Such was the prudence and sagacity of his course that for ten successive sessions he was elected from Wayne to the Legislature. At the session of 1856-57 he was elected Comptroller of the State, and was re-elected for ten years, receiving the approbation of the Legislature and the support of both parties. The finance committees of each session examined his accounts, and invariably complimented his fidelity, accuracy and neatness. In 1868 Governor Brogden was chosen an elector on the Presidential ticket, and presided over the Electoral College, when it met at Raleigh in December, and cast the vote of the State for Grant and Colfax. The same year he was elected a trustee of the University, and in 1869 a State director in the Wilmington and Weldon Railroad.
For many years he presided as one of the justices of Wayne County Court, which his acquaintance with the fundamental principles of the law (for he had read law and received a license to practice) eminently fitted him.
In the "North Carolina Manual," of 1874, p. 364, it is stated that William Thompson was State Senator from Wayne County in 1852, 1854 and 1856; this is an error, as the "Journals" of the Senate show that Governor Brogden was the Senator from Wayne during the years mentioned.
In 1869, because of his well known integrity and ability, he was appointed collector of internal revenue; but as he never had received any office, save from the people or the Legislature, although the place was a lucrative one, he declined it. He was again elected, in 1868 and 1870, to the Senate, and served until 1872, when he was elected by the people Lieutenant-Governor of the State, after an active canvass, by a majority of 2,000 votes. On July 14, 1874, on the death of Gov. Todd R. Caldwell, he assumed the duties of Governor of the State. His course as Governor has challenged the admiration and respect of every citizen of the State. Cautious in his conduct, firm in his decisions, liberal to his friends, while just to those who differed from him, his administration will descend in history as an example worthy of remembrance by all. His inaugural address was a model document.
On May 20, 1875, he delivered an address at the Centennial, celebrated in Charlotte, which was highly elequent, poetic and patriotic. And the next year, as Governor, he represented the State at the Centennial celebration in Philadelphia on July 4, 1876.
In 1876 he was elected a member of the 45th Congress over Wharton J. Greene, and served on the important committee "on the revision of the laws regulating the counting of the electoral votes for President and Vice-President," of which Hon. Milton J. Southard was chairman. This question should be settled, or at some future day it will prove the rock upon which our national ship of State will be seriously injured, if not wrecked.
After his term in Congress had expired, (March 4, 1879,) Governor Brogden retired to his home in Wayne in possession of the sincere regard of his friends and the high respect of all parties.
Governor Brogden has never married. Politics (like painting to Michael Angelo) has been too jealous a mistress to allow any rival in his affections.
The example presented in the life and career of Governor Brogden is well worth the study of every youth of our nation. From the plough he, by good conduct, reached the presidency of the Senate and the Governorship of the State, and a seat in Congress.
William T. Dortch was born in Nash County in 1824, now resides at Goldsboro', in this County. He is no relation to William B. Dortch, of Tennessee. He graduated at the University in the same class (1849) with Kemp. P. Battle, Peter M. Hale, Charles R. Thomas and others. Mr. Dortch read law with B. F. Moore, and practiced with such success that he is the acknowledged head of the profession in his section of the State. He was elected to the Legislature (House) in 1858 and 1860, and was Speaker till September, 1861, when he (with George Davis as colleague) was chosen Senator from North Carolina; and again 1864, with William A. Graham as a colleague.
Since the war closed he has pursued his profession, yet he takes a great interest in whatever concerns the honor and welfare of his State. He was active in opposing the sale of the Western Railroad to Messrs. Best & Company; and in the Senate (1880) he was most decided and active, but he was overruled, and the sale has been accomplished. Time will prove who was right. He still pursues his profession in partnership with his son, Isaac F. Dortch, (born 1849,) who represented the County of Wayne in the House in 1874, the Counties of Wayne and Duplin in the Senate of 1876. He married Lucy, a daughter of Dr. Thomas Hogg. Mr. Dortch is clear and cool in his judgment, slow to form his opinion, but when once convinced and determined, he is as firm as the rock of Gibraltar.
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