|Birth: ||Nov. 18, 1802|
North Carolina, USA
|Death: ||Sep. 5, 1869|
North Carolina, USA
North Carolina Governor. During the Civil War, he served as the North Carolina state treasurer (1862-1865). He was elected as the Governor of North Carolina in 1865. However, in 1868, he resigned the office under what he called "Military duress."
Jonathan Worth, son of David and Eunice Worth, was born in Guilford County, North Carolina, November 18, 1802. He received a fair English education at the neighboring old-field schools, being much indebted to William Reynolds, the benefactor of his neighborhood correct instruction in English grammar and arithmetic. At the age of 18 years he was sent to the academy at Greensboro for 2-1/2 years, and distinguished himself for diligence and proficiency in his studies. His father being unable to continue him longer at school, he took a school near the residence of Judge Murphey, in Orange County, and commenced the reading of law under the direction of this talented and eminent lawyer. On October 20, 1824, he married Martitia Daniel, a niece of Judge Murphey, and in December following obtained a license to practice law; and afterward settled at Asheboro, North Carolina.
Owing to extreme diffidence and the total absence of anything like oratorical flourish, others, not more learned, took the lead of him in practice. Notwithstanding his great need of professional gains, his painful diffidence made him almost prefer to lose a fee rather than make a speech. After lingering at the Bar for years with few clients, he determined, in 1830, as a means of overcoming his repugnance to public speaking, to become a candidate for the legislature, hoping the canvass might give him more assurance. He was elected ahead of all his competitors, and the next year was again a candidate and was re-elected. At this last session he offered resolutions denouncing nullification, which, after a stormy debate, passed the House by a large majority.
In the beginning of 1831 he resolved to quit politics and devote himself to his profession. He soon went into a lucrative practice and paid off all his debts, and steadily accumulated property till the year 1840, when he was almost forced again to become a candidate for a seat in the Senate of the State legislature on the Harrison ticket. He was elected by an enormous majority.
At the session of 1840 the leading legislative measure was the putting in operation of a system of common schools. He was made chairman of the joint committee on education, and as such drew up and reported a bill which passed both houses, all the prominent features of which remained unchanged, until the system of common schools was broken up by the late war.
He was always an ardent admirer of Henry Clay. In 1841 he opposed the Honorable A Rencher for Congress, and was beaten. Both claimed to be supporters of Mr. Clay. Worth charged that certain acts of his opponent indicated a meditated defection from the support of Clay. He failed to convince the district, which was almost unanimous for Clay, that his suspicions as to the defection of his opponent were well founded.
He now applied himself diligently to the practice of his profession. In 1845 a convention of delegates from the counties composing his congressional district nominated him for Congress. He accepted the nomination, entered the field, and was beaten by his competitor, General Alfred Dockery.
In the above words Governor Worth described a part of his life when asked to do so by his friend, John H Wheeler. He never finished it. The fragment is interesting as his own words, but is inadequate as a description of well-rounded life as full of success and honor as that of the subject of this sketch.
The Worths came to North Carolina from Nantucket, and were nearly all Quakers. The family was characterized by the qualities of industry, thrift, devotion to principle, and the fear of God. Consequently, they were successful, not only in a material way, but also in obtaining the confidence, respect and admiration of all those with whom they came in contact. They were men of firm mold, were given to forming their own opinions, and then living up to them. Like all strong men, they had enemies, but none who could say anything to their discredit. It was of this stock that Jonathan Worth sprang, and of which he was the most distinguished representative.
His father, Dr David Worth, was a physician of reputation in his section. His mother was Eunice Gardner of Guilford County. He was the eldest of 12 children, 9 of whom lived to old age. His ancestry dates back to the early settlement of North America, 3 of his progenitors, John Carver, John Tilley and John Howland, having signed the "Mayflower" compact, while another ancestor, Christopher Hussey, came with Winthrop's company in 1630.
As a student at Caldwell Institute in Greensboro, at that time one of the best schools in the State, he became a proficient Latin student, and read the language with ease all his life. As has been seen, he continued his studies under Judge Murphey, who then lived at "The Hermitage" and conducted a small private law school. Association with this scholarly man was of great benefit to. him, and as a teacher he received that training which has always been thought of the greatest advantage to a student of law. While here he laid the foundations of an accurate and clear knowledge of the law. And here also he met his future wife, the niece and ward of Judge Murphey.
Passing over his 1st experience at the bar, it is seen that his candidacy for the House of Commons had given him the needed confidence in his own powers, and had also taught the people that he was a man of character and attainment beyond the ordinary. He never became an eloquent speaker, if oratory be the test, but he was clear and direct, and spoke with a good deal of force, and consequently was convincing. Besides the part he played in the anti-nullification debate, he was unusually prominent for a member at his 1st session. With 9 others he voted against a series of resolutions endorsing President Jackson's administration. This excited a great deal of feeling, and they were abused almost as traitors.
With success in his profession came a great increase in influence, at 1st in Randolph County, but gradually extending over the State. (Never what might be called a profound or brilliant lawyer, he was exact, painstaking and unusually practical.) A more methodical person it would be hard to imagine. Every detail of a matter intrusted to him received the closest personal attention. His office practice became very large, and he had a large number of clients outside the State. And as a lawyer he was very successful. In addition to the practice of his profession, he was interested in many business enterprises. He was prominent in the movement to open a railroad to the Chatham coal-fields, and was a large shareholder in a plank road from Fayetteville to Salem. He also engaged in industrial enterprises and had a large turpentine tract in Moore County. His plantations were well managed, and his slaves devotedly attached to him. Their welfare was always in his mind, and though a firm master, he was a very kind and considerate one.
His ability was so well recognized that his friends and relations constantly sought his advice, and, an unusual thing, followed it Apart from business, his correspondence was immense.
In his family he appeared at his best. He was a devoted husband, and no father could have been more tender to his children or more watchful of their best interests.
His mother was a Quaker, but he never became a member of any religious denomination. His wife was a Presbyterian, and her children were reared in the same faith.
In appearance, he was a small, slight man, with keen eyes and an alert expression. The Charleston Chronicle, in 1867, described him as "a quiet little old gentleman sharp as a briar, and with a well of wisdom at the root of every gray hair." Quiet he was, but with decided opinions, which he did not hesitate to express, often with temper. He was just, and yet this same temper occasionally caused him to be a little harsh in his judgment of his political opponents. A devoted Whig, the Democracy signified to him all that was dangerous in government. He believed its doctrines subversive of the Constitution and of all good government. And for the most of his life he fought it with all his power.
His life bears the strongest testimony to what can be accomplished by ambition, perseverance and devotion to principle. This last was the keynote of his life, public and private. And this fact was generally recognized in North Carolina. He was no genius. Simply a fine type of an able and honest gentleman, who thought "a good name rather to be chosen than great riches," and who used the talents given him to their fullest extent. After all, this is the finest kind of genius for a public man.
But it is not from his private nor yet his professional life that he deserves grateful remembrance from the State, fine as they were and deserving of record. It is as a public officer. As has been noted, he was enthusiastic in politics. He soon became influential in the councils of the Whig Party, and took an active part in all campaigns. His early legislative service has been noticed. One other fact deserves further remark. As chairman of the committee on education, against bitter opposition, he secured the adoption of the Federal population as the basis for the public schools. This greatly increased the number and efficiency of the schools. He was an earnest advocate of public education, having ideas on the subject far in advance of most of the public men of the time in North Carolina. Possibly this was in part due to the influence of Judge Murphey. At the same session he was elected a trustee of the University. This position he held for 28 years.
For many years he was clerk and master in equity for Randolph County, resigning in 1858 to accept a nomination to the State Senate.
He was elected, and as a member did what he considered the most important public act of his life. During the years of Democratic rule the North Carolina railroad had been entirely under the control of that party, and there was considerable dissatisfaction in the State at its management. Mr. Worth now moved that a committee be appointed to investigate its affairs. This was done, and he was made chairman. The investigation caused intense excitement and much ill-feeling. Mr. Charles F. Fisher, the president of the road, formerly a close friend and ardent admirer of Mr. Worth, wished to challenge him, but was prevented by the advice of his friends, who knew that Mr. Worth was opposed to dueling, and would not be moved in his convictions by public sentiment. The investigation, if it accomplished nothing else, had the effect of causing a more careful management of the corporate interests of the State.
Mr. Worth was intensely devoted to the Union, and saw with alarm the progress of disunion sentiment in the State and in the South. But he, like those of similar opinions, was powerless to avert the impending crisis and the consequent struggle. In 1860 he was again a candidate for the Senate, and at the same time supported Bell and Everett. Elected, when the General Assembly met he was one of the most determined opponents of the secession majority. Deeply he regretted his membership, but thought it would be wrong to resign in the midst of the crisis. So he remained in his place fighting for a vain hope. He opposed a convention, and canvassed Randolph against it, and was sustained by a large anti-convention majority. When the extra session was held, in May, 1861, after the fall of Sumter, he still voted against a convention, and when it was called, declined to be a candidate in spite of the wishes of his friends. But reflection convinced him that war must come, and there was no doubt in his mind of the side he preferred and would choose. Accordingly he at once began to urge the men of Randolph to volunteer and assist the South in presenting an unbroken front to the enemy. Indeed, he thought this was the only way that a long war could be avoided.
Never in favor of the war, or, in fact, of any war, he always hated it and longed for peace. Opposed to the Confederate administration, he was a loyal citizen and acted as such throughout the entire war, declining to take any part in the peace movement in 1863 and again in 1864. In 1862 he was again sent to the Senate, but soon afterward was elected by acclamation public treasurer by the Legislature, and resigned from the Senate to accept. In the latter position he served with ability and fidelity until the close of the war, and in spite of the difficulties of the position, won golden opinions for his skill and the judicious management of his office. It is hard to understand fully now the difficulty of the great problems which faced him, increased tenfold by the financial legislation of the war period, which was not based on scientific principles. And yet the legislators cannot be blamed for this, for they were unskilled and wanting in experience, and it would have been a difficult matter, even with experience, to make "bricks without straw" as they were compelled to do. Issues of treasury notes were followed by issues of bonds to the amount of millions of dollars of each. Many of the acts left it in the discretion of the treasurer when to make the issues, and even if they should be made at all. Nothing illustrates more clearly the implicit confidence reposed in him. To show the magnitude of the financial operations of the State in war, and of which Mr. Worth had almost the entire charge, it may be well to mention that during the period of the war a total of $20,400,000 in treasury notes was authorized, and of this $8,507,847.50 was issued; $3,261,511.25 was withdrawn later, leaving in circulation at the close of the war $5,246,326.25. Bonds were issued to the amount of $13,121,-500. By his skill and care Mr. Worth succeeded in redeeming a large amount of bonds, materially reducing thereby the State debt. As might have been expected, he devoted all his care and thought to the duties of the office, and with a salary that did not come near the amount of his expenses, he labored until the downfall of the State government. Just before Raleigh was occupied by the enemy, on April 13, 1865, he was placed by Governor Vance in charge of the State archives, which he carried westward, first to Company Shops and later to Greensboro. After General Schofield took command of the Department of North Carolina, he brought them back to Raleigh.
Soon after W. W. Holden was appointed provisional governor of the State he requested Mr. Worth to become provisional treasurer of the State. This also carried with it the duties of a financial agent, who should collect the scattered property belonging to the State. The ordinary duties of treasurer were, to a large extent, stopped by the lack of funds, but there was a considerable amount of property to be collected. While the War Department of the United States paid some of the expenses of the provisional government, it made no provision for the payment of the expenses of the convention which was soon to meet, and it seemed that in spite of the impoverished condition of the people, a tax would have to be levied for the purpose. Mr. Worth and Governor Holden realized that this would not do, and resolved that enough of the State property should be recovered to prevent the necessity. Much of the property had already been lost, having been seized by the agents of the United States Treasury or stolen by individuals. Contrary to the advice of Governor Holden, who feared the result of interference, Mr. Worth resolved to save for the State some property by appealing to Washington after the treasury agents had refused to surrender what had been collected. Accordingly he saw Secretary Seward and Secretary McCullough, and the latter authorized him to collect for the State all the "un-gathered debris," and, at the same time, ordered his agents not to be too "inquisitorial" in their search. A large amount of rosin and cotton was collected, some of the latter being found in South Carolina and Georgia. From the sale of this the sum of $150,000 was realized. After the expenses of the convention and other incidental expenses were paid, there still remained a balance of about $40,000.
To understand clearly the condition of affairs in the State, some knowledge of the policy of the United States Government toward the seceded States is necessary. Before the death of Mr. Lincoln he had formulated a plan of reconstruction, based upon the indestructibility of the States, and prepared, the day of his assassination, the proclamation for North Carolina. Upon his death, President Johnson followed the plan with a few minor changes in the amnesty proclamation. By the terms of the original proclamation of amnesty, amnesty was granted to those who had taken part against the United States, who would take the oath of allegiance to the United States. This restored rights of property, except in slaves and except where legal proceedings for confiscation had been instituted. Fourteen classes of persons were excepted from the benefits of this proclamation. These included the executive and diplomatic officers of the Confederacy, those who left the service of the United States to aid the Confederacy, the governors of the seceded States, all military and naval officers in the Confederate service whose rank was above that of colonel and lieutenant, respectively, and all who voluntarily took part in aid of the Confederacy whose property exceeded in taxable value $20,000. The last 2 classes were added to the original ones by President Johnson as a punishment of the classes he believed were responsible for the war. Any person belonging to an excepted class could make application to the President for a special pardon, and a promise of liberal executive clemency was extended.
The amnesty proclamation was followed by another proclamation providing for the restoration of North Carolina, and appointing William W. Holden provisional governor. This proclamation and appointment were based upon the war power of the President as commander-in-chief of the army and navy of the United States. It gave the provisional governor so appointed power to prescribe the necessary rules for the calling and assembling of a convention whose delegates should be chosen by the portion of the population that was loyal to the United States. The convention was given authority to exercise all powers necessary to restore the State to her constitutional relations with the Federal government, and to present such a republican form of government as would entitle the State to the guarantee of the United States against invasion, insurrection and domestic violence. It was also directed to prescribe the qualifications for electors and for holders of office. The proclamation itself prescribed as qualifications for electors and delegates to the convention that they should have taken the amnesty oath as provided in the President's proclamation, and that they should be voters qualified by the State constitution in force previous to May 20, 1861. Persons belonging to the excepted classes who were unpardoned could not vote or hold a seat in the convention.
Under this proclamation Governor Holden had called a convention and provided for the election to be held in September. The convention met in October, and remained in session three weeks. During this time ordinances were passed declaring the secession ordinance of May 20, 1861, null and void from the beginning, abolishing slavery, and repudiating the war debt of the State. The latter matter would not have been acted on at this session except for a telegram from the President demanding repudiation. This was sent in response to 1 from Governor Holden stating that the convention was involved in a bitter discussion of the subject. This was a misstatement of fact, utterly without foundation, and was, in part, a cause of the defeat of Governor Holden a month later. The convention provided for the election of a full set of State and county officers and of members of Congress.
Before the adjournment of the convention, fifty-three of the delegates joined in a call to Governor Holden to become a candidate for governor at the approaching election. The convention was thoroughly anxious for a restoration of the Union, but the majority had no confidence in Mr. Holden and refused to join in the call. He accepted the nomination thus offered and became a candidate.
The administration of Governor Holden not meeting with approval generally, both on account of his extreme unpopularity and because of his conduct of the office, which was, in some instances, at least, very partizan, many influential men looked about for a candidate to oppose him. Largely through the influence of Josiah Turner and ex-Governor William A. Graham, both of whom had been instrumental in securing his election as treasurer in 1862, Mr. Worth was decided upon as the most suitable person to run. In every way he was a fit choice. From his record he should have been more acceptable to the North than his opponent, and in the State, as the result showed, the people, greatly preferred him. Mr. Worth was very doubtful of the wisdom of accepting the nomination. Many of his friends were opposed to his becoming a candidate, believing that he could not be elected, and thinking it bad policy to oppose Mr. Holden. Others were under such obligations to the latter that they could not oppose him. But careful consideration of the matter convinced him that it would be wise to accept, and he accordingly did so, resigning, at the same time. the office of provisional treasurer.
When the campaign opened, the Standard began the most bitter attacks upon Mr. Worth, accusing him of being the tool of the "Secession Party" and an original Secessionist himself. The fact that he was opposed to the repudiation of the war debt at the 1st session of the convention was an additional ground of attack. Every possible means to excite prejudice against him was employed, but without success, and he was elected with a majority of about 6000 votes. The election was held on November 9th, but the provisional government did not terminate at once. Finally, the last week in December, despite the efforts of Mr. Holden to induce the President to continue it, it ceased, and Governor Worth, who had already taken the oath of office, before the adjournment of the General Assembly, assumed the duties of governor. The President was at 1st greatly disappointed at the result of the election, accepting the judgment of Mr. Holden and the Standard that it was a "Confederate" victory as the correct one. But later he learned the real condition of affairs and recognized that Governor Worth was truly desirous of a restoration of the Union along the lines laid down in the North Carolina proclamation of May 29th.
In the meantime, the General Assembly had met and ratified the 13th amendment, prohibiting slavery in the United States. The body was, like the convention, composed largely of former Whigs. A majority were adherents of Governor Worth. William A. Graham and John Pool were elected to the United States Senate, the former having never received his pardon. Most of the session was spent in filling the offices within the appointment of the legislature. The same anxiety which had been shown by the convention for a speedy restoration of the Union was evinced by the legislature. In both bodies the membership was, for the most part, composed of those who had never favored secession until there was no hope of preserving the Union without making war on the other Southern States, but who had then favored a vigorous prosecution of the war waged in self-defense.
The position in which Governor Worth now found himself was one full of difficulty, and requiring the greatest tact and care. Unfriendly factions had to be reconciled, the political moves of a faction bitterly hostile to him and to every one opposed to them had to be watched, a suspicious administration in Washington reassured and the hostile North kept satisfied. All of these but the last he accomplished. That, however, was beyond the power of a Southern man to perform, if mindful of the people he represented. And Governor Worth now was representative of the mass of the people. This fact, too, they recognized. In 1866 no one would accept a nomination against him, and although Alfred Dockery, at the advice of Mr. Holden, was voted for by the faction, soon to become the Republican Party, Governor Worth was re-elected by a very large majority.
In this election the proposed 14th, or Howard, amendment was 1 of the issues. This was, in a sense, the basis of the reconstruction policy of Congress. In brief, it was as follows: The 1st section defined as citizens of the United States all persons born or naturalized therein. The States were forbidden to make or enforce any law abridging the privileges or immunities of such citizens. The 2nd section provided for the apportionment of representation among the several States according to the population, and provided further, that when the right to vote was denied to any male inhabitants of the proper age, except for participation in rebellion, or other crime, the basis of representation should be reduced in the proportion that the number of those disfranchised should bear to the whole number of male citizens. The 3rd section provided that no person should be a senator or representative in Congress or hold any civil or military office under the United States or any State who, having taken the oath to support the Constitution of the United States, as an officer or legislator, had afterward engaged in rebellion against the United States or given aid and comfort to the enemies thereof. It was also provided that Congress might, by a vote of 2/3rds in each House, remove such disability. The 4th section affirmed the validity of the public debt of the United States, and forbade the assumption of the war debts of the Southern States. It also declared all claims against the United States for the loss or emancipation of slaves null and void. The 5th gave congress the power to enforce the provisions of the article by appropriate legislation. Governor Worth was opposed to the ratification of this amendment, and in his message of 1866 advised its rejection. The State was also opposed, and the legislature rejected it by large majorities in both Houses. The chief objection was to the 3rd section, putting under a ban nearly every man of even neighborhood prominence in the South.
In the summer of 1866 the convention met again and recast the State constitution. The work of rewriting it was largely in the hands of B. F. Moore, one of the most learned lawyers in the State. The new constitution included most of the old, with some changes. The various amendments adopted from time to time since 1835 were incorporated in the main body of the instrument, and a compact and excellent constitution was the result. But there was much dissatisfaction in the State at the convention touching the fundamental law of the State, on the ground that the convention was the creature of the President of the United States, called for a particular purpose, which had been accomplished at its 1st session. Former Chief Justice Ruffin and former Justice Manly were the foremost in opposition to its ratification by the people, and, largely through their efforts, it was defeated. Governor Worth was in favor of its ratification because of the superiority of the instrument, and because he thought that the argument against the authority of the convention supported the Congressional theory of the status of the governments of the lately seceded States.
Lack of space will not permit an extended account of his multitudinous duties as governor. 1 of the matters over which he earnestly labored was to defend the civil authority against the encroachments of the military power. He also may be given credit in large part for the securing of the admission of negro testimony, in spite of the opposition of those who were soon after to favor unqualified negro suffrage, and who formed the nucleus of the Republican Party in the State. Everything that he could do in honor to secure the restoration of North Carolina to her normal relations to the Union was done. And meanwhile certain politicians, whose only consistency had been in the frequency of their change of opinion when self-interest dictated it, slandered him and covered him with abuse. But he was not the man to be influenced by such attacks, and pursued his own course regardless of their opposition.
When the reconstruction acts were passed, he at 1st favored an attempt to bring them before the Supreme Court of the United States for a decision as to their constitutionality. But acting on the advice of Judge Thomas Ruffin, he consulted former Justice Curtis, at that time a practicing lawyer in Massachusetts, who agreed with Judge Ruffin that any effort of the kind would be futile. Consequently, Governor Worth declined to join with several other Southern governors who were preparing to make the attempt. In addition to the doubt of any good result from the attempt, Governor Worth felt that he was not authorized to take any action without the consent of the General Assembly, and he did not feel justified in calling an extra session.
Briefly, the reconstruction acts were to this effect. The preamble of the 1st act, that of March 2, 1867, declared that no legal State governments or adequate protection for life or property existed in the "rebel States." The act then provided that these States should be divided into 5 military districts under an officer not below the rank of brigadier-general, and made subject to the military authority of the United States. With South Carolina, North Carolina formed the second district. The commander of each district was required to protect all persons in their rights and to suppress insurrection, disorder and violence. In the punishment of offenders he was authorized to allow the local civil tribunals to take jurisdiction; or, if he deemed it necessary, to organize military commissions for the purpose. All interference with such tribunals by State authority was declared void. It was provided further that the people of any of the said States should be entitled to representation when they should have framed and ratified a constitution in conformity with the Constitution of the United States. This constitution was to be framed by a convention elected by the male citizens of the State, regardless of race, color or previous condition, with the exception of those persons disfranchized for participation in rebellion or for felony. All persons on whom disabilities would be imposed by the proposed 14th amendment to the Federal Constitution were disqualified from holding a seat in the convention or from voting for members. The constitutions thus framed, and providing that all persons whom the act made electors should enjoy the elective franchise, must then be approved by Congress. When representatives from any State were admitted to their seats by Congress, the preceding portions of the act would become inoperative for such State. Until the completion of this reconstruction, the existing civil governments were declared provisional, and liable at any time to modification or abolition. This was passed over the veto of the President. On March 23, 1867, a supplementary act was passed which provided that the district commanders should cause a registration to be made of all male citizens who could take a required oath as to their qualifications as electors. An election of delegates to a convention should then be held by the commanders. For the sake of giving the appearance of following the will of the people, the question of holding a convention was submitted at the same time. It was further provided that unless a majority of the registered voters took part in the election, and a majority in favor of the convention resulted, no convention should be held. Provision was made for boards of election, composed only of those who could take the "iron-clad" oath. To ratify the constitutions thus framed, a majority of the voters registered was necessary. This bill was also vetoed by the President and passed over his veto.
After the adjournment of Congress, Attorney-General Stan-berry sent to the President an interpretation of the acts which lessened considerably the power of the military commanders. Congress met again in July and passed another supplementary act interpreting the former acts. This gave the military commanders full power to make any removals from office that they might see fit. The registration boards were authorized to go behind the registration oath whenever they might think it necessary. This act, likewise, received the veto of the President, but was passed over it.
General Daniel E. Sickles was placed in command of the second military district in March, 1867. He reposed the greatest confidence in Governor Worth's judgment, and frequently consulted him, even having him come to Charleston as his guest for the purpose. He was convinced of his sincerity, and consulted him in regard to every appointment for North Carolina, and usually accepted his advice. But there was much in the carrying out of the congressional policy that he could not approve, and he often expressed himself fully to General Sickles and the President.
When General Canby took command, there was a different condition of affairs, for he was utterly regardless of the wishes of the people of the State, and equally regardless of their laws. But Governor Worth, in one instance at least, succeeded in doing the State a service with him. By his vigorous protests he prevented the appointment of A. W. Tourgee as a judge of the Superior Court, and secured the appointment of Colonel Clinton A. Cilley, who made an excellent officer.
Registration was carried on rapidly both of negroes and whites. There was strong opposition to the admission of the negro to the franchise. A plan was suggested that if the whites should all register and then refrain from voting the convention might be defeated. Governor Worth favored this scheme, and repeatedly urged the people to register. Immediately after the passage of the Reconstruction Act in March, Governor Holden, Judge Settle and others held a convention and formed the Republican Party in North Carolina, and they advocated the adoption of these reconstruction measures. The convention received a majority of the registered voters, and the Republicans elected a large majority of the delegates, only thirteen Conservatives being chosen. Among the Republican delegates were thirteen negroes and fifteen Northern men, later known as "carpet-baggers." Not a member of either party had hitherto been known in the State in a political way. This was the body that was to reconstruct the fundamental law of the State.
A constitution was framed based largely upon the constitutions of the various Northern States. This was due to the "carpetbaggers," who dominated the body and who desired to engraft "Northern civilization" upon the body politic. The convention provided for the election of State and county officers and of members of Congress, and also provided for the submission of the new constitution to the people. The Republicans nominated W. W. Holden for governor and the Conservatives nominated Z. B. Vance. The latter declined, and Thomas S. Ashe was selected to head the ticket.
Governor Worth was approached in regard to being a candidate, but refused to consider it, not desiring the position, and feeling that another candidate would have a better chance of success. The issue dividing the people was chiefly the adoption of the proposed constitution conferring suffrage on the negroes, who, however, were allowed to vote at the election, while thousands of white men were disfranchised.
The election resulted in a Republican victory. Most of the North Carolinians chosen were laboring under disabilities, but these were removed by Congress on the same day that the new constitution was approved. An act was passed declaring the State entitled to representation whenever the legislature should ratify the fourteenth amendment. Governor Holden called the legislature into session, and on July i, 1869, took the oath of office. The facts of his assuming control can best be told by quoting the following protest sent to him by Governor Worth:
"Governor W. W. Holden, Raleigh, North Carolina,
"Sir: Yesterday morning I was verbally notified by Chief Justice Pearson that, in obedience to a telegram from General Canby, he would, to-day, at 10 o'clock a.m., administer to you the oaths required preliminary to your entering upon the discharge of the duties of civil governor of the State, and that thereupon you would demand my office.
"I intimated to the judge my opinion that such proceeding was premature. even under the reconstruction legislation of Congress, and that I should probably decline to surrender the office to you. At sundown yesterday evening I received from Colonel Williams, commandant of this military post, an extract from General Orders No. 12, of General Canby, as follows:
" To facilitate the organization of the new State government the following appointments are made: To be governor of North Carolina, W. W Holden, governor elect, vice Jonathan Worth, removed. To be lieutenant-governor, Tod R. Caldwell, original vacancy. To take effect July 1st, on the meeting of the General Assembly of North Carolina.'
"I do not recognize the validity of the late election under which you and those co-operating with you claim to be invested with the civil government of the State.
"You have no evidence of your election save the certificate of a major-general of the United States Army. I regard all of you as, in effect, appointees of the military power of the United States, and not as deriving your power from the consent of those you claim to govern.
"Knowing, however, that you are backed by military force here, which I could not resist if I would, I do not deem it necessary to offer a futile opposition, but vacate the office without the ceremony of actual eviction. offering no further opposition than this my protest.
"I would submit to actual expulsion in order to bring before the Supreme Court of the United States the question as to the constitutionality of the legislation under which you claim to be the rightful governor of the State if the past action of that tribunal furnished any hope of a speedy trial.
"I surrender the office to you under what I deem military duress, without stopping, as the occasion would well justify, to comment upon the singular coincidence that the present State government is surrendered as without legality to him whose own official sanction but three years ago proclaimed it valid.
"I am very respectfully,
"Governor of North Carolina."
The severe labors of his position had told upon Governor Worth greatly, and he was far from well. Entire recovery never came again. Had he been a younger man and lived, there would doubtless have been for him in later years more honors at the hands of a grateful State. But his work was done, and he died at "Sharon," his Raleigh home, on September 5, 1869, and was buried in Oakwood Cemetery in that city. His life work is thus summed up in the monument above his grave in Oakwood Cemetery:
"Legislator, Chief Financial Officer
and Governor of his Native State.
Faithful in All."
Governor Worth and his wife, Martitia (Daniel) had 8 children: Roxana Cornelia, who married John McNeill, of Cumberland County; Lucy Jane, who married Joseph John Jackson, of Chatham County; David Gaston, who married Miss Julia Stickney, of Sandy Hill, New York; Eunice Louisa, who died unmarried ; Elvira Evelyna, who married Samuel Spencer Jackson, of Chatham County, December 25, 1856; Mr. Jackson died in 1875 and 2 years later she married Samuel Walker, who died within 3 months. In 1883 she married Mr. E. N. Moffit.
The 6th child was Sarah Corinne, who married Dr. William Roberts, of Edenton, and becoming widowed, she married Dr. Hamilton C. Jackson, of Chatham; Adelaide Ann, who married William Henry Bagley, of Perquimans; and Mary Martitia, who died unmarried.
J G. de Roulhac Hamilton.
(Source: Biographical History of North Carolina from Colonial Times to Present, By Samuel A. Ashe, Vol. III, published 1906)
WORTH, JONATHAN, lawyer, state senator, governor, was born Nov. 18, 1802, in Guilford County, N. C. He was a member of the North Carolina legislature in 1829-34. He was also for several terms a member of the state senate. He was a member of the lower house of the legislature from 1862 till the end of the war, and was public treasurer of the state during the same period. He was elected governor, and served until 1868. He died Sept. 5. 1869. in Raleigh, N. C.
Jonathan and Martitia were the parents of;
Murphy, Roxana Cornelia, Lucy Jane, David Gaston, Elvira Evelyn, Corrine Sarah, Adelaide Ann, and Mary Martitia.
Murphy is Find A Grave Memorial# 52921973
Lucy Jane is Find A Grave Memorial# 57091240
Elvira Evelyn not found yet
Mary Martitia is Find A Grave Memorial# 52921973 (bio by: Evening Blues)
David Worth (1776 - 1844)
Eunice Gardner Worth (1781 - 1866)
Martitia Daniel Worth (1806 - 1874)*
Roxana Cornelia Worth McNeill (1826 - 1914)*
Lucy Jane Worth Jackson (1828 - 1909)*
David Gaston Worth (1831 - 1897)*
Sarah Corinne Worth Jackson (1839 - 1913)*
Adelaide Ann Worth Bagley (1842 - 1926)*
Mary Martitia Worth (1846 - 1866)*
North Carolina, USA
Maintained by: Find A Grave
Originally Created by: Rebecca
Record added: Jul 30, 2003
Find A Grave Memorial# 7723136
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