The Civil War in North Carolina

Reminiscences and Memoirs of North Carolina and Eminent North Carolinians

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        Whitmill Hill lived and died in this county. For sketch of whom, see Bertie county.

        Asa Biggs (born 1811--died 1878) was born, reared and lived for a long time, in Martin county. He was born on February 4, 1811. After receiving a classical education, he studied law, and was licensed in 1831. His first appearance in the political theatre, in which he was destined to perform a prominent part, was as a member of the Convention, to amend the Constitution, in 1835, the first convention called since the adoption of the Constitution in 1767. This was an admirable school for a young man, just then twenty-four years old, and taking his first lessons in political knowledge; for the master minds of the State, as Macon, Gaston, Branch, Daniel Outlaw, Carson, Spaight, Gilliam Morehead, Rayner, Meares and others, were members of that illustrious body. How well he improved this opportunity, his subsequent success in political life fully demonstrated.

        In 1840, was the "log cabin campaign," when overwhelming adversity befelhis (the Democratic) party. Mr. Biggs, however, survived this disaster and was elected a member of the Legislature; He evinced such sagacity and foresight that gave him prominence and influence. He proposed (adverse to the views of the Democratic party) that wise measure of internal improvement of constructing a railroad from the mountains to Beaufort Harbor, at the expense of the State, requiring all branches to be built by individual enterprise. Had his views been adopted, our railroad system would not have presented the conflict of interest, or confusion of routes, all tending to swell the importance of the commerce of other States only to our detriment. He was re-elected in 1842, to the House, and in 1844 a member of the State Senate. He was elected a member of the 29th Congress, 1845-47, succeeding Hon. Kenneth Rayner, and defeating Hon. David Outlaw, who in turn defeated him for the next Congress (1847-49).

        He was appointed one of a Commission (with B. F. Moore, and R. M. Saunders) to revise the Laws of Biggs the State, which work is a monument of his patience, ability, and legal knowledge.

        For the second time, Mr. Biggs was returned to the Legislature (1854) a member of the Senate. He was, unquestionably the leader of the Democratic party in the Legislature. He opposed the proposition of the Whig party, led by Governor Graham, to call a Constitutional Convention, by a majority of the Legislature. Although this measure was supported by the prestige and power of the ablest men of the Whig party, such was the force of the arguments and the power of the speeches of Mr. Biggs, that the measure was defeated.

        By this Legislature, he was elected a member of the United States Senate; here he served with credit to himself and satisfaction to his State, until he resigned in 1858, to accept the position of United States District Judge, made vacant by the death of Judge Potter. He was succeeded in the Senate by Hon. Thomas L. Clingman. For the place of Judge, he was well suited, by his unsullied integrity, his patient research, and extensive acquirements. But the war came on,
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