The Civil War in North Carolina

Reminiscences and Memoirs of North Carolina and Eminent North Carolinians

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term of life more of public notice than Romulus M. Saunders.

        From the time he entered the legislature, in his 24th year, until his death, at which time he held the office of judge, he was either in office, or an applicant for office, or an aspirant for position. He was the son of William Saunders, born in Caswell County, 1791. His early education was defective.*

        * From Raleigh Star, of March 29, 1819. The trustees of the university of North Carolina, have been obliged to perform the painful duty of expelling from the in situation John Allen of Pitt, Horace Burton, of Granville, Romulus Saunders, of Caswell County.

        DAVID STONE, President.

He studied law, and practiced that profession with success. He early entered political life, which was more germane to his tastes than law. From 1815 to 1820, he was a member of the House of Commons, and twice its speaker. In 1821 to 1827, he was in Congress. In 1828, he was elected attorney general, which position he filled till 1833, when he was appointed a commissioner under the French Treaty, in which he served till 1835, when he was elected judge, which he resigned on being, in 1840, nominated candidate for governor, but was defeated by John M. Morehead. In 1841, elected to Congress, in which he served until 1846, when he was appointed Envoy to Spain, where he served till 1849; and in 1850, he was again elected a member of the House of Commons. In 1852, elected to House of Commons, and again he became Judge of Superior Courts, in which office he died, April 21, 1867.

        A good story (says Moore I., 463) is told by Judge Badger, of this extraordinary propensity for office. Mr. Badger was asked who would be the new Bishop, in place of Ives, on that prelate's defection to Rome: "I can't tell you who it will be, but I am certain Judge -- will be a candidate, as he wants everything else," replied the great lawyer.

        From History of North Carolina, by J. W. Moore, II., page 98:

        "In 1852-'53, the democrats had a majority in the legislature, but failed to elect a senator to succeed Judge Mangum. R. M. Saunders, as usual, was a candidate. He was one of our leading men but insatiable in his thirst for office. He was equally profound and adroit as a lawyer, greatly respected as a judge, and unsurpassed as a stump orator. His four years of acquaintance with the formal etiquette of the Spanish Court had failed to remove his native and inherent roughness of manners."

        He was twice married; by his last marriage with a daughter of Judge William Johnson, of the Supreme Court of the United States, he left a son and two daughters.

        That Judge Saunders possessed force of character and talents, the high positions he held are proof. But that he was selfish and uncertain in his friendships is admitted. The opinion expressed of Goldsmith by Dr. Johnson was realized by him: "his friendships were so easily acquired, and so lightly lost, as rendered them of but little consequence to any person." As a politician he was able and active, but even this character was obscured by the fact that he always hoped to be advanced personally. In a memorable contest in 1852 for Senator in Congress, when his party, with a majority of only one or two, and he himself a member of the body, nominated James C. Dobbin, than whom a purer man did not exist, Saunders refused to co-operate, bolted the caucus and with his friends, defeated the election of Dobbin.*

        * This has been disputed by some friends of Judge Saunders. We quote from History of North Carolina, by John W. Moore, (page 227.)

        "Mr. Dobbin succeeded Governor Graham as Secretary of the Navy, Mr. Dobbin was defeated for the United States Senate by the friends of Judge Saunders, and Judge Mangum's term having expired, the state for the next two years had but one senator."

        In a subsequent contest for the same post he again played the same role, and thus defeated the election of Bedford Brown, who was the choice of the democratic party in 1842-'43, and so caused the election of William H. Haywood, whose career as a senator not being successful, he resigned. Had Saunders followed the advice
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