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GEORGE DAVIS 



H. G. CONNOR 




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GEORGE DAVIS 



By 

H. G. CONNOR 

Judge of the United States Court, 
Eastern District of North Carolina 



DELIVERED 



Unveiling of a Statue of George Davis at Wilmincton. N. C. 

April 20. 1911. by the Cape Fear Chapter. No. 3. 

United Daughters of the Confederacy 



PUBLISHED BY 

THE CAPE FEAR CHAPTER, No. 3 
U. D. C. 



Gift 
OCT 1 1 fill 



Opening Prayer 



itv riih; iMiini reverend Robert straa^ue, bishoi* of east 

CAROLINA. 



O God, our Fatiior, with whom do live in joy and felicity 
the spirits of good men made perfect, bless us here today as we 
gather together to commemorate the virtues of one of Thy 
choice servants. 

O Lord God, who doth move forward and upward all man- 
kind by selecting and endowing great and good men to be their 
teachers and examples, we pray Thee deepen and continue the 
influence of him whom we honor; may his teachings sink deep 
into our hearts, and may his character be ever a guide and 
stimulus to our growing and aspiring youth. 

O Lord, from whom all good things do come, bless in this 
good work, bless in home and daily life these sweet women, who, 
according to their custom, are our leaders in the high, the 
true, and the unselfish. 

All these things we ask, O Father, for Jesus Christ's sake. 
Amen. 



GEORGE DAVIS 



"North Carolina never bred a finer gentleman, nor one who more 
completely commanded the love and reverence of all who knew him. 
Frank and loyal in all things, he was singular in his love of truth, 
and in his lofty scorn of every thing dishonorable or mean." 

"He was a man of eminent abilities, of varied knowledge, of sin- 
cere piety, of unstained virtue, of great learning and cultivated 
taste." 

Thus spoke George Davis of Governor Samuel Ashe, whoui 
"he well remembered as the last of the Revolutionary patriots 
of that name," and of Edward Moseley, of whose public services 
and private character he had made a careful study. These just 
and generous tributes are singularly descriptive of the noble 
gentleman who uttered them. No more accurate portrayal of 
his character can be drawn. Only noble souls, large minds and 
generous hearts may interpret those of like mould. It is be- 
cause they see illustrated in the life, the conversation and 
example of this man, a heroic past, an abiding devotion to 
public and privat-e virtue, and an inspiration to the men of the 
future, that the United Daughters of the Confederacy of the 
Cape Fear determined to place in the city which he loved so 
much, and to which he rendered such high service, an enduring 
memorial of the form and features of their most eminent man 
and honored citizen. A people who correctly interpret charac- 
ter; who correctly place, both in proportion and in adjustment, 
the essential virtues of manhood; who distinguish those per- 
sonal qualities which abide, from those which pass with time 
and occasion ; who, in their judgment of men and their conduct, 
separate essentials from non-essentials; who put a right esti- 
mate upon personal courage, both moral and physical, love of 
truth, and loyalty to noble ideals; who have faith in God, and 
reverence for sacred things; who hold to these truths as "first 
principles," and practice the.se virtues as "primary duties," not 
to be doubted or debated, will honor while living, and hold in 
sacred memory, when dead, those who, in their lives, represent 
their past, illustrate their present, and inspire their future. In 
the ceremonies of this day we road loyalty to the past and 



8 George Davis. 

visions of the future. Others would bring to this oecnsion lar- 
ger ca])acity, but to none would I yield, in reverence for the 
virtues, admiration for the learning, gratitude for the example 
and sacred regard for the memory of him whom, in honoring, 
we do the more honor ourselves. 

The story of the early settlement, the trials and struggles of 
the men who came to the lower Cape Fear, has been told with 
loving loyalty by Mr. Davis who, with his accustomed modesty, 
disclaimed the office of the historian, but "assumed the humbler, 
still pious duty of connecting recorded facts, of perpetuating 
traditions and plucking the mosses which had gathered on their 
tombs." The names of those who, as he tells us, "were gentle- 
men of birth and education, bringing with them ample fortunes, 
gentle manners and cultivated minds, most of them united by 
ties of blood, and all by those of friendship, came as one house- 
hold, sufficient to themselves, and reared their family altars in 
love and peace," are written on the brightest pages of the his- 
tory of North Carolina. Their social qualities were as those 
of the English, and their politics of the Whigs of the Revolu- 
tion of 1688. They were familiar with the battle of their 
British ancestors for Constitutional government, and well 
understood the limitations placed upon the royal prerogative by 
the Bill of Eights. They knew full well that their rights were 
secured to them by Royal Charter. So long as these chartered 
rights were respected, they were contented in their new homes. 
They were not given to abstract speculations, either in govern- 
ment or religio?!. They were essentially Whigs of the pattern 
of Chatham, Burke and Camden. It was for this reason that 
they resisted the enforcement of the Stamp Act and went to 
war in defense of a political principle involving their consti- 
tutional rights. As said by the scholarly Alderman, the eulo- 
gist of Hooper and his associates, "The American Revolution 
was not a strife between countries and people, but between 
parties and principles for the priceless treasure, the bright in- 
heritance of English freedom. * * * It was the triumphant 
culmination of the world-wide fight against prerogative. The 
British were fighting the battles of the forum to acquire from 
crowned divinity the liberty they had lost ; the Americans were 
shedding their blood to keep the liberty they had always known. 



^NfKAIOUl \l. A lll)l;I^^S. 9 

Tho s])\r\\ wliiclj rcsisti-i] laxaiiuii without representation in 
Aniorica, was the same whieli resi.sted h)aiis. IxMievolenoes and 
ship nioiKW in England." They believed, with Chatliani, tliat 
"Jt was better for them to jjerisli in a glorious contention for 
their rights, than to purchase a slavish tranquillity at the ex- 
pense of a single iota of the Constitution." 

No man knew better, few so well, as did ^Ir. Davis, and none 
in such noble, but simple eloquence told with faithful accuracy, 
in glowing language, the story of the part borne by the men of 
the lower Cape Fear in the struggle for independence. Any 
reflection upon their patriotism, or their motives, aroused his 
indignation, bringing him to their defense. He was of their 
blood and that which pertained to their honor was personal to 
him. As we read his well-rounded sentences, his noble, in- 
spiring story of these men, their devotion to liberty, their re- 
sistance to its invasion, their lofty language maintained by their 
brave deeds, one feels that he lives in those stirring times. It 
was as a boy from hearing "the oft told story" and, in later 
life, the enthusiastic, yet careful, student of the "early times 
and men of the lower Cape Fear," that he imbibed their spirit 
as he inherited their blood. He thus concludes his celebrated 
Chapel Hill Address: 

"My theme, though local, has been purely North Carolinian; and 
its purpose was, by some striking examples, not solitary in their 
greatness, but only shining pages of a luminous history, to show you 
how rich we are in all that makes the just and honorable pride of 
a people. The moral strength of a true and loyal gentleman has no 
ingredient so powerful as an ever-present pride of personal character. 
The man who lacks it may move without discredit on the plane of 
life's ordinary level; but he can never ascend to mountain tops nor 
feast his soul with the glorious contemplation of great temptations 
nobly fought and conquered. The undefinable spirit of patriotism 
has no element so powerful as a high and justifiable State pride." 

Here we find the impulse and the spirit which guided him 
through his long, honorable and useful life. 

"Mr. Davis was entirely a product of Cape Fear influence. 
For a century his people had been among the first in social 
standing in that part of Xorth Carolina." Jehu Davis was 
one of four brothers, coming from England to Massachusetts, 
early in the eighteenth century, who went to South Carolina, 



10 George Davis. 

settling in St. James Parish, the famous Goose Creek section, 
near Charleston. After some years, the brothers moved to the 
Cape Fear, together with the tide of settlers who came in with 
the Moores, about the year 1725. Jehu Davis married Jane 
Assup, an Irish lady, and among other children, left Thomas, 
who married Mary Moore, daughter of George Moore (by his 
first wife, Mary Ashe, a sister of Governor Samuel Ashe and 
General John Ashe), who was the son of old "King Roger" 
Moore and grandson of Governor James Moore, of South Caro- 
lina. Their son, Thomas Frederick Davis, married Sarah Isa- 
bella Eagles, daughter of Joseph Eagles, Sr., and his wife, 
Sarah Read (sister of Colonel James Read, of Revolutionary 
fame). Of this marriage was born Thomas Frederick Davis; 
and, March 1, 1820, on his father's plantation at Porter's 
Neck, then New Hanover, now Pender County, George Davis. 
Of the other brothers who came from South Carolina, John 
married the daughter of John Moore, brother of old "King 
Roger" and Maurice Moore, and had issue two daughters, one 
of whom, Justina, married, first. Governor Arthur Dobbs and, 
upon his death, Governor Abner Nash. Roger Davis married 
Elizabeth, daughter of Nathaniel Moore, another brother of 
old "King Roger" and Maurice Moore. The other brother, 
William, died unmarried. Mr. Davis was closely related to the 
Lillingtons, the Ashes, the Joneses, the Swanns, and many others 
of the old families of the Cape Fear. 

George Davis was sent, when eight years old, to Pittsboro to 
attend the school of Mr. W. H. Hardin, after which he returned 
to Wilmington, where, upon the invitation of Governor Dud- 
ley, he was prepared for college by Mr. M. A. Curtis (after- 
wards Rev. Dr. Curtis, of Ilillsboro), who was tutor in the 
Governor's family. He entered the University, in the four- 
teenth year of his age, being the youngest member, and grad- 
uated, when eighteen, receiving the highest honors of his class 
at the Commencement of 1838. Immediately upon his gradua- 
tion, Mr. Davis entered upon the study of law in the office and 
under the direction of his brother, Mr. Thomas F. Davis, who 
later entered the ministry of the Episcopal Church, and was 
from 1853 until his death the Bishop of the Diocese of South 
Carolina. Completing his preparatory studies he was, upon 



Mkmokiai, Address. 11 

examination by the Supreme Court, composed of Ruffin, Daniel 
and Gaston, when twenty years of age, "found to possess such 
competent knowledge of the law as to entitle him to admission" 
to the Bar. He received his license to practice in the Court 
of Pleas and Quarter Sessions and, one year thereafter, as was 
the rule of the Supreme Court at that time, in the Superior 
Court, and was duly admitted to the Bar of Xew Hanover 
County. 

Having determined to make of himself a lawyer, in the 
largest and best sense of the word, Mr. Davis devoted his time 
and attention to the study and practice of his profession. He 
well understood the truth of the oft repeated adage that "the 
law is a jealous mistress," and resisting the temptation which 
has lured so many young men of the profession into failure, he 
eschewed practical politics. He found recreation, cultivated his 
taste, broadened his views and made of himself a thoroughly 
furnished lawyer, by a study of the masters in the field of polite 
literature, history and other sources of useful knowledge. We 
may well surmise that, in his young manhood, he read and 
adopted the counsel of one of the greatest lawyers, most learned 
Judges and best of men, w^hom North Carolina has given to the 
Bar and Bench, found in a letter to one who had been his stu- 
dent, and who became the leader of the Wilmington Bar, In 
1808 Judge William Gaston wrote William B. Meares, when 
"he was about to bid a final adieu to his office," that the qualifi- 
cations which combine to make the illustrious lawyer are "an 
intimate and thorough acquaintance with legal science, a 
facility in expressing his thoughts clearly, correctly and agree- 
ably, in so arranging and combining them in argument as to 
illustrate, convince, persuade; unremitting attention to the in- 
terests of his clients, incorruptible integrity." Mr. Davis came 
to the study and practice of the law "resolved to master it, not 
to play in its shallows, but to sound its depths," and right 
loyally did he work up to the standard and gather the fruits 
which are the reward of such labor. 

The Bar of Xew Hanover, at the time of Mr. Davis's admis- 
sion, and during the years preceding the Civil War, was com- 
posed of William B. Meares, Daniel B. Baker, IT. L. Holmes, 
Thomas C. Miller, Griffith J. McRee, Eli W. Hall, Colonel 



12 George Davis. 

Robert Strange, Maiiger London, Judge Oliver P. Meares, 
Adam Empie, Hon. William S. Ashe, William A. Wright and 
Joshua G. Wright. That, early in his career, he shared, and 
always retained, with these gentlemen, the honors and practice 
of his profession, is surely sufficient evidence of his thorough 
preparation and learning in the law, and success in its practice. 

Mr. Davis was by temperament, association and conviction 
a Constitutional Whig; such Avas his logical, political align- 
ment. While he sought no position nor preferment, he was a 
student of politics and a close observer of the trend of events 
in the State and country. As he entered into manhood's estate, 
the Whig party in North Carolina was pressing the work of 
Internal Improvements, and its other policies. State and Na- 
tional, under the leadership of John M. Morehead, as Gover- 
nor, Willie P. Manginn and William A. Graham, as Senators, 
while the Whig members of the House of Representatives were 
Kenneth Rayner, Edward Stanly, William H. Washington, 
Augustine H. Sheppard, Abraham Rencher and Lewis Wil- 
liams, the last named, who had sei-ved continuously from 1815 
until 1842, having ''received by universal consent the title of 
the 'Father of the House'." The Cape Fear District was rep- 
resented by James J. McKay, who "was of the Macon school 
of politics." In 1846 he was Chairman of the Committee on 
Ways and Means and "brought in the celebrated Walker 
Tariff Bill." 

The controversy between the East and the West, the latter 
demanding that legislative representation be put upon a popular 
basis, and other amendments to the Constitution adopted by 
the Convention of 1835, and ratified by the people, follow^ed 
by the administration of Governor Dudley, the first Governor 
elected in the State by a popular vote, had given the Whig 
party a clear field for carrying out the State policies which it 
had long advocated. In a letter written by Hon. Hugh Wad- 
dell and Hon. William A. Graham, asking the advice and 
assistance of Judge Gaston as "one who in a long life has con- 
stantly evinced an anxious and patriotic interest in whatever 
concerned North Carolina," is outlined the policy of the Whig 
party. They proposed to deal with the disposition of the sur- 
plus revenue of the United States allotted to North Carolina, 



^Iemorial Address. 13 

improvement of means of intenial transportation, (asking 
whether ''this should be given primary attention"), establishing 
a system of common schools, erection of a penitentiary and 
lunatic asylum and amendments to the revenue system. Dif- 
ference of opinion upon several of these subjects became the 
line of cleavage for many years between the Whig and Demo- 
cratic parties in this State. It is of interest, in this connection, 
to recall the proposed system of railroads affecting the Cape 
Fear section and the State's relation to them. 

Judge Gaston, in a letter to a Northern gentleman, names, 
first, the Wilmington and Weldon (chartered as the Wilmington 
and Raleigh Railroad), the construction of which, he says, 
"has begun and is proceeding with great spirit from Wilming- 
ton on the Capo Fear River to the neighborhood of Halifax 
on the Roanoke, where it will unite with two roads which have 
been built without any assistance from the State — the one lead- 
ing to Petersburg and the other to Norfolk. The Fayetteville 
and Western Railroad is to extend from the town of Fayetteville 
to some point on the Yadkin River above the Narrows (viz, 
above the spot where the Yadkin and TJwharrie unite in Mont- 
gomery County and take the name of the Pee Dee), thence by 
two branches, the one leading directly to the town of Wilkesbor- 
ough, the other across the Catawba River, so as to intersect 
the Charleston and Cincinnati Railroad at some eligible point. 
This point will be somewhere in Rutherford County, as the 
Charleston and Cincinnati Railroad is to enter this State along 
the valley of the Broad River in that county, and is to cross the 
Blue Ridge by one of the head branches of that river into Bun- 
combe. The North Carolina Central Railroad is designed to 
run from the neighborhood of Beaufort, an excellent roadstead 
and harbor about forty miles to the south of New Bern, thence 
by, or near, that town westwardly to Fayetteville." Ho de- 
scribes other roads, not so intimately affecting Wilmington, 
either projected or under construction. The writer says that 
the State proposes, "under certain conditions, to subscribe two- 
fifths of the capital stock and have a proportionate representa- 
tion on the Board of Directors; the State has not reserved to 
herself the right of operating these works, but has contented 
herself with fixing, in the first instance, maximum rates of toll 



14 George Davis. 

to be charged, and providing for a diminution of these rates, 
if they should yield a net profit exceeding fifteen per cent. 
There is not a uniformity in the rates which they are author- 
ized to charge. The maximum is twelve cents per ton on trans- 
porting commodities per mile and six cents for transporting 
passengers." Events, conditions and forces, which constitute 
the story of the State's policy of Internal Improvement wrought 
different results, and produced different conditions, in the State, 
from those expected. The study of the map of North Carolina, 
in the light of proposed and rejected railroad lines, and their 
effect upon her development, is of intense interest. More than 
half a century elapsed before Fayetteville, "the head of naviga- 
tion of the Cape Fear," was connected by rail with the Yadkin 
Valley, and, Wilmington, "the chief seaport of the State," 
was given the trade facilities contemplated by the fathers, and 
then, under conditions far removed from their plans and pur- 
poses. Political, commercial, and other influences have affected 
the currents of trade and transportation. The necessities of 
war disturbed "the system" and carried to our neighboring 
State the currents of commerce which were intended for North 
Carolina ports. In an exceedingly able and interesting argu- 
ment made by Mr. Davis before me, while Superior Court 
Judge, involving the construction of several sections of the 
original charter of the Wilmington and Weldon Railroad, after 
telling in a most interesting way the story of the men and means 
by which the construction of the road was completed, he told 
of the great gathering of the people at Wilmington to celebrate 
the event, saying: "Now that the great work was accomplished, 
the people came and mingled the wafers of the Roanoke with 
the waters of the Cape Fear, and all the world was here." 
Times and tastes have so greatly changed that it were as well 
not to follow the eloquent lawyer further in respect to the man- 
ner in which the hospitality and "good cheer" of the Cape 
Fear were extended to her visitors, with more or less of its mel- 
lowing effects. 

At the Whig Convention of 1848, without his knowledge, 
Mr. Davis came within one vote of receiving the nomination for 
Governor. In 1852 when Mr. Clay, the great leader and idol 
of the Whigs of the country, passed away, he was called upon 



Mkmukiai- Addkkss, 15 

to deliver a eulogy in the city of Wiliiiiiigton. As this is tho 
first of a st'rii's of uotahlo orations delivorcd by him, wo have 
a fair idea of his style as a public speaker, at the age of thirty- 
two years, and of his entiiusiastic admiration for tho great 
Whig statesman. Describing the conditions attending Clay's 
birth, and the influence under which his early days were spent, 
he says : 

"Seventy-five years ago, In an obscure part of Hanover County In 
Virginia, a poor child was given to the world. Ennobled by no long 
line of ancestors, no pomp of heraldry, no glare of wealth, no glories 
of birth or state surrounded and dignified the event. In his own 
language, long years afterwards, 'the only inheritance to which he 
was entitled were infancy, ignorance and indigence.' But mighty 
elements were at work about him. Concord, Lexington and Bunker 
Hill had just spoken. The Immortal Declaration of the Thirteen 
United Colonies had flung defiance in the teeth of a tyrant. The 
whole continent was in a blaze of enthusiasm, and the very atmos- 
phere of his birth-place was filled with the genius, the eloquence and 
the patriotism of Patrick Henry. I know not what mysterious in- 
fluence the time and circumstances of their nativity may have upon 
the destinies and characters of men. Certainly none could be more 
propitious than these to form a patriot." 

When, in 1850, the last call came to Clay and the last com- 
promise between the sections was to be made, Mr. Davis 
thus describes the occasion and the appearance of the great 
Pacificator : 

"From the peaceful shades of loved and distant Ashland, from the 
bosom of his home and wife, from the solaces that weary years had 
made so dear, crowned by immortal flowers, wreathed by a people's 
love, he came. Again the tempest rages and the lightnings flash and 
the thunders roll and the thick darkness is over the land. And 
again serene and high the patriot stands amid the storm, its con- 
queror still. But oh, how changed! Age and disease have done 
their work. The stately form is bent by the snow.s of many winters, 
the bright eye is dimmed, the strong hand trembles, but the high 
heart, and the stately soul, and the mighty will, and the unflinching 
nerve, and the patriotic love, are there. His country is in danger. 
In sorrowing tones she calls upon his name and he bounds to her 
rescue like the war horse with the trumpet in his ear. Again he 
breasts the storm and again the tall form is erect and the eye 
flashes and the nerves are strong and the soul finds utterance and 
the burning eloquence pours. It is the last triumph! The storm 



16 George Davis. 

passes — but the tall oak lies shivered and leafless in the dust. 
Peace has another victory, but many such were worth a nation's 
birthright." 

As the sectional quarrel over slavery increased in intensity, 
the radical element of both sections gained control and, as said 
by Mr. Wash in his admirable address at the unveiling of the 
bust of Governor Graham : "It became daily more and more 
evident that Mr. Seward's irrepressible conflict was not an ora- 
torical exaggeration, but a stern reality." The Southern Whigs 
saw their party dissolve and its members absorbed by the ex- 
treme wings of the Democratic and Republican parties, each of 
is which were of necessity becoming daily more sectional. 

"There is something very admirable in the character, and pathetic 
in the history, of the Old Line Whigs of the South. In politics they 
were conservative, but in all that concerned the industrial interests 
of the country they were progressive. They were as incorruptible 
as a Roman Senator in the palmiest days of Rome. Their public 
life was as clean and as immaculate and as far above suspicion as 
Caesar would have had his wife. To them patriotism was more than a 
sentiment. It was almost a passion. * * * Patriotism to them as- 
sumed a twofold aspect — of love for their native State and love for 
the Union. * * * it was the day of the extremist. Events 
moved too rapidly for the moderates. They could not stem the 
tide — they must move with it, or be overwhelmed. It was a choice 
between loves and, in their agony of soul, they chose the greater — ■ 
their homes, their firesides and their neighbors and, ever after, their 
faces were to the foe." 

Of this class of Southern Whigs was Mr. Davis. The only 
public expression which we find from him, after the election of 
Mr. Lincoln, is in his participation, December 13, 1860, "in 
the largest meeting ever held in the city," composed of "all 
persons who desire to preserve the Union of the States as long 
as it is consistent with our constitutional rights." The record 
states that, at this meeting, Mr. Davis was called upon and that 
"he responded, as he always does, most eloquently and well." 
Resolutions were unanimously adopted declaring that the Union 
of the States, when preserved in its fairness and equality, by a 
just observance of all the guarantees of the Constitution, was 
an inestimable blessing and the best form of government the 
world has ever seen ; that it was, therefore, the high and solemn 



^IlCMoKIAI. AdDKI'.SS. 17 

duty, incuiiiboiit upon evory citizen, to exhaust every ofTort for 
its preservation, eonsislent with our safety and honor." They 
further declared that, while recognizing the present state of 
public sentiment to bo ''in the highest degree threatening and 
dangerous," they were not witliout hope "that prudence, moder- 
ation and patriotism would find a remedy in tlie Union, and 
therefore they were opposed to immediate separation on tlio 
part of North Carolina." They recommended "that a confer- 
ence of the Southern States be held, and that a Convention of 
the people of the State be called." Mr. Davis was too loyal a 
man to have joined with his neighbors in the unanimous adop- 
tion of these resolutions and spoken to them "eloquently and 
well" unless they had expressed his conviction in respect to the 
duty he owed to his State and the Union. He was, as he said 
of his kinsmen of the Revolutionary time, "frank and loyal in 
all things." 

The people of iSTorth Carolina, in February, 1861, rejected a 
proposition to call a Convention, and, at the same time, elected 
a majority of Union men as delegates in the event of a Con- 
vention's being called. The Legislature of Virginia invited the 
other States to join with her in a Congress to be held in Wash- 
ington for the purpose of making an effort to adopt such 
measures as w^ould secure to all of the States their Constitu- 
tional rights in the Union. To this Congress, North Carolina 
sent Chief Justice Thomas Ruffin, Governor John M. Morehead, 
General Daniel M. Barringer, Governor David S. Reid and 
Mr. George Davis. The Congress was composed of one hun- 
dred and twenty-three delegates, representing twenty-one States. 
Ex-President John Tyler presided over its deliberations. Six 
of the Southern States had, at that time, passed ordinances of 
secession. Mr. Buchanan says of the Congress: "A bare in- 
spection of the list will convince all inquirers of the respect- 
ability and just influence of its members. Among them were 
many venerable and distinguished citizens from the border 
States. Earnestly intent upon restoring and saving the Union, 
their great object was to prevail upon their associates from the 
North to unite with them in such recommendations to Con- 
gress, as would prevent their own States from seceding and 
enable them to bring back the Cotton States which had seceded." 
2 



18 George Davis. 

Tlio Congress was in session three weeks, adjourning without 
accomplishing the patriotic purpose for which it was called. 
The causes of this failure, and the responsibility for it, are 
among the unsettled controversies which grew out of the condi- 
tions preceding the Civil War. 

Mr. Davis returned to his home and, upon the invitation of a 
large number of citizens of Wilmington, addressed the people 
at the Thalian Hall. The Wilmington Journal of March 14, 
1861, says: "Although the notice was very brief the hall was 
densely crowded by an eager and attentive audience." Mr. 
Davis said that "he shrank from no criticism of his course, but 
indeed invited and sought for the most rigid examination. He 
had endeavored to discharge the duties of the trust reposed in 
him faithfully, manfully and conscientiously and, whatever 
might be thought of his policy, he felt that he had a right to 
demand the highest respect for the motives which actuated him 
in pursuing that policy." He said, "that he had gone to tiie 
Peace Congress to exhaust every honorable means to obtain a 
fair, an honorable and a final settlement of existing difficulties. 
He had done so to the best of his abilities, and had been un- 
successful, for he could never accept the plan adopted, as con- 
sistent with the right, the interest or the dignity of North 
Carolina." The thanks of the people were tendered Mr. Davis 
for the able, patriotic manner in which he had discharged the 
duties of his trust. 

From the adjournment of the Peace Congress until the Proc- 
lamation by Mr. Lincoln, April 15, 1861, calling upon the Gov- 
ernors of the several States for troops to coerce the seceding 
States, there was much difference of opinion among the people 
of ISTorth Carolina as to the course which the State should pur- 
sue. A number of strong men were endeavoring to prevent the 
calling of a Convention by the Legislature. Among the Union 
men of North Carolina none possessed more influence with the 
people, or were more loyal in their devotion to the Constitu- 
tion and the Union than Hon. John A. Gilmer, Governor Gra- 
ham and Zebulon B. Vance, then a representative in Congress; 
Mr. Gilmer had long represented the Greensboro District in 
Congress and was intimate with Mr. Seward. In a correspond- 
ence with Seward, hegwn March 7th and continued to April 21, 



MkMuKIAI, AlUtlCKSS. 19 

1861, he carncsfly urged that no action Ik' taken by the adminis- 
tration cak'uhited to precipitate the withdrawal of Virginia and 
North Carolina. On A])ril 21st, he writes that he had been away 
from homo attending the courts addressing "crowds of Union 
men," and that '^yesterday evening, on my return home, I saw, 
for the first time, this Proclamation [Lincoln's call for troops]. 
Soon thereafter I heard that a volunteer company in my own 
town, among whom was my only son, had been called for by the 
Governor and they have gone to Fort Macon. I came home 
with a sad heart. I found my own friends greatly excited. I 
was too full to address them. I could not rest that night. If 
I had supposed that the administration would not pursue the 
policy (or something like it) which 1 had urged on you, I 
would have returned to "Washington and have gone daily on my 
knees to it in behalf of my policy, and to avert that shedding 
of human blood which now seems inevitable. * * * All 
hope is now extinguished." (Bancroft's Seward. Appendix.) 
Judge George Howard, who was with Mr. Gilmer while attend- 
ing his courts and saw him at his home on the day upon which 
this letter was written, writes that "with deep emotion" he used 
the language quoted, concluding "we are all one now." Mr. 
Gilmer was a member of the Convention of 1861 and voted for 
the Ordinance of Secession. He also became a member of the 
Confederate Congi-ess, and his only son came out of the war 
with a record for gallantry, and a wound which made him a 
cripple throughout his life. Governor Graham, after a loyal 
effort to prevent the withdrawal of the State "thenceforward 
saw clearly that there was no other alternative but Civil War, 
and that North Carolina must take her part with the other 
Southern States." He was a member of the Convention, voted 
for the ordinance of secession, and became a Confederate States 
Senator. He gave five of his seven sons (all who were old 
enough to bear arms) to the cause of North Carolina in the 
Civil War. Governor Vance, who then represented the Ashe- 
villo District in Congress, in an address delivered in Boston, 
after the war, describing tlie effects of the Proclamation upon 
himself, said: "The Union men had every prop knocked from 
under them, and, by stress of their own position, were plunged 
into the secession movement. For myself, I will say, I was can- 



20 George Davis. 

vassing for the Union with all my strength. I was addressing 
a large and excited crowd, many of whom were armed and liter- 
ally had my arm extended upward, pleading for peace and the 
Union of our fathers when the telegraphic news was announced 
of the firing on Sumter and the President's call for seventy-five 
thousand volunteers. When my hand came down from that 
impassioned gesticulation it fell slowly and sadly by the side 
of a secessionist. I immediately^ with altered voice and man- 
ner, called upon the assembled multitude to volunteer, not to 
fight against, but for South Carolina. I said, 'if war is to 
come I prefer to be with my own people.' " He went into the 
army and later became the War Governor of the State. These 
men are types and representatives of thousands of others in 
North Carolina at that time. 

Mr. Davis was convinced by his association with the Northern 
delegates of the "Peace Congress" that war was inevitable, and 
Avas prepared for it. The Legislature called a convention of 
the people to which delegates representing the several shades 
of opinion were elected. However they may have differed in 
the past in regard to questions of constitutional construction, 
reserved rights. State sovereignty, or the institution of slavery, 
they were unanimous in the determination that North Carolina 
would furnish no troops to coerce a sovereign State or to invade 
its territory. Governor Ellis's response to the call for troops^ 
voiced the sentiment of a large majority of the people of North 
Carolina, without reference to their opinion regarding the wis- 
dom of the action of South Carolina and the other seceding 
States. The attitude of North Carolina was strikingly similar 
to that of Virginia, and of that State Mr. Henderson, the Eng- 
lish writer, said : 

"So far, she had given no overt sign of sympathy witli the Revolu- 
tion, but she was now called upon to furnish her quota of regiments 
for the Federal army. To have acceded to the call would have been 
to abjure the most cherished principles of her political existence. 
Neutrality was impossible. She was bound to furnish her tale of 
troops and thus belie her principles; or secede at once, and reject, 
with a clear conscience, the President's mandate. If the morality 
of secession may be questioned; if South Carolina acted with undue 



1 "I can be no party to thia wicked violation of the laws of the country, and to this war 
upon the liberties of a free people. You can get no troops from North Carolina." 



^Memokiai. Adukkss. 21 

haste, and without sufficient provocation. If certain of the Southern 
politicians desired emancipation for themselves, that they might 
continue to enslave others, It can hardly be denied that the action 
of Virginia was not only fully justified but beyond suspicion." 

-Mr. Rhodes, the latest and mo.st impartial historian, says that, 
while in these States men differed widely in regard to the right 
or wisdom of secession, ''all denied the right or the feasibility 
of coercion." Mr. Munford, in his carefully prepared and well- 
sustained book on the "Attitude of Virginia Towards Slavery 
and Secession," after a thorough examination of, and full quo- 
tation from the opinions of men, both North and South, tluis 
states the conclusion of the matter: 

"Whether regarded as a constitutional right or a revolutionary 
right, or both combined, the people of Virginia held that the Cotton 
States having deliberately, and by almost unexampled unanimity, 
decided to dissolve the political relations which formerly existed 
between them and their sister commonwealths, there was, with re- 
spect to the legal and ethical character of this action, no competent 
court of review this side of the judgment seat of Heaven. The wis- 
dom of their secession might be denied, the morality of their action 
might be questioned, the disastrous consequences to the Union might 
be admitted, but still, no right existed in any body of men to invade 
their country and defeat their aspirations by the sword." 

Mr. Adams says of Virginia: "So, logically and consistently 
she took the position that, though it might be unwise for a State 
to secede, a State which did secede could not and should not be 
coerced." - 

This is equally true of North Carolina. Men have called this 
illogical. Some use stronger language, but whether tested by 
the hard and fast rules of constitutional construction or tried 
to a conclusion before "the jury time empanels," it is the im- 
pregnable rock upon which, eliminating all else, the men of 
North Carolina may, with absolute confidence, rest their cause. 
"To call it rebellion is to speak ignorantly. To call it treason 
is to add viciousness to stupidity." Speaking of Lincoln's at- 
titude to the South in 1S61, Goldwin Smith says: "If he saw, 
he never showed that he saw, the fundamental character of the 
situation with which he had to deal, lie always wrote as if he 
took secession to be rebellion." I confess that, perhaps from 



* Lee at Appomatox, 403. 



22 George Davis. 

heredity, the word "rebellion" does not offend nay ear or dis- 
turb my mind. While rebellion is only justifiable as the last 
resort to secure a "redress of grievances" or to prevent the in- 
vasion of undoubted rights, it has done noble service in behalf 
of both civil and religious liberty. Said Governor Vance, speak- 
ing to a Boston audience: "The fair Goddess of Liberty was 
born of rebellion and was baptized in the blood of rebels. It 
is the only remedy for wrong under absolute government. In 
all ages it has been the last hope of freedom." The words "trea- 
son" and "traitor" are of vastly different signification and, when 
applied to a man or a people, should be met in an entirely differ- 
ent spirit. Brave, loyal men are never traitors, nor are they 
ever guilty of treason to their "ultimate allegiance," and this, 
as said by Mr. Charles Francis Adams, is the "Crux of the 
proposition," and this, he also says, "was due to the State which 
defined and created citizenship." Without discussing the overly 
debated question of State sovereignty, reserved rights or stop- 
ping to inquire whether, in withdrawing from the Union, the 
State was exercising an inherent sovereign right, or was in- 
augurating a revolution upon the grounds assigned by the 
American Colonies in 1776 for their justification, and, alto- 
gether eliminating the occasion or the cause of the controversy, 
it is to me a satisfying reflection that the record shows that 
North Carolina, with absolute fidelity to the teaching and ex- 
ample of the Revolutionary fathers, and to her constitutional 
relations to the other States, finally and conclusively rested her 
course upon her refusal to furnish troops to coerce the action 
of any other State or to invade its territory. To this position 
North Carolina was forced by Mr. Lincoln's proclamation. The 
record shows that, among other causes set forth in the ordi- 
nance introduced by Mr. George E. Badger, supported by Mr. 
Gilmer, Governor Graham, Dr. Kemp P. Battle and others, 
whose loyalty to the Constitution and the Union can not be 
questioned, was that Mr. Lincoln had called for troops "to 
march an army into the seceding States with a view to their 
subjection under an arbitrary and military authority, there 
being no law of Congress authorizing such calling out of troops 
and no constitutional right to use them, if called out, for the 
purposes intended by him." While a majority of the Conven- 



MkMOKIAI, Ai>I)KE88. 23 

tion did not feel called upon to set out the cause of their griev- 
ances, they nil, with accord, voted for and afiixod their names 
to the Ordinance of Secession May 20, 1861. 

Standing here today Jind looking backward over the events 
of half a century, and again looking backward over the events 
of the preceding century of North Carolina history, beginning 
with tlie action of the men of the lower Cape Fear, when they 
declared "that the cause of Boston town was the cause of all," 
and of the men of Mecklenburg, and through all the years of 
loyal service to the Union of the States, responding to every 
constitutional obligation, with absolute loyalty to the prc?;ent 
and confidence in the future, it is impossible to see how, without 
forswearing her past, renouncing her noblest traditions, doing 
violence to her honor, if she had any regard for her glory, or 
for her past, or for the ages to come. North Carolina could have 
done otherwise. If the result had been foreseen with absolute 
certainty, yet North Carolina must have refused to make war 
upon Virginia, South Carolina and the other States. Some of 
the "thirteen" saw their duty and allegiance otherwise, and 
acted as they saw. New States, some made of territory gener- 
ously ceded to the Union by Virginia and North Carolina, ac- 
knowledged and were loyal to what they conceived to be their 
"ultimate allegiance." North Carolina has never asked that 
any more be accorded to her. She can never, in justice to the 
men of '61, be content with less. Conceding that Mr. Lincoln, 
in those days, acted in strict accordance with his sense of duty, 
that he relied upon the counsel of those upon whom it was his 
official right and duty to rely — conceding all that is claimed for 
him by those who see infallibility of judgment and singleness 
of purpose in his every act, yet, in the light of the events of 
fifty years, one can not fail to understand the force of Goldwin 
Smith's conclusion that "with all liis wisdom and goodness of 
heart he never took, or at least never showed that he took, a 
right view of the case with which he had to deal; if he had, 
perhaps there would have been no war." It profits but little 
to speculate upon the possibility of what would have been writ- 
ten as the history of this country for the half century sinco 
Virginia, on April 17, 1861, and North Carolina, on May 20, 
1861, withdrew from the Union; whether it would have been 



24 George Davis. 

of a long and bloody war; whetlier the dark and disgraceful 
chapter of reconstruction would have had place; whether the 
Union would have been preserved without violating the clearest 
couslilutional rights; w^iether slavery would have perished, but 
it matters veiy much to us, Avho hold in our keeping and Avhose 
duty il is to hand down, with absolute fidelity to truth, the 
record made by the men of 1861, their motives and their pur- 
poses, that the truth shall be established. It has been of such 
common fashion and so self-satisfying to those who, as Mr. 
Sumner said, held "the avenging pen of history," to write as 
they wish it to be and crystallize into historical fact their own 
conclusions — it has been regarded as such conclusive evidence 
of loyalty to the Union to charge the men of Virginia and 
N"orth Carolina with attempting to "destroy the government," 
"break up the Union," and of "embruing their hands in their 
country's blood," that there is, to us, much satisfaction to find 
that a writer in the Atlantic Monthly, "who comes from a well- 
known family of Massachusetts Abolitionists," says : 

"I do not hesitate to say that in the certainly most improbable, 
but perhaps not impossible, contingency of a future sectional sepa- 
ration in the country, however much I might disapprove of such 
separation and its cause, I should myself be first and always a loyal 
son and subject of New England and of Massachusetts. There is a 
deeper principle involved in this attitude than the mere blind instinct 
of local patriotism." 3 

Referring to what he terms "an evolution towards the ab- 
sorption of power by the liational Government," he says : "In 
one sense the Civil War was a protest on the part of the South 
against that evolution, and an attempt to restore the constitu- 
tional balance as the men of 1787 had planned to make it." 
It may be conceded that the "general welfare," "manifest des- 
tiny," the part to be performed by the American Republic as 
"a world power," or the "conservation of national forces," de- 
manded "that the protest had to be met; had to be crushed, or 
worse, incalculable evils would have resulted." If the Presi- 
dent and the Northern States had justified their action upon 
these grounds and, if necessary, maintained it by civil war, 
many dark and bloody pages in the history of this country 



^Atlantic Monthly, Doceinbcr, 1910. 



Memorial Apdkess. 25 

would novel- have been written. A manly, brave struggle, even 
to the shedding of blood, may be waged between States and 
nations with a canriid recognition of the sincerity of different 
convictions of duty and right ; it may end in the victory of one 
and defeat of the other, with mutual honor to both. With such 
an attitude on the part of the North in 1S61 and 1805, there 
would have been no talk of "treason" and "traitors," no threat- 
ened prosecutions for "treason," no long and cruel imprison- 
ment without warrant of law, no reconstruction, no long and 
dark days of military rule and, what is far worse, corrupt Stat:e 
Governments. 

The Convention of North Carolina having ratified the Pro- 
visional Constitution of the Confederate States, on the 18th day 
of June, elected Mr. Davis and W. "W. Avery delegates at large 
to represent the State in the Provisional Congress. The mem- 
bers elected to represent the several districts were W. N. H. 
Smith, Thomas Ruffin, of "Wayne; Thomas D. McDowell, of 
Bladen ; Abraham "W. Venable, Gov. John M. Morehead, 
Richard C. Puryear, Burton Craige, and Allen T. Davidson. 
Upon the formation of the permanent Constitution George 
Davis and W. T. Dortch were elected Senators. The proceed- 
ings of the Confederate Senate were secret and the debates were 
never made public. It is, therefore, impossible to reproduce 
the record or know the manner in which each Senator bore 
himself in that body, composed of many of the ablest and most 
experienced statesmen of the Southern States. Such examina- 
tion as I have been able to make of the Journals shows that 
Mr. Davis gave his loyal support to the administration. That 
he made a strong and favorable impression upon his associates 
and upon the President, is shown by the fact that on the 4th 
day of January, 1864, he was appointed and confirmed as the 
Attorney-General of the Confederate States, which position he 
held until the close of the war. A young republic, struggling 
to defend its life with a nation of overwhelming power and 
resources, gave but little opportunity for constructive work in 
its department of justice. The energies and resources of the 
President and his Cabinet were absorbed by the demands of the 
military department. The records of the office of Attorney- 
General, so far as my investigation goes, are not preserved. 



26 George Davis. 

That tlie President found in his .Vttorney-Gencral a wise coun- 
selor, a loyal minister and a personal friend, and that Mr. 
Davis found in the President the high qualities which com- 
manded and retained to the end of his life the most exalted 
regard and devoted friendship, is shown by the correspondence 
between them when the end came. On April 25, 1865, at Char- 
lotte, N". C, when the time came for separation, the President 
writes : "It is with sincere regret that I look forward to being 
separated from you. Your advice has been to me both useful 
and cheering. The Christian spirit which has ever pervaded 
your suggestions, not less than the patriotism that has marked 
your conduct, will be remembered by me when, in future trials, 
I may have need for both." Referring to the future of the 
South he says : ''It will be sweet to remember how we have 
suffered together in the time of her sorest trial." Again, on 
April 26, 1865, he writes his final letter, saying: "Allow me 
to thank you for the important assistance you have rendered 
me in the administration of the Government and for the pa- 
triotic zeal and acknowledged ability which which you have 
discharged your trust." When it is recalled that these are the 
words of a man passing under the shadow of defeat they do 
great honor both to the President and to his Attorney-General. 
Mr. Davis, as did other members of the Cabinet, undertook to 
seek safety from the fury of the storm, which was sweeping 
over the land, intensified by the murder of Mr. Lincoln, by 
leaving the country, but was prevented by untoward wind and 
waves. He was arrested and confined for several months in 
Fort Hamilton. Nothing being found in his personal or ofii- 
cial record as Attorney-General inconsistent with his duty, or 
with the conduct of honorable civilized war, he was released 
on parole and returned to his family in Wilmington. As all 
other citizens who came within the terms of President John- 
son's Proclamation, he received executive amnesty. 

Mr. Davis had married, on ISTovember 17, 1842, Miss Mary 
A. Polk, daughter of Gen. Thomas G. Polk, of Mecklenburg, 
and niece of Bishop and General Leonidas Polk. She died 
September 27, 1863. On May the 9th, 1866, he married Miss 
Monimia Fairfax, daughter of Dr. Orlando Fairfax, of Rich- 
mond, Va. Her mother was Miss Cary, of that city. 



Mp:MOUiAr, Address. 27 

ITe took up tho broken threads of his life, as did so many 
of the finest types of Southern manhood, with the courage be- 
coming such men. Amid tho wreck wrought by the war and 
its results, these men of the South, of all stations and occupa- 
tions, showed the metal of which they were made; accepting 
in good faith and with loyal purpose the conclusion of the 
matter, conscious of having done their duty to their State, they 
began again as had their forefathers, to "build their family 
altars in love and peace." Whether they could have done so, if 
the future had been revealed to them, if they had foreseen how 
sectional hatred and party necessity were, within two years, to 
inaugurate a system of tyranny, misrule and corruption in their 
midst, is one of the unsolved questions left in the wake of the 
war. Mr. Davis reentered upon the practice of his profession, 
finding of his associates of 1861 Mr. Manger London, an ex- 
cellent lawyer and an admirable gentleman ; Mr. William A. 
Wright, an able, accurate and learned lawyer, a gentleman of 
the high qualities which have always marked the men of his 
race and family; Judge Samuel J. Person, who had won dis- 
tinction at the bar, on the bench, and in the Legislature ; Colonel 
Robert Strange, who worthily illustrated the high qualities and 
personal charm of a family which has always held high posi- 
tion and performed honorable service to the State, a great law- 
yer and a noble gentleman, who passed away all too soon for 
the welfare of the State. Of him Mr. Davis said: "Gentle 
and. kind as he was, he had as much true manhood as I have 
ever known. He left no enemy. He was held high in the 
esteem and veneration of his brethren of the bar and his fellow- 
citizens at large." Another of his early associates was Colonel 
Alfred Moore Waddell, who bears the name and inherits the 
qualities of those whom N^orth Carolinians recall with pride. 
To his learning in the law he adds broad culture, purity and 
elegance of style and singular grace and address. He was, in 
the days of reconstruction, called into the service of his people, 
redeemed the Cape Fear district, and represented it with credit 
to himself, honor to his State and to the Nation, three terms in 
the Federal Congress. His contributions to the literature and 
history of the Cape Fear are of permanent value. At all times 
he has been in the foremost ranks when tlie rights of her people 



28 George Davis. 

are invad(xl or their wrongs are to be redressed. All hough his 
long and distinguished service mark the passing of years, his 
friends and admirers think of him as of their own age and 
time. May he long go in and out among these people Avith his 
gentle manner, his courtly bearing, and uniform consideration 
for others. 

Among the younger members of the bar were Mr. Fred D. 
Poisson and Mr. Marsden Bellamy, both lawyers of a high 
order and gentlemen who enjoyed the confidence and respect of 
the community. They had a large clientage and were success- 
ful in their profession. Mr. DeBrutz Cutler, one of the most 
accurate real estate lawyers and conveyancers of the bar, was 
a kinsman of Mr. Davis and bore, with honor, the best tradi- 
tions of the Cape Fear Bar. One of those who, as a young 
man, came to share in the practice, was Major Charles M. Sted- 
man. He brought with him a record of brilliant achievement 
at the University and of gallant seiwice in the field. His splen- 
did talents were cultivated for large success in his profession. 
He became the partner of Mr. William A. Wright, and bore 
his part in the labors and success of a large and lucrative prac- 
tice. Removing to Greensboro, he has added to his reputation 
as a lawyer and won high political honor, giving pleasure to 
his host of friends. Few men have more personal charm, more 
loyal devotion of friends or have rendered more singe-hearted 
service to his State. He now represents the Greensboro Dis- 
trict in the Federal Congress, a position won after a brilliant 
canvass, reversing an adverse majority at the last election. A 
long and constant friendship of never failing loyalty and serv- 
ice on his part, marks our relations for more than a quarter of 
a century. In my early years at the Bar I met and came to 
admire the learning, ability and fine personal qualities of two 
gentlemen who came to this Bar from Sampson County, Colonel 
William H. and Major Duncan J. DeVane. They both passed 
away in middle life. Governor Daniel L. Russell was a lawyer 
of fine mind, strong, vigorous and aggressive in his professional 
and political life. As such men always do, he struck and re- 
ceived hard blows. He enjoyed for many years a large practice 
at this Bar, having warm supporters and equally warm oppo- 
nents. Mr. Eugene S. Martin was one of those who came to 



Memouiai, Addkkss. 29 

the Bar parly after tlu- war. ITo won bj' his fine talfnfs, care- 
ful and methodical lial)its of study and practice, as well as by 
his high personal qualities, a large clientage and a host of warm 
personal friends, aiul these, by the same means, he retains with 
increasing loyalty. In the early eighties, Colonel Duncan K. 
McRae returned from his wanderings to the home of his young 
manhood and entered into practice with Mr. Thomas H. 
Strange, having prior to the war been the partner of his dis- 
tinguished father. Colonel Robert Strange. Of the younger 
members of the Bar who knew Mr. Davis and who survive him, 
it is sufficient to say that they admired his exalted character 
and profound learning, and recognized in him, as their leader, 
all of the qualities which have illustrated and sustained the 
high standards of the Wilmington Bar. 

It is difficult for us, in these days of restored nationality, and 
freedom from outside and hostile interference, to understand 
the conditions under which the men of the South lived and 
labored in the years immediately following the Civil War. After 
two years of promised restoration, based upon the President's 
policy, they were confronted by new conditions, brought about 
by the reconstruction plan adopted by the majority of Con- 
gress, enforced by military power in a time of peace, and sus- 
tained by the Northern people. Never were a people so beset 
with dangers and difficulties. Did they seek the aid of those 
whom they knew to be their loyal friends and advisers, in whose 
wisdom and judgment they had confidence, it was used to their 
undoing, as evidence, that "they were disloyal to the Govern- 
ment." Did they withdraw themselves from part or participa- 
tion in the work of restoration, it was imputed to them for 
"sullen resentment" and as being "unreconstructed," that they 
"did not love the Union." Strangers and hostile emissaries 
were sent to "spy out the land" and report to the "authorities 
at Washington." The only course regarded as "loyal" was to 
denounce their former leaders as "traitors" and their own con- 
duct as "treason" and declare themselves "repentant," take 
counsel of petty bureaucratic officers and adventurers, place 
them in high position, with large salaries and unlimited power 
to prey upon the people, to accept as the "results of the war" 
disfranchisement of the whites, and unlimited enfranchisement 



30 George Davis. 

of llic iiegi'ocs. Looking backward ovei* the days of reconstruc- 
tion, niilitajy rule and negro supremacy, there comes out of 
the darkness one clear white light — the patience, the fortitude 
and loyalty of the men of North Carolina. I have often thought, 
as have all others who ''think upon these things," as to what 
would have been the ultimate fate of North Carolina and the 
other Southern States, their civilization, their manhood, their 
womanhood, their all, if the great majority of the white men 
had not, in those days, been loyal to themselves. In all of these 
years, in that way which seemed to them the highest form of 
service to their people and their State, such men as Mr. Davis 
counseled, advised, sustained and stood loyally by those who 
trusted them. 

The question has been asked, and will be again asked, by 
our children, why the Southern people did not accept the re- 
construction measures and ratify the Fourteenth Amendment 
to the Constitution? This is a large question and can not be 
answered here, but the fact must always be kept clearly in view 
that by the third section of that amendment every man who 
had held office. State or National, and thereafter been loyal 
to his State, or, in the language of the amendment, engaged in 
"rebellion," was prohibited from holding any office, civil or 
military, "under the United States or under the State," until 
two-thirds of each House of Congress removed such disability. 
It is impossible, at this day, to comprehend the import of this 
language, or its effect upon the people of the South. It is in- 
teresting to read the patriotic words of Governor Worth, in his 
message to the Legislature of North Carolina, in submitting 
to them the proposed amendment. After reviewing its pro- 
visions he says that he was unable to believe that the deliberate 
judgment of the people of any State would approve of the inno- 
vation to he wrought by the amendment, and as anxious as 
he was to see the Union restored, there was nothing in the 
amendment calculated to perpetuate that Union, but that its 
tendency was rather to perpetuate sectional alienation and es- 
trangement. The committee of the Legislature, to which the 
amendment was referred, recommending its rejection, said : 

"What the people of North Carolina have done, they have done in 
obedience to her own behests. Must she now punish them for obey- 



M KMKKIAI. AlHiKlSS. 31 

Ing her own commands? If penalties have been incurred, and pun- 
ishments must be inflicted. Is it magnanimous, is it reasonable, nay, 
is it honorable, to require us to become our own executioners? 
Must we, as a State, be regarded as unfit for fraternal associati'in 
with our fellow-citizens of other States until after we shall have 
sacrificed our manhood, and banished our honor? • • ♦ Like a 
stricken mother, the State now stands leaning in silent grief over 
the bloody graves of her slain children. The mementoes of her 
former glory lie In ruins around her. The majesty of sorrow sits 
enthroned upon her brow. Proud of her sons who have died for her, 
she cherishes, in her heart of hearts, the loving children who were 
ready to die for her and she loves them with a warm affection." 

The amendment was rejected by a vote of forty-five to one 
in the Senate, and by ninety-three to ten in the IIou.se.' Wil- 
mington wa.s then represented in the Senate by Colonel Edward 
D. Hall, and in the House by Colonel Robert H. Cowan and 
Hon. Charles W. McClammy. When the amendment was rati- 
fied Edward Legg and A. H. Galloway in the Senate, Joseph 
C. Abbott, L. C. Estes, and George W. Price in the House, an- 
swered when the county of New Hanover was called. Comment 
is unnecessary. Much has been done in this ancient city to be 
forgotten and much to be remembered ! 

Mr. Davis was advised, and opportunities tendered him, to 
move to a Northern City and practice his profession where a 
larger field was open, and larger returns would come from his 
labors; but with loyal devotion to his people and his home, he 
declined and, like so many of the Southern leaders, declared 
that he would never abandon his State or her people. In the 
campaign of 1868 Mr. Davis, together with Colonel "Waddell, 
addressed the people of "Wilmington, advising them again.st (he 
ratification of the Constitution submitted by the Convention. 
From an account of the meeting in the city papers we have 
some conception of the impression made by Mr. Davis upon 
his audience. "He said, with much feeling, that he had tliought 
never again to have appeared before his friends in a capacity 
like the present. His voice, he thought, was silent and buried 
forever in the grave, where constitutional liberty had been in- 
terred, and he had resolved, in respect to all public affairs, to 
live as if he did not live. But no man can outlive his duty. 



♦ Adoption of the Fourteenth AmcDdment, Flack 109, 200. 



32 George Davis. 

which is imperishable, and, as his friends had thought his voice 
might be of assistance in the cause, he could not longer remain 
silent. The speaker then commenced his address, which was 
delivered with that burning eloquence which is characteristic 
of him and, having once heard, we can never forget. * * * 
Manly was his vindication of the rights and principles of the 
freemen of North Carolina and stinging, bitter and terrible were 
his sarcasm as expressed in his relation to saintly, pious, disin- 
terested (?) radical missionaries who seek to rob us of our 
sustenance and to degrade us and our posterity. Eloquent was 
his defense of our honored and noble dead, whom our enemies 
have endeavored to defile by their touch, and reverently were 
their sacred memories alluded to. During the whole of the ad- 
dress the audience were, as it were, under a spell, and brought 
to tears by his pathetic eloquence." 

During these years Mr. Davis devoted himself to his prac- 
tice, but was ever ready to respond to a call for service from 
his people. In the campaign of 1876 he addressed the people 
at Wilmington, Goldsboro and Raleigh. Of his speech at Wil- 
mington Dr. Kingsbury, the scholarly editor of the Morning 
Star, wrote: "As a composition the effort of Mr. Davis was 
very admirable. There was humor, there was sarcasm, there 
was exquisite irony, there were flashes of wit, there was an out- 
burst of corrosive scorn and indignation that was wonderful, 
artistic and effective. At times a felicity of illustration would 
arrest your attention and a grand outburst of high and en- 
nobling eloquence would thrill you with the most pleasurable 
emotion. The taste was exceedingly fine and from beginning 
to end the workings of a highly cultured, graceful and elegant 
mind were manifest." 

He had never, at any time, except as Senator and Attorney- 
General of the Confederacy, shown a willingness to accept office. 
The time at which the people were to elect a new Chief Justice 
was approaching and, with one accord, they looked to Mr. Davis 
as the one, above all others, whom they desired to fill this ex- 
alted position. His name had been frequently mentioned and 
friends had urged him, during the fall of 1877, to signify his 
willingness to accept the position. On December the 20th he 
wrote that, in his judgment, the time had arrived when "silence 



Krnl.k I'mK. r .-riil|.|.. 



SlATlK oi- (!k(>i«;k D.wis 



Mk.mohiai, Akdukhs. 'ti-'t 

was no longer proper, if possible." After expressing the liigli 
estimation in which he held the oiKce, saying ''that to fill it 
worthily would be tlie highest reiieh of my ambition, and even 
to be esteemed worthy by any considerable nnml)or of the Bar 
and people of i*^orth Carolina is an honor which touches me 
profoundly," he concludes that "in this, as in so many other 
things, I must be obedient to necessity." II is obligation to 
his family in view of the small salary made it impossible 
to accept the position. In January, 1878, Chief Justice Pearson 
died and Governor Vance promptly tendered the appointment 
to Mr. Davis. In his letter of January 24th he said: 

"I desire to avail myself of this opportunity to say to you in per- 
son what I have always thought in your absence, that you are one 
of the men who have steadily pursued principle for its own sake, 
spurning alike the temptation of ofilce and the lures of ambition 
when they came not strictly within the utmost requirements of 
dignity and manly honor. As such there has come to me, as the 
result of my position, no greater happiness than the ability to testify 
my appreciation of your character and worth and of the great 
service your example has been in shaping and toning the political 
ethics of our society. In attempting to honor you by the bestowment 
of that great office, I have also attempted to show what is my own 
sense of State honor, as well as to give expression to the general 
voice of our people. In this respect I was happy in the belief that I 
could not err as between you and the distinguished gentleman who 
was finally chosen." 

The kindest relations had, for many years, existed between 
Governor Vance and Mr. Davis, based upon mutual respect and 
admiration for the high qualities which made them, while of 
different types, kindred spirits. Colonel William L. Saunders 
said that he "doubted whether a Chief Justiceship was ever 
tendered to any one so exclusively for the reason that personal 
fitness and popular demand concurred in dictating it." I am 
sure that Mr. Davis expressed his real feeling when he declared 
that his "public life was long since over," that his "ambition 
went do^^^l with the banner of the South." That the tender 
of the highest judicial position in the State, by one whose con- 
fidence he so highly esteemed and under circumstances so hon- 
orable to both, may have stirred his professional ambition to 
write his name in the judicial annals of the State is not im- 

3 



34 George Davis. 

probable. There cnn be no doubt that, as he always did, he 
gave Ibe true reason for his action, a high sense of duty; tliat 
bis action in respect to holding ofHce did not proceed from an 
unwillingness to render service to the State is manifest from 
bis prompt response to a call wbicb came soon tbereafter. Wbile 
Mr. Davis held in sacred memory tbe events of the past, there 
was no withdrawal of interest in, or failure to discharge the 
duties of tbe present. No man was more keenly interested 
in or more willingly contributed of his time and service to tbe 
welfare of tbe city and State. An illustration of tbis is found 
in an incident of vast and permanent import to tbe State. 

In seeking accurate information for tbe preparation of tbis 
paper I called upon Governor Tbos. J. Jarvis for an account 
of Mr. Davis's connection witb tbe sale of tbe Westei-n jSTortb 
Carolina Railroad. Responding to my request, after referring 
to tbe aid wbicb bad been contributed by tbe State to building 
railroads, be said in substance: 

"When Best and his associates in 1879 proposed to buy the West- 
ern road, the State was continuing her policy of building and oper- 
ating railroads. I knew that to sell it meant to reverse this policy, 
but this was just what I wished to do. I wished to divorce the 
State from works of internal improvement and direct lier energies 
to the development of her resources and the education of her chil- 
dren. I determined on a policy of letting private capital and enter- 
prise build the road and let the State take up those things which 
belonged more particularly to the functions of government. When 
I determined to sell the Western Road I also determined to close, if 
possible, every avenue of failure. It was my desire and purpose to 
sell the property under conditions that would secure its completion 
and that v/ould leave behind the sale a public sentiment whicli would 
uphold what I had done. I studied the situation. I called the 
board of directors of the road in session in Raleigh, and they ad- 
vised me to reject the offer and go on with the work of building. A 
number of strong men came out in violent opposition. Many of 
the public men of the State were silent and waiting. My never 
failing source of wisdom and power was my dear old friend. Colonel 
William L. Saunders. He and I concluded that the two ablest, 
purest, most powerful, and most unselfish men in the State were 
George Davis of Wilmington and Thomas Rufhn of Hillsboro. I 
telegraphed these gentlemen to come to Raleigh. They promptly 
came. I told them in detail, and with absolute frankness, my plans. 
I told them I wished to reverse the policy of the State in regard to 
railroad building and operation. I explained to them that I wished 



Mkmokiai. Adokesh. 35 

to get tho State out of all her railroad operations and encourage 
private enterprise and capital to take up (hat work. I also explained 
to them the work I wished the State to enter upon. I laid before 
them the inviting field of development and education and especially 
my purpose to stop building railroads and begin building school- 
houses. I did not withhold from them the opposition I was about 
to encounter. After explaining everything, I said that if they would 
sustain me, and approve the policy I was about to Inaugurate, I 
desired to employ them as special counsel for the State, to prepare 
the bill to be submitted in the Legislature for authority to sell the 
road when I should call it together; to prepare the bill of sale and 
the contract for the completion of the road and, in all things, to 
protect the State's interest, and to advise with me in the entire 
transaction. I also said to them that I would pay them a reason- 
able fee for their services. They said to me that they cordially and 
heartily endorsed my views and that they would take their place by 
my side and stand with me in the work, but they must be allowed 
to do so without fee or the hope of reward. They said they sin- 
cerely believed I was undertaking a work which, in coming years, 
would bring great blessings to the State and which should be cor- 
dially approved by the people, and they were glad to have an oppor- 
tunity to take part in it, but it must be without pay. I turned over 
to them the preparation of all the papers and they at once took up 
the work with Best and his attorneys. When the Legislature met 
in special session they had everything ready and they offered to be 
present when needed. 

"A day or so after the Legislature met, Judge Merrimon, in an 
address at night in the House of Representatives, before the mem- 
bers of the Legislature, made an assault upon the proposed sale of 
the property and appealed to the members to defeat it. A night or 
so afterwards. Judge Ruffin replied to Judge Merrimon and fully 
explained the provisions of the bill and the proposed new State 
policy. His speech was sharp, incisive and convincing. A night or 
so after this, Mr. Davis spoke, for the State administration, in favor 
of the sale of the property and the inauguration of the new State 
policy. The hall of the House was packed, the members of the 
Legislature occupying the floor of the House and the visitors the 
lobbies and the galleries. It was a great speech, of great sweep and 
power. His diction was perfect and his manner faultless. Some 
of his periods, describing the grandeur and beauty of our mountain 
section and their prosperity under the new State policy, were beau- 
tiful in the extreme. His speech swept away all opposition, and 
when the vote was taken but few, in either house, voted against 
authorizing the sale. After the adjournment of the Legislature Mr. 
Davis and Judge RuflBn prepared the deed for the sale of the road 
and the contract for its completion. For all their valuable services 



36 George Davis. 

they declined to receive a penny, not even the payment of their 
hotel bills. 

"No two men ever served their State more faithfully, more effi- 
ciently or more unselfishly. You can say all you will in commenda- 
tion of their services and the half will not be told. At the next 
regular session of the Legislature, the State road from Fayetteville 
to the Gulf was sold to a North Carolina syndicate, and was soon 
extended to Bennettsville, S. C, to Wilmington, N. C, and to Mt. 
Airy, via Greensboro. With the sale of the Western North Carolina 
Railroad the State's policy was completely reversed and from that 
day the State has put no money in the railroad, but has encouraged 
railroad building by individual capital and enterprise. Having taken 
the State out of railroad building I took up the building of school- 
houses and making exhibition of the State's resources and inviting 
capital into the State. Whether I acted wisely or not, it is not for 
me to say, but it has ever been a source of great satisfaction that 
in the effort I made to bring about this change, I had the support 
and approval of Davis and Ruffin, two of the State's greatest 
citizens." 

Whatever difference of opinion may have then existed, or 
now exists, regarding the wisdom of the policy adopted by Gov- 
ernor Jurvis, there can he no question of the unselfish patriot- 
ism with which all concerned acted on that occasion. It is in- 
teresting to note that the policy inaugurated by Governor Jarvis 
was in accord with that adopted by the authors of internal im- 
provement in North Carolina ; that the State was not to operate 
but to control the operation of the railroads. The State, in a 
different Avay and by different agencies, has worked back to 
the original design and no one at this day seriously advocates 
a return to the building and operation of railroads by the State. 

This was the last special service which Mr. Davis was called 
upon to render to the State. After the restoration of confidence 
by the inauguration, by the people, of a government "of their 
own choosing," business revived, capital sought investment, the 
commerce and business of the Cape Fear section extended, re- 
sulting in a demand for professional services, the qualities of 
which Mr. Davis possessed in the highest degree, learning in the 
foundation principles of the law, familiarity with the decisions 
of the courts of last resort, upon questions of commercial and 
corporation law, careful preparation of contracts and other in- 
struments, and mature judgment. He was counsel for several 



^IlCMUKIAL Anuuiiss, 37 

of (ho niilroads and other large corporal ions of tlie city. Upon 
the death of Mr. William A. Writ!;lit he beeamo the general 
counsel of the Wilmington and Wfldon Railroad, which posi- 
tion he retained until his death, with the absolute confidence 
of its ofHcials and stockholders. During his relation to this 
company its extension and development demanded legal counsel 
and service of the highest order. That it successfully, and with 
but little litigation, passed through changes of organization, 
extension and enlarged connections, is largely due to his wise 
counsel, profound learning, careful method in dealing with the 
interests committed to his care. Mr. Harry Walters, chairman 
of the board of directors of the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad 
Company, writes of Mr. Davis that in the formation and de- 
velopment of the roads which form tliat system "no legal steps 
of any importance were taken until they met his full approval. 
Generally the required papers in each step were prepared and 
given form by him for adoption at our meeting, where he gen- 
erally presided. In no man could more confidence have been 
placed and no man could have more fully measured up to this 
confidence. While he was cautious, it was a caution which had 
grown with his mature experience and gave to his decision the 
weight which carried conviction. His wonderful simplicity of 
character sometimes misled the blunderer into the belief that 
he was vacillating. Such belief, however, lasted only while he 
gathered the facts. These secured, his diffidence vanished, and 
in clear, concise and convincing English he carried every one 
with him to his conclusion." Colonel Warren G. Elliott, presi- 
dent of the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad Company for several 
years, said: "It was my good fortune, in the discharge of my 
official duties, to have the benefit of his advice and counsel and 
if ever a difficult or doubtful question arose it was solved by 
him on the side of truth and justice." 

At the time of the death of Mr. William T. Walters, the 
founder of the Atlantic Coast Line system, !Mr. Davis said : 

"His whole life was lived under the law of rugi;t'd toil and anxious 
care. • • ♦ Trivial amusements and fashionable fads he despised. 
His keen sagacity to learn where great possibilities lay dormant, and 
the courage to group and fix them, the ability to command great suc- 
cess and to weld and organize them, never losing sight of details, 



38 George Davis. 

until the whole were [sic] moulded into one consistent plan, with 
the energj' and resolution which move on as resistless as fate until 
the work was done. * * * His was no gilded youth, no dallying 
with opportunities and catching them only when they fell into his 
hands. He made his opportunities and utilized them for himself 
and that, after all, was the great lesson of his life. His consolation 
was that his life work went not down into the dust, but fell into 
the hands of one reared in his own method and in the light of his 
own example." 

In tliis connection it is pleasing to note an incident creditable 
to both the giver and the receiver, to which Mr. Davis con- 
tributed. On November 26, 1886, Mr. Walters presented to 
Captain James Knight, who had been in the service of the 
company for fifty years, a handsome embossed silver pitcher 
with salver as a "testimonial to his never having been found 
wanting during a half century of railroad service." All of the 
prominent officials and all employees of the system in Wilming- 
ton being present, "Mr. Davis presented the testimonial to Cap- 
tain Knight, on behalf of Mr. Walters, and alluded feelingly 
to his own knowledge of the recipient's worthiness, as well as 
the significance of the compliment coming from such a source." 

It was in the rendering of such service, both of speech and 
acts, that this S])lendid Cape Fear lawyer and gentleman spent 
the last years of his long life among his own people. He was 
an honorary member of the Chamber of Commerce and was 
always interested in and contributed to the success of all efforts 
to promote the commercial and business interests of the city. 

The last public address made by Mr. Davis was at a meeting 
of the citizens of Wilmington, on December 11, 1889, in memory 
of President Jefferson Davis. It was then that he rose to the 
height of noble oratory. Relegating to history the fame of the 
President as "a soldier, orator, scholar, patriot," he says : 

"I desire to utter only a few simple words in loving remembrance 
of the Chief I honored, of the man I admired, of the dead friend 
whom I loved. What manner of man was this for whom ten mil- 
lions of people are in grief and tears this day? No man ever lived 
upon whom the glare of public attention beat more fiercely — no man 
ever lived more sharply criticised, more sternly censured, more 
strongly condemned, more bitterly hated, more strongly maligned, 
and, though slandered by enemies, betrayed by false friends, carped 
at by ignorant fools, no man ever lived who could more fearlessly 



Mkmoiciai. Ai>iii£K.ss. 39 

like a great man who long preceded him 'leave the vindication of 
his fair fame to the next ages and to men's charitable Hpoe< hes.' 
Standing here today by his open grave and. In all probability not 
very far from my own, I declare to you that he was the honestest, 
gentlest, bravest, tenderest, manliest man I ever knew; and what 
more could I say than that? • ♦ • For sixteen months I had 
the honor to be at the head of the law department of the Government, 
and every sentence of a military court that went to Mr. Davis was 
referred to me for examination and report. I do not think I am a 
very cruel man, but I declare to you it was a most difficult thing to 
keep Mr. Davis up to the measure of justice. He wanted to pardon 
everybody, and if ever a wife, or mother, or slstor got into his 
presence, it took but a little while for their tears to wash out the 
records. • • ♦ 

"I once witnessed a scene which showed how the people loved him. 
In May, 1867, after two years of the most brutal treatment, the 
most brutal Imprisonment the world ever saw outside of Siberia, 
unrelieved by the slightest touch of kindness or even generosity, 
Mr. Davis was brought to trial before the Federal Court In Rich- 
mond. I chanced to be there and promised Mrs. Davis, as soon as 
I had any intimation of what the court was going to do, to come 
and report. I sat in the court when Chief Justice Chase announced 
that the prisoner was released. I never knew how I got out of that 
court-house, or through the crowd that lined the streets, but I found 
myself in Mrs. Davis's room and reported. In a little while I looked 
out of a window and saw that the streets were lined with thousands 
and thousands of the people of Richmond and scarcely passage was 
there for even the carriage in which Mr. Davis rode at a funeral 
gait. And, as he rode, every head was bared, not a sound was heard 
except now and then a long sigh. And so he ascended to his wife's 
chamber. That room was crowded with friends, male and female. 
As Mr. Davis entered, they rushed to him and threw their arms 
around him. They embraced each other, old soldiers, men of tried 
daring, cried like infants. Dear old Dr. Minnegerode lifted up his 
hands, with big tears rolling down his cheeks, and the assembled 
company knelt down while he offered up thanksgiving to God for 
having restored to us our revered chieftain." 

Mr. Davis was present at the expected trial from a sense of 
loyalty to President Davis and to render .>^iieli aid in the trial 
as might be in his ])0\v(r. He iiad been invited by President 
Davis to act and was ealh'd into cdnsullation with his other 
couiLsel. Mrs. Jefferson Davis wrote of him, "he was one of the 
most exqni.«itely jiroportioned of men. Ilis mind dominated 
his bodv, but his heart drew him near \n all that was honorable 



40 George Davis. 

and tender, iis well as patriotic and faithful in mankind. 
* * * Once when my husband came home wearied with the 
divergence of opinions in his Cabinet, he said: 'Davis does not 
always agree with me, but I generally find he was right at last.' " 

He never again addressed his people in public, a singularly 
fitting conclusion of his noble eloquence ; it first found expres- 
sion in his eulogy on Henry Clay, the idol of his young man- 
hood, it ended Avith words of high eulog.y and loving tenderness 
of his venerated Chieftain and friend. 

The liquidation of two large banks, together with the busi- 
ness depression incident to the disturbed financial conditions in 
the country, during the last decades of the century, caused much 
litigation in this section of the State. Mr. Davis was of coun- 
sel in the important causes growing out of these conditions and 
performed, during these years, the most laborious work of his 
professional life. Many of these causes presented questions of 
first impression in our courts. Questions of corporate lia- 
bility, conflicting rights and liabilities in banking and commer- 
cial transactions and parties to negotiable instruments, required 
a careful and extended research into the decisions of the 
Federal and other State Courts. To them he gave the most 
thorough investigation and careful consideration, involving im- 
mense labor and thought. 

These years brought to him deep affliction in the death of 
Mrs. Davis, on July 27, 1889, and of other members of his 
family; nor did he escape those reverses and losses incident to 
periods of business disturbance. He was a man of deep and 
tender affection in his family, ever watchful of their welfare 
and happiness. He met reverses with that calm resignation 
and courage which ever marks a strong man. The waters of 
affliction did not overwhelm, but strengthened and steadied the 
currents of his life. Mr. Davis placed in their proper relation, 
in the adjustment of the things pertaining to life, the gather- 
ing of riches. He knew and correctly estimated their value in 
meeting and discharging the duties to, and making provision 
for the welfare of his household and discharging his duty to 
the community. They were made by him, as they are always 
made, by wise men, to serve, and not permitted to control, his 
life. As Mr. Davis passed the years allotted to human life. 



Memorial Address. 41 

physical infirmity came to him, lio walked more slowly, his 
form sliowed tlic weij^ht of many years, but the quiet ^ntleness 
of spirit and manner wliich came, as the result and expression of 
a \vtll ordered life, in which "resif^nation gently slopes the 
way," became more strongly marked. As ho said, he "had 
abundant time in all these quiet years, and it had been his 
favorite occupation to review the occurrences of the past and 
recall the history of the tremendous struggle in which he had 
taken part and to remember with love and admiration the great 
men who bore their part in its events." It has been said, 
"there is an element of infinite sadness in the attitude of all 
men who have lived through great revolutions. They have vir- 
tually lived in two worlds and only those possessing the high- 
est wisdom, or the most amazing thrift can survive the shock 
of the transition. * * * Great movements in society, like 
great changes in nature, are marked by crudity, violence and in- 
justice."^ While Mr. Davis was absolutely loyal to all that 
was best in the past, while he was keenly sensitive to the wrongs 
and injustice to which his people had been subjected, neither by 
counsel nor countenance did he encourage others in vain regrets 
or refusal to meet and discharge the duties of citizenship. 
There was no weak plaint over an irrevocable past, but only 
brave words and high courage for the new duties that the new 
regime imposed. Referring to the institution of slavery, he 
said: "Slavery is in the grave and nothing can disturb its 
eternal rest. I would not, if I could, raise it from the dead. 
The slave is free — God speed him in his freedom and make him 
worthy of it." While he recognized, without regret, the pass- 
ing of the system, he would not join in the popular denuncia- 
tion of the slaveholder. Of him he said: 

"The slaveholder has passed into history at the cannon's mouth. 
♦ * ♦ He did the State some service, was great in counsel and 
in action, clean in honor and in truth, and always a man wherever 
true manhood was wanted. He knew how to compel the love of 
friends and the respect of enemies and how to build his proudest 
monuments in his country's greatness. • • ♦ True, he ended 
well — true he stood and died by his hearthstone, fighting, as he 
believed, for God and country." 



'Edwin A. Alderman: Addross on William Hooper. 



42 George Davis. 

Catcliinc: a vision of tlie future, he says: 

"That spirit is not dead. It will rise again — not in the old like- 
ness, for old things have passed away. But transformed and quick- 
ened into a new life. Once again it will make itself a name, for the 
nation to sound. Once again it will step to the front and pass first 
in fight as it was wont to do, whenever great opinions are clashing 
or a great cause imperiled. Once again to the front whenever and 
wherever freedom's battle is to be fought. Once again to the front 
no more to contend with brothers in arms, but only in the generous 
strife for the glory and honor of the common country." 

On February 23, 1896, at the age of seventy-six years, in the 
midst of those who loved and honored him, in the city wherein 
he had dwelt all the years of his life, he 'Svent to his fathers in 
peace." Of such a life and its end, in this world, the thought 
comes: "JNTatural death is, as it were, a haven and a rest to us 
after long navigation. And the noble soul is like a good mari- 
ner, for he, when he draws near the port, lowers his sails and 
enters it softly with gentle steerage. * '■' * And herein we 
have from our own natures a great lesson of suavity; for in 
such a dealh as this there is no grief, nor any bitterness." 

The work of a great lawyer, while calling into action the 
highest order of talent, demanding constant and unremitting 
labor, secures the most transitory reputation. The brilliant, 
eloquent advocate who, by his appeal to the judgment, the emo- 
tions or the sympathies, wrests verdicts from juries and elicits 
the most enthusiastic applause from crowded court houses, 
retains but a temporary tenure upon the memory of his hearers. 
Arguments addressed to courts, based upon briefs laden with the 
results of long and laborious effort, with the wealth of authori- 
ties and the most profound reasoning upon "first principles," 
soon become but vague nsemories, praised by the Bar, never read 
after the cause is lost or won. This may, to some extent, be 
explained by the fact that the great arguments of the hnvyer 
are directed to special circumstances and conditions and are 
dependent upon the temporary interests surrounding the case. 
Whatever niay be the explanation, the truth is recognized by 
all who have given attention to the subject. That Mr. Davis 
was one of the great lawyers, the great advocates of the State 
for more than a third of a century, that he was profound in 



AlK.Moitr.M, Ai>i)UKHs. 43 

"tho learning of the law," dilij^cnt and resourceful in the 
preparation, and successful in the conduct of great causes 
hefore juries, and courts of last resort, is a part of our State's 
history for the thirty years prior to his passing away — yet, it 
is quite impossible, with diligent research, to reproduce any 
great speech or argument made by him at the Bar. That he 
argued causes of permanent interest in the Supreme Court is 
known to students of our rejjorts and recognized by Judges 
delivering the opinions. While he was, in no proper sense, a 
criminal law^^er, his l)rilliant and successful efforts in fliis de- 
partment of his profession are recalled with enthusiastic admi- 
ration. One who, for many years, practiced at the same Bar, 
and wliose opinion is of value, says: "He loved the science of 
the law and to it he gave the most devoted study and unre- 
mitting toil, forcibly illustrating by the care and completeness 
with which he prepared his cases, the amplitude of his researches 
and the wide survey and scope of knowledge which he dis- 
played — all combined by consummate skill into clear, cogent and 
convincing argument, perfect in its construction. * * * ;^j;j. 
Davis was strong and effective to the jury in capital cases. 
* * * I heard him frequently in civil causes and always 
with ])leasure and instruction, but among his best and finest 
arguments are now recalled those of Jaffray v. Bear, 99 N. C. 
Rep., 158; Williams v. Bank, 79 N. C. Rep., 129, and London 
V. Railroad, 88 N. C. Rep., 584." These cases are all familiar 
to the Bar, as involving new and difficult questions of law. A 
gentleman of fine discrimination and severe standards says: 
"One of the most beautiful arguments, as well as the most per- 
suasive and convincing I have heard, was made by ^fr. Davis 
while too feeble to stand in Court and speaking by permission 
from his chair in the case of the First National BanJ: v. Dains, 
Receiver." lie frequently appeared in important cases in the 
Federal Courts. ITe argued with great learning the case in 
Admiralty, being a libel against the (hiha, a filibustering craft, 
winning very high praise from experienced Admiralty lawyers. 
"He was remarkably proficient in this branch of the law 
founded uj)on principles of justice and equity, developed from 
the admirable principles of the civil law. * * * jJq ^^s 
thoroughly sound in his knowledge of the principles of the law. 



44 George Davis. 

as worked out by the Courts, and skillful in his poAver of analy- 
sis and application of those principles to the facts of cases as 
they arose; he was a little impatient of novel ideas in the law; 
in the argument of legal questions he appealed more to the 
reason than to the emotions." 

I came to Wilmington very soon after my appointment to 
the Bench when Mr. Davis was, in all respects, the acknowl- 
edged leader of the Bar in the Cape Fear section and shared 
Avith Mr. Dortch the leadership in Eastern Carolina. His 
kind consideration, his courtly bearing and charming manner, 
relieved in a very large degree the embarrassment of a young 
Judge presiding over a Court with a Bar of distinguished 
ability. He argued several causes, in one of which was in- 
volved a number of difficult questions regarding the always 
difficult question of the contractual liability of married women. 
Aided by his learning I was enabled to steer clear of ''error" — 
at least it was so held by the Supreme Court. I recall that he 
expressed regret that we had not given "full force and effect" 
to the constitutional and statutory changes in the law in this 
respect. Although too long "belated" for the integrity of con- 
tracts and the peace of mind of Judges, it is pleasant to know 
that, at tlie last session of the General Assembly the law was 
brought into that harmony with justice and wise public policy 
so long delayed by the Court. 

Whatever may be said of the evanescent fame of the lawyer, 
we are not left to the "slippery memory" or shifting judgments 
of the living to fix Mr. Davis's place as an orator of rare 
excellence and permanent position. Says Mr. James Bryce : 
"As dignity is one of the rarest qualities in literature, so eleva- 
tion is one of the rarest in oratory. It is a quality easier to 
feel than to describe or analyze, we may call it a power of 
ennobling ordinary things by showing their relation to great 
things, of pouring high emotions around them, of bringing the 
worthier motives of human conduct to bear upon them, of 
touching them with the light of poetry." And, says Goldwin 
Smith, another great English scholar and author, "No orator, 
hoAvever perfect in his art, can hardly be impressive without 
weight and dignity of character." Mr. Webster declares that, 
"When great interests are at stake and strong passions excited 



Memokiai, Addkkss. t' 

nothing is valuable in speot-li further than as it is connected 
with liigh intellectual and moral endowniml." Measured by 
this standard, it is not diflieult to understand tlic^ power ex- 
erted by Mr. Davis over men "in the spoken word." His man- 
ner was dignified and deeply impressive. Says Dr. C. Alphonso 
Smith: "His power over an audience did not rest merely on 
oratorical gifts, but rather upon the high moral, social and 
civic ideals which he exemplified in his daily life. * ♦ * 
In any just estimate of Mr. Davis, as a writer and an orator, 
three qualities will be found preeminent. There is first the 
mark of the trained historian in the accurate and exhaustive 
references to the best literature bearing on the subject in hand. 
* * * In the second place, Mr. Davis brought an interpre- 
tative imagination to bear upon every topic that he discussed. 
His mastery of facts was not an end in itself, but merely a 
starting point. It was the coign of vantage from which he 
visualized the scenes and vitalized the events that he sought to 
portray. It is this quality of mind that gives color, locale, 
and atmosphere to what would otherwise be mere abstract state- 
ment, or unrelated fact. This vivifying power is not the exclu- 
sive dowry of the poet, but distinguishes equally the orator 
from the mere talker, the historian from the mere annalist. 
In the third place, Mr. Davis had that rarest of gifts, the feel- 
ing for the right word in the right place. There was no strain- 
ing after effect, but his style was always clear, strong and flex- 
ible. He could be dignified without being heavy, and playful 
without being light." His habit was thoroughly to prepare his 
orations. Why, in the poverty of our own language, attempt 
description when the work of the master is before us. In an 
address delivered before the Greensboro Female College in 1856, 
Mr. Davis thus describes the riches of a well-stored mind : 

"It can create its own beauty, wealth, power, happiness. It has no 
dreary solitude. The past ages are its possession and the long line 
of the illustrious dead are all Its friends. Whatever the world has 
seen of brave and noble, beautiful and good, it can command. It 
mingles in all the grand and solemn scenes of history and is an actor 
in every stirring event. It is by the side of Bayard as he stands 
alone upon the bridge, and saves the army; it weeps over the true 
heart of chivalry, the gallant Sidney, as with dying hand he puts 
away the cup from his parched and fevered lips. It leaps Into the 



46 George Davis. 

yawning gulf with Curtius; follows the white plume of Navarre at 
Ivj'; rides to Chalgrove field with Hampden; mounts the scaffold 
with Russell, and catches the djing prayer of the noble Sir Henry 
Vane. It fights for glory at the Granicus, for fame at Agincourt, 
for empire at Waterloo, for power on the Ganges, for religion in 
Palestine, for country at Thermopylae, and for freedom at Bunker 
Hill. It marches with Alexander, reigns with Augustus, sings with 
Homer, teaches with Plato, pleads with Demosthenes, loves with 
Petrarch, is imprisoned with Paul, suffers with Stephen, and dies 
with Christ. It feels no tyranny and knows no subjection. Mis- 
fortune can not subdue it, power can not crush it, unjust laws can 
not oppress it. Ever steady, faithful and true, shining by night 
and by day, it abides with you always and everywhere." 

In an address before the Wilmington Library Association, 
describing Richard the First and the Crusaders, he says: 

"We, too, have had and have our Champions of the Cross, our 
Soldiers of Christ better, braver, nobler Crusaders against the infi- 
del, not with fire and sword, but with the blessed gospel of peace 
and love. One, a poet and a minstrel as well, so simple and childlike 
of heart, so gentle and pure, so loyal and true, so serene and grand 
in look that when he gave up his life for the faith that was in him 
he left no nobler behind. Richard of England, with all his kingly 
crown and chevalier fame, was not worthy to kneel low in the dust 
and kiss the hem of the garment of Reginald Heber." 

In the light of the continual and persistent cry of men, impa- 
tient of the "technicalities of the law" and longing to bring 
back the "good old times" when "crime was piuiished swiftly," 
when "justice was not delayed," the description given by Mr. 
Davis, true to history, of the way in which justice w^as admin- 
istered in the reign of "Good Queen Bess," is both instructive 
and illuminating. Says he : 

"This reign, when viewed in the light of modern freedom, was a 
most cruel and unmitigated despotism. The absolute power of the 
Queen was established upon more than twenty branches of pre- 
rogative, every one of which was utterly inconsistent with rational 
liberty. She granted monopolies which, in some instances, raised 
the price of the commonest necessaries of life more than sixteen 
hundred per cent. She laid embargoes upon commerce. She altered 
laws by mere force of her own proclamation. She extorted forced 
loans from her people and repaid them when she pleased — but always 
without interest. By right of purveyance she seized the produce of 
the farmer and paid for it at her own price and in her own way. 



Memokiai- Adduess. 47 

Upon any disturbance she placed the klnRdoiu under martial law; 
and the county lieutenants and their deputies punished as rebels 
all whom they pleased to suspect. But the Star Chamber, and the 
High Commission Court were the chief instruments of her tyranny. 
And either one of these, in our time, would make a revolution in 
three days. These courts were presided over by persons holding 
their office at the will of the Crown, having an unlimited and dis- 
cretionary power of fining, imprisoning and inflicting corporal pun- 
ishment. Of course they were always the ready and subservient 
tools of the royal displeasure. Did any olTend? If the offense was 
unknown to the law, the Star Chamber gave it a name and assigned 
it a punishment. Was the evidence incomplete? The rack and the 
torture supplied the deficiency. As if this were not enough, the 
Secretary of State and the Privy Council could issue their warrants 
at will, arrest whom they pleased with, or without, suspicion and 
without a show of trial imprison them for an indefinite time. And 
from the beginning to the end of this reign the jails were crowded 
with prisoners, for State offenses. The trial by jury existed but it 
was not demandable of right and, when granted by the favor of the 
Crown, it was worse than a delusion and a mockery. The judge, 
instead of being the impartial minister of the law, was, in most 
cases, the advocate for the prosecution. The prisoner could not 
know wherewith he stood charged until the indictment was read to 
him at the trial. He could not cross-examine the witnesses, but 
the evidence was secretly taken and only published at the bar. He 
could not have counsel; but alone and unaided he must defend him- 
self against the ablest and most learned lawyers of the realm, spurred 
on by the hope of royal favor. And if fortunate enough to beat 
them with the simple power of truth and innocence, the jury dared 
not render an honest verdict for fear of the Privy Council and 
Star Chamber. During this long reign, disturbed by many out- 
breaks, in scarcely a single instance did the government fail in the 
prosecution when they wished to convict. Thank Heaven, we live 
in another day." 

To those who are so conservative as to think the ^larantees 
securing a fair and impartial trial according "to the law of the 
land" worth preserving, his language showing the contra.st be- 
tween those "good old days" and a government, not "of men but 
of law," is as the teaching of the sages and elders: 

"I have seen many a wretched criminal stand for judgment upon 
his life or death — friendless, abject, miserable, poor. I have seen 
the prosecution embittered by private vengeance and hot and eacer 
for his blood. And I have seen the wise, humane and just judi;o 
carefully, anxiously, tenderly guarding every right of the accused 



48 George Davis. 

and leaning, if at all, to mercy's side. Did the rack and the torture 
wring out confession? Our law declares that confession induced 
by hope or extorted by fear shall not be heard. Was the evidence 
taken in secret? Our law declares that the witness shall confront 
the accused. Was he left alone to battle for his life against all the 
ability of astute and learned lawyers? Our law entitles him to 
counsel; and if he be poor, gives it to him of mere tenderness and 
charity. And to the honor of my profession let me say that never 
yet have I seen such counsel fail or even falter in their painful 
duty." 

Then follow words, weighted witli wisdom: 

"We know not what the future may have in store for us. It may 
be in the providence of the Almighty that in the dp<,rk and distant 
hereafter the waves of barbarism and destruction may overwhelm 
our beloved country and her proud cities become, like Nineveh and 
Carthage and Baalbeck and Palmyra. It may be that some curious 
traveler from a distant and barbarous land, some Layard or Cham- 
pollion of the East, may search in vain for her public records, her 
monuments and her stately temples; and find all whelmed in hope- 
less ruin and oblivion. But let only these stray leaves from her 
Statute Book, dim with age and mysterious in an unknown tongue, 
but flutter to his feet and be deciphered, and they will build for my 
country a prouder monument than the beauties of the Parthenon or 
the grandeur of the Pyramids. For they will proclaim in language 
not to be misunderstood that here, in the midst of this desolation, 
once lived a free, a happy, a civilized and a Christian people." 

Following the description of the despotism of the Tudors and 
the Stuarts, he utters a warning which it were well that we 
heed : 

"These dark retrospections are fraught with one great lesson. 
Happy are they who learn it! They teach us how inestimably we 
ought to prize the blessings we enjoy when we have seen from out 
what blood and tears and woes unutterable they have been so slowly 
and painfully wrought. Magna Charta, the Habeas Corpus, the 
Petition of Right, the Constitution and the Union, these priceless 
gems of human liberty were only upheaved from the depths of dark- 
ness by earthquake throes of human pain and suffering. And yet 
there live those who think and say that it is so easy to destroy and 
build again; who even smilingly declare their readiness to lay 
their sacrilegious hands upon the Ark of the Covenant, though his- 
tory teaches us plainly, as a revelation, what despair and death lie 
in the act." 



Mkmokim. Adukkss. 49 

May wo not iiiflulpo tlio hope that his writings and orations 
will l)o pathcrcd and j)ro.sorvcd in pcnnanoni form? They are 
models of high thinking, noble cxpn'ssion, hi.slorical research, 
and wise reflections. Mr. Davis was, in the largest and best 
sense of the word, a conservative. lie comprehended the truth 
that "the first condition in a sound Constitution of the body 
politic is a due proportion between the free and permeativc life 
and energy of the Stat-e and its organized powers." lie knew, 
and did not forget, that, in his own time and in his own country, 
all that was worth preserving in the political and social life of 
his people was saved from the Crusade of passion, unbridle<l 
power, and partisan necessity, waged, by those who boasted that 
their work of destruction should be "thorough," by the conserv- 
ative "remnant" who stayed their hands until reason and jus- 
tice could be heard. That, when not only the liberty, but the 
integrity of race and manhood of his people were attacked, wher> 
States were "prostrate" and civilization threatened, it was the 
"conservative" who resisted the enforcement of the "will of the 
majority" until the Constitution could find its defenders in the 
Senate and the Courts. That it was by the enforcement of 
"constitutional limitations," then, and, by too many now, re- 
garded as obsolete abstractions and inconvenient obstructions to 
the demands of the majority of the hour, that life, liberty and 
property were preserved, that it was when Thurman and Bay- 
ard in the Senate, Black and Field at the Bar, and other Con- 
servatives appealed to the Constitution, and demanded that its 
limitations be enforced, that the passions engendered by war 
and a people drunk with power were halted in their mad course. 
He knew that personal and political liberty are sacred and safe 
only, when to the rich and the poor, the strong and the weak, 
"due process of law" is secured and the "law of the land" is 
enforced as a "limitation" upon Government and a shield of 
protection to the citizen. That "the will of the people" is to 
be found in the Constitution as "a supreme limitation" upon 
legislators, executives and judges alike, that by its enforcement 
legislators were reminded that their power "lay in grant," and 
that executives were taught that this was a Government not of 
men but of law, that the writ of habeas corpus could not be 
suspended in time of peace, and that the civil and not the mili- 
4 



50 George Davis. 

tary power was supreme. He saw in our constitutional system 
"the way in which liberty is blended with order, the principles 
of progression with the securities of permanence; the relation 
of the States and the function of the Union." The conserva- 
tion of these he regarded as "the duty of a thoughtful patriot- 
ism" and "the chief end, the largest duty and the truest glory 
of American Statesmanship." Such conservatism affords the 
largest possible opportunity for wise progression, meeting new 
conditions and giving expression to the noblest aspirations of 
a free, enlightened and patriotic people. Mr. Davis knew that 
this is the essence of Constitutional, representative government 
as distinguished from absolutism, which, whether of monarchy 
or democracy, always destroys freedom of thought, of speech 
and of action. There is neither time nor occasion in the affairs 
of States when it is not essential to their preservation. Those 
who hold loyally to this conservatism must be content to find 
their reward in the consciousness of the performance of duty, 
and their vindication at the bar of impartial history. 

Of such was Mr. Davis. His was not a blind worship of the 
past, but a reverent regard for its lessons as a guide for the 
present and an assurance of the future. While in every fiber 
of his being Mr. Davis was a patriotic, loyal North Carolinian, 
he loved, with an exceeding love, the lower Cape Fear — he 
loved its storm-swept coast, its forbidding capes, the rich foliage 
of its grand old trees, their moss-hung limbs, the flora of its 
rich soil, the graceful curves of its rivers and creeks, the shady 
nooks on their banks. He rejoiced in its traditions, his heart 
beat with pride of its past and hope for its future. Its people 
were his people ; their destiny, for weal or woe, was his. Of 
his ancestry he cherished "an honorable pride," which inspired 
"the exercise of the noblest patriotism, not prompting to empty 
boasting, but quickening every generous impulse and stirring 
to the purest ambition." 

To every thoughtful man, thinking upon the "good and brave, 
who are no more to suffer from the turmoils of the natural 
world," the question comes, has always come and always must 
come: Upon what foundation were the essentials of his life 
builded; what were, to him, the essential truths respecting his 
relation, in time and in eternity, to a Supreme Being; how did 



Memoriai, Addresb. 51 

he answer the question of the ages, "If a man <li(' shall he live 
again?" These are tho jiroinptiiifr of hiinian life, of hunian 
experienee, of hunian hope. In seeking their answer we may 
not. intrjule into the saered preeinrts of fiie soul, the sacred 
recesses of lifi^ and experience — these we may not invade. 
Standing by the grave of his friend and, as he said, "not far 
from my own," Mr. Davis gave the answer of <'very human 
soul to whieh life and its mysteries, its revelations and limita- 
tions are sacredly real. The answer is reassuring, inspiring 
and full of hope. To him we may with confidence appropriate 
the words which he spoke of the friend whom he loved : 

"His great and active intellect never exercised itself with ques- 
tioning the Being of God or the truth of His revelations to man. 
He never thought it wise or smart to scoff at mysteries which he 
could not understand. He never was daring enough to measure 
infinite power and goodness, by the poor, narrow gauge of a limited, 
crippled human intellect. Where he understood he admired, wor- 
shiped, adored. Where he could not understand, he rested un- 
questioningly upon a faith that was as the faith of a little child — a 
faith that never wavered, that made him look undoubtingly, fear- 
lessly through life, through death, to life again." 

Mr. Muj/or: 

Before discharging the commission with which I am hon- 
ored by the ladies of the Cape Fear Chapter of the United 
Daughters of the Confederacy, in the completion of their patri- 
otic work, I ask permission to refer to an incident, illustrative 
of the rule of conduct by which Mr. Davis guided his life. 
Twenty-six years ago, when I was a member of the State Sen- 
ate, a vacancy occurred in the ofHce of Superior Court Judge 
in the district in which I lived, not including Xew Hanover 
County. My relations with Mr. Davis were not based upon 
an acquaintance sufficient to justify me in expecting his sup- 
port for the appointment. Mr. David Stone Cowan, also a 
Senator, and an intimate friend and a warm admirer of Mr. 
Davis, without my knowledge, wrote him suggesting a letter to 
the Governor endorsing my appointment. My first intimation 
that he had done so came from Mr. Cowan, who read me an 
extract from a letter received by him from Mr. Davis, in which 
he wrote that he was not sufficiently acquainted with me, or my 



52 George Davis. 

capacity to discharge the duties of the office, to justify him in 
writing the Governor, but that, from what he had learned, and 
from the fact that I was a Wihiiington boy, he hoped that the 
appointment would come to me. In this incident we have an 
example of the sense of responsibility and the strict regard for 
truth which always characterized his conduct, and which in this 
instance controlled his desire for the promotion of "a Wilming- 
ton boy." It is not difficult to understand, that when the invi- 
tation came to me to take part in these ceremonies, I found a 
peculiar personal pleasure in accepting. In the discharge of 
my official duties, I was permitted to know Mr. Davis and came 
to value the high qualities of which his conduct on the occasion 
named was an illustration. I afterwards enjoyed his hospi- 
tality and his conversation, which was always informing and 
elevating. 

In the years which are to come to this city, men Avill admire 
this work of art, delight to look upon its symmetry, its perfec- 
tion ; it will stimulate and sustain civic pride ; men will point 
to it as an expression of the value attached by you to the mem- 
ory of a man "who steadily pursued principle for its own sake," 
but its greatest value will be as a guide to your young men when 
they shall ask : "Whom shall we consecrate and set apart as 
one of our sacred men, that all men may see him, be reminded 
of him, and by a new example add to old perpetual precept, be 
taught what is real worth in man, whom do you wish us to 
resemble?" You shall bring your sons to this spot, tell them 
the story of his life, of his patriotism, of his loyalty to high 
thinking and noble living, of his moderation in speech, his 
patience under defeat, of his devotion to your city and his 
State, as a perpetual illustration and an enduring example of 
the dignity, the worth, of a "high-souled, pure-hearted Chris- 
tian gentleman." Upon you and upon the people of your city 
the high service rendered by these patriotic ladies, imposes the 
trust to guard the gift, and to perpetuate in your civic and per- 
sonal lives the virtues of him who, by every right, is entitled to 
be placed in the goodly company of those who, in all of the 
years, have lived and made, in the annals of the Cape Fear, 
"luminous pages of illustrious history." As you shall look 
upon this statue, it shall be both a memorial and a lesson of 



Memorial Address. 53 

tho value of a citizciisliip whioli will j)rcs(ivc all that is good in 
the past, and inspire to patriotism and service in the future. 

In behalf, and by direction of the Cape Fear Chapter of the 
United Daughters of the Confederacy, No. 3, I present to the 
city of Wilmington this statue of the Honorable George Davis, 
Delegate from North Carolina to the Peace Congress, late Con- 
federate States Senator, Attorney-General of the Confederate 
States of America, Distinguished Citizen of Wilmington, Pro- 
found Lawyer, Eloquent Advocate, Elegant Scholar, Exemplar 
of Public and Private Virtue — one who "bore without abuse the 
grand old name of Gentleman." 



Mayor MacRae's Address of Acceptance 



Ladies and Gentlemen and United Daughters of the Con- 
federacy : 

It is my duty for tlie Mayor and Aldermen, and for all that 
is best in Wilmington, to receive this monument. It commem- 
orates the virtues of one of our own fellow citizens, who, through 
a long life as a great lawyer, never bowed the knee to Baal, 
never lowered the standard of Right, never stood for anything 
which his conscience did not approve, never permitted any mo- 
tive of selfish gain or advancement to move him from his 
integrity. Though he has crossed over the river, he still sur- 
vives in the best and broadest sense ; for the life that he lived 
is an inspiration to all. The Beauty of Righteousness is still 
crimson in his cheeks, and on his lips, and death's pale flag is 
not advanced there! 

If there be any ambitious young men who feel disheartened 
and discouraged when they see mean men promoted and base 
actions applauded, let them take heart again, and go forward 
with renewed courage : 

Behold ; this statue shall be a witness unto you, lest ye deny 
your God, and say, in your hearts, that crooked ways are good, 
and bad methods justifiable. 

We receive the statue with pride, and shall count it among 
the city's most precious possessions. 



LIBRARY OF CONGRESS 



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