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North Carolina Historical Commission 




C'^r^^.^r. K 'O W 

Hall of the House of Representatives, 
December 4, 1912 


Introductory Note 

On Decemt»er 4, 1912, in the Hall of the House of Representatives and 
in the rotunda of the State Capitol, the North Carolina Historical Commis- 
sion presented to the State a handsome marble bust of John Motley More- 
head, Governor of North Carolina, 1840-1844. The bust was a donation to the 
Commission from Governor Morehead's grandsons, John Motley Morehead and 
J. Lindsay Patterson, and was executed by the wellknown sculptor, Frederick 
Wellington Ruckstuhl. The exercises in connection with the presentation 
consisted of an address on "John Motley Morehead: Architect and Builder of 
Public Works," by R. D. W. Connor; the Address of Presentation, by Hon. J. 
Bryan Grimes, Chairman of the North Carolina Historical Commission; and 
the Address of Acceptance on behalf of the Governor, by Hon. J. Y. Joyner, 
Superintendent of Public Instruction. 

John Motley Morehead: Architect and Builder of 

Public Works' 

By R. D. W. Connor. 

An Addbess Delivered in the Hall of the House of Representatives, Decem- 
ber 4, 1912, UPON THE Presentation to the State of a Bust of 
Governor Morehead by the North Carolina 
Historical Commission. 

Along the line of the I^orth Carolina Kailroad, from its eastern 
terminus at Goldsboro to its western terminus at Charlotte, lie eleven 
counties embracing six thousand square miles of territory, now one of 
the most prosperous and productive regions in North Carolina. During 
the decade from 1840 to 1850, perhaps no other State on the entire At- 
lantic seaboard could have exhibited a stretch of country of equal area 
which presented to the patriotic citizen so discouraging a prospect or so 
hopeless an outlook. Such a citizen traversing this region would have 
found public roads and methods of travel and transportation that were 
primitive when George III claimed the allegiance of the American col- 
onies. Delays, inconveniences, and discomforts were the least of the evils 
that beset the traveler who entrusted life and limbs to the public convey- 
ances of that period.2 The cost of transportation was so great that the 
profits of one half the planters' crops were consumed in getting the 
other half to market, and hundreds of them found it profitless to pro- 

iJohn Motley Morehead was born in Pittsylvania County, Virginia, July 4, 1796, son of John 
Morehead and Obedience Motley. In 1798 his parents moved to Rockingham County, North Caro- 
lina, where John grew to manhood. He was prepared for college partly under the private instruction 
of Thomas Settle and partly at the Academy of Dr. David Caldwell, near Greensboro. He afterwards 
entered the University of North Carolina, from which he was graduated in 1817. In his junior year 
he was appointed a tutor in the University. From 1828 to 1866 he served on the Board of Trustees, 
and in 1849 was President of the Alumni Association. Morehead was the sixth alumnus of the Uni- 
versity to become Governor of North Carolina. After his graduation from the University he studied 
law under Archibald D. Murphey. In 1819, receiving his license to practice, he settled at Wentworth, 
county seat of Rockingham County, where he lived until his marriage to Miss Ann Eliza Lindsay, 
eldest daughter of Col. Robert Lindsay, of Guilford County. He removed to Greensboro which con- 
tinued to be his home during the rest of his life. 

2" The road [from Weldon to Gaston] was as bad as anything, under the name of a road, can be 
conceived to be. Whenever the adjoining swamps, fallen trees, stumps, and plantation fences would 
admit of it, the coach was driven, with a great deal of dexterity, out of the road. When the wheels 
sunk in the mud, below the hubs, we were sometimes requested to get out and walk. An upset seemed 
every moment ine\-itable. At length, it came."— Frederick Law Olmsted. "A Journey in the bea- 
board Slave States," 1853-1854. Vol. I, page 348. "From personal observations, I have found the 
roads leading from Raleigh westward, for the distance of fifty or sixty miles, *,,„,. _ decid- 
edly the worst in the State."- Governor Morehead's message to the Legislature of 1842. Journal ot 
the General Assembly, page 409. 

6 Ceremonies in Connection with Presentation of 

duce more than their own families could use.^ In 1853 a traveler, 
within thirty miles of the State Capitol, saw "three thousand barrels 
of an article worth a dollar and a half a barrel in ]!^ew York, thrown 
away, a mere heap of useless offal, because it would cost more to 
transport it than it would be worth."^ 

Under such conditions there could be, of course, no commerce, and 
without commerce no markets. Such commerce as the produce of the 
fertile valleys and plateaux of the Piedmont section created found its 
way to the markets of Virginia and South Carolina ;' and among the 
people who dwelt west of Greensboro, declared Governor Morehead in 
1842, "Cheraw, Camden, Columbia, * * * Augusta, and Charles- 
ton are much more familiarly known than even Fayetteville and 
Raleigh."^ In all the region from Goldsboro to Charlotte, Raleigh, 
then a straggling country village, was the only town of sufficient im- 
portance to be noted in the United States census of 1850. This section, 
now the heart of the manufacturing region of the South, reported to 
the census takers of that year no other manufactures than a handful 
of "homemade" articles valued at $396,473. The social and labor sys- 
tems upon which the civilization of the State was founded confined the 
energies of the people almost exclusively to agriculture, yet their farm- 
ing operations were so crude and unproductive that a traveler, comment- 
ing on the agriculture in the vicinity of Raleigh, found it "a mystery 
how a town of 2,500 inhabitants can obtain sufficient supplies from it to 
exist. "^ This was not the view merely of an unsympathetic stranger. 
Calvin H. Wiley, attempting to arouse his fellow members of the Legis- 
lature of 1852 from their indifference and lethargy, after referring to 
the "magnificent capitol" in which they sat, exclaimed, "But what is 
the view from these porticoes, and what do we see as we travel hither? 
Wasted fields and decaying tenements; long stretches of silent desola- 
tion with here and there a rudely cultivated farm and a tottering 

But more forcible than any other evidence, because incontrovertible, 
is the testimony of the United States census. 'The census reports of 
1840 show that nearly one-third of the adult white population of the 
State could neither read nor write. The population of the State was at 

'Speaking of the building of a turnpike, from Raleigh westward, Governor Morehead in his message 
of 1842, said: "Labor can not be difficult to obtain in a region now growing cotton at six cents per 
pound, corn at one dollar per barrel, and wheat so low that it takes one half to transport the other to 
market."— Journals of the Legislature 1842-'43, page 41L "A farmer told me that he considered twenty- 
five bushels of corn a large crop, and that he generally got as much as fifteen. He said that no money 
was to be got by raising corn, and very few farmers here [about ten miles from Raleigh] 'made' any 
more than they needed for their own force. It cost too much to get it to market."— Olmsted, "Sea- 
board Slave States," Vol. I, page .358. 

♦Olmsted: A Journey in the Seaboard Slave States. 1853-1854. Vol. I, page 369. 

^Annual Message. Legislative Journals, 1842-'43, page 409. 


^Speech in favor of his bill to appoint a State Superintendent of Common Schools. 

Bust of John M. Morehead 7 

a standstill. From 1830 to 1840, thirty-two of the sixty-eight counties 
of Worth Carolina lost in population, while the increase in the State as 
a whole was less than two and a half per cent.^ The best blood of Worth 
Carolina, refusing to remain at home and stagnate, was flowing in a 
steady stream into the vast and fertile regions of the South and West; 
and that brain and energy which should have been utilized in developing 
the resources of Worth Carolina was being forced to seek an outlet in 
other regions where it went to lay the foundations of Alabama, Missis- 
sippi, and Texas, of Ohio, Illinois, and Indiana. Dr. Wiley was guilty 
of no exaggeration when he declared that Worth Carolina had "long 
been regarded by her own citizens as a mere nursery to grow up in"; 
that the State had become a great camping ground on which the inhabi- 
tants were merely tenanted for a while; and that thousands were annu- 
ally seeking homes elsewhere whose sacrifices in moving would have 
paid for twenty years their share of taxation sufficient to give to Worth 
Carolina all the fancied advantages of those regions whither they went 
to be taxed with disease and suffering. The melancholy sign "For 
Sale" seemed plowed in deep black characters over the whole State, and 
the State flag which floated over the Capitol was jestingly called by our 
neighbors of Virginia and South Carolina an auctioneer's sign. "The 
ruinous effects," said he, "are eloquently recorded in deserted farms, in 
wide wastes of guttered sedgefields, in neglected resources, in the absence 
of improvements, and in the hardships, sacrifices and sorrows of con- 
stant emigration." 

Such was the view which Central Worth Carolina presented to the 
keen eyes of John M. Morehead when, in the closing days of 1840, he 
journeyed from Greensboro to Raleigh to assume his duties and responsi- 
bilities as Chief Magistrate of the Commonwealth. As desolate as the 
prospect was, however, Morehead's foresight saw in it not a little to 
give him courage. He must have realized that Worth Carolina was 
standing at the turn of the road and that much depended on the wisdom 
and prudence with which he himself directed her choice of future routes. 
Four years before a new Constitution, profoundly affecting the political 
life of the State, had gone into operation, from which Morehead, and 
other leaders who thought as he did, had prophesied great results for 
the upbuilding of the State. This new Constitution had paved the way 
for the work of a small group of constructive statesmen, of whom More- 
head was now the chosen leader, who were destined to direct and lead the 
public thought of Worth Carolina during the quarter century from 
1835 to 1860. 
, Among these men two distinct types of genius were represented. On 

sPopulation in 1830, 737,987; in 1840, 753,409. 

8 Ceremonies in Connection with Presentation of 

the one hand there were the dreamers, — men who had the power of 
vision to see what the future held in store for their country, who wrote 
and spoke forcibly of what they foresaw, but lacked the power to con- 
vince men of the practicability of their visions. On the other hand 
there were the so called practical men, — men who knew well enough how 
to construct what other men had planned, but lacked the power of 
vision necessary to see beyond the common everyday affairs that sur- 
rounded and engrossed them. Once in an age appears that rare indi- 
vidual, both architect and contractor, both poet and man of action, to 
whom is given both the power to dream and the power to execute. Such 
men write themselves deep in their country's annals and make the 
epochs of history. 

^ In the history of North Carolina such a man was John M. Morehead. 
Those v/ho have written and spoken of Governor Morehead heretofore 
have been chiefly impressed with his great practical wisdom,^ and this 
he certainly had as much as any other man in our history. As for 
myself, what most impresses me after a careful study of his life and 
works, is his wonderful power of vision. He was our most visionary 
builder, our greatest practical dreamer. K"o other man of his day had 
so clear a vision of the future to which I^orth Carolina was destined, or 
did so much to bring about its realization as Governor Morehead. It is 
no exaggeration to say that we have not now in process of construction, 
and have not had since his day, a single great work of internal improve- 
ment of which he did not dream and for which he did not labor. He 
dreamed of great lines of railroad binding together not only all sections 
of ITorth Carolina, but connecting this State with every part of the 
American Union. He dreamed of a network of improved country roads 
leading from every farm in the State to all her markets. He dreamed 
of a great central highway, fed by these roads, finding its origin in the 
waters of the Atlantic at Morehead City and finally losing itself in the 
clouds that hang about the crests of the Blue Ridge. He dreamed of 
the day when the channels of our rivers would be so deepened and 
widened that they could bear upon their waters our share of the com- 
merce of the world.. He dreamed of an inland waterway connecting the 
harbor of Beaufort with the waters of Pamlico Sound and through the 
opening of Roanoke Inlet, affording a safe inland passage for coastwise 
vessels around the whitecaps of Cape Hatteras. He dreamed of the 
day when the flags of all nations might be seen floating from the mast- 
heads of their fleets riding at anchor in the harbors of Beaufort and 

•Kerr, John, "Oration on the Life and Character of John M. Morehead"; In Memoriam of John 
M. Morehead, Raleieh, 186S; Scott, William Lafayette, "Tribute to the Genius and Worth of John M. 
Morehead"; Ibid: Smith, C Alphonso, "John Motley Morehead"; The Biographical History of North 
Carolina, Vol. VI, pp. 250-258; Wooten, Council, "Governor Morehead"; Charlotte Daily Observer, 
September 30, 1901. 

Bust of John M. Morehead 9 

Wilmington. He dreamed of a chain of mills and factories dotting 
eA^ery river bank in the State and distributing over these highways of 
commerce a variety of products bearing the brand of North Carolina 

Such were his dreams, and the history of ISTorth Carolina during the 
last half-century is largely the story of their realization. It is this 
fact that gives to Morehead his unique place in our history. He had a 
distinguished political career, but his fame is not the fame of the office 
holder. 10 Indeed, no other man in our history, save Charles B. Aycock 
alone, in so brief a public career, made so deep an impression on the life 
of the State. The explanation is simple. The public service of each 
was inspired by a genuine love of the State and consecrated to the 
accomplishment of a great purpose. The educational and intellectual 
development which Aycock stimulated was based on the material pros- 
perity of which Morehead laid the foundation. It is, then, his service 
as architect and builder of great and enduring public works that gives 
to Morehead his distinctive place in our annals, and it is of this service 
that I shall speak today. 

When Morehead began his public career the prevailing political 
thought of the State was, in modern political vernacular, reactionary. 
Representation was distributed equally among the counties, regardless 
of population. East of Raleigh, where the institution of slavery was 
most strongly entrenched, thirty-five counties with a combined popula- 
tion of 294,312, sent to the General Assembly sixteen more Commoners 
and eight more Senators than twenty-seven counties west of Raleigh 
which had a combined population of 50,205 more people. A property 
qualification was requisite for membership in the General Assembly and 
inasmuch as all State officials were elected by the Legislature, not by 
the people directly. Property, not Men, controlled the government. The 
theory of Property was that the best government is that which governs 
least. Adherents of this school of politics taught, therefore, that gov- 
ernment had fulfilled its mission when it had preserved order, pun- 
ished crime, and kept down the rate of taxation. But another school of 
political thought, originating in the counties west of Raleigh, where the 
institution of slavery had not secured so strong a foothold, was now 
beginning to make itself heard. Its adherents favored a constitutional 

loin 1821 he represented Rockingham County in the House of Commons; in 1826, 1827 and 1858 he 
represented Guilford County in the House, and in 1860 in the Senate. He was one of the delegates 
from Guilford in the Convention of lS3o. In 1S40 he was elected Governor, and in 1842 wasre-elected. 
He was the permanent presiding officer of the National Whig Convention, which met at Philadelphia, 
June 7, 1848, and nominated General Zachary Taylor for the Presidency. By the act establishing 
the North Carolina Insane Asylum he was designated as Chairman of the Board of Cornmissi oners 
to locate and build the asylum. In 1857 he was elected President of the association organized for the 
purpose of erectine: at Greensboro a monument to General Nathanael Greene. He was one of the 
delegates from North Carolina to the Peace Congress at Washington in 1861. In 1861-'62 he was a 
member of the Provisional Congress of the Confederate States. He died at Greensboro, August 27. 

10 Ceremonies in Connection with Presentation of 

convention to revise the basis of representation, to give to the people 
the right to elect their chief magistrate, and in other respects to make 
the government popular in practice as well as in form ; and they advo- 
cated internal improvements, geological surveys, the conservation of 
resources, asylums for the insane, public schools, schools for the deaf 
and dumb and for the blind, and numerous other progressive measures 
which all right thinking people now acknowledge to be governmental in 
their nature. These men were the Progressives of their day. 

Morehead found his place among these Progressives. As a member 
of the General Assembly he was among the foremost in advocating a con- 
stitutional convention. He supported measures for the building of 
good roads, for the digging of canals, for the improvement of inland 
navigation, for drainage of swamps, and for railroad surveys.^^ He 
opposed a bill to prevent the education of negroes, moved the appoint- 
ment of a select committee on the colonization of slaves, introduced a 
bill providing for their emancipation under certain conditions, and 
displayed so much interest in measures for the amelioration of the con- 
ditions of the slaves that his opponents, when he became a candidate 
for Governor, charged him with being at heart an Abolitionist. ^^ He 
endeavored to secure the appropriation of funds for the collection of 
material for the preservation of the history of J^Torth Carolina^'^ and 
took a deep interest in all measures for the promotion of public educa- 
tion. In 1827, while he was chairman of the Committee on Education, 
a bill came before his committee to repeal the Act of 1825 which had 
created the Literary Fund "for the establishment of common schools." 
Morehead submitted the report of the committee, in which he said : 

Your committee believe that the passage of that act [to establish common 
schools] must have been greeted by every philanthropist and friend of civil 
liberty as the foundation on which was to rest the future happiness of our 
citizens and the perpetuity of our political institutions. * * * From the 
very nature of our civil institutions, the people must act; it is wisdom and 
policy to teach them to act from the lights of reason, and not from the blind 
impulse of deluded feeling. * * * Independent of any political influence 
that general education might have, your committee are of opinion that any 
State or sovereign, having the means at command, are morally criminal if they 
neglect to contribute to each citizen or subject that individual usefulness and 
happiness which arises from a well cultured understanding. * * * Your 
committee can not conceive a nobler idea than that of the genius of our coun- 

"In the Legislature of 1821 he voted with the minority for a resolution providing for the calling 
of a Constitutional Convention; for a bill "to provide an additional fund for internal improvements"; 
in 1826, for a bill to improve the navigation of the Cape Fear River below Wilmington, and for a sim- 
ilar bill in 1827; for the survey of a route for a railroad from New Bern through Raleigh, to the western 

i^The Raleigh Standard called him an Abolitionist because as a Member of the Legislature he "drew 
a report against the proposition of Mr. Stedman, from Chatham, forbidding the instruction of slaves." 
Quoted in the Raleigh Register, January 3, 1840. 

I'He introduced a resolution to advance money from the Literary Fund to be used "in aiding Archi- 
bald D. Murphey, of Orange County, in ^^Titing and publishing the History of this State," to be repaid 
from the proceeds of a lottery authorized by the Legislature for the purpose. 

Bust of John M. Morehead 11 

try, hovering over the tattered son of some miserable hovel, leading his in* 
fant but gigantic mind in the paths of useful knowledge, and pointing out 
to his noble ambition the open way by which talented merit may reach the 
highest honors and preferments of our government. 

The committee, accordingly, unanimously recommended the rejection 
of the bill to discontinue the Literary Fund.^^ The recommendation 
was accepted, the bill was lost, the Literary Fund was saved, and the 
foundation on which our common school system was afterwards built 
was preserved intact. 

In the Convention of 1835, in which he represented Guilford County, 
Morehead supported the amendments offered to the Constitution de- 
signed to democratize the State Government. Two of these amendments 
in particular have had a far reaching influence on our history. One of 
them placed representation in the House of Commons on a basis of 
Federal population; the other took away from the Legislature the elec- 
tion of the Governor and gave it to the people. To this latter change 
we may trace the origin of two of the most important political institu- 
tions of our own day, — the party State Convention and the preelection 
canvass of the State by the nominees for State offices. 

The first party State Convention ever held in N^orth Carolina was 
the Whig Convention which met in Raleigh, ^N'ovember 12, 1839, and 
nominated John M. Morehead for Governor.i^ Reading the contem- 
porary newspaper reports of this Convention shortly after attending 
the last State Convention held in this city in June of the present year, 
one is greatly impressed with the marked contrast in the two bodies. 
They were typical of the political conditions of the two eras in which 
they were held. The latter with its more than one thousand cheering, 
shouting, declaiming delegates, uncontrolled and uncontrollable, was 
truly representative of the aggressive direct democracy of the twentieth 
century. The former with its ninety-one sober, orderly, deliberative 
gentlemen of the old school, thoroughly responsive to the mallet of their 
chairman, was just as truly representative of the staid, self-restrained, 
representative democracy of the early nineteenth century. 

"Coon. Charles L.: Public Education in North Carolina, 1790-1840; Vol. T, pa»e 376. 

i^Ex-Gov. John Owen, delegate from Bladen, presided. A General Committee of Thirteen, one 
from each Congressional District, was appointed "to take into consideration the purposes for which 
the Convention bad assembled" and to report thereon. November 13th, this committee reported, 
among other resolutions, the following: "Resolved, That having been inspired with a deep and lively 
sense of the eminent practical vigor, sound Republican principles, unblemished public and private 
virtues, ardent patriotism and decided abilities of John M. Morehead, of the County of Guilford, we 
do accordingly recommend him to our fellow citizens as a fit successor to our present enlightened 
Chief Magistrate, Governor Dudley."— Adopted unanimously. The platform of the Convention 
favored: (1) Economy in government; (2) Reform in the revenue system; (3) Reduction in the num- 
ber of government employees; (4) Selection of government employees "without discrimination of par- 
ties"; (5) An Amendment to the Federal Constitution to abolish the Electoral College; (6) One term 
of four years for the President; (7) A National Bank; (H) A division of the proceeds of public lands 
among the States on a basis of Federal population; (9) Public education; (10) Strict Construction of 
the Constitution. It opposed; (1) Jackson's Spoil System; (2) Appointment of Members of Congress 
to Federal offices during their terms in Congress; (3) flaking judicial appointments for partisan rea- 
sons; (4) Interference of Federal Officers in elections; (5) Protective tariff; (6) The Federal Government's 
making internal improvements "except such as may be stampt with a national character"; (7) The 
Sub-Treasury scheme; (8) Federal interference with slavery. 

12 Ceremonies in Connection with Presentation of 

Morehead's election as Governor followed a campaign that is 
memorable in the history of ISTorth Carolina as the first in which 
candidates for public office ever made a canvass of the State.^^ 
But in other respects also his election and inauguration as Chief Execu- 
tive marks a turning point in our history. He was the first Governor to 
sit in this Capitol, in itself typical of the new era then dawning upon 
the State ;i'^ and, what is more important still, he was the first of our 
Governors to discard the old laissez faire policy which his predecessors 
had followed since the Revolution, and to come into office with a distinct 
program in view. This program he outlined in very general terms in 
his Inaugural Address before the Members of the General Assembly, 
in the course of which he said: 

I shall be happy to cooperate with you in bringing into active operation all 
the elements of greatness and usefulness with which our State is so abund- 
antly blessed. Other States have outstripped us in the career of improve- 
ments, and in the development of their natural resources, but North Carolina 
will stand a favorable comparison with most of her sister States in her 
natural advantages, — her great extent of fertile soil, her great variety of pro- 
duction, her exhaustless deposits of mineral wealth, her extraordinary water- 
power, inviting to manufactures, all, all combine to give her advantages that 
few other States possess. Whatever measures you may adopt to encourage 
agriculture and to induce the husbandman while he toils and sweats to hope 
that his labors will be duly rewarded; whatever measures you may adopt to 
facilitate commerce and to aid industry in all departments of life to reap its 
full rewards, will meet with my cordial approbation. * * * It is equally 
our duty, fellow citizens, to attend to our moral and intellectual cultivation. 
* * * It is to our common schools, in which every child can receive the 
rudiments of an education, that our attention should be mainly directed. 
Our system is yet in its infancy; it will require time and experience to give 
to it its greatest perfection. * * * i doubt not, in due time, the legisla- 
tive v/isdom of the State will perfect the system as far as human sagacity 
can do it. And no part of my official duty will be performed with more 
pleasure than that part which may aid in bringing about that happy result. is 

I'Morebead's opponent in 1840 was Romulus M. Saunders. The vote was, Morehead 44,434; Saun- 
ders, 35,903; Morehead's majority, 8,581. In 1842 Morehead's opponent was Louis D. Henry. The 
vote was, Morehead, 37,943; Henry, 34,411; Morehead's majority, 3,532. The falling off in Morehead's 
vote is attributable to the disorganization of the Whig party following the death of President Harri- 
son, and the defection of President Tyler. Morehead's first inauguration was January 1, 1S41; his 
second, December 31, 1842. 

"Referring to this fact in his Inaugural Address before the General Assembly he said: 
"You are the first legislative body that ever had the honor to assemble in its splendid halls. I 
am the first Executive who ever had the honor to be installed within its durable walls. It will endure 
as a monument for ages to come of the munificence, the liberality and taste of the age in which we live. 
There is a moral effect produced by the erection of such an edifice as this,— it will serve in the chain 
of time to link the past with the future. And if ever that proud spirit that has ever characterized us, 
which has ever been ready to assert its rights and to avenge its -wTongs, which exhibited itself at the 
Regulation Battle of 1770 [1771], which burnt with more briUiance at the Mecklenburg Declaration of 
Independence in 1775, and which boldly declared for independence in 1776,— if ever that proud spirit 
shall become craven in time to come, and shall not dare animate the bosom of a freeman, let it look 
upon this monument and remember the glorious institution under which its foundations were laid, 
and the noble people by whom it was reared, and then let it become a slave if it can. May it endure 
for ages to come— may it endure until time itself shall grow old; may a thousand years find these 
halls still occupied by freemen legislating for a free and happy people."— Raleigh Register, January 

isRaleigh Register, January 5, 1841. 

Bust of John M. Moeehead 13 

But we should not expect a man of Governor Morehead's great prac- 
tical wisdom to content himself with general observations. To reduce 
these general observations into a concrete, practical system was the 
work of his first two years in the Governor's office, and when the Legis- 
lature of 1842 met he was ready with a message outlining a complete 
system of internal improvements.^^ His scheme embraced the further 
extension of the railroad lines already built in the State, the improve- 
ment of our rivers and harbors, the construction of extensive lines of 
turnpikes, and the linking of all three together in one general system 
of transportation. One of the ablest public documents in our history, 
this message, for its practical bearing on the problems of our own day, 
still repays a careful study. With reference to the great inland water- 
way now nearing completion, of which the connection between Pamlico 
Sound and Beaufort Harbor forms an important link, he said : 

Turning our attention to the eastern part of the State, two improvements 
said to be practicable, assume an importance that renders them national in 
their character. I allude to the opening of Roanoke Inlet and the connection 
of Pamlico Sound by a ship canal with Beaufort harbor. Frequent surveys 
of the first of these proposed improvements * * * establish the feasi- 
bility of this work. The advantages arising from this improvement to our 
commerce are too obvious to need pointing out. But the view to be taken 
of its vast importance is in the protection it will afford to our shipping and 
the lives of our seamen. The difficulty and dangers often encountered at 
Ocracoke Inlet render the connection between Pamlico Sound and Beaufort 
harbor of vast importance to the convenience and security of our commerce 
and shipping. It will be an extension of that inland navigation, so essential 
to us in time of war, and give access to one of the safest harbors on our 
coast, and one from which a vessel can be quicker at sea than from any 
other, perhaps, on the continent. In these improvements the commerce of 
the nation is interested; it becomes the duty of the nation to make them, 
if they be practicable and proper. I therefore recommend that you bring the 
attention of Congress to the subject in the manner most likely to effect the 
object. * * * We should assert a continual claim to our right to have 
this work effected by the general government. * * * You would be saved 
the trouble of this appeal if the nation could witness one of those storms so 
frequent on our coast— could witness the war of elements which rage around 
Hatteras and the dangers which dance about Ocracoke— could witness the 
noble daring of our pilots and the ineffectual but manly struggles of our 
seamen— could see our coast fringed with wrecks and our towns filled with 
the widows and orphans of our gallant tars. Justice and humanity would 
extort what we now ask in vain. 

isThis message is published in the Journals of the Legislature, Session of 1842-'43, pp, 405-422; also 
in the Public Documents of the same year. Doc. No. 1. 

14 Ceremonies in Connection with Presentation of 

Of tlie conditions of transportation and travel in the central section 
of the State, he said: 

I would respectfully invite your attention to the public highways generally. 
* * * From Fayetteville, the highest point of good navigation, westward 
to the Buncombe Turnpike, a distance of some two hundred and fifty or three 
hundred miles, what navigable stream, railroad, turnpike, or macadamized 
highway gives to the laborer facilities of transportation? None! Literally 
none! This vast extent of territory, reaching from the Blue Ridge in the west 
to the alluvial region in the east, and extending across the whole State, it is 
believed, will compare with any spot upon the globe for the fertility of its 
soil, the variety of its productions, the salubrity of its climate, the beauty 
of its landscapes, the richness of its mines, the facilities for manufactures, 
and the intelligence and moral worth of its population. Can another such 
territory, combining all these advantages, be found upon the face of the 
whole earth, so wholly destitute of natural or artificial facilities for trans- 

"What scheme, that is practicable," he asked, "will afford the de- 
sired facilities?" And in answer to this query he made two recom- 

The remedy for these evils is believed to be in good turnpikes. * * * 
I therefore recommend that a charter be granted to make a turnpike road 
from the city of Raleigh to some point westward selected with a view to its 
ultimate continuance to the extreme west. * * * Should this road be 
continued to Waynesboro [now Goldsboro], which might be done at com- 
paratively small expense, the farmer would have the choice of markets, of 
Wilmington by the railroad, or New Bern by the river Neuse. 

Further he recommended : 

That a charter be granted to make a turnpike from Fayetteville to the 
Yadkin River at some point above the Narrows, or, if deemed more expedient, 
to some point on a similar road leading from Raleigh westward, thus giving 
the west the advantages of both markets. * * * Should this road ever 
reach the Yadkin, no doubt is entertained of its continuance across the 
Catawba westward — thus giving to this road the advantages which will arise 
from the navigation of these two noble rivers. 

, JSTearly seventy years were to pass before the State was ready for the 
execution of these plans, and it was left for the engineers of 1912 to 
realize what the statesman of 1842 had dreamed. A vaster work was 
waiting the constructive genius of Morehead. 

Turning his eyes farther westward. Governor Morehead foresaw the 
future development of the mountainous section of J^orth Carolina. To 
make this region more interesting, he declared, we have only to make it 
more accessible,* and continuing, he said : 

The sublimity and beauty of its mountain scenery, the purity of its waters, 
the buoyancy and salubrity of its atmosphere, the fertility of its valleys, the 

Bust of John M. Morehead 15 

verdure of its mountains, and, above all, its energetic, intelligent and hospitable 
inhabitants, make it an inviting portion of the State. * * * When good 
roads shall be established in that region, it is believed the population will 
increase with rapidity, agriculture improve, grazing will be extended, and 
manufactures and the mechanic arts will flourish in a location combining 
so many advantages and inviting their growth. The improved highways will 
be additional inducements to the citizens of other sections of our State to 
abandon their usual northern tours, or visits to the Virginia watering places, 
for a tour much more interesting among our own mountains, much cheaper, 
and much more beautiful — a tour in which they will inspire health in every 
breath and drink in health at every draught. 

Governor Morehead did not expect, indeed lie did not desire that the 
General Assembly should proceed to put all o£ his recommendations 
into immediate effect. He realized only too well that such a procedure 
would require enormous outlays far beyond the resources of the State, 
and he never forgot that debts contracted today must be paid tomorrow. 
Sufficient warning of the effects of such a course was not lacking. 
Many of the Southern and Western States embarking in wild and extrav- 
agant schemes of internal improvements had made such vast expendi- 
tures that their treasuries had become bankrupt and their people op- 
pressed with obligations which they could not meet; and to extricate 
themselves they had resorted to the very simple but very effective means 
of repudiation. If Governor Morehead loved progress much, he detest- 
ed repudiation more; and the most vigorous passage in his message 
is that in which he warns the Legislature against such a course. Said 

I would recommend that whatever schemes of expenditure you may embark 
in, you keep within the means at the command of the State; otherwise the 
people must be taxed more heavily or the State must contract a loan. The 
pressure of the times forbids the former— the tarnished honor of some of the 
States should make us, for the present, decline the latter. The mania for 
State banking and the mad career of internal improvements, which seized a 
number of the States, have involved them in an indebtedness very oppressive, 
but not hopeless. American credit and character requires that this stain of 
violated faith should be obliterated by our honest acknowledgment of the 
debt, and a still more honest effort to pay it. I therefore recommend the 
passage of resolutions expressive of the strong interest which this State feels 
in the full redemption of every pledge of public faith, and of its utter detesta- 
tion of the abominable doctrine of Repudiation. That State which honestly 
owes a debt and has or can command the means of payment, and refuses 
to pay because it can not be compelled to do so, has already bartered Public 
Honor, and only waits an increase of price to barter Public Liberty. Thi; 
recommendation will come with peculiar force from you. North Carolina 
has been jeered for sluggishness and indolence, because she has chosen to 
guard her treasury and protect her honor by avoiding debt and promptly 
meeting her engagements. She has yielded to others the glory of their 

16 Ceremonies in Connection with Presentation of 

magnificent expenditures and will yield to them all that glory which will 
arise from a repudiation of their contracts. In the language of one of her 
noblest sons, "It is better for her to sleep on in indolence and innocence than 
to wake up in infamy and treason." 

^ The scliemes outlined in Moreliead's message of 1842 were laid before 
a Legislature controlled by the Democratic party, and tbe policy of that 
party was hostile to internal improvements. Morehead accordingly was 
forced to wait uj)on events for the consummation of his great schemes. 
In outlining these schemes he had given evidences of his extraordinary- 
power of vision; the next few years were to bring him an opportunity 
to demonstrate his ability to transform his dreams into actual realities. 
This opportunity, for which he had so long waited, came with the pas- 
sage by the Legislature of 1849 of the act to charter "The North Caro- 
lina Railroad Company."^ The history of this measure — the long and 
bitter contest between the East and the West over the proposed railroad 
from Charlotte to Danville, the statesmanlike compromise of its advo- 
cates in accepting the road from Charlotte to Goldsboro, the prolonged 
struggle and ultimate victory in the House of Commons, the dramatic 
scene in the Senate wherein Calvin Graves immolated his own personal 
ambition on the altar of public duty, — all this has been described so often 
that it is not necessary to repeat the story here. The act authorized 
the organization of a corporation with stock of $3,000,000, of which the 
State was to take $2,000,000 when private individuals had subscribed 
$1,000,000 and actually paid in $500,000. North Carolina had long 
stood at the turn of the road hesitatingly. By the passage of this act 
she finally made her decision. The enthusiam of Governor Morehead, 
who was not usually given to picturesque language, was too great for 
plain speech. "The passage of the act," he declared, "under which this 
company is organized was the dawning of hope to North Carolina; the 
securing its charter was the rising sun of that hope; the completion of 
the road will be the meridian glory of that hope, pregnant with the 
results that none living can divine."20 

For the next five years, during which the private subscription of $1,- 
000,000 was secured, the charter obtained, the company organized, the 
route surveyed, and the road constructed, the dominant figure in its his- 
tory is the figure of John M. Morehead. In this period he performed his 
greatest service to the State and enrolled his name permanently among 
the builders of the Commonwealth. The experience of North Carolina 
in railroad building up to that time had not been encouraging. Both 
the Wilmington and Weldon and the Raleigh and Gaston railroads 

^OReport of the Directors of the North Carolina Railroad Company: Legislative Documents 
1850-'51. Executive Document No. 9. 

Bust of John M. Morehead 17 

were bankrupt for tlie want of patronage. In tlie face of this fact, it 
was no slight achievement to raise a million dollars in North Carolina 
for another similar enterprise. Yet this is the task to which Governor 
Morehead now set himself. On June 15, 1849, he presided over a great 
Internal Improvements Convention at Salisbury at which measures, 
largely suggested by himself, were adopted for securing the stock.^i 
Placed by this convention at the head of an executive committee to carry 
out these measures, he pushed them with a vigor, determination, and wis- 
dom that aroused the enthusiasm of the whole State and inspired confi- 
dence in the enterprise. Speaking of his work at a convention held in 
Greensboro, ^N'ovember 30, 1849, in the interest of the road, the Greens- 
boro Patriot declared that "the determined spirit of this distinguished 
gentleman touched every heart in that assembly and awoke a feeling of 
enthusiasm and anxiety, deep, startling, and fervent as we have ever 
witncssed."22 On March 6, 1850, Morehead was able to announce to a 
convention at Hillsboro that only $100,000 remained to be taken to com- 
plete the private subscription, and then announced his willingness to be 
one of the ten men to take the balance. ISTine others promptly came 
forward, subscribed their proportionate part, and thus ensured the 
building of the road.23 "It is worthy of remark," declared Major 
Walter Gwyn, the eminent engineer whose skill ccntribut-ed so much to 
the construction of the road, "that the whole amount was subscribed by 
individuals, without the aid of corporations, the largest subscription 

2iThis convention was attended by two hundred and twenty-five delegates from twenty-one coun- 
ties and Norfolk, Virginia. Among those present were, ex-Gov. D. L. Swain, ex-Gov. W. A. Graham, 
ex-Gov. John M. Morehead, John W. Ellis, afterwards Governor, John A. Gilmer, Rufus Barringer, 
Victor Barringer, James W. Osborne, Calvin H. Wiley, Hamilton C. Jones. IMorehead was unani- 
mously elected president. The correspondent of the Raleigh Register wrote that the meetings of this 
convention "had been looked to for some time past with the most intense interest, by the friends of 
the Central Railroad, as determining, to a considerable extent, the probable success or failure of that 
enterprise." He declared that "the Convention in every respect— the numbers, intelligence and re- 
spectability of its m.embers, its zeal and its harmony of action— was all that even the most sanguine 
would have desired * * * The address of the President was, in all respects, worthy the 
importance of the occasion and the high reputation of the man." A Committee of Thirteen was ap- 
pointed "to consider of and report upon the measures to be acted on by the Convention." This com- 
mittee recommended a plan, which the Convention adopted, for securing stock subscriptions and the 
appointment of an Executive Committee of three to carry it into effect. Morehead was made Chair- 
man of this Executive Committee. The other members were George W. Mordecai and Dr. W. R. Holt— 
The Raleigh Register, June 23, 1849. Similar Conventions were held at Greensboro, November 29, 
1849; Raleigh, December 15, 1849; Goldsboro, in January, 1850; and Hillsboro, March, 1850. At the 
Greensboro Convention Governor Morehead "passed a high eulogism upon Calvin Graves, of Caswell, 
who had given the casting vote by which this charter of the N. C. Railroad Company had been 
passed," and then nominated him for president. Morehead was appointed chairman of the commit- 
tee on subscriptions. He reported subscriptions of S190,800. John A. Gilmer suggested that one hun- 
dred men come forward to take the balance in equal parts. Morehead headed the list, but the requisite 
number was not secured. After several addresses had been delivered, Morehead rose and said that 
as the speaking seemed to be over, he reckoned we had as well get to work now, and take the remainder 
of the stock." As only fifty-one men had taken up Mr. Gilmer's suggestion, Morehead agreed to double 
his subscription, if the others would. The proposition, however, was not accepted.— Raleigh Star, 
December 5, 1849. On December 15, Morehead addressed the Convention at Raleigh at which about 
$40,000 of stock was subscribed. He was also at the Goldsboro Convention. At the Hillsboro Con- 
vention the sulDScription was completed, and a meeting of the stockholders called to be held at Sahs- 
bury. to organize the company. 

22Quoted in the Raleigh S<ar. December 5, 1849. ^ ,^ , jx 

23The others were George W. Mordecai, of Wake; John W. Thomas, of Davidson; Dr. (Edmund) 
Strudwick, of Orange; Paul Cameron, of Orange; William Boylan, of Wake; Alonzo T. Jerkins, of Cra- 
ven; Dr. A. J. DeRosset, of New Hanover; Giles Mebane, of Alamance; and a group of ten individuals 
in Orange who subscribed the last ten thousand.— Raleigh Star, March 20, 1850. 

18 Ceremonies in Connection with Presentation of 

thus made to any public improvement in the Southern country." The 
editor of the Ealeigh Star,^^ announced the completion of the private 
subscription with the following comments: 

We must be permitted to remark that the State owes much to that sterling 
man, Governor Morehead, for success in this enterprise; and that he who has 
heretofore been styled a "wheel horse" in this matter, may be justly entitled 
to the appellation of a "whole team." Whilst we pen these hasty lines, the 
deep-mouthed cannon is pealing forth from Union Square commemorative 
of this great deed for North Carolina. We are not of a very excitable dispo- 
sition, but we must confess that it makes our blood run quicker at every peal, 
so that we can scarcely restrain ourselves from responding to its notes, 
"Huzza! Huzza! for the railroad." 

On July 11, 1850, the private stockholders met at Salisbury and organ- 
ized the company.25 The board of directors unanimously elected John 
M. Morehead president. He was continuously reelected president until 
1855, when declining further election he was sMCceeded by Charles F. 
Fisher. During these five years of President Morehead's administra- 
tion the ^orth Carolina Railroad, truly described as "the greatest of all 
enterprises so far attempted by the State of l^orth Carolina in the nature 
of a public or internal improvement," was constructed and opened 
to traffic. The surveys were commenced August 21, 1850; on July 
11, 1851, at Greensboro, in the presence of an immense throng, ground 
for the laying of the rails was broken ;26 on January 29, 1856, the road 
was ready for cars from Goldsboro to Charlotte, a distance of two hun- 
dred and twenty-three miles. In his last report to the board of direc- 
tors. Engineer Gwyn said that the breaking of ground for this railroad 
"may be justly regarded as an event which will ever be memorable in 
the annals of J^ortli Carolina — an era which marks her engaging with 

24March 6, 1S50. 

2sThe following Directors were elected: William C. Means, John B. Lord, John I. Shaver, Francis 
Fries, John W. Thomas, John M. Morehead, John A. Gilmer, William A. Graham, Benjamin Trol- 
linger, Romulus M. Saunders, Armand J. DeRosset, Alonzo T. Jerkins. The Directors elected the 
following officers: President, John M. Morehead; Secretary-Treasurer, John U. Kirkland; Engineer, 
Major Walter Gwyn. 

26This ceremony followed the regular annual meeting of the stockholders. The correspondent of 
the Raleigh Register gives the following account of it: 

"A crowd of people appeared, ready for the celebration, such as we may safely say was never seen 
in our town before for numbers. It was one universal jam all out of doors. The young gentlemen 
who acted as marshals had hard enough work of it, to persuade this vast and unwieldy crowd into 
marching shape; but they at length succeeded to a degree which at first appeared impossible. The 
procession was formed on West Street, the clergy in front; then the stockholders; then the Orders of 
Odd Fellows and Free Masons, who turned out in great numbers and in full regalia; closing with the 
citizens generally. This immense line moved down South Street to a point on the Railroad survey 
nearly opposite the Caldwell Institute building, where a space of a hundred feet each way was enclosed 
by a line and reserved for the ceremony of the day. The north side of this space was occupied by the 
ladies, whose smiles are always ready for the encouragement of every good word and work. The other 
three sides were soon occupied by the male portion of the assemblage, from ten to twenty deep 
around. You may imagine, then, the difficulty which the 'rear rank' encountered in getting a glimpse 
of the proceedings within. 

"Having the misfortune to be among the outsiders, our situation was of course unfavorable for 
hearing, and seeing was impossible. But we did hear nearly every word of Governor Morehead's clear, 
sonorous voice, as he introduced the Hon. Calvin Graves to the vast assemblage. He did this in terms 
eloquent and singularly appropriate to the occasion. After alluding to the necessity so long felt by 
our people for an outlet to the commercial world— to the inception of the great scheme, the commence- 
ment of which we had met today to celebrate— to the vicissitudes of the charter before the two houses 

Bust of John M. Mokehead 19 

earnestness in honorable competition with her sister states in the great 
work of internal improvement which is to raise the State to that rank 
which the advantages of her situation entitle her to hold," and continu- 
ing, he said : 

From this memorable day, July 11, 1851, there has been no faltering or 
despondency; all have been united heart and hand in the great undertaking; 
the whole State, her entire people, catching the enthusiasm which it engen- 
dered, have come forth in their might and majesty, battling in the cause of 
internal improvement, those heretofore signalized as laggards now pressing 
forward in the front rank. * * * tj^^ contractors on the North Carolina 
Railroad were all stockholders, and with only two or three exceptions en- 
tirely destitute of experience in the work they undertook; they commenced 
their contracts very generally in January, 1852, and on the first of January, 
1853, without the aid of a single dollar from the treasury of the company, 
but relying entirely upon their own credit and means, their united labor 
amounted to $500,000, which, carried to the credit of their stock subscription, 
fulfilled the second condition of the subscription on the part of the State and 
brought her in as a partner in the great enterprise. This (coupling the sub- 
scription of a million of dollars by individuals, chiefly farmers, and working 
out a half a million on their own resources) is an achievement unprecedented 
in the annals of the public works of this or any other country, and wherever 
known (and it ought to be published everywhere) will disabuse the public 
mind and vindicate the energy, enterprise and industry of the citizens of the 
State. I have repeatedly said publicly, and perceiving no impropriety in 
it, I avail myself of this occasion to say that in my experience, now exceed- 
ing thirty years, I have not found on any public work with which I have been 
connected a set of contractors more reliable than those with whom I have 
had to deal on the North Carolina Railroad, and none with whom my inter- 
course has been so pleasant and agreeable. 

It is no small tribute to the wisdom and constructive genius of Presi- 
dent Morehead to be able to say that, of all the contracts which, as presi- 
dent of the road, he had to make, the only one about which any contro- 
versy ever arose, or any charge of favoritism was ever made, was one 

of the General Assembly, and the fact that it at last hung upon the decision of the Speaker of the 
Senate, and that its fate was decided in the affirmative by the unfaltering 'Aye' of that Speaker, 
Calvin Graves,— he said that no other citizen of North Carolina could so appropriately perform the 
ceremony of removing the first earth in the commencement of this work on which the hopes of the State 
so vitally depend, as to the man who pronounced the decisive 'Aye.' 

"It was impossible for us to catch the full connection of Mr. Graves' speech. Some sentences we 
heard, glowing with that patriotic feeling which has so long distinguished him as one of the first and 
best sons of old North Carolina. We could only judge generally of its effect by the waving of para- 
sols and handkerchiefs among the ladies, and the frequent and hearty applause that arose from the 
inner ranks of the citizens. * * * * 

"At the conclusion of Mr. Graves' speech he 'broke' ground on the Railroad by digging up and 
depositing in a box prepared for that purpose a few spadesful of earth. 

"Governor Morehead remarked that this was deposited in the box, to remain a hundred years, 
and then be reopened for our inspection! The crowd laughed at the ludicrousness of the idea and so did 
we. But it naturally awoke a graver thought. Before a tenth of a century shall pass, we dare say 
that numbers of those present will see the railroad cars swiftly traversing the spot where this interest- 
ing ceremony occurred. * • * * 

"The annual meeting of stockholders closed on Friday morning. Nothing of importance was done 
during the afternoon sitting. « * * -pjjg apprehension felt by a few that something fatal to 
the road would happen at this meeting was very agreeably dissipated. Conciliation and harmony, 
and a disposition to prosecute the enterprise with all power to a successful termination marked the 
proceedings."— The Raleigh Register, July 16, 1851. 

20 Cekemonies iist Connection with Presentation of 

which the State Directors, for partisan political purposes, took out of 
his hands and referred for settlement to a committee of their own 
choosing. 2 7 

The N'orth Carolina Eailroad was only one link in the great State 
system which Morehead contemplated. As he himself expressed it this 
system was to include "one great leading trunk line of railway from 
the magnificent harbor of Beaufort to the Tennessee line." Writing in 
1866, he attributed the conception of this scheme to Joseph Caldwell and 
Judge Gaston, adding: 

Charter after charter, by the influence of these great men, was granted to 
effect the work, but the gigantic work was thought to be too much for the 
limited means the State and her citizens could then command, and the 
charters remain monuments of their wisdom and our folly, or inability to 
carry them out. A more successful plan it is hoped was finally adopted — 
to do this great work by sections. The North Carolina Railroad * * * 
was the first [section] undertaken. 2s 

The other sections were to be built between Goldsboro and Beaufort 

27This controversy was an incident in one of the most memorable events in Governor Morehead's 
career. Before the passage of the act to charter the North Carolina Railroad Company, the people 
of the Central section of the State had asked the Legislature to charter a company to build a railroad 
from Charlotte to Danville, Va. The people of the East opposed this charter, and in 1849 its advo- 
cates accepted in its place the railroad from Charlotte to Goldsboro. Nearly ten j^ears passed, there- 
fore, before anything more was heard of the Danville Connection. In 1858 the advocates of the Dan- 
ville Connection again brought forward their scheme, and asked for a charter for a company to build 
a road, without any aid from the State, to connect the North Carolina Railroad at Greensboro with 
the Richmond and Danville at Danville. The bill was introduced in the House of Commons in 1858 
by Francis L. Simpson, of Rockingham, but everybody understood that it was in reality Governor 
Morehead's bill and he was its principal champion. The members from the East, supported by the 
Raleigh Register and the Raleigh Standard, immediately assailed the project as inimical to the interests 
of the North Carolina Railroad. The debate continued several days. It was participated in by some 
of the debaters in the State, and was extended to embrace the whole subject and history of the 
State's policy toward railroads. Governor Morehead's administration of the affairs of the North Caro- 
lina Railroad was bitterly assailed. He was charged with mismanagement and with a breach of faith 
and betrayal of the interests of the State, his opponents claiming that, while soliciting subscriptions 
to stock in the North Carolina Railroad Company, he had expressly promised to abandon forever 
all advocacy of the Danville Connection. No more formidable attack, perhaps, has ever been made 
on any public man in the history of North Carolina. Arrayed against Morehead, besides the two 
newspapers mentioned, were Robert R. Bridgers, of Edgecombe; W. T. Dortch, of Wayne; Pride Jones 
and John W. Norwood, of Orange, and Dennis D. Ferebee, of Camden, and others scarcely less distin- 
guished for ability. Morehead's defence is still remembered as one of the really great fc^rensic triumphs 
in our history. Mr. J. S. F. Baird, who represented Buncombe County in thfit Legislature, and who 
was not of Governor Morehead's political faith, under date of April 29, 1912, writes of the contest: 

"After the lapse of fifty-four years it is impossible for me to recall many of the incidents of the de- 
bate but this much I do remember, that Colonel Bridgers' attack on Governor Morehead was futile 
and did the Governor no harm, for he vindicated himself in the most thorough manner." 

Two other members who them.selves participated in the debate have left their testimony. John 
Kerr, of Rockingham Coimty, said of Morehead's defence: 

"Never was a more brilliant -vactory won than he achieved that day. His assailants were driven 
from all their positions, were pursued and routed, 'horse, foot and dragoons' * * * They 
were strong men, and the House felt the shock of battle while the conflict lasted. But when he closed 
his defence his assailants bore the air of deep dejection and discomfiture. The House was enraptured 
with the display of power on the part of Governor Morehead, and no further charges were heard against 
him." Hon. Thomas Settle said: "For a time the attack seemed overwhelming, and Governor More- 
head's friends feared that he would not be able to repel it. For five days he sat and received it in 
silence, but when he arose and as he proceeded with his defence, friend, foe, and everybody else was 
struck with amazement. We could scarcely realize that any man possessed such powers of argument 
and eloquence. His \'indication was so complete that his assailants openly acknowledged it." Mr. 
C. S. Wooten, who did not hear the debate but remembers the impression it created in the State at the 
time, says of Morehead's effort: "I know of but one other instance in American history that can 
parallel Morehead's fight and that was when Benton, solitary and alone, made his fight against Cal- 
houn, Clay and Webster in favor of his resolution expunging from the records of the Senate the resolu- 
tion censuring General Jackson. There never has been such another instance in the history of the 
State of such moral courage, such heroic firmness, and such a grand exhibition of iron nerve." In the 
heat of the contest the Danville Connection was almost forgotten in the attack on Morehead. The 
former was defeated by a strictly sectional vote; but Morehead achieved, according to all testimony, 
both contemporary and subsequent, a great personal triumph. The newspaper reports of the debate 
are too meager to give one anything like an adequate idea of the speeches on either side. 

*8Letter to the Stockholders of the North Carolina Railroad Co. Proceedings of the Seventeenth 
Annual Meeting, July 17, 1866. 

Bust of John M. Morehead 21 

and between Salisbury and tbe Tennessee boundary. In accordance 
with this plan the Legislature, in 1853, incorporated "The Atlantic and 
IS'orth Carolina Kailroad Company," and "The ISTorth Carolina and 
Western Railroad Company," to which Governor Morehead referred as 
^^the contemplated extensions of the North Carolina Railroad." Imme- 
diately after the passage of these acts, Governor Reid ordered President 
Morehead and the Directors of the N'orth Carolina Railroad to make 
the necessary surveys. In an open letter to the Greensboro Patriot, 
Governor Morehead said of this order : 

I desire to give this pleasing intelligence to the friends of these enter- 
prises, through your valuable paper, with an assurance that the work will 
be commenced at as early a day as practicable. * * * Not a moment is 
to be lost. The deep, deep regret is that these extensions are not now in full 
progress of construction. The giant strides of improvement around us should 
arouse us to action. The ignominious and pusillanimous complaint that 
Nature has done so little for us is a libel upon the old dame. Let us see if 
it is not. * * * We have at the eastern terminus of one of these exten- 
sions one of the finest harbors, at Beaufort, for all commercial purposes, on 
the whole Atlantic coast. And if the improvements at the mouth of Cape 
Fear shall succeed, as it is hoped they will, we shall have another port sur- 
passed by few, if any, in the South. * * * But it may be asked, what 
commerce have we to require such a port as Beaufort? Let the answer be, the 
commerce of the world. Look at the location of this port — placed at the end 
of the North Carolina coast, which projects like a promontory into the At- 
lantic, midway and within sight of the great line of navigation between the 
North and the South, and within thirty minutes' sail of the ocean. Nature 
made it for a stopping place of commerce — the halfway house between the 
North and the South, where steamers may get their supplies of anthracite, 
semi-bituminous and bituminous coal. * * * 3^^ let us take a western 
view of these extensions. The road running from Beaufort along the Central 
Railroad [the North Carolina Railroad] and to the Tennessee line and thence 
along the lines already in progress of construction to Memphis will not vary 
one degree from a due west course. Extend the same line westward (and I 
predict it will surely be done) to the city of San Francisco, which is to be- 
come the great emporium of the East India trade, and who can doubt that the 
trade of the Mississippi Valley, as well as that of the East Indies and China, 
will crowd our port.29 

Under Morehead's supervision, the work of both the Atlantic and 
N'orth Carolina Railroad, and the Western !N'orth Carolina Railroad 
was inaugurated.30 On June 17, 1858, the former was completed and 

MRaleigh Register, June 25, 1843. 

soMorehead was the pioneer in developing our system of internal improvements and was the lead- 
ing spirit in the building of the North Carolina Railroad. He was President for four years of the Cen- 
tral Road and was the Chief Contractor in building the road from Morehead City to New Bern * ♦ • 
Badger was an abler lawyer, Bragg a more astute reasoner, Graham more polished and graceful, but 
Morehead, as a man of affairs, for broad scope and grasp of intellect, for vigor of thought, for practical 
common sense, for managing vast financial enterprises, was greater than either. He could stuff bis 
pants in his boot legs, splash through the mud and build railroads while the others would rather 
recline in easy chairs in some cosy office and attend to their law practice, discuss literature, or talk on 
social topics. While building the road from New Bern to Morehead, I have seen him dressed as I have 
described, and his boots besmeared with the red mud of Guilford County."— C. S. Wooten. 

22 Ceremonies iisr CoNNECTioisr with Presentation of 

ready for trains from Goldsboro to Beaufort Harbor ; and a few months 
thereafter found trains running over the latter to within four miles of 
Morganton, while the entire route to the Tennessee line had been sur- 
veyed and partly graded. In 1866 a bill drawn in accordance with the 
original plan, was introduced in the Senate to consolidate these two 
roads and the ISTorth Carolina Railroad under the name of "The ISTorth 
Carolina Railroad Company." Morehead, now approaching the end 
of his long and useful career, strongly endorsed and supported this 
measure. One of his last public utterances was an appeal to the stock- 
holders of the JSTorth Carolina Railroad Company to throw their power- 
ful influence in favor of the consummation of the great plans for which 
he had given the best service of his life. After giving a brief resume 
of the railroad work done in the State he said : 

Here let us pause and take a survey of what has been done in seven years 
towards this great work. From Beaufort harbor to Goldsboro the Atlantic 
and North Carolina Railroad Company have built ninety-six miles. From 
Goldsboro to Charlotte you (the North Carolina Railroad) have built two 
hundred and twenty-three miles. From Salisbury to within four miles of 
Morganton the Western North Carolina Railroad have built seventy-six miles 

* * * making in all three hundred and ninety-five miles, from which de- 
duct forty-three miles from Salisbury to Charlotte, and we have actually 
built of this great line three hundred and fifty-two miles in one continuous 
line. Think of it! Seven years! In the lifetime of a State or nation seven 
years is but as a moment in its existence. It would not cover the dawning 
of its existence. In the great day of a nation's improvements seven years 
would not be the sunrise of that day. We have done this great work in the 
twilight of our great day of internal improvement — a day which dawned so 
beautifully upon us, but which became enveloped in that gloom which shrouds 
the nation in mourning. But let us not despair. The day which dawned so 
beautifully upon us will yet reach its meridian splendor. Then let us be up 
and doing * * * ^nd then the hopes, the dreams of the great and good 
Caldwell and Gaston will be realized. * * * You have the honor of being 
the pioneers in this great work executed in sections. Do yourselves now the 
honor to consolidate the whole and complete the original design. You, the 
most powerful and most independent of the three corporations, can, with 
much grace, propose to your sister corporations consolidations upon terms of 
justice and equity manifesting selfishness in naught but your name. Yield 
not that. The new consolidated corporation should be still "The North 
Carolina Railroad Company." This will be a corporation worthy of you, of 
your State, and of the great destinies that await it.3i 

# What this great destiny was no man had foreseen so clearly as he. 
The traveler of 1912 along the line of the I^orth Carolina Railroad 
sees the fulfilment of Morehead's dreams of 1850. He finds himself in 
one of the most productive regions of the new world. He traverses it 
from one end to the other at a speed of forty miles an hour, surrounded 

"Letter of July 17, 1866, to the Stockholders of the North Carolina Railroad Company. 

Bust of John M. Morehead 23 

by every comfort and convenience of modern travel. He passes through 
a region bound together by a thousand miles of steel rails, by telegraph 
and telephone lines, and by nearly two thousand miles of improved coun- 
try roads. He finds a population engaged not only in agriculture, but 
in manufacturing, in commerce, in transportation, and in a hundred 
other enterprises.:- Instead of a few old fashioned handlooms turning 
out annually less than $400,000 worth of "homemade" articles, he 
hears the hum of three hundred and sixty modern factories, operating 
two millions of spindles and looms by steam, water, electricity, employ- 
ing more than fifty millions of capital, and sending their products to 
the uttermost ends of the earth. His train passes through farm lands 
that, since Morehead began his work, have increased six times in value, 
that produce annually ten times as much cotton and seventy-five times 
as much tobacco. From his car window instead of the four hundred 
and sixty-six log huts that passed for schoolhouses in 1850, with their 
handful of pupils, he beholds a thousand modern schoolhouses, alive 
with the energy and activity of one hundred thousand school children. 
His train carries him from Goldsboro through Kaleigh, Durham, Bur- 
lington, Greensboro, High Point, Lexington, Salisbury, Concord, Char- 
lotte, — ^villages that have grown into cities, old fields and cross roads 
that have become thriving centers of industry and culture. Better than 
all else, he finds himself among a people, no longer characterized by 
their lethargy, isolation and ignorance, but bristling with energy, alert 
to every opportunity, fired with the spirit of the modern world, and 
with their faces steadfastly set toward the future. 

* The foundation on which all this prosperity and progress rests is the 
work done by John M. Morehead or inspired by him. 'No well informed 
man can be found today in N'orth Carolina who will dispute his primacy 
among the railroad builders of the State. The j^orth Carolina Rail- 
road, the Atlantic and IN'orth Carolina Railroad, the Western IvTorth 
Carolina Railroad, the connecting link between the l^orth Carolina and 
the Richmond and Danville railroads from Greensboro to Danville, all 
bear witness of his supremacy in this field. In one of the finest passages 
of his message to the General Assembly in 1842 he urged the building of 
good country roads ; today there are five thousand miles of improved rural 
highways in N'orth Carolina. He recommended the building of a Central 
Highway from Morehead City through Raleigh to the Tennessee line; 
today we have just witnessed the completion of a great State Highway 
piercing the very heart of the State almost along the very route he sug- 
gested seventy years ago. *He suggested plans for extensive improvements 
of our rivers and harbors ; today a "thirty foot channel to the sea" has 
become the slogan of our chief port and the National Government is 

24 Ceremonies in Connection with Presentation of 

spending annually hundreds of thousands of dollars in the improvement 
of the Cape Fear, the J^euse, the Pamlico and other rivers of Eastern 
JSTorth Carolina. He urged the construction by the ISTational Govern- 
ment of an inland waterway for our coastwise vessels through Pamlico 
Sound to Beaufort harbor; seventy years have passed since then, this 
enterprise has become national in its scope, the Federal Government has 
assumed charge of it, and the whole nation is anticipating the comple- 
tion in the near future of an inland waterway from Maine through 
Pamlico Sound and Beaufort Harbor to Florida. First of all our 
statesmen Morehead realized the possibility of establishing at Beaufort 
a great world port; and although this dream has not yet been realized 
there are not lacking today men noted throughout the business world for 
their practical wisdom, inspired by no other purpose than commercial 
success, who have not hesitated to stake large fortunes on the ultimate 
realization of this dream also. A twentieth century statesman sent 
before his time into the world of the nineteenth century, Governor 
Morehead, as a distinguished scholar has declared, "would have been 
more at home in J^orth Carolina today than would any other of our 
antebellum governors. He has been dead forty years, and they have 
been years of constant change and unceasing development. But so 
wide were his sympathies, so vital were his aims, so far sighted were his 
public policies, and so clearly did he foresee the larger l^orth Carolina 
of schools, railroads and cotton mills, that he would be as truly a con- 
temporary in the twentieth century as he was a leader in the nine- 

32See sketch by C. Alphonso Smith in the "Biographical History of North Carolina," Vol. 2, pp- 

Bust of John M. Morehead 25 

Address of Presentation 


Ladies and Gentlemen : 

It is the good fortune of the North Carolina Historical Commission 
to be able to offer to the State a marble bust of Governor John Motley 
Morehead, a memorial gift from his grandsons, J. Lindsay Patterson 
and John Motley Morehead. Governor Morehead's career has been so 
ably and amply reviewed by Mr. Connor that it is unnecessary to 
recount his many services to his State. He was one of those remarkable 
men who left an indelible impression upon his people, and we should 
hold his memory in most grateful esteem. Far sighted beyond his time, 
he saw the needs of his State with seerlike wisdom, and with rare acumen 
he planned a great industrial commonwealth, and his popularity and 
power over the people enabled him to put into operation policies whose 
influence was far reaching and whose benefits are still accruing. Plans 
that might have been regarded as the dream of a visionist, under his 
master mind and great executive ability became realities. His admin- 
istration was distinguished for the development of commerce, agricul- 
ture, the growth of the common schools and the establishment of an insti- 
tution for the deaf and dumb and blind, but it was most famed for the 
great system of internal improvements with which his name is insepar- 
ably linked. His greatest achievement was the building of a trunk line 
of railroad from the mountains to the sea — from Morganton to More- 
head City. He was the father of its development and was its first presi- 

This road is the State's greatest single financial asset, valued today at 
more than $7,000,000 and built without a cent of taxation of the people. 
The North Carolina Railroad as planned by him to connect the Mis- 
sissippi with the Atlantic at Beaufort Harbor was one of the greatest 
projects of the middle of the last century. His heart and brain were 
absorbed in uniting the East with the West, establishing a community 
of interest and making a homogeneous people, bound together with 
ties of steel. Its inestimable service in acquainting the sections and 
unifying our people have been its greatest value to our State. Its worth 
can hardly be overestimated. 

Mr. Joyner, to you, representing the State, I, as Chairman of the 
North Carolina Historical Commission, have the honor to offer a bust of 
this master builder and great constructive statesman, John Motley 

Address of Acceptance 


Mr. Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen: 

To me has been assigned, in the absence of the Governor, the pleasant 
duty of accepting, on behalf of the State of ^orth Carolina, this marble 
bust of John Motley Morehead. 

"Peace hath her victories no less renowned than war." This man 
whose memory we are met to honor today, is facile princeps among 
JSTorth Carolina's great leaders of those silent revolutions by which 
alone are won the greatest victories of peace. 

Father and builder of the l!^orth Carolina Railroad, pioneer manu- 
facturer, promoter of inland waterways and public highways, successful 
champion of public education and of charitable institutions, able advo- 
cate of all that was best industrially, morally, and intellectually for his 
people, gifted with the vision and enthusiam that characterizes every 
truly great soul, endowed with common sense, wisdom, courage, force of 
character, strength of will and devotion to duty that made him a great 
leader and a great executive in public and private business, he has won 
and merited his place in ^orth Carolina history among "the few, the 
immortal names that were not born to die." His bust deserves this 
honored niche in the Westminster Abbey of our State. 

As his tongue v.^as the first to proclaim from the granite halls of this 
Capitol [N'orth Carolina's declaration of commercial and industrial 
freedom, and to point the way thereto, may the spirit of the man, incar- 
nate in this sculptured image, speak, trumpet-tongued, through these 
marble lips to the countless generations of noble youth that reverently 
pause before it, and hearten them for high endeavor and noble achieve- 

In the name of the people of the State that he served vdth such dis- 
tinguished ability, I now accept, with gratitude to the donors, this artistic 
image of one of her greatest Governors and noblest sons.