The Civil War in North Carolina

Reminiscences and Memoirs of North Carolina and Eminent North Carolinians

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powers of analysis were very great, enabling him to make his subject plain to the most simple. At times, not often, he would illustrate a point with anecdote, and always with effect. He had great command of language, possessed a powerful imagination, and a charming voice. Perfectly free from affectation, self-possessed, with a manner dignified, easy, and graceful, he had the power of swaying the feelings of the crowd at will, and often held his hearers, as if spell-bound, by his eloquence. He was indeed an orator.

        He was said to be the best impromptu speaker in Congress.

        The next event to be noticed in this sketch, is one which could not but have saddened the whole after life of a man possessing the kind, warm heart, and benevolent feelings of Samuel P. Carson.

        In that day, duelling was sustained by public sentiment, and it being ruinous to character to decline a challenge, or to neglect to send one, under proper provocation, it was a common thing, particularly among gentlemen in political life.

        Dr. Robert B. Vance, Carson's rival before the people, and his competitor in the last two elections for Congress, was a man of brilliant talents, and possessed many noble traits of character. He was very popular with the people; and Carson's own personal friends esteemed him highly.

        Unfortunately, passions aroused in political contests became morbid with him, and he was led by them to provoke a challenge in such a way that Carson could not decline to send it; this was by an insult to his father. The challenge was promptly accepted. they met at Saluda Gap, on the South Carolina State line.

        Carson was accompanied to the field by the Hon. David Crockett, and other friends. He shrank from the idea of taking Vance's life; and, perfectly cool and self-possessed, before taking his position he told his second, the Hon. Warren R. Davis, of South Carolina, that he did not intend to kill him; that he could hit him anywhere he pleased, (Carson was a remarkably good shot with a pistol,) and that he intended only to wound him. Davis replied to him that -- Vance had come there to kill him; that if he only wounded him, another meeting would be the result, and if he did not promise to try to kill him, that he (Davis) could not be a party in the affair, and that he must seek another second. This had its influence on the mind of his principal, and a tragic effect.

        Their positions were taken; the word was given, and Vance fell to die in a few hours.

        Carson, like Hamilton, was very much averse to duelling, and although on two occasions afterwards, he agreed to act as second in affairs of honor, he only accepted the position in each instance with the hope and for the purpose of effecting an amicable adjustment of the difficulty, and in both instances he succeeded.

        In one of these, a strong and decided political opponent of Samuel P. Carson, evinced his appreciation of the man by calling on him to act as his second in a difficulty with one who was both a political and personal friend of Carson. The parties alluded to were the Hon. David F. Caldwell and the Hon. Charles Fisher, of Salisbury. In the other, he acted as second to Governor Branch, of North Carolina, in a difficulty with Governor Forsyth, of Georgia; Archer, of Virginia, being the friend of the latter.

        General Jackson was elected President of the United States in the fall of 1828, and on the 4th of March, 1829, commenced an administration which will ever be memorable in the annals of the country.

        In that year Carson was re-elected to Congress. He and General Jackson belonged to the same political party, and a warm and intimate personal friendship grew up between
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