The Civil War in North Carolina

Reminiscences and Memoirs of North Carolina and Eminent North Carolinians

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        II. Eliza, who married W. G. Bentley of Bladen;

        III. Richmond M. (See sketch below.)

        IV. Giles, who died 1847.

        V. John Stokes Pearson, who married Miss Beattie of Bladen County in 1848.

        Richmond M. Pearson, (born June 1805, died 1878,) Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the State, was a son of the last named and the grandson of the progenitor of the family; he bore the patronimic of both. His early education was conducted by John Mushat of Statesville and at Washington city under the care of his uncle Joseph Pearson. He graduated at the University in 1823, in the same class with Daniel W. Courts, Robert B. Gilliam, Isaac Hall and others. He studied law with Judge Henderson, and was licensed to practice in 1826. He entered public life as a member from Rowan in the House of Commons in 1829, and continued until 1832; with David F. Caldwell, Thos. G. Polk and Charles Fisher, as colleagues. We pause to admire the distinguished delegation then representating this County and Borough, rarely equalled and never excelled. Presenting Speakers to both houses, (in 1830,) Caldwell in the Senate, and Fisher in the House.

        In 1835, he was a candidate for Congress. His opponents were Abram Rencher and Burton Craige. Mr. Rencher was a State-rights Democrat, Mr. Craige a nullifying southern statesman and Mr. Pearson an old line Whig, or Federalist. The address of Mr. Pearson, to the freemen of the 9th Congressional district, was a powerful document, an early demonstration of his acute reasoning powers for which he became so distinguished. He was opposed to nullification as a doctrine dangerous to the existence of the government. Mr. Rencher was elected; Mr. Pearson accepted his defeat with that calmness which was characteristic of his nature.

        In 1836 Mr. Pearson was elected one of the Judges of the Superior Courts, Thomas P. Devereux being his competitor, in 1848 he was elevated to the Supreme Court Bench, (to fill the vacancy occasioned by the death of Judge Daniel,) Robert Strange and Wm. H. Battle were his opponents.

        In 1858 on the death of Chief Justice Nash he was appointed his successor. In 1865 he was a candidate for the Constitutional Convention held that year, and was defeated by Mr. Haynes, but the same year was (under the new Constitution,) again elected Judge of the Supreme Court; and by his associates, (Justices Battle and Reade,) again appointed Chief Justice. In 1868 upon a reorganization of this Court, he was by the people elected Chief-Justice, being nominated on both tickets, and this elevated and responsible position he held until his death January 5th, 1878; his life ended in paralysis of the brain, at Winston, as he was going to Raleigh to attend the January term of the Supreme Court.

        He married first Miss Williams, daughter of Col. John Williams, by whom he left several children, and second Mrs. Bynum, relict of Gen. John Gray Bynum, nee McDowell, daughter of Capt. Charles McDowell of Burke County. We have sketched in an accurate manner the public services of Judge Pearson in chronological order. As a Judge he was unquestionably one of the ablest of his day. Judge McKoy who presided at a meeting of the Bar in Raleigh, on the occasion of Judge Pearson's death, stated: "As perhaps the great common-law lawyer of his age and time, I would say in my opinion no greater has ever lived. His loss will be felt and deeply deplored by those long accustomed to look for the productions of his brain and pen to illumine their journey through the mazes and labyrinths heretofore marked by no guide save principle, and no beacon save the lights of legallore.

        "He taught the young to reason, and when once a conclusion was arrived at by the student
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