The Civil War in North Carolina

Reminiscences and Memoirs of North Carolina and Eminent North Carolinians

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        It may be interesting for reference, to note the Provincial Congresses, the place and time from the first to the last, which formed the Constitution.

        1st met on 25th August, 1774, New Berne; 2d met on 4th April, 1775, New Berne; 3d met on 21st August, 1775, Hillsboro; 4th met on 12th April, 1776, Halifax; 5th met on 12th November, 1776, Halifax; which latter body formed the Constitution on 18th December, 1776.

        He was repeatedly elected to the State Congresses, and in 1777 was chosen one of the three judges of the Superior Courts, first elected under the State Constitution, which elevated position he held until his death.

        He was a member of the convention at Hillsboro, in July, 1788, to deliberate upon the Federal Constitution, its able and active opponent, and contributed greatly to its rejection.

        Of his character and career as a judge (since of this early day there do not exist any reports of the decisions of the courts) we know but little; but from his long exercise of this high office with the approbation and respect of his associates, he was esteemed a faithful and able jurist. He died in 1794. The account of the singular cause of his death, as stated in my History of North Carolina, having been doubted, we extract from the Fayetteville Gazette of 1794 the following:

        "DIED.--At his seat in Anson County on the 20th ulto., the Honorable Samuel Spencer, L. L. D., and one of the Judges of the Superior Courts of this State. His Honor's health had been declining for about two years, but he performed the last circuit three months since, and we understand intended to have left home in a few days for this town, where the Superior Court is now sitting, had it not been for the following accident which it is thought hastened his death.

        "He was sitting on the piazza with a red cap on his head, when he attracted the attention of a large turkey gobbler. The judge being sleepy began to nod; the turkey mistaking the nodding and the red cap for a challenge to battle, made so violent and unexpected an attack on his Honor, that he was thrown out of his chair on the floor, and before he could get any assistance, so beat and bruised him that he died in a few days."

        A Philadelphia paper, at the time, as to this occurence, makes the following jeu d'esprit.

                         In this degenerate age,
                         What hosts of knaves engage,
                         And do all they can
                         To fetter braver men;
                         Dreading they should be free,
                         Leagued with the scoundrel pack,
                         Even turkey cocks attack
                         The red cap of Liberty.

        In this county resides Thomas Samuel Ashe, one of the Associate Justices of the Supreme Court of North Carolina.

        The maxim is correct in history as in other matters, "Viventes non licet nemium ludare."But our Reminiscences of the State would be incomplete without a sketch of this worthy citizen. In doing so, however, the advice of Othello will be observed:

                         --Speak of me as I am;
                         Nothing extenuate, or set down aught in malice.

        There is no name more familiar to the people of North Carolina, or more highly appreciated by them, than that of Ashe. In every contest for liberty, from the earliest period of our history, whether on the field of actual battle or in the conflicts of politics, there is no period when persons of this name have not been first and foremost in the defence of our country's rights and liberty, and in the prompt resistance to oppression. In grateful appreciation, the State has preserved the name of Ashe, by inscribing it on one of her counties and on two of her most flourishing towns.*

        * Asheville and Ashboro.

Surely, then, none of us of the present age, who have inherited the rich legacy won by their efforts and their blood, can refuse the respect and honor due to their sacrifices and their valor.

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