The Civil War in North Carolina

Reminiscences and Memoirs of North Carolina and Eminent North Carolinians

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        The ancestor of this name, John Baptista Ashe, a century and a half ago, [1730], opposed the abuses and usurpations of the Royal Governor Burrington, by whom he was oppressed and imprisoned. His eldest son, in the carliest dawn of our Revolution, was the decided advocate and defender of popular rights, and the resolute and unyielding opponent of tyranny and official abuse. He was the daring patriot that "bearded the Douglas in his castle," and defied "the wolf of the State," Gov. Tryon, to execute the infamous Stamp Act of his master. He seized, in his very presence, the stamp master, and compelled him to pledge himself not to execute the odious enactment. It was he that drove the last of the Royal Governors from his palance, destroyed his fort, and compelled him to seek refuge on board of the English man-of-war in the Cape Fear River. For these acts he was denounced by the Government in a Royal proalamation. In the cause of popular rights he was willing "to spend and be spent," and did spend his substance, and was ready to lay down his life in the cause of the people. His course and conduct received, as it deserved, the support of the people. "They loved him because he first loved them." "None feared to follow where an Ashe led." So far from heeding or fearing the fulminations of power, he resigned the commission he had held in the Royal service, and by pledging his estate he soon raisod a reginment, which he was unanimously called to command, and rendered important services in the Revolutionary War to the day of his death.

        "This family," says Mr. Davis, in his address at the University, [1855,] "contributed largely to the cause of the country in the Revolution--every grown male of the family." Deep, then, should be our gratitude. They and their descendants have since pervaded our country, from the Cape Fear to the mountains; to Tennessee, California, Missouri, and elsewhere. Wherever they have gone they are respected for their virtues, and esteemed for their abilities. They have occupied, in their adopted homes, positions of honor, trust, and profit, illustrated and elevated such positions, as Jones, in his Fefence, has expressed it, "by genius, talent, and accomplishments."

        Another son of John Baptista Ashe, and whose patronomic the subject of our sketch bears, was his direct anecestor.

        Judge Ashe was born in June, 1812, at Hawfields, then Orange County, now Alamance. He received his education from William Bingham, the elder, and at the University of the State, where he graduated with high honors in 1832, in the same class with Thomas L. Clingman, James C. Dobbin, John H. Haughton, Cadwallader Jones, and others. Those who know these names, and their splendid endowments, and their brilliant career in life, will appreciate the honor attained in such competition. He read law with Judge Ruffin, with whom he always was a special favorite. After being licensed to practice law, by the Supreme Court, he settled at Wadesboro, where he now resides. He was elected a member of the House of Commons in 1842, and a member of the Senate in 1854.

        In the troubled times of the evil war, he was elected a member of the Confederate Congress, and in 1864, a member of the Confederate Senate, but never took his seat.

        In 1868, he was nominated to lead a forlorn hope, as the Democratic candidate for Governor, in opposition to Governor Holden, and made a gallant, but unsucesssful, campaign. In 1872, he received the unexpected and unsolicited nomination for the Congress of the United States; and again in 1874. He was triumphantly elected, and served faithfully and usefully. No member of either party stood higher in Congress for integrity, intelligence, and fidelity to the Constitution. A member of
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