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Col William Lawrence Saunders

Col William Lawrence Saunders

Birth
Raleigh, Wake County, North Carolina, USA
Death 2 Apr 1891 (aged 55)
Raleigh, Wake County, North Carolina, USA
Burial Tarboro, Edgecombe County, North Carolina, USA
Memorial ID 20710466 · View Source
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Statesman; Editor; Historian Colonel William Lawrence Saunders served as Secretary of the State of North Carolina during the Reconstruction era (1879-1891). During his tenure, he was arrested in his office in Raleigh and brought before the US Senate for questioning regarding his alleged connection to Ku Klux Klan activities in North Carolina. Saunders was the first person ever to invoke his Fifth Ammendment right to refuse to answer questions that could incriminate him during a US Senate investigation. "I decline to answer" is carved on his tombstone as are the words "For 20 years he exerted more power in North Carolina than any other man" also "Distinguished for wisdom, purity and courage" which is generally understood to be a reference to his years of leadership with the Ku Klux Klan rather than his tenure as NC Secretary of State. Saunders was also on the UNC board of trustees and a co-founder of the Raleigh News and Observer newspaper. He graduated from The University of North Carolina in 1854; in 1922 the building that houses Religious Studies and the Geography department - Saunders Hall- was named after him. Although minority students have staged protests in recent years asking that the name be changed - the University of North Carolina is refusing on the grounds that history cannot be changed; only studied with an eye towards better understanding in the future.


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  • Created by: GingerSnaps1111
  • Added: 31 Jul 2007
  • Find A Grave Memorial 20710466
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Col William Lawrence Saunders (30 Jun 1835–2 Apr 1891), Find A Grave Memorial no. 20710466, citing Calvary Church Cemetery, Tarboro, Edgecombe County, North Carolina, USA ; Maintained by GingerSnaps1111 (contributor 46925247) .