Fourth Generation Inclusive

Historical Documents of Genealogical Interest to Researchers of North Carolina's Free People of Color

Tag: politics

He maintained ties to politics.

In 1860 Henry C. Cherry, a 24 year-old free mulatto carpenter residing in Edgecombe County, owned no property. By 1870 he owned real estate valued at $1,000 and had already served as a delegate to the North Carolina Constitution Convention in 1868 and one term in the state assembly. In addition to maintaining his carpentry firm, during the 1880s Cherry ran a combination grocery and liquor establishment in Tarboro. Although he was elected to the state legislature for only a single term, Cherry also served on the county commission of Edgecombe. Further, Cherry maintained ties to politics though his three sons-in-law. His daughter Louise married Henry P. Cheatham, and his daughter Cora married George H. White, two of the most influential black officeholders in North Carolina during the 1880s and 1890s. These rivals were elected to the U.S House of Representatives North Carolina’s Second Congressional District for a total of four terms. Further, another of Cherry’s daughter, Georgie, was the wife of Eustace E. Green, a member of the state assembly from Wilmington.

From Robert C. Kenzer, Enterprising Southerners: Black Economic Success of North Carolina 1865-1915 (1997).

In the 1860 census of Edgecombe County: Henry Bonner, 30, carpenter, wife Charity, 18, daughter Harriet, 1, Willie Bonner, 23, carpenter, and Henry Cherry, 26, carpenter.

[Sidenote: Henry C. Cherry married Mary Jones in Edgecombe County on 14 March 1861, about a year after the death of Henry Lloyd, the white man who fathered her first two children. Georgie Jones, above, was Henry Cherry’s step-daughter. – LYH]

Tell them.

Tell them if I am Black I am free born American & a revolutionary soldier & therefore ought not to be thrown entirely out of the scale of notice.

Letter from John Chavis to Senator Willie Mangum, March 10, 1832; Willie P. Mangum Papers, State Library of North Carolina.

James H. Harris.

ImageBorn a slave around 1830 in Granville County, James Harris was freed in 1848. After receiving his freedom, Harris was apprenticed to a carpenter and later opened his own business in Raleigh. Harris left North Carolina prior to the Civil War and attended school at Oberlin College in Ohio for two years, followed by trips to Canada and Africa. In 1863, he received a commission to organize the 28th Regiment of United States Colored Troops in Indiana. (Note: Contrary to the original marker inscription, Harris did not serve as a Union colonel. The text has been rewritten and the marker reordered.) After the Civil War, Harris moved back to his native state as a teacher affiliated with the New England Freedmen’s Aid Society. He became involved in Reconstruction politics and was one of the charter members of the state’s Republican Party after serving as a delegate to the state’s Freedmen’s Convention in 1865. A staunch advocate for the rights of African Americans, Harris sought to provide a voice for equality while maintaining a moderate tone. His philosophy was that blacks and whites had to work together to promote the interests of each race. A gifted speaker, Harris received numerous appointments, including service as a delegate to the state’s 1868 constitutional convention. He was elected a state legislator in the house, 1868-1870, and 1883 and in the senate, 1872-1874. Harris also served Raleigh as a city alderman and as an advocate for the construction of the Colored Institution for the Deaf, Dumb, and Blind. Harris was appointed vice-president of the National Equal Rights Convention in 1865, president of the National Convention of Colored Men in 1869, and vice-president of the National Black Convention in 1877. He attended the 1868, 1872, and 1876 Republican National Conventions, serving as a presidential elector in 1872. Harris edited the North Carolina Republican in the 1880s and pushed for reforms for the protection of laborers, women, orphans and other disadvantaged groups. Harris died in 1891 in Washington, D.C. and was buried at Mount Hope Cemetery in Raleigh.

Adapted from

Political Register.


County Officers. …

Commissioners – E.B. Jordan, Washington Winn, J.K. Smith, N.G. Holland

Justices of the Peace. …

Geo. W. Simmons. Date of Qualification, Aug. 30th, 1873. Post Office Address, Dudley.

The Legislative Manual and Political Register of the State of North Carolina for the Year 1874. Raleigh (1874).

In the 1860 census of Buck Swamp, Wayne County: Washington Winn, 35, carpenter, wife Temperance J., and children Aaron, 17, Levi, 15, Elizabeth, 13, James, 11, and Giles, 9.

George Henry White.


GEORGE HENRY WHITE (December 18, 1852 – December 28, 1918) was an attorney, the Republican U.S. Congressman from North Carolina between 1897 and 1901, and a banker. He is considered the last African-American Congressman of the Jim Crow era, one of twenty to be elected in the late nineteenth century from the South.

White was born in Rosindale, Bladen County, North Carolina, where his natural mother may have been a slave.  His father Wiley Franklin White was a free person of color of Scots-Irish and African ancestry, who was a laborer in a turpentine camp. George had an older brother, John, and their father may have purchased their freedom.  In 1857 Wiley White married Mary Anna Spaulding, a granddaughter of Benjamin Spaulding. Born into slavery as the son of a white plantation owner, Spaulding had been freed as a young man and worked to acquire more than 2300 acres of pine woods, which he apportioned to his own large family.

White studied at Howard University. He graduated in 1877 and was hired as a principal at a school in New Bern. He studied law in the city as an apprentice under former Superior Court Judge William J. Clarke and was admitted to the North Carolina bar in 1879.

In 1880 White ran as a Republican candidate from New Bern and was elected to a single term in the North Carolina House of Representatives. He returned to politics in 1884, winning election to the North Carolina Senate from Craven County. In 1886, he was elected solicitor and prosecuting attorney for the second judicial district of North Carolina, a post he held for eight years. Though he considered running for Congress, he deferred to his brother-in-law Henry Plummer Cheatham, who was elected to the US House in 1890.

White was a delegate to the 1896 and 1900 Republican National Conventions. In 1896 he was elected to the U.S. Congress representing the predominantly black Second District from his residence in Tarboro, defeating white Democratic incumbent Frederick A. Woodard of Wilson. In 1898 White was re-elected in a three-way race. In a period of increasing disfranchisement of blacks in the South, he was the last of five African Americans in Congress during the Jim Crow era.

On January 20, 1900, White introduced the first bill in Congress to make lynching a federal crime to be prosecuted by federal courts; it died in committee. A month later, as the House was debating issues of territorial expansion, White defended his bill by giving examples of crimes in the South. Arguing that conditions in the region had to “provoke questions about …national and international policy,” he said, “Should not a nation be just to all her citizens, protect them alike in all their rights, on every foot of her soil, in a word, show herself capable of governing all within her domain before she undertakes to exercise sovereign authority over those of a foreign land—with foreign notions and habits not at all in harmony with our American system of government? Or, to be more explicit, should not charity first begin at home?”

White delivered his final speech in the House on January 29, 1901: “This is perhaps the Negroes’ temporary farewell to the American Congress, but let me say, Phoenix-like he will rise up some day and come again. These parting words are in behalf of an outraged, heart-broken, bruised and bleeding, but God-fearing people; faithful, industrious, loyal, rising people – full of potential force.”

After White left office, no other black American would serve in Congress until Oscar De Priest was elected in 1928. No African-American was elected to Congress from North Carolina until 1992.

Adapted from Wikipedia. Photo courtesy of

In the 1860 census of Columbus County: Willey F. White, 39, farmer, born Pitt County; wife M.A., 20, and children John W., 14, and W.F., 7, plus W.T. Freeman, 7.

[Sidenotes: (1) George H. White’s secretary during his Washington years was William S. Hagans, son of Napoleon Hagans and nephew of my great-great-grandmother Louvicey Artis Aldridge.  (2) My junior high school in Wilson NC was named after Frederick A. Woodard. — LYH]

Free-born Delegates to North Carolina’s 1868 Constitutional Convention.

Parker David Robbins.

In the 1850 census of Gates County: John Robbins, 55, wife Mary, 37, and children Parker, 16, laborer, Augustus, 8, and Maranda, 4. In the 1860 census of Bertie County: Parker Robbins, 26, mechanic, wife Elizabeth, 18, and brother Augustus, 18.

Parker D. Robbins. Sgt. Maj., 2 Reg’t U.S. Col’d Cav. Field and Staff Muster Roll. Joined for duty, 1 Jan 1864, Fort Monroe, Virginia, for 3 years.

Parker David Robbins.  Died 1 November 1917, Magnolia, Duplin County. Colored. Married.  Born 1834 in Duplin County to John A. Robbins and an unknown mother.

For more about Parker Robbins:

On January 16, 2012, the North Carolina Highway Historical Marker Program unveiled a marker in Duplin County dedicated to Robbins.

Cuffie Mayo.

In the 1820 census of Warren County: Cuffie Mayho listed as head of household of 4 free colored people.  In the 1840 census of Granville County: Cuffie Mayho listed as head of household of 7 free colored people.  In the 1850 census of Tar River, Granville County: Cuffy Maho, 35, blacksmith, wife Glatha, 35, and children Mary, 21, Parthenia, 14, Angeline, 12, Sarah, 6, Randelia, 4, and William, 3. In the 1860 census of Oxford, Granville County: Cuffee Mayo, 57, painter, wife Juliann, 36, and children Sarah, 16, and Ludelia Mayo, 15, plus Thomas Hawley, 19, farm laborer.

James Henry Harris.

In the 1850 census of Tabs Creek, Granville County: Charles T. Allen, 28, wife Elizabeth, 28, and children Benjamin, 8, Julia, 7, and Virginia Allen, 4, plus James Callahan, 12, Thomas Avery, 7, and James Harris, 17.

For information about all of North Carolina’s free-born and freed delegates:

Hiram Rhodes Revels.


Hiram Rhodes Revels was the first person of color to serve in the United States Congress.

Revels was born free in 1827 in Fayetteville, North Carolina. In 1838 he moved to Lincolnton, North Carolina to apprentice in his brother Elias B. Revels’ barber shop. After attending seminary in Indiana and Ohio, Revels was ordained as a minister in the African Methodist Episcopal Church in 1845 and served as a preacher and religious teacher throughout the Midwest.

Revels served as a chaplain in the United States Army during the Civil War and helped recruit and organize black Union regiments in Maryland and Missouri. He took part at the battle of Vicksburg in Mississippi. In 1865, Revels left the AME Church and joined the Methodist Episcopal Church. In 1866, he was given a permanent pastorship in Natchez, Mississippi, where he settled with his wife and five daughters, became an elder in the Mississippi District, continued his ministerial work, and founded schools for black children.

In 1869, Revels was elected to represent Adams County in the Mississippi State Senate. In 1870 he was elected to finish the term of one of the state’s two United States Senators, vacant since Mississippi seceded from the Union.

When Revels arrived in Washington, Southern Democrats opposed seating him in the Senate, basing their arguments on the Dred Scott decision, which ruled that people of African ancestry were not and could not be citizens. Because no black man was a citizen before the 14th Amendment was ratified in 1868, they argued, Revels could not satisfy the requirement for nine years’ prior citizenship.

Revels’ supporters of Revels made a number of arguments, including: (1)  that Revels was of mixed black and white ancestry (an “octoroon”) and the Dred Scott decision applied only to blacks who were of purely African ancestry; (2) that Revels had been  considered a citizen (and indeed had voted in Ohio) before Dred Scott; and (3) that the Civil War and the Reconstruction Amendments had voided Dred Scott. On February 25, 1870, Revels, on a strict party-line vote of 48 to 8, became the first black man to be seated in the United States Senate.

Revels resigned two months before his term expired to accept appointment as the first president of Alcorn Agricultural and Mechanical College (now Alcorn State University). In 1873, Revels took a leave of absence from Alcorn to serve as Mississippi’s secretary of state ad interim.  He died on January 16, 1901.

Adapted from Wikipedia. 

In the 1850 census of Cambridge City, Wayne County, Indiana: Robert Freeman, 34, laborer, born Virginia; Jane Freeman, 30, born Virginia; Malinda Freeman, 14, born Ohio; Hannah, 13, William H., 10, Robert, 4, and Margaret Freeman, 3, all born in Indiana; Charles Guinea, 18, born Virginia; and Hiram Revels, 25, and wife Phebe Revels, 17, both born in NC.

In the 1860 census of Ward 11, Baltimore, Baltimore County, Maryland: Hiram Revels, 35, Prest’n clergyman O.S., born North Carolina; wife Phoebe, 25, born Ohio; Elizabeth, 5, and Emma Revels, 3 months, born in Maryland; and Mary Brooks, 16, born in Maryland.

The governor’s tricks.

A BAD INVESTMENT.  – Quite a stir appears to have been made in Harnett county by the receipt at the Post Office at Barclayville of two packages of “N.C. Standard Extra, Raleigh, N.C., July 12, 1864,” each containing five copies thereof, each copy containing an address to Mr. Holden’s “Fellow-Citizens,” and 40 Tickets for W.W. Holden for Governor.  The packages were addressed, in the fair hand writing of some one about the Standard Office, to “John Deane, Barclayville, N.C.” and “David Tucker, Barclayville, N.C.,” both free mulattoes, and one of them a minor at that!  On the packages the postage was paid.  So that Mr. Holden is minus 10 Circulars, 400 Holden Tickets, and 10 cents in cash.  Rather an unprofitable investment! We have received two letters from gentlemen at Barclayville, enclosing the covers of packages and copies of the Extra. One of these letters says that Mr. Holden will have to come and read his Extra to his “colored brethren,” as they cannot read.  But he don’t think the accommodations in that section would be very agreeable to Mr. Holden.  – Fayetteville Observer.

The above is from the Observer of Thursday evening last, received here on Friday morning.  In our paper dated Wednesday, but printed and started to Fayetteville on Tuesday, we exposed this hoax, and the Editors of the Observer must have seen our exposure of it before their paper of Thursday went to press.  Yet they make no allusion to the exposure, but attempt to produce the impression that we are engaged in a correspondence with free negroes.

A week or so since we received a letter from Barclayville containing $8.65, as subscription for four persons to the Standard.  They professed to be warm friends of ours.  We supposed, of course, that the letter was from white persons and genuine in its character, and accordingly sent them the Standard with some tickets. We soon learned, however, that the names of the four persons sent were those of free negroes, and that we had been imposed upon by some mean white person or persons. Fortunately we had preserved the letter. – We have placed it in the hands of a friend, and if the author of it can be traced and discovered by the handwriting, we intend to hold him up in his true colors to our readers.

A friend writing us from Averasborough under date of July 20th, says:

“I wish to inform you of some of the tricks of the friends of Gov. Vance in this quarter.  I am informed there was a gathering on last Friday at J.A. Johnson’s, and that John Green, Esq., went there from Barclayville with two bundles, one marked to Dave Tucker, a free negro, containing one of your Standards and some tickets for you, and the other was marked to John Dean, another free boy.  I also learned that the reception of these bundles was to be magnified, and sent to the Observer for publication.  I have my own opinions as to this matter.  One J.A.J., who says you are Lincolnite, went on to Peterburg a few days before these bundles were received, and it is believed he caused them to be sent.”

So it seems the Editors of the Observer are parties to this free negro trick! They are welcome to all they may gain by the achievement.  We have heretofore entertained high respect for the Senior Editor as a gentleman, but we find now that he is as depraved and unscrupulous as the meanest Destructive in the State.  There is neither wit, nor humor, nor decency in this trick perpetrated by Mr. Hale and his friends.  A high tones, honorable gentleman would have scorned any allusion to such practiced on a brother Editor, save to condemn it as low and unworthy in its character. – But adversity is the test of character.  Defeat, loss of influence, and the prospect that the election of the peace candidate for Governor will shorten the war, and thus stop the enormous profits Mr. Hale is realizing by his manufacturing establishments, are staring him in the face, and like Gov. Vance, he is resorting to every desperate expedient, even using the names of free negroes to injure and defeat us.  Repeating the language of the poor cowards who wrote him from Barclayville, he says if we should go to that place the “accommodations in that section” would not be “very agreeable” to us. First, we are tricked, as say one could have been, by a set of unprincipled Destructives, and then we are threatened that if we should happen to visit the neighborhood of these people, we would be insulted and mobbed. This is the not the first time the Observer has justified mob law against us.  It did so in September last, soon after we were mobbed by the Georgia troops; and our estimate of the hearts of the Editors of that paper now is, that they would be pleased to hear to-morrow that our office had been laid in ashes by a band of desperadoes, and our life placed in peril, if not taken.  This is our estimate of the Editors of that journal.  We now leave them in the company they have deliberately chosen, with the remark that the odor which surrounds them as the result of their connection with this free negro hoax, is not more offensive to them than their conduct in this business will be to every decent person who may become fully acquainted with it.

We congratulate Gov. Vance on the character of the friends he has in Harnett.  They are worthy of him, and he is worthy of them.  Two years ago they called him a Lincolnite and a traitor, but now they love him so well that they even use the free negro to promote his election.  James A. Johnson, C.H. Cofield, and Z.B. Vance! You are welcome to them, Governor.  We should think we had committed some great crime if they were to vote for us.

Weekly Standard, Raleigh, 27 July 1864.