The Civil War in North Carolina

Reminiscences and Memoirs of North Carolina and Eminent North Carolinians

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the same class with Richard H. Alexander, Hardy B. Croom, and others. After leaving the university, he studied law with Judge Archibald D. Murphey, and came to the bar in 1819. He was elected to the legislature in 1821 as a member from Rockingham, and after one year's service, he removed to Greensboro, where he spent his long, useful and eventful life.

        In 1826, he was elected to represent Guilford County, as also in 1827. It was here my good fortune to become well acquainted with him, for we were members of the same body, on the same committees, and lived in the same hotel. He had an open hearted and open handed manner that was magical and irresistible. His person, then in the prime of life, was commanding and symmetrical, his conversational powers were unequalled, abounding in humor, and anecdote, as well as in kindness and sense. Such was his keen sense of the ludicrous that he

        "Was wont to set the table in a roar,"

        and was the charm of our little circle, which even to this day is remembered with mournful pleasure, for not one of that party (save one) is left: Bailey, Meares, Croom, Eccles, Iredell, Walker, Morehead and Owen all gone.

        After serving two years in the legislature he declined to be again a candidate; his private and professional duties demanding all his time and attention, and truly in that profession, there were giants in those days at the Guilford bar, and with them he had to wrestle for fame and fortune. Strong in intellect, astute in perception, they were very athletes in their efforts; it was no holiday excursion to encounter in the legal tournament such knights as Bartlett Yancey, James Martin, Thomas Settle, Sr., Wm. A. Graham, Richmond Pearson, Hugh Waddell, and others. To win laurels in such competition was no light duty. The forte of Mr. Morehead lay in his great amount of sound common sense, familiarity with the people, his sympathies with their troubles and trials, and a knowledge of their modes of action and thought. His clients leaned on him for advice, for support, and for comfort. He combined brilliant, genius, labor and tact, together with an energy and force that made him inevitably successful. He rarely lost a case in the civil docket, and although employed in every important case he never had a client capitally executed. Other advocates had doubtless a deeper knowledge of the law, but none had greater success. In the force and "the very whirlwind of his passion" he often would violate some rule of rhetoric or grammar; but it was amply supplied by the power of his logic, the point and force of his illustration, and his impassionate elocution. Such was Mr. Morehead as an advocate.

        But so devoted was he to his profession, that he avoided the enticements of politics. During the period in which he practiced law, (twenty-one years,) he had consented to represent the people only three times. His profession was his idol, and to this he devoted all his time and all the powers of his intellect, and he was richly rewarded, for he achieved distinction in that high science, which Coke pronounces "the perfection of reason."

        Circumstances, however, so ruled his destiny, that he was frequently forced to become a prominent actor in the field of politics. In 1840, he was nominated for governor, and many will recollect, and all have heard of "the log cabin campaign." The quiet state of North Carolina was jarred to her very foundations, was shaken with unexampled excitement from the ocean to the mountains. From his attention to his profession, Mr. Morehead was not as well versed in political history as his astute and practical opponent, Romulus M. Saunders, whose life had been spent in legislative and congressional duties, and to whom every point and guard of political warfare was familiar. This was an occasion of great interest. Crowds of people met them at every appointment, from
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