The Civil War in North Carolina

Reminiscences and Memoirs of North Carolina and Eminent North Carolinians

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liberal education. He emigrated to America and settled for a time in Maryland. In the records of the committee of safety of Maryland, October, 1776, is an order for Dr. Brehon to deliver up to Timothy Bowers all the books on physic, or any other kind in his possession taken on board of any of the captured vessels at St. George Island. (Force's Am. Arch., vol. 2, 654.) He removed to Warrenton and began to practice, but the war raged and he was appointed a surgeon in the navy, and served at different posts to the close of the war, when he returned to his profession. He was distinguished for his skill as a surgeon and his learned scientific researches. He was celebrated for generous hospitality and his unrivaled colloquial powers. (See Dr. Toner on the Revolutionary Surgeons.)

        Nathaniel Macon, born Dec. 17, 1758, died June 29, 1837; was born, lived and died in Warren County. To attempt to mention all the services of this patriot, from his entrance in public life as a soldier of the Revolution to its close as Senator in Congress, (1827,) would comprise the history of our Republic at important and interesting epochs, but neither our plan or abilities will permit this attempt. We propose to confine ourselves to facts and dates, leaving to the historian to delineate and present his character, a character so unique yet so perfect, so grand and yet so simple, so eccentric and yet so unselfish and pure.

        His ancestors were from Virginia; he was sent to Princeton College, where he pursued with diligence his studies till the war of the Revolution closed that institution. He returned home and entered the army as a private soldier in a company commanded by his brother, where he served for some years. This step was marked by an idiosyncrasy so peculiar to his whole life, and so different from the ordinary conduct of men. He not only refused rank which was open to him, but refused any compensation for his service. He marched with his company to South Carolina, then the theater of war, and had his full share of all the hardships and disasters of that terrible campaign. He was present at the fall of Fort Moultrie, the surrender of Charleston, the defeat of Camden, and the rapid retreat of Greene across the upper part of North Carolina. He was in camp on the banks of the Yadkin when a summons came to Mr. Macon, from the Governor of North Carolina, to attend a meeting of the General Assembly to which he had been elected by the people of Warren County without his knowledge and in his absence; he declined to go. This incident came to the knowledge of General Greene, who sent for the young man and asked him the reason of this unexpected course--this preference of a camp destitute of every comfort, and with gloomy prospects, to a comfortable seat in the Legislature. Mr. Macon, in his sententious way, said "his country needed the services of all her sons--that he had seen the faces of the British many times, and as yet never saw their backs, and he meant to stay in the army until he did." Greene instantly saw the material of which the man was made--devoted patriotism--and determined to utilize it. He told him "that he could do more good as a member of the Legislature than as a soldier, and that in the army he was but one man, but in the Legislature he might urge many to furnish supplies by showing the utter destitution and distress he had seen; that it was his duty to go." Only under such orders and such high promptings did he leave the army, and by his influence contributed to obtain supplies which enabled Greene to face Cornwallis at Guilford Court House, fight him, and drive him from the South then and forever, for this forced the British to retreat upon Wilmington, and then followed Yorktown. The military career of Mr. Macon here ended, and his political life, so long and so successful, began. He was elected the first Senator in 1780, from the County of Warren, and served continuously until 1785. From this time he devoted himself to his farm and family until 1791, when he was elected a member of the 2d Congress, in which he was continued until 1815, when he was chosen Senator in place of Francis Locke, resigned, and was continued by repeated elections until 1828, when he resigned his office as Senator in Congress, as trustee of the University, and as a justice of the peace in a laconic note of two lines. During this service he was elected Speaker of the House 1801 to 1806, and President of the Senate in 1825-26-27. At one time, 1804, the State of North Carolina gave a President to the Senate of the United States in Governor Jesse Franklin, and a Speaker of the House in Nathaniel Macon. His political life thus continued over forty years by free elections of the people and the Legislature. He was a Representative in Congress under Washington, Adams, Jefferson and Madison, and Senator under Madison, Monroe and John Quincy Adams. Although offered again and again high executive office, he never accepted any office except from the people or their immediate
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