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Full text of "Presentation of portrait of Governor William Richardson Davie to the state of North Carolina, in the Senate chamber at Raleigh"



















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ADDRESS BY JAMES O. CARR 



NOVEMBER 15, 1910 



PRESENTATION OF PORTRAIT 



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TO THE STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA 
IN THE 

SENATE CHAMBER AT RALEIGH 
NOVEMBER 15, 1910 




BY THE 



NORTH CAROLINA SOCIETY OF THE 
SONS OF THE REVOLUTION 



ADDRESS BY 

JAMES O. CARR 

A MEMBER OF THE SOCIETY 



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OFFICERS .JUSk 



General Society of the Sons of the Revolution 

APRIL, 1908- APRIL, 1911. 



GENERAL PRESIDENT, 

Hon. JOHN LEE CARROLL. 

Ellieott City. Md. 

GENERAL VICE-PRESIDENT. 

EDMUND WETMORE. 
34 Pine Street. New York City. 

SECOND GENERAL VICE-PRESIDENT. 

WILSON GODFREY HARVEY. 

Charleston, S. C. 

GENERAL SECRETARY. 

JAMES MORTIMER MONTGOMERY. 

102 Front Street. New York City. 

ASSISTANT GENERAL SECRETARY. 

WILLIAM LIBBEY. Sc. D.. 
Princeton. N. J. 

GENERAL TREASURER, 

RICHARD McCALL CADWALADEK. 
133 S. 12th Street, Philadelphia, Pa. 

ASSISTANT GENERAL TREASURER. 

HENRY CADLE. 

Bethany, Mo. 

GENERAL CHAPLAIN, 

The Rev. EDWARD EVERETT HALE. S. T. D„ LL. D. 
39 Highland Street. Roxbnry. Mass. 

GENERAL REGISTRAR. 

WALTER GILMAN PAGE. 

Fenway Studios, Boston. Mass. 

GENERAL HISTORIAN, 

WILLIAM GORDON McCABE. LL. D.. 
Richmond, Va. 



* Died in 1909. 



OFFICERS 



North Carolina Society of the Sons of the 
Revolution 

NOVEMBER 15, 1910-NOVEMBER 15, 1911. 

PRESIDENT, 

Hon. THOMAS S. KENAN, 
Raleigh. 

VICE-PRESIDENT, 

Hon. J. BRYAN GRIMES, 
Raleigh. 

SECRETARY, 

MARSHALL DeLANCEY HAYWOOD, 

Raleigh. 

REGISTRAR, 

DANIEL HARVEY HILL, LL. D., 

West Raleigh. 

treasurer, 
WILLIAM WATKINS ROBARDS, 

Raleigh. 

CHAPLAIN, 

The Rev. ROBERT BRENT DRANE, D. D., 

Edenton. 

BOARD OF MANAGERS: 

The Officers, ex officio, 

AND 

Alexander Boyd Andrews, Jr., Chairman. 

Carle Augustus Woodruff, U.S.A., Junius Davis, 

William Enos Stone, Charles Earl Johnson, 

Collier Cobb, Alfred Moore Scales, 

Julian Shakespeare Carr, Thomas Maslin. 



PROGRAMME 

November 15, 1910. 



Music : "The Old North State" and "Hail Columbia." 

Meeting Called to Ordek: By Hon. J. Bryan Grimes, 
Vice-President of the Sons of the Revolution. 

Prayer: By Rt.-Rev. Joseph Blount Cheshire, D. D., a 
member of the Society. 

Music : "The Star Spangled Banner." 

Introduction of Orator : By Vice-President Grimes. 

Address : "The Career of Governor William Richardson 
Davie," by James O. Carr, Esq., a member of the Society. 

Acceptance of the Portrait of Davie : By Attorney- 
General Thomas W. Bickett, representing the State of 
JSTorth Carolina. 

Benediction : By Bishop Cheshire. 

Music : "Dixie" and "Auld Lang Syne." 



INTRODUCTORY REMARKS BY VICE-PRESI- 
DENT GRIMES. 

Ladies and Gentlemen: 

We celebrate this afternoon the seventeenth anniversary of 
the organization of the North Carolina Society of the Sons of 
the Revolution. Want of interest in her history has long been 
a reproach to our State and has caused us to be neglected in 
the history of our country and almost disdained by our more 
pretentious neighbors. Our people have in too many cases 
been ignorant of their own State's greatness and unable to 
assert or maintain her proper position among our sister States. 
In the past decade there has been a most gratifying patriotic 
awakening among our people. Our own writers and the his- 
torians of the country are beginning to recognize the heroic 
part played by our State in the building of the nation and in 
the life of the republic. 

Among the great agencies that have brought about this 
change are the various patriotic societies formed in this State 
to preserve the fame and perpetuate the memory of our great 
men and to celebrate the remarkable events in the history of 
North Carolina. Of these may be mentioned the North Caro- 
lina Society of Colonial Dames, the North Carolina Society 
of Daughters of the American Revolution, the North Carolina 
Society of Daughters of the Revolution, the United Daughters 
of the Confederacy, the Society of the Cincinnati, the North 
Carolina Historical Commission, the various historical socie- 
ties, and last, but not least, the North Carolina Society of the 
Sons of the Revolution. 

This organization was instituted to perpetuate the memory 
of the men and times of the Revolution, and to keep alive "the 
Spirit of '76." At the organization of the North Carolina 
Society of the Sons of the Revolution in 1893, Governor Elias 
Carr was chosen its first president. Our next president was 



6 

the late lamented Dr. Peter E. Jlines, and our third and 
present president is that gallant soldier and loyal Carolinian, 
Colonel Thomas S. Kenan, who, from his couch of sickness, 
sends you love and patriotic greetings. Among the officers 
selected in 1893 were Mr. Marshall DeLancey Haywood as 
Secretary, Dr. D. H. Hill as Registrar, and the Rev. Robert 
Brent Drane as Chaplain. These three gentlemen have held 
those positions continuously since that time, and we still de- 
light to honor them. 

The Society is devoting itself largely to the Revolutionary 
part of our history. Among its patriotic activities may be 
mentioned the presentation to the Supreme Court of North 
Carolina oil portraits of Alfred Moore and James Iredell, 
Revolutionary patriots and later Associate Justices of the 
Supreme Court of the United States. It has also presented 
to the State of North Carolina oil portraits of Governors 
Samuel Johnston, Alexander Martin and Abner Nash. The 
State now owns oil portraits of all the Revolutionary patriots 
who occupied the gubernatorial chair whose likenesses are 
known to exist, except Richard Dobbs Spaight, Sr., Benja- 
min Smith and William Richardson Davie. We hope soon to 
be able to present not only portraits of Governors Spaight and 
Smith, but as our membership grows we expect to commemo- 
rate with handsome tablets or busts some other notable men or 
events in the Revolutionary history of North Carolina. 

This afternoon the Society presents to the State a portrait 
of William Richardson Davie — soldier, statesman and pa- 
triot. 

This picture was painted by a prominent artist of North 
Carolina, Mr. Jacques Busbee, who has recently done some 
notable work in illustrating State history. 

We are peculiarly fortunate in having with us a member of 
the Society, an able lawyer and well-known historical writer, 
who will address you upon "The Career of Governor William 
Richardson Davie." I introduce to you Mr. James O. Carr. 



ADDRESS BY MR. CARR. 

Mr. Vice-President,, Ladies and Gentlemen: 

On behalf of the Sons of the Revolution I present this por- 
trait of Governor William Richardson Davie to the State of 
North Carolina. 

The biographer who undertakes to single out any one man 
as the greatest his State has produced assumes a large respon- 
sibility for historical accuracy, and at best only expresses his 
own opinion of greatness ; but he who is able to gather to- 
gether and record the facts, long neglected, upon which rests 
the enduring fame of those brilliant spirits who created our 
history and established our system of government may render 
lasting service to his fellow-man. 

When we reflect upon the life of Davie and read the broken 
narrative of his military and civic services, we picture in our 
mind a statesman of profound learning, ripe experience and 
mature age— that age which, attained in the public service, of 
itself commands respect and veneration. It is with much 
difficulty that we can bring our minds to the realization that 
such a wonderful career could have been comprised within 
the lifetime of a comparatively young man. Yet such is the 
case. 

"Davie was born at Egremont, near White Haven, in Eng- 
land, on the 20th day of June, 1756" — a fact that every 
school boy should know, as we were then approaching that 
period in American history which produced leaders, in war 
and in politics, whose careers aroused the wonder and admira- 
tion of all- the world. He came to America at the age of five, 
and made his home with his maternal uncle, Reverend Wil- 
liam Richardson, at the Waxhaws in South Carolina, just 
across the boundary line of Mecklenburg County. Hence, he 
was but a school boy of nineteen when the patriots, of Meck- 
lenburg declared their independence; yet before the war was 



8 

over, at the age of scarcely twenty-five, he had won a military 
reputation equal to that of any of the great commanders of 
the Southern army. He was but thirty-one when, as a mem- 
ber of the constitutional convention at Philadelphia, he had 
attracted the attention of the nation as a lawyer and as a 
statesman, and had merited that reputation which afterwards 
caused three presidents to turn to him for the performance of 
most important public duties. At the age of thirty-two he 
became one of the chief political leaders of the forces in. North 
Carolina which favored the adoption of the national constitu- 
tion, and though public sentiment weighed heavily against 
him his strong argument was finally instrumental in convin- 
cing the State of the wisdom of his cause. It was at the age 
of thirty-three that he delivered in the legislative halls of our 
State that powerful speech on the necessity of public educa- 
tion which so impressed the great Judge Murphey and con- 
vinced an unwilling General Assembly of the necessity of 
establishing a State University. In 1798, at the age of forty- 
two, President Adams appointed him a Brigadier-General in 
the United States Army, and during the same year he was 
elected Governor of ISTorth Carolina. The next year witnessed 
his appointment by the President as one of the envoys of the 
United States to Paris, whose mission was to formulate a 
treaty of peace with France, a position fraught with more 
responsibility at that time, perhaps, than any other duty in 
connection with the Federal government. Thus it was that 
the subject of our consideration and the object of our devo- 
tion on this occasion, when we seek to commemorate through 
this Society the deeds of one of our greatest patriots, had 
rendered his services to his country before he had reached the 
age of forty-five — an age when many of our most noted public 
men were scarcely known ; and I beg that, in considering the 
services which Davie rendered to the State and nation, you 
will not overlook the fact that such services were rendered be- 
fore he had reached the prime of life. 



YOUTH AND EDUCATION. 

The educational advantages of Davie were as good as could 
be had in his time. He was reared under the firm discipline 
and benign influence of his uncle, who was a man of learning 
and culture, and whose views of life were such as to inspire 
character and ambition. He imbibed much of educational 
value around the fireside — that school in which true men 
must first be trained — and then received every advantage that 
could be had at "Queen's Museum," a well-known academy in 
Charlotte. After leaving Charlotte he entered Nassau Hall, 
Princeton, where he became the companion of men who, like 
himself, were soon to be leaders in the politics of the nation. 
He was but a boy when the struggle for independence began, 
but was under the influence of the spirit of the Revolution; 
and while at Princeton in 1776 he was in the center of politi- 
cal activity and could hear the clatter of arms as the organi- 
zation of the American army proceeded in preparation for 
the resistance of British invasion. Once in 1776 he left his 
studies and joined the army as a volunteer, but returned to 
complete his course, graduating with distinction in the autumn 
of that year. He afterwards studied law and was duly licensed 
to practice in the courts of the State, but temporarily aban- 
doned his office for the performance of military duties. 

MILITARY CAREER. 

Davie's military career began when, as a student at Prince- 
ton, he left his studies in the summer of 1776 and joined the 
Northern army as a volunteer. He was then only twenty 
years of age, and his service was short ; but after his gradu- 
ation in the autumn of that year he returned South where he 
had opportunity to display his military talents not only to the 
credit of himself but to the advantage of his people. Davie 
never had the good fortune to be the sole hero in any great 
battle, and doubtless no other man ever gained so great a 
reputation as a soldier without having such an opportunity 



10 

presented to him at some time, and still no American officer 
ever merited such reputation more than he. His military 
fame rests upon the quality of his work rather than upon 
immediate results. 

Davie was commissioned a lieutenant in Captain Bamett's 
company by Governor Caswell on Apri ^79. His com- 

pany was at once attached to Pulaski's L the Southern 

army, and on account of his bravery h -me major. 

He displayed remarkable courage at cattle of Stono, 

near Charleston, on June 20, 1779, wh -re he was shot from 
his horse and severely wounded, barely escaping capture. 
He was taken to a hospital in Charleston, where he was com- 
pelled to remain for a considerable time, awaiting recovery. 
In the fall of 1779 the General Assembly of North Carolina 
authorized him to raise a company of cavalry and two com- 
panies of mounted militia, but provided no funds for their 
support. Davie here showed his patriotism in using a large 
part of the fortune which he had inherited from his uncle in 
equipping and maintaining his troops. He was then twenty- 
three years old, but his military ability had attracted the 
attention of the entire State. With these troops he rendered 
most valuable services during the remainder of the war. 
When General Gates was so disastrously defeated at Camden, 
on August 16, 1779, Davie was hurrying to his assistance, but 
met him, terror-stricken, fleeing from the conflict, and his 
army disorganized and scattered. Davie, instead of joining 
in the retreat, hurried toward the scene of battle, and col- 
lected and saved the remnant of the Southern army. Also at 
Ramsauer's Mill, Rocky Mount in South Carolina, Hanging 
Rock, and Charlotte, his skillful military manoeuvres, as com- 
mander of the forces which he had organized at his own ex- 
pense, justified the language of Professor Hubbard, who said : 
"With this force he protected the Southwestern part of the 
State from the predatory incursions of the British troops in 
South Carolina, and secured the well-affected from the dread 
of the lovalists, who were in great numbers in that region. 



11 

In this service he was always on the enemy's lines, and the 
duties to which he was called were no less hazardous than 
important ; and, in the practice which they gave him, he 
rapidly developed t] se qualities and acquired those habits 
which soon made Ins name second to that of none of the famed 
partisan officers of the 1 South." 

Davie was ambitions to be a great military leader, but his 
ambition was always <«cond to his patriotism. After General 
Nathanael Greene lud assumed command of the Southern 
army, he first met I^vie in December, 1780, when he was 
greatly impressed by him and urged him to assume the duties 
of Commissary-General for his army. Davie yielded to the 
wishes of General Greene and undertook the most difficult 
task connected with the Southern campaign. Without a dol- 
lar at his command he pledged his own credit, collected the 
war tax "in kind" and gathered together from all sections of 
the State sufficient provisions to sustain the army through all 
of its memorable campaign in 1781. And even at the battle 
of Guilford Court House, while present at the head of the 
commissary department, he rendered valuable services in 
rallying the scattered troops as the American lines were broken 
in the conflict. 

Andrew Jackson received his military Inspiration from 
General Davie. His brother, Hugh, was in Davie's command 
and fought under him at Stono. Andrew and Robert were 
present at the attack of Hanging Rock, near Waxhaw, and 
rode on the expedition with Davie. Andrew was a boy of 
thirteen at this time and learned from Davie his first lessons 
in the art of war. The three boys — Hugh, Robert and An- 
drew—looked to Davie as their model, and it has been truly 
said that "so far as any man was Jackson's model soldier, 
William Richardson Davie, of North Carolina, was the indi- 
vidual." And no doubt the battle of New Orleans was fought 
just as Davie would have fought it had he been in command. 

In 1799, Davie wrote a book entitled "Instructions to be 
Observed for the Formations and Movements of the Cavalry." 



12 

This was a work of such merit that the General Assembly 
ordered it printed and distributed at the expense of the State 
in contemplation of the impending war between the United 
States and France. 

DAVIE AS A LAWYER. 

In 1782, after the war was over and peace was restored, 
Davie returned to his chosen profession, where he was soon 
to achieve great fame. He practiced in all of the courts of 
the State, except Morganton Circuit ; and the sessions of the 
courts at Halifax, Wilmington, Fayetteville, Edenton, Hills- 
boro, and other places, witnessed his most brilliant efforts. 
For years there was hardly an important case in which he 
was not employed. Among his competitors at the Bar were 
Alfred Moore and James Iredell, who afterwards became dis- 
tinguished members of the Supreme Court of the United 
States, and each was among the foremost lawyers of this coun- 
try; but even they often had to yield to the success of Davie 
before the juries and courts of his circuit. 

The field of the lawyer at that time was vastly different 
from that of to-day. "Case lawyers," "code lawyers," and 
"constitutional lawyers" were not known, because we had 
neither cases nor codes, and our constitutions were then in 
their swaddling clothes. Our legal system was in its infancy, 
and the lawyer who could bring the most powerful reasoning 
to bear upon points at issue, using the English law as analo- 
gous, was the most successful lawyer. 

In reasoning and illustrative powers, Davie had no supe- 
rior. His education was thorough, so far as thoroughness 
could be .attained in this country. He was painstaking and 
prepared his cases well. He was ambitious and brooked no 
defeat. In appearance he was tall and graceful and had the 
air of an aristocrat. He had an analytical and logical mind, 
his style of speech was clear, and he often reached flights of 
eloquence. Thus equipped he feared no competitor. 

He was the first lawyer in the country to take the broad 
position that the court had the power to declare an act of the 



13 

General Assembly unconstitutional. He understood the doc- 
trine that the different departments of our government should 
be separate and distinct, but he held the Constitution to be 
subject to construction by the courts just as any other statute 
law, and he was instrumental in securing from the courts of 
North Carolina the first decision in this country declaring an 
act of the Legislature to be in conflict with the terms of the 
Constitution, and this principle was laid down in a most able 
opinion written by Judge Ashe. 

DAVIE AS A LEGISLATOR AND STATESMAN. 

After Davie had secured his license to practice law, he 
made his home in Halifax, where, in 1783, he married Sarah 
Jones, a daughter of General Allen Jones, and a niece of 
Willie Jones. Being connected with the leading men of the 
State, it required but a few years of practice in the courts to 
render him one of the best known and most highly respected 
citizens. 

From the year 1786 until 1798, when he was elected Gov- 
ernor of North Carolina, he was almost continuously in the 
legislative halls of the State or engaged in the performance 
of other duties which, during the formative period of our 
State and national governments, required the highest degree 
of intelligence, wisdom and character. As a member of the 
General Assembly of North Carolina his views on public ques- 
tions shaped the statute law of our State from 1786 until 
1798, as perceptibly as the opinions of Chief Justice Mar- 
shall shaped the policies and legal foundations of our national 
government while he presided over the Supreme Court of the 
United .States. During the time that Davie was a member of 
the General Assembly of North Carolina he had no superior 
in that body, and he was always foremost in any legislation 
pertaining to the courts, the general policy of the State gov- 
ernment, or its relations with the national government; and 
the student of our political history will find the legislative 
journals a most interesting study during this period. 



14 

Perhaps one of the greatest speeches that Davie ever deliv- 
ered was that on behalf of his bill for the creation of the 
University. If we are to be guided by the opinion and recol- 
lection of Judge Murphey there is no doubt that this speech 
secured the establishment of this institution, and it justly 
earned for Davie the title of "Father of the University." 
And we must remember that his speech on that occasion 
was not inspired by the traditions of a century which now 
make that institution dear to the hearts of all true North 
Carolinians, but he was speaking from a deep conviction as 
to the needs of a State which had adopted a government nec- 
essarily based upon the intelligence of the governed. Nor 
did his interest cease when the General Assembly had per- 
formed its duty. As Grand Master of the Masonic Order of 
the State he officiated at the laying of the corner-stone and 
became the leading spirit in framing the regulations for the 
government of the institution. Even the courses of study were 
worked out in detail and prepared by Davie personally, with 
a view to fitting a student for public service, and though, after 
his connection with the university w r as severed, the authori- 
ties adopted a purely classical course which obtained for years, 
yet when the university was re-opened in 1875 Davie's scheme 
of studies was re-instated and its essential features are main- 
tained to-day. In 1811 the University conferred upon Davie 
the degree of Doctor of Laws, and he was the first person so 
honored by that institution. 

In 1787, when North Carolina was called upon to send 
delegates to the Constitutional Convention at Philadelphia 
for the purpose of framing a new constitution, Davie was one 
of the delegation who was chosen to serve, his associates being 
Richard Caswell, Alexander Martin, Richard Dobbs Spaight, 
William Blount and Hugh Williamson — a delegation of most 
able and eminent men. Davie was the youngest of these, and 
while he seems to have been modest in his appearance before 
the National Convention, yet he impressed that body by his 
statesmanlike conduct and soon became one of its most highly 
respected members. Roger Sherman and Oliver Ellsworth. 



15 

of Connecticut, led the fight in that body to have inserted in 
the constitution a provision that the smaller States should 
have an equal number of Senators with the larger States. 
This provision seemed destined to divide the convention and 
to prevent the adoption of the constitution, and it could not 
have been adopted with this provision in it except by some one 
of the larger States voting with the smaller ones. Davie was 
skeptical about a constitution too representative in its terms, 
and believed in those "checks and balances" which have often, 
since the formation of our government, saved us from disas- 
ter. After the most mature consideration, and with the knowl- 
edge that such a course might meet with the disapproval of 
his people, he was the first of the North Carolina delegation 
to announce upon the floor of the convention that he would 
support this provision and vote to give the smaller States the 
same representation in the Senate as the larger ones, and the 
other delegates from North Carolina joined with him in this 
vote ; hence, the vote of North Carolina, under the leadership 
of Davie, secured the adoption of the Constitution by the 
Philadelphia Convention, which otherwise would have failed. 
.This act upon Davie's part, and his statesmanlike views dis- 
closed during the session of the convention, gave him a 
national reputation and endeared him to \he members from 
the smaller States. Afterwards he was turned to in many in- 
stances by the United States Government to perform im- 
portant and responsible duties. 

When the National Constitution came before the people of 
North Carolina for adoption, Davie was one of its most 
powerful advocates, and though, for a long time, he met with 
overwhelming opposition, yet he and his associates finally con- 
vinced the people of the State of the wisdom of this instru- 
ment. 

DAVIESS MISSION TO FRANCE. 

In 1798, the relations between the United States and 
Trance were so strained that war seemed inevitable, and much 
concern was shown, not only by the National Government, but 



16 

also by all the State governments; and no pains were spared 
to secure efficient and competent men at the head of the public 
affairs. In 1798, Davie was chosen Governor of North Caro- 
lina on account of his military experience and ability, and also 
on account of his extended information and sound views in 
connection with the State and Federal governments. At that 
time the only hope of peace was by a proposed treaty, and the 
President appointed Oliver Ellsworth, Patrick Henry and 
William Vans Murray as envoys to France for this purpose. 
Patrick Henry declined the appointment, and President 
Adams and Timothy Pickering, Secretary of State, turned 
towards Davie as the best fitted man for this work. Oliver 
Ellsworth, then Chief Justice of the United States, who was 
acquainted with Davie's work in the Constitutional Conven- 
tion at Philadelphia, visited him at his home in Halifax 
with the apparent purpose of ascertaining his feelings with 
reference to accepting this high position. Ellsworth wrote to 
Secretary Pickering from Halifax on March 26, 1799, stating 
that he thought Davie would accept if the appointment were 
tendered to him, and commended his dignified manners, polit- 
ical information and high character. On the receipt of this 
letter Pickering, without hesitation, recommended his ap- 
pointment, and the President approved; but both the Presi- 
dent and his Secretary of State agreed that, on account of 
Davie's influence and value as Governor of the State of North 
Carolina, under existing circumstances and conditions, it 
would be extremely unwise to have him resign as Governor at 
once, and that he should not accept this appointment until the 
last moment. Hence, in sending Davie his commission, he 
was requested not to accept at the time being, but simply to 
notify the Federal Government that he would accept when 
his services might be required, and this he did. 

On May 8, 1799, President Adams wrote, in making this 
appointment: "The character of this gentleman for ability, 
integrity and sound political principles inclines my judgment 
in his favor, although personally he is a stranger to me." He 
was thus appointed on June 1, 1799, and resigned as Gov- 



17 

emor of North Carolina on the lCch of September, in the same 
year. He sailed from Newport with Chief Justice Ellsworth 
on their mission to France on November 3d following. He 
was second in rank on this commission, and the journals of 
the proceedings in Paris do not disclose the services that he 
rendered as distinguished from those of the other members of 
the commission, but there are many things which indicate 
that he rendered distinguished and valuable services and was 
received with the greatest consideration, not only by Talley- 
rand, who was at that time Minister of Exterior Affairs, but 
also of Napoleon himself. The secretary of the commission 
afterwards stated that when Napoleon was addressing the 
commission he appeared to forget that Davie was second in 
rank and directed his remarks almost entirely to him. He 
was singled out as the object of special attention by Napoleon, 
who presented to him certain ancient Roman medals with 
these words : "Accept and convey these with you to America, 
so that monuments of the Roman Republic may become 
pledges of amity and union between the republics of France 
and the United States." 

. The chief question with which the commission had to deal 
in forming a treaty between the United States and France 
was forever to put an end to the depredations against Ameri- 
can vessels by the French, and to see that the "American flag 
was to pass in all directions unmolested by the French." In 
this the commission succeeded, thus averting the impending 
war and establishing peaceful relations between the two coun- 
tries. 

A study of the habit of mind, character and ability of Davie 
convinces us that this treaty was more the work of Davie and 
Talleyrand than that of any other men connected with it. 

DAVIE AS A POLITICIAN. 

As a politician Davie was much of an aristocrat on public 
questions. He did not believe in the aristocracy of position, 
but of intelligence. He had been a power in the formation of 



18 

the Constitution of the United States and the adoption of that 
Constitution by the people of North Carolina, and was as thor- 
oughly committed to the provisions of the Declaration of In- 
dependence and to the new doctrine that the people should 
govern themselves, as was the most ardent Democrat ; but he 
was also convinced beyond doubt that a government by the 
people must be a government based upon intelligence. He 
had grave fears of the stability of a government too popular 
in its provisions, and his convictions led him in the direction 
of the tenets of Hamilton rather than those of Jefferson. He 
naturally felt that popular clamor should not control in public 
questions as against the weight of intelligence. He was not 
a demagogue and was absolutely incapable of using popular 
arguments in which he did not believe for the purpose of 
advancing his own interest. In his last campaign, when he 
had been urged against his will by the Federalists to become 
a candidate for Congress, and when Jeffersonianism had taken 
possession of the political minds of the State, he was so scrupu- 
lous about being misunderstood that he announced the follow- 
ing platform: "I desire that it may be clearly understood 
that I never have, and that I never will surrender my princi- 
ples to the opinion of any man, or description of men, either 
in or out of power; and that I wish no man to vote for me 
who is not willing to leave me free to pursue the good of my 
country according to the best of my judgment, without respect 
either to party men or party views." He did not have to con- 
sult his constituents in order to form an opinion on public 
questions. In this campaign Davie was defeated by Willis 
Alston, who, though he had previously professed to hold the 
same political views as Davie, could not resist the popular 
tide of Jeffersonianism, upon which he saw he could be swept 
into office. 

Thus ended Davie's political career in North Carolina at 
the age of much less than fifty. We will search all North 
Carolina history in vain to find the man who has rendered 
the State greater services within so limited a period of time; 



19 

nor can we find one to excel him in patriotism, ability and 
that high degree of character and political integrity which he 
so eminently displayed. When, in 1803, he decided to leave 
the State and return to his plantation, Tivoli, in South Caro- 
lina, where his uncle had directed his boyhood, and where he 
was to remain in retirement for nearly twenty years to advise 
and counsel the greatest men of this nation, our State sus- 
tained a loss which it could have ill afforded but for the fact 
that Davie had helped to shape and frame our State govern- 
ment and to establish it so firmly that it was beyond danger. 
He died on the 18th of November, 1820, and left numerous 
descendants. In 1836, some years after his death, the Gen- 
eral Assembly of North Carolina gave Davie County its name 
in honor of his memory. 

And now this portrait of this great man — painted by Mr. 
Jacques Busbee, an artist whose promise in his profession 
leads him in the direction of that eminence which the subject 
i>f his sketch attained in statesmanship — is presented to the 
State by the Sons of the Revolution, to the end that, as it 
adorns these walls, it may stimulate the ambition of future 
generations and inspire them to better things. 



ACCEPTANCE BY ATTORNEY-GENERAL 
BICKETT. 

Mr. Vice-President, Ladies and Gentlemen: 

While Mr. Carr was reading his admirable address it 
occurred to me that Priscilla was not only a very charming 
maiden, but also something of a philosopher when she put to 
Alden the question : "Why don't you speak for yourself, 
John ?" It must be a source of pride to us all that the time 
has come when a North Carolina pen and a North Carolina 
brush can preserve for all time the story and the features of 
one of the great soldiers and statesmen of Revolutionary 
times. 

North Carolina is happy, in that in every crisis of the 
Nation's life her sons have risen to the necessities of the hour. 
Among the very foremost in her long roll of honor stands the 
name of William R. Davie — 

"Great in the council, glorious in the field." 

His life and character constitute a distinct asset of the 
State, and must be forever associated with the epoch-making 
chapters of the Nation's history. 

The address of Mr. Carr is a permanent contribution to 
the historical literature of the State, and will keep before our 
eyes a man whom we cannot afford to forget. 

In presenting the portrait of General Davie to the State the 
Sons of the Revolution render to us and to posterity a very 
real service. "And their works do follow them." 

In proper time this portrait will be placed on the walls of 
the Governor's Office or in the Executive Mansion. 



COMMERCIAL PRINTING COMPANY, RALEICH, N. C. 






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