place purified. So satisfactory and firm were his efforts as Solicitor, Mr. Merrimon won the respect of the Judges, the regard of the bar, and the esteem of the people.
In 1866, he was elected a Judge of the Superior Courts by the Legislature. Here his services were equally acceptable.
He held the first regular Courts on this Circuit after the war under circumstances of great peril, so that in most of the counties, a police force had to be organized under the sheriff to preserve the place, and protect the Court. While in the faithful discharge of his duty the commanding general of the United States forces, (Canby,) issued military orders to the Courts, with instructions to the Judges to observe and administer them. This gross military usurpation was resisted by Judge Merrimon, who, seeing the Courts could not be held according to law, and his oath of office, resigned his commission as Judge.
In 1872, the convention at Greensboro nominated him for Governor against Todd R. Caldwell.
The universal opinion of the Democrats was that Judge Merrimon was fairly elected. The returns were: Caldwell, 98,630; Merrimon, 96,731; reported majority for Caldwell, 1,899.
He was importuned by the press and hosts of friends to contest this result. In a letter to S. A. Ashe, Esq., of 12th September, 1872, Judge Merrimon says:
"I am satisfied by a variety of facts that have come to knowledge that enormous frauds were perpetrated at the election, and great number of illegal votes were cast against me and the other candidates on the Democratic ticket. I sincerely believe that we received a majority of the lawful votes.
"If it so turns out, by the examination now being made through the executive committee, that substantial ground for contesting can be established, I will contest the election, and vindicate the rights of the people.
"I will not do anything rashly, or to gratify party spirit, or political revenge, but will do all that is just and lawful to establish the right.
"I am yours truly,
"A. S. MERRIMON."
The executive committee "died and gave no sign;" the conservative character of the people preferred to wait for that success which they believed awaited them, and endure for a season some inconvenience and even injustice.
In December following, Judge Merrimon was elected Senator in Congress for the term of six years, from 4th March, 1873.
It is due to the integrity of history to say this election produced much excitement, inasmuch as it was effected by the defeat of Governor Vance, who was the Democratic nominee.
This, Judge Merrimon contended, was brought about by Governor Vance and his friends tampering with the caucus--pledging and packing it. Several Democrats refused to go into the caucus unless Governor Vance and Judge Merrimon would both withdraw their names. This Judge Merrimon was willing to do, for the sake of harmony, but Governor Vance, insisting that he duly nominated, declined to withdraw. The balloting then commenced, and continued for two weeks without any choice. Both then withdrew. Afterwards, the name of Governor Vance was again brought forward by some members who had voted for Judge Merrimon, and on the first ballot Judge Merrimon was elected. He received the entire Republican vote (72 votes,) and 15 conservative votes, the remaining eighty conservatives voting for Governor Vance. There was a deep feeling of mortification in several sections of the State; not so much because Judge Merrimon was elected, but at the manner in which this result was-brought about.
We took no side in this question. We have shown the appreciation in which we estimate both of these distinguished men, and we
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