was one, about twelve years of age, who was unusually intelligent and active. I took a great fancy to him for his pleasant address and his prompt attention to his duties. He was none other than Robert C. Lawrence, of Wake County. Robert later attended Wake Forest College, and after graduating, was admitted to the Bar. He became associated with Colonel John W. Hinsdale, as a very rapid and accurate stenographer, and ultimately became associated with him as a partner. Colonel Hinsdale was one of the ablest and most methodical lawyers in the state, and was noted for his lengthy and well prepared briefs; his young stenographer absorbed many of his methods and ways in the practice of the law. Robert moved to Lumberton to practice law and became associated with Steven McIntire, under the firm name of McIntire & Lawrence, and became a very fine practitioner, obtaining many lucrative employments. I have tried many law suits with Robert Lawrence as an adversary, and I will say his conduct of his case was skillful, and he was always well prepared with authorities. About that time Major John D. Shaw, District Counsel of the Seaboard Air Line Railway, died. Both the President and General Counsel of the Seaboard wrote me a confidential letter, requesting me to suggest a competent successor to Major Shaw. I named and had appointed my friend, Robert C. Lawrence, and it was a great pleasure for me to do so. A number of prominent lawyers had applied for the position, and after Robert was appointed, finding out it was done chiefly at my suggestion, I incurred
their enmity. But Lawrence accepted and rose high on the list of Seaboard Counsel, and continued as such until he lost his health and resigned. He has become the versatile author of the many articles on the distinguished men of North Carolina that appear weekly in “The State.” This weekly is one of the best publications issued in North Carolina, and is under the management of Carl Goerch, a very able editor.
The Senate of 1891 did me quite an honor. I received a telegram from Dr. William J. H. Bellamy, my brother, and physician at Wilmington, saying that my wife had given birth to my third son; Dr. Twitty, the Senator from Rutherford County, moved that the Senate adjourn in honor of the birth of a new Democrat in the home of the Senator from the Twelfth District. It was put to a vote and the Senate unanimously passed it. This was my son, Emmett H. Bellamy, who has since then been a Senator in the same body; he has also been a member of the Lower House.
I will further state, that while in that Senate I formed a deep friendship for Josephus Daniels, then a struggling young editor of the Raleigh News and Observer. He was a great patriot and always advocated what he thought was for the best interest of North Carolina. It was gratifying to me when he was made Secretary of the Navy, in President Wilson's Cabinet, and Ambassador to Mexico in President Roosevelt's. Josephus Daniels, by reason of his great ability, his untiring energy and efforts in behalf of the Democratic Party in North Carolina and the nation, was justly entitled to these honors; North Carolina will always hold him in the highest esteem and admiration.
Early in the campaign, Josephus Daniels became an enthusiastic advocate of the election of Woodrow Wilson for President. I, myself, while having the highest regard for Woodrow Wilson, my boyhood companion, could not give him any support in the Convention in which he was nominated for President. This was because I had become intimately associated, while in Congress, with Oscar Underwood, of Alabama; I had met with his other friends during the session in Washington and formed an organization to advocate his nomination. This precluded my aiding Woodrow Wilson until Underwood, whom I had supported for many months, was out of the race. We first agreed
on George B. McClelland, of New York, son of General McClelland of Civil War fame; he was about to accept our plan to present him, when at one of our meetings he told us that he was born in Vienna, while his father was Minister to Austria. Even if nominated, the fact of having been born on foreign soil would defeat him, although he was the son of an American ambassador. So, he came in with our other friends and we thoroughly organized to support Oscar Underwood, of Alabama. This was before Woodrow Wilson was ever spoken of as a suitable candidate for the Presidency.
During our boyhood, Woodrow Wilson and I would visit the ships in port, and take great interest in learning the nautical names of the riggings and parts of those vessels, and the difference between schooners, barques, brigs and brigantines; he would go with me into the woods and we would lie in the shade and read Scott's novels, talking about the future, and our religious faiths. By reason of this close friendship, and admiration for each other, he assumed that I would give him my support; so he sent Walker Vick to Wilmington to see me—Walker Vick being a relative of mine, living in New Jersey—asking me to take charge of his campaign in North Carolina. I told Walker to go back to Dr. Wilson, then Governor of New Jersey, and former President of Princeton University, and say to him that I could not do it, as I was pledged to Oscar Underwood; that it would be impossible for me, at that late day, as well as a breach of fealty, to drop Underwood and give him my support; while I deeply appreciated the honor done me, I would have to decline it.
Had I broken my faith with Underwood and his friends, accepted the management of Wilson's campaign in North Carolina and thrown my influence for him, undoubtedly I would have been a member of the Wilson Cabinet! But, I decided, that however much were Wilson's claims on me, I would, in the words of Henry Clay, “Rather be right than President.”
Besides knowing Woodrow Wilson in the manner before stated, I saw a good deal of him in the summer of 1875, when the Reverend Joseph T. Wilson requested my aid in coaching Tom, as we then called him, for entrance to Davidson College. I, having graduated from there in June, went to the University of
Virginia the same fall. My coaching and his father's aid easily qualified him, and he entered Davidson College in 1876 or 1877, and remained there a year or more.
Wilson never forgave me for not supporting him, and he was rather vindictive about it. The whole time he was President of the United States, I refused to go to Washington to see him. During the early part of his administration I communicated with him once. Our American troops were in possession of Mexico and were in large force at Vera Cruz. Huerta, the Mexican President, by reason of his hostility to our American troops, was told by the American general that we would hold possession of Mexico, not withdrawing the troops, until Huerta saluted our flag. This, Huerta impudently refused to do; so, I sat down and wrote a letter to President Wilson, substantially as follows:
- Honorable Woodrow Wilson,
- President of the United States.
My dear Mr. President:
As an old friend and associate of yours, I would like to make you a suggestion.
I hope you will not remove the American troops from Mexico, since Huerta has spurned the request to salute the flag, before it is withdrawn.
The American mining and agricultural interests are very great and valuable in Mexico and now is the opportune time to annex this country, as we did Texas.
Some day, in the distant future, there is going to be a great American Republic, extending from Labrador to the Panama Canal. Canada will come in sooner or later. Mexico is our next neighbor on the south; the Central American States could be easily acquired, and our Republic would be invincible.
Very sincerely, your old friend,
JOHN D. BELLAMY.
I had a copy of this letter until recently—but in some way it became lost. President Wilson answered it, but his reply was so curt and offensive that when I received it, I tore it up and
threw it into the trash basket! Now, I greatly regret not having kept it. It said in substance:
Your letter is the veriest form of yellow journalism. It is no part of the United States to be acquiring new territory; we have enough now to protect and defend; your views in this respect do not accord with my own.
WOODROW WILSON, President.
This reply was so lacking in cordiality that I never forgave him for it; we had even scores, for I knew he never forgave my not having advocated his nomination for President.
While Woodrow Wilson really was one of the greatest men who has filled the presidential chair, he was not as great, in some respects, as his father, Reverend Joseph R. Wilson. Dr. Wilson, the father, was a renowned preacher, with sledge hammer style of oratory, that beat and riveted his arguments into the minds of his hearers. He was full of wit and humor, a great punster, and one of the most learnéd men I ever knew. His friendship I enjoyed and retained until his death. Reverend Wilson, while a splendid Christian gentleman and an able preacher, was a very practical man; he had none of the cant that some of the other preachers had. He took a deep interest in national affairs, and frequently wrote me when I was a member of Congress. I remember particularly a splendid letter commending a speech I made in opposition to a bill imposing a tax on Philippine products imported into the United States; I claimed it was unfair to impose a tax on a newly acquired territory, if not an actual violation of the Interstate Commerce Clause of the Constitution, which extended its protecting Aegis over all of its possession—territories as well as states—just as soon as the absolute title was vested in the United States.
During the Legislature of 1891, there frequently appeared in Raleigh, Honorable Josiah Turner, a member then, or a former member, of the Legislature from Orange County, who also had been a member of the Confederate Congress elected in May, 1864.
Joe Turner, as he was called in Reconstruction days, was a great power in North Carolina; almost single handed and alone, in his newspaper in Raleigh, I think called The Sentinel, he criticized and denounced the destructive actions of the radical Republican Party then in control in this state. We looked upon him as a great factor in stopping their misrule and in the restoration of the Democratic Party to power. When the Legislature was in session in 1868, or one of the early Republican Legislatures, Joe Turner in his paper denounced, in scathing terms, the treacherous conduct of Joe Holden, Speaker of the House, son of Governor W. W. Holden, who was afterwards impeached. Reverend Theodore B. Kingsbury, one of our greatest editors, then living in Raleigh, told me of an incident that he witnessed on Fayetteville Street the morning that The Sentinel came out and bitterly denounced Joe Holden.
Joe Turner was walking up Fayetteville Street; when the two got in front of Tuckers Store, Holden went to Turner and cursed him and was about to strike him with his walking cane. Turner resented this and in his defense lifted his umbrella to hit Holden on the head. A hatch on the sidewalk was open and, in backing to get rid of the blow from Turner's umbrella, Joe Holden fell down in the hole. As soon as Turner observed this, he closed the hatch, immediately got on top of it and flapped his hands at his sides, like the wings of a rooster, and crowed vociferously! Mr. Kingsbury said he saw the whole affair, and it was most amusing!
I never thought the people of North Carolina appreciated sufficiently Joe Turner and his services to the State of North Carolina in those hectic days. He really deserves a monument to his memory.
In the campaigns and conventions of 1892, many very stalwart Democrats fought for the nomination of Governor Thomas M. Holt to succeed himself in office; but the Farmers’ Alliance, for some unaccountable reason, led by Marion Butler, Atwater, Dr. Freeman, and some other members of the Senate of 1891, were very hostile to him. They said Holt was a manufacturer and business man, not much of a farmer, and forced us to nominate Elias Carr, a real farmer from Edgecombe County. He was a straight Democrat, well educated and splendidly fitted
for that office. Butler, “et omne genus,” warned us that we must nominate Carr, a farmer, or the Populist vote would be cast for the Populist candidate. We acquiesced, reluctantly. After Carr was nominated, by their persuasion and persistence, they bolted and caused to be nominated a Populist, by name of Exum, commonly known as “Goat Exum,” of Wayne County. Notwithstanding their treachery and perfidy, Carr was triumphantly elected.
Butler immediately, with his Populist followers, formed an alliance with the Republican party, and by their machinations, in 1896, controlled the Legislature and secured the election of Jeter C. Pritchard, a Republican, and Marion Butler, a Populist, as United States Senators; forever after that, he was a stalwart Republican. Pritchard was really a great man, but Butler was a cunning, scheming, Populist politician—very different from his brother, Major George E. Butler, who was a splendid type of manhood, kind and conscientious, a fine practitioner and esteemed greatly by the members of the Bar. While he maintained his views as a Republican, he never resorted to demagoguery in his public addresses.
Daniel L. Russell was nominated and elected Republican Governor in 1896, defeating that magnificent citizen, lawyer and campaign orator, Cyrus B. Watson, of Winston-Salem. Yet, this same man was saved from impeachment as Governor, for high crimes and misdemeanors, by the kindness and softness of heart of that distinguished citizen, Colonel Alex B. Andrews, First Vice-President of the Southern Railway. At a heavy cost, Andrews had obtained a letter from Mrs. Sol C. Weill, then living in New York, the widow of Sol C. Weill, Russell's former partner in Wilmington, written to Sol by Russell, while the latter was Governor. This letter proposed a corrupt bargain in reference to legislation affecting the Southern Railway. Colonel Andrews told me, personally, that Russell came to Washington, to his room in the Raleigh Hotel, late one Saturday night, while the impeachment trial was in progress, and implored him to save him from disgrace by not producing that letter, which he understood would be evidence on the impeachment trial; but the letter was no longer in Colonel Andrews’ possession, having been taken out of his hands by a higher officer of the Southern Railway
and put in the vault of a bank in New York City. It was not produced in the trial, and Russell was consequently acquitted.
Colonel Andrews told Russell he did not deserve his aid and sympathy, as he had hounded the Southern Railway, trying to break its lease, ever since he became Governor. Russell replied that he did not care about himself, but his wife was his all, and he wished to save her from the degradation of his impeachment conviction. Colonel Andrews, out of sympathy for the wife, for whom he had a great respect, decided to have nothing further to do in regard to the production of the letter before the Impeachment Court.
In 1892, the second Presidential election of Grover Cleveland came on, and Preston King, of Greensboro, and I were elected Delegates-at-Large, with the two Senators, to the Democratic Convention at Chicago. I had been, and am still, a great admirer of Grover Cleveland. When the delegation left Wilmington and went to Washington, Senator Vance, who was then afflicted with rheumatism and in bed, sent for the North Carolina delegation to come to see him on their way to Chicago. He tried to reason with us that it would be unwise and not to the interest of North Carolina to re-elect Cleveland, because the Farmers’ Alliance was greatly against him. I listened with great interest to what Governor Vance said, for I had great admiration for his ability and wisdom. I told him, however, that I preferred Cleveland to any other candidate, as did Mr. Preston King, my associate from Greensboro, but if we found Cleveland could not be nominated, our next choice would be Arthur P. Gorman, from Maryland. Mrs. Vance was at that time very hostile to Cleveland, and was campaigning against him. She told me that Gorman was her choice, and if I would only support him she would appreciate it as long as she lived. I made no promise, but recollect the impression it made on me.
We proceeded to Chicago and arrived there on Sunday afternoon. We immediately elected Joseph C. Caldwell, of the Charlotte Observer, chairman of the delegation, and they elected me secretary. It was an immense Convention and attended by the great men of our party. I never enjoyed more the splendid strains of music than the ones those numerous bands played. As each prominent Democrat walked down the aisle of the Convention
Hall, the bands played an appropriate air. For Arthur P. Gorman, they played “Maryland, My Maryland”; for Major John W. Daniels, “Carry Me Back to Old Virginia”; for the tall sycamore, Daniel R. Vorhees, “Way Down on The Wabash”; and for Senator Matt Ransom, “The Old North State.” It was a wonderful gathering and the North Carolina delegates were very much charmed; but when the nominations began, we were dumb-founded upon being informed that Cleveland would not get a single delegate from New York—where his great triumph as governor took place! Senator Ridgeway of New Jersey made a splendid oration in nominating him, but he was bitterly opposed in a speech by Burke Cochran of New York. It had little effect on the delegation, as Senator Ransom, a strong advocate of Cleveland, had come into our room, about daylight on the morning the Convention was to meet, and told us that Gorman and all other candidates had withdrawn during the night, and advised us to go into the Convention and vote for Cleveland, as he would be nominated on the first ballot.
The prominent men who made deep impressions on that Convention were Henry Watterson, of the Louisville Courier Journal, who made a magnificent speech on the Tariff, and Pat Collins, of Boston, who made a very strong one in favor of abolishing the two-thirds rule for nominations, which was not acted on.
When Cleveland was nominated overwhelmingly for President, the Convention was in an uproar! After several minutes of applause and music, the chairman called for quiet, and said the Vice-Presidential nomination would now be in order.
During the Convention, Adlai E. Stevenson, a former Governor of Illinois, had come to our delegation frequently and extended a great many courtesies to each of us. This was probably because his parents were natives of Statesville, North Carolina, and he felt a kinship with us. I suggested to the delegation that we nominate Stevenson for Vice-President. It was put to a vote and unanimously agreed upon by the delegates, and I was designated to go around to the several Southern delegations and get their aid. I was given the support of Virginia, most of Maryland, all of North Carolina and South Carolina
and, through Clark Howell, all of Georgia. Then I was asked by the delegation to put him in nomination, but upon mature thought, I declined. We decided that it would be proper for Illinois to present the nomination, and for North Carolina to second it. Thus it was carried out. I was very favorably impressed with Governor Stevenson, who was a relative of Joe P. Caldwell, Editor of The Observer, of Charlotte, N. C. Mr. Caldwell was very much pleased with the fact that I had suggested Stevenson's nomination.
Going among the various delegations, securing their support for Governor Stevenson, I met several very interesting gentlemen from Florida, among them a Mr. Jennings. In a short while, we found we were related—my grandmother, Mary Priscilla Jennings, having been a sister to George Jennings who had moved to Florida, and, subsequently, had become his grandfather! He was a splendid looking gentleman, and I wanted to become acquainted with him, but I never saw him thereafter.
The Democratic Party had lost the Legislature of 1893, and the Populists and Republicans, by a combination, had elected two United States Senators. So, when the State Democratic Convention assembled in Raleigh, in 1896, the leaders were much demoralized. The Populists who had deserted the Democratic Party in the previous election were some of the very best men in the state, and they had not only elected a Legislature but several Congressmen in districts normally Democratic! We had to seriously consider who were the best men in the state to nominate for governor and other offices; we wanted men who could bring back these erring Democrats who called themselves Populists. We scanned the records of our best leaders, and in a caucus over which I presided, it was decided that Walter Clark, then Supreme Court Judge, was by all odds the best man. A committee of the caucus, in which I was included, went to the office of Judge Clark, and told him of our decision, and asked him if he would be our candidate for governor. Judge Clark promptly refused, saying he was a judge and should not be in politics. Shortly afterwards, he was endorsed by the Populists for Chief-Justice, our party having nominated him in the meantime, after his refusal to run for governor. Judge Clark was a consummate politician; he had seen that we could not elect the
governor, and this was the cause of his refusal. So, we centered on Cy Watson, but really feeling we had an up-hill job to elect him. The result was that Watson was defeated and Daniel L. Russell, in 1896, was elected, and, with him, most of the state officers. Dr. Cy Thompson, a leading Populist from Onslow County, was elected Secretary of State. He was an honest and able man, and reflected more credit on the Russell administration than any other person.
Among Russell's first acts as governor was the full pardon of John Statcher, a leading negro politician of Wilmington, and henchman of the Russell-Manning clique. Statcher was a policeman, found guilty of robbing a store in Wilmington, at night, while on his beat; he had been caught in the act.
One other of Governor Russell's apparent hobbies was his effort to cancel and break the lease of the North Carolina Railroad to the Southern Railway; as a matter of fact, the lease had inured greatly to the benefit of the state in extending the line across the mountains, making connection with western railways—thus building up towns and industries in western North Carolina. Under its terms, the state had received, and still continues to receive, a large dividend on its common stock which controlled the ownership of the railroad. Nearly all other railroads of the United States had for years passed their dividends, and their stock had depreciated in value. The stock of the North Carolina Railroad had remained above par. Whether the Governor's motive was patriotic or not has always been a subject of speculation!
The Sixth North Carolina District—or Shoe-String District—when I was elected to Congress, contained nearly all the large towns or cities in the southern and southeastern portion of the state. They were Charlotte, Monroe, Wadesboro, Rockingham, Hamlet, Laurinburg, Maxton, Lumberton, Clarkton, and Wilmington. It had double the population of any other district, which was one of the reasons that, after the census of 1900, it was divided into two parts. The Seaboard Air Line Railway, in its length of over two hundred miles, runs through every city in this area.
When I went to Washington, I learned to know, very well, General David B. Henderson of Iowa, who was Speaker of the
House. He had been a general in the Federal Army, and lost one of his legs in battle. He and his family lived at the same hotel where my family resided. Although General Henderson was an ultra Republican, he became somewhat attached to me, an ultra Democrat, and our families saw a great deal of each other. One of the committees, upon which I was appointed at that time, was the Committee on Railroads and Canals. I believe it was in recognition of the fact I had always been a railroad lawyer. I am still District Counsel of the Seaboard Air Line Railway, in the Wilmington District. The Chairman of the Committee on Railroads and Canals was Mr. Thomas H. Tongue, a Representative from the Portland District in Oregon, residing in Hillsboro, of that state. He became quite sick and died; and in early January of my first session, General Henderson appointed me, together with other Democrats and a majority of Republican members of that committee, to escort the remains to Oregon, as an official cortège of the United States Government. We were to make a report to the Government on our return, as was the custom.
We left Washington on Sunday afternoon and, after traveling three thousand miles, arrived in Portland the next Saturday afternoon, about six o'clock. While this was a funeral occasion, it was a very long trip, and we had to while away the time and make it as pleasant as possible for the bereaved family with us. We amused ourselves, when crossing the prairies, by shooting at the coyotes and other animals, and endeavored, with sports, to lighten the solemn occasion as much as could be done with impunity.
We proceeded over the Union Pacific and Oregon Short Cut, going through Cheyenne, Green River and the Reservation of the Umatilla Indians, and other reservations, and passed the dam near Portland, which had a magnificent water fall one thousand feet high, the water shooting over the mountain and falling near the railroad track! We proceeded, without stopping at Portland, to Hillsboro, and placed the remains of our comrade in the Methodist Church of that city. The funeral was to be held the next day. We returned to Portland and were met by Governor Chamberlain, several Senators, and the editor of the Democratic newspaper—a Mr. Coleman, from Columbus County,
North Carolina. Governor Chamberlain was formerly of Mississippi, a strong Democrat, although all of the other state officers and the delegates in Congress were Republicans, as also the senators from that state. It was not unusual for Oregon to elect a governor of a different political party from its other officials.
For the funeral, there assembled in Hillsboro, on Sunday, probably the largest conclave of people I ever beheld! The Legislature of Oregon attended in a body, the Judges of the Supreme and Circuit Courts of Oregon were there, and the officers of the county and those from almost every other county of the state, intermingled with the local sympathizers. Oregon had not only lost, by death, one of her national figures, but a man greatly beloved, and the entire state mourned.
After the last sad rites were over, and our comrade interred, we boarded our train and went back to Portland where we spent the night. We enjoyed the delicious salmon steaks, for which this city is celebrated. The next morning, the agent of the Southern Pacific Railroad met the delegation at the railroad depot, and took us over the road from Portland by way of Mt. Shaster, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and other cities. In San Francisco, he conducted us through China Town, and when we left, there were placed on the train, by the hospitable people of that city, boxes of raisins, prunes, oranges, dates, and other fruits for each of us, which we enjoyed on our return trip.
Enroute, we were served daily with wild goose meat, which was delicious. All of the food was most enjoyable, and cooked by the caterers on the diners in the most appetizing manner. We were served on the trip with everything that human taste could desire. Steaks were cooked in Louisiana style, and seasoned by Mr. Randell. He was one of our delegation from Louisiana, and afterwards a U. S. Senator. With every dinner we had champagne and liqueur! The Sergeant-at-Arms of the United States Congress was with us, who took care of all the expenses of the trip, even to tips to waiters and employees—all paid out of the Treasury of the United States. The Sergeant-at-Arms boasted that the United States Government never did things in a half-way style, and wanted its representatives to have the best of everything. I took with me from Washington a one hundred dollar bill, and brought it back unbroken!
One of the most notable events of that trip was on our way home. When we reached Albuquerque, New Mexico, there were large banners suspended across the streets, on which were the words, “Welcome to Congressmen.” New Mexico, at that time, wished to be admitted as a new state into the Union. The citizens all turned out and gave the delegates an arousing reception and banquet, in an immense warehouse. I must say that while some of the men were against the admission of New Mexico at that time, I was in favor of it. During the banquet, each delegate was called on to speak, and each one of them, without exception, committed himself in favor of the admission of the territory as a state. After this banquet we took our sleepers, and in due course returned to Washington, where we made our report to the Government that we had discharged our duties, as directed by the House.
While a member of that Congress, just before Christmas, 1899, I received a letter from Major John D. Shaw, one of my constituents living in Rockingham. Major Shaw was a great lawyer, and one of the most practical men I ever knew. He had a delightful family of several sons and one daughter—Miss Dell Shaw, and John D. Shaw, Jr., and Cliff Shaw, living in Washington. My association with Major Shaw had always been pleasant and close, as he was the District Counsel of the Seaboard Air Line Railway in Rockingham and the territory adjoining, and I was District Counsel at Wilmington. Major Shaw wrote me this letter in which he stated he had a friend, whose name I will not mention, a young Scotch girl of very splendid character, a college graduate and a lady of great refinement, who had married a man not her social equal. He was a money-making individual, and so avaricious was he that he manufactured whiskey, and used the old stamped packages without putting on new stamps. He was tried in court and convicted of violating the Internal Revenue Law, and was sentenced to prison in Nashville, Tennessee, for four years. Major Shaw stated this lady was in a delicate condition, was often hysterical, bemoaning the disgraceful situation that had come upon her. She was about to become a mother, and her doctor had said that unless her husband could come home and comfort her, he believed she would die. I have said before that I attended President McKinley's
inauguration, and I had learned to know him very well the short time I was there, having gone to him asking for presidential aid in a number of measures. So I went to the White House and read him my letter from Major Shaw. The President was very much impressed for he said that his wife was nervous herself, that she had fainted when he was being inaugurated as President, and that his heart went out to any good woman similarly affected. I asked him if he would parole the man. He didn't answer, but put his finger on a bell, called his private secretary, Pruden, and told him to go to the Attorney-General's office and get the papers in the case of the Government against this man, giving his name. Then he sat down and told me that he was very much interested in the case and he would see what he could do. It took Pruden a half hour to get the papers, and during that time President McKinley told me that he very much admired the patriotism of a great many Southern Democrats; that he, himself, had been a Brigadier-General in the Federal Army, and all his associations in life had been with Republicans in Ohio, and members of Congress. That when he became a member of Congress he sought personal relations with the Southern members of Congress to get their views about the nation and its welfare, so that he could understand the South's attitude on Constitutional and public questions. He said he was glad to say he had made friends of a great many splendid Southern men, Democrats, and had come to the conclusion that they were very patriotic, that they loved the Constitution and its history, and he believed the Government would always be safe in their hands in the future. He said that it was a pleasure for him to tell me this! Of course, I thanked him heartily for the compliment he paid our people. Pruden then came in with the papers. President McKinley said, “Pruden, I am going to grant an absolute pardon for the man Mr. Bellamy came to see me about, and you take it down to the Attorney-General's office; tell the Attorney-General to have his office wire Nashville, Tennessee, and instruct them to furnish this man with a new suit of clothes and transportation to his home in Hamlet, North Carolina, so he can reach there by Christmas morning. This is the Christmas season, when the heart of man goes out in love to his fellowman, and I don't know that I could do a more benevolent act than this.” I thanked the President and told him he had
granted me more than I had asked, and I wanted him to understand that I thoroughly and highly appreciated it.
In repeated interviews with the President, I had learned to admire him for his greatness, his kindness of heart and his liberal views, generally. At home, after the adjournment of Congress, I was shocked to learn that he had been assassinated by that anarchist, Leon Czolgosz. Our whole nation went into mourning, and no American citizen regretted his death more than I.
On numerous occasions, when I had gone to Washington on matters of business, I had met Mark A. Hanna, the Senator from Ohio, who was said to have managed all of President McKinley's business and political affairs. A short time after that, while a member of Congress, Senator Hanna gave a magnificent banquet at the Arlington Hotel, inviting all the members of Congress of both political parties to be present and partake of his hospitality. He had his tables set with everything a person could desire—turkey, grouse, lamb, native and Scotch mutton, hams, every conceivable article of food, together with champagne, whiskey toddies and the like! The wives of the Congressmen were all invited and attended. Mrs. Bellamy, my wife, accompanied me that evening and enjoyed the company of Mrs. Hanna and her daughter, who afterwards became Mrs. McCormack; during the whole evening she was associating with the wives of the various Congressmen. When we were leaving and Mrs. Bellamy had secured her wrap, she and I went to express our great pleasure and appreciation for a very interesting evening, and I told the Senator that while I was a Bourbon Southern Democrat and he a Bourbon Northern Republican, I would say that it was the finest and most enjoyable banquet I had ever attended. He remarked to me, “Bellamy, I am an older man than you, but recollect this in life, that politics will never spoil a good fellow or a good frolic.” I told him it certainly didn't spoil me!
Referring to the entertainments by members of Congress—there were two others which were given, one by a Jefferson M. Levy of New York, at that time owner of Monticello, President Jefferson's old home, and the other, by Congressman Joseph Sibley, of Pennsylvania. Mr. Levy's entertainment, while not as costly nor on as high scale as Senator Hanna's, was attended
only by the members of Congress, without their wives. There was a great deal of fun among the members; I recall Congressman Joe Wheeler, of Alabama, and Joseph G. Cannon, of Illinois, in a spectacular dance, both being good sports. Cannon dared Wheeler to come out and clog dance with him. General Wheeler readily accepted, and they took the floor. Many of us patted our feet and kept time with the syncopated music, and at the end the dancers received loud applause!
Joseph Sibley's party was likewise attended by the members of Congress. He was then a Democrat and sat on our side of the chamber and voted with us on every question in the 56th Congress. He had actually been a candidate for President, in a Democratic National Convention. It seems, at home, his district had become strongly Republican, and he was later nominated by the Republicans and elected as such. When the 57th Congress convened, Sibley took his seat on the Republican side of the chamber and voted with the Republicans on every question that arose and against his Democratic friends. This was a unique situation, the only instance I ever knew of a member being a Democrat in one Congress and a Republican in the next.
While a member of Congress, I championed a bill on the Democratic side of the house to place the Revenue Cutter Service of the Government on a parity with the Navy. In other words, the officers in the Revenue Cutter Service were put upon the same pay, the same retirement plan, with all the perquisites of the Navy. There was one exception—in the time of war, the Naval Vessels had priority and precedence over the Revenue Cutters, which were to be auxiliary to the Navy. Mr. James S. Sherman and I prepared this bill. Mr. Sherman was from New York, and was afterwards Vice-President of the United States, and I was a member from North Carolina. I was very much in favor of the Revenue Cutter Service, for I had seen such splendid instances of the efforts of the Cutters at Wilmington, my home, in rescuing storm-tossed ships and bringing them safely to port. A clique of the Navy fought the bill on the floor, desperately, but through our combination, Sherman and I corraled enough votes in the House to overwhelmingly pass the measure, notwithstanding the Navy's opposition! That is the law in force, today.
The Congressional Records of that Congress will show a number of speeches I made on that subject of the Cutter Bill, as well as on many others. The officers and personnel of the Revenue Service of the United States seemed to appreciate my efforts and my speeches, in which I claimed that their education at New London, Connecticut, was as high a standard as that at Annapolis. To show their further appreciation, on one occasion I received from San Francisco, California, a magnificent silver urn, mounted on an ebony pedestal, with the following inscription: “Presented to Hon. J. D. Bellamy, Member of Congress from North Carolina, by the officers of the United States Revenue Cutter Service, as a slight token of Friendship and of their Admiration of His Able and Disinterested Efforts in their Behalf.”
During that same Congress, I made a speech before the Committee on Indian Affairs, on the history of the “Lost Colony,” and “The Croatan Indians of Robeson County and Their Descendants.” I ended by asking for an appropriation for their schools. The Committee seemed greatly pleased and asked me to repeat it in the House, in a speech on the floor. That speech was copied in almost every newspaper in the United States.
I also made a speech in defense of the North Carolina troops at Gettysburg, showing that North Carolina lost more men in that action of the Twenty-third Regiment, commanded by Colonel Henry Kirk Burgwin, than any other regiment, on either side, during the Civil War; I, also, proved that Pettigrew instead of Pickett made the famous charge. I took an active part in the debates on a number of questions, and my speeches were published in the Congressional Records of the 56th and 57th Congress.
Romulus Z. Linney, from Western North Carolina, was one of the conspicuous Republicans in the 56th Congress. Mr. Linney was a gifted orator, and the Republicans frequently called upon him, in the absence of Jonathan Dolliver, of Iowa, to lead them in debates. I must say that he displayed a great deal of ability and eloquence. While we differed politically, I was sorry when he went over to the Republicans, for I had frequently met him in Democratic State Conventions, in Raleigh, and had enjoyed his oratorical effusions.
There was also in this body of the 56th Congress a negro from eastern North Carolina, by the name of George H. White, who was a lawyer by profession; he was once solicitor of the Eastern District, and practiced law in Wilmington, having been elected from the Edenton District. I had known White, having practiced with him in the Superior Courts of New Hanover County, and I must say he was a negro of unusual ability. Where he was educated, I do not know. He was always deferential to me in our State Courts, and while a member of Congress, he showed as much deference to me as any colored man could show to a white gentleman. There was also a Republican in this body by the name of Spencer Blackburn, who was a very fine fellow, quite handsome, and married well in Washington. Among the Democratic members from North Carolina was W. W. Kitchen, from the Roxboro District, and I will say, after due consideration, that I regard him as the best equipped, readiest debater, and the most eloquent and influential Democrat from North Carolina in the 56th Congress. Many think that Claude Kitchen, of the 57th Congress, and a member for a good many times thereafter, who became Speaker of the House, was superior intellectually to William W. Kitchen, his brother. To that I must dissent; I regard W. W. Kitchen as the best informed man, politically, and the handsomest figure of any delegate North Carolina had sent to Congress since the Civil War. He afterwards became Governor, and made a very able executive.
There was also in that Congress, John H. Small, from the Washington District; Charles R. Thomas, from the New Bern District; Theodore Klutz, from the Salisbury District—all able and influential Democrats; Pou, from the Raleigh District, was there, and afterwards became a very well trained and splendid legislator. He also became a member of the 57th Congress. In this 56th Congress was W. T. Crawford, from the Asheville District. I regarded him as an unusually strong man, of rugged intellect, whose ability was very much depreciated by a number of members of the Bar of the Asheville District. He had a contest on his hands in the 56th Congress as I, myself, had; and Crawford was unseated by Richmond Pearson while Bellamy was retained in the Sixth District. The alleged reason for the unseating of Crawford was because of so much violence and intimidation
in the Sixth North Carolina District, caused by the Red Shirts, that it permeated the west and affected the result in Buncombe County. Therefore he was deprived of his seat, while I, John D. Bellamy, the elected member of the Sixth District, where the violence occurred, was retained without any real opposition. It showed this, that as the Republican majority in that Congress was very small, and they needed three or four additional members to increase their majority, they decided to put Crawford out, place Pearson in, and retain Bellamy, dismissing his contest from the docket; to eject Young, the Democratic member from the Norfolk District, and to seat Dr. Wise, a Republican; they put out Robbins, a Democrat from Alabama, and put in Aldrich, a Republican, and one other Democrat was unseated and a Republican put in, giving them four additional members for their majority. It demonstrated this, that when the Republican Party desired to increase its majority, there was no respect for law or justice! The most objectionable Democrats were unseated, and Republicans put in.
There is little principle in the game of politics. If the majority wants a seat, and needs it, the “might is right” theory is exercised, and the seat is taken! That is why I had to seek the influence of my college fraternity-mates and friends in Washington. Both the Secretary-of-State and the Attorney-General were my clubmates. A number of my fraternity-mates voluntarily requested them to use their influence to prevent me from being dispossessed.
I have spoken heretofore in this sketch of my experiences with Senator Pritchard giving me the privilege of appointing the 4th Class Postmasters in the Sixth District. I received an application for the appointment of one of these postmasters, and, as was my custom, I went over to the Senate Body to get Senator Pritchard to approve the man I would suggest. He had given the approval, and I had remained to converse. I was sitting between Senator Pritchard, of North Carolina, and Senator Elkins, of West Virginia, and was just preparing to leave, when Senator Pritchard said, “Mr. Bellamy, keep your seat; have you noticed Senator Tillman on the floor, there, speaking?” I said, “Yes.” Pritchard continued, “He has just accused John McLaurin, the Junior Senator of South Carolina, of having sold his political
principles to President Theodore Roosevelt, in exchange for the patronage of South Carolina. As Senator McLaurin is not in the body at present, we have just sent for him at his office, in the Maultsby building, and told him he had better come over, that Senator Tillman was speaking, and had made this grave accusation against him.”
While Senator Tillman was still speaking, McLaurin came in. Senator McLaurin was in his rear, and after Tillman had concluded, he immediately arose, and said, “Mr. President, while I was busy at my office attending to my official duties, the Senior Senator of my State, I learn, denounced me on the floor of this body as having sold out my political principles to President Theodore Roosevelt in exchange for the patronage of South Carolina. Mr. President and Brother Senators, I wish to state that such an accusation is an outrageous falsehood and lie, and I brand it as such.” Immediately Senator Tillman, having but one eye, wheeled around and seeing McLaurin was near him, struck at him, hitting him on the shoulder. McLaurin struck back, and they had a violent fight on the floor of the Senate. Senator Foreacre, who was presiding, called for the Sergeant-at-Arms to come and stop this disgraceful affair and to arrest those two members—which he proceeded to do, immediately. Some member arose and asked that the Senate go into executive session, that the gallery be closed and the doors shut; that left me still inside!
When Foreacre introduced a resolution to expel both of the Senators, Senator Joseph W. Bailey, of Texas, arose, and immediately began to debate the Foreacre resolution! Bailey had been a Democratic leader in the House, and was just elected to the United States Senate, and had taken his seat that morning. Senator Bailey was one of the best informed men as to the history of the Constitution, and the actions of Congress, from the foundation of the Government up to the present time, and was vehement in his opposition to the resolution. He contended that the Senate had no right to deprive a sovereign state of its senators for an act like that, and recited case after case decided by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States, proving the point of his contention. There was much noise in the Senate—everyone discussing the affair. While debating the question,
however, Bailey impressed his fellow senators so greatly that Senator Hoar, of Massachusetts, rose and said, “Brethren, listen, an oracle is speaking,” and the room immediately became quiet, and Joe Bailey proceeded with his remarks. That was one of the greatest speeches ever made in the United States Senate! Immediately, he sprang to the front as a leader, and was regarded as the foremost man from the South! In my opinion he would have been the first President of the United States from the South, if he had not become involved in the Pierce Oil Scandal and other accusations of immorality.
On going to Washington about that time, I saw Senator Bailey and told him I regretted, very much, to know of the affairs in which he was entangled; that I had looked upon him as being on such a high pedestal that he was obliged to be the first nominee for President by the Southern people. I knew, now, that would never be! Bailey remarked to me, “John, I am sorry to hear you say so!”
The active participants, in the force called on to suppress the riot in Wilmington, in November 1898, and protect the citizens from the race clash before the military companies came, were Colonel Roger Moore, in charge of affairs, together with Colonel Alfred M. Waddell, Hugh MacRae, J. Allen Taylor, and others. They expelled from Wilmington all the objectionable characters that had become so offensive to our people. They actually took possession of the city government, causing, one by one, the sitting-members to resign, and filling their places with Democrats, until an entire new board was obtained—naming Colonel Waddell, Mayor. The board consisted of Colonel Waddell, Hugh MacRae, J. Allen Taylor, Henry P. West, and others, who managed the city from that time, under Democratic rule.
Martial law was declared by the governor, and military companies from all sections of the state were sent here to prevent further disturbance.
Colonel Walker Taylor was put in command of the State Guard, the excitement subsided, the troops returned to their homes, and peace and order again reigned in the city.
The conditions of 1898 were very horrible and humiliating to our people. Nearly all the health officers in the City of Wilmington, whose duty it was to inspect the private homes and premises of our people, were negroes. Nearly all magistrates in the city and members of the board were negroes. The mayor, who was a carpetbagger, Silas P. Wright, was afterwards expelled from the city! Such were the terrible conditions and humiliation to which the virtue and intelligence of our people were subjected and which were not ended until the riot of 1898.
The writer was elected to Congress on Tuesday in November, 1898, prior to the riot which took place on Friday. Being a United States Government officer by election, he had to refrain from any active participation in the affair; yet, thereafter the Republican Executive Committee of the state petitioned Congress not to let Mr. Bellamy take his seat in Congress
because of the riot which took place in Wilmington, for which he was chiefly responsible! This, of course, was an outrageous untruth.
In the campaign of 1898, starting in July and ending in November, the writer canvassed every county in the district, which then was known as the Sixth or Shoe-String District, the Seaboard Air Line Railway running through all of the counties in the district, which then consisted of Mecklenburg, Union, Anson, Richmond, Robeson, Columbus, Brunswick, and New Hanover. I was placed in nomination at the District Convention held in the Courthouse, in Wilmington, by my friend, Attorney-General Francis I. Osborne, of Charlotte, who was my college-mate at Davidson and the University of Virginia. My old associates in Charlotte—all Davidson College men—were very active for me. They were chiefly instrumental in the large vote I got in triumphing over Colonel Oliver H. Dockery, then known as the Republican war-horse of the Pee Dee. This nomination was practically tendered the writer on condition that he would redeem the district from Republicans. That splendid gentleman, James A. Lockhart, of Anson County, was unseated in Congress in the last election, and a Republican-Populist, Honorable Charles H. Martin, placed therein.
So the writer had a very onerous task on his hands to canvass the counties above named. He became the victim of many efforts on the part of a number of people, who were falsely told that the writer was rich, and they began to deplete him of his funds in many ways. For example: A committee, in one county, came from a certain church in which they said they had one hundred and fifty voters and only one-third of them were Democrats, and the balance Republicans. They needed two hundred dollars to rebuild or repair their church, they said, and that if I did not contribute to the fund, the one hundred Republicans would vote against me as well as the fifty Democrats. So, I gave them the check, to please them. Things like that happened, often. Many amusing incidents occurred in that campaign. It was called the Campaign of the Red Shirts. It became necessary to win back into the Democratic fold, the Croatan Indians, of Robeson County, who were chiefly Republicans at that time. So my friends,
George B. McLeod, of Lumberton, now living, and Frank H. Gough, now dead, devised a scheme and advised that, if I would bear the expense, they would have a series of educational meetings at Buie, Pembroke, Rowland, and other points where the Croatans lived; I should speak to them about the necessity of education and pride in their ancestry, as descendants of the Lost Colony of Sir Walter Raleigh, and they thought I might win them back and get their support. We had numerous picnics and some educational and political meetings, and when the election came on, ninety per cent of the Croatans voted for me for Congress!
I recall an amusing incident near Buie, where one John Dial, a Croatan, was chairman of the meeting. After introducing the speaker and telling the audience that he wanted them to listen attentively to him as an instructor, he said, “My friends, the last time we had a meeting in this ’ere settlement, we had a great fuss, a knock down and drag out, and a killing. I warn you in advance, the first man that creates any disturbance here today or interferes with our speaker, we will take down in the bushes and lose him!” The result was a very quiet and orderly meeting.
In the course of my campaign among these people, I met one Wash Lowry, the uncle of the noted bandit and outlaw, Henry Berry Lowry, who terrorized the whole of Robeson County and killed some of the best and bravest of her citizens in their efforts to suppress Henry and his gang. On one occasion, I asked old Wash Lowry what made his nephew so vicious and bloodthirsty and cruel. He replied that when the Confederate Government was constructing the defenses of Fort Fisher, they pressed into service a number of Croatans and took them to Wilmington, and worked them in throwing up the earthworks at Fort Fisher. The Government kept them for a long time, but finally they deserted and came back to their homes in Robeson County. They caught Henry Berry and carried him back to Wilmington, and he deserted again. Before the war closed, the Government wanted these men again and sent soldiers up here after them, and Henry Berry and the others took to the swamps; the soldiers fired on them in the swamps in their efforts to arrest them. This was the condition
at the end of the war. They had also been outlawed by the court authorities of Robeson County. Henry Berry declared he would not be taken, and he shot and killed a good many people. His uncle said Berry was not naturally bad, but kind hearted; he had been made desperate by being outlawed. While this was no excuse for a bloodthirsty career, it gave me an insight into the causes of the happenings at that time.
I had lived in Floral College, Robeson County, not far distant from Scuffle Town, the settlement of the Croatan Indians, for a number of years.
A very notable meeting was held at Gibson, then in Richmond County. I never saw so many pretty, and prettily dressed school girls as those assembled there on that July day. There were said to have been two thousand men and women to hear the speaker; they were from North and South Carolina, Gibson being near the border line. I had been to Europe, a few years before, and one Sunday, while in Rome, went to an English Cemetery, where I saw a monument erected to the memory of Prince Charles, The Pretender, who fled from Scotland to France, after the Battle of Culloden, having been concealed and befriended by Flora MacDonald. The speaker told them of this incident and said that while looking at this monument and reading the inscription, his thought, with electric speed, flashed across the English Channel to the heathers of Scotland; that he could hear the pibroch blowing and the bagpipes playing, and could see the hosts of Prince Charlie rallying around the Scottish Standard! There stood before the speaker, Cameron Morrison, whose ancestors were followers of Prince Charlie, and who afterwards became, as you know, not only a prominent Democratic leader but Governor of North Carolina and United States Senator, and author of the road system of North Carolina. He rushed up to me and seized my hand and said, “John, that is the most wonderful speech I ever heard!” The whole audience of several thousand people was composed of Scotchmen, who were descendants of those who had fled from Scotland to the Cape Fear, so it was quite apropos to allude to Prince Charlie in the way I did.
In passing, let me say one thing. I owe many of the votes I received in that campaign, particularly in Richmond County,
to Governor Morrison. He was always my friend, and I was always his, and never faltered but once in my life, and that was due to his attitude on prohibition. I always believed prohibition to be un-Democratic, un-Jeffersonian, and an interference with the natural rights of citizens, and should be treated as a moral measure and not a political one. Nevertheless, I recognized his great ability as a public speaker, orator, and statesman, and I hope the Democratic Party of North Carolina will still retain his services, which are always valuable. Cameron Morrison will live in the history of North Carolina, not only as a great statesman, but as author of the road system, which has made the state famous and is, itself, an enduring monument to him.
The campaign of 1898 was the first one that my friend, Cameron Morrison, actively took part in, as I recall. From the outset, he displayed the most wonderful ability as a manager of men and the greatest strategy in planning campaigns. For some good reason he opposed a clique that had long dominated that county and dictated who should fill the various offices. That state of affairs had been going on for years, and he desired to break it up. So when I was nominated for Congress, he voluntarily took charge of my campaign in Richmond County, saying he wanted me to beat Dockery, and he would help me to do so. He practically reorganized the Democratic Party in that section and brought back to its fold many of the Populists that had deserted in the preceding election. He also brought back and made good Democrats of a number of the Long family, and his own father, Daniel Morrison, who had been County Treasurer, and the Wrights and other prominent citizens of that county. He organized public meetings to take place at night at the cotton mills, and throughout the county. The meetings would be opened with prayer by a minister of the Gospel, and the state song, “Carolina, Carolina,” was always sung—led most frequently by that prince of gentlemen, Henry Clay Wall! This Mr. Wall was elected that year to the Legislature.
My friend Morrison told me, as a candidate for Congress, that if I would do as he suggested, in Richmond County, he would have me beat Dockery, which, it was subsequently
shown, I did. He saw that a large number of the best farmers and Democrats had become Populists and had elected Charles H. Martin, as a Populist, to Congress; so he planned that I should ride the county with him, and when night came on, my tutor-friend would say, “Now, you go and put up tonight at a prominent Populist farmer's home, but I will not go with you; I shall go over to a fellow Democrat's and spend the night with him. But before you leave in the morning, John, you must get—by pleasant persuasion and kind action—a promise of his support!” The next day he would come for me and ask how I got along, and then we would proceed to another household. The result was that when the campaign ended, I had beaten Colonel Dockery in his own county, under Cameron Morrison's tutelage, by a majority of ten hundred and forty votes.
After my experiences in Richmond County, I went to Anson County where I was cordially received and warmly supported by Judge Bennett, Honorable J. A. Lockhart and my old class-mates—Robert Eugene Little, Dr. James M. Dunlap and by Sandy Martin, of Morven. I found Anson County the best organized Democratic county of my district, so then I went to Union County, which was very much under Populist control. The party leaders informed me that it would take herculean efforts to win the former Populist-Democrats back to the party. With that in view, I made a number of speaking appointments in the county. My manager for that county was John D. Parker, a sterling Democrat, the father of the present United States Circuit Republican, Judge J. J. Parker, of Charlotte, John D. Parker, together with R. A. Morrow, Dr. Blair, W. C. Heath, and Bob Armfield mapped out my course through the county. We advertised for a first meeting to take place at night, at Stout's School House, near Monroe. When my associates and I arrived, a committee of Populists was waiting; they told us that if I would agree to divide time with their leader, Mr. James Price, they would attend our meeting and act with great respect. To this we readily agreed, for this was the strongest Populist center in the county; the same place where the Presidential-Elector for Cleveland, and David B. Covington, their most prominent Democratic citizen,
were actually prevented during the last campaign from holding meetings because of threats of violence.
So, this was my opportunity to make a good speech and win back these erring Democratic-Populists! We had a very large attendance. Everybody came with their horses and buggies, carts and wagons. The agreement was that I was to speak the first half-hour, Mr. Price was to follow, and then I to have the rejoinder for a half hour. I tried to make a good impression, which my friends Parker, Dr. Blair, Paul Younts, Bob Marrow, Bob Redwine and Major Heath told me I did. Immediately thereafter, Mr. James Price arose to reply and accused the Democratic Party of a great many failings, all of which were absolutely untrue. He then made the assertion that the Democratic Party, in the last campaign, was tied to Grover Cleveland, who was nothing in the world but a Roman Catholic—a Vice-Regent of the Pope of Rome. That if they had elected Cleveland, he would have had the Pope of Rome installed as President of the United States, in the White House at Washington! All most absurd statements! After he got through, my turn came; I arose determined to lambast him; at that very instant a whistle blew, and all the lights in the school house were extinguished! I heard vehicles rattling, going away. Though being left in the dark, I continued my speech, violently denouncing the false statements of Jim Price! When it was over, all of the Populists, including Jim Price, had gone, leaving not a single one to hear me. In that house were only the few Democrats I had brought with me, from Monroe. This was a most discourteous and outrageous act, all brought on by this Mr. Jim Price who claimed to be a shrewd politician. He afterwards repented, I presume, because he came back to the Democratic party and was elected to the Legislature in Union County. Anyhow, my majority in the district was extensive and I made a gain for the Democratic Party of nearly fourteen thousand votes, and went to Washington to take my seat.
In the meantime a contest was started against me and depositions were taken by the contestant throughout the district to obtain evidence to unseat me; the Republican Executive Committee, in Raleigh, actually requested Congress not
to let me take my seat, saying that I was responsible for the state of affairs that afterwards took place in Wilmington. However, Thomas Nelson Page, my gifted friend and classmate at the University of Virginia, was then living in Washington and he wrote a two-column article in the Washington Post in my defense, stating that he knew me and my upbringing and education, and was my college friend; that he wanted the people in Washington to withhold their opinion until they met me and they would see a gentleman and scholar well worthy to represent the South, in Congress. My friend, Tom Nelson Page, by this article, gave me quite an entré into Washington which was followed by my friends in North Carolina, who took great interest in my career—not only my Charlotte and Washington friends, but Colonel Alexander B. Andrews, of Raleigh, Vice-President of the Southern Railway Company, voluntarily championed my cause. He had a great many Republican friends in Congress, particularly James S. Sherman from New York, afterwards Vice-President, who had promised him to look after me and see that I was not molested. For this I was always grateful, and to this day I have an affectionate regard for Colonel Andrews and his descendants.
I was a member of the Theta Delta Chi Fraternity, at Charlottesville, Virginia. I had been quite an active member in my college days, and used to correspond with John Hay, afterwards Secretary of State, in President McKinley's Cabinet. There was a meeting held of this fraternity, in the Willard Hotel, which I attended with several other Congressmen—Stevens, of Minnesota; McLaughlin, of California; Chancellor Henry R. Gibson, of Tennessee; John Hay, Secretary of State, and John W. Griggs, Attorney-General of the United States. The banquet was quite an enjoyable affair, that night. I met several of these gentlemen for the first time and had a very pleasant conversation with each of them; they said to me that, although I was a Democrat, I was the kind of man, by education and property, they needed in Congress and they would guarantee that I would not be unseated. The consequence was that my case was referred to the Committee on Privileges and Elections and the contest was never brought up, chiefly as
I always believed, through the influence of Secretary of State, John Hay; Attorney-General Griggs, of New Jersey; and James S. Sherman, of New York; the latter, one of the Republican leaders, was the friend of Colonel Alexander B. Andrews. The case was never called and was dismissed from the docket as unworthy of consideration.
In the next election for Congress I was returned triumphantly by a tremendous majority, almost without opposition. While a member of this Congress, I had a great many friends, not only among my Democratic associates but also among the Republicans. I knew, personally, David B. Henderson, then Speaker; Joe Cannon, later Speaker of the House; General Grosvenor, of Ohio; Jim Sherman, of New York; Jim Mann, of Illinois; Bois Penrose, of Pennsylvania; Theodore Burton, of Ohio; and any number of other prominent men, whose friendship I enjoyed and appreciated. I also knew Senator Marcus A. Hanna very well. Of course, Senator Pritchard, of North Carolina, was my friend, having been in the Legislature with me, in Raleigh, and was then a United States Senator.
Whenever the roll was called on the Democratic side in Congress, I voted with my party, without flickering, every time.
While I was in Congress, the North Carolina Legislature, in 1899, passed an act to submit to the vote of the people a Constitutional Amendment to eliminate ignorance, as far as possible, from the future control of the government of the eastern counties and municipalities. This amendment had to be very carefully studied to prevent it from being declared in conflict with the Federal Constitution. Two of my friends in that Legislature were George Rountree, of Wilmington, and Henry G. Connor, of Wilson, both able constitutional lawyers—both afterwards becoming Superior Court Judges. They gave the subject very careful thought and finally evolved the present amendment. It is known as the Grandfather Clause, and permits all citizens, whether or not they could read or write, to vote in future elections, whose grandfathers possessed the right prior to the year, 1868; but it prohibits any elector from voting in future elections, unless he is able to
read or write any clause in the Constitution of this state. The amendment was termed the educational test for suffrage, but was aimed chiefly as a protection to the eastern counties to rid them of ignorant, negro domination. The voters of western North Carolina had to have the purpose of the amendment explained to them, in order to induce them to support it. Living as I had, all my life, in the negro belt, and being well informed, by actual experiences, of the effects of the negro domination in county and municipal governments, the State Democratic Executive Committee sent to me, in Washington, an urgent request to go down to my state and canvass the western counties in behalf of the adoption of this amendment. Feeling it a patriotic duty, I complied with their request and started the campaign, first in Buncombe County, speaking at Asheville, Iron Hill, Canton, Mars Hill, and other places; then going to Marshall, Caney River, Burnsville, Cranberry, Banners-Elk, Boone, Blowing Rock, Patterson's Mills, Lenoir, Hickory, Newton, and other places.
I was truly amazed to find out how little our western people knew of the east and our condition. When I arrived at Marshall, Madison County, to my agreeable surprise, I was met by Senator Jeter C. Pritchard, who, although a Republican in politics, was always my friend. He was then in the United States Senate and I was a member of the House—both having been members of the State Legislature. He thought the amendment would build up two political parties of equal intelligence in the state, if adopted; but his party having declared its opposition to it, he took no part in the campaign against it. After hospitably welcoming me to his home-town, he said, “Bellamy, some of my Republican friends have requested me to reply to you today. I told them I would not. You were in my home-town and I was going to give you full opportunity to address my people. If I do not go up in the court-room and you fail to see me there, you will know the reason.”
I had a large audience composed principally of Republicans—Madison County being largely Republican in its politics. I must have made an impressive speech, showing what negro domination was, telling them nearly all the magistrates of
New Hanover County and other eastern counties were negroes; all of the health officers in Wilmington, whose duties were to inspect the homes of our people, were negroes; all the deputy sheriffs, three out of five county commissioners, a majority of the Board of Aldermen were negroes; and the insolence of the rank and file of the negro majority was so intolerable that it was unsafe for a lady to walk on the side-walk without a male escort. Under their control, our taxes were so high that they were almost confiscatory. The audience paid close attention, seemed greatly pleased, and willing to be informed. After the speaking was over, and I descended the stairway, Senator Pritchard came up to me, laughing heartily, and said, “Bellamy, I have a good joke on you.” “What is it, Senator?” I asked. “One of my Republican friends from Caney River, Burleson, was asked how he liked your speech. He said, ‘Senator, I have heard many damn lies told in my life, but that fellow Bellamy's speech today was the damnedest lie I ever did hear’.”
This shows how little the West knew of our condition and also how necessary it was to send someone there to acquaint them with it; like comments were made after hearing me at other places. The speeches must have had good effect, because after I had spoken at Marshall and other places, the Republican party sent Honorable J. J. Britt to reply to me at other speaking appointments. He was a very formidable stump speaker, and was a foeman worthy of his steel; but with all his ability and versatility, he could not stem the tide that had set in for the adoption of the amendment.
Upon reaching a station, on my return, near Statesville, there got on the train the Honorable Romulus Z. Linney, a very thickset man, whom the people of his section called the “Bull of the Brushes.” He had spoken, that day, against the amendment, somewhere in Gaston County. Linney knew me very well, and soon accosted me and asked what I was doing up there. Linney was very dirty in his apparel, and his clothes and face were besmeared with a thick, yellow substance. I asked him, “What's the matter, Linney?” He replied that he had spoken that evening in Gaston County and the audience was composed of white men. They would heckle him, constantly
interrupting him, and he had to make reply, which they did not relish. Then they began to throw rotten eggs, so many and so rapidly that he was forced to stop speaking and leave the stand. They cried out, “Lynch him, damn him, lynch him.” He said, “This was the first time I ever heard a seething mob cry out such threats. I am at least alive! You call this a free country! What do you think of such treatment?” I said, “Well, Linney, I think you deserved it. I have been with you in many Democratic State Conventions, and heard your skyscraping eloquence, particularly when you placed in nomination George N. Folk, for Chief-Justice. As a Democrat, you out-heroded Herod! Today, you have been before these same people, advocating the perpetuation of Negro Supremacy in the East! Don't you think you really deserved it?” “Of course not,” he replied. The train started off, and we were separated.
A notable occasion, in the year 1900, was a banquet that was given by Mr. Luther Koontz, of the firm of Koontz Brothers, Bankers of New York. They had large interests in Charlottesville, Virginia, and their counsel, in Charlottesville, was my old friend, R. T. W. Duke, Jr. He came to Washington, and called on the University of Virginia graduates in Congress, and invited them to a banquet to be held at Cabin John—the banquet being given in their honor. It was a renowned gathering; there were present, Joseph W. Bailey, of Texas, a Democratic leader in the House, afterwards a leader in the Senate; John Sharp Williams, of Mississippi; William Elliott, of South Carolina; Claude Swanson, of Virginia; Julian M. Quarles, of Virginia; John F. Rixey, of Virginia; James Haym, of Virginia; Senator Thomas S. Martin, of Virginia; Gaston Robbins, of Alabama; Oscar Underwood, of Alabama; and a number of other representatives from Georgia, Florida, Mississippi and Louisiana. As I recall, there were twenty-nine graduates of the University of Virginia then in Congress, which was double the number of any other—University of Harvard, Yale or Princeton. Senator Thomas S. Martin presided as Toastmaster, and was the first one I ever saw who toasted with water instead of alcoholic liquor. At that time he had become responsive to the demands of the Prohibitionists.
and tried to set an example for the others present! Not one of us followed his course in using water instead of delightful beverages!
Often, in Washington, after a day of labor in the House, I would take an interest in a game of cards at the Hotel, with General Grosvenor of Ohio, Joseph G. Cannon of Illinois, James S. Sherman of New York, or Mr. Duell of the Patent Office. One evening, Mr. Duell came late and remarked that he had had a very laborious day; he had just completed a list of the number of inventions, for which patents had been secured during the past two years. It had seemed very singular to him that the number granted in the United States to Americans more than doubled those granted in the English, French, German or Russian Government Patent Departments. I asked him if he could explain why that was. He said, “Certainly; the American people have more inventive minds than any nation in the world, because the very freedom of their lives inculcates experimentation. Americans are the composition of many different nationalities, having in their veins the blood of the English, Scotch, French, German, Italian, Russian, and Dutch peoples. By reason of this cross breeding, a nation has been produced whose mental and physical capacity is strikingly alert and strong.” He stated further that the English race had no such crossing for many generations, nor had the French, Italian or German races. America had become the melting pot of the World.
During the 57th Congress, Joseph G. Cannon once gave me a little of his history. He said he was born in Guilford County, North Carolina, in the Quaker settlement near New Garden; that his parents had lived there for a number of years. They were bitterly opposed to slavery, and were really what were called abolitionists. On account of their views on this subject, the people made it very uncomfortable for them, and when he was about ten years of age the family decided to leave North Carolina and go West, to Illinois. He recollected, well, assisting his parents to load a prairie schooner and depart for the new home, which his father had already selected. They crossed a river, that was called Dan River, in a ferry flatboat. The river was as still and placid as glass,
and looking over the side of the flat his form and the shadow of the wagon were reflected in the water. A feeling of sadness came over him on leaving his home, and that was the last he ever remembered of North Carolina. He had never been back since. This conversation I detailed to Mr. Hilderbrand, the reporter, afterwards editor and owner of the Greensboro News, and suggested the propriety of inviting Uncle Joe, as he was familiarly called, to visit North Carolina. My suggestion was taken, and he came to the state and delivered several addresses—one at the Guilford Courthouse Battle Ground, near Greensboro.
Joseph G. Cannon was a very remarkable man. He had represented his district for a great many years. He was not an eloquent speaker, but a practical and forceful one, and a good business man. He had been a Chairman of the Committee on Appropriations, for many years, and was such a master of details that he could tell offhand what any department of the government needed and the cost, and spoke of millions and billions of dollars in the same way that I would speak of dollars and cents. The Appropriation Bill was always incomprehensible to me.
One evening, I asked Mr. Cannon, who was then Chairman of the Republican Caucus, if he would not have, for my sake, Honorable John H. Small, Representative from North Carolina, appointed to the Committee on Rivers and Harbors. He paused a moment and said to me, “Bellamy, is that fellow Small the man who is so crazy about the Inland Water Canal?” I said, “Yes, sir, he is very strongly in favor of it.” He continued, “I am willing to do you any personal favor I can, but I will not have Small appointed as a member of that Committee. I regard the scheme of the Inland Water Canal as a damn vagary! It is nothing but an attempt on the part of Congressmen, both Republicans and Democrats, to logroll and get appropriations for their districts when they are not needed. Such a canal would be of no use to the Government in time of war. It will not be deep enough to float a battleship, and no defense to the threatened action of Japan towards the United States. If the Japanese ever attack us, they will not come across the ocean, but will strike our weakest
point—the Philippines and Hawaiian Islands. I will do nothing that appears to encourage this log-rolling scheme.”
It is remarkable that Richmond Pearson Hobson, as early as 1898, foresaw the trouble we were going to have with Japan. Hobson was an officer of the United States Navy, on the Flag Ship “New York,” who won fame by sinking the collier “Merrimac,” at the entrance of Santiago Harbor, in 1898, to prevent the escape of Cerveras fleet. The American fleet destroyed these ships as they came out of the harbor. Hobson became familiar with the Philippines and the Japanese, when he was stationed out there, engaged in raising and refitting the sunken Spanish ships. He resigned from the Navy in 1903, and became a public lecturer—afterwards was prominent in Alabama politics.
As a lecturer, he constantly warned people and the Government of the United States against the insiduous and treacherous Japanese and said war with them was inescapable. The warning was repeated so often that the public began to think it was an insane hobby with him. He was then elected a member of Congress from Alabama in 1906, and, as I recall, for several terms thereafter. While in Congress, he continued to warn us, and advised us to prepare for an inevitable conflict! Subsequent events have shown how right he was.
I knew Admiral Hobson, personally. He was a very brilliant and entertaining conversationist. He took up his residence in New York and there married a very rich woman. Returning to his home one evening, he dropped dead on the door step, from heart failure.
The above items were dictated in the summer of 1941; it is remarkable how prophetic were the views of both Honorable Joseph G. Cannon, and Honorable Richmond P. Hobson on the action of Japan, on December 7th, 1941. Secretary Hull was right in thinking that Japan was a civilized nation, and that while she was in the act of negotiating a Peace Treaty she would observe the custom of civilized nations in abstaining from any hostile action until the treaty was confirmed or abrogated. By the precipitate conflict which she began without warning, she has become an outlawed, savage
nation, and should be treated as such, by the American Navy and Army.
W. A. Hilderbrand, of whom I have spoken, was a Republican in politics and during the years 1899-1901 was the correspondent, in Washington, D. C., of the Greensboro Daily News. Mr. Hilderbrand was a very fair and important reporter—gave the Democrats from North Carolina splendid notices and comments on speeches and Congressional services. I have not seen him in nearly forty years, but while in Raleigh, recently, I learned that he is still living and a correspondent for the Greensboro paper. I hope he will be spared for many years to come, to serve his people and enjoy for himself health and happiness.
Among my achievements in the 56th and 57th Congress, I can note the following: The Federal laws prohibited National Banks from making a loan exceeding ten per cent of their capital stock. This amount was rather too small to give substantial aid to enterprises. So I drew a bill to allow National Banks to lend ten per cent of their combined capital and surplus, which in many instances doubled the amount of the loan. Before introducing the bill, however, I went to the Treasury Department and called on Lyman J. Gage, then Secretary of the Treasury, and discussed the matter with him. He highly approved of the idea, and said it was singular that it had not been thought of before. He advised me to tell the chairman of the Banking Committee of the House that in his opinion it was a worthy bill and that the committee should support it. The bill was passed unanimously by the Banking and Currency Committee, and by the House. Then it was sent to the Senate, passed, and became law.
I also introduced, towards the end of the last session, a bill to obtain an appropriation to make Moore's Creek Battle Ground a National Park. It was favored by the committee, but my term in Congress having ceased, it did not go to the Senate and consequently did not become law until my successor re-introduced it and secured the appropriation.
Likewise, I introduced a bill to erect an equestrian statue to General Robert Howe in the City of Wilmington, North Carolina. Howe was a Major-General of the American Forces under General Washington, who was in command at Norfork, Savannah and Charleston, and was sent by General Washington to suppress the whiskey insurrection in Pennsylvania. He was at one time in charge of the West Point Military Fortifications, but through the machinations of Benedict Arnold and his friends, he was transferred, and Arnold assigned to the post. It was while here that Arnold betrayed his country to the British.
I made a lengthy speech on the career of General Howe in the House, which is recorded in the Congressional Record. I contended that Wilmington was the scene of many of his
achievements, and the largest city, then, in the state, and it would be the appropriate place to erect the statue; but my going out of Congress prevented the bill from being presented to the Senate and it never became law.
I also made a speech on the Croatan Indians, which I delivered first before the Committee on Indian Affairs, and then, at the request of the committee, delivered it in the House. This speech attracted favorable comment in the press of the whole country; it is set forth in the Congressional Record.
In that Congress was John Sharp Williams, whom I knew intimately; in fact he was my classmate at the University of Virginia. After receiving his degree at the University of Virginia, he took a post-graduate course at Heidelburg, Germany, and at other European institutions. He was an exceedingly well informed man and a gifted orator; I was very fond of him.
On one occasion, a Representative from Ohio, Mr. Warner, made a very bitter attack on the South for tolerating and engaging in lynching. After he had concluded his speech, John Sharp Williams, though scarcely able to stand alone by reason of his condition, replied to Warner, making a most brilliant fifteen-minute speech in defense of the South in its determination to protect its women and its civilization, that I have ever heard on the floor of Congress, or any other place! His explanation of the South's attitude on lynching was magnificent!
John Sharp Williams’ forbears were natives of Yadkin County, North Carolina, and he had near relatives living there; particularly Glenn Williams, the son of Nick Williams, who was a large manufacturer of whiskey and brandy. Glenn, being fond and proud of John Sharp Williams, kept him supplied with a keg of corn whiskey most of the time he was in Washington. However, it did not interfere with his achievements. When I congratulated him for having made that wonderful speech in reply to Warner, he remarked, “Bellamy, Old Boy, Williams didn't make that speech! North Carolina corn made it!”
Sharp Williams afterwards was sent to the Senate, and as we all know, he was a very learnéd, able, and conspicuous
member of that body. Sharp was a very lovable companion and was one of the most accommodating men I ever knew. They tell a joke on him; once, he went down to the Congressional Barber Shop, and one of the old barbers who had been there a great many years, while shaving Williams said, “Boss, you does certainly remind me of Daniel Webster; I used to shave him and he was a great man, and you certainly reminds me of him.” Sharp replied and said, “Jim, in what respect do I remind you of him? Do I look like him?” “No, not xactly so.” “Do I talk like him?” “No, not xactly that.” “Does my hair grow like his?” “No, not xactly.” “Well, pray tell me, why do I remind you of him?” “Well, Boss, your breath always smells jest like Daniel Webster's!”
There were many very splendid North Carolinians residing in Washington when I was in Congress. Colonel John R. Morehead, of Charlotte, and his beautiful and gifted wife were living on Farragut Square. She was a charming entertainer! She called me her Congressman, and frequently invited me to her entertainments. When she gave an entertainment, she not only included prominent members of the Supreme Court and Cabinet members, but, also, the most distinguished women in Washington. On one particular occasion, I went to her home, and, with the other gentlemen, was conducted upstairs, by a man-in-livery, to the gentlemen's room. The ladies had gone down first and into the parlors. At the foot of the stairs was an urn, and when the men descended, each gentleman was expected to take, from the urn, a slip containing the name of his partner of the evening. That night, I drew the name of Mrs. Vinnie Ream Hoxie, the wife of General Hoxie, of the United States Army. I was greatly honored by having her as partner, as she was the life of the whole party. From that evening, I began to know and visit Mrs. Hoxie quite often. Her residence was near Mrs. Morehead's, and she had quite a museum of works of art of her own hand and production—all of which I greatly admired. On one occasion she told me the history of her life. She said she was born and raised in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, the home of Thad Stevens. I will say, in passing, that Thad Stevens was a great Southern hater, and was a member of Congress during the Civil War, and in Reconstruction
days. He not only advocated social equality of the whites and negroes, but became such a bitter foe of the Southern people that he made a speech in Congress opposing readmission of the Southern States into the Union; he said that they all had been guilty of treason, and should be thrown into territories and forever kept there, and made to eat the fruits of their foul rebellion! However, Mrs. Hoxie said he was a very kind hearted man; that once she went to Washington to visit and was entertained by him. It was during the life of President Abraham Lincoln. He took her to the Capitol where there was an artist modeling a bust of the President. Seeing him taking the fuller's earth and molding it into forms, she remarked to Mr. Stevens and the artist, “I believe I can do that.” The artist said, “Young lady, come behind here and see what you can do.” She said she went, got some of the same clay, and began forming the mouth and brow of Lincoln. Mr. Stevens said, “Vinnie, where did you ever learn to do this?” “At home, in Chambersburg,” she replied. “As a girl, I used to go into the ditches, get clay and make it into forms of baby heads, horses, and animals, until I became quite proficient. Seeing this artist molding the features of a man, I knew that I could do it, also.” So she continued, and almost completed a new bust of President Lincoln, copying his. Mr. Stevens took her to see the President and told him of her talent; they decided, then and there, to raise a purse of money, to be used in sending her to Rome, where she could perfect herself in sculpture, modeling and painting. She remained in Italy, pursuing her art, for two or three years. When the war was over, she came back to America, and located in Washington, and there she modeled a number of statues. I think she told me the equestrian statue of General Hancock of Pennsylvania, and of Admiral Farragut, on Farragut Square, were two pieces of her work. She had a studio at her residence filled with the most elegant works of art, chiseled by her, out of Italian Carrara Marble—statues of Ceres, Castor and Pollux, and numerous other mythological characters, besides a number of very splendid oil paintings. She was a very noted and celebrated artist.
Some years after this, on a business trip to Washington, I met General Hoxie in President Taft's office at the White House, and asked him about Mrs. Hoxie; he told me that she had died, and he was now alone. This association and acquaintance I always highly appreciated.
During those years, I occasionally attended the races at Benning's Race Course, just outside of Washington, and I could not resist the temptation of occasionally indulging in putting a little stake on the favorite horse. In using my own judgment, I was not unsuccessful! But one evening, Robert L. Henry, of Texas, whose friendship I had made, came to me and asked if I would be one of a party of five to go to the races the next afternoon. He said the manager of the Race Course was Colonel Tom Ochiltree, of Texas, who was one of his constituents, and he had promised to give him a tip for a party of his Congressional friends. Henry invited Ollie Belmont (O. H. P. Belmont, Jr.), Congressman Scudder Townsend, and George B. McLelland, of New York, as the other three members of the party. So we went out together, and Henry took us to the paddock, where the horses were being groomed, and introduced us each to Colonel Ochiltree, and told him we were a party of five and were going to put up five hundred dollars in a pool, to win some money. He said, “Colonel Ochiltree, please give us a tip as to what horse we should select.” “Congressmen,” he answered, “your judgment is as good as mine and I can't advise you.” “As you will not advise us,” continued Henry, “perhaps you will tell us the horse you personally would bet on?” He hesitated and said, “I really don't know, but if I were going to bet, I would put my money on the gelding, ‘Flying Cloud’.” So we left the paddock and took our seats on the grand stand, having put up one hundred dollars each, feeling confident we were going to win big money! When the race ended, “Flying Cloud” came out the very last horse! This incident put an end to my getting tips and also my betting on horse races. Never since have I indulged in the sport.
During my terms in Congress, in the administrations of McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt, there frequently came to see me, from Baltimore, Theodore Marburg, who married a near neighbor of mine in Wilmington, North Carolina. Mr.
Marburg is a splendid gentleman, and he showed me many courtesies, which I have always appreciated. He was afterwards appointed Minister to The Hague, Holland, and displayed very great qualifications as a representative of his Government at the Court of Wilhelmina. Dr. Marburg is quite an author, and his productions show evidence of great literary attainment.
While a member of this Congress I gained the friendship of Congressman Frank Wheeler, of Bay City, Michigan. He was a man of wealth and a ship-builder in northern Michigan. He told me he had built for the Government two or more Revenue Cutters at his shipyards. Among these were the Cherokee and the Modoc, which were stationed from time to time in Wilmington. In building these ships under contract, he was not mindful of the fact, as it proved after their completion, that they were too long and of too great draft to pass through the “Soo Canal” without injury, as his company was required to do by their contract. Therefore, they had to cut the ships into two pieces, building bulk heads in the end of each, putting the parts through the Sault Saint Marie Canal, called the “Soo Canal,” later riveting them together again, and carrying them through the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean. It was intensely interesting to hear him narrate experiences and explanations of his work.
Mr. Wheeler once asked me if I knew of any large tract of timber land in North Carolina that he could purchase. I told him of the Green Swamp tract of about two hundred thousand acres, in Brunswick and Columbus Counties, not far from Wilmington. He came down South with me, on one of the week-ends, and I bought for him the Green Swamp land from John J. Wolfenden, of New Bern, North Carolina, for the sum of sixty thousand dollars. Shortly thereafter, Wheeler sold it to some Detroit capitalists for one hundred and fifty thousand dollars. They formed and operated the Waccamaw Land and Lumber Company, which I chartered for them.
He paid me quite a handsome fee for my services, one of the largest I ever received. While in Wilmington, we spent a night at my summer home on Wrightsville Beach. The next morning, I sent for Henry Brewington, a negro valet, to serve
us at the cottage. While Henry was blacking our shoes, I said to Wheeler, “This man, polishing your shoes, was once a Republican magistrate, and I have tried cases before him, and always addressed him, ‘May it please your Honor.’ Isn't that so, Henry?” He replied, “Yes, Sir, and I always sided with Mr. Bellamy, for he is a good man.” I said, “Wheeler, this same man was a member of the Legislature, a member of the Board of Aldermen, a Deputy Sheriff, and a member of the County Commissioners.” “Well, Bellamy,” he said, “I am a Republican, but I can't blame your people for ridding yourselves of ignorant negro domination. If I lived in the South, I would be as strong a Democrat as you are.”
There were two officials of the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad that I saw a great deal of in my business and social life of that period. They were President Warren G. Elliott, of the Coast Line Railroad, and Henry Walters, President of the Atlantic Coast Line, of Connecticut.
President Elliott was a splendid railroad executive. He was not only a master of detail of the internal organization of his company, but a good mixer and outside manager of the affairs of his road, in contact with rival transportation companies. He was the medium by which I was employed by the State Trust Company, of New York, to file a bill in equity to foreclose the deed of trust made by the Wilmington, Onslow and East Carolina Railroad, extending from Wilmington to New Bern. Nearly all of the bonds of this road were owned by Henry Walters. The Railroad Company, as I have always understood, made nearly a half-million dollars in the transaction. The fixing of my fee for services I agreed, in advance, to leave to Mr. Walters, and I say here he paid me the largest fee I ever made in the practice of law, and just about double what I expected. I knew Mr. Walters when he was in the engineer corps of the railroad, under Captain Fleming Gardner, chief engineer, and I saw a great deal of him when they were building what is known as the Wilson Short Cut. He was a splendid gentleman, sincere and approachable, without ostentation, and yet at that time was one of the wealthiest men of the South. He was a very able financier, and his fidelity to his friends was never surpassed by any one.
On account of the litigation between the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad Company and the Seaboard Air Line Railway, having been elected District Counsel of the Seaboard, I severed my connection with the Coast Line and accepted the position with the Seaboard which I have ever since held.
In the course of my experience with the Seaboard, I was thrown into contact with two very remarkable men, one the very able and safe adviser of the Seaboard, as its General Counsel, Judge Leigh R. Watts, and the other, President W. J. Harrihan, of that system. Judge Watts was not only an able lawyer, but had been with the Seaboard organization from its incipiency to the development of the present great Seaboard Air Line Railway. He was the only man in the system that knew the manifold details and the legal proceedings conducted by him, that blended all the parts into the whole, present system. I doubt that there is now any man living who is as thoroughly familiar with the history of the development of that system as he was.
The Seaboard has had many presidents who were very able business executives, one of them being Mr. W. J. Harrihan. Mr. Harrihan was a practical man, and the most thoroughly equipped railroad president I ever knew. He was the son of the President of the Illinois Central Railroad, who was killed in an accident on his road, in Illinois. The elder Harrihan began early to have his son trained to the railroad business and to acquaint him with all the details. He had him serve in the shops as a mechanic, a fireman, engineer, baggage master, conductor, and to fill every grade of employment in railroad operation. Mr. Harrihan, after his election as President, went over the whole system, and had meetings of its mechanics, its counsel, officers, and other employees to confer on the needs and improvements of his road. I have known him to get up early in the morning, before the railroad employees went to work, in Wilmington, and walk over the line and inspect the terminals. He immediately settled all litigation that had been pending for years between his road and the other roads and with individuals. He placed much confidence in me and sought from me information and recommendations.
I was once in Charleston, South Carolina, when Mayor John P. Grace, whom I had known in Washington when he was secretary to Congressman William Elliot, invited me to dine with his wife and him, the first day of his marriage. He told me he was very much criticised, in Charleston, for not having ability enough to help improve the city by getging new enterprises and railroad connections. Knowing me as he did, and my connection with the Seaboard, he wanted me to get the Seaboard to extend its lines into Charleston. I promised, as far as I could, to help him. While there, I sat down and wrote to Mr. Harrihan, in Norfolk, Virginia, about the matter and told him that Mayor Grace said that, as an inducement for the Seaboard to extend the line there, he could get large freight pledges. Mr. Harrihan wrote me to tell the mayor to get the pledges and the amounts the merchants were willing to guarantee, and then to write him the extent of these inducements, and what really could be guaranteed. I later sent to Mr. Harrihan the pledges of the merchants, that guaranteed wonderful amounts of freight. In reply, Mr. Harrihan wrote that he would immediately send his railroad representative, Mr. W. R. Bonsal, of Hamlet, to Charleston, to confer with the mayor and merchants. This Bonsal did, and the road was built into Charleston, making the road bed and track the lowest grade of any railroad transporting freight from the North to Florida, and is now the most valuable part of that system. It enables the road to operate its immense, modern locomotives now is use, to transport freight at less cost per mile than any other railroad system. Bringing in this railroad made a popular man of J. P. Grace with his constituents, and helped Charleston in her expansion—both in business and population.
I have stated what splendid aid was given me in my election to the 56th Congress by my college mates of Davidson College, but I must not omit the assistance given me in Mecklenburg County by my friend, Heriot Clarkson. He extended me many courtesies and entertained me at his home, in Charlotte.
The fact that Heriot Clarkson and I were descendants of South Carolinians, brought us together, and his aid in my campaign and the friendship then formed continues to this day.
Heriot Clarkson thereafter became District Solicitor, Mayor of Charlotte, member of the Legislature, Superior Court Judge, and then a Supreme Court Justice, a position he still holds. All these various offices he has ornamented, and his ability as a Supreme Court Justice is recognized for his able opinions, in which he has displayed a humanity and sympathy for his fellowman which will endear him to the hearts of the common people as no other judge has ever done—save that of the versatile Chief-Justice, Walter Clark.
The plantation of Robert Heriot, ancestor of Heriot Clarkson, was on Winyah Bay, adjoining my grandfather's estate, while on the other side was that of Francis Marion. They were all of Huguenot descent. In one of the old text books used by John Bellamy was his maxim, the Huguenot insignia—“Tien ta foi.” Tradition in my father's family was that Heriot, Bellamy, and most of the old families of Charleston and Georgetown were strongly attached to the English Government, and really preferred it to the on-coming Revolution, though they were not Tories in any sense of the word. Francis Marion, however, was strongly antagonistic to the Crown. He was said to have been somewhat impecunious at that time, and when the Revolutionary War broke out, he quickly threw in his lot with the Revolutionists; he formed a cavalry troop, known as Marion's Light Horse, composed of inhabitants of the Georgetown Section and of the Santee and Waccamaw Rivers.
While most of my forefathers were favorable to the retention of British rule, some of them were not. My father's mother, Mary Elizabeth Vaught, was the daughter of Matthew Vaught, of German extraction. He quickly volunteered and joined Marion's Light Horse. When the British invaded South Carolina, at Camden and Eutaw Springs, Vaught was with General Marion's men when he harassed the British by his forays from the swamps of the Santee and the Waccamaw—participating in the Battle of Cowpens and other engagements. Marion's Light Horse encountered Tarleston Cavalry, at Cowpens. Here it was that Matthew Vaught engaged in a hand-to-hand sabre fight, and a British cavalryman practically cut off his left leg! The State of South Carolina afterwards
granted him a pension, which he enjoyed during the remainder of his life.
I have endeavored to verify the location of the plantations of Robert Heriot, John Bellamy and Francis Marion from the records of Georgetown County, but there are no deeds, wills or court proceedings earlier than the year 1865. Georgetown was captured during the Civil War by the Federal troops, and in order to save its records, they were carried to Columbia for safe keeping. When the scourge of the Federal Army fell on Columbia, and Sherman burned it to the ground, I am informed that all of the Georgetown records shared the same fate and were burned to ashes. So, Georgetown fleeing from the enemy, actually “fled from the wrath to come.”
It is to be hoped that, even in a fragmentary way, these records can be restored, for there are many existing and unrecorded deeds and wills which could be found and copies made for the courthouse. These would be very valuable to students in endeavoring to record the pre-Revolutionary history of that part of South Carolina.
In the year 1905, one of the most enterprising citizens of Wilmington, Hugh MacRae, became interested in developing the territory of the counties in the vicinity of the city. He employed a very experienced colonizer, Mr. Fisher, of St. Louis, Missouri, to go to Europe and induce various peoples to emigrate to this region. There came a colony of selected Italians, from Northern Italy, that Mr. MacRae settled about twenty miles north of Wilmington, at a location named St. Helena, on the A. C. L. Railroad; nearby, a colony of Polish people and a colony of Hollanders were put at a place called Van Eden; a colony of Germans, at Delco, called New Berlin; a colony of Englishmen, at Artesia; a colony of Greeks and Hungarians at Castle Hayne—all proving successful with the exception of the English and Italians. Most of the latter, before the First World War, returned to their native lands. These colonists have added greatly to the advantage of our population, have raised the level of agriculture, and developed the land by intense cultivation. They have built attractive homes and church edifices and become the best of citizens, many having accumulated wealth.
Mr. MacRae also induced the United States Government to establish Penderlea, a rural community near Wilmington, on very fertile land and now inhabited by a thrifty population. Developed under Mr. MacRae's direction, it has become probably the most successful rural community yet demonstrated by the Government, and a model for the agricultural sections of the whole country. Thus Mr. MacRae has established himself by reason of his ability, boundless energy, foresight and attractive personality as one of the foremost citizens of North Carolina.
In the year 1907, which was some years after the United States acquired the strip of territory in Panama, over which it desired to construct a canal, there was much controversy between the engineers as to whether the canal should be a sea-level, or a lock, canal. Congress finally adopted the lock canal plan after the committee made a majority report for a sea-level canal, thereby adopting the report of the minority
committee. Colonel George W. Goethals, of the Engineer Corps, with a number of assistants, was put in charge of the work.
Wilmington, a coastal town, had been for centuries the center of the long leaf pine or turpentine-pine industry, that tree being indigenous to the surrounding territory; this city was selected, at that time, by the contractors as the proper location for erecting an immense creosote plant to furnish and treat the timber for use in the canal construction. I recollect that United States Senator Warner Miller, of New York, and General William Mahone, of Virginia, and William P. Canady, then Sergeant-at-Arms of the United States Senate, came here and erected, at heavy cost, one of the local creosote plants of the United States. With a Norwegian by the name of Ludwig Hanson, and Andrew Smith, a Swede, they operated very successfully this plant in treating timber in hermetically sealed retorts and shipped innumerable cargoes of the material by vessel to Panama. It was said that all the stockholders made very large sums of money out of the enterprise and then sold out their interest in the plant to the two men, Ludwig Hanson and Andrew Smith, both of whom became wealthy. Hanson's descendants own and conduct a smaller creosote industry, in Wilmington, today.
Many of my friends from the East, in 1905, desired me to become a candidate for Governor of North Carolina; they assured me that with the reputation I had made in Congress and canvassing the western counties for the adoption of the Constitutional Amendment disfranchising the ignorant negro, that I was the logical candidate. My friends in Harnett County—Judge J. C. Clifford, Hannibal Godwin, Stanly Worth, Nat Townsend and others—also urged it. But at that time I was largely engaged in the manufacture of cotton goods in Wilmington, and was surety on notes for the mills of about two hundred thousand dollars. If I went into politics then, when the mills were not paying any dividends, and they failed, I would be bankrupt! So I concluded that I could not afford to risk this. Appreciating the honor, I decided to refuse the invitation and declined to run.
On the fiftieth anniversary of the founding of the town of Lillington, I was invited to attend the ceremonies there and make an address on General Alexander Lillington, for whom
the town was named. Arriving on August 2, 1905, I delivered the address—excerpts of which follow:
“Ladies and Gentlemen:
We have assembled on this occasion to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the founding of the Town of Lillington and to commemorate the life and services of the great patriot and soldier in whose honor the village was named.
Situated as it is, on the banks of the Cape Fear River, we are reminded of the fact that nearly every hamlet from Lillington to the sea is associated with some historic incident which had its influence on the revolt of this colony from the government of England and the final wresting of its independence from the Crown.
The banks of the Cape Fear, in Colonial times, were peopled by a race of Englishmen that, for the valor, chivalry, and intelligence of its men, and the purity, culture and patriotism of its women, had never been surpassed by an Anglo-Saxon settlement.
There is something mysterious in the atmosphere which envelopes this region—its great oaks with the trailing moss, its dark swamps of dainty cypress, the aroma and beauty of the long leaf pines, the majestic sweep of the river as it rushes to the sea! The soil which feeds its people, stimulates ambition, excites patriotism, enkindles a pride of state and produces in the inhabitants a yearning for the best of life.
It was this region that produced Robert Howe, and furnished to the Revolution, James Moore, the Ashes, Cornelius Harnett, the Lillingtons, and a host of patriots whose names are indissolubly linked with the great struggle for American Independence. Ever since that period it has furnished men whose impress has been felt in the councils of the state and nation in shaping its policies for the general welfare.
The Province of North Carolina was, from the earliest times, ever jealous of the rights of Englishmen, which had been handed down to its settlers as their inheritance and had been guaranteed to them in the Great Charter of the Forest. It loyally supported the Crown, so long as the inherent rights of the people were respected; but when the home government
taxed the colony without giving it a voice in the enactment of the laws affecting it and deprived it of local self-government, it earnestly and vigorously protested and continued to protest until such proved ineffectual! Revolt and revolution followed which culminated in the establishment of American Independence and the foundation of the government of the American Union, which was then, is now, and ever will be, an emphatic protest and warning against a Colonial system of government.
After the suppression of the insurrection in Alamance, Governor Tryon was transferred to New York as Governor, and was succeeded in the Province of North Carolina by Joshia Martin. Governor Martin was a man of ability and of good character; but his execution of laws was so rigid, and the laws themselves so arbitrary, that these very officers who had been under Tryon, at Alamance, resigned their commissions and entered into an active resistance to the oppressions of the Crown. Thenceforth they devoted their lives, their fortunes and sacred honor to the cause of Independence.
Showing Colonel Lillington's prominence in the scheme and his activity in promoting the cause, as early as January 4, 1775, the freeholders of New Hanover County elected him a member of the Committee of Safety for that county. At all the meetings of the Committee, he was active and wise in its councils and we find him in June, July and October engaged in his duties which had then become so important to the advancement of the cause.
On August 8, 1775, the same day that Governor Martin issued his proclamation denouncing the Mecklenburg Resolves, an election was held in New Hanover County for delegates to attend a Continental Congress at Hillsboro. Col. Lillington was elected by his constituents to this Congress on the 24th of that month, qualified as a member and actively participated in its deliberations, assisting in the preparation of the system of government for the colony. Inheriting a fondness for military life from his ancestry, after the repeal of the Stamp Act, which gave the colony hopes for the enjoyment of a long period of good government from the Crown and especially local self-government, when the War of the Regulators, in Alamance, broke
out, he became a Lieutenant-Colonel under Governor Tryon. With Colonels Ashe and Caswell with the King's forces, he engaged in the battle with the Regulars in May, 1771. It is remarkable to note that in this battle, on the King's side, were Colonel Ashe, Caswell, Kenan, Lillington, Captain Moore and even General Waddell, and others who afterwards became conspicuous leaders in the Revolution! Thus, they exhibited their loyalty and demonstrated the truth of the declaration of Patrick Henry, that in the beginning the patriots “aimed not at Independence.”
Lillington lived in a beautiful mansion on the North East Cape Fear River, one of the best furnished residences in the colony; it was specially noted and commented upon by many of the old residents, some now living, for the secret recesses built as hiding places for the women and children if attacked by hostile Indians, or as a retreat from Tory incursions. Lossing, in his “Field Book of the American Revolution,” gives a picture of it as one of the most notable homes of the colony. Here he lived and, except in the trying times in the field with his troops, led the life of a gentleman, dispensing a most refined and lavish hospitality. General Lillington possessed a splendid figure and carriage. He was six feet in height, had herculean strength, and few men of his day possessed greater personal attraction.
When the year, 1776, was ushered in, it found Governor Martin still in refuge on the “Cruiser” on the Cape Fear River, endeavoring by proclamation and offers of commissions, to excite the Scotch Highlanders of Cumberland and the Royalists of Orange and Yadkin to rally to the King's standard. The Committee of Safety of the Wilmington District, ever alert in their observance of the Governor's actions, dispatched Colonel Moore, of the First Regiment of Continental troops, with his regiment, and the Minute Men of the Wilmington District, under Colonel Alexander Lillington; Colonel Ashe, with his Volunteers, and Colonel Kenan, with his Militia, to Rock Fish, just below Cross Creek. The Highlanders had assembled under General McDonald with the view of being led to Governor Martin, at Brunswick, to form a junction with the forces of
Sir Henry Clinton, which were expected there, to begin a campaign for the subjugation of the colony.
General McDonald with his Tory forces started out for Wilmington, when General Moore dispatched Colonels Lillington and Ashe to Moore's Creek Bridge. A special courier was sent to Colonel Caswell, who had been sent by the Committee of Safety of the New Bern District to join General Moore's forces, to take possession of Corbett Ferry, while Colonel Thackston was ordered to take possession of Cross Creek, to cut off McDonald's return.
Colonel Lillington had, in the early evening of the 26th of February, arrived at Moore's Creek Bridge, crossed it, and immediately began to throw up entrenchments, both near to and about one hundred yards from the bridge on a sandy elevation. Colonel Caswell, finding that General McDonald's forces had crossed Black River about five miles above him, withdrew his forces after night and proceeded to reinforce Colonel Lillington, already entrenched at the bridge. After Caswell and his men crossed over, Colonel Lillington directed the bridge to be torn up by his forces and the girders to be greased with tallow and saturated with soft soap, which he had procured that evening from the patriotic women living in the neighborhood! There the two armies lay on their arms during the night of the 26th. On the morning of the 27th, the Highlanders, who were no strangers to war, many of whom had been at Culloden and had had military training besides, determined to give battle, expecting an easy victory over the raw and undisciplined patriots. At early dawn the sound of the pibroch was heard and the weird strains of the bagpipe urged the 1,800 Tories to the fray. They rushed forward to the attack, led by Captains McLeod and John Campbell, second in command. They crossed the sleepers, the redoubtable Scotchmen following, and finding a small entrenchment next to the bridge empty, advanced to within thirty paces of the breastworks behind which Colonel Lillington and the forces of Colonel Caswell were posted.
Immediately, Colonel Lillington led the advance, his men enthusiastically following him. There in the forefront, with the silver crescent from his family escutcheon glittering on
his hat in the morning sun, he drove back the foe, putting them to flight, killing and wounding thirty Tories, a number shot from the bridge and falling into the creek, and capturing eight hundred and fifty, together with guns, ammunition, wagons, and money! The student of history is familiar with the great victory!
While the movement of the troops and the assignment of the different officers to the positions on the river and at the bridge was made by Colonel James Moore, to whom all honor should be given, and while Colonel Caswell assisted in the battle, history and tradition alike show that Colonel Lillington was the hero, the prominent and conspicuous figure of the Battle of the Bridge; and yet so early in history the Sampson and Schley procedure takes place!
On the 2nd of March, Colonel James Moore, in command, reports the battle to President Harnett, of the Provincial Council, mentioning both Caswell and Lillington, and on March 4th the Congress passed a resolution of thanks to Colonel James Moore and all the brave officers and soldiers under him!
But it remained for Colonel Caswell, instead of reporting the engagement, if he reported at all, to Colonel Moore, his superior officer, to make a report to the Provincial Council, and Congress passed a resolution thanking “Colonel Caswell and the brave officers and soldiers under his command.” But his contemporaries as well as all students of history accorded the chief glory of the battle to Colonel Alexander Lillington! He was the hero of the Battle of the Bridge.
The effect of this battle on the colony was electrical and far-reaching in its consequences. It not only suppressed the Tory uprising, but it gave confidence and hope to the patriot cause, which was felt by the Whig troops whenever led into action, as the Revolution progressed.
The memory of the Battle of the Bridge is therefore treasured not only by the inhabitants of Cape Fear who have a just pride in the achievements of their ancestors, but it is regarded in history as a pivotal point in the progress of the cause of the Revolution. Today, in looking back through the vista of time, we can readily see if the Tory forces had been augmented by active Loyalists and by lukewarm Whigs, a
junction would have been formed of the Loyalists throughout the whole colony with the forces of Sir Henry Clinton and Cornwallis on the Cape Fear, and long indeed would have been the struggle to dislodge the British from the Province, and possibly Independence lost to the dispirited patriots.
Colonel Lillington wore his honors with modesty, which had ever been a prominent element of his character and which is always associated with the truly brave and genuine hero. It is said of him that modesty was an inherited characteristic. No Lillington ever sought honor except as it lay in the path of duty; or ever complained if preferment did not come, or ever heralded his performances.
The Provincial Congress then decided to furnish and equip a number of regiments for the common cause. On April 15, 1776, Alexander Lillington was appointed Colonel of the Sixth Regiment, and served with his command in the defense of the Province of North Carolina.
To the Legislature of 1777, the first Legislature assembled after the election of a governor, Colonel Lillington was sent by New Hanover County to the House of Commons, and took an active part in its proceedings, aided in passing the urgent legislation needed for the struggling colonists.
The Province with its new governor had begun to have peace at home, although the scenes of war were transferred to other portions of the Union. Really, from the 29th of May 1776, when the British fleet with Josiah Martin, Sir Henry Clinton, and Cornwallis sailed away from the Cape Fear River, the last vestige of Royal power ceased, and the Province of North Carolina became quiet and was without interference from the Royal Government until 1781.
During this period, soon after the expiration of his term in the Legislature of 1777, Colonel Lillington was made Brigadier-General, and placed in charge of the Wilmington Military District. Here he was kept busy in recruiting his forces and preparing them by drill and otherwise to repel any return of the British force to the Cape Fear, and in suppressing any sporadic Tory uprising, which constantly threatened.
As soon as the capture of Wilmington by Major Craig had been made, the news spread through the upper Cape Fear. The irrepressible Scotch Tory, whose loyalty had been smoldering, encouraged by the emissaries of Major Craig, who were sent among them secretly with assistance, began to embody again; General Lillington with his corps was sent to Cross Creek to overawe or dissuade them from their purpose, and so successful was he, by his firm and kindly course toward them, that when a month later Cornwallis went to Cross Creek, on his march to Wilmington from Guilford Court House, these loyalists had become active or passive Whigs. Cornwallis, in a letter written to General Clinton, stated that ‘North Carolina is, of all the Provinces of America, the most difficult to attack, unless material assistance could be secured from the inhabitants, the contrary of which I have sufficiently experienced’.
When Cornwallis, on April 7, 1781, reached Wilmington and joined Major Craig, General Lillington was directed to watch Cornwallis and confine the incursion of Craig and his men to as narrow a compass as possible. Cornwallis, however, refreshed his men and replenished his commissary, having his Headquarters at the present residence of Mrs. W. H. McCreary, now the Domicile of the North Carolina Society of Colonial Dames of America, where he remained for eighteen days, and then began his last march to Virginia. In October of the same year, he surrendered his forces at Yorktown.
On his march northward, he was constantly harassed by General Lillington's troops without any decisive engagement—they were short of ammunition. In fact, in a letter to the governor he stated that his force was so reduced in ammunition that it had but one round left.
When, on the 17th of April, Cornwallis had passed McLean's Bridge, Major Craig set out with a considerable force to capture New Bern. Learning this, Lillington diverted his troops, at once, to the pursuit of Craig. At Richlands, Onslow County, he found him advancing with eight hundred Tories and Regulars from Rutherford's Mills; upon the marching of Colonel Caswell from New Bern to join Colonel Kenan in Duplin, and thus form a junction with Lillington, Craig returned to Wilmington. During the period small engagements took place,
notably the engagement at Elizabethtown, which was so gallantly captured by Colonel Brown and his compatriots, and then at Rock Fish Creek, in Duplin, where the Whig forces were repulsed with a loss of thirty killed.
Major Craig, the British commander at Wilmington, was not idle in his actions against the Whig forces. He sent out foraging parties in all directions, and a number of these penetrated far into the interior of the state. One proceeded as far as Hillsboro, under the command of the notorious David Fanning and a Scotch Tory, Hector McNeill, and there captured and carried away Governor Thomas Burke, and other prominent Whigs, and speedily took them to Wilmington, where they were imprisoned and afterwards sent to Charleston for more secure detention. Another captured the great patriot and leader, Cornelius Harnett, bound him with cords. With his arms pinioned behind him, they carried him on horseback to Wilmington, where he died in captivity and was buried by the hands of friends, under Tory supervision, in the old St. James's Churchyard, where his remains still lie. Another party captured General Ashe, who was likewise spirited off to Wilmington, and there imprisoned him with other Whigs in the common gaol; he contracted a virulent case of smallpox, and was only released in time to die at home, near Clinton, a few days after his return.
Tradition says that Lillington was more than once saved from the torch of the British by a Tory who had ever been his friend and admirer. Here in the bosom of his family, rich in the affections of his countrymen, having his name deeply engraved on the scroll of history, at peace with all mankind, he was gathered to his fathers. The following inscription was carved by his friends and neighbors on his tomb:
‘Beneath this stone lie the mortal remains of General Alexander Lillington, a soldier of the Revolution who died in 1786. He commanded the American Forces at the Battle of Moore's Creek, on February 27, 1776, and by his military skill and cool courage in the field at the head of his troops, secured a complete and decisive victory. He united an incorruptible integrity and a devoted self-sacrificing
patriotism. He was a genuine lover of Liberty. He imperilled his all to secure the Independence of his Country, and died a good old age, bequeathing to his posterity, the remembrances of his virtues’.”
I have spoken of my connection with the politics of North Carolina, and of my having been a delegate-at-large at the Chicago Convention that nominated Grover Cleveland, in 1892. I was also a delegate to the Convention at Denver, Colorado, 1908, that nominated Bryan for the third time. I felt as a Democrat that it would be unwise for the Democratic Party to nominate Mr. Bryan again, after losing two other elections. So when the Convention met in Denver, I was placed on the Committee on Credentials and we had to decide the contests over certain delegates. The Bryanites, seeing it would be impossible for them to get a two-thirds majority for the third time, determined to contest the seats of the delegates from Pennsylvania, who were headed by Joseph Guffey and opposed by Mr. Bryan's leaders. Mr. Guffey, being a leading exponent of Democracy, by his wealth, liberality and influence kept up a splendid Democratic organization in Pennsylvania, which held in check the vast Republican vote of that state. He thought Bryan's nomination would be suicidal for the Democratic Party. I, myself, held the same views. The Bryanites contested the seats of the delegates from Pennsylvania, claiming that they were not Democrats but were elected by a combination of Republicans and Democrats led by Joseph Guffey; there was neither truth nor justice in their contention. The committee was composed of a large majority of Bryanites, with Mr. Moody, of Massachusetts, as chairman, evidently selected for the sole purpose of getting Bryan the two-thirds vote, unseated the entire Pennsylvania Delegation of anti-Bryanites, and seated the anti-Guffey Delegation, who were elected neither legally nor morally! Such is the result of politics. They likewise unseated, from Utah, certain anti-Bryan delegates and put in Bryan delegates from that state and in that way got a two-thirds majority of the votes in the Convention.
Oscar Strauss, of Maryland, and I, with some others, filed a minority report against the unseating of the Guffey delegates, and when it came to the report on the floor of the Convention recommending the unseating of the Guffey delegates and seating of the Bryan ones, I took the rostrum in opposition to
the report of the majority of the committee. There was said to have been forty thousand people in that Convention Hall, and I arose before that body to oppose this majority report.
The substance of my remarks was that it was a trite and true saying of the turf that no one will bet on a horse that has been twice beaten! Our party had nominated William Jennings Bryan twice for President, and he had carried our banner down to inglorious defeat; it was absolutely suicidal to nominate him for the third time; we would again be defeated. It was wrong to unseat the delegates from Pennsylvania, who were honestly elected; the only reason for unseating being that they were denounced as the mouthpiece of the Standard Oil Company of Pennsylvania. The speaker declared that the Guffeyites were in no sense representatives of the Oil Company, but were the mainstay of Democracy in Pennsylvania, and as good Democrats as he, or any others in that Convention. Then the Bryanites began to hiss the speaker, but he, nevertheless, continued his remarks. Of course he could not make sufficient impression to reverse or defeat the majority report of the Committee on Credentials. He hoped the Convention would consider the best interests of the Democratic Party and allow these men, who were honestly elected, to retain their seats.
Whenever the speaker referred to the Guffeyites as good Democrats, the Bryanites would hiss him. The Convention got into such a noisy uproar that the speaker could not proceed, so he sat down. Then Governor Haskell, of Oklahoma, leader of the Bryan supporters, took the stage to reply to the gentleman from North Carolina; he told the Convention that he denied that the Guffey delegates were as good Democrats as he or the speaker. Just then the Guffey delegates began to hiss Governor Haskell and for fifteen minutes didn't allow him to proceed; but when it subsided, Haskell said that this sizzling from the Standard Oil delegates didn't intimidate him in the least; he had frequently heard that hissing sound escaping from oil pipes! This put the Convention into great laughter and was considered quite a hit! But the Convention nominated Mr. Bryan, and both he and our party were again very badly defeated, that fall. It took the election of Woodrow Wilson, some years after that,
to restore Democracy to its proper place in administering the affairs of the government.
I was again a delegate to the Democratic Convention of 1920, in San Francisco, that nominated Cox and Roosevelt for President and Vice-President. I was chairman of the caucus of delegates favoring the nomination of Senator W. G. McAdoo, Wilson's son-in-law, for the Presidency; but the press of California seemed very hostile to him and came out in editorials and hand bills accusing Wilson of trying to perpetuate the Wilson dynasty and make his son-in-law, the Prince Imperial, his successor as President of the United States. Anyway, McAdoo, our candidate, lost, and Governor Cox of Ohio was nominated for President, and Franklin Delano Roosevelt for Vice-President. Both were defeated in the November election by President Harding and Coolidge. On that Convention, Burke Cochran was a delegate from New York. He opposed the adoption of the dry plank in the platform that was proposed by William Jennings Bryan and his delegates. Burke Cochran made one of the ablest speeches for the preservation of the right of personal liberty I have ever heard in any convention. Having known Cochran in Congress for two terms, I went down to the hotel at which he was staying, just below the Convention Hall, and went to his room. I said, “Burke, give me your hand; that speech you made in the Convention Hall, this morning, was the greatest address in behalf of personal liberty that I ever heard.” He said, “Bellamy, I make no impression now in any speech I make. Although the Convention voted down Bryan's Dry Plank Proposal, I was not the cause of it. I am now known as the ‘Leader of the lost causes.’ I opposed Prohibition and it went through the nation and I was slapped in the face for having antagonized it. I opposed William Jennings Bryan and advocated the election of Palmer and Buckner—leading a lost cause, then. I opposed the nomination of Cleveland each time and they rode triumphantly over me every election; today, in the Convention, I simply opposed one of the Bryan fads again. But, Bellamy, my days are numbered; I will go down in history as a leader of the lost causes; nothing that I ever championed met with success.” With it all, I still say that Burke Cochran was really one of the greatest orators who ever figured in public life in America. He not only
had the gift of easy flowing language but he had quite an Irish brogue that added to its attractiveness, and no one could resist listening to his eloquence for that reason. I knew only one other man whose brogue added to the impressiveness of his orations and that was none other than Doctor Charles J. O'Hagen, a prominent physician of Greenville, Pitt County, North Carolina.
I was a great admirer of President Taft, and never went to Washington without calling on him. I looked upon him as a great President, because of his liberal views towards the South. You may recall that he made White, a Democrat and said to have been a Confederate soldier, Chief-Justice of the Supreme Court. He also appointed a Democrat, Judge Lurton, of Tennessee, as United States Judge. After the death of Judge Purnell, of the Federal Court of Eastern North Carolina, I went to Washington and tried to get President Taft to appoint my friend, George Rountree, of Wilmington, to this position of District Judge. While I thought I had impressed him as to my candidate's qualifications, to the surprise of everybody, he did not consider my friend, and also turned down the application of Thomas Settle, a prominent and gifted lawyer, a Republican, and appointed Judge Henry G. Connor, of his own volition, without suggestion from any Democratic or Republican source.
President Taft came to Wilmington on November 9th, 1909, and made an address in front of the City Hall. (The spot is commemorated by a granite tablet.) That evening a banquet was given, in his honor, in the Masonic Temple. Having been a former member of Congress from this District, I was seated at the right of the President. In the course of the evening, I said: “Mr. President, I must congratulate you upon having appointed Henry G. Connor, my friend, Judge of the District Court of Eastern North Carolina; he is a very able, learned and lovable character; I wish to say to you this evening that while you turned down the applications of Mr. Rountree, Mr. Settle and others, and gave this appointment to a man who is a Democrat and on the Supreme Court of this state, I regard it as a very patriotic act!” His reply to me was: “Mr. Bellamy, I appreciate your commendation of my act in the appointment of Judge Connor. You know that I was once a United States Circuit Judge, with jurisdiction in the states of Ohio, Tennessee, Louisiana, and Mississippi,
and I held, frequently, the courts of that circuit, and observed that you Southern people looked upon the United States Courts as unfriendly and foreign tribunals, and were not in sympathy with them—the result of a feeling, doubtless, engendered by the late war. While that idea was natural but ill founded, I was informed and observed that it did exist. The holiest function I have to discharge as President is to appoint judges to pass upon the lives, liberties and property rights of people. I must consider the matter of this appointment very seriously, and act impartially. Judges must have the respect and confidence of the people. I think there should be no politics in the selection of any judge; and in order to restore the confidence of your people in the United States Courts, and to cause the people to feel again they were their own courts, for justice, instead of boards for inquisition, I selected Judge Connor. Having inquired, extensively, I found there was no man in North Carolina that had the confidence, respect and love of the people and with it, possessed such outstanding ability, as Henry G. Connor! He would restore the esteem of your people to the United States Court!” I answered: “Mr. President, your selection was a splendid one, and I must say that Judge Connor has made good; he has popularized the District Court to such an extent that our people now look upon it with the same respect they do our State Courts; and he is regarded as the most esteemed, able, and approachable judge that we have in the United States Courts of North Carolina.” President Taft said, “I feel gratified, Sir, that you think so well of what I have done.” I told my friend, Connor, of this conversation, afterwards, and he was very much pleased and honored by it.
One of the most pleasant episodes of my life was in attending the Peace Conference, in Washington, when Governor Kitchen, in the year 1910, appointed me a delegate to represent North Carolina. At that conference, my friend, Thomas Nelson Page, was a delegate and also Theodore Roosevelt, Mr. Ginn, of Boston, David Starr Jordan, the President of Leland Stanford University, and other leading men. The discussions that took place were highly entertaining and instructive from an international point of view, and my experiences there I still treasure as beneficial to me.
In 1927, I attended the Disarmament Conference at Geneva, Switzerland, called to limit naval armaments. Admiral Hillary F. Jones, representing the American Government, gave me admission to the Hall, which was a great privilege. I enjoyed this Conference, meeting Lord Jellico, Mr. Everard, and other prominent English and Scotch gentlemen, and also the Japanese members, who were unusually pleasant men and spoke very good English. To my surprise, their retinue and guards were very much larger men, and more muscular, than the ordinary Japs we see.
The delegates of the different nations, England, Japan and the United States, could not agree on the number and size of the ships which each wanted to build, and the amount of reduction, and after much parleying they decided the debate was futile. Finally, after several days of useless discussion, they “agreed to disagree” and adjourned, sine die. One of the reporters of the Washington Post saw me and asked me to write my views of the causes of the failure of the conference for his paper, which I did. The article written was published in the Washington Post on August 30th, 1927, and is as follows:
To the Editor of the Washington Post:
Having spent the last three months in Europe, it will not be uninteresting to note a few of the writer's observations as an American who was a looker-on at the Geneva Conference, and who was deeply interested in whatever concerned the welfare and prestige of his nation. It was his good fortune to have been at Geneva during the early days of the Conference for Disarmament. He had the opportunity to meet and be introduced to both the British and Japanese delegates. In personnel, the American Delegation there was the Dean of the Conference. That charming character, Rear-Admiral Hilary F. Jones, with his courtesy and keen introspection, freely received whatever propositions were made, yet acted with the wise and firm determination to allow no advantage to be taken of the American Navy or Nation. There were also Rear-Admiral Long, Rear-Admiral Schofield, Rear-Admiral Rives, Captain Smythe, Captain Andrews, Captain Hepburn, Commander Frost, and some others, who, with our able and distinguished Ambassador Gibson, constituted the delegation representing the United States Government,
a delegation which fully justified the confidence of the President in its selection.
The best mixer, the most popular member, and the one of our delegates who impressed our American tourists with displaying more of the elements of the true diplomat, was that splendid young officer, Captain Andrews, formerly Captain of the “Mayflower,” the President's yacht; and scarcely less possessing, and displaying the same qualities, was that other young officer, Captain N. W. Smythe.
We civilians had understood that the Conference had been called to consider the further reduction of the naval armaments of the three participating nations, but we soon thought that we could divine that the purpose of Great Britain was to increase rather than reduce naval armaments. It was plausible indeed for Great Britain to declare that the lane of her commerce needed a great number of small cruisers to protect her merchant vessels in cases of emergency. Our representatives, recognizing the justice of Great Britain's request, were willing to concede her the right and privilege of making that increase up to the full limit of her needs, but within the total tonnage prescribed, with the six-inch guns which she needed; but if England wanted that increase, the American Government should have the right to build as many cruisers as she needed with eight-inch guns, within the total tonnage, the eight-inch guns being adapted to American needs just as much as the six-inch guns were adapted to Great Britain's needs. It was then, it seemed to the outside observers, that England showed her cloven foot by stubbornly refusing to grant our proposition, yet demanding her own increase. Great Britain evidently presumed that she could do with our delegates as she had done in the past—her trained diplomats influencing and taking advantage of the inexperience of our delegates in their joint conferences. Great Britain has outwitted our Government in nearly every diplomatic encounter for a hundred years! Look at the Hay-Paunceforth Treaty, negotiated for the building of the Panama Canal. Who would have thought that the United States would have decided to expend the enormous sum required in building that canal, to be constructed as an American need for her commerce and defensive purposes, if she had thought that she could not permit
her own coastwise commerce, from the Atlantic to the Pacific and vice versa, to go through the canal without tolls, or at least with reduced tolls? Yet, during Wilson's administration, when Congress desired to foster our commerce, Great Britain protested that we could not give our own commercial vessels that privilege, as it contravened the terms of the Hay-Paunceforth Treaty. And lo and behold, President Wilson submitted the language of the treaty for construction to the most eminent American advisers, and it was found that Lord Paunceforth, the old experienced diplomat, who had been trained for several generations in the service of a monarchy, rarely changing its ambassadors, had actually outwitted that splendid statesman, John Hay, untrained in deceitful diplomacy, whose government changed its diplomats with every new administration, had actually inserted language in the treaty which forbade our ships free use of the canal!
Again, another instance of Great Britain's far-seeing diplomacy. In the adoption and promulgation of the great American Monroe Doctrine, the idea was conceived in the fertile brain of Lord Canning, the English Prime Minister, who suggested to the President of the United States, through diplomatic agencies, that a common policy should be adopted on the part of England and the United States to preserve the independence of Spain. England saw that the trade she had gained with those republics would be lost by the action of the Holy Alliance, if it succeeded in restoring the Spanish supremacy over her lost provinces and, through diplomatic means, brought it to President Monroe's attention, who immediately announced our great and salutary Monroe Doctrine, which England promptly recognized and accepted, and thereby retained the enormous trade she had gained at the expense of Spain.
Mr. Bridgeman, the leading delegate of Great Britain, stated early in the game, and since the dissolution of the Congress, the English press had emphasized the fact that Great Britain was seriously formulating plans to ask for a Naval Conference to be called to consider the reduction of armaments, but that President Coolidge had wisely called it and saved Great Britain the necessity of requesting it. May not the suggestion have been
diplomatically made to President Coolidge, as did Lord Canning to President Monroe?
But, thanks be to the Lord, the American nation now has skilled and well educated diplomats in the Navy; they are the equal, if not the superior, in intellectual acumen, who can see quickly the purpose of their opponents and who know how, and have the stubborn courage, “To agree to disagree,” rather than permit an advantage to be taken of our nation.
We say, then, all hail to the American Delegates at Geneva! They rightly deserve the thanks and plaudits of all Americans without regard to party.
JOHN D. BELLAMY.
When this article was written, it contained strictures on Great Britain as the views I then entertained; but in the present period, when we are collaborating with Great Britain to suppress that fanatical leader of the Germans, Adolf Hitler, in his efforts to destroy Anglo-Saxon civilization and power, I do not withdraw my statements then made, which are still true, yet I am almost persuaded to hold them in abeyance, until we accomplish the complete destruction of Hitlerism in Europe.
One of the rarest characters that I ever met was Poultney Bigelow, of Maulden-on-the-Hudson. Being on a visit to the Catskill Mountains, in 1917, one day I went over to Maulden to visit him. I met him on the porch of his home, in his shirt sleeves and sandals. He told me that his cousin, William Pitt Mason, Jr., had informed him I was coming, and he was glad to welcome me, and he wanted to make me feel at home by stating to me that while his father, John Bigelow, was Ambassador to France and Germany, under President U. S. Grant, that he was a Democrat. He inherited his Democracy from his mother, who was a Miss Poultney, born and raised on the James River, near Richmond, Virginia. He said, “Mr. Bellamy, Pitt tells me you have been a member of Congress from the South, and I want to say to you that I certainly do admire the way you Southern Democrats treat the negro, to prevent him from infringing on your state and municipal affairs.” He said, “You know, Mr. Bellamy, I am one who realizes that the Anglo-Saxon race has never yet been dominated by an inferior race, particularly by the African race. If the Anglo-Saxon finds it necessary to preserve his civilization and prevent domination, he will destroy his adversary. What I admire about you Southern people is this—you resort to the more humane and Christian method of virtually depriving the negro of his vote at the polls.” I said, “Mr. Bigelow, I never heard it expressed in that manner, but think it is a very nice way to state it.”
He said he was a disciple of the greatest Democrat, in his opinion, that ever lived. I asked, “Who was he, Mr. Bigelow?” He replied, “Do you see that statue on my front lawn, overlooking the Hudson River? That is the greatest Democrat I ever knew! You know who he was, do you not?” “It should be Thomas Jefferson, or Andrew Jackson,” I replied. “Not a bit of it,” he said; “that is the statue of Samuel J. Tilden. He was my Gamaliel and taught me Democracy at his feet.” “Well,” I said, “I differ with you; I regard Thomas Jefferson as the greatest man the world ever produced.” Mr. Bigelow continued: “I thought your South's Woodrow Wilson a great
man, and to some extent he was; but he had a great many foibles and did little things I didn't admire, that detracted from him. When Wilson was nominated for President of the United States, feeling the kindred spirit of a man of letters, I wrote him and said: ‘Mr. Wilson, you have been nominated President of the United States, and I am going to tender you my services; I am going to canvass the upper part of the State of New York in your behalf.’ And I did; I felt confident that I secured a great many conservative, Republican votes for his electors, and I congratulated him upon having been elected President!
“Just before the breaking out of the World War, I found that the Emperor of Germany was toying and dilly-dallying with the Administration to keep it out of the war, and from aiding the Allies. I had been educated in Berlin, and spent many a day with the Emperor of Germany; I had slept in the same bed with him, and felt his withered arm and knew him intimately; he is a very smart fellow, but is full of duplicity. I went to Washington to see President Wilson, and said, ‘Mr. President, I notice you are delaying breaking neutrality and throwing the United States to the aid of the Allies. I want to tell you to be on your guard! William is fooling you, trying to prevent our breaking neutrality! If you are going to aid the Allies, my advice, as a friend, is to do so immediately.’ President Wilson turned around and said, ‘Bigelow, who sent you to see me, to give all this advice? I don't like it, and will not take it; I shall act according to my own judgment. Your suggestions are impertinent!’ ‘Mr. President,’ I said, ‘I regret having offended you. I wished only to help and thought my experience with William Hohenzollern would be beneficial. Since you seem to take it offensively, I wish to say good morning!’ I left him, and, Bellamy, I never had any use for Wilson after that.”
In the month of January, 1919, I was much grieved to learn that my boyhood friend, Pembroke Jones, had died in New York, and was buried in his native home town, Wilmington. He left a widow and one son and one daughter. His widow later married Mr. Henry Walters, one of the wealthiest railroad executives in the United States. I will truly say that Pem
was one of the most chivalrous, hightoned and liberal gentlemen it has ever been my good fortune to know well. His loyalty to his friends and his home town was most remarkable. He established “Airlee-on-the-Sound,” one of the most beautiful estates in the whole South. Mr. Jones married Miss Sadie Green, daughter of the Hon. Wharton J. Green, and, with this lovable and charming personality, he splendidly entertained many friends in the Cape Fear section and a large number from New York—the W. K. Vanderbilts, the Whitneys, Belmonts and others—with the most lavish hospitality of anyone in Eastern Carolina within the last century! He was not even surpassed by the entertainments given by the celebrated Patrick Hamilton, at “Burnside” in Granville County, in ante-bellum days.
Pembroke Jones was my true friend, and he never had an entertainment that he did not honor me with an invitation. So fond was he of all his boyhood friends that whenever he heard of any of them being estranged he would immediately give a banquet, at the Lodge in Airlee Park, and invite a number of his Wilmington friends, and before the evening was over peace and friendship would again be established. I can never forget his affection for me, which I still remember and cherish.
In July, 1923, I took a pleasure trip to Canada. On the train to Quebec we took a Toronto car and, to our agreeable surprise, met Chief-Justice Taft en route to his summer home on Murray Bay. Mrs. Bellamy, Judge Taft and I were the only passengers in the car. He readily recognized me and we had a very interesting trip together as far as Quebec. He left us there and went to Murray Bay. I had met Judge Taft frequently and we knew each other quite well. In the course of conversation, he asked me whom my party was going to nominate for President. I told him I did not know at that time, but the newspapers were booming a man by the name of Ralston, of Indiana, who had a very good record. He said, “You Democrats ought to nominate John W. Davis, of West Virginia; he is, beyond question, the ablest lawyer who practices before our court! (The Supreme Court of the United States.) But you will hardly nominate him, as the politicians
of your party say he is the counsel and adviser of J. Pierpont Morgan, the great capitalist of Wall Street, and I presume that will disqualify him in the opinion of many of your party.” He continued in conversation, stating that Mr. Morgan had asked him to suggest an able lawyer to represent the Morgan firm in international matters. He then said to Mr. Morgan, “I regard John W. Davis the ablest lawyer in the United States, and one specially versed in International Law.” Morgan said, “Will he accept employment by us?” Taft replied, “I think he will; he was appointed, by President Wilson, Ambassador to England, and made a great reputation there as such; but in order to maintain himself with the dignity required of him at the Court of Saint James, he spent every dollar he had and was almost bankrupt when he retired.” I learned afterwards that Morgan went to see Davis, took Taft's advice, and appointed him their counsel at a very large salary.
In the next election, 1924, on account of his splendid ability and reputation, John W. Davis was nominated by our party for President of the United States, but I regret to say that he was woefully defeated.
In my experience as a practicing lawyer, I occasionally accepted employment in criminal cases, notably the case of State vs. John C. Davis, a religious monomaniac, the trial of which I have detailed at length; State vs. a certain prominent physician, for slaying his wife, in both of which cases I was successful, and a more celebrated case of State vs. C. W. Stewart and his son, in 1924, for murder in slaying a prohibition officer, one Leon George, and also accused of killing another prohibition officer, Sam Lilly. The law against the manufacture and sale of alcoholic liquors was in force nationally and also in the state. The swamps and woods of this territory adjacent to Wilmington were full of illicit liquor distilleries. Leon George, a very active and efficient officer, engaged in suppressing and arresting offenders, had made himself very obnoxious to the “Moonshiners.” On one occasion, George had gone over to Bobs Branch, in Brunswick County, and destroyed a good many stills, and on going again, Stewart and his son waylaid and killed him. They were both, after a protracted trial, convicted and sentenced to be electrocuted and were sent to the penitentiary
in Raleigh to await execution. This Mr. Stewart was a man of fine appearance, intelligent, and had come here from Kentucky, where he had been engaged in the “Kentucky feuds.” He was the most accurate marksman I ever knew. He had a sister, Anita Stewart, who was the expert rifle shot in Buffalo Bill's Circus and was exhibited as the best marksman with a rifle of any woman in America. Her brother was equally as good, when Leon George was killed. After Stewart's conviction, the public and I, both had grave doubts about his guilt. We thought the son, tried with him was the guilty one, and the father was endeavoring to protect him. So, I went to Raleigh to see Governor Wilton McLean, a Scotchman, and appealed to him in behalf of his fellow Scotchman, Stewart, the elder. The Governor, who was my friend, said to me, “Please go over to the penitentiary, where Stewart is confined, and make him tell you the truth; if he says he did not kill George, I will parole him or reduce his sentence to a minimum.” I saw Stewart and told him I could save his life and get a parole for him if he would tell me the truth; the Governor had promised me that. He looked at me and said, “Go back and tell the Governor I killed him with my rifle and Elmer did not. I am willing to take the penalty.”
In the year, 1926, I was made President of the North Carolina Bar Association, having always taken an active interest in the proceedings and having served on many of its committees. While president, it became my duty, in coöperation with the secretary and treasurer, to select and invite a man of prominence to deliver the principal address at its next annual meeting. Having read Claude Bowers’ “Hamilton and Jefferson,” and finding it the most valuable discussion of the lives and habits of these statesmen, especially as members of the Cabinet of Washington in the First Congress held in Philadelphia, I decided to go to New York and invite Mr. Bowers, one of the editors of the New York World, whose office was in a little tower room on the top of the Pulitzer Building. I found him a very intellectual and entertaining man, and he readily consented, and came to the annual meeting. He delivered a very interesting and informative address on the conduct of the early judges of the United States Court, especially James Iredell, in making political harangues from the bench and addresses to the grand juries, and their participation in party contests, which would not be tolerated in the present epoch. There was much comment among the members of the Association as to the information this address imparted.
In the course of our conversation Mr. Bowers told me he was about to write a book on the “Reconstruction Days of the South,” and learning of my familiarity with those hectic times, he made me give my experiences, jotting down many of my statements. After reading his book, I have kept up with much of the career of Mr. Bowers, chiefly as Ambassador to Spain, and in other political positions held by him. I regard him as a statesman and author with scarcely an equal in the Democratic Diplomatic Corps, with the possible exception of that great statesman, Cordell Hull, our Secretary of State.
In May, 1927, after getting passports for my wife and myself, we sailed on the Steamship Paris for a European trip, to visit our daughter, Mrs. Mary Bellamy Barroll, who resided in Italy with her husband, J. Leeds Barroll, Jr., in the ancient town of
Fiesole, in the Castle L'Allegre, just above and adjoining Firenze or Florence.
After nearly five days passage on this elegant French Liner, we arrived at La Havre on May 21, 1927, and thence proceeded to Paris, where we were when Lindbergh landed after his famous flight across the ocean! We witnessed the immense procession through the streets of Paris in honor of his achievement!
After spending a number of days visiting the great palaces of Versailles, Grand and Petit Trianon and other notable edifices, including the Art Galleries, Fontaine Bleau, the shops, and the cemeteries maintained by the American Government, where our boys, lost in the First World War were buried, we proceeded to Lyons and to Marseilles.
At Marseilles, we took the Raymond and Whitcomb Wagon-Litz and toured the various cities on the Riviera, stopping and spending a day or two at Nice and Monte Carlo, and thence proceeded to Genoa, Italy, or as the Italians call it, Genova, and spent some time at the Hotel Miri-Mar. This city, Genoa, is not only celebrated for having been the birthplace of Christopher Columbus, but for the preservation of the small house where he was born, and a monument to his memory. Its most modern reputation is for its ship building. While I was there, twenty-six ships, of small tonnage, were undergoing construction, using a great deal of structural steel.
In the lobby of the hotel at Genoa, one evening after dinner, I met a gentleman who noticed I spoke English and who came up and introduced himself as Count—, giving his name, which I will not state here, and said, “Seeing you are an American, I would like to ask you what is the outlook for the stock of United States Steel Corporation? I have a large ownership in the stock and am president of the Shipbuilding Corporation here.” I told him it was looked upon as one of the strongest financial institutions in the United States. “We use a great deal of structural steel in our ship-building,” he said, “and that is why I have bought largely of United State steel.” I said to him, “I presume that you must use a large amount of its products in your shipyards.” “Not at all,” replied he, “We get all our steel from the Island of Elba, in the Mediterranean Sea. Elba has the largest and best deposits of iron suitable for our purposes, and cheaper
than we can procure it, elsewhere.” I told him I knew Elba only as the island to which Napoleon was first banished, but never for its iron deposits.
We got into a conversation about Mussolini, and I asked him what he thought of him. He looked around, to see if anyone could hear him, and said, “I regard him as the most intolerable tyrant that ever lived. If he heard that I said this of him, he would immediately have me arrested and thrown into prison, and not give me a hearing for six months. The only good I can say of him is he does not permit strikes to take place in Italy in any manufactory.” I told him I was going to Rome and might call on Mussolini, but of course would not refer to our conversation here. I left the next day, going by the Leaning Tower of Pisa, and along the foot of the mountains where Carrara Marble was quarried. The marble on the mountain sides for many miles was so white that it glittered in the morning sun! Arriving at Florence, or Firenze, we proceeded up the mountain side to Fiesole, where my daughter and family were residing in the Castle of L'Allegre, where we remained for several weeks. This Fiesole was once the capital of Tuscany and is said to be the oldest republic in the world. It was a republic three hundred years before Romulus and Remus founded Rome.
When in Fiesole, I made frequent trips to Florence, Ovietta, Rome, Venice and Naples. While in Rome, I saw Mussolini several times, and while the American Ambassador offered to introduce me, I declined because of the unfavorable opinion given me by the Count at Genoa, and other prominent Italians I had met who could speak English. Fiesole is a great resort for American scholars engaged in literary work; they have cottages on the sides of the mountains.
By the way, I will say I thought I was a good Latin scholar at school and college, but I found the present Italian language so different from the Latin of Caesar, Augustus and Virgil and so incomprehensible that I could hardly learn to speak or read it.
In visiting Rome and seeing the ruins of the Forum, Coliseum and other ancient structures, it looked to me as though earthquakes rather than the Goths and Vandals had destroyed and tumbled down the ancient palaces and columns that were the
admiration of the world! Many, today, lie helter skelter all over the places so celebrated in the history of the Romans.
While in Rome, I was struck with astonishment at the great preparation Mussolini was then making for war. He had conscripted and brought to Rome many soldiers from Milan, the Piedmont, Genova, Venetia, Bologna, Firenza and other provinces and mingled them for the purpose of making them understand the language of the other provinces. It was a fact the people of the different provinces spoke a different language and dialect from the various provinces. In other words, Italy, before it became unified, consisted of republics and governments different in habits and dialect from that of the central province, Rome. This bringing together of these different people and forcing them to associate and talk with each other was to promote the formation of a national language which Mussolini adopted in Rome, and many commended him for this act of statesmanship.
While in Fiesole I frequently went down the mountain side in a street railway coach. When we reached Florence, there stood customs officers who exacted the pay of a duty-tax on every package, or piece of baggage you carried into the city. When going back to Fiesole, a customs officer made you pay a duty-tax on everything you carried to Fiesole from Florence, and so it was in other provinces. Double-duty!
This reminds me of the reason of the framers of the United States Constitution which caused the adoption of the interstate commerce clause of the Constitution providing for free trade among the various states, to prevent the practice prevalent in that day in Europe.
On leaving Fiesole, we went by rail to Boulogne, and thence to Wimereaux, a beautiful seaside town; a resort for English people who crossed the channel and spent their summers on that part of the French coast nearest to England. This town is located opposite to Dover and Folkstone, and Gris-Nez; on the outskirts is where the swimming contests across the channel take place and is the spot in the present war where the Germans plant their Big Berthas for assaults on the English Coast.
While in Wimereaux for some weeks, I visited the market, which had all the different products of France, Germany, Holland, Italy, and other European countries, at a cost of one-fifth of that of the United States, and I inspected a great number of new cottages that were being built, and specially the painting of these cottages. I was told that the French painters did not use linseed oil in their paints, which in the United States we think is essential to a good painting job, but instead use paraffin, naphtha, benzine and other oils, and to me it looked just as well, and I was told lasted as long as the best linseed oil paints in America.
On the coast, near Wimereaux, is a curious structure—a fortification, as it were, in the sea, about one mile from the shore. It had a stone causeway leading from the shore to this castlefort. Both the fort and the causeway are a mass of ruins. The waves sweep through the dismantled structure at high tide and over the causeway. On inquiry, we found that Napoleon, before the Battle of Waterloo, had this fortification constructed and filled with the best ammunition of that period in preparation to move quickly, after winning the Battle of Waterloo, and to have his equipment for the immediate invasion of England. “Man proposes but God disposes,” and instead of winning the Battle of Waterloo, he was captured and banished to St. Helena; this castle was abandoned and afterwards demolished, but the ruins remain as a mute reminder of the great failure of Napoleon in his insatiable ambition.
In visiting the Battle Field of Waterloo, there was one thing which forcibly struck me. Wellington had monuments and a museum containing his military equipment to commemorate his victory, but there was an absence of anything to commemorate the feat of Blücher, who evidently saved the day. This is probably due to the fact that the English historians wrote and recorded the daring acts of their soldiers, while their allies failed to do so. This is very much the case in the United States, where one section had educated historians to record the famous deeds of their people, and the others did not—even though the exploits were the equal, and in many instances superior, to those of the other sections.
On this trip, while stopping at Cologne, or as called by the Germans, Koln, I got into conversation with a former German Brigadier-General, whose name, as I recall, was Von Kolnitz. He spoke English well and said he had relatives in the United States. I asked him if he had seen in the edition of the English-Paris Newspapers a discussion as to which of the Allies won the World War—the English press claiming, through Lord Haigh, that England won the war. I asked him what he thought of it. He replied that the Germans had the English completely whipped and would have crossed the channel and conquered England; but America came to their aid and sent over several million soldiers, who were fresh troops, and demoralized the German Army. It destroyed their morale. The United States having sent that vast army across the sea was what caused the seeking of the Armistice and final winning of the war.
On leaving Brussels and Ghent, we went to Ostend and took a steamer to Folkstone. On board, I met three young men, recent graduates of Oxford, who were assailing, in my presence, Woodrow Wilson; it was he, they said, who caused the formation of the League of Nations and then did not allow the United States to join the League. The language was so uncomplimentary that I had to break in and defend our President. I told them that the President of the United States had limited power and was bound by a written Constitution, which they did not have; although he desired and tried to get the United States into the League, the Senate of the United States was all powerful and the Republican majority, through Senators Henry Cabot Lodge, their leader, was hostile to President Wilson, and refused to allow our country to join the League. Wilson, in his efforts to arouse the people to the importance of our entry, traveled over an immense territory from Washington to California, making numerous speeches, and so exhausted was he by his strenuous efforts that it really killed him. I went into detail as to the power of the President, and the check of the Senate, and they remarked afterwards that they were much enlightened by my explanation, and thanked me for it, and said they would be no longer critical of Woodrow Wilson.
When reaching London and seeing its many objects of interest, we journeyed to Edinburgh, Scotland, via Carlisle. We
remained in Edinburgh several weeks, and went from there and visited the home of Sir Walter Scott, the birthplace of Robert Burns, at Ayre, and the other celebrated places, including Glasgow, Peebles, and Stirling Castle. On one of our trips we stopped at Peebles, the county seat of that county, where we saw a large Arcade Arch, built of granite, in the centre of the town. It had four arches, running through from north to south and east to west, with space on each side for the name of Scotch troops, said to be about two thousand in number, from that county, killed in Flanders and Ypres during the First World War. The guide explained that the names were chiselled in the granite on the arcade, and incidentally remarked that Peebles’ troops with the other Scotch regiments formed the greater part of the English Army, from the British Isles.
On the next day, the press of Edinburgh, Glasgow and other cities were out with editorials commending the action of the Scotch members of the English Parliament for their speeches and votes rejecting the acceptance by Parliament of a large oil painting, presented by a member from London, to be hung on its walls. This rich Englishman was said to have paid many hundred pounds in sterling to the painter who executed the work, depicting on canvas the signing of the Treaty of Union between England and Scotland, in the year 1707. Four old Presbyterian elders, with long beards, after the presentation speech, arose, and in substance said; “Mr. Speaker and Fellow Members: The Members of Parliament from Scotland wish to oppose, and do strenuously oppose, the acceptance of this painting to be hung on our Parliment walls. It depicts the most humiliating scene to which Scotland has ever been subjected. England has all the advantages of that treaty and Scotland practically nothing. We have fought England's wars, furnished in the World War the largest part of the English Army from these isles, and Scotland had ninety per cent of her troops killed in Flanders, Ypres and other battles; yet, Scotland only got one Military Commander, Lord Haigh, and one Admiral, Lord-Admiral Beatty, and we will oppose the acceptance of this canvas tending to perpetuate Scotland's disgrace. Another and a fourth Scottish member arose and expressed the same sentiment. The next day, all Scotland's chief newspapers, particularly those of
Edinburgh and Glasgow, came out in editorials, approving warmly the addresses of the Scottish Members of Parliament, and stating substantially what proportion of Scotch troops formed the English Army, and how little recognition was given Scotland in the higher Military and Naval offices.
I was surprised at this feeling still subsisting in Scotland toward England, her one time enemy, after two hundred and twenty years. While in the United States, after fifty-two years, the feeling engendered between the North and the South was almost entirely obliterated, there being some unreconstructed men and women, who are the exceptions, who still retain some feeling; it will die with them, and our Union today has become stronger, and is now indestructible, with all sectional feeling obliterated.
While in Edinburgh, I visited the home of the great Calvinist, Clergyman John Knox, now used by the Government as a Museum. Knox was a Royal clergyman at the Scotch Court. He was a strong Anti-Papist and was particularly severe in his criticism of Mary, Queen of Scots, who was a Roman Catholic, while Scotland was Protestant. He not only criticised her conduct in her relations with Rizzio and in regard to Darnley's death, and was likewise severe on Bothwell, but he really accused Mary's Court of being Papist, and strongly suspected them of plotting to destroy Queen Elizabeth and make Mary, Queen of England.
On the walls of John Knox's residence, now the Museum, is hung a copy of an epistle written by Knox to Queen Elizabeth. It is written in Gaelic, but a translation is made below in English. This letter warned Elizabeth to be on her guard, that Mary and the Papists were plotting to destroy her and make Mary, Queen, and signed it, “Your faithful and obedient Pastor, John Knox.”
The sequel shows that thereafter Mary was arrested for treason, imprisoned in London and, after long confinement, tried for treason and beheaded. I have never seen in history any allusion to this letter, but it is a fact that John Knox's advice led to her arrest and trial and final execution. In reading the description in history of the trial of Mary, Queen of Scots, as a lawyer, I was impressed with her plea. When asked as to how she would be tried, she replied that she could not be tried by
an ordinary jury, but only a jury “Suorum Parium”; under the English law, a Queen could only be tried by a jury of her peers, which was denied her.
While in Scotland, notwithstanding that it made the best brands of Scotch whiskey—Haig & Haig, McEwen, Dewar, Johnny Walker and others—I saw not a single case of drunkenness among the Scotch people, and the only instance of intoxication I saw while in Edinburgh was that of an American physician attending the World's Meeting of the Medical Association, then in session in Edinburgh. He was very noisy and vociferous in the hotel dining room, and the waiter stated who he was.
Before leaving Edinburgh, I visited Stirling Castle, occupied by Scotch Troops, always dressed in kilts, and on the top of the Mountains, or Highlands, I saw the immense statue of Robert Bruce, the great Scottish King and Ruler, overlooking the lowlands he loved. On seeing the mammoth statue of the famous hero, one of the largest in the world, and having been in Peebles the day before, I could not refrain from thinking of my friend, Robert Bruce Peebles, of North Hampton County, North Carolina, Superior Court Judge. I did not know before that Judge Peebles was a Scotchman, whose forbears came from Peebles. Judge Peebles could not be criticized by any one for lack of integrity or bravery, ability and knowledge of the law and fearlessly enforcing it. He really was a great judge, a sincere friend and to my personal knowledge a charitable and philanthropic citizen; during the Civil War, he had a splendid reputation for daring and bravery.
On our return to the United States we took passage on the great Leviathan, and met again, on board, Admirals Hiliary F. Jones, Hepburn, Captain Andrews, of the “Mayflower,” and their retinue, whom we had been with and who treated us so cordially in Geneva. We also had in our party, Mrs. William Randolph Hearst, whom we found a very entertaining lady; the trip back was very enjoyable, and seemed quite short.
In 1928, the Democratic Party nominated, for President of the United States, Governor Alfred E. Smith, of New York. The author was very strongly in favor of his nomination, and made a speech, advocating his nomination, in the Hall of the
House of Representatives, in Raleigh, in which I told them the American people were strongly in his favor, and North Carolina should fall into line and support him; that his nomination was certain, and his opponents could no more prevent his nomination than they could prevent the waters of Niagara from flowing over the falls, and, while there was opposition, Governor Smith was one of the best qualified men seeking the nomination in America. He had been three or four times Governor of New York, Speaker of the House of Representatives of New York, and head of the government of New York City, and this experience specially qualified him for the Presidency. Governor Smith was placed in nomination by Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
The Republicans nominated Herbert Hoover, who was by Woodrow Wilson appointed National Food Administrator and put in charge of the expenditure of one billion, five hundred thousand dollars for the purchase and distribution of supplies to the indigent Belgians and inhabitants of Northern France—nearly ten million people. Hoover was a Protestant and Smith a Roman Catholic, and a campaign was waged in North Carolina by Presbyterians, Baptists and Methodists against electing a Roman Catholic to the Presidency. Many of their ministers not only voted for Hoover, but induced their congregations to cast their votes against a Roman Catholic. The campaign against Smith was directed, or the movement championed, by none other than Furnifold M. Simmons, who had been an organization Democrat and United States Senator; North Carolina, for the first time, gave her electoral vote to a Republican. This campaign defeated Simmons, and at the expiration of his term our present Senator, Josiah W. Bailey, was elected in his place.
The author thought, and still thinks, that North Carolina owed the Roman Catholics of New York a debt of gratitude for the part played, in Reconstruction times, in protecting the South from vicious reconstruction legislation by their representatives in Congress, from New York.
North Carolina was greatly humiliated by the state giving its electoral vote to Hoover; it is a stigma on her escutcheon. I am a Calvinistic Presbyterian, but have thought always that our party should not be actuated by religious prejudice in opposing a splendidly qualified citizen for the great office of President!
While I was a great admirer of Governor Smith and keenly felt his defeat, yet I must say that he did not take his failure graciously, but rather “sulked in his tent,” and by doing so, lost the good opinion of his former warm supporters.
In the State Democratic Convention held in Raleigh, in 1936, Clyde R. Hoey was nominated for governor with the other state officers, and overwhelmingly elected in November. By the delegates assembled there, from this Congressional District, I was nominated Presidential-Elector for President Roosevelt, who was also elected in November.
I regarded this nomination as an encomium not only to my long career as a Democrat, but also as a special tribute to me. I had always advocated the election of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and had voted for him as Vice-Presidential nominee when I was a delegate to the San Francisco Convention. It was truly a great pleasure to cast my electoral vote for him as President for his second term! Had I been again the Elector, I would have considered it a greater pleasure and honor to have voted for him for the third term!
I regard President Roosevelt as a very great man, and the greatest president since the outbreak of the Civil War. There has been no president who has had so many different, difficult phases of National affairs with which to contend, or so many critical questions to solve. He has shown the greatest ability, originality and intrepid courage in pursuing his course, and fulfilling his duty.
I will say, here, that my respect for his Secretary of State, Hull, is almost as intense as my admiration for the President, himself. Next to President Roosevelt, I regard Cordell Hull as the greatest living American.
In the year, 1937, there emerged from the press, in Wilmington, a book of poems, nearly a hundred in number, called “Songs of Summer Nights.” The author was none other than Andrew J. Howell, a near relative of mine. I have known him all his life, and know that he has always been interested in historical matters, is the author of several monographs on prominent men of North Carolina, and is one of those chosen to place markers commemorating Colonial events in Wilmington. He is a Presbyterian clergyman and a very able and pious minister. His poems
equal those of any other North Carolina poet—Edwin Fuller, John Charles McNeill, or Philo Henderson. They exhibit deep poetical talent. He is truly a great Christian.
At my age of fourscore and over, I am still associated with my two sons—William McKoy Bellamy and Emmett Hargrove Bellamy—in the practice of law. I have turned over to them all of the legal business, with the exception of being District Counsel for the Seaboard Air Line Railway, Attorney for the American Surety Company of New York, the Western Union Telegraph Company, and the Southern Bell Telephone Company. This practice I retain by reason of the personal confidence my clients have in me. My sons, however, are now aiding me, even in this.
I have practiced the profession of law for nearly sixty-seven years and during that time have seen a great many changes in the character and tone of the profession. I have had ample opportunity to observe these changes, for during that period I have tried many thousands of civil cases. In fact, during one term of the Superior Court of New Hanover County held by Judge Walter Clark—afterwards Chief-Justice of the Supreme Court—he said from the bench that I had tried more civil suits during that term before him—twenty-six litigated cases—than any lawyer he knew in the state. I quote this to show my opportunity to make close observation of the actions, the habits and the practices of the members of the Bar. When I began practicing law and during the first forty years immediately ensuing, the members of the Bar were the most learned, courteous, honest and chivalrous gentlemen! The legal profession then was looked upon as a science and was ethical to the highest degree. Its votaries were tolerant and considerate of each other; they were truly the most patriotic of men. The public looked up to them for guidance in all matters concerning the general good. Such a thing as a suggestion that any member of this profession was guilty of barratry, malpractice, or corruption was not known or ever made.
What change has been wrought by the commercial spirit which has seized the souls of many of its present members! In the past no lawyer solicited business, or in a trial corruptly suggested to a witness to swear to a fact which was not true, or allowed a witness to testify falsely. During all my years of
practice I have never sought, or asked, anyone to employ me; I have never permitted a client I represented to get false testimony, and if he did, I withdrew from the case without letting the court know why. The avarice that is prevalent in the present generation should not be tolerated, and the State Bar and the Bar Association could not discharge a more patriotic duty than to arrange, without regard to cost, some means to end this criminality.
What is the good of adopting and publishing a code of professional ethics unless those in charge require the members of the Bar to conform to it? The public does not look upon lawyers any longer as leaders on public questions and policies, but regards the law as nothing more than a trade—a band of merchants buying and selling foods, or forming credit unions, or trading in real estate!
During recent years, the profession of medicine has most rapidly advanced and its members form a very distinguished body of honorable physicians and surgeons. In some branches, it is regarded almost as sacredly as the Church.
In contrast, the profession of law has seriously retrograded!
Here and there a highly educated lawyer personally commands the respect and admiration of the public, but the members generally have fallen from the pinnacle which they formerly occupied.
I am nearing the end of my career, and I truly hope that before I leave my earthly abode I shall see my Great Profession, which I so deeply love, restored to its former position as the leader of thought, morals, patriotism, and strict integrity, to which it is justly entitled.
- “They build too low,
- Who build beneath the skies!”