The Civil War in North Carolina

Reminiscences and Memoirs of North Carolina and Eminent North Carolinians

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recitation during his whole course. He read law with Felix Grundy, and was admitted to the bar in 1820. He was elected a Member of Congress in 1825--in 1835 was Speaker--which he held for five sessions. After fourteen years' service he declined a re-election. During this long service he never was absent a day from the House.

        In 1839, he was elected Governor of Tennessee. In 1844 he was elected President of the United States, by a majority of sixty five votes, over Henry Clay. His cabinet was one of transcendant ability. Mr. Buchanan in the State Department, Robert J. Walker in the Treasury, William L. Marcy in the War Department, John Y. Mason, Clifford, and Toucey as Attorney Generals, Cave Johnson as Postmaster General, and George Bancroft as Secretary of the Navy.

        The events of his administration are recorded in history. The war with Mexico enlarged the limits of our Republic, and general prosperity smiled on our country. His administration was prosperous and glorious. In his letter accepting the nomination, he declared that he would serve only one term, and in a letter to Dr. J. G. M. Ramsey of Tennessee, he reiterated this determination, when many thought his name was the only available means of success. He died at Nashville on June 15, 1849. On his tomb is inscribed this sentence:

        "By his public policy he defended, established, and extended the boundaries of his country. He planted the laws of the American Union on the shores of the Pacific. His influence and his councils tended to organize the National Treasury on the principles of the Constitution, and to apply the rule of Freedom to navigation, trade, and industry."*

        * See "Life of James K. Polk," by John S. Jenkins, Auburn, James M. Alden, 1850.

        Thomas Polk, son of William Polk and Priscilla Roberts, was the grand-uncle of President Polk.*

        * Lossing's Field Book of the Revolution, 11, 617, 624.

        He was, originally, a survey or in the early days of the colony, uniformly popular and respected. He was the Colonel of the county, and represented Mecklenburg in the Colonial Legislature.

        He was with Abram Alexander a Member of Assembly, in 1771 and 1775, from Mecklenburg and appointed by the Provincial Congress in 1775, Colonel of the 2d Battalion of Minute Men, with Adam Alexander as Lieutenant Colonel, and Charles McLean as Major.

        He succeeded General Davidson after the fall of that officer at Cowan's Ford.

        The first opportunity for showing his zeal, in defense of his country, was in South Carolina, in 1775. The Tories had embodied themselves under Fletchal, Cunningham, and others, by the inducement of Sir William Campbell, the last of the Royal Governors in South Carolina. They attacked the Whigs under General Williamson, at Cambridge, and at "Ninety Six" and forced him to capitulate. The Council of Safety ordered out General Richard Richardson's brigade, supported by Colonel William Thompson's Regiment of Rangers, and called upon the Whigs of North Carolina, to aid in crushing the Royalists. They promptly responded, and marched with nine hundred men, under Colonels Polk, Rutherford, Martin, and Graham. In a severe battle they vanquished the Royalists.

        The clouds of the Revolutionary War had now begun to lower, and the brave spirits of Mecklenburg were preparing for the fearful storm to burst upon them. They were:

        "Men who understood their rights, And knowing, dared maintain"

        Colonel Thomas Polk issued orders to each captain of his Regiment, to send delegates to a meeting at Charlotte, to be held on May 19, 1775; which met, and on the 20th issued a Declaration of Independence, avowing themselves "a free and independent people, under the control of no power other than that of God and the General Government of the Congress,
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