The Civil War in North Carolina

Reminiscences and Memoirs of North Carolina and Eminent North Carolinians

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his dress, of a presence at once striking, commanding and venerable. To many who knew them both, he resembled, not only in mental qualifications but in person, Thomas Jefferson; both highly educated; both of the same profession; both of the same political faith; both, in all the domestic relations of life, devoted and affectionate, and both natives of the same State; and in person about same height, same colored hair, and the same expression of countenance, indicating great energy, resolution and decision of character.

        Not only as a jurist was Judge Ruffin distinguished, but as an able financier, and skilful and successful as an agriculturist.

        He was born in King and Queen county, Virginia, 17th November, 1787, the eldest son of Sterling and Alice Ruffin. He graduated at Princeton, 1805. Read law with David Robinson, an eminent lawyer in Petersburg, in same office at the same time with Winfield Scott. He came to North Carolina in 1807 with his father and settled at Hillsboro, where he married on 7th December, 1809, Ann, eldest daughter of William Kirkland, by whom he had a large family of thirteen children, among them was William Kirkland, (recently deceased;) Sterling; Peter Brown; Thomas; John, doctor; Mrs. Roulhac; Ann, who married Paul C. Cameron; Alice died unmarried; Mrs. Brodnax; Mrs. Edmund Ruffin; Patty, (unmarried;) Sally married Upton B. Gynn, Jr.

        He was elected to the Legislature from Hillsboro in 1813, 1815 and 1816; the latter year he was chosen Speaker; and the same year elected Judge of the Superior Court, which after two years' service he resigned. In 1825 he was again elected Judge, and in 1829 was elected one of the Justices of the Supreme Court, to fill the vacancy occasioned by the death of Judge Taylor, which in 1852 he resigned. He was again elected in 1856, and again resigned in 1858. For several years after his retiring from the bench of the Supreme Court the served his fellow citizens as presiding Judge of the county court. In the Spring of 1861, he attended that barren convention at Washington, "The Peace Congress," with John M. Morehead, David S. Reid, Daniel M. Barringer, and George Davis as colleagues.

        "The judicial ermine so long and so worthily worn," says Mrs. Spencer, "not only shielded him, but absolutely forbade all active participation in party politics." But he was no idle or uninterested spectator of the current of events. He was opposed to nullification in 1832, and did not believe in the rights of secession in 1860. In private circles he combatted both heresies with all that "inexorable logic" which the London Times declared to be characteristic of his judicial opinions. He declared "the sacred right of revolution" as the remedy for the redress of our grievances.

        But the cloud in the political horizon grew thicker and heavier. When the State took the final step of secession, he felt it to be a duty to follow her fortunes.

        He was elected to the State Convention at Raleigh, and voted for the Ordinance of Secession. Then was his last public service.

        He was a communicant of the Episcopal Church, and warmly attached to that mode and form of worship; but liberal and tolerant to the worth and virtues of other denominations, and in the consolations of Christian faith and hopes of its promises, in the full possession of his mental faculties, in charity and peace with all, he died on 15th January, 1870, at Hillsboro, loved and lamented by all who knew him.

                         --Sure the end of the good man is peace.
                         How calm his exit! Night dews
                         Fall not more gently to the ground
                         Nor weary, worn out winds expire more soft.

        Rufus Yancy McAden represented Alamance County in 1865, and was elected Speaker of the House.

        He graduated at Wake Forest College, studied law and achieved prominence and position
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