The Civil War in North Carolina

Reminiscences and Memoirs of North Carolina and Eminent North Carolinians

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of the Confederacy adjourned March 16, 1865. Governor Graham returned home, and had a long conference with Governor Vance.

        He laid before the Governor the views of the President, the state of the Army, and recommended that the Legislature be convened. He stated that Richmond would soon fall, and that Lee's Army would be disbanded for want of food, if for no other cause. The Governor agreed to summon his council, but the advance of Sherman into North Carolina, hastened the collapse of the Confederacy and decided events.

        On Saturday, April 8, 1865, Governor Swain wrote to Governor Graham to meet him at Raleigh to confer with Governor Vance. Governor Graham replied on the same day in a long letter. Some difference of opinion as to the true version of this interview between Governor Vance and Governor Graham, exists up to this time; in this we take no part. "The Last Ninety Days of the War," gives the correspondence on this subject.

        The surrender left the State under the control of the Federal Generals. Governor Vance was arrested and brought to Washington as a prisoner. A provisional Governor was appointed with power to call a convention. A constitution was prepared, but it was not accepted by the people. Mr. Graham opposed its ratification. The "Reconstruction Measures" were now passed and suffrage was adjusted on a new basis; all the black adult males were enfranchised, and a large portion of the white race was disfranchised. Under this adjustment, a new convention was called, and a new constitution adopted. In this disordered state of affairs, a convention of the Conservative party of North Carolina, was called. It met in Tucker Hall, Raleigh, on February 10, 1868; Governor Graham presided and spoke at length on the state of the country.

        He denounced the "Reconstruction Measures," as "outside the constitution," and with dauntless spirit maintained the true principles of government. The effect of this address was to arouse the people from their despondency, and infuse new life within them. From that day the Democratic Conservative party dates its existence. In a short time, this party gained possession of the Legislature, and has retained it ever since.

        The Convention of 1865, had directed that the Legislature should be called, and so it met in the winter of that year. Governor Graham was elected from the county of Orange, but not being enfranchised, was not allowed to take his seat. He was, however, elected by that Legislature to the United States Senate, by a large majority. He repaired to Washington and offered his credentials--which were laid on the table. He presented a respectful and manly memorial, but was not permitted to take his seat.

        The State of North Carolina, in 1870, was the theatre of scenes, unparalleled in American History. The authority of the reconstructed government had been in existence for two years--and peacefully submitted to. Acts of a "wild species of justice," occurred in the counties of Alamance and Caswell, but they were few, and no where took the form of resistance to law. These were deplored by all prudent, thoughtful men. The Governor by proclamation declared "these counties in a state of insurrection." He sent troops into these counties, who arrested and imprisoned leading citizens, without charge, or without process of law. Measures were commenced to organize Courts Martial for their trial.

        Recourse was had to the habeas corpus,"the great writ of right" among all English speaking people. The Chief Justice (Pearson) was applied to and he promptly issued the writ, but owing to the action of the Governor, he (Pearson) declared "the power of the Judiciary exhausted." A petition for redress was then made to Judge Brooks, of the United States District Court, who ordered the writ to be issued, the prisoners were brought before him,
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