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The rhetoric of Zebulon B. Vance

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Title:
The rhetoric of Zebulon B. Vance Tarbeel spokesman
Creator:
Shirley, Franklin Ray, 1917-
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English
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vii, 401, 1 leaves : ; 28 cm.

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Rhetoric ( lcsh )
Oratory ( lcsh )
Speech thesis Ph. D ( lcsh )
Dissertations, Academic -- Speech -- UF ( lcsh )
Vance, Zebulon Baird -- 1830-1894 ( lcsh )
Vance, Zebulon Baird -- 1830-1894 ( fast )
Oratory ( fast )
Rhetoric. ( fast )
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bibliography ( marcgt )
non-fiction ( marcgt )
Academic theses ( fast )
Academic theses ( lcgft )

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Thesis - University of Florida.
Bibliography:
Includes bibliographical references (leaves 392-400).
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Manuscript copy.
General Note:
Vita.

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Full Text
THE RHETORIC OF ZEBULON B. VANCE
TARHEEL SPOKESMAN
By
FRANKLIN RAY SHIRLEY
A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE COUNCIL OF
THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE
DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
August, 1959


ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
The writer is indebted to many individuals for in¬
spiration and guidance in the preparation of this study.
Among these is the late Professor Dallas C. Dickey, the
original chairman of the supervisory committee, who stimu¬
lated interest in this undertaking. Without his sugges¬
tions and criticisms during the formative stages of the
dissertation, it probably would have never materialized.
A major debt of gratitude is owed to Professor H. P. Con-
stans, the present chairman of the committee, who has
guided the progress since the formative stages. His frank
and generous suggestions have contributed greatly to the
fruition of the work. Professor Douglas W. Ehninger also
deserves commendation for his scholarly criticism of the
manuscript and for his willingness to give freely of his
time and editorial experience. The writer is indebted to
Professor James D. Glunt whose teachings provided back¬
ground knowledge essential to the dissertation, and like¬
wise to Professor George C. Osborn, formerly on the com¬
mittee. Other members of the committee who willingly
gave their services are L. L. Zimmerman and F. A. Doty.
Several sources deserve credit for assistance in
securing materials and aiding in research. Mrs. Mary
Rogers and other members of the staff of the North Caro-
li


lina Department of Archives and History were especially
helpful in making the Vance Papers and other pertinent
collections available. Mrs. Margaret Price of the North
Carolina State Library provided invaluable assistance in
locating newspaper sources used extensively throughout
the study. Among the libraries and archives that made
available material for the research were the Wake Forest
College Library, the University of North Carolina Library,
Duke University Library, the University of Florida Library,
the Moravian Archives, the Boston Public Library, the
Atlanta Public Library, and the Library of Congress.
Special thanks are due to the staff members of the Wake
Forest College Library for their cooperation in supply¬
ing the majority of the secondary sources.
Several people are indirectly responsible for the
completion of this project. Of these, the writer’s wife,
Mamie M. Shirley, deserves highest praise for the numerous
sacrifices made while the study was in progress. His
children, Susan Ollene, William McNulty, and Elizabeth
Rae, have been helpful through their willingness to fore¬
go their father’s companionship in anticipation of his
completion of the dissertation. The writer would be un¬
grateful, indeed, if he did not express appreciation to
his father and his mother, Mr. and Mrs. W. F. Shirley,
for their sacrifices in helping him to obtain an education.
iii


TABLE OF CONTENTS
Page
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ii
Chapter
I.BACKGROUND AND TRAINING 1
Vance’s Birth and Family Background; Early
Education; Preparatory Training at Washing¬
ton College; Father’s Death; Life in Ashe¬
ville; Effects of Reading and Associations
on Vance; Vance’s Ambitions; Education at
the University of North Carolina; Speaking
Experiences at Chapel Hill; License to Prac¬
tice Law; Vance as Husband and Father.
II.YOUTHFUL POLITICIAN AND LAWYER 27
Turning from Law to Politics; Whig Party in
North Carolina; 1854 Campaign for North
Carolina House of Commons; Member of House
of Commons; 1856 Whig-American Candidate
for State Senate; 1858 Campaign Speaking;
Member of Thirty-fifth Congress; Speech on
Tariff, Public Lands, and Pensions for Vet¬
erans; Opposition to Anti-Union Sentiment;
1859 Candidate for Re-election to Congress;
Peacemaker of Thirty-sixth Congress; Last
Congressional Speech; End of Career in Con¬
gress.
III.THE RHETORIC OF A WAR GOVERNOR 68
Transformation from Unionist to Secession¬
ist; "Rough and Ready Guards”; Military
Defeats on the Coast; 1862 Conservative
Gubernatorial Nominee; Speechless Campaign;
Farewell Meeting; Speech of Response; The
Governor-elect Speaks; Vance’s Inaugural
Address; Speech Pleases People; Confederate
Government Skeptical; Tasks of a War Gov¬
ernor; Driving Troops from North Carolina;
Speech to Soldiers; "Advance” Purchased;
North Carolina Rights Guarded; Vance-Holden
Rift; Vance’s Opposition to Peace Movement;
Vance Condemns Peace Meeting; Benning’s
Brigade Attacks Holden’s Printing Office;
iv


Chapter Page
Speech Against Violence; Final Break with
Holden; Candidate for Re-election.
IV.CAMPAIGN OF 1864 107
Vance Differs with Davis; 1864 Campaign
Begins; Wilksboro Speech; North Carolina
Newspapers Support Vance; Campaign Carried
to the People; Speeches to Soldiers in
Virginia; Unprecedented Speaking Tour;
Governor Brown’s Peace Proposal; Vance’s
Raleigh Speech; Smithfield Speech; Wit and
Humor Attacked; Vance Wins Election.
V.VANCE’S GOVERNORSHIP TO THE END OF THE CON¬
FEDERACY 14u
Mood of Despair; Message to General As¬
sembly; Concern for North Carolina’s De¬
fense; Plea for Confederate Aid; Second
Inaugural Address; Proclamation Issued;
Goldsboro Speech on Condition of Confed¬
eracy; Sherman Approaches North Carolina;
North Carolina’s Withdrawal from Confed¬
eracy Urged; Flag of Truce Sent to Sher¬
man; Vance Leaves Raleigh; The Capture of
Raleigh; Conference with Davis; Vance’s
Return to Capitol Prohibited; Proclama¬
tion of April 28, 1868; Vance’s Arrest;
Imprisonment in Washington; Release from
Prison.
VI.POST-WAR SPEAKING 170
Law Practice in Charlotte; Vance’s Trial
Speeches; Lecture: "Duties of Defeat";
Popular Lecturer; The Southern Historical
Society Address; Radical Reconstruction;
Radical and Conservative Conventions;
Vance’s Speech to the Conservative Con¬
vention; Re-established as Conservative
Leader; Holden Elected Governor; Back in
the Union; 1868 Democratic National Con¬
vention; Union Square Speech; Holden’s
Corrupt Administration; Conservatives
Capture Both Houses of General Assembly;
Holden Impeached; Vance Refused Seat in
Senate; Vance Declines Nomination for
v


Chapter
Page
VII.
VIII.
IX.
Governor in 1872; Greeley Nominated for
President; Grant Elected President; Vance’s
Participation in Civic Affairs; Vance
Nominated for Governor in 1876.
VANCE-SETTLE CAMPAIGN
Speech at Charlotte Celebration; Tilden-
Vance Club Serenade; Courthouse Square
Speech; Formidable Opponents; First Meet¬
ing of ’’The Giants”; Debate at Bakersville;
Jonesboro Discussion; Settle’s Position
Weakened; Final Debate; Democratic Rally
at Kinston; Elected Governor in 1876; Third
Inaugural Address; Reconstruction Ended.
THIRD TERM GUBERNATORIAL SPEAKING
Training for Teachers; Varied Speaking En¬
gagements; Speech Before the Colored Eman¬
cipation Society; Emancipation Proclamation
Anniversary Address; Industrial Revolution;
Grange Picnic Speech; Address to Teachers
Attending Normal School; Technical and Vo¬
cational Training Advocate; Death of Wife
and Mother; United with Presbyterian
Church; Resigned to Become United States
Senator.
SENATORIAL SPEAKING
Entered the Senate; Vance’s Maiden Speech;
Marriage to a Wealthy Widow; Assassination
of Garfield; Tariff Reform; Cleveland
Elected President; Vance-Cleveland Disagree
ment on Silver; Vance’s Bi-Metalism Speech;
Civil Service Reform Speech; 1886 Speech at
Tammany Hall; Vance’s Debate on Tariff;
Re-elected Senator; Impairment of Health;
Conflict with Farmers Alliance; Last Speech
in the Senate.
OCCASIONAL SPEAKING
Occasional Speaking Defined; Wake Forest
College Commencement Address; Welcome Ad¬
dress at the International Cotton Exposi¬
tion; Lecture on ’’The Political and Social
Feeling of the South During the War”; ”The
Scattered Nation.”
211
246
270
318
vi


Chapter
XI. ZEBULON B. VANCE, THE SPEAKER--AN EVALUATION .
Vance's Death; Secret of Personal Appeal;
Sources of Speech Material; Forms of Sup¬
port; Types of Appeal; Organization of
Speeches; Vance's Style; Choice of Lan¬
guage; Method of Delivery; Gestures and
Bodily Action; Elements of Voice; Ap¬
pearance and Personality; Vance's Im¬
perfections; Vance's Attributes.
BIBLIOGRAPHY . .
BIOGRAPHICAL DATA
vii
Page
. 360
. 392
401


CHAPTER I
BACKGROUND AND TRAINING
"I have another son ... I call him Zebulon
Baird. . . .m1 These words, written by the child's
mother to a relative, represent the only publicity given
to the birth of the boy who was destined to become immor¬
tal in the hearts of the people of his state. Zebulon
Baird Vance was born May 13, 1830, in the Vance home on
Reems Creek, near the French Broad River in Buncombe
County, North Carolina, the third son among the eight
2
children of David and Mira Vance.
The home was a log farmhouse consisting of a single
room below and a loft above, reached by a crude ladder¬
like stairs in one corner of the chimney.^ The house had
been built by Zebulon* s grandfather, Colonel David Vance,
4
who had come into the Reems Creek valley in 1785. The
Vance home was surrounded by some of the most beautiful
â– ^-Mira Vance to Margaret Davidson, September 14, 1830,
Z.B. Vance Papers, State Department of Archives and History,
Raleigh.
2K.P. Battle, "Biographical Sketch of Senator Z.B.
Vance," North Carolina University Magazine, Old Series,
XIX (March, 1881), 257.
^John Preston Arthur, Western North Carolina. A
History (Raleigh, 1914), p. 259.
^W.C. Hendricks, "Home of the Vances," The State.
V (January 22, 1938), 8.
1


2
scenery in the world, and from it one could see Mount
Mitchell. Picturesque forests covered the mountains, and
the rushing streams and leaping cascades furnished a charm
unknown to the inhabitants of non-mountainous regions. It
was in the midst of this natural beauty that young Vance de¬
veloped characteristics that helped him become a spokesman
of his native state. Here his imagination was kindled, here
he acquired a love of nature and a deep pride in his native
land.^
Few North Carolinians could boast a better lineage
than Zebulon Baird Vance. On his father*s side he was de¬
scended from a family that had been in the upper strata of
European nobility. Many of its members had been dukes,
princes, sovereign counts, and lords. The Vance family,
known originally as DeVaux, came from Normandy. From
there three DeVaux brothers went with William the Con¬
queror to England in 1066. In England the name was shorten-
ed to Vaux, and later in Scotland it became Vans;0 in 1660,
in Ireland, it was altered to Vance.^
^The Ceremonies Attending the Unveiling of the Bronze
Statue of Zeb. B. Vanee, L.L.D. and the Address of Richard
H. Battle. L.lTdT (Raleigh, 1900), p.10. Cited hereafter
as Address of Richard H. Battle.
^William Balbirnie, An Account, Historical and Genea¬
logical, from the Earliest Days Till the Present of Vance
in Ireland. Vans in Scotland, Anciently Vaux in Scotland
and England, and Originally DeVaux in France (Cork, 1¿¿0),
p. 9.
^William Vance to Z.B. Vance, London, July 19, 1884,
Vance Papers.


3
During the early part of the eighteenth century some
of the Vance family came to America. David Vance, Zebulon's
grandfather, was one of the descendents of these Scotch-
Irish settlers. Andrew Jackson was also descended from
O
this same line on his mother's side. David Vance was born
in Frederick County, Virginia, in 174-5, and settled in the
Quaker Meadows section of the Catawba Valley in North
Carolina when he was about twenty years old.^ He was a
surveyor and teacher, and was one of the first to take up
arms in support of the colonies during the American Re¬
volution. ^ David served under Colonel Charles McDowell,
who led the Burke and Rutherford County boys against
Patrick Ferguson's force at King's Mountain. McDowell,
who was in command of 160 men, joined forces with four
columns of patriots under the leadership of William Camp¬
bell, John Sevier, Isaac Shelby, Benjamin Cleveland, and
Joseph Winston on October 7» 1780. Ferguson was killed
and his army routed in the battle with these combined
forces. This victory was the "turn of the tide of sue-
O
John W. Wheeler, Reminiscences and Memoirs of North
Carolina (Columbus, 1884), p. 6k.
^Hendricks, "Home of the Vances," p. 8.
10Arthur, Western North Carolina. A History, p. 99.
^Wheeler, Reminiscences and Memoirs of North Carolina,
p. 64.
12
H.T. Lefler and A.R. Newsome, North Carolina (Chapel
Hill, 1954), p. 233.


4
cess which terminated the Revolutionary War."^
After David Vance returned from the army, where he
was promoted to Captain, he moved with his family, in
1785, across the mountains to Reems Creek, Here he was
a highly respected citizen, serving as clerk of the court
and in other public offices. Having introduced the bill
in the General Assembly of 1791 for the creation of Bun¬
combe County from Burke and Rutherford Counties, he was
14
considered the father of his county. In him were many
of the traits that contributed to the success of his
famous grandson. "No man was his superior in accuracy
in business and strict discharge of duty, in genial tem¬
per, hospitality and integrity.”15
To David Vance and his wife, the former Priscilla
Brank, were born two sons, Robert Brank and David. Robert
Brank was killed in a duel with Samuel P. Carson in 1825.
The second son, David, married Mira Margaret Baird, and
became the father of Zebulon Baird Vance.
Zebulon Vance's maternal grandfather, Zebulon Baird,
was born in New Jersey in 1764. He was of Scotch descent.
•^Lefler and Newsome, North Carolina, p. 235.
14
Hendricks, "Home of the Vances," p.,8.
â– ^Raleigh Observer. January 2, 1877.


5
In 1775» his widowed mother moved with her three sons from
16
Newark, New Jersey, to Burke County, North Carolina.
After their mother's death, the three Baird sons, Zehulon,
Elisha, and Bedent, moved to Buncombe County and settled
on the site of the city of Asheville. Later Zebulon Baird
gave to the city of Asheville the public square upon which
Buncombe County's first courthouse was built. He also
became active in politics. From 1800 to 1803 he served
as a member of the lower branch of the state legislature,
17
and in the state senate from 1806 to 1822. He married
Hannah Early, whose Scotch-Irish family lived in nearby
Burke County. Among the eight children born to the Bairds
was Mira Margaret, who was to become the mother of Zebulon
18
Baird Vance.
Young Vance inherited little more than intelligence and
19
good characteristics from his father. He was said to have
received his wit, his love of nature, and his personality
from his mother.. In spite of her meager education, she
had a love of literature and transmitted this to her chil¬
dren. At night she gathered them around her and read aloud
°Unpublished manuscript on "Some Interesting Facts
Concerning an Old Family" in "History of the Old Tennent
Church," compiled by Reverend-Frank Symmes in Gudger-Love
Papers.â–  Southern Historical Collection, University of
North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
17
Baird Genealogical Manuscript in Gudger-Love Papers.
‘^Lou Rogers, "Margaret Baird Vance, a Woman We Should
Not Forget," We the-People. January, 1944.
19
Battle, North Carolina University Magazine. XIX, 257*


6
selections from the Bible, Shakespeare, or Pilgrim* s
20
Progress. This daily practice contributed to Vance's
store of literary and scriptural quotations which he
later used in the majority of his speeches.
Zeb's early education was pursued in a random man¬
ner that contributed little to his moral or mental de¬
velopment. None of his early teachers appeared to have
made a distinct impression on him. He was about six years
old when he went to his first school at Flat Creek, twelve
miles from his home. His father wrote on February 3, 1836,
”We have had Robert and Zebulon at school awhile this win-
ter and will continue them as soon as the weather permits.” ±
Soon after this, Matthew Woodson, the teacher, closed the
Flat Creek School and opened another one about three miles
from the Vance home. This also the Vance brothers attended.
Later the boys attended a neighborhood school taught by
Miss Jane Hughley. Thus, for seven years Zeb attended
first one and then another of the "old field” schools,
which served as the kindergartens, graded, and normal
22
schools. Usually there were one or two such schools in
each county, with sessions running when it was not crop¬
time. They were attended by people of all ages, with as
20Charlotte Observer. January 31» 1915.
21Ibid.
22Ibld.


7
many as a hundred pupils jammed into one room. Reading,
writing, arithmetic, and spelling were the principal sub¬
jects taught. These schools were financed by public sub¬
scription, with the teacher receiving free board in the
23
homes of the pupils. Pike’s Arithmetic and Webster’s
Elementary Spelling; Book were the chief textbooks used in
the schools attended by Vance. In spite of the desultory
training he received, he somehow managed to pick up the
rudiments of learning.
In 1843, when Zeb was thirteen years old, his father,
desiring that he should become better educated, sent him
across the mountains to Washington College in Jonesboro,
Tennessee. Because of his meager early training, young
Vance presumably enrolled for the preparatory program
rather than the freshman course. To be eligible for ad¬
mission to the freshman class, he would have had to pass
entrance examinations in English grammar, geography,
Davies' Arithmetic, elementary algebra, Virgil, and Ja¬
cob’s Greek Reader. This he was not prepared to do.
His education, however, was to follow a classical pattern.
Washington College was the seat of classical learning
serving eastern Tennessee and western North Carolina,
and even in the preparatory course a student was required
to study English grammar, geography, and Latin. Here,
^Arthur, Western North Carolina, a History, p. 421.


8
too, there was formal speech training, since a student
was required to declaim, as well as to write compositions,
once every four weeks. These performances were subject to
rigid standards, and great pains were taken to secure from
the student a style of composition "free from slovenliness
and meretricious ornaments and characterized by a straight
forward commonsense manner of giving expression to thought
Before young Vance had been at Washington College a
year, he was called home by the serious illness of his
father. He reached his father's bedside just in time to
see him die. Vance returned to Jonesboro two days after
the funeral. His mother was left to rear and educate a
large family and to manage an estate that was heavily bur¬
dened with debt. Except for a few slaves, most of the per
sonal property had to be used to pay the father's debts
and funeral expenses. Consequently there was not enough
money to permit young Vance to continue at Washington Col¬
lege, and he ended his training there in the spring of
1844 at the age of fourteen.
Vance's mother was determined that her children
should have the benefit of an education. With this end
in view, she bought a house in Asheville where there were
schools for girls and for boys. She put all the children
— - ‘
Howard E. Carr, The Washington College (Knoxville,
1935), p. 208.
«24


9
in school, and played the chief role in directing their
studies. "She taught us all business as well as books,"
wrote Vance, "and such was the confidence felt in her ex¬
cellent judgment that after we were all grown and set up
for ourselves, she was habitually consulted in regard to
every important business matter in the family.
The only speech training received during this stage
of Vance’s education was probably provided by his mother.
Vance once said, "She was the most correct and impressive
reader I have ever heard off stage; and I am satisfied
pzT
that whatever of elocution I have came from her." In
Asheville, the mother continued the practice of gathering
her children around her after supper, and reading aloud
27
to them from the Bible, Shakespeare, or some other book.
Inspired by his mother, Zeb became an avid reader.
He made good use of his Uncle Robert’s library, which had
come into the possession of his family after his uncle's
death. The library contained about five hundred volumes
of the best literature, and included the works of Hume,
Livy, Tacitus, Cicero, Scott, Swift, Addison, Pope, Byron,
Shakespeare, and Milton. Among the available books, Smith's
Wealth of Nations was of special interest to Zebulon. These
2^"Stephan B. Weeks' Scrapbook," North Carolina Histori
cal Collection. University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
^Charlotte Observer. January 31» 1915.
27
Ibid.


10
books made a great impression on him, and some of his
associates attributed his vigorous style of speaking to
2 8
his reading.
Vance retained much of what he read, and demonstrated
a familiarity with the Bible, Shakespeare, and Scott's
novels. Kemp Plummer Battle, a long-time friend who later
became president of the University of North Carolina, tells
of his first meeting with Vance on a trip to the mountains
in 1848. Battle was so impressed with his new acquaintance
that he declared he had never met "a brighter or more agree¬
able young fellow."29 This impression did not wane with
time, for many years later he wrote:
I thought I knew something of Shakespeare, but his
familiarity with the characters and words of the Titian
poet put me to shame. I claimed to be in a measure in¬
timate with the personages of the romances of my favor¬
ite, Scott, but he had evidently lived with them as with
home-folks. I had always been from childhood ... a
regular attendant on Sunday School and church services
and I . . . had at least an amateur familiarity with
the Bible, but his mind seemed to be stored with scrip¬
tural texts as fully as a theological student preparing
for his examination.-?0
Battle was so captivated with his new acquaintance that,
on his return home, he told his friends there was a great
31
man growing up beyond the Blue Ridge. All this suggests
28
"Stephan B. Weeks' Scrapbook."
29william James Battle (ed.), Memories of an Old Time
Tar Heel Kemp Plummer Battle (Chapel Hill, 19^5), p. 89.
â– ^0Clement Dowd, Life of Zebulon B. Vance (Charlotte,
1897), p. 16.
31
Ibid.


11
that Zebulon Baird Vance had acquired a literary knowledge
that enhanced his speaking throughout his illustrious career.
While still a boy, Vance resolved to set a high goal
in life. One night John C. Calhoun, who was spending the
summer in the North Carolina mountains, stopped at Zeb’s
home for the night. Calhoun became interested in the boy
and invited him to go for a walk. Zeb was much impressed
by the picture Calhoun drew of what he might become if he
would cultivate his mind and apply himself to study. This
may have been the stimulus that sparked his ambition; at
any rate, from this point on, he became more concerned with
his studies. For a time Zeb worked as a clerk in the Warm
Springs Hotel in order to earn enough money to continue
his education. Here he had an opportunity to meet many
of the important men of North Carolina, Tennessee, and
South Carolina. Vance took advantage of these contacts
â– 52
and gained much practical knowledge from those he met.
In 1851, Vance, who was then living in Asheville,
came to the realization that if he was to become success¬
ful, he must apply himself earnestly to his studies. He
had tried to do this first through private study and train¬
ing in the law office of John W. Woodfin. In Woodfifi*s
office he was a fellow student of August S. Merrimon, who
later became chief justice of North Carolina. It became
32Wheeler, Reminiscences and Memoirs of North Carolina,
p. 65


12
practically impossible, however, for him to concentrate
on his studies while living-in Asheville. The temptation
to fish and swim was too overpowering, and he was unable
to free himself from the village loafers who enjoyed Zeb's
â– *â– 35
company more than they were sympathetic with his ambitions. ^
Referring to his failure to study, he wrote to his cousin
John Davidson: "You know I had to loaf with Jim McDowell
and play marbles with Jesse and Jeptha. . . . He became
so disgusted with this state of affairs that he decided to
enter the University of North Carolina.
In the summer of 1851, President David L. Swain of
the university, who once considered Zeb's mother his sweet¬
heart, received a letter from her son. Vance explained to
Swain, who was called Governor by all who knew him, that
his property was not very productive and he needed money
with which to enter the university. Swain, a native of
Buncombe County and a friend of the boy*s family, willing¬
ly granted him a loan of $300.00, which enabled him to take
a partial course in the university while pursuing his legal
studies in the law school.
Zeb arrived at Chapel Hill wearing ill-fitting clothes
spun from his mother's loom. His sturdy ankles showed
33
Charlotte Observer. January 31» 1915.
3^Vance to John M. Davidson, Chapel Hill, September 14,
1851, Vance Papers.
•^Address Qf Richard H. Battle, p. 11.


13
where his pants lacked about three inches of meeting his
shoes. He was described by one who saw him for the first
time as a "raw, gawky, awkward, ornery, ganglin[_sijc] sort
of a looking customer." Although he was not handsome, he
had an elegant head of black hair, and his grayish deep-
"36
set eyes were expressive.-"
Vance's plainness of attire in no way marred his
happy mood as he left the stagecoach that had brought him
to the Hill for a year of study. Several upperclassmen
had arrived on the stage with him and were greeting friends
and classmates. Zeb stood back observing the hand shaking
and black slapping that accompanied the reunion of friends.
Not to be left out, he rushed up to an old Negro, shook
his hand, patted his back, and exclaimed: "Why Alexander
Josephus, I am so glad to see you. I was never so glad
to see anybody in my born days!" With this antic Vance's
life at the university began.37
After David L. Swain became president of the univer¬
sity in 1835» many improvements were made both to the
buildings and to the grounds. The rail fences surround¬
ing the campus were replaced by a rock wall. The drab ap-
-^Iris W. Womble, "Zeb Vance Tar Heel Tribune" (Un¬
published M.A. thesis, Department of History, University
of Florida, 194-9).
^^Kemp P. Battle, History of the University of North
Carolina (2 vols., Raleigh, 1907), I, 5Ó0.


14
pearance of the buildings was changed by covering them with
a preparation "made of equal quantities of Roman cement, and
common mustard lime, with the addition of one-tenth sul¬
phuric acid, to the quantity of water with which they are
70
mixed.By the time Vance arrived on the campus it boasted
several remodeled buildings, a new structure housing a
39 40
spacious ballroom, and new landscaping. Vance describes
the beauty of the campus in a letter to his cousin:
This is a beautiful place indeed. The main college
buildings are three in number each three story [sicj
high colored yellow and surrounded with neat terraces
of earth thrown up and plotted with grass. They are
very large buildings. In addition to these are three
other buildings, the ball room, chapel and recitation
hall--all situated in a beautiful oak and poplar grove,
checkered off with splendid gravel walks, set out in
shrubbery and whole trees, I suppose about twenty or
more acres surrounded with a stone wall neatly put up.
The elevation is likewise high and I presume healthy.
The weather has been warmer here than ever I felt it
in my life before. The thermometer has been up to
102° FA1
At the time Vance entered the university, it had a
student body of 251, and a faculty of twelve. When Swain
was elected to the university presidency, scholarly Professor
William Hooper, who believed in high academic standards,
commented: "The people of North Carolina have given Governor
Swain all the offices they have to bestow and now have sent
^Archibald Henderson, The Camous of the First State
University (Chapel Hill, 1949), p. 128, quoting D. L. Swain
to Daniel Barringer, March 6, 1840.
59Ibid., p. 138.
40
Ibid., p. 160.
41
Vance to "Cousin Matt," Chapel Hill, August 12, 1851»


15
Mm to the University to he educated.Although the uni¬
versity increased in numbers and endowment under Swain, it
made little progress in the literary and scientific world.
During the twenty years of Swain's administration not a
single book was purchased for the library. His policy,
however, coincided with public opinion. Swain followed
the policy of granting diplomas without requiring proficien-
43
cy in studies.
Evidently the poor climate of learning existing at
the university while Vance was a student had no ill effect
on him. He was there to learn, and he put forth the neces¬
sary effort to do so. He pursued a course of study designed
to prepare him, as quickly as possible, for the practice
of law. Consequently, he enrolled as an "optional student"
rather than a regular one.^ Apparently, he took advanced
courses, because he states in a letter to John Davidson,
"I am studying the studies of the senior class entire ex¬
cept French and Greek . . . besides I am reading lav; as
hard as ever.In following the senior course of study,
42
Henderson, The Campus of the First State University.
p. 148.
^Battle, History of the University of North Carolina.
I, 780.
¿4
Charlotte Observer. January 3.1» 1915*
45 .
Vance to John M. Davidson, Chapel Hill, September 14,
1851, Vance Papers.


16
he studied constitutional law—which the teacher, President
Swain, labeled national law—intellectual philosophy, and
moral science. Elisha Mitchell was his teacher in chemistry,
geology, and mineralogy, and John T. Wheat taught him rhet¬
oric and logic. He applied himself diligently, in marked
contrast to his old desultory habits of study, and commented
on this in writing to his cousin, “indeed you would hardly
believe that I had taken to tremendous hard study, would
you? It’s the fact notwithstanding. I rise at 5 and go
to bed at 10 and . . . don’t lose more than two hours dur-
46
ing that time and that is necessary for recreation.”
Instruction in constitutional law, intellectual philoso¬
phy, and moral science consumed three hours each week for the
term of nine months. The question and answer method of re¬
citation was used, with the teacher following the textbook
very closely. Vance took an active part in these class ses¬
sions and was seldom caught without a ready answer.Swain's
course in national law served to sharpen Vance's keen memory,
since he required his students to memorize the table of con¬
tents along with the marginal topics. It also instilled an
interest in the great documents of government and an admira¬
tion for great statesmen. Swain lectured in an interesting
manner on such subjects as the Magna Charta, the Bill of
46Vance to “Cousin Matt," Chapel Hill, August 12, 1851,
Vance Papers.
4?Dowd, Life of Vance, p. 19.


17
Rights, or on the lives of the great men of the state and
nation.^®
Swain had not himself received the formal education
normally expected of a university president or professor.
Having attended the University of North Carolina for only a
year, he did not complete the work required for graduation.^
He had, however, gained a thorough knowledge of the classics
as well as of mathematics from his tutor, the Reverend
George Newton of Asheville. Experience in public office,
and the study of law under Chief Justice John Louis Taylor,
were the chief sources of his preparation to teach univer¬
sity courses. In addition to being a lawyer, Swain had
been a member of the North Carolina House of Commons, and
had served a term as governor of his state. Through dili¬
gent study he had acquired much knowledge of state and
national history. Swain possessed a tenacious memory, ready
wit, and a gift of speech characterized by puns and anec¬
io
dotes, which made him popular with the students. In con¬
trast to Vance’s early teachers, Swain became an influen¬
tial force in moulding him into a statesman and spokesman
of his native state. He had taken a special interest in
"^Battle, History of the University of North Carolina,
I, 531.
^9Anon., Sketches of the History of the University of
North Carolina and a Catalogue of Officers and Students
1789-1889 (1889 ^. n. 216.
5°Battle, History of the University of North Carolina,
I, 421.


18
the youth from Buncombe when he applied for a loan to enter
the university, and there developed a friendship between
the two that lasted as long as Swain lived.
Elisha Mitchell, the professor of the sciences, did
not limit his instruction to flowers, rocks, minerals, and
ores. Being a versatile scholar, he also dealt with such
subjects as fiction, poetry, theology, law, history, and
art. He made his classes interesting by using apt illus¬
trations and humor. He even enjoyed a joke on himself.
Once Vance told him he had found a red stratum he wanted
him to inspect. On looking, Mitchell found only a water¬
melon that had been divided. He declined to eat any of
the melon for fear Vance did not have a clear title to it,
and commented, "That Vance is a funny fellow." Again he
showed a sense of humor by being amused at Vance’s pre¬
tended grave inquiry while passing an old millhouse. Vance
turned to Mitchell and with all earnestness inquired, "Doc¬
tor, do you think that mill is worth a dam?"^2 Vance, who
used considerable humor as a mature speaker, may have re¬
ceived some encouragement in its use from Mitchell.
Vance's specific training in speech was under John T.
^Dowd, Life of Vance, p. 14.
52Battle, History of the University of North Carolina,
I, 537-540.


19
Wheat. Enrolled In courses in rhetoric and logic, Yance
had to deliver orations in the chapel twice a year. As an
optional student he was not eligible for senior orations.
He studied Whately*s Elements of Logic and Elements of
53
Rhetoric, and the Works of Reverend Sydney Smith, a col¬
lection of articles written by Smith for the Edinburgh Re¬
view.
Wheat, a native of Washington, D.C., had distinguished
himself as a minister of the Episcopal Church before being
elected professor of logic and rhetoric to succeed the
54
Reverend William Mercer Green.J Although he remained at
the university for ten years, he did little to distinguish
himself as a teacher. An active and energetic man, he was
more successful in the ministry than in teaching. It was
said that his students did better speaking in the literary
societies than in his rhetoric classes, because he appeared
to be unsympathetic in his criticism of them.55 Seemingly,
it was difficult for him to endure the mediocrity of stu¬
dent speakers. Although he was not a sympathetic teacher,
he served as an excellent model for his students. In award¬
ing a prize for the best English composition at the 1855
55catalogue of University of North Carolina (1851-
1852), p. 25.
5^Henderson, The Campus of the First State Univer¬
sity. p. 176.
55william James Battle (ed.), Catalogue of the
Dialectic Society. 1795-1890 (Baltimore, 1890), p. 18.


20
commencement, his speech was considered a model presenta-
56
tion by all who heard it. If Vance were not provided
with the best of speech training under Wheat, he at least
profited by observing this accomplished speaker.
The law school was only nominally a department of
the university. Judge William H. Battle, the professor
of law, received no salary from the university and spent
about half of his time away from his classes holding court.
In his absence, the classes were taught by Samuel F.
57
Phillips, a practicing lawyer. There were two classifi¬
cations of students in the law school—the independent
class and the college class. The students in the inde¬
pendent class had no connection with the university, but
were required to meet three times a week. The college
class, of which Vance was a member, included irregular
undergraduate students who desired to study law along with
other courses. As a law student, Vance studied Blackstone's
Commentaries on the Laws of England: Stephen's Principles
of Pleading in Civil Actions; Greenleaf's The Testimony of
the Evangelists Examined by the Rules of Evidence in Courts
of Justice: Chitty's Treatise on the Law of Executors.
These studies, together with lectures on the municipal laws
^Battle, History of the University of North Carolina,
p. 648.
57i_bid., p. 664.


21
of the state as modified by the acts of the legislature
and decisions of the state court, formed a major part of
his law training. Also, he was required to put into practice
what he had learned by drawing pleadings and other legal
instruments in accordance with the practices of the courts.
In order to give the students further practical training,
the law professors conducted moot court sessions in which
the students spoke on such legal questions as the professors
58
might propose.
Vance distinguished himself as a speaker during at
least one of the moot court trials when he was selected to
conduct the defense of the "College Bore." The boy who
bore this title had become a common nuisance because he
wouldn't study, and spent most of his time keeping others
from doing so. Vance's speech in the trial, it is said,
not only teemed with wit and humor, but exhibited good
reasoning in his "not guilty plea." Employing the argument
that Seargent S. Prentiss once used in defense of the bed¬
bug, he argued by analogy that the bore like the bed-bug
was walking the path which the God of Nature had laid out
for him and, in an explicable way, was serving his creator.
The bore was designed to prepare his fellow men for Heaven
by teaching them patience and fortitude while undergoing
affliction.59
58catalop;ue of the University of North Carolina (1851-
1852), p. 31.
59powd, Life of Vance, p. 26.


22
Vanee made good progress in the study of law as well
as in his other university courses, and Judge Battle often
praised him. In due time Vance was able to write to a
friend, "I am going down to Raleigh this winter in vacation
to get my license; the judge says I shall have them like a
deer in a walk."6°
Still another avenue of training was available to
Vance during his year at the university. After five weeks
he was invited to join both of the two literary societies,
the Dialectic and the Philanthropic.^ He chose to affili¬
ate with the former, where he gained practice in parlia¬
mentary law, in extempore speaking, and in the writing of
compositions. Much that was not available in textbooks was
learned in the society. Chiefly, Vance discovered his
ability to be a leader and to become an effective debater.
Richard Lewis, one of Vance*s classmates who later became
president of Judson College, said, "it was my good fortune
to be in the same section with him and, [I] being a debater
of no power whatever, . . . relied entirely on the gentle¬
man from Buncombe to bring our side up. . . . Vance's
strong, accurate memory, along with an easy command of
words, made him one of the ablest debaters in the group.
fin
uVance to John Davidson, Chapel Hill, September 14,
1851, Vance Papers.
^Dowd, Life of Vance, p. 24.
^2Battle, Catalogue of Dialectic Society, p. 14.


23
At the same time, his inimitable wit and humor served to
replenish the treasury of the Dialectic Society. A fine
was levied for every offense of audible laughter, and there
63
were few who could resist laughing when Zeb spoke.
The high esteem in which Vance was held by the
Dialectic Society was shown by his election to the editori¬
al staff of the University Magazine. This honor and re¬
sponsibility caused him to write, MI have received several
marks of flattering consideration both from the Governor
and my fellow students. . . . The first number of the Uni¬
versity Magazine will be out tomorrow and I should like to
send you a copy. ... If you will read it you will find
some of my compositions."^
Although he passed the examination for a license to
practice in the county courts in December, 1851, Vance re¬
mained at Chapel Hill until the following May. Then, with
his license in his pocket, he journeyed back to Asheville.
There he opened his office and threw himself in earnest in¬
to his work.^
As a young lawyer Vance was boyish in appearance,
66
with long hair hanging down his neck. Writing in his
63
Battle, Catalogue of Dialectic Society, p. 14.
64"Vance to "Cousin Matt," Chapel Hill, February 8,
1852, Vance Papers.
^Address 0f Richard H. Battle, p. 13.
66
'Dowd, Life of Vance, p. 33


24
diary, Augustus Merrlmon gives this description of Vance:
Rather tall, his hair black and it comes low down on
his forehead. There is nothing very striking about
his appearance. I consider him a sprightly man, though
not talented. He is not an ordinary man, however. He
has some advantages, some of which he has not improved
as he should. He may make himself a respectful lawyer.
I think he is not fond of study, and hence will never
make a profound lawyer. He is active and has a good
deal of pride. In his social discourse, he is dis¬
posed to be friendly. In conversation, he is rather
interesting than instructive. '
Vance became a lawyer in the western counties, and
on horseback rode the circuit to serve the mountain area.
Of his early law practice, he said later in a speech at
the Law College of the District of Columbia, MI went out
to court horseback and carried a pair of saddle-bags, with
a change of shirts and the North Carolina Form-book in one
end of the saddle bags, and it is none of your business what
was in the other."^®
Vance, in his year at Chapel Hill, enjoyed associat¬
ing with the young women whom he met there, but reserved
his love for a girl from his native mountains. A short
time after he had passed the bar examination, he wrote his
cousin:
I spent the greater part of my vacation quite hard pre¬
paring to apply for license, and after my return from
Raleigh I did nothing much except try to enjoy myself
with the ladies here. . . . There are some pleasant
ladies here indeed, I am quite pleased with some of
^“Journal of Augustus S. Merrimon 1853-1854,11 Vance
Papers.
^®Dowd, Life of Vance, p. 15


25
them but as for falling in love, I must plead not ,
guilty, for I assure you my heart is in the mountain. "
On August 3, 1853, the day after he received his superior
court license, he was married to his mountain sweetheart,
70
Harriet Espy.'
Whatever role Vance played, he always played it well,
and the role of husband was no exception. His wife, who
had been an orphan, stated that "providence has dealt kind¬
ly with me; I have one of the best husbands,Four sons—
David, Charles, Zebulon, and Thomas—were born to the Vances,
and if Zeb had any fault as a father, it was indulgence
toward his children. His wife instilled in him a deep and
abiding respect for religion, and, although he was not a
professing Christian until after her death, he was inter¬
ested in religion, believed in the Bible, and held to the
Calvinistlc system of theology. Because she was more rigor¬
ous in her notions of propriety than her husband, she found
it difficult to condone his habitual use of coarse humor.
Vance often spoke to his Intimate friends of the restrain-
ing influence of his “little red-headed Presbyterian wife."
Although law appeared to hold a promising future for
Vance, he was by nature a politician. He liked people and
^Vance to "Cousin Matt," Chapel Hill, February 8,
1852, Vance Papers.
Stephan B. Weeks' Scrapbook."
^Harriet Vance to Thomas Espy, Charlotte, March 5,
I869, Vance Papers.
^Address of Richard H. Battle, p. 59.
/


26
people liked him, and he aspired to leadership. He was
to find the opportunity for the development of his natural
talents not in the courtroom but in the political arena.


CHAPTER II
YOUTHFUL POLITICIAN AND LAWMAKER
Vance’s interest in politics manifested Itself
early in life; when only fourteen years of age, he wrote
of the national political campaign of 1844:
I headed a procession on mule back ... marched six¬
teen miles to the election precinct through the mount¬
ains of Madison County, filled with patriotism, zeal
for the Whig cause, and hard cider. ... Fifteen
separate and distinct fights were then and there had,
in part of which I participated and for all of which
I might be set down as the proximate cause.1
Several reasons explain why Vance turned from the
practice of law to a career in politics. First, he felt
his strength lay in politics rather than law. He amusing¬
ly told of the first compliment that he received for his
forensic efforts: "Zeb," the mountaineer said, ’’if you
can only get past the judge, I’d as lief have you as any
old lawyer."2 Although the people had as much confidence
in him as in the older lawyers of the area, his knowledge
of law was too limited. Once in the Madison County Court,
Vance cited an opinion of the State Supreme Court to sup¬
port his position in a case on trial. He did not once men¬
tion a recent act of the state legislature which had re-
â– J-Quoted in Lefler and Newsome, North Carolina, p. 339.
2Address of Richard H. Battle, p. 15.
27


28
pealed that law. A.S. Merrimon, the opposition lawyer,
rose with a volume of laws in his hand and read the repeal¬
ing act. In turn, Vance sarcastically asked, "Gentlemen
of the jury, are you not amazed at the assurance of my
friend, Mr. Merrimon, in citing an act of the legislature,
passed by such men as your good neighbor, John Smith, who
knows no more law than you do and Bill Jones of Yancey,
who knows less, against the decision of our Supreme Court
constituted of such men as Ruffin, Gaston, and Daniel?"
The ethics of such tactics might be questioned, but the
incident showed his ability to pull himself from a hope¬
less and sudden dilemma produced by the lack of legal know-
ledge. Such ability was an asset as a politician, but
not a substitute for the skill required of a lawyer.
Another reason Vance turned to politics was that he
4
was a politician by nature. His popularity and gifts as
a stump speaker fitted him for his role in politics. In
the use of wit, broad humor, quick repartee, and boister¬
ous eloquence, he was unsurpassed.^ Such methods, calcu¬
lated to win the unlettered farmers of his mountain dis-
^Address of Richard H. Battle, p. 15*
^Raleigh Daily Observer. January 2, 1877.
^Richard E. Yates, "Zebulon B. Vance as War Gover¬
nor, 1862-1865,1’ Journal of Southern History. Ill (Febru¬
ary, 1937), 44.
^Dictionary of American Biography. 21 vols. (New York,
1936), XIX,' 15Ó.


29
trict, meant that Vance never lacked a following. To be
a leader of his people held more charm for Vance than did
all the honors of law. Later in his career, he said that
he would give a thousand dollars for a photograph showing
him as a young orator standing on a log with three or four
hundred mountaineers listening to his exposition of the
laws of economy.^
Hence, because Vance was ‘'seized with a hungering
and thirsting after the equivocal honors of politics,"
he "yielded to the solicitations of a few . . . friends"
and became a candidate for the lower house of the legisla-
O
ture, known then as the House of Commons. This was in
1854-, although he had tasted political victory a year be¬
fore by means other than a vote of the people. In 1853,
the magistrates of Buncombe County had shown their con¬
fidence in the young lawyer's ability and elected him to
the office of county solicitor. In this office, his duties
were to prosecute offenders of the law and to advise jus¬
tices in their management of the county's finances. Al¬
though the office was a minor one, his selection over A.S.
Merrimon, who later became chief justice of the Supreme
^"Stephan B. Weeks' Scrapbook."
O
Vance to "Cousin Kate," Asheville, September 6,
1854, Vance Papers.


30
Court,^ demonstrated his power to win men to his favor.
To secure his seat in the legislature, Vance, "a regular
built old fashioned Whig,” entered his first race.^0
Nineteen years earlier in 1835, a two-party system
had emerged in North Carolina. The national Whig party
had arisen in opposition to the policies of Andrew Jackson
and consisted of many National Republicans devoted to
Henry Clay's program of internal improvements, protective
tariff, and a national bank. While more popular in the
North, the bank found no small measure of support in the
South. Various areas in the South had different reasons
for supporting it. Many Louisiana planters, for example,
were Whigs because they favored tariff duties on sugar.
Some of the backward isolated areas, such as Western North
Carolina, were Whig because the party supported internal
improvements. In addition, many States Rights cotton
planters in the lower South belonged to the minority wing
of the Whig party. Vance, as was true of all North Caroli
na Whigs, belonged to the National Republican, internal
improvement wing rather than this southern States Rights
faction.^1
1854,
^Address of Richard H. Battle, p. 14.
4°Vance to "Cousin Kate," Asheville, September 6,
Vance Papers.
•^Lefler and Newsome, North Carolina, pp. 328-329.


31
Vance’s campaign for the House of Commons lasted
three months, and was a typical one in which the Whig and
Democratic candidates indulged in "personal abuse, violent
partisanship and petty bickering.1,12 Vance fought the race
through with sarcasm and unparalleled impudence. ^ His
14
opponent, a Colonel Reynolds, was twice his age and a
man of high standing in Buncombe County.^ Vance, only
twenty-four years old, was not expected to win. At the
first public meeting of the two men in Asheville, the older
candidate made fun of the beardless youth who wanted his
seat in the legislature. When Vance’s turn to speak came,
he replied, "Fellow Citizens, I admit I am young; but it
is not my fault. My parents did not consult me as to the
time when I should be born. All I can do is to promise
to try to do better next time." This reply pleased the
crowd, and his opponent never referred to his youth again.
Vance won the election by 110 votes.
Since the journals of the legislature do not contain
the speeches of its members at that time, one cannot deter-
l2Lefler and Newsome, North Carolina, p. 331.
•^Address of Richard H. Battle, p. 14.
l^Vance to "Cousin Kate," Asheville, September 6,
1854, Vance Papers.
15
Samuel A. Ashe (ed.), Biographical History of North
Carolina (8 vols.; Greensboro, 1907), VII, p. 479*


32
mine what were Vance’s first speeches during his legisla¬
tive term. According to Richard H. Battle, who was one of
his intimate friends, he made very few. While visiting
Chapel Hill at Christmas time in 1854-, Battle asked him
how he was getting on down at Raleigh. Vance replied,
“Pretty well, hut I thought when I went there, all I had
to do was open my mouth and be famous, and I soon learned
that the less I opened my mouth the better for the fame.“'LD
Although there is no record of any important speeches,
there is evidence that he was active in other matters.
North Carolina's representatives in the United States
Senate were then chosen by the legislature rather than by
17
popular vote. Vance believed in the constructive pro¬
gram of state development advocated by his party, and was
evidently anxious for all vacant offices to be filled by
Whigs who, like himself, believed in public schools, in¬
ternal improvements, sound banks and currency, and the
promotion of industry.0 Consequently, on November 22,
1854-, he became engaged in a floor debate on the question
of when to take up the election of senators.1' Vance did
^Address of Richard H. Battle, p. 16.
^Dowd, Life of Vance, p. 39.
1®Lefler and Newsome, North Carolina, p. 34-0.
19
Fayetteville Observer. November 21, 1854-.


33
not want the election to take place until two absent Whig
members were present. Speaking for the minority party,
he declared that it was but fair and just to await the ar¬
rival of the absentees in order to give the Whig party a
chance to die decently. He said that the Democrats, in
their haste, reminded him of beasts which glut themselves
on carrion, so anxious were they to have a bite at the
carcass of the Whig party. He repudiated the charge that
the Whigs were trying to disorganize the Democratic party,
because, he said, "it [Democratic party] possesses all
the necessary elements of destruction within itself and
will dissolve soon enough without any such aid."20 But
Vance was debating a futile cause against the Democratic
majority. Asa Biggs and David Reid defeated their Whig
21
opponents, Daniel M. Barringer and George E. Badger.
As a member of the 1854 legislature, Vance tended
to show immaturity. At one time, for example, a fellow
member offered a resolution dealing with the hours of
meeting. Vance objected to the proposal by hissing the
speaker. The speaker demanded to know the meaning of the
hiss, and asked Vance to state whether it was intended as
a personal insult to the author of the resolution, or if
it merely represented disapproval of the proposition.
2oRaleip;h Register. November 25, 1854.
2^Dowd, Life of Vance, p. 39.


34
Vance admitted that he had hissed; not to insult the speak¬
er, however, but to show his contempt for the speaker’s
idea of remaining in session until nine o’clock without
CO
any supper. Such tactics were hardly calculated to win
him friends and to enhance his prestige.
Another Indiscretion was Vance's treatment of a re¬
solution which had been presented by George Badger Single¬
tary. Singletary argued that business would be facilitated
by the passage of his proposed resolution, which provided
that Jefferson’s Manual of parliamentary practice be used
as a guide in conducting the business of the House. Immedi¬
ately Vance jumped to the floor and offered an amendment
to the previous motion, proposing that the legislature
23
should adjourn to meet the following July in Asheville.
By jocularly presenting the amendment, he held Singletary’s
motion in ridicule, and revealed his own immaturity.
As a friend of public education and as a member of
the Education Committee of the House, Vance presented a
minority report on December 16, 1854, in which he called
for the distribution of school funds on the basis of white
children. With factual support, he set forth particularly
the claims of the white children of the western part of the
22
Fayetteville Observer, January 4, 1855.
2^Ibid., November 27, 1854.


35
24
state.
The conclusion that Vance's role in the legislature
was not especially important is warranted. His lack of ex¬
perience prompted him to let the older, distinguished mem¬
bers do the talking. There were many able Whigs serving
in the House who could pronounce the Whig doctrine to
Vance's liking.2'1
Nevertheless, his experience in the legislature made
him better known to his constituents and throughout the
state. Convinced that politics was his mission, he became
a candidate for the state senate from Buncombe County sena¬
torial district. He ran on the Whig-Amerlean party ticket
against David Coleman, a Democrat, who had been an officer
26
in the United States Navy. But the fortunes of the Whig
party in North Carolina as well as in the entire nation
were at a low ebb in 1856. The Kansas struggle and the
issue of slavery in the territories had its repercussions
in North Carolina. Since the Southern wing of the party
generally denounced northern anti-slavery leadership and
sentiment, Southerners could no longer depend on the party
to defend slavery and to protect southern rights. Inereas-
2^Fayettevllle Observer. December 18, 1854-.
25üowd, Life of Vance, p. 40.
26
An Address of Richard H. Battle, p. 16.


36
ingly, North Carolina Whigs were forced to accept the south¬
ern view* Since the Whig party actually ceased to function
as an organized party after 1854, many Whigs in the state
found temporary refuge in the Know-Nothing or American par¬
ty, founded on American opposition to foreign immigration
and Roman Catholicism. From 1855 to 1859 the American par¬
ty in North Carolina attracted for the most part Whigs who
27
could not bring themselves to join the Democrats. Among
this group was Vance, who was defeated in the 1856 election
because of the American party*s weakness and the Whigs’
action.2®
His defeat in the senatorial race did not discourage
Vance’s political endeavors, for in 1857 he became a candi¬
date for the House of Representatives. Again, the disorgani¬
zation of the Whig party was apparently to blame for his de¬
feat, and his Democratic opponent, Thomas Clingman, won the
PQ
election.
In 1858 Vance was again fighting for a seat in Congress.
Clingman was soon appointed to the Senate by Governor Thomas
Bragg to succeed Asa Biggs, who had resigned to become a
Federal district judge. Before Vance announced his candi¬
dacy, three other candidates, W.W. Avery and David Coleman,
both Democrats, and a General Jones, a "Know-Nothing," were
27Lefler and Newsome, North Carolina, p. 364.
^Address of Richard H. Battle, p. 16.
29Clarence Clifford Norton, The Democratic Party in
North Carolina (Chapel Hill, 1930), p. 243.


37
in the race. The campaign began at Murphy in the extreme
western part of the state, and before any speeches could
be given, Vance announced to the crowd that he also was
30
entering the contest.
By this time Vance was a more experienced politician
and was primed to carry on a heated campaign against his
opponents. Supplied with an abundance of anecdotes, he
proceeded to denounce southern fanatics. His opponents
accused him of using the term "southern fanatics" to re¬
fer to those men who stood boldly for the rights of their
section. The greater part of Vance*s first speech at
Murphy was devoted to arguments favoring distribution of
the proceeds from the sales of public land to the various
states. Basically this proposal had been advocated earlier
by Henry Clay, and had generally been accepted by the Whigs.
Because of the need for additional revenues in the states,
distribution had been a popular issue in the 1830*s. Be¬
cause of its popularity even in states which adhered to
Jacksonian democracy, Congress passed Clay's distribution
measure. Although Jackson vetoed it, the idea continued to
be popular. Vance wanted additional revenues to bring in-
31
ternal improvements to Western North Carolina. Consequent-
•^°Asheville Weekly News, June 17, 1858.
31
Lefler and Newsome, North Carolina, pp. 34-4-345.


38
ly, distribution was the chief argument of Vance as the
Whig-American candidate.
As soon as Vance made known his intention of becoming
a candidate, Coleman withdrew from the contest to join forces
with Avery in blocking his election. Avery charged Vance
with deception, saying that he had promised on several oc¬
casions not to become a candidate, and had promised that he
and his party would support Coleman. In reply, Vance said
that he had only changed his mind as he had a right to do.
Jones, his Whig opponent, gave Vance no opposition.
Seemingly he withdrew from the campaign after the first
meeting in Murphy, even though he indicated a strong dis¬
taste for Vance's candidacy. At Murphy he charged Vance
was a member of a “clique of his own party in Asheville who
believed that no man outside of this town was fit to hold
„32
office.“
Vance's peculiar and unique powers as a politician
and stump speaker rapidly developed in this contest. Al¬
though many of the people were old-line Whigs, they were
also devoted to Clingman, who had represented them in Congress
for many years. It was a foregone conclusion, therefore,
that when Clingman was promoted to the Senate, Avery, who
was strong in debate and from an influential family, would
â– ^Asheville Weekly News. June 17, 1858.


39
fill the vacancy.33 People applauded Vance's gallantry,
but laughed at his folly when he announced his intention
34
of running for Congress. Even his own family did not
think that he had a chance to win. One of his uncles told
Richard H. Battle that "Zeb is a fool for running for Con¬
gress. He is getting a pretty good practice in law, and
is throwing it all away, running for Congress, with no more
chance of being elected than I have."35
The campaign, beginning at Murphy and ending at
Wilksboro, was strenuous, taking the candidates into fif¬
teen counties on a speaking tour that "set the mountains
36
on fire." At Waynesville, Vance, in arguing for distri¬
bution as he did elsewhere, optimistically declared that
he would win by three or four thousand votes if the Whigs
would do their part. Following Vance in the joint discus¬
sion, Avery resurrected some of Vance's old articles in
which he had denounced both the Whig and the Democratic
parties as rotten and corrupt. Avery accused Vance of having
written that the salvation of the country depended on the
people joining the Know-Nothing party and fighting against
^Asheville Weekly Citizen. November 25, I858.
^Battle, "Biographical Sketch of Senator Z.B. Vance,"
p. 258.
35Address of Richard H. Battle, p. 17.
36
Ibid.. p. 18


40
the Pope and "furriners." Vance, in turn, replied that
the Know-Nothing party was dead and that his opponent should
let it rest.-^
Present-day innovations in the campaigning of such
politicians as Jim Folsom, "Pappy" Daniel, and "Happy"
Chandler may not be innovations at all. Just as they use
the hill-billy band and singing to secure a popular follow¬
ing, Vance used his fiddle. One day when he and Avery were
scheduled to speak at a cross-roads, Vance was not present
at the announced hour. Soon he arrived with a crowd of men
leaping and dancing around him as he played the fiddle. Al¬
though Avery questioned the dignity of this episode, he
could not doubt its effectiveness.
In political debate, as in forensic practice, Vance
was none too ethical. During one discussion, Avery pictured
him as representing a dying party with its leaders and sons
of its leaders deserting it. He gave as examples the sons
of Henry Clay and Daniel Webster. Thinking that Webster had
only daughters, Vance promptly responded, "Daniel Webster
has no sons, his children are all daughters." "Is it possi¬
ble you do not remember Colonel Fletcher Webster of the
Mexican war?" replied Avery. Vance, realizing his error,
said that was "Noah Webster's son, the spelling-book man's
sonl" The audience went wild with delight, and Avery de¬
spaired of clarifying the matter. As he left the stand,
^Asheville Weekly News. July 8, 1858.


41
he said, "Vance, that was a mean trick." To this Vance re¬
plied, "I know it was, Avery, but you had me so fast I had
7Q
to wriggle out somehow."-^
Everywhere in their joint canvass, Avery had said
that Vance would stand no show for he could not overcome
the two thousand Democratic majority. To win the election
by 2,049 votes'^ Was a great victory for the young Whig.
According to custom, a joint meeting of the two candidates
was held after the election at Asheville to declare friend¬
ship and to heal old wounds. Vance made the most of his
success as he told the audience:
My opponent charged that I would be snowed under, but
was vice versa. I remind myself of the Caldwell County
‘possum, which an indignant mountaineer told me about.
Said he, I stretched that ‘possum’s neck tell rslcl. I
thought he was dead; I skinned him and biled him for
three hours, but don*t you think when I took the lid
off'n the pot, the cussed little devil was settin up.
there on its hind legs, and had licked up the gravy. u
At the age of twenty-eight, Vance became a member of
41
the second session of the thirty-fifth Congress. This
session was the lull between the great storms of sectional
strife. President James Buchanan pointed out in his State
of the Union message on December 6, 1858, that there was
much reason for gratitude over the improved condition of
^Address 0f Richard H, Battle, pp. 17-18.
^Washington National Intelligencer, August 28, 1858.
^°"Kemp Plummer Battle*s Scrapbook of North Carolina
History," University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
^Dowd, Life of Vance, p. 41.


42
the country. Although the sectional strife over the admis¬
sion of Kansas as a state appeared ended, the peace and
42
perpetuity of the Union remained In doubt.
Sectional differences, however, did not flare up dur¬
ing the second session of Congress, and Vance's first ses-
4 "5
sion was relatively quiet. v Inexperienced, Vance preferred
to be an attentive listener rather than an active debater at
44
first. Soon after the first of the year, however, he
made his first speech when he introduced a motion to strike
out the portion of the appropriations bill providing $40,000
for miscellaneous items.. Since Buchanan had asked Congress
"to institute rigid scrutiny to ascertain whether the ex¬
penses in all departments . . . [could not] be reduced,"2^
Vance, an advocate of governmental economy, could not see
why the miscellaneous appropriation should be $10,000 more
than the previous one. He objected strongly to appropri¬
ating money when he could not see specifically what was to
be done with it.
With respect to the whole matter, he stated:
We have been told that in regard to the increase of
our general expenditures, that our enlarged borders,
our extended commerce, and our growing importance in
the world generally, made it necessary to run up our
^Washington National Intelligencer. December 7, 1858.
^Avery 0. Craven, The Growth of Southern Nationalism
1848-1861 (Baton Rouge, 1953), p. 303.
^Dowd, Life of Vance, p. 42.
^Cong. Globe. 35th Cong., 2 sess., p. 802.


43
expenses to $90,000,000 or $100,000,000 a year. But
I should like to know what is to enlarge the borders
of the Thirty-Sixth Congress twenty-five per cent above
the borders of the present Congress? As a member of
the present Congress, I do not feel inclined to yield
the point that my successor, whoever he may be, will
be twenty-five per cent a greater man than I am myself.
I do not think that he is entitled to $10,000 more for
miscellaneous items than I am myself; and I am in favor,
therefore, of striking out this clause. °
Humor, in the form of an analogy, comprised the pero¬
ration of his brief speech. The House was thrown into
laughter when he said, “This whole bill reminds me very
much of the bills I have seen of fast young men at fashion¬
able hotels—for two days board, five dollars, sundries,
fifty dollars. Amplifying his point, he explained:
It is like a comet, a very small body, and an exceed¬
ing great tail, flaming over half the heavens. But
this miscellaneous item, which I propose to strike out,
is not exactly like the tail of a comet, because philo¬
sophers say that with a good telescope you can see
through the tail of a comet. What glasses will enable
us to see through this miscellaneous item?47
Insignificant as this speech was, it prompted a reply
by Martin Crawford of Georgia. Crawford explained that he
was not surprised at Vance’s expression of opposition to
the appropriation, because he, as a member of the Committee
on Ways and Means, had likewise inquired into the necessity
of this expenditure. His inquiry revealed that the $10,000
increase was to provide chiefly for the long term of Congress
instead of the short one provided for by the previous appro-
48
priation.
4^Conp;. Globe. 35th Cong., 2 sess., p. 802.
47Ibid. 48Ibid.


44
This first speech broke Vance's silence; and three
days later, on February 7, he spoke again. His second
speech and the only one of any consequence which he gave
during his first term in Congress, encompassed the subject
of the tariff, public lands, and pensions for war veterans.
Delivered while the House was in committee of the whole,
Vance reminded it that "the late fury of the political
heavens having spent itself in the fierce and bitter con¬
tests which raged in these halls, we have now a comparative
quiet."^9 Then, because of his strong love for the Union,
he expressed his desire for the well-being of the republic:
It may be the new tranquil skies do not portend-
"A greater wreck, a deeper fall
A shock to one, a thunderbolt to all."
But let us hope not. I, for one, am determined to
interpret the omens for good. I hope. . . that the
lull is not a treacherous stillness, heralding the
deadly simoom, but that it is Halycon herself who
comes to brood upon the dark and restless deep.50
Vance had observed hopeful signs in the first eight
weeks of the session. In spite of the grave and serious
questions that had been discussed, harmony and good feeling
had prevailed. There had been two speeches that almost
succeeded in reviving a sectional battle over slavery, but
they fell a little short of their purpose. Using satire
and humor, he alluded to these speeches by Israel Washburne
of Maine, and Joshua Glddings of Ohio: "Though the bush has
^Cong. Globe and Appendix. 35th Cong., 2 sess., p. 85.
50ibid


45
been beaten from Maine to California, from the lakes to
the Gulf, only the gentleman from Ohio did howl upon the
trail, the chase was so distant, and the scent lay so cold,
that he soon called off. . . .*'51
Vance considered it the duty of Congress to take ad¬
vantage of the hopeful state of affairs, and to give atten¬
tion to the practical matters of the nation. "Too long,"
he said, "has the country suffered from this all-absorbing
excitement which has so much hindered practical legisla¬
tion." The practical legislation to which he referred was
necessitated by disordered finances, depressed trade, an
empty treasury, and a confused foreign policy. Comparing
Howell Cobb, the Secretary of the Treasury, with the daughter
of a horse leech calling "give, give," he said that practical
52
matters must be considered.
The body of the speech was divided into three parts.
Vance dealt first with the tariff, emphasizing its sectional
implications. Having suffered the least in the panic of
1857, the South had gained increased confidence in its re¬
sources. At the same time, its resentment over its tariff
burdens had sharpened. The old Whig demands for high tariff
had been taken up by the newly organized Republican party.
The basic argument of the Republican protectionists was that
the United States ought to produce its own iron, cloth, and
51cong. Globe and Appendix. 35th Cong., 2 sess., p. 85.
52ibid.


46
other manufactured products; but this could not be done so
long as European manufactured products came into the country
unchecked. This doctrine was in direct contradiction to
that of the Southern Democrats, whose regional economy de¬
pended on exporting raw cotton, tobacco, and sugar to the
manufacturing centers of England and the North. They accused
the Republicans of the North of placing unequal burdens on
the southern people in an effort to drain the South of near-
53
ly every element of its material prosperity.
Vance*s position as set forth in this speech was
neither that of the Republican protectionists nor of the
Southern Democrats. In essence, it was the same as that
of such men as Tom Corwin, J. J. Crittenden, and even Horace
Greeley, who "stood not for head-high but merely breast-high
protection.His stand coincided with that of Buchanan,
who had told Congress in his December 6 message that the
national debt made it necessary to modify the tariff to meet
even the ordinary expenses 6f the government.^5 Vance held
himself willing, at the risk of being called a protectionist,
to repeal the doctrine that this country must keep glorify¬
ing free trade and borrowing money to pay the expenses of the
government. Specifically, he was opposed to tariff for pro-
53Allan Nevins. The Emergence of Lincoln (2 vols.;
New York, 1950), I, 2lT° ~
54Ibld.. p. 221.
-^Washington National Intelligencer. December 7, 1858.


47
tection; but since the government was spending more money
than it had income, there were only three alternatives:
raise the tariff to the level of expenditures; bring expendi¬
tures into line with the present tariff; or walk into an in¬
solvent court and file a schedule. He advocated the first
of these, because he believed that an increase in tariff
was the fairest and best method for raising money to meet
governmental expenditures.
Trying to remain neutral as far as sectional differences
were concerned, Vance stated:
I am, . . . like those I represent, opposed to a
tariff for protection , . . , because it is to the in¬
terest of my section. I place it upon the ground of
self interest frankly, because I do not believe in the
validity of the general rules and deductions, which
gentlemen lay down so fluently. To assert that the
only true policy of a nation should extend protection,
universally, to all the manufactures within its borders.
Trade and manufacturing are, I take it, governed and
affected like all other human transactions by the thou¬
sand and one accidents and adventitious circumstances to
which nations as well as individuals are subjected.
What Adam Smith, and later British politicians, may say,
in general terms, would have little more application to
our condition, than would the maps and profiles of Pro¬
fessor Bache*s survey applied to the angles and indenta¬
tions of the British coast.56
Vance, thus far in his speech, had been realistic and
only slightly partisan. His were the views of a moderate
Whig, but even these were opposed by most Southern Democrats.
His predecessor in Congress, Thomas Clingman, who was a
^Washington National Intelligencer. February 11, 1859


48
native of Vance’s section of North Carolina, addressed the
Senate three days after Vance's speech, and denounced any
57
increase in duties. Clingman claimed that he had been in¬
structed by his state legislature "to oppose all Increase of
duties upon the products of mining and manufacturing, and
to insist upon making railroad iron free of duty.^®
Vance veered even farther from the southern view on
public lands in the second point of the speech. Distribu¬
tion had ceased to be a national issue as early as 1842,
when President Tyler had vetoed three bills that provided
for distributing funds from the sale of government owned
lands to the various states. During the struggle over the
land policy, however, distribution had gained much support
in North Carolina. The state, having engaged in internal
improvements, particularly in the "up-country," needed
money.Since Vance represented this part of the state,
he strongly favored reviving the distribution issue.
Believing that public lands should not be a source
of natural revenue, he denounced the Democrats. They had
taken "ground against distribution, and [had] declared that
these lands ought to be held as a source of revenue."® Vance
57washington National Intelligencer. February 11, 1859.
58Cong. Globe. 35th Cong., 2 sess., p. 923.
59George M. Stephenson, The Political History of the
Public Lands from 1840 to 1862 (Boston. 1917). ' t>7 94.
80Cong. Globe and Appendix. 35th Cong., 2 sess., p. 86.


49
was confident that "every state in the union would have
been materially enhanced, and the country saved from much
wrangling and bitterness,"^1 if the proceeds of the land
sales had been distributed to the states. These funds
would have enabled the states to "erect public works, es¬
tablish free schools, and to bear the burdens of general
improvement within their respective borders." Moreover,
he showed the injustices and inequalities of the policy
to states such as Virginia, North Carolina, and Georgia.
These states had ceded their lands to the government, and
all had been sold without any reduction in their tax load.
Another evil in the system was that the government
had given away more land than it had actually sold. Offer¬
ing a report of the Secretary of Interior as evidence, Vance
declared, "By that report it appears about one hundred and
twenty-nine million acres have been sold, and the proceeds
applied to the public expenses . . . [while] during the
same period there have been . . . given away and squandered
/T
about two hundred and ten million acres." ^ These lands
had been given for the building of railroads and public
buildings in certain northwestern states. Alluding to the
Democratic claim that "the proceeds of these lands ought
to be sacredly applied" to the general government, he
continued his attack on the giveaway policy:
61
62
Conp;. Globe and Appendix. 35th Cong., 2 sess., p. 86.
Ibid.
63
Ibid.


50
What construction other gentlemen may put on this, I
am unable to say; but, in my opinion, the giving away
of the common property to free states, to support those
public burdens which my constituents have to pay out
of their own poekets is neither a part of the expenses
of the general government proper, nor is the object very
sacred. 4
To keep his attack from appearing as a sectional one,
Vance admitted that states in both the North and the South
had shared in the spoils, but he arraigned the government
for “swindling itself out of two-hundred million acres to
build the Pacific railroad.
Since the beginning of the session, Congress had de¬
bated Buchanan*s recommendation for building the Pacific
railroad. Southerners objected to the proposal on the
grounds that it took dollars out of southern pockets for
66
the benefit of the North. However, Vance's objection was
of a different nature. It was as a distrlbutionist rather
than as a Southerner that he declared:
If this fund is no longer to go into the public treasury
to relieve the people from the burdens of a high tariff,
why then, in common justice and common honesty, let us
all, the old and the new states, take, share and share
alike. I have long been a distrlbutionist, because I
thought justice and equality demanded it; but if I could
only see these promises faithfully carried out, if I can
only see this vast fund honestly applied to defraying
the general charge and expenditure of a common govern¬
ment, I would agree to ask nothing more. I call on gentle-
^Cong. Globe and Appendix. 35th Cong., 2 sess., p. 86.
65Ibid., p. 87.
66
Nevins, The Emergence of Lincoln, I, p. 440


51
men to stop this wild raid after public lands. I will
gladly stand with any party to effect this object.^?
In the final section of his speech, Vance exhibited
humanitarian impulses as he spoke in behalf of the old
soldiers of the War of 1812. The Old Soldiers Pension Bill,
granting pensions to the officers and soldiers of the war,
had passed the House and had gone to the Senate. During
the debates on the bill, Vance had heard its opponents ob¬
ject to it on the grounds of governmental economy. Although
he had not spoken on the bill when it was being discussed,
he used this speech as an occasion to answer the opposition.
Expressing strong approval of economy in government, he
could not support a measure based on false economy, such
as the refusal of pensions to old soldiers. To him, this
was an attempt to economize in the wrong place.
I do not wish . « .to let the first stroke fall on
the best, the noblest, the most useful part of the whole
nation, the gallant soldiers of the War of 1812. What
would be the thought ... of the man who would begin
to reform his household expenses, by giving a half feed
to his horse, his ox, and his plowman? Instead of sav¬
ing money, ... he would dry up the source entirely;
for in a short time, his plowman and his horse would be
as weak as a politician's promise, as feeble as a modern
platform. Such a man . . . would be called a fool, and
would deserve the appellation. He should commence by
cutting off all the superfluous parts of his establish¬
ment first, so there might be no diminution in the com¬
forts of those who labored. So ... we should begin
in the national household, to lop off the superfluous
excrescences that uselessly feed on the treasury. 8
The lesson in economy clearly stated, Vance strength¬
ened his persuasive effort by a touch of pathos. ttAs [the
^^Conp;. Globe and Appendix, 35th. Cong., 2 sess., p. 87.
68Ibid.


52
soldiers] were prompt and brave to defend us," he said,
"so should we be prompt and liberal to repay them." Honor
and glory were not sufficient rewards. "Thousands of these
men," he explained, "are now in the deepest poverty, and
have the hardest work to keep the wolf from the doors of
their homes, where dwell their wives and little ones. Can
one of them walk into the market and buy a rump of beef or
a leg of mutton with glory?"^9 Driving home the point that
a man cannot live on glory, he told this story:
That argument . . . reminds me of the customs in
Catholic countries, of having the priest to pass
over the fields in the spring and bless the expected
crop. On one such occasion, the priest, being some¬
thing of an agriculturist, paused at one field which
was very poor and sterile; "here, my friends," said he,
"blessings will do no good; this field must have manure."
The old soldiers . . . value the glory they have acquired,
no doubt; but they must have something that will do more
good than empty fame.JO
In this speech Vance exemplified a loyalty to the na¬
tion such as few Southerners were willing to condone during
this period. Steering clear of a sectional or partisan bias,
he was as a soothing balm cast onto the turbulent waters of
controversy. He did not deny that he sought the welfare of
his own state; however, bitter fanaticism was not his method
of reaching this goal. When Congress adjourned on March 3,
69ConK. Globe and Appendix, 35th Cong., 2 sess., p. 67
70ibid.


53
1859» Vance was ready to return to his native Buncombe,
and to enter the political arena to seek a full term in
Congress.
At this time a new political organization was in the
making in North Carolina. Because there were few foreign
immigrants coming into the state, and because there were
even fewer Catholics, the Know-Nothing party became almost
powerless against the growing Democratic strength. Being
71
no longer acceptable to many voters in the state, the
Know-Nothing party was abandoned and the old Whig party
72
was revitalized with the safety of the Union as its slogan.
In this political picture, Vance found himself the
Whig candidate for re-election in the eighth district
against David Coleman. Vance was happy to call himself a
Whig, for he had never been able to subscribe to Know-
Nothing principles. In his campaign speeches of 1858, he
had made fun of its doctrines, and had become a member only
because there was no other party he could join. Being a
Unionist, he could not affiliate with the Democrats who be-
73
lieved too strictly in the doctrine of state rights.
^Norton, The Democratic Party in North Carolina,
P. 243.
Henry McGilbert Wagstaff, State Rights and Political
Parties in North Carolina 1776-1861 (Baltimore. 1906), pp.
95-96.
"^Burton J. Hendrick, Statesmen of the Lost Cause (New
York, 1939), p. 345.


54
Vance's aim was to break the hold of the Democrats on the
people; Coleman endeavored to maintain it.^4
As the candidates opened the campaign, Coleman spoke
first at a joint political rally in Asheville. His able
speech made Vance's friends fear he could not satisfactorily
answer it. The principal charge against Vance was that he
had voted in Congress to pension the soldiers of the ¥ar
of 1812. Answering, Vance described the old veterans as
rallying to the defense of the nation in order to secure
“the peace that followed, and the easy times now in the
country." Sarcastically, he explained that times were so
good that certain leaders felt authorized to advocate an
act to use millions of dollars in corrupting Spanish offl-
75
cials in an effort to secure Cuba. This remark referred
to President Buchanan, Pierre Soule, and John Y. Mason, who
had drawn up the Ostend Manifesto, which proposed that the
United States should offer a large sum of money to Spain
for Cuba, and if Spain refused to sell, the United States
would resort to drastic means to obtain it. Resorting to
pathetic appeal, Vance pictured the old soldier on crutches
asking Congress for a mere pittance of eight dollars a month
“to smooth his passage to the grave." But that instead of
74i)owd, Life of Vance, p. 34.
75ibid.. p. 36.


55
receiving the money, the soldier was met at the door of
the House of Representatives and told to go away because
there were other uses for the money.
Towards the end of the campaign, Coleman applied to
Vance the parable of the barren fig tree. He said that
though Vance had been in Congress, there was no fruit to
show for it. At this point Coleman cried out, “Fellow
citizens, cut him down." When Coleman finished, Vance,
who was skilled at turning the charges of an opponent to
his own advantage, replied that Coleman’s use of the Scrip¬
tures was unfortunate. The real facts were that when the
Lord was in the garden with the gardener, and seeing no
fruit on the fig tree, told the gardener to cut it down.
The gardener answered, “Let it stand another year, and I
will dig about it, and then if it bears no fruit, cut it
down.“ “Now gentlemen,” Vance said, “all things according
to the scripture.” He applied the parable to himself, say¬
ing that if he did not bear fruit after his opponent had
dug about him, then "cut me down.” That his answer was ef¬
fective, was evidenced by the shouts of approval that went
•y zT
up from the audience.
By the time the candidates reached Waynesville, they
77
were resorting to tactics of personal abuse. Coleman,
7^Powd. Life of Vance, pp. 36-37*
f^Vance to David Coleman, Asheville, August 29, 1859,
Vance Papers.


56
for example, Indicted. Vance for having spread a report
that he was intoxicated when they spent a night together
78
in Caldwell County. When Vance did not offer a satis¬
factory defense to this charge, Coleman challenged him to
79
a duel. Vance accepted, and accused Coleman of desiring
a quarrel in order to take away the sting of defeat. This
only extended the list of Coleman’s grievances. The duel,
however, was eventually averted by the intervention of
friends, who persuaded Vance to write a letter of expla¬
nation and apology. This he agreed to do after Coleman
disavowed the charge which had prompted his offensive re¬
marks. Vance had understood Coleman to charge him with
having designs to elect Galusha A. Grow, a Black Republi¬
can, as speaker of the House. The letter expressed Vance's
regret for the offensive expression that he had used while
under a false impression.®0
Vance's impulsive nature in debate was a weakness
of his campaign speaking. When the charges of his opponents
became strong, he often became excited, and responded with-
81
out judgment or tact. As early as 1855, he was challenged
^®Coleman to Vance, Asheville, August 15, 1859, Vance
Papers.
79
Coleman to Vance, Asheville, August 17, 1859, Vance
Papers.
on
0 Vance to Coleman, Asheville, August 29, 1859, Vance
Papers.
81Vance to Coleman, Asheville, August 17, 1859, Vance
Papers.


57
to a duel for having called a political opponent a ‘'damned
82
liar" before a large crowd. The Waynesville speech was
not the only one in the campaign that was too strong for
his adversary to bear. Coleman wrote that Vance's "lan¬
guage and bearing on various occasions during the discus¬
sions in [the 1859] canvass [were] such as a gentleman
should not submit to from another gentleman."®-'’ Vance,
believing that in political discussion he had license to
say whatever he chose, was unable to understand why anyone
84
should take offense at his remarks.
Nevertheless, Vance's skill in reply, and his abili¬
ty to pass at will from humor to invective, pleased his
85
audiences as much as it offended his opponents. The Whigs
of North Carolina gained four seats in Congress at the elec¬
tion; one of them was won by Vance, who defeated Coleman by
86
seventeen hundred votes.
Vance began the first session of the thirty-sixth
Congress as a peacemaker. Congress needed the cheerful,
®2I.S.G. Baird to Vance, Asheville, July 9, 1855,
Vance Papers.
83coleman to Vance, Asheville, August 29, 1859, Vance
Papers.
84
Vance to Coleman, Asheville, August 29, 1859, Vance
Papers.
Seattle, "Biographical Sketch of Senator Z.B. Vance,"
North Carolina University Magazine. VI, 227.
^Norton, Democratic Party In Ante-Bellum North Caro¬
lina 1855-1861. p. 244.


58
fun-making qualities that Vance brought to it since it was
a session of heated discussion of the slavery question,
prompted by John Brown's raid, Hepler's Impending Crisis,
and other abolitionist activities. Vance did not adopt a
southern view, and southern rights men such as Jefferson
Davis or Alexander Stephens received no support from him.
Vance insisted that no problems before Congress should per¬
mit the nation to be led to war.®^
The opening of Congress on December 9, 1859, brought
a contest over the speakership of the House. While the
Senate was in the hands of the Democrats, the House was
closely divided, consisting of 109 Republicans, 101 Demo¬
crats, and 27 Know-Nothings. The Republicans wanted John
Sherman for speaker, while the Democrats had nominated
Thomas S. Bocock in caucus. This meant that the party
which could ally itself with the Know-Nothings and the
88
Whigs would succeed. Vance remained silent, but not in¬
different, during the sectional battles that raged through
the first weeks of the session. His silence ended, how¬
ever, when his name was called on the twenty-fourth ballot
in the speakership deadlock. He said, '*1 hope the House
will indulge me in a single remark, especially in considera-
87Hendrick, Statesmen of the Lost Cause, p. 34-5.
®®Nevins, Emergence of Lincoln, II, 112.


59
tlon of the fact that I have not trespassed upon its atten¬
tion from the commencement of the present session until to¬
day.” Then he explained:
I have voted for a Lecompton Democrat. I have voted
for those who did not approve of the Lecompton bill.
I have voted for an anti-administration Democrat. And
if there is any member of that great prolific Democratic
family that I have neglected, I hope they will trot him
out and give me an opportunity to vote for him.^9
Throughout the controversy, Vance demonstrated his
loyalty to the Union. With a bit of irony to add the char¬
acteristic light touch to his speech, he explained his votes:
I hope I have shown by the votes that I have recorded
here in this contest, that I am willing to assist in
the election of any man upon a conservative and national
basis—which phrase I am certain this House has never
heard.90
As the laughter produced by this remark subsided, he
ended his brief speech. The conclusion expressed his willing¬
ness to exhibit a national conservative spirit by voting for
Charles L. Scott, a Democrat from California. By this speech,
Vance lent his efforts to concentrate the House votes on
one man. Although this ballot did not result in enough votes
to elect a Speaker, it came nearer to a choice than the pre¬
vious ones.91
®9cong;. Globe. 36th Cong., 1 sess., p. 286.
9°Ibid.
91Ibid.


60
The debate on the speakership continued into the new
year. No person was able to gain the required 106 votes.
The members opposing the Republican party were too deeply
divided to support any one individual. The Southern Demo¬
crats, for example, would not compromise on any candidate
outside the South. This situation promoted Vance's only
other speech during the Thirty-sixth Congress. Speaking
on January 3, i860, he pleaded for the abolition of poli¬
tical prejudices for the common good. He arraigned the
Southern Democrats for refusing to vote for John A. McCler-
nand, a Democrat from Illinois.
Paving the way for his support of McClernand, Vance
said that he did not believe in making a personal explana¬
tion for everything he had done, or of every vote that he
might make. His constituents at home, not the members of
the House, were the ones to whom he would have to answer
for his conduct. He planned, however, to make a brief ex¬
planation in this case. Paraphrasing Shakespeare to serve
his own thoughts, he introduced his explanation:
I profess to have a fee simple in my own understanding,
though my understanding, like the fee may be simple al¬
so. But I propose, upon the occasion, very briefly—for
brevity is the soul of wit; I should like, at least,
to possess the sole wit of brevity—to make the vote
I am now going to give the occasion, rather than the
subject, of a brief explanation.
92
Conp;. Globe. 36th Cong., 1 sess., p. 286.


61
In voting for McClernand, Vance declared that he was only-
showing his opposition to Black Republicanism. Although
he was a Whig, he did not want to see a breach between the
Northern and Southern wings of the Democratic party. He
knew that such a breach would endanger the Union, and hence
pleaded for tolerance:
I consider it an evidence of degeneracy of the times
that gentlemen here can not sacrifice so small and in¬
significant a thing as their party prejudices for the
common good, when men may be sometime called upon, as
our fathers were in times past, to sacrifice their
lives, their fortunes, and their heart's best blood
to the cause of their country.93
In the presidential election of i860, the Democrats
were divided. The National Democratic party, representing
the Northern faction, nominated Stephen A. Douglas. The
Southern bolters formed the Constitutional Democratic
party, and nominated John C. Breckinridge of Kentucky, a
staunch supporter of slavery, who advocated the right of
secession, although he wanted to preserve the Union.
The Constitutional Union party was made up of a group
of Southerners as well as Northerners who distrusted both
Douglas and Breckinridge. The only plank in their platform
was the preservation of the Union, the Constitution, and
the enforcement of laws. Naming John Bell of Tennessee as
their presidential candidate, this peace-loving party was
93qong. Globe, 36th Cong., 1 sess,, p. 286.


62
made up chiefly of "old line Whigs," and the conservative
94
older men of the South. In spite of his youth, Vance
gave his support to this party. He became a standard bear¬
er for Bell, and emerged from the contest with a wilder repu¬
tation as a stump speaker.
A great meeting of Whigs and Conservatives was held
on October 11 and 12, i860, at Salisbury to protest the
calling of a convention in North Carolina to consider seces¬
sion. Vance spoke for two hours during the afternoon of
the first day of the meeting, and was listened to by the
great crowd assembled in a cold drizzling rain. At every
attempt to stop, he was greeted with shouts of "Go on, go
on."95 sentiment expressed in the speech was that "we
will fight for the constitution, the Union, and the laws,
within the Union and the laws." He said, "We will not be
influenced by seceders in the South or Black Republicans
in the North, and we will never give up our institutions
until stern necessity compels us to believe that they are
no longer adequate to our protection; we must resort to
that right of revolution, which is inherent in every
people.To put it simply, he rebuked the secessionists
9^Eaton, A History of the Old South, p. 572.
^Fayetteville Semi-Weekly Observer. October 18, i860.
9^Wagstaff, State Rights and Political Parties in
North Carolina. 1776-1861. p. 561.


63
of the South, as well as the abolitionists of the North,
and in one great effort attempted to save the Union and
97
the constitution.
Approximately eight thousand people were gathered
at Salisbury on the second day of the meeting. Vance was
not scheduled to speak, but speeches were made by such
notable Whigs as William A. Graham, George E. Badger, Wm.
N.H. Smith, and John M. Morehead. At night the remaining
crowd gathered in the public square to watch fireworks.
From the beginning of the display, there were cries for
"Vance," and "Let's hear the mountain boy." After an ela¬
borate exhibition of fireworks, and more calls for him,
Vance came forward and mounted a pile of boxes. After
quieting his audience with a number of clever stories,
he held their attention for over an hour. The crowd,
standing as close together as possible, packed a wide
street for three hundred feet. Cheer after cheer followed
nearly every word he uttered. As he left the platform, the
enthusiastic crowd threw wreaths over his head, and carried
him on their shoulders through the audience with deafening
. . 98
shout s.
In the campaign he continued his efforts to convince
97fiendrick, Statesmen of the Lost Cause, p. 3^6.
98Fayetteville Semi-Weekly Observer. October 18, i860.


64
the people that they should work toward keeping North
Carolina in the Union. He spoke in churches, as well as
on the street corners, always saying, "Keep North Carolina
in the Union! Let it not follow the example of the other
Southern States.
After the election of Lincoln, Vance continued as
one of the foremost advocates of Unionism in North Carolina.
In his position, he was supported by a majority of North
Carolinians.^00 On November 30, i860, two South Carolina
members of Congress, William W. Boyce and John D. Ashmore,
on their way to Washington to resign their seats, made dis¬
union speeches to a large group in front of the Yarborough
Hotel in Raleigh. It was known that the "mountain boy" was
present, and soon the cry went up for "a speech from Vance."
A bonfire was built in the street, and the courthouse was
lighted. While Ashmore and Boyce were still speaking Vance
was forced into the courthouse, but he refused to speak un¬
til his colleagues across the street had finished. The
crowd filled the courthouse to hear him, though it was after
nine o'clock. The audience felt that he could furnish the
antidote for the treasonous attempts made across the street
"to alienate one portion of the country from another." His
99
William K. Boyd, "North Carolina on the Eve of Seces¬
sion," American Historical Association Report (Washington,
1910), p. 177.
^-°®Hendrick, Statesmen of the Lost Cause, p. 345.


65
speech, which lasted for two hours, pleased all those who
wanted to preserve the Union.
Introducing the speech with an anecdote, he told of
the merchant's clerk who owned a beautiful spotted calf.
A young lady customer wanted him to name the cat Julia,
after her. With shyness he would not consent. Pressed
to know why he would not give it the young lady's name, he
blushed, and said it was not the "right sort of a cat."
If anyone wanted to call this a disunion meeting, the name
. 102
wouldn't fit any more than Julia would fit the cat.
Vance then proceeded to show the folly of disunion.
Ashmore and Boyce had argued that if the South should secede,
it would have the blessings and protection of England. To
this Vance replied that it would be a protection that "our
forefathers had waged a seven years war to escape." His
humble grandfather, Vance said, had shed his blood at King's
mountain to escape this protection, and now his grandson
was called upon to fight to regain it. Arguing that England
could not be depended upon to aid the South, he referred
to an article in the London Times in which the Prince of
Wales' visit to the slave pens at Richmond was treated as
a blot upon the English character. He did not believe that
Fayetteville Observer. December 3, i860.
102Ibid.


66
slave property would be more secure under British protection
than it was under the Constitution. To support this belief,
Vance asked how many runaway slaves had been sent back by the
British authorities in Canada?
In fairness to his South Carolina opponents, Vance
was willing to agree to the correctness of some of their
statements. He conceded that the legislation of most free
states was disorganized and unfriendly, which in turn aided
the escape of slaves from the border states. He also agreed
that John Brown’s raid was intolerable, and that a sectional
president had been elected. Nevertheless, he was reassured
by Lincoln's promise to be a national president, and felt
that South Carolina had no grounds for taking the lead in the
secession movement since she had suffered none from the elec¬
tion. On the other hand, Vance declared his willingness to
go to the aid of Maryland, Kentucky, Virginia, and Missouri
whenever they declared in respectful terms that the acts of
the national administration were no longer tolerable. He
then would be willing to Join them in arms, dissolve the
Union, and "let the Devil take the hindmost."10^
Six weeks after Lincoln was elected, the South Carolina
Convention had adopted an ordinance of secession. Mississip¬
pi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas followed
•^■^Fayetteville Observer. December 3, i860.


67
suit, so that by February, 1861, the entire lower South
was out of the Union. North Carolina, together with most
104
of the border states, remained in the Union.
The second session of the Thirty-sixth Congress con¬
vened on December 3, i860. Vance was a sober and quiet
member, his only comments being some Insignificant remarks
105
on the state of the Union.
The inauguration of Lincoln on March 4, 1861, marked
the end of the Thirty-sixth Congress. It also marked the
end of Vance's career in the House of Representatives. His
term was to run through the Thirty-seventh Congress, but
he was unable to serve because his state had joined the
106
Confederacy before that Congress assembled.
l04Arthur Charles Cole, The Whig Party in the South
(Washington, 1913), p. 340.
•l-O^Cong. Globe, 36th. Cong., 2 sess., pp. 363-364.
106
Cole, The Whig Party in the South, p. 340.


CHAPTER III
THE RHETORIC OP A WAR GOVERNOR
Only the bombardment of Fort Sumter on April 12,
1861, followed by Lincoln’s call for troops, could arouse
North Carolina to action. Vance was speaking before an
armed group of angry citizens in his native county, Bun¬
combe, when the news reached him. With his hand extended,
he was pleading for the preservation of the Union. In de¬
scribing this speech, he said that his hand which was
raised in gesture "fell slowly and sadly by a secessionist."
With altered voice and manner, he then called upon his
audience to volunteer "not to fight against but for South
Carolina."1 Years later in a speech in Boston in 1886, on
"The Political and Social Feeling of the South During the
War," he said, "if war must come, I preferred to be with
my own people; if we had to shed blood, I preferred to shed
Northern rather than Southern blood; if we had to slay, I
had rather slay strangers than my own kindred and neigh¬
bors. . . ."2
Almost immediately after Fort Sumter, Vance was trans¬
formed from an ardent unionist to a secessionist fired with
â– ^Hendrick, Statesmen of the Lost Cause, p. 342.
2Boston Daily Globe. December 9, 1886.
68


69
jealousy for the rights of his own state. Along with other
unionists, he was especially resentful of Lincoln's policy
of coercion. He believed that it certainly meant the in¬
vasion of the South by Northern troops. This could not be
tolerated, and on May 20, 1861, North Carolina reluctantly
3
declared its independence and joined the Confederate States.
Vance immediately became more than a platform support¬
er of the Confederacy. He organized a company of mountain
boys from his native county into the "Rough and Ready Guards."
This company of soldiers was formed in a unique manner.
Vance made out a list of approximately one hundred names
of young men whom he wanted to join him, and asked them to
meet him at an appointed time. As usual the popular appeal
of Vance could not be rejected, and every man responded to
4
his call and followed him off to battle. This company,
with Vance as Captain, saw lively action in the early fight¬
ing in North Carolina and in the Seven Days' battle before
Richmond.^ After North Carolina had withdrawn from the
Union, the state entered the war with great enthusiasm.
Many troops were raised and sent to Virginia, and the de¬
fenses on the coast were strengthened by the building of
6
new forts.
^Lefler and Newsome, North Carolina, p. 426.
4Asheville Citizen. July 14, 1881.
“’Cole, The Whig Party in the South, p. 340.
^Walter Clark (ed.), North Carolina Regiments 1861-
__62, 5 vols. (Goldsboro, 1901), II, 334.


70
Shortly after the war began, however, a series of
military disasters fell upon North Carolina. In the latter
part of August, 1861, the forts guarding Hatteras Inlet
were captured by a federal squadron and the waters of
Pamlico Sound were opened to United States gunboats. This
brought fear to the eastern counties and caused the Con¬
federate government and the state administration to be
severely criticized. In February, 1862, Roanoke Island
was captured by a fleet of eighty vessels carrying fif¬
teen thousand men. They then moved on up the sound and
captured Elizabeth City. The Union forces soon occupied
several eastern counties and made their headquarters at
7
New Bern, which they had captured in March, 1862.
The people, already suffering the economic disloca¬
tions caused by the war, were disheartened by this series
of defeats on the coast. Supplies were quickly exhausted,
and blockade runners were unable to provide necessary im¬
ports in sufficient amount. The entire state now became
discontented over the high prices charged for every com¬
modity, and the politicians in control of the state admini¬
stration were blamed for conditions. Since the summer of
1861, the old-line Whigs had been using this political dis¬
content to build up a new political organization, called
7
'Hendrick, Statesmen of the Lost Cause, p. 34-2.


71
the Conservative party. One of the principal leaders of
this new party was W.W. Holden, who had been thrown out
of the Democratic party in i860, because of his opposi¬
tion to secession. Holden was editor of the Raleigh
Standard, and he used this medium to criticize the Confeder-
U
ate government. He and the other members of the Conserva¬
tive party reflected the widespread discontent of the
people of the state.
fearful of the growing strength of the Conservatives,
the Democrats changed their name to the Confederate party.
The intent of this party was to call off the gubernatorial
election of 1862. Holden and the Conservatives were able,
however, to block their efforts, and the Confederates were
forced to find a candidate.^ They chose William Johnston,
who had been a Whig until the failure of the National Peace
Conference held in Washington on February 4, 1861, and then
10
had become an ultra-secessionist.
The Raleigh Standard announced that a meeting would
be held on May 21, 1862, for the purpose of expressing a
preference for governor. It invited to attend ’’all who
are in favor of reform in the administration of public
affairs and in favor of placing our best men in office,
^Richard h. Yates, "Vance as North Carolina War
Governor," Journal of Southern History, III (February,
1937), p. 45.
o
Lefler and Newsome, North Carolina, p. 439.
10Ralelgh Register. July 28, 1862.


r¿
and opposed to favoritism in the government."'1'^
To find a candidate who could defeat the Confederate
opposition was a herculean task for the Conservatives.
Taking the lead, Holden suggested William A. Graham, a
former governor, for the Conservative candidate, and sup¬
ported him in an editorial in the Standard on April 9.
Graham, however, refused to allow himself to he consi¬
dered, and Holden had to look elsewhere for a suitable
12
candidate. Although, except for intimate talks with his
soldiers, Vance's voice had been silenced by the noise of
battle, he was still a favorite of the people. The fame
which he had gained through his speaking before he entered
the war had waned very little, and many counties had al¬
ready offered to support him for governor. Apparently
thinking that Vance was still a unionist as he had been
earlier, Holden decided that he would make a good Conser¬
vative candidate. Moreover, since Holden had also been a
Democrat, he thought that the nomination would be more
palatable to other Conservatives if it were to come from
an old-line Whig. Consequently, he asked Augustus S. Merri-
mon to come to Raleigh to help bring Vance forward as a
candidate. Instead of going to Raleigh, however, Merrimon
decided to go to Fayetteville to discuss the matter with
•^Raleigh Weekly Standard, May 21, 1862.
•^Samuel A. Ashe, History of North Carolina (Raleigh,
1925), pp. 713-714.


73
E. J. Hale, the Whig editor of the Fayetteville Observer.
Together, they concluded that it might be advantageous for
Holden to make the nomination. Merrimon also went to Kins¬
ton on his way to Raleigh, and there he was able to talk
with Vance, who was stationed in that town with his regi¬
ment. Before Merrimon left Vance, he had secured a letter
from him signifying his willingness to become a candidate.
Soon after Merrimon*s arrival in Raleigh, at a Conservative
meeting held on June 4, 1862, for the purpose of selecting
a candidate for governor, Holden brought forth Vance’s
name.^
Vance agreed to leave the army and to run for gover¬
nor, because he felt that he was definitely the choice of
the people. His name had been advanced at a number of
meetings and by a considerable portion of the state's news¬
papers. He had also received numerous letters from various
parts of the state asking him to run. Thus, since there
was no doubt in his mind but that the people wanted him
to become governor, he felt it was his duty to abide by
their will. In his letter of acceptance, written to Hol¬
den on June 15, 1862, he said that "a true man should be
willing to serve wherever the public voice may assign him."12*'
Following Vance's acceptance, certain newspapers
!3w.W. Holden, Memoirs of W.W. Holden (2 vols.;
Durham, 1911), II, 18-19.
•^•^Vance to W.W. Holden, in the Ralelffh Register. June
28, 1862.


74
opposed his candidacy. The Asheville News said, HWe have
no doubt the Standard* s candidate, Col. Vance, desires to
serve his state the best he can, but what has he ever done
for her? The Standard can not point to a single monument,
except his speeches, which are well enough in sound. . .
At this point, however, the News erred. Granted that his
speeches had contributed greatly to his popular appeal,
they were by no means the only reason he was so widely sup¬
ported.
Vance had gained many friends as a result of his
leadership in the army. His courage in prosecuting the
war at all hazards had inspired the confidence of the
people of the state. Although he had entered the battle¬
field with the determination to remain there until the
South had achieved its independence, his supporters per¬
suaded him to change his mind. Feeling that he must respond
to the flattering indications of confidence, he agreed to
become a candidate only if tne citizens believed that he
could serve the cause better as governor than in command,
of the ‘'gallant soldiers of North Carolina.Fittingly,
he became the candidate on the people's ticket as announced
17
in the Standard. thereby giving the citizens of tne state
15Ashevllle News. July 3, 1862.
•^Raleigh Register. June 28, 1862.
^Holden, Memoirs of W.W. Holden, II, 20


75
an opportunity to reward him for his leadership in the
Twenty-Sixth Regiment of North Carolina.
Adhering to the request of such newspapers as the
Wilmington Journal, which urged that there be no public
speaking in the campaign and that the people refuse to vote
for any candidate who engaged in speaking, Vance made only
a few speeches, and these were to the soldiers. The campaign
was influenced more by writing and less by speaking than any
in which Vance was ever involved. In fact, the campaigning
was left almost entirely to the newspapers, in which both
candidates were vigorously attacked and praised. Those
favoring Johnston said that if Vance were the fine soldier
that he was claimed to be, he should stay in the field.
In refutation, Vance’s supporters contended that if Johnston
were the ardent Southerner he professed to be, he should be
18
in the field.
Vance’s opponents feared the effects his election
would have on the course of the War. The Raleigh Register,
which had been an old-line Whig paper and at one time an
admirer of Vance, carried this admonition: "Remember that
if Zebulon Vance shall be elected governor, the Yankees
will claim it as an indubitable sign that the Union senti¬
ment is in the ascendancy in the heart of the Southern Con-
^Ashe, History of North Carolina, II, 716.


76
federacy.M19 The most disturbing factor involved in the
campaign, however, was Vance's alliance with Holden. The
Register warned that the election or Vance would amount to
the election of Holden. Holden's paper, the Standard.
had given the impression of unfriendliness to the Southern
21
cause, and the Confederates sincerely feared that Vance
might follow the same course.
Despite the efforts of the Confederate party to
defame Vance with such epithets as "Yankee candidate" and
"pliant tool of Holden," public confidence in his ability
and loyalty elected him to the governorship in August, 1862,
22
by a vote of 54,423 to 20,448 for Johnston. The election
took place while his regiment was encamped at Petersburg,
Virginia, and Vance received every vote cast by the regi¬
ment. ^
Before he left the army to begin guiding the destiny
of his state through the most perilous days of its existence,
a complimentary farewell meeting was given in his honor on
August 15, 1862, by the officers and soldiers of the Twenty-
Sixth Regiment of North Carolina Troops. Two thousand
soldiers gathered out-of-doors at night to offer tribute
-^Raleigh. Register. July 19, 1862.
2°Ibid., July 23, 1862.
2^Ashe, History of North Carolina, II, 717.
22
Lefler and Newsome, North Carolina, p. 439.
2^Dowd, Life of Vance, p. 69.


77
to their departing commander. Resolutions expressing min¬
gled feelings of regret, pride, and gratification that they
had been called upon to relinquish their leader were adopted
by the regiment. The officers saw in Vance's triumphant
victory a compliment to his integrity, ability, and bravery.
They considered this moment of triumph for Vance a moment
of sorrow for themselves in that they were being "parted
from one of the best of men." As a tangible testimonial
of affection and esteem, L. L. Polk, sergeant major of the
regiment, presented a sword to Vance on behalf of the offi¬
cers. In response, Vance made a speech which was described
24
as one the soldiers could not easily forget. Little else
is recorded about the speech except that his blending of
pathos and humor won him a permanent place in the hearts
25
of those who heard him speak.
On Saturday afternoon, August 16, the governor-elect
arrived in Raleigh. That evening a group of admirers and
interested people gathered in front of the Yarborough House
where he was staying, and called for a speech. Although
he was weary from travel and weakened in health from the
rigors of battle, he made a twenty-nine-minute speech which
26
satisfied the Conservatives and pleased the Confederates.
24
Salem People's Free Press. August 29, 1862.
2^Dowd, Life of Vance, p. 69.
26
Raleigh Standard. August 20, 1862.


78
He promised "unremitting prosecution of the war, and pledged
himself to eschew all action founded on mere partizan consi¬
derations." Except for a hit of satire, this speech differed
from those typical of Vance in that it was serious from be¬
ginning to end. Indeed, when one of his admirers asked for
a joke, he replied that the time for joking had for the pre¬
sent "dried up."27
Opening the speech with a personal introduction, Vance
sought to gain the favorable attention of his audience.
He expressed thanks for the compliment that was implied in
their election of him, and declared that the people had by
this act taken their affairs into their own. hands. A por¬
tion of his introduction was designed for those in his
audience who might regard him with partisan hostility or
suspicion. To eliminate such attitudes, he said, "In spite
of feeble attempts to create and array parties in the midst
of war, the people had declared by their vote that they
no
would have none of it."
During the campaign, he continued, his opponents had
made many unjust attacks upon him. Perhaps he was too
sensitive to those who suggested that he had not actually
participated in the fighting at the time he had been engaged
27Raleip;h Register. August 20, 1862.
^Raleigh Weekly Standard. August 20, 1862.


79
in the severe battles at New Bern and Malvern Hill. Re¬
sorting to one of his characteristic forms of attack, he
used satire to reduce his opponents’ assertions to absurdity,
declaring he had been of the opinion that he was in those
fights. To illustrate this fact satirically, he related
the following story showing that he was of the same frame
of mind as one of the clients of a lawyer named McDuffie:
That great advocate made a speech in defence of his
client wnich drew tears from the court, the jury, the
audience, the women, children and all, and the result
was he was acquitted. After he had paid Mr. McDuffie
his fee, which was a good one, of course, tne latter
said to him, calling him by name— "You are certainly
guilty of that crime." "Not a bit of it," responded
his client. "I thought I was guilty before you made
that speech, but I am certain now that I am not." I
thought I was in both those fights; but after the ef¬
forts made to prove that I was not, I am willing to
admit that I was not there—though I do retain an in¬
distinct recollection of the bullets that whistled
around my ears. 9
The approval of his audience was clinched when he closed
the attack by stating that "there was one thing. . . which
he felt sure his opponents would admit, and that was that
he was in the race for governor."^0
With the completion of his introduction, Vance had,
indeed, in the words of Cicero, "render[ed] the audience
well disposed, attentive, and open to conviction." He then
stated his proposition for discussion, in an effort to con-
2^Raleigh Weekly Standard. August 20, 1862.
30Ibid.


80
vince his audience that the great absorbing purpose of the
state should be "to beat back our invaders and establish
the independence of this glorious Confederation of States.”
The fact that he had been accused of wanting to take North
Carolina back into the Union was monstrous, he said, and
as proof he offered the following rhetorical questions in
parallel style:
Was it for this that North Carolina solemnly dissolved
her connection with that government? Was it for this
that she had organized nearly sixty regiments, and had
poured out her treasure and the blood of her sons like
water, on every battle-field, from that of great Bethel
to the crowning victories below Richmond? Was it for
this that our people were submitting cheerfully to all
kinds of privations at home, while our brave boys were
daring disease, and wounds, and captivity, and death
in the face of the enemy? Was it for this that our
women and children had contributed of their household
goods—the work of their delicate fingers—uncounted
stores of provisions for our troops, encouraging those
who were already in the field, and bidding others to
go to their aid? Was it for this that many of these
women and children, on hundreds and hundreds of farms,
were toiling day by day in the burning sun with bare
feet, following the plough, handling the hoe and axe,
that they might produce and gather harvests for suste¬
nance while their husbands and fathers and sons and
brothers were engaged in the fight?31
The speech was concluded with a tribute to the soldiers of
North Carolina and with praise for the state. He said that
he had expected unyielding courage from the soldiers, but
that they had gone beyond expectations by becoming "fore¬
most in the use of the bayonet" as well. In a final effort
to maintain the goodwill of his audience, he referred to
the exalted reputation of the state, as well as of sister
^iRaleigh Weekly Standard, August 20, 1862


81
states, because oí' her honesty and integrity. Suggesting
that it was the duty, ana should be the pride of the people
to maintain this character under all circumstances, he ended
32
the address in the midst of enthusiastic applause.^
In less than a month Vance again faced an audience.
Four or five thousand people gathered in Raleigh on Septem¬
ber 8, 1862, to see him Inaugurated. A platform from which
he was to deliver his inaugural address had been erected
at the west entrance of the capítol building. As the band
of his own Twenty-Sixth Regiment played, the retiring
governor, Henry T. Clark, accompanied by the justices of
the Supreme Court, escorted him to the platform.
The audience anxiously waited for Vance to make his
views public. Only a small percentage of it had heard him
speak on his first visit to Raleigh, and he had not dis¬
cussed his platform before the election. Even his sup¬
porters were concerned about the position he might take.
They had hoped that his letter accepting the nomination
would outline his platform, but he subtly avoided any com¬
mitments. Instead, he left the conduct of the campaign
to ¥.¥. Holden and E.J. Hale, editor of the Fayetteville
Observer, without even explaining his views to them.-^
Consequently his supporters were as eager to hear his views
-^Raleigh Weekly Standard. August 20, 1862.
-^Yates, Journal of Southern History, III, 47.


82
as were his opponents. As soon as the oath of office was
administered by Chief Justice Richmond M. Pearson, Vance
satisfied his audience by delivering an address that left
no one uncertain about his views. Evidently this inaugural
address met with the audience’s favor, for it was in-
34
terrupted throughout with hearty applause.
Although Vance was only thirty-two years of age, he
was fully aware of the enormous responsibilities the gover¬
norship placed upon him. Referring in his exordium to the
oath of office he had just taken, he declared, "I can but
feel oppressed by the great weight of responsibility."
With a feeling of humility at the confidence of the people
in calling him "with a unanimity unparallelled in the
history of [the] state," he reviewed the task that was
his. As he saw it, his duties were "to hold the helm dur¬
ing . . . the great storm; to manage . . . public liabili¬
ties; to search out the talent and worth of the country
and to bring it into the service of the State; and to
clothe and organize our troops and to do justice to merit
on the field.Such an undertaking was, he declared,
enough to astound statesmen far older than himself, but
he was ready and willing to accept the responsibility.^
^RalelKh Register. September 10, 1862.
35Ibid.
36ibid


83
With strong ethical appeal, he ended his introduction with
a solemn promise "to bring a will and determination to the
performance of my duties which no one can surpass."-^
If before his inaugural address there had been doubt
as to where Vance stood regarding the conduct of the war,
there certainly was none at the conclusion. David Swain,
a former governor and Vance's friend and adviser, had sug¬
gested that the speech would afford an opportunity to de¬
fend his views before the General Assembly met.38 Taking
advantage of this opportunity, Vance centered his remarks
in "one great all-absorbing theme"—a plea for North Carolina
to be faithful in the performance of her part in the great
struggle, so that the Confederate states could stand proud-
39
ly among free and independent nations.
In defending North Carolina's entry into the war,
Vance declared there was no alternate road the state could
have pursued. Explaining that North Carolina had adopted
a wait-and-see policy after the election of Lincoln, he
blamed him for forcing the state into the war. In fact,
Vance absolved North Carolina of any responsibility, and
fully justified its action. In support of this position,
•^Raleigh Register. September 10, 1862.
-^D.L. Swain to Vance, Chapel Hill, August 15, 1862,
in Z.B. Vance Papers, North Carolina Department of Archives
and History, Raleigh.
â– ^Raleigh Register. September 10, 1862.


84
he declared that while North Carolina was engaged in an
effort to persuade the North to allow people to resist
secession by discussion or violence, Lincoln issued a
proclamation calling for seventy-five thousand men to
slaughter the Southern states into submission. In order
to fulfill Lincoln’s proclamation, the federal govern¬
ment went even further and demanded that North Carolina
provide a proportionate share of these troops ^to step
across the state line, and hand in hand with the scum of
northern cities and the refuse of degradation . . . cut
the throats of our kindred and friends."^0
Although Vance had not belonged to that group of
Southerners known as the rabid fire-eaters, he believed
strongly in their concept of state rights. While he wanted
to remain in the Union, he believed it to be a confedera¬
tion of independent states held together by a written com¬
pact. This view of the federal government was explained
in his inaugural address when he said:
The government of the United States was a great con¬
federation of independent communities, held together
by a written compact called the Constitution. Of
this instrument the very life and soul was the great
axiom "that all government derive their just powers
from the consent of the governed." To this the ances¬
tors of those who now are shedding our blood, together
with your forefathers, assented on the 4th of July,
^^Ralelgh Register. September 10, 1862.


85
1776, and the instrument in which they set it forth
and pledged "their lives, their fortunes and their
sacred honors" to maintain it, has rendered their
names immortal.
At the time of the inauguration, the war had been
raging for seventeen months. Vance was, of course, familiar
with the progress that the Confederate army had made during
these months, because he had been in the midst of the fight¬
ing. Only a few weeks before his inauguration he had led
his regiment in the Seven Days* battle around Richmond.
42
Here on July 1, 1862, he participated in the engagement
which proved to be one of the fiercest battles of the war.
With the conclusion of this battle, he saw the completion
of the campaign around Richmond, which was acclaimed a great
43
success for the Confederacy. This success, along with
others which followed, had brought the Union to its nadir
at the time the inaugural speech was delivered. General
Robert E. Lee had repulsed the gallant federal assaults
in the two-day battle of Second Manassas on August 29-30,
and western Virginia had been almost completely evacuated
of Union troops as the main Union army retreated toward
Washington. The only Federáis within a hundred miles of
^Raleigh Register, September 10, 1862.
42Dowd, Life of Vance, p. 299.
4^George Fort Milton, Conflict. The American Civil
War (New York, 1941), p. 220.


86
Richmond were prisoners and those preparing to retreat
Inspired by these results, Governor Vance used a portion
of the address to picture vividly the progress of the war
in phrases abounding in pathos:
For seventeen months has this unequal war progressed;
the many against the few; the powerful against the
weak; and yet army after army, as the sands of the sea
in numbers, led by vaunted Napoleons, and armed from
the workshops of Europe have been hurled back from our
capital with slaughter and disgrace, by troops in many
cases, ragged, barefooted and armed with the condemned
muskets of the old government!"2^
Vance attributed the success of the Confederate army
to the special favor of God. Illustrating by Biblical al¬
lusion, he declared, "The bush has indeed burned with fire,
but is not consumed because of the presence of the living
God."
There were some in the audience who were suspicious
of Vance’s views about the war. He had been aligned too
closely with Holden for them not to be concerned. They
feared that he would turn his back on the Southern cause,
and try to lead North Carolina back into the Union. These
doubts were soon dispelled, however, and his loyalty to the
state and the Confederacy were sustained with a positive
rebuke of those “who for the sake of peace would leave
their children a heritage of shame." "is there yet a
A A
J.G. Randall, The Civil War and Reconstruction
(New York, 1937), p. 3ÓTI
^Raleigh Register. September 10, 1862.


87
man," he asked, "in the gallant historic state of North
Carolina, so embedded in political dogmas as to be unmind¬
ful of the claims of his country, not to hear the great
blows which are shaking the continent for him and his
children?" He suggested that if there were such a man,
he should judge the fate that awaits him by what happened
to the people of Virginia, Those desiring peace at any
cost should, he said, see the murder of little children
and hear the threats against the chastity of our sisters
46
in New Orleans.
The Conscription Act which the Confederate Congress
passed in April, 1862, had become extremely unpopular in
North Carolina. The soldiers thought it unethical and
discriminatory; many lawyers declared it unconstitutional;
the people considered it unnecessary, undemocratic, and un-
just. In recognition of his audience's antagonistic atti¬
tude toward the act, which provided that all able-bodied
men, with certain exceptions, between the ages of eighteen
and thirty-five, should be enrolled for military duty, Vance
pleaded for obedience to the act:
Many of you thought it [the Conscription Act] harsh
and unconstitutional; it was harsh, and may have been
unconstitutional, though many of our ablest statesmen
^Ralelpdi Register. September 10, 1862.
^Lefler and Newsome, North Carolina, p. 442.


88
thought not To stop now to argüe it could only produce
the greatest mischief, for the reason that it has al¬
ready been executed upon at least four fifths of those
subject to it. However, objectlonal in its conception,
let us, at least, be just and impartial in its execution.
But I am sure that if every man who has his country's
good at heart but knew of the necessity which existed
at the time, he would render it cheerful obedience.
Within five weeks of its passage, one hundred and forty
seven of our best trained and victorious regiments would
have been disbanded. And this during the very darkest
days in the history of the war. °
Instead of asking his audience to accept a generalized
statement, he showed a familiarity with the requirements of
sound argument by supplying evidence to prove that the act
was passed during the darkest days in the history of the war.
Many adversities had confronted the South, and these Vance
used to support his position. Fort Donelson and Nashville
had fallen to the enemy, and General Halleek, with a large
iron-clad fleet, had passed into the heart of the South.
McClellan's well-equipped army "was in the act of spring¬
ing, as a tiger, upon Richmond" as soon as he was assured
of success by the disbanding of the South's troops. Within
North Carolina, Roanoke Island and New Bern, with their de¬
pendencies upon the coast, were possessed by the enemy, as
were much of South Carolina and Georgia. Vance blamed these
adversities on the failure of the Confederate government
to provide for the emergency, and predicted that utter ruin
48
'Raleigh Register, September 10, 1862


89
was at the door unless something was done to avert it.^
Perhaps the major climax of the address was reached
as Vance vividly portrayed the patriotic spirit which might
avert ruin. The Conscription law was passed and the country
was saved, but only, he declared, through the patriotic en¬
durance of the soldiers in the field. They had already
served twelve months on the battlefield, and most of them
were anxiously waiting the time when they could return home
to all that was dear to them. With a picture of the disap¬
pointed soldiers clearly etched on the minds of his listen¬
ers, Vance used the device of a simple rhetorical question,
"How did they [the soldiers] behave?" He offered persuasive
answers which were strong in appeal to the basic desires
of self-preservation and altruism. In them he pleaded for
the exhibition of patriotism by the citizens of the state
equal to that shown by the soldiers who had been under his
command:
. . . they swallowed down their bitter sorrow, they dis¬
missed all hopes of seeing their homes and families,
grasped their muskets and set again their resolute faces
toward the flashing of the guns. God bless them for it!
An exhibition of purer patriotism has not been seen on
the continent, and our government can never sufficiently
appreciate it.
I remember with a thrill of pride, the conduct of
the gallant men I so lately was honored by commanding.
They too were discontented, and spoke loudly and bitter¬
ly against the harshness of the law. I called them to¬
gether and simply laid before them the necessities of
their country and appealed to their patriotism to sus¬
tain it; I made them no promises, held out no hopes;
^Raleigh Register, September 10, 1862.


90
I even told them that though they were promised fur¬
loughs hy the law, they would not get them; that there
was nothing before them but fighting and suffering.
They quietly dispersed to their quarters, and in four
hours the regiment was reorganized for war! . . .
If they who went out first, and have suffered and
bled from the beginning, could thus submit, Oh! Gan
not those who have so far reposed in peace in their
protected homes give the remainder of their time to
their country. Our brave regiments have had their ranks
thinned by death and disease; will you not all go cheer¬
fully to their help? They have struggled for you and
now you are needed to struggle with them.-’0
One of the reasons for the unpopularity of the Con¬
scription Act of 1862 was the provision that those who owned
as many as twenty slaves could be exempt from military ser¬
vice. With respect to this aspect of the law, Vance pre¬
sented his point of view, and used it to gain the goodwill
of his audience. He had, he said, as low a regard for the
exemption of the wealthy as did the majority of his audience,
and freely voiced this sentiment in a plea to "let the law
be executed impartially upon all, rich and poor, high and
low."51
There were, moreover, duties to be performed at home
as well as on the battlefield. Vance was aware of what
they were, and declared, "Let those of us who remain at
home bend every energy to the task of clothing and feeding
our defenders in the field and providing for their wives
and children." He held that the first concern of the state
5°RaleiKh Register. September 10, 1862.
51Ibid.


91
should he for the care of the families of its soldiers, and
to this end he asked for an "imitation of that heroic self-
denial by which our mothers of the first revolution rendered
their names worthy of a bright place in history. . .
The peroration of the address possessed a dignity
and eloquence typical of the formal speaking of the era.
Humor was replaced by vivid figures of speech designed to
gain interest. The mood was serious, because there were
urgent problems to be solved. Optimistic prophecy, however,
over sha do vied any gloom as the speaker proclaimed in meta¬
phorical language that "the womb of the future, I am confi¬
dent, holds for us a bright and glorious destiny."^3 Using
a simile to epitomize the progress of the war about which
he had spoken earlier in the speech, he proclaimed that
"the vast armies which invaded us at the beginning of the
year have melted away like frost before the steady valor
of our troops. . . .'*54
Throughout the speech Vance never wavered in his
loyalty to the Southern cause. He made himself abundantly
clear to his audience, and the people were eager to listen
to the very end. As he closed his address in what one would
term the grand style, he reinforced in eloquent language a
5^RaleiKh Register. September 10, 1862.
53ibid.
54Ibid.


92
true devotion to the struggle in which North Carolina was
engaged. With a strong forthright plea for sacrificial
action from the people, he ended the speech by saying:
Oh, my Countrymen, let us resolve this day that • • •
North Carolina, at least, shall not fail in the perfor¬
mance of her part, that the streams of precious blood
with which our glorious sons have consecrated their
names to immortality, shall not be a vain and unac¬
cepted sacrifice, but through the valor and determina¬
tion of those who survive they shall be rendered effica¬
cious to the salvation of the Nation; and with hearts
strong for the mighty task, and purpose united, we will
give of our substance—give of our blood; we will toil
and struggle, we will suffer and endure, through all
the dreary watches of the night until the day star of
independence, flashing through the darkness in the
east, shall fill the whole earth with his beams.55
The address apparently met the approval of all the
people, regardless of party affiliation. Vance's pledges
appeared to be identical with the platform of the Confeder¬
ate party, and to the one upon which Johnson would have
stood had he been elected. The Confederate party claimed
the right of secession, and Vance recognized that right
when he said: "The government of the United States was
a great confederation of independent communities, held to¬
gether by a written compact called the Constitution. Of
this instrument the very life and soul was the great axiom
'that all government derive their just powers from the con¬
sent of the governed.'"56 Although his platform was simi-
^^Raleigh Register. September 10, 1862.
^Ibld.. September 17» 1862.


93
lar to that of the Confederates, his address pleased the
Conservatives as well. E.J, Hale wrote to Vance, "We are
very much pleased with your proclamation; it is admirable
«57
in style and temper, in matter and manner.
Opposition newspapers were also pleased with his
inaugural address. The Raleigh Register, which had sup¬
ported Johnston in the campaign, strongly approved the
speech by saying that Vance had taken "the stand which
should be occupied by every true son of the South." It
further stated that "neither our opposition to the election
of Governor Vance nor certain surroundings in which he is
compelled to find himself shall induce us to withhold the
need of commendation justly due to sentiments which find
CO
an echo in every Southern heart.
In spite of the strong approval of the speech by
most North Carolinians, those in command of the confederate
government did not place full confidence in it. Jefferson
Davis was skeptical of Vance's promise to continue in the
war. There were, indeed, grounds for such suspicion, be¬
cause Vance had never been a strong adherent of the Con¬
federacy, and in his recent campaign had not had the sup¬
port of those favoring the Confederacy. At this point in
his career, however, he had ceased to care for the Union.
57
'E.J. Hale to Vance, Fayetteville, September 9,
1862, Vance Papers.
^Raleigh Register. September 10, 1862.


Full Text
THE RHETORIC OF ZEBULON B. VANCE
TARHEEL SPOKESMAN
By
FRANKLIN RAY SHIRLEY
A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE COUNCIL OF
THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE
DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
August, 1959

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
The writer is indebted to many individuals for in¬
spiration and guidance in the preparation of this study.
Among these is the late Professor Dallas C. Dickey, the
original chairman of the supervisory committee, who stimu¬
lated interest in this undertaking. Without his sugges¬
tions and criticisms during the formative stages of the
dissertation, it probably would have never materialized.
A major debt of gratitude is owed to Professor H. P. Con-
stans, the present chairman of the committee, who has
guided the progress since the formative stages. His frank
and generous suggestions have contributed greatly to the
fruition of the work. Professor Douglas W. Ehninger also
deserves commendation for his scholarly criticism of the
manuscript and for his willingness to give freely of his
time and editorial experience. The writer is indebted to
Professor James D. Glunt whose teachings provided back¬
ground knowledge essential to the dissertation, and like¬
wise to Professor George C. Osborn, formerly on the com¬
mittee. Other members of the committee who willingly
gave their services are L. L. Zimmerman and F. A. Doty.
Several sources deserve credit for assistance in
securing materials and aiding in research. Mrs. Mary
Rogers and other members of the staff of the North Caro-
li

lina Department of Archives and History were especially
helpful in making the Vance Papers and other pertinent
collections available. Mrs. Margaret Price of the North
Carolina State Library provided invaluable assistance in
locating newspaper sources used extensively throughout
the study. Among the libraries and archives that made
available material for the research were the Wake Forest
College Library, the University of North Carolina Library,
Duke University Library, the University of Florida Library,
the Moravian Archives, the Boston Public Library, the
Atlanta Public Library, and the Library of Congress.
Special thanks are due to the staff members of the Wake
Forest College Library for their cooperation in supply¬
ing the majority of the secondary sources.
Several people are indirectly responsible for the
completion of this project. Of these, the writer’s wife,
Mamie M. Shirley, deserves highest praise for the numerous
sacrifices made while the study was in progress. His
children, Susan Ollene, William McNulty, and Elizabeth
Rae, have been helpful through their willingness to fore¬
go their father’s companionship in anticipation of his
completion of the dissertation. The writer would be un¬
grateful, indeed, if he did not express appreciation to
his father and his mother, Mr. and Mrs. W. F. Shirley,
for their sacrifices in helping him to obtain an education.
iii

TABLE OF CONTENTS
Page
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ii
Chapter
I.BACKGROUND AND TRAINING 1
Vance’s Birth and Family Background; Early
Education; Preparatory Training at Washing¬
ton College; Father’s Death; Life in Ashe¬
ville; Effects of Reading and Associations
on Vance; Vance’s Ambitions; Education at
the University of North Carolina; Speaking
Experiences at Chapel Hill; License to Prac¬
tice Law; Vance as Husband and Father.
II.YOUTHFUL POLITICIAN AND LAWYER 27
Turning from Law to Politics; Whig Party in
North Carolina; 1854 Campaign for North
Carolina House of Commons; Member of House
of Commons; 1856 Whig-American Candidate
for State Senate; 1858 Campaign Speaking;
Member of Thirty-fifth Congress; Speech on
Tariff, Public Lands, and Pensions for Vet¬
erans; Opposition to Anti-Union Sentiment;
1859 Candidate for Re-election to Congress;
Peacemaker of Thirty-sixth Congress; Last
Congressional Speech; End of Career in Con¬
gress.
III.THE RHETORIC OF A WAR GOVERNOR 68
Transformation from Unionist to Secession¬
ist; "Rough and Ready Guards”; Military
Defeats on the Coast; 1862 Conservative
Gubernatorial Nominee; Speechless Campaign;
Farewell Meeting; Speech of Response; The
Governor-elect Speaks; Vance’s Inaugural
Address; Speech Pleases People; Confederate
Government Skeptical; Tasks of a War Gov¬
ernor; Driving Troops from North Carolina;
Speech to Soldiers; "Advance” Purchased;
North Carolina Rights Guarded; Vance-Holden
Rift; Vance’s Opposition to Peace Movement;
Vance Condemns Peace Meeting; Benning’s
Brigade Attacks Holden’s Printing Office;
iv

Chapter Page
Speech Against Violence; Final Break with
Holden; Candidate for Re-election.
IV.CAMPAIGN OF 1864 107
Vance Differs with Davis; 1864 Campaign
Begins; Wilksboro Speech; North Carolina
Newspapers Support Vance; Campaign Carried
to the People; Speeches to Soldiers in
Virginia; Unprecedented Speaking Tour;
Governor Brown’s Peace Proposal; Vance’s
Raleigh Speech; Smithfield Speech; Wit and
Humor Attacked; Vance Wins Election.
V.VANCE’S GOVERNORSHIP TO THE END OF THE CON¬
FEDERACY 14u
Mood of Despair; Message to General As¬
sembly; Concern for North Carolina’s De¬
fense; Plea for Confederate Aid; Second
Inaugural Address; Proclamation Issued;
Goldsboro Speech on Condition of Confed¬
eracy; Sherman Approaches North Carolina;
North Carolina’s Withdrawal from Confed¬
eracy Urged; Flag of Truce Sent to Sher¬
man; Vance Leaves Raleigh; The Capture of
Raleigh; Conference with Davis; Vance’s
Return to Capitol Prohibited; Proclama¬
tion of April 28, 1868; Vance’s Arrest;
Imprisonment in Washington; Release from
Prison.
VI.POST-WAR SPEAKING 170
Law Practice in Charlotte; Vance’s Trial
Speeches; Lecture: "Duties of Defeat";
Popular Lecturer; The Southern Historical
Society Address; Radical Reconstruction;
Radical and Conservative Conventions;
Vance’s Speech to the Conservative Con¬
vention; Re-established as Conservative
Leader; Holden Elected Governor; Back in
the Union; 1868 Democratic National Con¬
vention; Union Square Speech; Holden’s
Corrupt Administration; Conservatives
Capture Both Houses of General Assembly;
Holden Impeached; Vance Refused Seat in
Senate; Vance Declines Nomination for
v

Chapter
Page
VII.
VIII.
IX.
Governor in 1872; Greeley Nominated for
President; Grant Elected President; Vance’s
Participation in Civic Affairs; Vance
Nominated for Governor in 1876.
VANCE-SETTLE CAMPAIGN
Speech at Charlotte Celebration; Tilden-
Vance Club Serenade; Courthouse Square
Speech; Formidable Opponents; First Meet¬
ing of ’’The Giants”; Debate at Bakersville;
Jonesboro Discussion; Settle’s Position
Weakened; Final Debate; Democratic Rally
at Kinston; Elected Governor in 1876; Third
Inaugural Address; Reconstruction Ended.
THIRD TERM GUBERNATORIAL SPEAKING
Training for Teachers; Varied Speaking En¬
gagements; Speech Before the Colored Eman¬
cipation Society; Emancipation Proclamation
Anniversary Address; Industrial Revolution;
Grange Picnic Speech; Address to Teachers
Attending Normal School; Technical and Vo¬
cational Training Advocate; Death of Wife
and Mother; United with Presbyterian
Church; Resigned to Become United States
Senator.
SENATORIAL SPEAKING
Entered the Senate; Vance’s Maiden Speech;
Marriage to a Wealthy Widow; Assassination
of Garfield; Tariff Reform; Cleveland
Elected President; Vance-Cleveland Disagree
ment on Silver; Vance’s Bi-Metalism Speech;
Civil Service Reform Speech; 1886 Speech at
Tammany Hall; Vance’s Debate on Tariff;
Re-elected Senator; Impairment of Health;
Conflict with Farmers Alliance; Last Speech
in the Senate.
OCCASIONAL SPEAKING
Occasional Speaking Defined; Wake Forest
College Commencement Address; Welcome Ad¬
dress at the International Cotton Exposi¬
tion; Lecture on ’’The Political and Social
Feeling of the South During the War”; ”The
Scattered Nation.”
211
246
270
318
vi

Chapter
XI. ZEBULON B. VANCE, THE SPEAKER--AN EVALUATION .
Vance's Death; Secret of Personal Appeal;
Sources of Speech Material; Forms of Sup¬
port; Types of Appeal; Organization of
Speeches; Vance's Style; Choice of Lan¬
guage; Method of Delivery; Gestures and
Bodily Action; Elements of Voice; Ap¬
pearance and Personality; Vance's Im¬
perfections; Vance's Attributes.
BIBLIOGRAPHY . .
BIOGRAPHICAL DATA
vii
Page
. 360
. 392
401

CHAPTER I
BACKGROUND AND TRAINING
"I have another son ... I call him Zebulon
Baird. . . .m1 These words, written by the child's
mother to a relative, represent the only publicity given
to the birth of the boy who was destined to become immor¬
tal in the hearts of the people of his state. Zebulon
Baird Vance was born May 13, 1830, in the Vance home on
Reems Creek, near the French Broad River in Buncombe
County, North Carolina, the third son among the eight
2
children of David and Mira Vance.
The home was a log farmhouse consisting of a single
room below and a loft above, reached by a crude ladder¬
like stairs in one corner of the chimney.^ The house had
been built by Zebulon* s grandfather, Colonel David Vance,
4
who had come into the Reems Creek valley in 1785. The
Vance home was surrounded by some of the most beautiful
â– ^-Mira Vance to Margaret Davidson, September 14, 1830,
Z.B. Vance Papers, State Department of Archives and History,
Raleigh.
2K.P. Battle, "Biographical Sketch of Senator Z.B.
Vance," North Carolina University Magazine, Old Series,
XIX (March, 1881), 257.
^John Preston Arthur, Western North Carolina. A
History (Raleigh, 1914), p. 259.
^W.C. Hendricks, "Home of the Vances," The State.
V (January 22, 1938), 8.
1

2
scenery in the world, and from it one could see Mount
Mitchell. Picturesque forests covered the mountains, and
the rushing streams and leaping cascades furnished a charm
unknown to the inhabitants of non-mountainous regions. It
was in the midst of this natural beauty that young Vance de¬
veloped characteristics that helped him become a spokesman
of his native state. Here his imagination was kindled, here
he acquired a love of nature and a deep pride in his native
land.^
Few North Carolinians could boast a better lineage
than Zebulon Baird Vance. On his father*s side he was de¬
scended from a family that had been in the upper strata of
European nobility. Many of its members had been dukes,
princes, sovereign counts, and lords. The Vance family,
known originally as DeVaux, came from Normandy. From
there three DeVaux brothers went with William the Con¬
queror to England in 1066. In England the name was shorten-
ed to Vaux, and later in Scotland it became Vans;0 in 1660,
in Ireland, it was altered to Vance.^
^The Ceremonies Attending the Unveiling of the Bronze
Statue of Zeb. B. Vanee, L.L.D. and the Address of Richard
H. Battle. L.lTdT (Raleigh, 1900), p.10. Cited hereafter
as Address of Richard H. Battle.
^William Balbirnie, An Account, Historical and Genea¬
logical, from the Earliest Days Till the Present of Vance
in Ireland. Vans in Scotland, Anciently Vaux in Scotland
and England, and Originally DeVaux in France (Cork, 1¿¿0),
p. 9.
^William Vance to Z.B. Vance, London, July 19, 1884,
Vance Papers.

3
During the early part of the eighteenth century some
of the Vance family came to America. David Vance, Zebulon's
grandfather, was one of the descendents of these Scotch-
Irish settlers. Andrew Jackson was also descended from
O
this same line on his mother's side. David Vance was born
in Frederick County, Virginia, in 174-5, and settled in the
Quaker Meadows section of the Catawba Valley in North
Carolina when he was about twenty years old.^ He was a
surveyor and teacher, and was one of the first to take up
arms in support of the colonies during the American Re¬
volution. ^ David served under Colonel Charles McDowell,
who led the Burke and Rutherford County boys against
Patrick Ferguson's force at King's Mountain. McDowell,
who was in command of 160 men, joined forces with four
columns of patriots under the leadership of William Camp¬
bell, John Sevier, Isaac Shelby, Benjamin Cleveland, and
Joseph Winston on October 7» 1780. Ferguson was killed
and his army routed in the battle with these combined
forces. This victory was the "turn of the tide of sue-
O
John W. Wheeler, Reminiscences and Memoirs of North
Carolina (Columbus, 1884), p. 6k.
^Hendricks, "Home of the Vances," p. 8.
10Arthur, Western North Carolina. A History, p. 99.
^Wheeler, Reminiscences and Memoirs of North Carolina,
p. 64.
12
H.T. Lefler and A.R. Newsome, North Carolina (Chapel
Hill, 1954), p. 233.

4
cess which terminated the Revolutionary War."^
After David Vance returned from the army, where he
was promoted to Captain, he moved with his family, in
1785, across the mountains to Reems Creek, Here he was
a highly respected citizen, serving as clerk of the court
and in other public offices. Having introduced the bill
in the General Assembly of 1791 for the creation of Bun¬
combe County from Burke and Rutherford Counties, he was
14
considered the father of his county. In him were many
of the traits that contributed to the success of his
famous grandson. "No man was his superior in accuracy
in business and strict discharge of duty, in genial tem¬
per, hospitality and integrity.”15
To David Vance and his wife, the former Priscilla
Brank, were born two sons, Robert Brank and David. Robert
Brank was killed in a duel with Samuel P. Carson in 1825.
The second son, David, married Mira Margaret Baird, and
became the father of Zebulon Baird Vance.
Zebulon Vance's maternal grandfather, Zebulon Baird,
was born in New Jersey in 1764. He was of Scotch descent.
•^Lefler and Newsome, North Carolina, p. 235.
14
Hendricks, "Home of the Vances," p.,8.
â– ^Raleigh Observer. January 2, 1877.

5
In 1775» his widowed mother moved with her three sons from
16
Newark, New Jersey, to Burke County, North Carolina.
After their mother's death, the three Baird sons, Zehulon,
Elisha, and Bedent, moved to Buncombe County and settled
on the site of the city of Asheville. Later Zebulon Baird
gave to the city of Asheville the public square upon which
Buncombe County's first courthouse was built. He also
became active in politics. From 1800 to 1803 he served
as a member of the lower branch of the state legislature,
17
and in the state senate from 1806 to 1822. He married
Hannah Early, whose Scotch-Irish family lived in nearby
Burke County. Among the eight children born to the Bairds
was Mira Margaret, who was to become the mother of Zebulon
18
Baird Vance.
Young Vance inherited little more than intelligence and
19
good characteristics from his father. He was said to have
received his wit, his love of nature, and his personality
from his mother.. In spite of her meager education, she
had a love of literature and transmitted this to her chil¬
dren. At night she gathered them around her and read aloud
°Unpublished manuscript on "Some Interesting Facts
Concerning an Old Family" in "History of the Old Tennent
Church," compiled by Reverend-Frank Symmes in Gudger-Love
Papers.â–  Southern Historical Collection, University of
North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
17
Baird Genealogical Manuscript in Gudger-Love Papers.
‘^Lou Rogers, "Margaret Baird Vance, a Woman We Should
Not Forget," We the-People. January, 1944.
19
Battle, North Carolina University Magazine. XIX, 257*

6
selections from the Bible, Shakespeare, or Pilgrim* s
20
Progress. This daily practice contributed to Vance's
store of literary and scriptural quotations which he
later used in the majority of his speeches.
Zeb's early education was pursued in a random man¬
ner that contributed little to his moral or mental de¬
velopment. None of his early teachers appeared to have
made a distinct impression on him. He was about six years
old when he went to his first school at Flat Creek, twelve
miles from his home. His father wrote on February 3, 1836,
”We have had Robert and Zebulon at school awhile this win-
ter and will continue them as soon as the weather permits.” ±
Soon after this, Matthew Woodson, the teacher, closed the
Flat Creek School and opened another one about three miles
from the Vance home. This also the Vance brothers attended.
Later the boys attended a neighborhood school taught by
Miss Jane Hughley. Thus, for seven years Zeb attended
first one and then another of the "old field” schools,
which served as the kindergartens, graded, and normal
22
schools. Usually there were one or two such schools in
each county, with sessions running when it was not crop¬
time. They were attended by people of all ages, with as
20Charlotte Observer. January 31» 1915.
21Ibid.
22Ibld.

7
many as a hundred pupils jammed into one room. Reading,
writing, arithmetic, and spelling were the principal sub¬
jects taught. These schools were financed by public sub¬
scription, with the teacher receiving free board in the
23
homes of the pupils. Pike’s Arithmetic and Webster’s
Elementary Spelling; Book were the chief textbooks used in
the schools attended by Vance. In spite of the desultory
training he received, he somehow managed to pick up the
rudiments of learning.
In 1843, when Zeb was thirteen years old, his father,
desiring that he should become better educated, sent him
across the mountains to Washington College in Jonesboro,
Tennessee. Because of his meager early training, young
Vance presumably enrolled for the preparatory program
rather than the freshman course. To be eligible for ad¬
mission to the freshman class, he would have had to pass
entrance examinations in English grammar, geography,
Davies' Arithmetic, elementary algebra, Virgil, and Ja¬
cob’s Greek Reader. This he was not prepared to do.
His education, however, was to follow a classical pattern.
Washington College was the seat of classical learning
serving eastern Tennessee and western North Carolina,
and even in the preparatory course a student was required
to study English grammar, geography, and Latin. Here,
^Arthur, Western North Carolina, a History, p. 421.

8
too, there was formal speech training, since a student
was required to declaim, as well as to write compositions,
once every four weeks. These performances were subject to
rigid standards, and great pains were taken to secure from
the student a style of composition "free from slovenliness
and meretricious ornaments and characterized by a straight
forward commonsense manner of giving expression to thought
Before young Vance had been at Washington College a
year, he was called home by the serious illness of his
father. He reached his father's bedside just in time to
see him die. Vance returned to Jonesboro two days after
the funeral. His mother was left to rear and educate a
large family and to manage an estate that was heavily bur¬
dened with debt. Except for a few slaves, most of the per
sonal property had to be used to pay the father's debts
and funeral expenses. Consequently there was not enough
money to permit young Vance to continue at Washington Col¬
lege, and he ended his training there in the spring of
1844 at the age of fourteen.
Vance's mother was determined that her children
should have the benefit of an education. With this end
in view, she bought a house in Asheville where there were
schools for girls and for boys. She put all the children
— - ‘
Howard E. Carr, The Washington College (Knoxville,
1935), p. 208.
«24

9
in school, and played the chief role in directing their
studies. "She taught us all business as well as books,"
wrote Vance, "and such was the confidence felt in her ex¬
cellent judgment that after we were all grown and set up
for ourselves, she was habitually consulted in regard to
every important business matter in the family.
The only speech training received during this stage
of Vance’s education was probably provided by his mother.
Vance once said, "She was the most correct and impressive
reader I have ever heard off stage; and I am satisfied
pzT
that whatever of elocution I have came from her." In
Asheville, the mother continued the practice of gathering
her children around her after supper, and reading aloud
27
to them from the Bible, Shakespeare, or some other book.
Inspired by his mother, Zeb became an avid reader.
He made good use of his Uncle Robert’s library, which had
come into the possession of his family after his uncle's
death. The library contained about five hundred volumes
of the best literature, and included the works of Hume,
Livy, Tacitus, Cicero, Scott, Swift, Addison, Pope, Byron,
Shakespeare, and Milton. Among the available books, Smith's
Wealth of Nations was of special interest to Zebulon. These
2^"Stephan B. Weeks' Scrapbook," North Carolina Histori
cal Collection. University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
^Charlotte Observer. January 31» 1915.
27
Ibid.

10
books made a great impression on him, and some of his
associates attributed his vigorous style of speaking to
2 8
his reading.
Vance retained much of what he read, and demonstrated
a familiarity with the Bible, Shakespeare, and Scott's
novels. Kemp Plummer Battle, a long-time friend who later
became president of the University of North Carolina, tells
of his first meeting with Vance on a trip to the mountains
in 1848. Battle was so impressed with his new acquaintance
that he declared he had never met "a brighter or more agree¬
able young fellow."29 This impression did not wane with
time, for many years later he wrote:
I thought I knew something of Shakespeare, but his
familiarity with the characters and words of the Titian
poet put me to shame. I claimed to be in a measure in¬
timate with the personages of the romances of my favor¬
ite, Scott, but he had evidently lived with them as with
home-folks. I had always been from childhood ... a
regular attendant on Sunday School and church services
and I . . . had at least an amateur familiarity with
the Bible, but his mind seemed to be stored with scrip¬
tural texts as fully as a theological student preparing
for his examination.-?0
Battle was so captivated with his new acquaintance that,
on his return home, he told his friends there was a great
31
man growing up beyond the Blue Ridge. All this suggests
28
"Stephan B. Weeks' Scrapbook."
29william James Battle (ed.), Memories of an Old Time
Tar Heel Kemp Plummer Battle (Chapel Hill, 19^5), p. 89.
â– ^0Clement Dowd, Life of Zebulon B. Vance (Charlotte,
1897), p. 16.
31
Ibid.

11
that Zebulon Baird Vance had acquired a literary knowledge
that enhanced his speaking throughout his illustrious career.
While still a boy, Vance resolved to set a high goal
in life. One night John C. Calhoun, who was spending the
summer in the North Carolina mountains, stopped at Zeb’s
home for the night. Calhoun became interested in the boy
and invited him to go for a walk. Zeb was much impressed
by the picture Calhoun drew of what he might become if he
would cultivate his mind and apply himself to study. This
may have been the stimulus that sparked his ambition; at
any rate, from this point on, he became more concerned with
his studies. For a time Zeb worked as a clerk in the Warm
Springs Hotel in order to earn enough money to continue
his education. Here he had an opportunity to meet many
of the important men of North Carolina, Tennessee, and
South Carolina. Vance took advantage of these contacts
â– 52
and gained much practical knowledge from those he met.
In 1851, Vance, who was then living in Asheville,
came to the realization that if he was to become success¬
ful, he must apply himself earnestly to his studies. He
had tried to do this first through private study and train¬
ing in the law office of John W. Woodfin. In Woodfifi*s
office he was a fellow student of August S. Merrimon, who
later became chief justice of North Carolina. It became
32Wheeler, Reminiscences and Memoirs of North Carolina,
p. 65

12
practically impossible, however, for him to concentrate
on his studies while living-in Asheville. The temptation
to fish and swim was too overpowering, and he was unable
to free himself from the village loafers who enjoyed Zeb's
â– *â– 35
company more than they were sympathetic with his ambitions. ^
Referring to his failure to study, he wrote to his cousin
John Davidson: "You know I had to loaf with Jim McDowell
and play marbles with Jesse and Jeptha. . . . He became
so disgusted with this state of affairs that he decided to
enter the University of North Carolina.
In the summer of 1851, President David L. Swain of
the university, who once considered Zeb's mother his sweet¬
heart, received a letter from her son. Vance explained to
Swain, who was called Governor by all who knew him, that
his property was not very productive and he needed money
with which to enter the university. Swain, a native of
Buncombe County and a friend of the boy*s family, willing¬
ly granted him a loan of $300.00, which enabled him to take
a partial course in the university while pursuing his legal
studies in the law school.
Zeb arrived at Chapel Hill wearing ill-fitting clothes
spun from his mother's loom. His sturdy ankles showed
33
Charlotte Observer. January 31» 1915.
3^Vance to John M. Davidson, Chapel Hill, September 14,
1851, Vance Papers.
•^Address Qf Richard H. Battle, p. 11.

13
where his pants lacked about three inches of meeting his
shoes. He was described by one who saw him for the first
time as a "raw, gawky, awkward, ornery, ganglin[_sijc] sort
of a looking customer." Although he was not handsome, he
had an elegant head of black hair, and his grayish deep-
"36
set eyes were expressive.-"
Vance's plainness of attire in no way marred his
happy mood as he left the stagecoach that had brought him
to the Hill for a year of study. Several upperclassmen
had arrived on the stage with him and were greeting friends
and classmates. Zeb stood back observing the hand shaking
and black slapping that accompanied the reunion of friends.
Not to be left out, he rushed up to an old Negro, shook
his hand, patted his back, and exclaimed: "Why Alexander
Josephus, I am so glad to see you. I was never so glad
to see anybody in my born days!" With this antic Vance's
life at the university began.37
After David L. Swain became president of the univer¬
sity in 1835» many improvements were made both to the
buildings and to the grounds. The rail fences surround¬
ing the campus were replaced by a rock wall. The drab ap-
-^Iris W. Womble, "Zeb Vance Tar Heel Tribune" (Un¬
published M.A. thesis, Department of History, University
of Florida, 194-9).
^^Kemp P. Battle, History of the University of North
Carolina (2 vols., Raleigh, 1907), I, 5Ó0.

14
pearance of the buildings was changed by covering them with
a preparation "made of equal quantities of Roman cement, and
common mustard lime, with the addition of one-tenth sul¬
phuric acid, to the quantity of water with which they are
70
mixed.By the time Vance arrived on the campus it boasted
several remodeled buildings, a new structure housing a
39 40
spacious ballroom, and new landscaping. Vance describes
the beauty of the campus in a letter to his cousin:
This is a beautiful place indeed. The main college
buildings are three in number each three story [sicj
high colored yellow and surrounded with neat terraces
of earth thrown up and plotted with grass. They are
very large buildings. In addition to these are three
other buildings, the ball room, chapel and recitation
hall--all situated in a beautiful oak and poplar grove,
checkered off with splendid gravel walks, set out in
shrubbery and whole trees, I suppose about twenty or
more acres surrounded with a stone wall neatly put up.
The elevation is likewise high and I presume healthy.
The weather has been warmer here than ever I felt it
in my life before. The thermometer has been up to
102° FA1
At the time Vance entered the university, it had a
student body of 251, and a faculty of twelve. When Swain
was elected to the university presidency, scholarly Professor
William Hooper, who believed in high academic standards,
commented: "The people of North Carolina have given Governor
Swain all the offices they have to bestow and now have sent
^Archibald Henderson, The Camous of the First State
University (Chapel Hill, 1949), p. 128, quoting D. L. Swain
to Daniel Barringer, March 6, 1840.
59Ibid., p. 138.
40
Ibid., p. 160.
41
Vance to "Cousin Matt," Chapel Hill, August 12, 1851»

15
Mm to the University to he educated.Although the uni¬
versity increased in numbers and endowment under Swain, it
made little progress in the literary and scientific world.
During the twenty years of Swain's administration not a
single book was purchased for the library. His policy,
however, coincided with public opinion. Swain followed
the policy of granting diplomas without requiring proficien-
43
cy in studies.
Evidently the poor climate of learning existing at
the university while Vance was a student had no ill effect
on him. He was there to learn, and he put forth the neces¬
sary effort to do so. He pursued a course of study designed
to prepare him, as quickly as possible, for the practice
of law. Consequently, he enrolled as an "optional student"
rather than a regular one.^ Apparently, he took advanced
courses, because he states in a letter to John Davidson,
"I am studying the studies of the senior class entire ex¬
cept French and Greek . . . besides I am reading lav; as
hard as ever.In following the senior course of study,
42
Henderson, The Campus of the First State University.
p. 148.
^Battle, History of the University of North Carolina.
I, 780.
¿4
Charlotte Observer. January 3.1» 1915*
45 .
Vance to John M. Davidson, Chapel Hill, September 14,
1851, Vance Papers.

16
he studied constitutional law—which the teacher, President
Swain, labeled national law—intellectual philosophy, and
moral science. Elisha Mitchell was his teacher in chemistry,
geology, and mineralogy, and John T. Wheat taught him rhet¬
oric and logic. He applied himself diligently, in marked
contrast to his old desultory habits of study, and commented
on this in writing to his cousin, “indeed you would hardly
believe that I had taken to tremendous hard study, would
you? It’s the fact notwithstanding. I rise at 5 and go
to bed at 10 and . . . don’t lose more than two hours dur-
46
ing that time and that is necessary for recreation.”
Instruction in constitutional law, intellectual philoso¬
phy, and moral science consumed three hours each week for the
term of nine months. The question and answer method of re¬
citation was used, with the teacher following the textbook
very closely. Vance took an active part in these class ses¬
sions and was seldom caught without a ready answer.Swain's
course in national law served to sharpen Vance's keen memory,
since he required his students to memorize the table of con¬
tents along with the marginal topics. It also instilled an
interest in the great documents of government and an admira¬
tion for great statesmen. Swain lectured in an interesting
manner on such subjects as the Magna Charta, the Bill of
46Vance to “Cousin Matt," Chapel Hill, August 12, 1851,
Vance Papers.
4?Dowd, Life of Vance, p. 19.

17
Rights, or on the lives of the great men of the state and
nation.^®
Swain had not himself received the formal education
normally expected of a university president or professor.
Having attended the University of North Carolina for only a
year, he did not complete the work required for graduation.^
He had, however, gained a thorough knowledge of the classics
as well as of mathematics from his tutor, the Reverend
George Newton of Asheville. Experience in public office,
and the study of law under Chief Justice John Louis Taylor,
were the chief sources of his preparation to teach univer¬
sity courses. In addition to being a lawyer, Swain had
been a member of the North Carolina House of Commons, and
had served a term as governor of his state. Through dili¬
gent study he had acquired much knowledge of state and
national history. Swain possessed a tenacious memory, ready
wit, and a gift of speech characterized by puns and anec¬
io
dotes, which made him popular with the students. In con¬
trast to Vance’s early teachers, Swain became an influen¬
tial force in moulding him into a statesman and spokesman
of his native state. He had taken a special interest in
"^Battle, History of the University of North Carolina,
I, 531.
^9Anon., Sketches of the History of the University of
North Carolina and a Catalogue of Officers and Students
1789-1889 (1889 ^. n. 216.
5°Battle, History of the University of North Carolina,
I, 421.

18
the youth from Buncombe when he applied for a loan to enter
the university, and there developed a friendship between
the two that lasted as long as Swain lived.
Elisha Mitchell, the professor of the sciences, did
not limit his instruction to flowers, rocks, minerals, and
ores. Being a versatile scholar, he also dealt with such
subjects as fiction, poetry, theology, law, history, and
art. He made his classes interesting by using apt illus¬
trations and humor. He even enjoyed a joke on himself.
Once Vance told him he had found a red stratum he wanted
him to inspect. On looking, Mitchell found only a water¬
melon that had been divided. He declined to eat any of
the melon for fear Vance did not have a clear title to it,
and commented, "That Vance is a funny fellow." Again he
showed a sense of humor by being amused at Vance’s pre¬
tended grave inquiry while passing an old millhouse. Vance
turned to Mitchell and with all earnestness inquired, "Doc¬
tor, do you think that mill is worth a dam?"^2 Vance, who
used considerable humor as a mature speaker, may have re¬
ceived some encouragement in its use from Mitchell.
Vance's specific training in speech was under John T.
^Dowd, Life of Vance, p. 14.
52Battle, History of the University of North Carolina,
I, 537-540.

19
Wheat. Enrolled In courses in rhetoric and logic, Yance
had to deliver orations in the chapel twice a year. As an
optional student he was not eligible for senior orations.
He studied Whately*s Elements of Logic and Elements of
53
Rhetoric, and the Works of Reverend Sydney Smith, a col¬
lection of articles written by Smith for the Edinburgh Re¬
view.
Wheat, a native of Washington, D.C., had distinguished
himself as a minister of the Episcopal Church before being
elected professor of logic and rhetoric to succeed the
54
Reverend William Mercer Green.J Although he remained at
the university for ten years, he did little to distinguish
himself as a teacher. An active and energetic man, he was
more successful in the ministry than in teaching. It was
said that his students did better speaking in the literary
societies than in his rhetoric classes, because he appeared
to be unsympathetic in his criticism of them.55 Seemingly,
it was difficult for him to endure the mediocrity of stu¬
dent speakers. Although he was not a sympathetic teacher,
he served as an excellent model for his students. In award¬
ing a prize for the best English composition at the 1855
55catalogue of University of North Carolina (1851-
1852), p. 25.
5^Henderson, The Campus of the First State Univer¬
sity. p. 176.
55william James Battle (ed.), Catalogue of the
Dialectic Society. 1795-1890 (Baltimore, 1890), p. 18.

20
commencement, his speech was considered a model presenta-
56
tion by all who heard it. If Vance were not provided
with the best of speech training under Wheat, he at least
profited by observing this accomplished speaker.
The law school was only nominally a department of
the university. Judge William H. Battle, the professor
of law, received no salary from the university and spent
about half of his time away from his classes holding court.
In his absence, the classes were taught by Samuel F.
57
Phillips, a practicing lawyer. There were two classifi¬
cations of students in the law school—the independent
class and the college class. The students in the inde¬
pendent class had no connection with the university, but
were required to meet three times a week. The college
class, of which Vance was a member, included irregular
undergraduate students who desired to study law along with
other courses. As a law student, Vance studied Blackstone's
Commentaries on the Laws of England: Stephen's Principles
of Pleading in Civil Actions; Greenleaf's The Testimony of
the Evangelists Examined by the Rules of Evidence in Courts
of Justice: Chitty's Treatise on the Law of Executors.
These studies, together with lectures on the municipal laws
^Battle, History of the University of North Carolina,
p. 648.
57i_bid., p. 664.

21
of the state as modified by the acts of the legislature
and decisions of the state court, formed a major part of
his law training. Also, he was required to put into practice
what he had learned by drawing pleadings and other legal
instruments in accordance with the practices of the courts.
In order to give the students further practical training,
the law professors conducted moot court sessions in which
the students spoke on such legal questions as the professors
58
might propose.
Vance distinguished himself as a speaker during at
least one of the moot court trials when he was selected to
conduct the defense of the "College Bore." The boy who
bore this title had become a common nuisance because he
wouldn't study, and spent most of his time keeping others
from doing so. Vance's speech in the trial, it is said,
not only teemed with wit and humor, but exhibited good
reasoning in his "not guilty plea." Employing the argument
that Seargent S. Prentiss once used in defense of the bed¬
bug, he argued by analogy that the bore like the bed-bug
was walking the path which the God of Nature had laid out
for him and, in an explicable way, was serving his creator.
The bore was designed to prepare his fellow men for Heaven
by teaching them patience and fortitude while undergoing
affliction.59
58catalop;ue of the University of North Carolina (1851-
1852), p. 31.
59powd, Life of Vance, p. 26.

22
Vanee made good progress in the study of law as well
as in his other university courses, and Judge Battle often
praised him. In due time Vance was able to write to a
friend, "I am going down to Raleigh this winter in vacation
to get my license; the judge says I shall have them like a
deer in a walk."6°
Still another avenue of training was available to
Vance during his year at the university. After five weeks
he was invited to join both of the two literary societies,
the Dialectic and the Philanthropic.^ He chose to affili¬
ate with the former, where he gained practice in parlia¬
mentary law, in extempore speaking, and in the writing of
compositions. Much that was not available in textbooks was
learned in the society. Chiefly, Vance discovered his
ability to be a leader and to become an effective debater.
Richard Lewis, one of Vance*s classmates who later became
president of Judson College, said, "it was my good fortune
to be in the same section with him and, [I] being a debater
of no power whatever, . . . relied entirely on the gentle¬
man from Buncombe to bring our side up. . . . Vance's
strong, accurate memory, along with an easy command of
words, made him one of the ablest debaters in the group.
fin
uVance to John Davidson, Chapel Hill, September 14,
1851, Vance Papers.
^Dowd, Life of Vance, p. 24.
^2Battle, Catalogue of Dialectic Society, p. 14.

23
At the same time, his inimitable wit and humor served to
replenish the treasury of the Dialectic Society. A fine
was levied for every offense of audible laughter, and there
63
were few who could resist laughing when Zeb spoke.
The high esteem in which Vance was held by the
Dialectic Society was shown by his election to the editori¬
al staff of the University Magazine. This honor and re¬
sponsibility caused him to write, MI have received several
marks of flattering consideration both from the Governor
and my fellow students. . . . The first number of the Uni¬
versity Magazine will be out tomorrow and I should like to
send you a copy. ... If you will read it you will find
some of my compositions."^
Although he passed the examination for a license to
practice in the county courts in December, 1851, Vance re¬
mained at Chapel Hill until the following May. Then, with
his license in his pocket, he journeyed back to Asheville.
There he opened his office and threw himself in earnest in¬
to his work.^
As a young lawyer Vance was boyish in appearance,
66
with long hair hanging down his neck. Writing in his
63
Battle, Catalogue of Dialectic Society, p. 14.
64"Vance to "Cousin Matt," Chapel Hill, February 8,
1852, Vance Papers.
^Address 0f Richard H. Battle, p. 13.
66
'Dowd, Life of Vance, p. 33

24
diary, Augustus Merrlmon gives this description of Vance:
Rather tall, his hair black and it comes low down on
his forehead. There is nothing very striking about
his appearance. I consider him a sprightly man, though
not talented. He is not an ordinary man, however. He
has some advantages, some of which he has not improved
as he should. He may make himself a respectful lawyer.
I think he is not fond of study, and hence will never
make a profound lawyer. He is active and has a good
deal of pride. In his social discourse, he is dis¬
posed to be friendly. In conversation, he is rather
interesting than instructive. '
Vance became a lawyer in the western counties, and
on horseback rode the circuit to serve the mountain area.
Of his early law practice, he said later in a speech at
the Law College of the District of Columbia, MI went out
to court horseback and carried a pair of saddle-bags, with
a change of shirts and the North Carolina Form-book in one
end of the saddle bags, and it is none of your business what
was in the other."^®
Vance, in his year at Chapel Hill, enjoyed associat¬
ing with the young women whom he met there, but reserved
his love for a girl from his native mountains. A short
time after he had passed the bar examination, he wrote his
cousin:
I spent the greater part of my vacation quite hard pre¬
paring to apply for license, and after my return from
Raleigh I did nothing much except try to enjoy myself
with the ladies here. . . . There are some pleasant
ladies here indeed, I am quite pleased with some of
^“Journal of Augustus S. Merrimon 1853-1854,11 Vance
Papers.
^®Dowd, Life of Vance, p. 15

25
them but as for falling in love, I must plead not ,
guilty, for I assure you my heart is in the mountain. "
On August 3, 1853, the day after he received his superior
court license, he was married to his mountain sweetheart,
70
Harriet Espy.'
Whatever role Vance played, he always played it well,
and the role of husband was no exception. His wife, who
had been an orphan, stated that "providence has dealt kind¬
ly with me; I have one of the best husbands,Four sons—
David, Charles, Zebulon, and Thomas—were born to the Vances,
and if Zeb had any fault as a father, it was indulgence
toward his children. His wife instilled in him a deep and
abiding respect for religion, and, although he was not a
professing Christian until after her death, he was inter¬
ested in religion, believed in the Bible, and held to the
Calvinistlc system of theology. Because she was more rigor¬
ous in her notions of propriety than her husband, she found
it difficult to condone his habitual use of coarse humor.
Vance often spoke to his Intimate friends of the restrain-
ing influence of his “little red-headed Presbyterian wife."
Although law appeared to hold a promising future for
Vance, he was by nature a politician. He liked people and
^Vance to "Cousin Matt," Chapel Hill, February 8,
1852, Vance Papers.
Stephan B. Weeks' Scrapbook."
^Harriet Vance to Thomas Espy, Charlotte, March 5,
I869, Vance Papers.
^Address of Richard H. Battle, p. 59.
/

26
people liked him, and he aspired to leadership. He was
to find the opportunity for the development of his natural
talents not in the courtroom but in the political arena.

CHAPTER II
YOUTHFUL POLITICIAN AND LAWMAKER
Vance’s interest in politics manifested Itself
early in life; when only fourteen years of age, he wrote
of the national political campaign of 1844:
I headed a procession on mule back ... marched six¬
teen miles to the election precinct through the mount¬
ains of Madison County, filled with patriotism, zeal
for the Whig cause, and hard cider. ... Fifteen
separate and distinct fights were then and there had,
in part of which I participated and for all of which
I might be set down as the proximate cause.1
Several reasons explain why Vance turned from the
practice of law to a career in politics. First, he felt
his strength lay in politics rather than law. He amusing¬
ly told of the first compliment that he received for his
forensic efforts: "Zeb," the mountaineer said, ’’if you
can only get past the judge, I’d as lief have you as any
old lawyer."2 Although the people had as much confidence
in him as in the older lawyers of the area, his knowledge
of law was too limited. Once in the Madison County Court,
Vance cited an opinion of the State Supreme Court to sup¬
port his position in a case on trial. He did not once men¬
tion a recent act of the state legislature which had re-
â– J-Quoted in Lefler and Newsome, North Carolina, p. 339.
2Address of Richard H. Battle, p. 15.
27

28
pealed that law. A.S. Merrimon, the opposition lawyer,
rose with a volume of laws in his hand and read the repeal¬
ing act. In turn, Vance sarcastically asked, "Gentlemen
of the jury, are you not amazed at the assurance of my
friend, Mr. Merrimon, in citing an act of the legislature,
passed by such men as your good neighbor, John Smith, who
knows no more law than you do and Bill Jones of Yancey,
who knows less, against the decision of our Supreme Court
constituted of such men as Ruffin, Gaston, and Daniel?"
The ethics of such tactics might be questioned, but the
incident showed his ability to pull himself from a hope¬
less and sudden dilemma produced by the lack of legal know-
ledge. Such ability was an asset as a politician, but
not a substitute for the skill required of a lawyer.
Another reason Vance turned to politics was that he
4
was a politician by nature. His popularity and gifts as
a stump speaker fitted him for his role in politics. In
the use of wit, broad humor, quick repartee, and boister¬
ous eloquence, he was unsurpassed.^ Such methods, calcu¬
lated to win the unlettered farmers of his mountain dis-
^Address of Richard H. Battle, p. 15*
^Raleigh Daily Observer. January 2, 1877.
^Richard E. Yates, "Zebulon B. Vance as War Gover¬
nor, 1862-1865,1’ Journal of Southern History. Ill (Febru¬
ary, 1937), 44.
^Dictionary of American Biography. 21 vols. (New York,
1936), XIX,' 15Ó.

29
trict, meant that Vance never lacked a following. To be
a leader of his people held more charm for Vance than did
all the honors of law. Later in his career, he said that
he would give a thousand dollars for a photograph showing
him as a young orator standing on a log with three or four
hundred mountaineers listening to his exposition of the
laws of economy.^
Hence, because Vance was ‘'seized with a hungering
and thirsting after the equivocal honors of politics,"
he "yielded to the solicitations of a few . . . friends"
and became a candidate for the lower house of the legisla-
O
ture, known then as the House of Commons. This was in
1854-, although he had tasted political victory a year be¬
fore by means other than a vote of the people. In 1853,
the magistrates of Buncombe County had shown their con¬
fidence in the young lawyer's ability and elected him to
the office of county solicitor. In this office, his duties
were to prosecute offenders of the law and to advise jus¬
tices in their management of the county's finances. Al¬
though the office was a minor one, his selection over A.S.
Merrimon, who later became chief justice of the Supreme
^"Stephan B. Weeks' Scrapbook."
O
Vance to "Cousin Kate," Asheville, September 6,
1854, Vance Papers.

30
Court,^ demonstrated his power to win men to his favor.
To secure his seat in the legislature, Vance, "a regular
built old fashioned Whig,” entered his first race.^0
Nineteen years earlier in 1835, a two-party system
had emerged in North Carolina. The national Whig party
had arisen in opposition to the policies of Andrew Jackson
and consisted of many National Republicans devoted to
Henry Clay's program of internal improvements, protective
tariff, and a national bank. While more popular in the
North, the bank found no small measure of support in the
South. Various areas in the South had different reasons
for supporting it. Many Louisiana planters, for example,
were Whigs because they favored tariff duties on sugar.
Some of the backward isolated areas, such as Western North
Carolina, were Whig because the party supported internal
improvements. In addition, many States Rights cotton
planters in the lower South belonged to the minority wing
of the Whig party. Vance, as was true of all North Caroli
na Whigs, belonged to the National Republican, internal
improvement wing rather than this southern States Rights
faction.^1
1854,
^Address of Richard H. Battle, p. 14.
4°Vance to "Cousin Kate," Asheville, September 6,
Vance Papers.
•^Lefler and Newsome, North Carolina, pp. 328-329.

31
Vance’s campaign for the House of Commons lasted
three months, and was a typical one in which the Whig and
Democratic candidates indulged in "personal abuse, violent
partisanship and petty bickering.1,12 Vance fought the race
through with sarcasm and unparalleled impudence. ^ His
14
opponent, a Colonel Reynolds, was twice his age and a
man of high standing in Buncombe County.^ Vance, only
twenty-four years old, was not expected to win. At the
first public meeting of the two men in Asheville, the older
candidate made fun of the beardless youth who wanted his
seat in the legislature. When Vance’s turn to speak came,
he replied, "Fellow Citizens, I admit I am young; but it
is not my fault. My parents did not consult me as to the
time when I should be born. All I can do is to promise
to try to do better next time." This reply pleased the
crowd, and his opponent never referred to his youth again.
Vance won the election by 110 votes.
Since the journals of the legislature do not contain
the speeches of its members at that time, one cannot deter-
l2Lefler and Newsome, North Carolina, p. 331.
•^Address of Richard H. Battle, p. 14.
l^Vance to "Cousin Kate," Asheville, September 6,
1854, Vance Papers.
15
Samuel A. Ashe (ed.), Biographical History of North
Carolina (8 vols.; Greensboro, 1907), VII, p. 479*

32
mine what were Vance’s first speeches during his legisla¬
tive term. According to Richard H. Battle, who was one of
his intimate friends, he made very few. While visiting
Chapel Hill at Christmas time in 1854-, Battle asked him
how he was getting on down at Raleigh. Vance replied,
“Pretty well, hut I thought when I went there, all I had
to do was open my mouth and be famous, and I soon learned
that the less I opened my mouth the better for the fame.“'LD
Although there is no record of any important speeches,
there is evidence that he was active in other matters.
North Carolina's representatives in the United States
Senate were then chosen by the legislature rather than by
17
popular vote. Vance believed in the constructive pro¬
gram of state development advocated by his party, and was
evidently anxious for all vacant offices to be filled by
Whigs who, like himself, believed in public schools, in¬
ternal improvements, sound banks and currency, and the
promotion of industry.0 Consequently, on November 22,
1854-, he became engaged in a floor debate on the question
of when to take up the election of senators.1' Vance did
^Address of Richard H. Battle, p. 16.
^Dowd, Life of Vance, p. 39.
1®Lefler and Newsome, North Carolina, p. 34-0.
19
Fayetteville Observer. November 21, 1854-.

33
not want the election to take place until two absent Whig
members were present. Speaking for the minority party,
he declared that it was but fair and just to await the ar¬
rival of the absentees in order to give the Whig party a
chance to die decently. He said that the Democrats, in
their haste, reminded him of beasts which glut themselves
on carrion, so anxious were they to have a bite at the
carcass of the Whig party. He repudiated the charge that
the Whigs were trying to disorganize the Democratic party,
because, he said, "it [Democratic party] possesses all
the necessary elements of destruction within itself and
will dissolve soon enough without any such aid."20 But
Vance was debating a futile cause against the Democratic
majority. Asa Biggs and David Reid defeated their Whig
21
opponents, Daniel M. Barringer and George E. Badger.
As a member of the 1854 legislature, Vance tended
to show immaturity. At one time, for example, a fellow
member offered a resolution dealing with the hours of
meeting. Vance objected to the proposal by hissing the
speaker. The speaker demanded to know the meaning of the
hiss, and asked Vance to state whether it was intended as
a personal insult to the author of the resolution, or if
it merely represented disapproval of the proposition.
2oRaleip;h Register. November 25, 1854.
2^Dowd, Life of Vance, p. 39.

34
Vance admitted that he had hissed; not to insult the speak¬
er, however, but to show his contempt for the speaker’s
idea of remaining in session until nine o’clock without
CO
any supper. Such tactics were hardly calculated to win
him friends and to enhance his prestige.
Another Indiscretion was Vance's treatment of a re¬
solution which had been presented by George Badger Single¬
tary. Singletary argued that business would be facilitated
by the passage of his proposed resolution, which provided
that Jefferson’s Manual of parliamentary practice be used
as a guide in conducting the business of the House. Immedi¬
ately Vance jumped to the floor and offered an amendment
to the previous motion, proposing that the legislature
23
should adjourn to meet the following July in Asheville.
By jocularly presenting the amendment, he held Singletary’s
motion in ridicule, and revealed his own immaturity.
As a friend of public education and as a member of
the Education Committee of the House, Vance presented a
minority report on December 16, 1854, in which he called
for the distribution of school funds on the basis of white
children. With factual support, he set forth particularly
the claims of the white children of the western part of the
22
Fayetteville Observer, January 4, 1855.
2^Ibid., November 27, 1854.

35
24
state.
The conclusion that Vance's role in the legislature
was not especially important is warranted. His lack of ex¬
perience prompted him to let the older, distinguished mem¬
bers do the talking. There were many able Whigs serving
in the House who could pronounce the Whig doctrine to
Vance's liking.2'1
Nevertheless, his experience in the legislature made
him better known to his constituents and throughout the
state. Convinced that politics was his mission, he became
a candidate for the state senate from Buncombe County sena¬
torial district. He ran on the Whig-Amerlean party ticket
against David Coleman, a Democrat, who had been an officer
26
in the United States Navy. But the fortunes of the Whig
party in North Carolina as well as in the entire nation
were at a low ebb in 1856. The Kansas struggle and the
issue of slavery in the territories had its repercussions
in North Carolina. Since the Southern wing of the party
generally denounced northern anti-slavery leadership and
sentiment, Southerners could no longer depend on the party
to defend slavery and to protect southern rights. Inereas-
2^Fayettevllle Observer. December 18, 1854-.
25üowd, Life of Vance, p. 40.
26
An Address of Richard H. Battle, p. 16.

36
ingly, North Carolina Whigs were forced to accept the south¬
ern view* Since the Whig party actually ceased to function
as an organized party after 1854, many Whigs in the state
found temporary refuge in the Know-Nothing or American par¬
ty, founded on American opposition to foreign immigration
and Roman Catholicism. From 1855 to 1859 the American par¬
ty in North Carolina attracted for the most part Whigs who
27
could not bring themselves to join the Democrats. Among
this group was Vance, who was defeated in the 1856 election
because of the American party*s weakness and the Whigs’
action.2®
His defeat in the senatorial race did not discourage
Vance’s political endeavors, for in 1857 he became a candi¬
date for the House of Representatives. Again, the disorgani¬
zation of the Whig party was apparently to blame for his de¬
feat, and his Democratic opponent, Thomas Clingman, won the
PQ
election.
In 1858 Vance was again fighting for a seat in Congress.
Clingman was soon appointed to the Senate by Governor Thomas
Bragg to succeed Asa Biggs, who had resigned to become a
Federal district judge. Before Vance announced his candi¬
dacy, three other candidates, W.W. Avery and David Coleman,
both Democrats, and a General Jones, a "Know-Nothing," were
27Lefler and Newsome, North Carolina, p. 364.
^Address of Richard H. Battle, p. 16.
29Clarence Clifford Norton, The Democratic Party in
North Carolina (Chapel Hill, 1930), p. 243.

37
in the race. The campaign began at Murphy in the extreme
western part of the state, and before any speeches could
be given, Vance announced to the crowd that he also was
30
entering the contest.
By this time Vance was a more experienced politician
and was primed to carry on a heated campaign against his
opponents. Supplied with an abundance of anecdotes, he
proceeded to denounce southern fanatics. His opponents
accused him of using the term "southern fanatics" to re¬
fer to those men who stood boldly for the rights of their
section. The greater part of Vance*s first speech at
Murphy was devoted to arguments favoring distribution of
the proceeds from the sales of public land to the various
states. Basically this proposal had been advocated earlier
by Henry Clay, and had generally been accepted by the Whigs.
Because of the need for additional revenues in the states,
distribution had been a popular issue in the 1830*s. Be¬
cause of its popularity even in states which adhered to
Jacksonian democracy, Congress passed Clay's distribution
measure. Although Jackson vetoed it, the idea continued to
be popular. Vance wanted additional revenues to bring in-
31
ternal improvements to Western North Carolina. Consequent-
•^°Asheville Weekly News, June 17, 1858.
31
Lefler and Newsome, North Carolina, pp. 34-4-345.

38
ly, distribution was the chief argument of Vance as the
Whig-American candidate.
As soon as Vance made known his intention of becoming
a candidate, Coleman withdrew from the contest to join forces
with Avery in blocking his election. Avery charged Vance
with deception, saying that he had promised on several oc¬
casions not to become a candidate, and had promised that he
and his party would support Coleman. In reply, Vance said
that he had only changed his mind as he had a right to do.
Jones, his Whig opponent, gave Vance no opposition.
Seemingly he withdrew from the campaign after the first
meeting in Murphy, even though he indicated a strong dis¬
taste for Vance's candidacy. At Murphy he charged Vance
was a member of a “clique of his own party in Asheville who
believed that no man outside of this town was fit to hold
„32
office.“
Vance's peculiar and unique powers as a politician
and stump speaker rapidly developed in this contest. Al¬
though many of the people were old-line Whigs, they were
also devoted to Clingman, who had represented them in Congress
for many years. It was a foregone conclusion, therefore,
that when Clingman was promoted to the Senate, Avery, who
was strong in debate and from an influential family, would
â– ^Asheville Weekly News. June 17, 1858.

39
fill the vacancy.33 People applauded Vance's gallantry,
but laughed at his folly when he announced his intention
34
of running for Congress. Even his own family did not
think that he had a chance to win. One of his uncles told
Richard H. Battle that "Zeb is a fool for running for Con¬
gress. He is getting a pretty good practice in law, and
is throwing it all away, running for Congress, with no more
chance of being elected than I have."35
The campaign, beginning at Murphy and ending at
Wilksboro, was strenuous, taking the candidates into fif¬
teen counties on a speaking tour that "set the mountains
36
on fire." At Waynesville, Vance, in arguing for distri¬
bution as he did elsewhere, optimistically declared that
he would win by three or four thousand votes if the Whigs
would do their part. Following Vance in the joint discus¬
sion, Avery resurrected some of Vance's old articles in
which he had denounced both the Whig and the Democratic
parties as rotten and corrupt. Avery accused Vance of having
written that the salvation of the country depended on the
people joining the Know-Nothing party and fighting against
^Asheville Weekly Citizen. November 25, I858.
^Battle, "Biographical Sketch of Senator Z.B. Vance,"
p. 258.
35Address of Richard H. Battle, p. 17.
36
Ibid.. p. 18

40
the Pope and "furriners." Vance, in turn, replied that
the Know-Nothing party was dead and that his opponent should
let it rest.-^
Present-day innovations in the campaigning of such
politicians as Jim Folsom, "Pappy" Daniel, and "Happy"
Chandler may not be innovations at all. Just as they use
the hill-billy band and singing to secure a popular follow¬
ing, Vance used his fiddle. One day when he and Avery were
scheduled to speak at a cross-roads, Vance was not present
at the announced hour. Soon he arrived with a crowd of men
leaping and dancing around him as he played the fiddle. Al¬
though Avery questioned the dignity of this episode, he
could not doubt its effectiveness.
In political debate, as in forensic practice, Vance
was none too ethical. During one discussion, Avery pictured
him as representing a dying party with its leaders and sons
of its leaders deserting it. He gave as examples the sons
of Henry Clay and Daniel Webster. Thinking that Webster had
only daughters, Vance promptly responded, "Daniel Webster
has no sons, his children are all daughters." "Is it possi¬
ble you do not remember Colonel Fletcher Webster of the
Mexican war?" replied Avery. Vance, realizing his error,
said that was "Noah Webster's son, the spelling-book man's
sonl" The audience went wild with delight, and Avery de¬
spaired of clarifying the matter. As he left the stand,
^Asheville Weekly News. July 8, 1858.

41
he said, "Vance, that was a mean trick." To this Vance re¬
plied, "I know it was, Avery, but you had me so fast I had
7Q
to wriggle out somehow."-^
Everywhere in their joint canvass, Avery had said
that Vance would stand no show for he could not overcome
the two thousand Democratic majority. To win the election
by 2,049 votes'^ Was a great victory for the young Whig.
According to custom, a joint meeting of the two candidates
was held after the election at Asheville to declare friend¬
ship and to heal old wounds. Vance made the most of his
success as he told the audience:
My opponent charged that I would be snowed under, but
was vice versa. I remind myself of the Caldwell County
‘possum, which an indignant mountaineer told me about.
Said he, I stretched that ‘possum’s neck tell rslcl. I
thought he was dead; I skinned him and biled him for
three hours, but don*t you think when I took the lid
off'n the pot, the cussed little devil was settin up.
there on its hind legs, and had licked up the gravy. u
At the age of twenty-eight, Vance became a member of
41
the second session of the thirty-fifth Congress. This
session was the lull between the great storms of sectional
strife. President James Buchanan pointed out in his State
of the Union message on December 6, 1858, that there was
much reason for gratitude over the improved condition of
^Address 0f Richard H, Battle, pp. 17-18.
^Washington National Intelligencer, August 28, 1858.
^°"Kemp Plummer Battle*s Scrapbook of North Carolina
History," University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
^Dowd, Life of Vance, p. 41.

42
the country. Although the sectional strife over the admis¬
sion of Kansas as a state appeared ended, the peace and
42
perpetuity of the Union remained In doubt.
Sectional differences, however, did not flare up dur¬
ing the second session of Congress, and Vance's first ses-
4 "5
sion was relatively quiet. v Inexperienced, Vance preferred
to be an attentive listener rather than an active debater at
44
first. Soon after the first of the year, however, he
made his first speech when he introduced a motion to strike
out the portion of the appropriations bill providing $40,000
for miscellaneous items.. Since Buchanan had asked Congress
"to institute rigid scrutiny to ascertain whether the ex¬
penses in all departments . . . [could not] be reduced,"2^
Vance, an advocate of governmental economy, could not see
why the miscellaneous appropriation should be $10,000 more
than the previous one. He objected strongly to appropri¬
ating money when he could not see specifically what was to
be done with it.
With respect to the whole matter, he stated:
We have been told that in regard to the increase of
our general expenditures, that our enlarged borders,
our extended commerce, and our growing importance in
the world generally, made it necessary to run up our
^Washington National Intelligencer. December 7, 1858.
^Avery 0. Craven, The Growth of Southern Nationalism
1848-1861 (Baton Rouge, 1953), p. 303.
^Dowd, Life of Vance, p. 42.
^Cong. Globe. 35th Cong., 2 sess., p. 802.

43
expenses to $90,000,000 or $100,000,000 a year. But
I should like to know what is to enlarge the borders
of the Thirty-Sixth Congress twenty-five per cent above
the borders of the present Congress? As a member of
the present Congress, I do not feel inclined to yield
the point that my successor, whoever he may be, will
be twenty-five per cent a greater man than I am myself.
I do not think that he is entitled to $10,000 more for
miscellaneous items than I am myself; and I am in favor,
therefore, of striking out this clause. °
Humor, in the form of an analogy, comprised the pero¬
ration of his brief speech. The House was thrown into
laughter when he said, “This whole bill reminds me very
much of the bills I have seen of fast young men at fashion¬
able hotels—for two days board, five dollars, sundries,
fifty dollars. Amplifying his point, he explained:
It is like a comet, a very small body, and an exceed¬
ing great tail, flaming over half the heavens. But
this miscellaneous item, which I propose to strike out,
is not exactly like the tail of a comet, because philo¬
sophers say that with a good telescope you can see
through the tail of a comet. What glasses will enable
us to see through this miscellaneous item?47
Insignificant as this speech was, it prompted a reply
by Martin Crawford of Georgia. Crawford explained that he
was not surprised at Vance’s expression of opposition to
the appropriation, because he, as a member of the Committee
on Ways and Means, had likewise inquired into the necessity
of this expenditure. His inquiry revealed that the $10,000
increase was to provide chiefly for the long term of Congress
instead of the short one provided for by the previous appro-
48
priation.
4^Conp;. Globe. 35th Cong., 2 sess., p. 802.
47Ibid. 48Ibid.

44
This first speech broke Vance's silence; and three
days later, on February 7, he spoke again. His second
speech and the only one of any consequence which he gave
during his first term in Congress, encompassed the subject
of the tariff, public lands, and pensions for war veterans.
Delivered while the House was in committee of the whole,
Vance reminded it that "the late fury of the political
heavens having spent itself in the fierce and bitter con¬
tests which raged in these halls, we have now a comparative
quiet."^9 Then, because of his strong love for the Union,
he expressed his desire for the well-being of the republic:
It may be the new tranquil skies do not portend-
"A greater wreck, a deeper fall
A shock to one, a thunderbolt to all."
But let us hope not. I, for one, am determined to
interpret the omens for good. I hope. . . that the
lull is not a treacherous stillness, heralding the
deadly simoom, but that it is Halycon herself who
comes to brood upon the dark and restless deep.50
Vance had observed hopeful signs in the first eight
weeks of the session. In spite of the grave and serious
questions that had been discussed, harmony and good feeling
had prevailed. There had been two speeches that almost
succeeded in reviving a sectional battle over slavery, but
they fell a little short of their purpose. Using satire
and humor, he alluded to these speeches by Israel Washburne
of Maine, and Joshua Glddings of Ohio: "Though the bush has
^Cong. Globe and Appendix. 35th Cong., 2 sess., p. 85.
50ibid

45
been beaten from Maine to California, from the lakes to
the Gulf, only the gentleman from Ohio did howl upon the
trail, the chase was so distant, and the scent lay so cold,
that he soon called off. . . .*'51
Vance considered it the duty of Congress to take ad¬
vantage of the hopeful state of affairs, and to give atten¬
tion to the practical matters of the nation. "Too long,"
he said, "has the country suffered from this all-absorbing
excitement which has so much hindered practical legisla¬
tion." The practical legislation to which he referred was
necessitated by disordered finances, depressed trade, an
empty treasury, and a confused foreign policy. Comparing
Howell Cobb, the Secretary of the Treasury, with the daughter
of a horse leech calling "give, give," he said that practical
52
matters must be considered.
The body of the speech was divided into three parts.
Vance dealt first with the tariff, emphasizing its sectional
implications. Having suffered the least in the panic of
1857, the South had gained increased confidence in its re¬
sources. At the same time, its resentment over its tariff
burdens had sharpened. The old Whig demands for high tariff
had been taken up by the newly organized Republican party.
The basic argument of the Republican protectionists was that
the United States ought to produce its own iron, cloth, and
51cong. Globe and Appendix. 35th Cong., 2 sess., p. 85.
52ibid.

46
other manufactured products; but this could not be done so
long as European manufactured products came into the country
unchecked. This doctrine was in direct contradiction to
that of the Southern Democrats, whose regional economy de¬
pended on exporting raw cotton, tobacco, and sugar to the
manufacturing centers of England and the North. They accused
the Republicans of the North of placing unequal burdens on
the southern people in an effort to drain the South of near-
53
ly every element of its material prosperity.
Vance*s position as set forth in this speech was
neither that of the Republican protectionists nor of the
Southern Democrats. In essence, it was the same as that
of such men as Tom Corwin, J. J. Crittenden, and even Horace
Greeley, who "stood not for head-high but merely breast-high
protection.His stand coincided with that of Buchanan,
who had told Congress in his December 6 message that the
national debt made it necessary to modify the tariff to meet
even the ordinary expenses 6f the government.^5 Vance held
himself willing, at the risk of being called a protectionist,
to repeal the doctrine that this country must keep glorify¬
ing free trade and borrowing money to pay the expenses of the
government. Specifically, he was opposed to tariff for pro-
53Allan Nevins. The Emergence of Lincoln (2 vols.;
New York, 1950), I, 2lT° ~
54Ibld.. p. 221.
-^Washington National Intelligencer. December 7, 1858.

47
tection; but since the government was spending more money
than it had income, there were only three alternatives:
raise the tariff to the level of expenditures; bring expendi¬
tures into line with the present tariff; or walk into an in¬
solvent court and file a schedule. He advocated the first
of these, because he believed that an increase in tariff
was the fairest and best method for raising money to meet
governmental expenditures.
Trying to remain neutral as far as sectional differences
were concerned, Vance stated:
I am, . . . like those I represent, opposed to a
tariff for protection , . . , because it is to the in¬
terest of my section. I place it upon the ground of
self interest frankly, because I do not believe in the
validity of the general rules and deductions, which
gentlemen lay down so fluently. To assert that the
only true policy of a nation should extend protection,
universally, to all the manufactures within its borders.
Trade and manufacturing are, I take it, governed and
affected like all other human transactions by the thou¬
sand and one accidents and adventitious circumstances to
which nations as well as individuals are subjected.
What Adam Smith, and later British politicians, may say,
in general terms, would have little more application to
our condition, than would the maps and profiles of Pro¬
fessor Bache*s survey applied to the angles and indenta¬
tions of the British coast.56
Vance, thus far in his speech, had been realistic and
only slightly partisan. His were the views of a moderate
Whig, but even these were opposed by most Southern Democrats.
His predecessor in Congress, Thomas Clingman, who was a
^Washington National Intelligencer. February 11, 1859

48
native of Vance’s section of North Carolina, addressed the
Senate three days after Vance's speech, and denounced any
57
increase in duties. Clingman claimed that he had been in¬
structed by his state legislature "to oppose all Increase of
duties upon the products of mining and manufacturing, and
to insist upon making railroad iron free of duty.^®
Vance veered even farther from the southern view on
public lands in the second point of the speech. Distribu¬
tion had ceased to be a national issue as early as 1842,
when President Tyler had vetoed three bills that provided
for distributing funds from the sale of government owned
lands to the various states. During the struggle over the
land policy, however, distribution had gained much support
in North Carolina. The state, having engaged in internal
improvements, particularly in the "up-country," needed
money.Since Vance represented this part of the state,
he strongly favored reviving the distribution issue.
Believing that public lands should not be a source
of natural revenue, he denounced the Democrats. They had
taken "ground against distribution, and [had] declared that
these lands ought to be held as a source of revenue."® Vance
57washington National Intelligencer. February 11, 1859.
58Cong. Globe. 35th Cong., 2 sess., p. 923.
59George M. Stephenson, The Political History of the
Public Lands from 1840 to 1862 (Boston. 1917). ' t>7 94.
80Cong. Globe and Appendix. 35th Cong., 2 sess., p. 86.

49
was confident that "every state in the union would have
been materially enhanced, and the country saved from much
wrangling and bitterness,"^1 if the proceeds of the land
sales had been distributed to the states. These funds
would have enabled the states to "erect public works, es¬
tablish free schools, and to bear the burdens of general
improvement within their respective borders." Moreover,
he showed the injustices and inequalities of the policy
to states such as Virginia, North Carolina, and Georgia.
These states had ceded their lands to the government, and
all had been sold without any reduction in their tax load.
Another evil in the system was that the government
had given away more land than it had actually sold. Offer¬
ing a report of the Secretary of Interior as evidence, Vance
declared, "By that report it appears about one hundred and
twenty-nine million acres have been sold, and the proceeds
applied to the public expenses . . . [while] during the
same period there have been . . . given away and squandered
/T
about two hundred and ten million acres." ^ These lands
had been given for the building of railroads and public
buildings in certain northwestern states. Alluding to the
Democratic claim that "the proceeds of these lands ought
to be sacredly applied" to the general government, he
continued his attack on the giveaway policy:
61
62
Conp;. Globe and Appendix. 35th Cong., 2 sess., p. 86.
Ibid.
63
Ibid.

50
What construction other gentlemen may put on this, I
am unable to say; but, in my opinion, the giving away
of the common property to free states, to support those
public burdens which my constituents have to pay out
of their own poekets is neither a part of the expenses
of the general government proper, nor is the object very
sacred. 4
To keep his attack from appearing as a sectional one,
Vance admitted that states in both the North and the South
had shared in the spoils, but he arraigned the government
for “swindling itself out of two-hundred million acres to
build the Pacific railroad.
Since the beginning of the session, Congress had de¬
bated Buchanan*s recommendation for building the Pacific
railroad. Southerners objected to the proposal on the
grounds that it took dollars out of southern pockets for
66
the benefit of the North. However, Vance's objection was
of a different nature. It was as a distrlbutionist rather
than as a Southerner that he declared:
If this fund is no longer to go into the public treasury
to relieve the people from the burdens of a high tariff,
why then, in common justice and common honesty, let us
all, the old and the new states, take, share and share
alike. I have long been a distrlbutionist, because I
thought justice and equality demanded it; but if I could
only see these promises faithfully carried out, if I can
only see this vast fund honestly applied to defraying
the general charge and expenditure of a common govern¬
ment, I would agree to ask nothing more. I call on gentle-
^Cong. Globe and Appendix. 35th Cong., 2 sess., p. 86.
65Ibid., p. 87.
66
Nevins, The Emergence of Lincoln, I, p. 440

51
men to stop this wild raid after public lands. I will
gladly stand with any party to effect this object.^?
In the final section of his speech, Vance exhibited
humanitarian impulses as he spoke in behalf of the old
soldiers of the War of 1812. The Old Soldiers Pension Bill,
granting pensions to the officers and soldiers of the war,
had passed the House and had gone to the Senate. During
the debates on the bill, Vance had heard its opponents ob¬
ject to it on the grounds of governmental economy. Although
he had not spoken on the bill when it was being discussed,
he used this speech as an occasion to answer the opposition.
Expressing strong approval of economy in government, he
could not support a measure based on false economy, such
as the refusal of pensions to old soldiers. To him, this
was an attempt to economize in the wrong place.
I do not wish . « .to let the first stroke fall on
the best, the noblest, the most useful part of the whole
nation, the gallant soldiers of the War of 1812. What
would be the thought ... of the man who would begin
to reform his household expenses, by giving a half feed
to his horse, his ox, and his plowman? Instead of sav¬
ing money, ... he would dry up the source entirely;
for in a short time, his plowman and his horse would be
as weak as a politician's promise, as feeble as a modern
platform. Such a man . . . would be called a fool, and
would deserve the appellation. He should commence by
cutting off all the superfluous parts of his establish¬
ment first, so there might be no diminution in the com¬
forts of those who labored. So ... we should begin
in the national household, to lop off the superfluous
excrescences that uselessly feed on the treasury. 8
The lesson in economy clearly stated, Vance strength¬
ened his persuasive effort by a touch of pathos. ttAs [the
^^Conp;. Globe and Appendix, 35th. Cong., 2 sess., p. 87.
68Ibid.

52
soldiers] were prompt and brave to defend us," he said,
"so should we be prompt and liberal to repay them." Honor
and glory were not sufficient rewards. "Thousands of these
men," he explained, "are now in the deepest poverty, and
have the hardest work to keep the wolf from the doors of
their homes, where dwell their wives and little ones. Can
one of them walk into the market and buy a rump of beef or
a leg of mutton with glory?"^9 Driving home the point that
a man cannot live on glory, he told this story:
That argument . . . reminds me of the customs in
Catholic countries, of having the priest to pass
over the fields in the spring and bless the expected
crop. On one such occasion, the priest, being some¬
thing of an agriculturist, paused at one field which
was very poor and sterile; "here, my friends," said he,
"blessings will do no good; this field must have manure."
The old soldiers . . . value the glory they have acquired,
no doubt; but they must have something that will do more
good than empty fame.JO
In this speech Vance exemplified a loyalty to the na¬
tion such as few Southerners were willing to condone during
this period. Steering clear of a sectional or partisan bias,
he was as a soothing balm cast onto the turbulent waters of
controversy. He did not deny that he sought the welfare of
his own state; however, bitter fanaticism was not his method
of reaching this goal. When Congress adjourned on March 3,
69ConK. Globe and Appendix, 35th Cong., 2 sess., p. 67
70ibid.

53
1859» Vance was ready to return to his native Buncombe,
and to enter the political arena to seek a full term in
Congress.
At this time a new political organization was in the
making in North Carolina. Because there were few foreign
immigrants coming into the state, and because there were
even fewer Catholics, the Know-Nothing party became almost
powerless against the growing Democratic strength. Being
71
no longer acceptable to many voters in the state, the
Know-Nothing party was abandoned and the old Whig party
72
was revitalized with the safety of the Union as its slogan.
In this political picture, Vance found himself the
Whig candidate for re-election in the eighth district
against David Coleman. Vance was happy to call himself a
Whig, for he had never been able to subscribe to Know-
Nothing principles. In his campaign speeches of 1858, he
had made fun of its doctrines, and had become a member only
because there was no other party he could join. Being a
Unionist, he could not affiliate with the Democrats who be-
73
lieved too strictly in the doctrine of state rights.
^Norton, The Democratic Party in North Carolina,
P. 243.
Henry McGilbert Wagstaff, State Rights and Political
Parties in North Carolina 1776-1861 (Baltimore. 1906), pp.
95-96.
"^Burton J. Hendrick, Statesmen of the Lost Cause (New
York, 1939), p. 345.

54
Vance's aim was to break the hold of the Democrats on the
people; Coleman endeavored to maintain it.^4
As the candidates opened the campaign, Coleman spoke
first at a joint political rally in Asheville. His able
speech made Vance's friends fear he could not satisfactorily
answer it. The principal charge against Vance was that he
had voted in Congress to pension the soldiers of the ¥ar
of 1812. Answering, Vance described the old veterans as
rallying to the defense of the nation in order to secure
“the peace that followed, and the easy times now in the
country." Sarcastically, he explained that times were so
good that certain leaders felt authorized to advocate an
act to use millions of dollars in corrupting Spanish offl-
75
cials in an effort to secure Cuba. This remark referred
to President Buchanan, Pierre Soule, and John Y. Mason, who
had drawn up the Ostend Manifesto, which proposed that the
United States should offer a large sum of money to Spain
for Cuba, and if Spain refused to sell, the United States
would resort to drastic means to obtain it. Resorting to
pathetic appeal, Vance pictured the old soldier on crutches
asking Congress for a mere pittance of eight dollars a month
“to smooth his passage to the grave." But that instead of
74i)owd, Life of Vance, p. 34.
75ibid.. p. 36.

55
receiving the money, the soldier was met at the door of
the House of Representatives and told to go away because
there were other uses for the money.
Towards the end of the campaign, Coleman applied to
Vance the parable of the barren fig tree. He said that
though Vance had been in Congress, there was no fruit to
show for it. At this point Coleman cried out, “Fellow
citizens, cut him down." When Coleman finished, Vance,
who was skilled at turning the charges of an opponent to
his own advantage, replied that Coleman’s use of the Scrip¬
tures was unfortunate. The real facts were that when the
Lord was in the garden with the gardener, and seeing no
fruit on the fig tree, told the gardener to cut it down.
The gardener answered, “Let it stand another year, and I
will dig about it, and then if it bears no fruit, cut it
down.“ “Now gentlemen,” Vance said, “all things according
to the scripture.” He applied the parable to himself, say¬
ing that if he did not bear fruit after his opponent had
dug about him, then "cut me down.” That his answer was ef¬
fective, was evidenced by the shouts of approval that went
•y zT
up from the audience.
By the time the candidates reached Waynesville, they
77
were resorting to tactics of personal abuse. Coleman,
7^Powd. Life of Vance, pp. 36-37*
f^Vance to David Coleman, Asheville, August 29, 1859,
Vance Papers.

56
for example, Indicted. Vance for having spread a report
that he was intoxicated when they spent a night together
78
in Caldwell County. When Vance did not offer a satis¬
factory defense to this charge, Coleman challenged him to
79
a duel. Vance accepted, and accused Coleman of desiring
a quarrel in order to take away the sting of defeat. This
only extended the list of Coleman’s grievances. The duel,
however, was eventually averted by the intervention of
friends, who persuaded Vance to write a letter of expla¬
nation and apology. This he agreed to do after Coleman
disavowed the charge which had prompted his offensive re¬
marks. Vance had understood Coleman to charge him with
having designs to elect Galusha A. Grow, a Black Republi¬
can, as speaker of the House. The letter expressed Vance's
regret for the offensive expression that he had used while
under a false impression.®0
Vance's impulsive nature in debate was a weakness
of his campaign speaking. When the charges of his opponents
became strong, he often became excited, and responded with-
81
out judgment or tact. As early as 1855, he was challenged
^®Coleman to Vance, Asheville, August 15, 1859, Vance
Papers.
79
Coleman to Vance, Asheville, August 17, 1859, Vance
Papers.
on
0 Vance to Coleman, Asheville, August 29, 1859, Vance
Papers.
81Vance to Coleman, Asheville, August 17, 1859, Vance
Papers.

57
to a duel for having called a political opponent a ‘'damned
82
liar" before a large crowd. The Waynesville speech was
not the only one in the campaign that was too strong for
his adversary to bear. Coleman wrote that Vance's "lan¬
guage and bearing on various occasions during the discus¬
sions in [the 1859] canvass [were] such as a gentleman
should not submit to from another gentleman."®-'’ Vance,
believing that in political discussion he had license to
say whatever he chose, was unable to understand why anyone
84
should take offense at his remarks.
Nevertheless, Vance's skill in reply, and his abili¬
ty to pass at will from humor to invective, pleased his
85
audiences as much as it offended his opponents. The Whigs
of North Carolina gained four seats in Congress at the elec¬
tion; one of them was won by Vance, who defeated Coleman by
86
seventeen hundred votes.
Vance began the first session of the thirty-sixth
Congress as a peacemaker. Congress needed the cheerful,
®2I.S.G. Baird to Vance, Asheville, July 9, 1855,
Vance Papers.
83coleman to Vance, Asheville, August 29, 1859, Vance
Papers.
84
Vance to Coleman, Asheville, August 29, 1859, Vance
Papers.
Seattle, "Biographical Sketch of Senator Z.B. Vance,"
North Carolina University Magazine. VI, 227.
^Norton, Democratic Party In Ante-Bellum North Caro¬
lina 1855-1861. p. 244.

58
fun-making qualities that Vance brought to it since it was
a session of heated discussion of the slavery question,
prompted by John Brown's raid, Hepler's Impending Crisis,
and other abolitionist activities. Vance did not adopt a
southern view, and southern rights men such as Jefferson
Davis or Alexander Stephens received no support from him.
Vance insisted that no problems before Congress should per¬
mit the nation to be led to war.®^
The opening of Congress on December 9, 1859, brought
a contest over the speakership of the House. While the
Senate was in the hands of the Democrats, the House was
closely divided, consisting of 109 Republicans, 101 Demo¬
crats, and 27 Know-Nothings. The Republicans wanted John
Sherman for speaker, while the Democrats had nominated
Thomas S. Bocock in caucus. This meant that the party
which could ally itself with the Know-Nothings and the
88
Whigs would succeed. Vance remained silent, but not in¬
different, during the sectional battles that raged through
the first weeks of the session. His silence ended, how¬
ever, when his name was called on the twenty-fourth ballot
in the speakership deadlock. He said, '*1 hope the House
will indulge me in a single remark, especially in considera-
87Hendrick, Statesmen of the Lost Cause, p. 34-5.
®®Nevins, Emergence of Lincoln, II, 112.

59
tlon of the fact that I have not trespassed upon its atten¬
tion from the commencement of the present session until to¬
day.” Then he explained:
I have voted for a Lecompton Democrat. I have voted
for those who did not approve of the Lecompton bill.
I have voted for an anti-administration Democrat. And
if there is any member of that great prolific Democratic
family that I have neglected, I hope they will trot him
out and give me an opportunity to vote for him.^9
Throughout the controversy, Vance demonstrated his
loyalty to the Union. With a bit of irony to add the char¬
acteristic light touch to his speech, he explained his votes:
I hope I have shown by the votes that I have recorded
here in this contest, that I am willing to assist in
the election of any man upon a conservative and national
basis—which phrase I am certain this House has never
heard.90
As the laughter produced by this remark subsided, he
ended his brief speech. The conclusion expressed his willing¬
ness to exhibit a national conservative spirit by voting for
Charles L. Scott, a Democrat from California. By this speech,
Vance lent his efforts to concentrate the House votes on
one man. Although this ballot did not result in enough votes
to elect a Speaker, it came nearer to a choice than the pre¬
vious ones.91
®9cong;. Globe. 36th Cong., 1 sess., p. 286.
9°Ibid.
91Ibid.

60
The debate on the speakership continued into the new
year. No person was able to gain the required 106 votes.
The members opposing the Republican party were too deeply
divided to support any one individual. The Southern Demo¬
crats, for example, would not compromise on any candidate
outside the South. This situation promoted Vance's only
other speech during the Thirty-sixth Congress. Speaking
on January 3, i860, he pleaded for the abolition of poli¬
tical prejudices for the common good. He arraigned the
Southern Democrats for refusing to vote for John A. McCler-
nand, a Democrat from Illinois.
Paving the way for his support of McClernand, Vance
said that he did not believe in making a personal explana¬
tion for everything he had done, or of every vote that he
might make. His constituents at home, not the members of
the House, were the ones to whom he would have to answer
for his conduct. He planned, however, to make a brief ex¬
planation in this case. Paraphrasing Shakespeare to serve
his own thoughts, he introduced his explanation:
I profess to have a fee simple in my own understanding,
though my understanding, like the fee may be simple al¬
so. But I propose, upon the occasion, very briefly—for
brevity is the soul of wit; I should like, at least,
to possess the sole wit of brevity—to make the vote
I am now going to give the occasion, rather than the
subject, of a brief explanation.
92
Conp;. Globe. 36th Cong., 1 sess., p. 286.

61
In voting for McClernand, Vance declared that he was only-
showing his opposition to Black Republicanism. Although
he was a Whig, he did not want to see a breach between the
Northern and Southern wings of the Democratic party. He
knew that such a breach would endanger the Union, and hence
pleaded for tolerance:
I consider it an evidence of degeneracy of the times
that gentlemen here can not sacrifice so small and in¬
significant a thing as their party prejudices for the
common good, when men may be sometime called upon, as
our fathers were in times past, to sacrifice their
lives, their fortunes, and their heart's best blood
to the cause of their country.93
In the presidential election of i860, the Democrats
were divided. The National Democratic party, representing
the Northern faction, nominated Stephen A. Douglas. The
Southern bolters formed the Constitutional Democratic
party, and nominated John C. Breckinridge of Kentucky, a
staunch supporter of slavery, who advocated the right of
secession, although he wanted to preserve the Union.
The Constitutional Union party was made up of a group
of Southerners as well as Northerners who distrusted both
Douglas and Breckinridge. The only plank in their platform
was the preservation of the Union, the Constitution, and
the enforcement of laws. Naming John Bell of Tennessee as
their presidential candidate, this peace-loving party was
93qong. Globe, 36th Cong., 1 sess,, p. 286.

62
made up chiefly of "old line Whigs," and the conservative
94
older men of the South. In spite of his youth, Vance
gave his support to this party. He became a standard bear¬
er for Bell, and emerged from the contest with a wilder repu¬
tation as a stump speaker.
A great meeting of Whigs and Conservatives was held
on October 11 and 12, i860, at Salisbury to protest the
calling of a convention in North Carolina to consider seces¬
sion. Vance spoke for two hours during the afternoon of
the first day of the meeting, and was listened to by the
great crowd assembled in a cold drizzling rain. At every
attempt to stop, he was greeted with shouts of "Go on, go
on."95 sentiment expressed in the speech was that "we
will fight for the constitution, the Union, and the laws,
within the Union and the laws." He said, "We will not be
influenced by seceders in the South or Black Republicans
in the North, and we will never give up our institutions
until stern necessity compels us to believe that they are
no longer adequate to our protection; we must resort to
that right of revolution, which is inherent in every
people.To put it simply, he rebuked the secessionists
9^Eaton, A History of the Old South, p. 572.
^Fayetteville Semi-Weekly Observer. October 18, i860.
9^Wagstaff, State Rights and Political Parties in
North Carolina. 1776-1861. p. 561.

63
of the South, as well as the abolitionists of the North,
and in one great effort attempted to save the Union and
97
the constitution.
Approximately eight thousand people were gathered
at Salisbury on the second day of the meeting. Vance was
not scheduled to speak, but speeches were made by such
notable Whigs as William A. Graham, George E. Badger, Wm.
N.H. Smith, and John M. Morehead. At night the remaining
crowd gathered in the public square to watch fireworks.
From the beginning of the display, there were cries for
"Vance," and "Let's hear the mountain boy." After an ela¬
borate exhibition of fireworks, and more calls for him,
Vance came forward and mounted a pile of boxes. After
quieting his audience with a number of clever stories,
he held their attention for over an hour. The crowd,
standing as close together as possible, packed a wide
street for three hundred feet. Cheer after cheer followed
nearly every word he uttered. As he left the platform, the
enthusiastic crowd threw wreaths over his head, and carried
him on their shoulders through the audience with deafening
. . 98
shout s.
In the campaign he continued his efforts to convince
97fiendrick, Statesmen of the Lost Cause, p. 3^6.
98Fayetteville Semi-Weekly Observer. October 18, i860.

64
the people that they should work toward keeping North
Carolina in the Union. He spoke in churches, as well as
on the street corners, always saying, "Keep North Carolina
in the Union! Let it not follow the example of the other
Southern States.
After the election of Lincoln, Vance continued as
one of the foremost advocates of Unionism in North Carolina.
In his position, he was supported by a majority of North
Carolinians.^00 On November 30, i860, two South Carolina
members of Congress, William W. Boyce and John D. Ashmore,
on their way to Washington to resign their seats, made dis¬
union speeches to a large group in front of the Yarborough
Hotel in Raleigh. It was known that the "mountain boy" was
present, and soon the cry went up for "a speech from Vance."
A bonfire was built in the street, and the courthouse was
lighted. While Ashmore and Boyce were still speaking Vance
was forced into the courthouse, but he refused to speak un¬
til his colleagues across the street had finished. The
crowd filled the courthouse to hear him, though it was after
nine o'clock. The audience felt that he could furnish the
antidote for the treasonous attempts made across the street
"to alienate one portion of the country from another." His
99
William K. Boyd, "North Carolina on the Eve of Seces¬
sion," American Historical Association Report (Washington,
1910), p. 177.
^-°®Hendrick, Statesmen of the Lost Cause, p. 345.

65
speech, which lasted for two hours, pleased all those who
wanted to preserve the Union.
Introducing the speech with an anecdote, he told of
the merchant's clerk who owned a beautiful spotted calf.
A young lady customer wanted him to name the cat Julia,
after her. With shyness he would not consent. Pressed
to know why he would not give it the young lady's name, he
blushed, and said it was not the "right sort of a cat."
If anyone wanted to call this a disunion meeting, the name
. 102
wouldn't fit any more than Julia would fit the cat.
Vance then proceeded to show the folly of disunion.
Ashmore and Boyce had argued that if the South should secede,
it would have the blessings and protection of England. To
this Vance replied that it would be a protection that "our
forefathers had waged a seven years war to escape." His
humble grandfather, Vance said, had shed his blood at King's
mountain to escape this protection, and now his grandson
was called upon to fight to regain it. Arguing that England
could not be depended upon to aid the South, he referred
to an article in the London Times in which the Prince of
Wales' visit to the slave pens at Richmond was treated as
a blot upon the English character. He did not believe that
Fayetteville Observer. December 3, i860.
102Ibid.

66
slave property would be more secure under British protection
than it was under the Constitution. To support this belief,
Vance asked how many runaway slaves had been sent back by the
British authorities in Canada?
In fairness to his South Carolina opponents, Vance
was willing to agree to the correctness of some of their
statements. He conceded that the legislation of most free
states was disorganized and unfriendly, which in turn aided
the escape of slaves from the border states. He also agreed
that John Brown’s raid was intolerable, and that a sectional
president had been elected. Nevertheless, he was reassured
by Lincoln's promise to be a national president, and felt
that South Carolina had no grounds for taking the lead in the
secession movement since she had suffered none from the elec¬
tion. On the other hand, Vance declared his willingness to
go to the aid of Maryland, Kentucky, Virginia, and Missouri
whenever they declared in respectful terms that the acts of
the national administration were no longer tolerable. He
then would be willing to Join them in arms, dissolve the
Union, and "let the Devil take the hindmost."10^
Six weeks after Lincoln was elected, the South Carolina
Convention had adopted an ordinance of secession. Mississip¬
pi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas followed
•^■^Fayetteville Observer. December 3, i860.

67
suit, so that by February, 1861, the entire lower South
was out of the Union. North Carolina, together with most
104
of the border states, remained in the Union.
The second session of the Thirty-sixth Congress con¬
vened on December 3, i860. Vance was a sober and quiet
member, his only comments being some Insignificant remarks
105
on the state of the Union.
The inauguration of Lincoln on March 4, 1861, marked
the end of the Thirty-sixth Congress. It also marked the
end of Vance's career in the House of Representatives. His
term was to run through the Thirty-seventh Congress, but
he was unable to serve because his state had joined the
106
Confederacy before that Congress assembled.
l04Arthur Charles Cole, The Whig Party in the South
(Washington, 1913), p. 340.
•l-O^Cong. Globe, 36th. Cong., 2 sess., pp. 363-364.
106
Cole, The Whig Party in the South, p. 340.

CHAPTER III
THE RHETORIC OP A WAR GOVERNOR
Only the bombardment of Fort Sumter on April 12,
1861, followed by Lincoln’s call for troops, could arouse
North Carolina to action. Vance was speaking before an
armed group of angry citizens in his native county, Bun¬
combe, when the news reached him. With his hand extended,
he was pleading for the preservation of the Union. In de¬
scribing this speech, he said that his hand which was
raised in gesture "fell slowly and sadly by a secessionist."
With altered voice and manner, he then called upon his
audience to volunteer "not to fight against but for South
Carolina."1 Years later in a speech in Boston in 1886, on
"The Political and Social Feeling of the South During the
War," he said, "if war must come, I preferred to be with
my own people; if we had to shed blood, I preferred to shed
Northern rather than Southern blood; if we had to slay, I
had rather slay strangers than my own kindred and neigh¬
bors. . . ."2
Almost immediately after Fort Sumter, Vance was trans¬
formed from an ardent unionist to a secessionist fired with
â– ^Hendrick, Statesmen of the Lost Cause, p. 342.
2Boston Daily Globe. December 9, 1886.
68

69
jealousy for the rights of his own state. Along with other
unionists, he was especially resentful of Lincoln's policy
of coercion. He believed that it certainly meant the in¬
vasion of the South by Northern troops. This could not be
tolerated, and on May 20, 1861, North Carolina reluctantly
3
declared its independence and joined the Confederate States.
Vance immediately became more than a platform support¬
er of the Confederacy. He organized a company of mountain
boys from his native county into the "Rough and Ready Guards."
This company of soldiers was formed in a unique manner.
Vance made out a list of approximately one hundred names
of young men whom he wanted to join him, and asked them to
meet him at an appointed time. As usual the popular appeal
of Vance could not be rejected, and every man responded to
4
his call and followed him off to battle. This company,
with Vance as Captain, saw lively action in the early fight¬
ing in North Carolina and in the Seven Days' battle before
Richmond.^ After North Carolina had withdrawn from the
Union, the state entered the war with great enthusiasm.
Many troops were raised and sent to Virginia, and the de¬
fenses on the coast were strengthened by the building of
6
new forts.
^Lefler and Newsome, North Carolina, p. 426.
4Asheville Citizen. July 14, 1881.
“’Cole, The Whig Party in the South, p. 340.
^Walter Clark (ed.), North Carolina Regiments 1861-
__62, 5 vols. (Goldsboro, 1901), II, 334.

70
Shortly after the war began, however, a series of
military disasters fell upon North Carolina. In the latter
part of August, 1861, the forts guarding Hatteras Inlet
were captured by a federal squadron and the waters of
Pamlico Sound were opened to United States gunboats. This
brought fear to the eastern counties and caused the Con¬
federate government and the state administration to be
severely criticized. In February, 1862, Roanoke Island
was captured by a fleet of eighty vessels carrying fif¬
teen thousand men. They then moved on up the sound and
captured Elizabeth City. The Union forces soon occupied
several eastern counties and made their headquarters at
7
New Bern, which they had captured in March, 1862.
The people, already suffering the economic disloca¬
tions caused by the war, were disheartened by this series
of defeats on the coast. Supplies were quickly exhausted,
and blockade runners were unable to provide necessary im¬
ports in sufficient amount. The entire state now became
discontented over the high prices charged for every com¬
modity, and the politicians in control of the state admini¬
stration were blamed for conditions. Since the summer of
1861, the old-line Whigs had been using this political dis¬
content to build up a new political organization, called
7
'Hendrick, Statesmen of the Lost Cause, p. 34-2.

71
the Conservative party. One of the principal leaders of
this new party was W.W. Holden, who had been thrown out
of the Democratic party in i860, because of his opposi¬
tion to secession. Holden was editor of the Raleigh
Standard, and he used this medium to criticize the Confeder-
U
ate government. He and the other members of the Conserva¬
tive party reflected the widespread discontent of the
people of the state.
fearful of the growing strength of the Conservatives,
the Democrats changed their name to the Confederate party.
The intent of this party was to call off the gubernatorial
election of 1862. Holden and the Conservatives were able,
however, to block their efforts, and the Confederates were
forced to find a candidate.^ They chose William Johnston,
who had been a Whig until the failure of the National Peace
Conference held in Washington on February 4, 1861, and then
10
had become an ultra-secessionist.
The Raleigh Standard announced that a meeting would
be held on May 21, 1862, for the purpose of expressing a
preference for governor. It invited to attend ’’all who
are in favor of reform in the administration of public
affairs and in favor of placing our best men in office,
^Richard h. Yates, "Vance as North Carolina War
Governor," Journal of Southern History, III (February,
1937), p. 45.
o
Lefler and Newsome, North Carolina, p. 439.
10Ralelgh Register. July 28, 1862.

r¿
and opposed to favoritism in the government."'1'^
To find a candidate who could defeat the Confederate
opposition was a herculean task for the Conservatives.
Taking the lead, Holden suggested William A. Graham, a
former governor, for the Conservative candidate, and sup¬
ported him in an editorial in the Standard on April 9.
Graham, however, refused to allow himself to he consi¬
dered, and Holden had to look elsewhere for a suitable
12
candidate. Although, except for intimate talks with his
soldiers, Vance's voice had been silenced by the noise of
battle, he was still a favorite of the people. The fame
which he had gained through his speaking before he entered
the war had waned very little, and many counties had al¬
ready offered to support him for governor. Apparently
thinking that Vance was still a unionist as he had been
earlier, Holden decided that he would make a good Conser¬
vative candidate. Moreover, since Holden had also been a
Democrat, he thought that the nomination would be more
palatable to other Conservatives if it were to come from
an old-line Whig. Consequently, he asked Augustus S. Merri-
mon to come to Raleigh to help bring Vance forward as a
candidate. Instead of going to Raleigh, however, Merrimon
decided to go to Fayetteville to discuss the matter with
•^Raleigh Weekly Standard, May 21, 1862.
•^Samuel A. Ashe, History of North Carolina (Raleigh,
1925), pp. 713-714.

73
E. J. Hale, the Whig editor of the Fayetteville Observer.
Together, they concluded that it might be advantageous for
Holden to make the nomination. Merrimon also went to Kins¬
ton on his way to Raleigh, and there he was able to talk
with Vance, who was stationed in that town with his regi¬
ment. Before Merrimon left Vance, he had secured a letter
from him signifying his willingness to become a candidate.
Soon after Merrimon*s arrival in Raleigh, at a Conservative
meeting held on June 4, 1862, for the purpose of selecting
a candidate for governor, Holden brought forth Vance’s
name.^
Vance agreed to leave the army and to run for gover¬
nor, because he felt that he was definitely the choice of
the people. His name had been advanced at a number of
meetings and by a considerable portion of the state's news¬
papers. He had also received numerous letters from various
parts of the state asking him to run. Thus, since there
was no doubt in his mind but that the people wanted him
to become governor, he felt it was his duty to abide by
their will. In his letter of acceptance, written to Hol¬
den on June 15, 1862, he said that "a true man should be
willing to serve wherever the public voice may assign him."12*'
Following Vance's acceptance, certain newspapers
!3w.W. Holden, Memoirs of W.W. Holden (2 vols.;
Durham, 1911), II, 18-19.
•^•^Vance to W.W. Holden, in the Ralelffh Register. June
28, 1862.

74
opposed his candidacy. The Asheville News said, HWe have
no doubt the Standard* s candidate, Col. Vance, desires to
serve his state the best he can, but what has he ever done
for her? The Standard can not point to a single monument,
except his speeches, which are well enough in sound. . .
At this point, however, the News erred. Granted that his
speeches had contributed greatly to his popular appeal,
they were by no means the only reason he was so widely sup¬
ported.
Vance had gained many friends as a result of his
leadership in the army. His courage in prosecuting the
war at all hazards had inspired the confidence of the
people of the state. Although he had entered the battle¬
field with the determination to remain there until the
South had achieved its independence, his supporters per¬
suaded him to change his mind. Feeling that he must respond
to the flattering indications of confidence, he agreed to
become a candidate only if tne citizens believed that he
could serve the cause better as governor than in command,
of the ‘'gallant soldiers of North Carolina.Fittingly,
he became the candidate on the people's ticket as announced
17
in the Standard. thereby giving the citizens of tne state
15Ashevllle News. July 3, 1862.
•^Raleigh Register. June 28, 1862.
^Holden, Memoirs of W.W. Holden, II, 20

75
an opportunity to reward him for his leadership in the
Twenty-Sixth Regiment of North Carolina.
Adhering to the request of such newspapers as the
Wilmington Journal, which urged that there be no public
speaking in the campaign and that the people refuse to vote
for any candidate who engaged in speaking, Vance made only
a few speeches, and these were to the soldiers. The campaign
was influenced more by writing and less by speaking than any
in which Vance was ever involved. In fact, the campaigning
was left almost entirely to the newspapers, in which both
candidates were vigorously attacked and praised. Those
favoring Johnston said that if Vance were the fine soldier
that he was claimed to be, he should stay in the field.
In refutation, Vance’s supporters contended that if Johnston
were the ardent Southerner he professed to be, he should be
18
in the field.
Vance’s opponents feared the effects his election
would have on the course of the War. The Raleigh Register,
which had been an old-line Whig paper and at one time an
admirer of Vance, carried this admonition: "Remember that
if Zebulon Vance shall be elected governor, the Yankees
will claim it as an indubitable sign that the Union senti¬
ment is in the ascendancy in the heart of the Southern Con-
^Ashe, History of North Carolina, II, 716.

76
federacy.M19 The most disturbing factor involved in the
campaign, however, was Vance's alliance with Holden. The
Register warned that the election or Vance would amount to
the election of Holden. Holden's paper, the Standard.
had given the impression of unfriendliness to the Southern
21
cause, and the Confederates sincerely feared that Vance
might follow the same course.
Despite the efforts of the Confederate party to
defame Vance with such epithets as "Yankee candidate" and
"pliant tool of Holden," public confidence in his ability
and loyalty elected him to the governorship in August, 1862,
22
by a vote of 54,423 to 20,448 for Johnston. The election
took place while his regiment was encamped at Petersburg,
Virginia, and Vance received every vote cast by the regi¬
ment. ^
Before he left the army to begin guiding the destiny
of his state through the most perilous days of its existence,
a complimentary farewell meeting was given in his honor on
August 15, 1862, by the officers and soldiers of the Twenty-
Sixth Regiment of North Carolina Troops. Two thousand
soldiers gathered out-of-doors at night to offer tribute
-^Raleigh. Register. July 19, 1862.
2°Ibid., July 23, 1862.
2^Ashe, History of North Carolina, II, 717.
22
Lefler and Newsome, North Carolina, p. 439.
2^Dowd, Life of Vance, p. 69.

77
to their departing commander. Resolutions expressing min¬
gled feelings of regret, pride, and gratification that they
had been called upon to relinquish their leader were adopted
by the regiment. The officers saw in Vance's triumphant
victory a compliment to his integrity, ability, and bravery.
They considered this moment of triumph for Vance a moment
of sorrow for themselves in that they were being "parted
from one of the best of men." As a tangible testimonial
of affection and esteem, L. L. Polk, sergeant major of the
regiment, presented a sword to Vance on behalf of the offi¬
cers. In response, Vance made a speech which was described
24
as one the soldiers could not easily forget. Little else
is recorded about the speech except that his blending of
pathos and humor won him a permanent place in the hearts
25
of those who heard him speak.
On Saturday afternoon, August 16, the governor-elect
arrived in Raleigh. That evening a group of admirers and
interested people gathered in front of the Yarborough House
where he was staying, and called for a speech. Although
he was weary from travel and weakened in health from the
rigors of battle, he made a twenty-nine-minute speech which
26
satisfied the Conservatives and pleased the Confederates.
24
Salem People's Free Press. August 29, 1862.
2^Dowd, Life of Vance, p. 69.
26
Raleigh Standard. August 20, 1862.

78
He promised "unremitting prosecution of the war, and pledged
himself to eschew all action founded on mere partizan consi¬
derations." Except for a hit of satire, this speech differed
from those typical of Vance in that it was serious from be¬
ginning to end. Indeed, when one of his admirers asked for
a joke, he replied that the time for joking had for the pre¬
sent "dried up."27
Opening the speech with a personal introduction, Vance
sought to gain the favorable attention of his audience.
He expressed thanks for the compliment that was implied in
their election of him, and declared that the people had by
this act taken their affairs into their own. hands. A por¬
tion of his introduction was designed for those in his
audience who might regard him with partisan hostility or
suspicion. To eliminate such attitudes, he said, "In spite
of feeble attempts to create and array parties in the midst
of war, the people had declared by their vote that they
no
would have none of it."
During the campaign, he continued, his opponents had
made many unjust attacks upon him. Perhaps he was too
sensitive to those who suggested that he had not actually
participated in the fighting at the time he had been engaged
27Raleip;h Register. August 20, 1862.
^Raleigh Weekly Standard. August 20, 1862.

79
in the severe battles at New Bern and Malvern Hill. Re¬
sorting to one of his characteristic forms of attack, he
used satire to reduce his opponents’ assertions to absurdity,
declaring he had been of the opinion that he was in those
fights. To illustrate this fact satirically, he related
the following story showing that he was of the same frame
of mind as one of the clients of a lawyer named McDuffie:
That great advocate made a speech in defence of his
client wnich drew tears from the court, the jury, the
audience, the women, children and all, and the result
was he was acquitted. After he had paid Mr. McDuffie
his fee, which was a good one, of course, tne latter
said to him, calling him by name— "You are certainly
guilty of that crime." "Not a bit of it," responded
his client. "I thought I was guilty before you made
that speech, but I am certain now that I am not." I
thought I was in both those fights; but after the ef¬
forts made to prove that I was not, I am willing to
admit that I was not there—though I do retain an in¬
distinct recollection of the bullets that whistled
around my ears. 9
The approval of his audience was clinched when he closed
the attack by stating that "there was one thing. . . which
he felt sure his opponents would admit, and that was that
he was in the race for governor."^0
With the completion of his introduction, Vance had,
indeed, in the words of Cicero, "render[ed] the audience
well disposed, attentive, and open to conviction." He then
stated his proposition for discussion, in an effort to con-
2^Raleigh Weekly Standard. August 20, 1862.
30Ibid.

80
vince his audience that the great absorbing purpose of the
state should be "to beat back our invaders and establish
the independence of this glorious Confederation of States.”
The fact that he had been accused of wanting to take North
Carolina back into the Union was monstrous, he said, and
as proof he offered the following rhetorical questions in
parallel style:
Was it for this that North Carolina solemnly dissolved
her connection with that government? Was it for this
that she had organized nearly sixty regiments, and had
poured out her treasure and the blood of her sons like
water, on every battle-field, from that of great Bethel
to the crowning victories below Richmond? Was it for
this that our people were submitting cheerfully to all
kinds of privations at home, while our brave boys were
daring disease, and wounds, and captivity, and death
in the face of the enemy? Was it for this that our
women and children had contributed of their household
goods—the work of their delicate fingers—uncounted
stores of provisions for our troops, encouraging those
who were already in the field, and bidding others to
go to their aid? Was it for this that many of these
women and children, on hundreds and hundreds of farms,
were toiling day by day in the burning sun with bare
feet, following the plough, handling the hoe and axe,
that they might produce and gather harvests for suste¬
nance while their husbands and fathers and sons and
brothers were engaged in the fight?31
The speech was concluded with a tribute to the soldiers of
North Carolina and with praise for the state. He said that
he had expected unyielding courage from the soldiers, but
that they had gone beyond expectations by becoming "fore¬
most in the use of the bayonet" as well. In a final effort
to maintain the goodwill of his audience, he referred to
the exalted reputation of the state, as well as of sister
^iRaleigh Weekly Standard, August 20, 1862

81
states, because oí' her honesty and integrity. Suggesting
that it was the duty, ana should be the pride of the people
to maintain this character under all circumstances, he ended
32
the address in the midst of enthusiastic applause.^
In less than a month Vance again faced an audience.
Four or five thousand people gathered in Raleigh on Septem¬
ber 8, 1862, to see him Inaugurated. A platform from which
he was to deliver his inaugural address had been erected
at the west entrance of the capítol building. As the band
of his own Twenty-Sixth Regiment played, the retiring
governor, Henry T. Clark, accompanied by the justices of
the Supreme Court, escorted him to the platform.
The audience anxiously waited for Vance to make his
views public. Only a small percentage of it had heard him
speak on his first visit to Raleigh, and he had not dis¬
cussed his platform before the election. Even his sup¬
porters were concerned about the position he might take.
They had hoped that his letter accepting the nomination
would outline his platform, but he subtly avoided any com¬
mitments. Instead, he left the conduct of the campaign
to ¥.¥. Holden and E.J. Hale, editor of the Fayetteville
Observer, without even explaining his views to them.-^
Consequently his supporters were as eager to hear his views
-^Raleigh Weekly Standard. August 20, 1862.
-^Yates, Journal of Southern History, III, 47.

82
as were his opponents. As soon as the oath of office was
administered by Chief Justice Richmond M. Pearson, Vance
satisfied his audience by delivering an address that left
no one uncertain about his views. Evidently this inaugural
address met with the audience’s favor, for it was in-
34
terrupted throughout with hearty applause.
Although Vance was only thirty-two years of age, he
was fully aware of the enormous responsibilities the gover¬
norship placed upon him. Referring in his exordium to the
oath of office he had just taken, he declared, "I can but
feel oppressed by the great weight of responsibility."
With a feeling of humility at the confidence of the people
in calling him "with a unanimity unparallelled in the
history of [the] state," he reviewed the task that was
his. As he saw it, his duties were "to hold the helm dur¬
ing . . . the great storm; to manage . . . public liabili¬
ties; to search out the talent and worth of the country
and to bring it into the service of the State; and to
clothe and organize our troops and to do justice to merit
on the field.Such an undertaking was, he declared,
enough to astound statesmen far older than himself, but
he was ready and willing to accept the responsibility.^
^RalelKh Register. September 10, 1862.
35Ibid.
36ibid

83
With strong ethical appeal, he ended his introduction with
a solemn promise "to bring a will and determination to the
performance of my duties which no one can surpass."-^
If before his inaugural address there had been doubt
as to where Vance stood regarding the conduct of the war,
there certainly was none at the conclusion. David Swain,
a former governor and Vance's friend and adviser, had sug¬
gested that the speech would afford an opportunity to de¬
fend his views before the General Assembly met.38 Taking
advantage of this opportunity, Vance centered his remarks
in "one great all-absorbing theme"—a plea for North Carolina
to be faithful in the performance of her part in the great
struggle, so that the Confederate states could stand proud-
39
ly among free and independent nations.
In defending North Carolina's entry into the war,
Vance declared there was no alternate road the state could
have pursued. Explaining that North Carolina had adopted
a wait-and-see policy after the election of Lincoln, he
blamed him for forcing the state into the war. In fact,
Vance absolved North Carolina of any responsibility, and
fully justified its action. In support of this position,
•^Raleigh Register. September 10, 1862.
-^D.L. Swain to Vance, Chapel Hill, August 15, 1862,
in Z.B. Vance Papers, North Carolina Department of Archives
and History, Raleigh.
â– ^Raleigh Register. September 10, 1862.

84
he declared that while North Carolina was engaged in an
effort to persuade the North to allow people to resist
secession by discussion or violence, Lincoln issued a
proclamation calling for seventy-five thousand men to
slaughter the Southern states into submission. In order
to fulfill Lincoln’s proclamation, the federal govern¬
ment went even further and demanded that North Carolina
provide a proportionate share of these troops ^to step
across the state line, and hand in hand with the scum of
northern cities and the refuse of degradation . . . cut
the throats of our kindred and friends."^0
Although Vance had not belonged to that group of
Southerners known as the rabid fire-eaters, he believed
strongly in their concept of state rights. While he wanted
to remain in the Union, he believed it to be a confedera¬
tion of independent states held together by a written com¬
pact. This view of the federal government was explained
in his inaugural address when he said:
The government of the United States was a great con¬
federation of independent communities, held together
by a written compact called the Constitution. Of
this instrument the very life and soul was the great
axiom "that all government derive their just powers
from the consent of the governed." To this the ances¬
tors of those who now are shedding our blood, together
with your forefathers, assented on the 4th of July,
^^Ralelgh Register. September 10, 1862.

85
1776, and the instrument in which they set it forth
and pledged "their lives, their fortunes and their
sacred honors" to maintain it, has rendered their
names immortal.
At the time of the inauguration, the war had been
raging for seventeen months. Vance was, of course, familiar
with the progress that the Confederate army had made during
these months, because he had been in the midst of the fight¬
ing. Only a few weeks before his inauguration he had led
his regiment in the Seven Days* battle around Richmond.
42
Here on July 1, 1862, he participated in the engagement
which proved to be one of the fiercest battles of the war.
With the conclusion of this battle, he saw the completion
of the campaign around Richmond, which was acclaimed a great
43
success for the Confederacy. This success, along with
others which followed, had brought the Union to its nadir
at the time the inaugural speech was delivered. General
Robert E. Lee had repulsed the gallant federal assaults
in the two-day battle of Second Manassas on August 29-30,
and western Virginia had been almost completely evacuated
of Union troops as the main Union army retreated toward
Washington. The only Federáis within a hundred miles of
^Raleigh Register, September 10, 1862.
42Dowd, Life of Vance, p. 299.
4^George Fort Milton, Conflict. The American Civil
War (New York, 1941), p. 220.

86
Richmond were prisoners and those preparing to retreat
Inspired by these results, Governor Vance used a portion
of the address to picture vividly the progress of the war
in phrases abounding in pathos:
For seventeen months has this unequal war progressed;
the many against the few; the powerful against the
weak; and yet army after army, as the sands of the sea
in numbers, led by vaunted Napoleons, and armed from
the workshops of Europe have been hurled back from our
capital with slaughter and disgrace, by troops in many
cases, ragged, barefooted and armed with the condemned
muskets of the old government!"2^
Vance attributed the success of the Confederate army
to the special favor of God. Illustrating by Biblical al¬
lusion, he declared, "The bush has indeed burned with fire,
but is not consumed because of the presence of the living
God."
There were some in the audience who were suspicious
of Vance’s views about the war. He had been aligned too
closely with Holden for them not to be concerned. They
feared that he would turn his back on the Southern cause,
and try to lead North Carolina back into the Union. These
doubts were soon dispelled, however, and his loyalty to the
state and the Confederacy were sustained with a positive
rebuke of those “who for the sake of peace would leave
their children a heritage of shame." "is there yet a
A A
J.G. Randall, The Civil War and Reconstruction
(New York, 1937), p. 3ÓTI
^Raleigh Register. September 10, 1862.

87
man," he asked, "in the gallant historic state of North
Carolina, so embedded in political dogmas as to be unmind¬
ful of the claims of his country, not to hear the great
blows which are shaking the continent for him and his
children?" He suggested that if there were such a man,
he should judge the fate that awaits him by what happened
to the people of Virginia, Those desiring peace at any
cost should, he said, see the murder of little children
and hear the threats against the chastity of our sisters
46
in New Orleans.
The Conscription Act which the Confederate Congress
passed in April, 1862, had become extremely unpopular in
North Carolina. The soldiers thought it unethical and
discriminatory; many lawyers declared it unconstitutional;
the people considered it unnecessary, undemocratic, and un-
just. In recognition of his audience's antagonistic atti¬
tude toward the act, which provided that all able-bodied
men, with certain exceptions, between the ages of eighteen
and thirty-five, should be enrolled for military duty, Vance
pleaded for obedience to the act:
Many of you thought it [the Conscription Act] harsh
and unconstitutional; it was harsh, and may have been
unconstitutional, though many of our ablest statesmen
^Ralelpdi Register. September 10, 1862.
^Lefler and Newsome, North Carolina, p. 442.

88
thought not To stop now to argüe it could only produce
the greatest mischief, for the reason that it has al¬
ready been executed upon at least four fifths of those
subject to it. However, objectlonal in its conception,
let us, at least, be just and impartial in its execution.
But I am sure that if every man who has his country's
good at heart but knew of the necessity which existed
at the time, he would render it cheerful obedience.
Within five weeks of its passage, one hundred and forty
seven of our best trained and victorious regiments would
have been disbanded. And this during the very darkest
days in the history of the war. °
Instead of asking his audience to accept a generalized
statement, he showed a familiarity with the requirements of
sound argument by supplying evidence to prove that the act
was passed during the darkest days in the history of the war.
Many adversities had confronted the South, and these Vance
used to support his position. Fort Donelson and Nashville
had fallen to the enemy, and General Halleek, with a large
iron-clad fleet, had passed into the heart of the South.
McClellan's well-equipped army "was in the act of spring¬
ing, as a tiger, upon Richmond" as soon as he was assured
of success by the disbanding of the South's troops. Within
North Carolina, Roanoke Island and New Bern, with their de¬
pendencies upon the coast, were possessed by the enemy, as
were much of South Carolina and Georgia. Vance blamed these
adversities on the failure of the Confederate government
to provide for the emergency, and predicted that utter ruin
48
'Raleigh Register, September 10, 1862

89
was at the door unless something was done to avert it.^
Perhaps the major climax of the address was reached
as Vance vividly portrayed the patriotic spirit which might
avert ruin. The Conscription law was passed and the country
was saved, but only, he declared, through the patriotic en¬
durance of the soldiers in the field. They had already
served twelve months on the battlefield, and most of them
were anxiously waiting the time when they could return home
to all that was dear to them. With a picture of the disap¬
pointed soldiers clearly etched on the minds of his listen¬
ers, Vance used the device of a simple rhetorical question,
"How did they [the soldiers] behave?" He offered persuasive
answers which were strong in appeal to the basic desires
of self-preservation and altruism. In them he pleaded for
the exhibition of patriotism by the citizens of the state
equal to that shown by the soldiers who had been under his
command:
. . . they swallowed down their bitter sorrow, they dis¬
missed all hopes of seeing their homes and families,
grasped their muskets and set again their resolute faces
toward the flashing of the guns. God bless them for it!
An exhibition of purer patriotism has not been seen on
the continent, and our government can never sufficiently
appreciate it.
I remember with a thrill of pride, the conduct of
the gallant men I so lately was honored by commanding.
They too were discontented, and spoke loudly and bitter¬
ly against the harshness of the law. I called them to¬
gether and simply laid before them the necessities of
their country and appealed to their patriotism to sus¬
tain it; I made them no promises, held out no hopes;
^Raleigh Register, September 10, 1862.

90
I even told them that though they were promised fur¬
loughs hy the law, they would not get them; that there
was nothing before them but fighting and suffering.
They quietly dispersed to their quarters, and in four
hours the regiment was reorganized for war! . . .
If they who went out first, and have suffered and
bled from the beginning, could thus submit, Oh! Gan
not those who have so far reposed in peace in their
protected homes give the remainder of their time to
their country. Our brave regiments have had their ranks
thinned by death and disease; will you not all go cheer¬
fully to their help? They have struggled for you and
now you are needed to struggle with them.-’0
One of the reasons for the unpopularity of the Con¬
scription Act of 1862 was the provision that those who owned
as many as twenty slaves could be exempt from military ser¬
vice. With respect to this aspect of the law, Vance pre¬
sented his point of view, and used it to gain the goodwill
of his audience. He had, he said, as low a regard for the
exemption of the wealthy as did the majority of his audience,
and freely voiced this sentiment in a plea to "let the law
be executed impartially upon all, rich and poor, high and
low."51
There were, moreover, duties to be performed at home
as well as on the battlefield. Vance was aware of what
they were, and declared, "Let those of us who remain at
home bend every energy to the task of clothing and feeding
our defenders in the field and providing for their wives
and children." He held that the first concern of the state
5°RaleiKh Register. September 10, 1862.
51Ibid.

91
should he for the care of the families of its soldiers, and
to this end he asked for an "imitation of that heroic self-
denial by which our mothers of the first revolution rendered
their names worthy of a bright place in history. . .
The peroration of the address possessed a dignity
and eloquence typical of the formal speaking of the era.
Humor was replaced by vivid figures of speech designed to
gain interest. The mood was serious, because there were
urgent problems to be solved. Optimistic prophecy, however,
over sha do vied any gloom as the speaker proclaimed in meta¬
phorical language that "the womb of the future, I am confi¬
dent, holds for us a bright and glorious destiny."^3 Using
a simile to epitomize the progress of the war about which
he had spoken earlier in the speech, he proclaimed that
"the vast armies which invaded us at the beginning of the
year have melted away like frost before the steady valor
of our troops. . . .'*54
Throughout the speech Vance never wavered in his
loyalty to the Southern cause. He made himself abundantly
clear to his audience, and the people were eager to listen
to the very end. As he closed his address in what one would
term the grand style, he reinforced in eloquent language a
5^RaleiKh Register. September 10, 1862.
53ibid.
54Ibid.

92
true devotion to the struggle in which North Carolina was
engaged. With a strong forthright plea for sacrificial
action from the people, he ended the speech by saying:
Oh, my Countrymen, let us resolve this day that • • •
North Carolina, at least, shall not fail in the perfor¬
mance of her part, that the streams of precious blood
with which our glorious sons have consecrated their
names to immortality, shall not be a vain and unac¬
cepted sacrifice, but through the valor and determina¬
tion of those who survive they shall be rendered effica¬
cious to the salvation of the Nation; and with hearts
strong for the mighty task, and purpose united, we will
give of our substance—give of our blood; we will toil
and struggle, we will suffer and endure, through all
the dreary watches of the night until the day star of
independence, flashing through the darkness in the
east, shall fill the whole earth with his beams.55
The address apparently met the approval of all the
people, regardless of party affiliation. Vance's pledges
appeared to be identical with the platform of the Confeder¬
ate party, and to the one upon which Johnson would have
stood had he been elected. The Confederate party claimed
the right of secession, and Vance recognized that right
when he said: "The government of the United States was
a great confederation of independent communities, held to¬
gether by a written compact called the Constitution. Of
this instrument the very life and soul was the great axiom
'that all government derive their just powers from the con¬
sent of the governed.'"56 Although his platform was simi-
^^Raleigh Register. September 10, 1862.
^Ibld.. September 17» 1862.

93
lar to that of the Confederates, his address pleased the
Conservatives as well. E.J, Hale wrote to Vance, "We are
very much pleased with your proclamation; it is admirable
«57
in style and temper, in matter and manner.
Opposition newspapers were also pleased with his
inaugural address. The Raleigh Register, which had sup¬
ported Johnston in the campaign, strongly approved the
speech by saying that Vance had taken "the stand which
should be occupied by every true son of the South." It
further stated that "neither our opposition to the election
of Governor Vance nor certain surroundings in which he is
compelled to find himself shall induce us to withhold the
need of commendation justly due to sentiments which find
CO
an echo in every Southern heart.
In spite of the strong approval of the speech by
most North Carolinians, those in command of the confederate
government did not place full confidence in it. Jefferson
Davis was skeptical of Vance's promise to continue in the
war. There were, indeed, grounds for such suspicion, be¬
cause Vance had never been a strong adherent of the Con¬
federacy, and in his recent campaign had not had the sup¬
port of those favoring the Confederacy. At this point in
his career, however, he had ceased to care for the Union.
57
'E.J. Hale to Vance, Fayetteville, September 9,
1862, Vance Papers.
^Raleigh Register. September 10, 1862.

94
He considered himself neither a citizen of the Confederacy
nor of the federal government. To him, North Carolina was,
in reality, an independent nation, not bound to the Con-
CQ
federacy or any other government. Therefore, he consid¬
ered the securing of food and supplies for the citizens
and soldiers of his state to be his major task.
After his inaugural address, Vance did not resort
again to the public platform until the spring of 1865.
His work was laid out for him when he took office, and
action had to take precedence over talk during these peril¬
ous days. There was insufficient food and clothing for
the soldiers, and their wives and children were completely
destitute. Consequently, the governor tried immediately
to relieve the suffering which the war had brought. In¬
stead of making speeches, he from time to time wrote ad¬
dresses to the citizens of the state and published them
in the newspapers.
An example of such a communication appeared over the
state on October 15» 1862. It was an appeal in behalf of
the soldiers. In it Vance admitted that “after the most
strenuous exertions on the part of its officers*' the state
found it impossible to provide clothes and shoes for its
soldiers without private contributions from the people.
Therefore, farmers were requested to spare hides for shoes,
59
Hendrick. Statesman of the Lost Cause, p. 235.

95
and mothers were asked to knit socks for the army. In
fact, he urged the giving of all items that could add to
the comfort of the soldiers, even suggesting that blankets
60
could be provided from the carpets on parlor floors.
On November 18, a joint committee of the Senate and
House called upon the Governor to inform him of the organi¬
zation of the legislature, and to advise him of their readi-
61
ness to accept communications from him. He responded with
the now customary written message instead of delivering an
address. The House prepared copies of the message for each
member of the General Assembly to read and study, and he
met the members of both houses in a conference soon after
62
they had received his communication.
Vance's first message to the legislature followed
the pattern of the addresses he had been writing to the
people since his inauguration. He showed his chief con¬
cern to be that of supplying food and clothing for the
citizens and soldiers of the state. The message, which
was patriotic, wise, and practical, recommended that steps
be taken to prevent exportation, except to the army or to
a sister state, of such provisions as cotton, cloth, salt,
leather, and other essentials. This recommendation was
60
61
62
Biblical Recorder. November 26, 1862
North Carolina Senate-House Journals
Ibid.
1862-63.
p. 7 .

96
designed to eliminate speculation by unscrupulous persons.
In order to relieve the suffering of wives and children
of the soldiers, he urged that corn and pork be purchased
and stored, and that it then be sold to citizens at rates
just sufficient to cover the cost of transportation. To
prevent tarheel soldiers from having to fight in their
bare feet as they had done at Boonsboro and Sharpsburg,
he recommended that the legislature place an embargo upon
leather. This action, he believed, would prevent the Con¬
federate government and the speculators from competing for
leather
Early in his administration, Vance also turned his
attention to the problem of driving federal troops from
North Carolina soil. Every port in the state except
Wilmington was then occupied as a result of Union victories
at Hatteras, Roanoke Island, and New Bern. Moreover, the
important railroad between Wilmington and Weldon was threat¬
ened by Union troops. Vance’s purpose was to keep the fed¬
eral army confined to the eastern counties and to maintain
control of the Wilmington and Weldon railroad. To further
these objectives, he began a correspondence with the Con¬
federate authorities in Richmond, demanding reinforcements
6^Gov. Vance’s Record (Raleigh, Undated), p. 2. (Copy
of source in pamphlet form is in the University of North
Carolina library.)

97
64
be sent to protect the eastern counties. This attitude
on the part of Vance made few friends among members of the
Confederate administration, but it enhanced his popularity
with his fellow Tarheels. Offering comfort to those at
home and on the battlefield, he declared that the Yankees
would have to leave the eastern part of the state even if
65
it necessitated his leading the troops against them.
Although he was out of the line of battle, Vance
was cognizant of and interested in the needs of the soldiers
in the field. Soon after his inauguration, he visited the
Fifty-Sixth Regiment which had camped at Cross Roads Church
near Tarboro. Here he talked to the men and led them to
look upon any sacrifice that might be offered in the name
of "the good old North State," as a privilege.
Believing it a privilege to serve his state, Vance
worked diligently from the beginning of his administration
to supply the necessities of the people. Early in 1863,
he conceived the idea of purchasing a steamer to run the
blockade at Wilmington and to bring in supplies for the
soldiers and the suffering people at home. Consequently,
6^Yates, Journal of Southern History, III, 55.
65Aubrey Lee Brooks and Hugh Talmadge Lefler, The
Papers of Walter Clark (Chapel Hill, 1948), I, 82.
^Walter Clark, ed., North Carolina Regiments,
1861-65. 5 vols• (Goldsboro, 1901), III, 321.

98
his agents purchased a side-wheel steamer, which became
known as the Advance. When Vance was notified of the
ship's first successful trip through the blockade, he
went to Wilmington to make an on-the-spot check of his
ry
latest contribution to the war effort. ' He spent several
hours examining the ship and enjoying the courtesies of
its officers. Then it was decided that the ship, which
had been stationed fifteen miles below the city of Wilming¬
ton, should be moved to a wharf in the city. Although the
steamer was required to have a permit from the health of¬
ficers before entering the port, the ship's officers as¬
sumed that the presence of the governor would justify the
violation of quarantine regulations. On the arrival of
the Advance in the harbor, an episode occurred which pro¬
vided Vance an opportunity to express a philosophy which
he reiterated over and over in his speeches and in his
correspondence to the Confederate authorities in Richmond.
Scarcely had the ship reached the point of embarkation be¬
fore a military officer appeared on the scene declaring
that no one should leave the ship and that it should be
returned to the quarantine station downstream. This com¬
mand infuriated the courageous governor who exclaimed: "Do
you dare to say, sir, that the governor of the state shall
not leave the deck of his own ship?" The officer's reply
6?Walter Clark, ed., North Carolina Regiments, 1861-
V, 359.

99
in no way eased the tense situation and only through the
persuasion of friends was Vance kept from becoming involved
in an ugly affray. Soon the chairman of the Board of Com¬
missioners of Navigation appeared, and the permit was
granted. As Governor Vance left the ship he said, "No man
is more prompt to obey the civil authorities than myself,
but I will not be ridden over by the epaulettes or bayonets."
Thus in one sentence he pronounced his belief in the super¬
iorly of the civil authority over the military as the
¿TO
guiding principle of his administration. °
Throughout the war North Carolina contributed heavi¬
ly in men and supplies to the Confederate armies. In spite
of her contributions to the rebel cause, there was no state
that more eagerly guarded its rights than North Carolina.
Vance was determined in his protests of policies and acts
of the Confederate government which he thought were infringe¬
ments upon the rights of his state. He opposed the Con¬
federate conscription law, the suspension of the writ of
habeas corpus, the impressment of property, and the use of
69
Virginia officers in North Carolina. This opposition re¬
flected a desire for North Carolina to be free and indepen¬
dent rather than a mere contravention in the successful
prosecution of the war. As early as November, 1862, he
68walter Clark, ed., North Carolina Regiments. 1861-
65, V, 360.
^%ugh Talmadge Lefler, North Carolina History (Chapel
Hill, 1934), p. 289.

100
employed the militia to arrest deserters in order to aid
the Confederate authorities in maintaining efficiency of
the army without intervention of Confederate agents. ¥hile
he was wholeheartedly in favor of the prosecution of the war
to he a successful conclusion, he was distrustful of too
much control by the Confederate government. He never once
wavered in his opposition to the Northern enemy, which he
denounced in his first message to the legislature:
Remember that you are laboring for the very salvation
of our people. The bitter cup that our captured cities
and districts have had to drink shows us . . . the mercy
we have to expect if our abolition foes should overcome
us.'10
Vance's sanction of the war eventually led to a rift
between him and ¥. W. Holden, who had been his strongest
supporter for the governorship. By the spring of 1863»
people began to talk of peace and reconstruction, and Holden's
role in this movement was responsible for the breach between
the two friends. In the fall of 1862, Holden had become
disturbed because peace had not come as he had hoped it
would. Because of the earlier Southern successes on the
battlefields, he thought that Lincoln would offer peace
proposals; but now he was afraid that the invasions of
Kentucky and Maryland had destroyed such hopes. He had be¬
come aware of the fact that if the Southern soldiers could
70Ashe, History of North Carolina. II, 757.

101
"whip the Yankees in equal or superior number . . • that
is quite a different thing to whipping the North into a
peace with us, and an acknowledgement of our rights."?1
As Holden's attacks on the Confederate government gained
momentum, accusations were hurled back by the supporters
of the Confederacy. After he had accused the Confederate
government of having become a monarchy, demands were made
for the suppression of the Standard which he continued to
edit. The Standard carried the following reply to the at¬
tacks that had been made on Holden and his paper:
Threats of mob law by Destructives are common. We
hear them from the Richmond Enquirer, from a judge
on the bench, and from the two Destructive organs in
the city, as well as from a Destructive paper in
Charlotte. ... We never have, and never will approve
should begin, woe unto him who be-
Holden believed that Vance would join in the peace
movement as a means of securing better treatment for North
Carolina from the Confederate government. He had miscalcu¬
lated the governor's nature, however, and soon learned that
Vance could be controlled by no one. Although they both
were "peace men," they were far apart in their views as
to how peace should be obtained. Vance was willing to
make peace in cooperation with the other Confederate states,
while Holden proposed that North Carolina should make a
?1Raleigh Weekly Standard. October 28, 1862
?2Ibld., January 28, 1863.

102
separate peace with the national government if necessary.
Holden's proposal of a separate peace was pronounced futile
by Vance. He thought that it would lead to a second civil
war by a revolt of those who supported the Confederacy and
he expressed this sentiment in a letter to E.J. Hale on
January 1, 1863:
I hasten to inform you that the convention programs
of the real "destructives" for such they are in the
worst sense—is to come off sooner than I expected.
I heard yesterday from a perfectly reliable source
that Holden had prepared a set of resolutions and
sent to Johnson County, sometime soon. Had you not
better begin to denounce it in advance. Warn the
people of the deliberate attempt by cowardly„traitors
to throw them into a double civil war. . . .
Although the breach between Vance and Holden continued
to widen, it received no public airing until later in the
year. On August 17, the Fayetteville Observer reported
the following division in public sentiment in North Carolina:
It can no longer be doubted or denied that there is
division in public sentiment in North Carolina—on the
one hand a determination to resist subjugation by the
Yankee government and to achieve the independence of
the Confederacy on the other, a "peace party," as it
is falsely called, that would be willing to have inde¬
pendence but clamors for peace with or without indepen¬
dence. The first group is headed by Governor Vance.
The other by the Raleigh Standard.' *
Replying to this report, Holden said that "no difference
is known to exist between that functionary [Vance's admini¬
stration] and the Standard, except as to the best means of
^^Vance to E.J.
Papers.
Hale, Raleigh, January 1, 1863, Hale
75
Fayetteville Observer, August 17, 1863

103
obtaining peace.
Vance remained relatively silent—at least in pub-
5
lie—on the peace movement until September 10, 1863, when
he issued a proclamation condemning public meetings in
which threats of resistance to the laws of the Confederate
government had been made. He commanded all persons who had
supported these meetings to "renounce such evil intentions. .
. ."77 At the same time, however, he protected the rights
of the peace men as willingly as he did the laws of the
Confederacy. A few days after his proclamation attacking
the peace meetings, a Georgia brigade under General Henry T.
Benning stopped in Raleigh while passing through to Tennessee.
Members of the brigade became embrawled with a number of
Holden*s friends, and one of the regiments went to the of¬
fice of the Standard and almost demolished it. As soon as
the governor received the alarm from a guard, he rushed to
the scene and demanded that the destruction stop. He spoke
to the rioters in eloquent but angry tones, telling them
that he regretted seeing such brave men engaged in so dis¬
reputable a work, and was pained to know that "a blow had
been struck at the dearest rights of a private citizen—
rights purchased by the richest blood of their patriotic
fathers and in defense of which every man among them should
^Raleigh Weekly Standard, August 25, 1863.
^Fayetteville Observer. September 10, 1863.

104
be ready to lay down his life." Declaring that although
he differed from Holden, he considered it his duty to "ex¬
tend to that gentleman the fullest protection of law until
an act of treason was committed," Vance vowed to defend
Holden as well as every citizen of the state. After he
concluded his speech, an officer assured him that there
would be no further violence, and in the midst of cheers
for Vance the soldiers marched off to camp. Early the
next morning, however, another mob gathered in the market
and proceeded to demolish the office of the State Journal.
If Vance had not arrived on the scene to speak to them,
they would have destroyed the Raleigh Register as well.
After listening to Vance the lawless crowd, who were pledged
78
to Holden, cheered both Vance and Holden as they disbanded.
Although Vance was opposed to Holden and the peace
movement, he could not bring himself to denounce openly
a man who had been so instrumental in his election. Soon
after the attack on his printing office by Benning*s bri¬
gade, Holden resumed publication of the Standard, and began
a campaign to elect peace representatives to Congress. Of
ten candidates who were elected, eight were pledged to ob¬
tain an honorable peace. Encouraged by this triumph, Holden
demanded that the southern states call conventions to ne-
^Fayetteville Observer. September 14, 1863»

105
gotiate for peace. Vance became disturbed by Holden’s
efforts, as well as by other evidences of discontent in
North Carolina, and in a desperate move wrote to President
Davis. He suggested to Davis that negotiation with the
enemy was the only possible way in which to remove the
8o
discontent. To this Davis replied that the Confederate
administration had made "three distinct efforts to communi¬
cate with authorities at Washington and have been invaribly
unsuccessful." Therefore, there was nothing more that
could be done by the administration in Richmond, but he
thought there was much that Vance could do. "With your
influence and position," he said, "the promoters of the
unfounded discontents now prevalent in your state, would
be put down without the use of physical force, if you
would abandon a policy of conciliation, and set them at
defiance.
Early in 1864 Vance realized that the final plunge,
which would separate him from many of his political friends,
had to be made. Holden and his cohorts were planning a
convention in May to take North Carolina back into the
Union. Vance strongly opposed this action, and vehemently
^Yates, Journal of Southern History, III, 69.
HO
uVance to Jefferson Davis, Raleigh, December 30,
1863, Vance Papers.
^Davls to Vance, Richmond, January 8, 1864, Vance
Papers.

106
declared that he could never consent to this course. Be¬
lieving "that it would bring ruin alike to state ana Con¬
federacy," he vowed, if the peace movement should be in¬
evitable, "to quietly retire to the army and find death
which will enable my children to say that their father was
not consenting to their degradation." Vance thought that
the withdrawal from the Confederacy would "steep the name
Op
of North Carolina in infamy, and declared that he would
"see this Conservative party blown into a thousand atoms
and Holden and his understrappers in hell" before he would
83
consent to such a course.
In opposing Holden®s peace movement, Vance had de¬
cided to become a candidate for re-election as governor.
He believed he could best accomplish this by taking the
stump early and devoting all his time and strength in "try-
nj,
ing to warn and harmonize the people." Consequently, he
began preparations for an unprecedented speaking tour,
which resulted in a memorable campaign with Holden as the
85
opposition candidate.
Qp
Vance to David Swain, Raleigh, January 2, 1864,
Vance Papers.
^Raper, North Carolina Historical Review, XXXI, 508.
^Vance to Swain, Raleigh, January 2, 1864, Vance
Papers.
85
Raper, North Carolina Historical Review, XXXI, 508.

CHAPTER IV
CAMPAIGN OF 1864
Having decided to break with Holden in December, 1863,
Governor Vance waited two months before he began an open
fight against Holden and the peace movement. During this
time the movement was gaining momentum under the leadership
of the editor of the Standard, who was hoping to coerce
Vance into calling a state convention. Accordingly, he
threatened Vance with defeat in the next election if his
attitude toward the peace movement did not change. "If
Governor Vance should go with the people who have honored
him by placing him where he is, he will be re-elected, if
he should desire it," said Holden, "but if he should op¬
pose the views and wishes of those who made him Governor,
he will be defeated. That is all."1 In addition to
Holden's efforts in the peace movement, meetings were held
in various sections of the state, and the governor began
to be flooded with petitions demanding that a convention
be called. A group of citizens from Henderson County in¬
formed the governor "that in our opinion the time has ar¬
rived, when North Carolina should be prepared to resume
^"Raleigh State Journal. January 19, 1864, quoted in
Richard E. Yates, wGovernor Vance and the Peace Movement,"
North Carolina Historical Review. XVII (April, 1940), p. 90.
107

108
her sovereignty and speak and act for herself in closing
up this dreadful war. . . c Even the state treasurer,
Jonathan Worth, promoted the circulation of a petition in
Forsyth County;3 however, the records do not show that
this petition ever reached the governor.
Amid the furor of petitions and resolutions, Vance
was also confronted with army desertions and other forms
of disaffection. Since the summer of 1863, the central
government at Richmond had been concerned about disaf¬
fection in North Carolina, but not until February, 1864,
did it take any positive action. Reports had reached
Vance early in February that Congress and President Davis
were resolved upon passing a bill suspending the writ of
habeas corpus throughout the Confederacy. Believing that
the bill was directed specifically against North Carolina,
Governor Vance wrote to Davis advising him “to be chary
of exercising the powers" with which it would Invest him.
With complete confidence that North Carolinians would re¬
spond to an appeal to reason and patriotism, he expressed
his intention of joining the hundreds of true men, who
were at work against the movement for a convention, and
2John D. Hyman to Z.B. Vance, Henderson County,
January 30, 1864, Z.B. Vance Papers.
^J.G. de Roulhac Hamilton (ed.), The Correspondence
of Jonathan Worth. (2 vols.; Raleigh, 1909), I, 2Í36-287.

109
to do this as soon as the proprieties of his position would
4
allow him to take the field.
Plans were already under way for him to begin his
stump-speaking campaign at Wilkesboro on February 22, when
he wrote to Davis. He had been assured that thousands would
be present if the weather were good. The consensus of his
Wilkesboro friends was that the deserters would come out
to hear him if they were granted amnesty, and many of them
would be persuaded by Vance to return to the army.5 This
assurance from Wilkesboro may have encouraged Vance's faith
in his ability to restrain the revolutionary tendency of
public opinion which he expressed in a letter to Davis.
He told Davis that he had no fear of trusting North Caro¬
linians to listen to right and reason from their public
men, but he did fear trusting in bayonets and dungeons.
The President, in turn, seething under what he considered
a personal attack on his official conduct, entered upon an
angry correspondence from which neither of the two men bene¬
fited.6
In spite of his differences with Davis, Vance con¬
tinued with plans to bring before the people his appeal for
4
Z.B. Vance to Jefferson Davis, Raleigh, February 9,
1864, in War of the Rebellion: Official Records of the Union
and Confederate Armies. Serles I. Vbi. LÍ, Part IÍ, 81b.
^Calvin J. Cowles to Z.B. Vance, Wilkesboro, January
20, 1864, Vance Papers.
^Yates, North Carolina Historical Review, XVII, 93*

110
opposition to the peace movement. Consequently, he kept
his appointment to speak at a Washington*s birthday celebra¬
tion in Wilkesboro, a mountain town in the heart of the
disaffected territory. Here he began his campaign for re-
election by publicly repudiating W.W. Holden. This speech
of immense length was delivered before an audience of about
two thousand people. In his introduction Vance referred
to the size of his audience by relating a humorous anecdote:
I do not know how it is possible for me to make myself
heard by this large audience, unless I adopt the plan
of the one armed soldier who could not hug his sweet¬
heart all the way around, and so was forced to chalk
the distance he could reach on one side and then turn
and hug as far on the other.7
The Wilkesboro speech is probably as good an example
of audience adaptation as can be found anywhere in his
speeches. Vance was mild and conciliatory, especially in
his discussion of the suspension of the writ of habeas cor¬
pus. HI went to ease those fellows off,” he said in a
later speech as he was explaining why he did not vigorous¬
ly condemn the suspension of the writ in his Wilkesboro
Q
speech. He both praised and blamed the administration
at Richmond, but he was careful not to antagonize his
audience.
^Raleigh Weekly Conservative. April 20, 1864.
O
Wilmington Journal. May 5, 1864, quoted in Yates,
North Carolina Historical Review. XVII, 101.

Ill
Continuing the introduction, Vance endeavored to elimi¬
nate existing antagonism by Identifying himself with the
audience. He recalled the first time that he had appeared
before them as a candidate for Congress in the summer of
1858. At that time they had not heard his name before, but
he had made a favorable Impression, and they had never failed
Q
from that day on to heap honors upon his head. There is
little doubt but that he had again made a favorable impres¬
sion as he welded his audience into a sympathetic body
ready to listen to the appeals to follow.
Before setting forth the theme of his message, Vance
made sure that his character as a speaker was firmly estab¬
lished. Perhaps he recalled the place of ethical appeal
which he had learned from his rhetoric classes at the uni¬
versity when he said:
I shall endeavor to justify both the public interest
you display and the compliment you bestow, by today
doing something which is very rare in a politician—
by telling the truth . . . you desire to hear about
the condition of the country. Of course you want the
plain unadulterated facts, not that which would be most
pleasing to you, but that which was true. You would be
unable to find a demagogue who would comply with this
requirement, because with him the habit of telling the
people that which flatters their vanity and carefully
avoiding any painful truth which might shock their ten¬
der sensibilities has grown into a second nature from
which we may anticipate no substantial food for the
body politic such as these trying times imperatively
demand. ... I am not so hypocritical as to boast that
^Raleigh Weekly Conservative. April 20, 1864

112
in all my past career I have never once talked "soft
nonsense" to the "dear people." On the contrary, I
am free to confess that otherwise I would not have
been such a successful suitor for political favors.
But I flatter myself, I have preserved enough honor
and candor to prevent me, when so urgent a necessity
requires it, from telling that which is most pleasant
in preference to that which is most true, and from
trifling with the destinies of my country. I esteem
myself very fortunate in having saved so much as this
from the breakers whereon so many craft go to pieces
in the yeasty waves of political life. Indeed I may
say I am as lucky as Paddy Maquire, an old acquaintance
of my friend . . . who, in reply to the friendly in¬
quiry of the latter, how he got on, exclaimed, "Well
may it please yer honor, I've bin upon yer state doc¬
ket an* bin drunk, an* got a flogging at the whippin'
post since ye was here; but thanks be to the Vargin
amid all me wickedness and raskhality, I've preserved
me religion entire." And so amid all my political
shortcomings I have preserved honesty enough, I hope,
to tell you what I conceive to be true about the condi¬
tion of the country. . . . 0
Having established his ethos, Vance proceeded to pre¬
sent his central theme which was a portrayal of the condi¬
tion of the country relative to its civil and military
affairs, the prospects for the future, and the duties of
the people in accomplishing the work to be done. Through¬
out the speech, as throughout the entire campaign, he re¬
lied upon humor to hold the attention and interest of the
audience. Jokes and anecdotes were used to poke fun at
the central government and at the same time place his audi¬
ence in a good mood. He declared, for instance, that even
the capture of Vicksburg had its bright side. With the Trans
Mississippi separated from the East, he facetiously remarked
10
Raleigh Weekly Conservative. April 20, 1864

113
that "the people over there are lucky, for the supply of
bad generals has been cut off, and they flourish a little
better on that account than we do."'1'1
Vancers humor In the Wilkesboro speech might be con¬
sidered as lacking in propriety, but so rash a judgment
should not be made without first analyzing his audience.
Wilkes County had many extreme Conservatives to whom Holden
appealed. Vance was convinced that he could not win the
election without the support of these old Union men, and
he believed that the best way for him to save his country
12
was to preserve his influence with them. Clearly he could
not hope to win their confidence if he praised Davis, which
he was not prone to do anyway. On the other hand, there
were Democrats in the audience whom he did not want to anta¬
gonize by vehemently attacking the president. Therefore, he
settled on a mild form of satire as a means of criticizing
the Confederate government. This could not seriously of¬
fend the Democrats, and it would let the Conservatives know
that Vance did not object to their abuse of Jeff Davis so
long as they opposed the movement for a convention.
Although humor was used throughout the speech, it
was never used without a purpose. It usually amplified or
^Raleigh Weekly Conservative. April 20, 1864.
â– ^Vance to E.J. Hale, Raleigh, February 11, 1864, E.J.
Hale Papers, North Carolina Department of Archives and His¬
tory, Raleigh.

114
clarified a point the speaker wished to make, Just as did
the story of the old lady who often rode horseback to the
country store with her husband. Major Smith, who operated
the store, always took the couple to the cellar to give
them a sampling of his wet goods in order that he might
sell them more of his dry goods when they had come back
upstairs. On one trip they both had too much to drink,
and on the way home the old lady fell off into the creek.
When her husband missed her, he rode back and found her
lying flat on her back with the water dammed up to her
mouth. Believing she was still in the Major's cellar, she
lay there rolling her eyes and pursing her lips as she said,
"Not any more, I thank you Major, not another drop unless
it is sweetened." Vance claimed to be more determined
about secession than the old lady was about drinking. He
wanted not another drop of it—sweetened or unsweetened.
At another point, he used humorous dialect to ridi¬
cule President Lincoln and to show that it would be danger¬
ous for North Carolina to secede:
But what would Uncle Abraham say to it [secession] —
that old gentleman whose personal pulchritude has been
the subject of so much remark? And who they say can
tell more bad jokes than I can— ... He would put
his thumb up to his nose and make certain gyrations
and evolutions with his finger and say: "Waul ole
North Carolina, I'm tarnation glad ter see yer come
outer Jeff Davis' little consarn, I swow; but yer
don't mean to say yer ain't in the Union again, and
the pertection of the best government the world ever

115
saw. Bin fittin' yer too long to let you sneak out
that way."1^
The crude and earthy quality of his humor in no way detracted
from its effectiveness, but rather appealed to the audience
as well as strengthened the arguments. The speech was in¬
terrupted by laughter and applause wherever a humorous anec-
14
dote was used to support his views. As long as Vance was
able to keep the audience in a happy mood, he was sure that
the people would listen to what he had to say.
The major portion of the speech was spent in condem¬
ning the peace movement and the calls for a convention.
Vance, however, refrained from denouncing those who pro¬
posed a convention. Three reasons were given for his oppo¬
sition to taking North Carolina out of the Confederacy and
repudiating the rest of the South: (l) it would be useless
to secede; (2) it would be dangerous; (3) it can't be done.
In support of the first argument, Vance utilized a
hypothetical illustration to show that it would be as use¬
less to secede from the Confederacy as it had been to secede
from the Federal Union:
Now permit me to ask you what it was that got you into
this scrape? Why, you all know it was the fact of your
secession in the first instance. Suppose you were sick
of typhoid fever, and had been close to death's door;
â– ^Raleigh Weekly Conservative. April 20, 1864.
14Ibid.

116
and becoming convalescent, the physician should grave¬
ly inform you that the only plan to effect your entire
recovery would be to take another spell of the infer¬
nal fever. Would you not think he was a fool? Seces¬
sion was tried after it had been considered for a period
of forty years, and the whole country understood it as
completely as an abstraction could be understood. We
were promised it should be peaceable. What is the re¬
sult, why, it has been everything else. It has involved
us in a war that has no parallel upon the pages of his¬
tory. Do you expect to find a remedy by a repetition of
the dose that brought you to bed? Or suppose a surgeon
would say to a soldier with a ball in his leg: "My dear
fellow, I don’t see how it is possible for you to obtain
relief unless I call for another one and put another one
in the other leg.Ml5
If Vance appeared contradictory in professing the weakness
of seceding from the Union, one has only to recall that he
regretted leaving it, and "was one of the last to lay it
down." Describing his feelings on leaving the Union he
Bald that he did so "with the same mournful feelings with
which I followed my dear father to the grave; I never ex¬
pected and do not now expect to see it resurrected." The
act of the convention in pledging support of the Confeder¬
ate government was a deliberate expression of the people,
and he believed it was the obligation of the people to sup¬
port this pledge even though it may have been wrong. Here
is found his basic philosophy:
A man should love his home if for nothing else but be¬
cause it is his, and shelters him; he should love his
wife if for no other reason than because she is his
wife; he should love his state because it is his . . .;
â– ^Raleigh Weekly Conservative. April 20, 1864

117
he should love his country right or wrong because in
its destiny are involved the welfare of the state,
community, home, wife, children, self. But if you have
no other reason to give for defending it, say you do
so because it is your country.16
Vance resorted to the use of both logic and emotion
to convince the audience of the danger of pulling North
Carolina out of the Confederacy. General Lee, he said,
would send down his veterans to fall mercilessly upon a
state which had abandoned the South. Knowing that the only
railroad communications from Virginia to the other parts
of the Confederacy ran through North Carolina, he believed
that Lee had no choice but to see that North Carolina re¬
mained under Confederate control. On the other hand, he
argued that it would be preposterous to think that Lincoln
would recognize the state1s neutrality or abate his claims
to allegiance and obedience. Instead, the state would be
forced to enter into the old Union and would have imposed
on it a share of the debt, taxes, and burdens of the United
States. "Instead of getting your sons back to the plow and
fireside," he said, "they would be drafted and sent into
the service of Uncle Sam, to fight along side of his Negro
troops in exterminating the white men, women and children
of the South.”
Supporting his final argument that North Carolina
l6Raleigh Weekly Conservative. April 20, 1864

118
could not be severed entirely from the Confederacy, Vance
generalized that the great mass of soldiers would not with¬
draw from battle and come home. With a series of emotional¬
ly packed phrases, he concluded that the soldiers who had
“followed the old battle flag through smoke and fire, in¬
to the presence of death, and waved its bloody folds upon
the height of an hundred fields of triumph” would not
“trample it under foot and crawl upon their bellies and
eat dirt in that sort of style.” '
Having the ability to hold an audience*s attention
for almost any period of time, Vance was little concerned
about the length of his speeches. In the Wilkesboro ad¬
dress, as was his common practice, he talked until he was
confident that his persuasion had been achieved. After
having presented his basic arguments against the withdraw¬
al of North Carolina, he assured the audience that there
were consequences other than those he had enumerated.
The first of the additional consequences was intro¬
duced by a rhetorical question. “What would become of the
currency should you abandon the cause of the Southern Con¬
federacy?” Vance inquired directly of his audience. Not¬
ing that the condition of currency was already bad enough,
he argued that since every bank in the state was filled
^Raleigh Weekly Conservative. April 20, 1864

119
with it, all of them would immediately be broken and worth¬
less in the event of withdrawal from the Confederacy.
The second consequence was presented with all the
pathos at the governor’s command. None but the insensitive
could have listened without compassion to his description
of the plight that would befall the maimed and mutilated
soldiers if the state should submit to the Union. With
vivid imagery, he presented a dark picture for the crippled
soldier:
Having once submitted ourselves to the enemy, you
might see one of them come up, his cheeks wan from
suffering, his rags fluttering in the breeze, his
wasted form supported on crutches, and ask the govern¬
ment for support. The reply would be: “You infamous
rebel, have you the impudence to ask support from a
government you have been fighting to destroy. No.
You will get no pension; but we will tax as heavily
as we can your little potato patch to pension the
man who maimed you for life, desolated your house,
insulted your mother.” Could you endure such a
spectacle?l8
As a final consequence of submission Vance referred
to President Lincoln’s proclamation of December 8, 1863,
which offered a plan of progressive reconstruction whereby
the Union would be rebuilt as the war progressed. A par¬
don, with certain exceptions, was offered to any supporters
of the rebellion who would take oath to support “the Consti¬
tution of the United States and the Union of the States
thereunder” and "all acts of Congress passed during the
18
'Raleigh Weekly Conservative. April 20, 1864

120
existing rebellion with reference to slaves. ...” Lincoln
promised further to recognize the government of any state
in which a loyal nucleus equal to one-tenth of the votes
cast in the presidential election of i860 should take the
oath and establish a state government with abolition of
19
slavery.
Political expediency made it imperative for Vance
to attack the proclamation. W. ¥. Holden was making poli¬
tical capital of this opportunity for peace, and apparently
was gaining support from all quarters of the state. Conse¬
quently, Vance sought to destroy the appeal of the proclama
tion by the rhetorical question, “What does Mr. Lincoln pro
mise?” His answer was purely assertive, but it was suffi¬
cient to stimulate the prejudices of an audience who was
prone to adhere to the doctrine of State Sovereignty. Ap¬
pealing to the emotions of his audience, Vance said:
He [Lincoln] says if one tenth of the people of any
state will support—¥hat? the Constitution? Nay,
take an oath to support his proclamation abolishing
slavery. If you support this you will perjure your¬
self as old Abe has perjured himself. 0
Typical of many of Vance's speeches, the peroration
of the ¥ilkesboro address was obliquely suggestive, and
was based upon a narrative from his favorite source, the
19
J.G-. Randall, The Civil War and Reconstruction,
(New York, 1937), p. 69^7
^Raleigh Weekly Conservative. April 20, 1864.

121
Bible. As one may observe from the following passage, it
was designed to motivate the audience to do nothing rash,
and to maintain their goodwill to the very end:
In concluding, fellow-citizens, allow me to remind you
of a text of Sacred Scripture which I think would suit
your case. You know when St. Paul went to the City of
Ephesus and announced the true God, he raised quite a
row with Demetrius and the rest of the Artizans in the
place, who had been accustomed to make their living by
manufacturing shrines for the Goddess Diana and they
were about to massacre St. Paul for his interference
with their profits. At the height of the excitement
which was about to break out into actual hostilities
there appeared among them a fellow, the town clerk,
who got upon the courthouse steps or stump and spoke
to the people. He adivsed the people to do nothing
rash. For said he you will be held accountable for
this uproar.
I thank you for your indulgence with which you
have attended my rambling remarks and in retiring allow
me to express the hope and trust that ere many months,
you may rest under the shade of our tree of national
independence whieh has been so freely watered with
blood and tears; within its leafy branches, the white
winged dove of peace shall tune her soft note to the
memory of your loved and lost, who rejoiced to lay 2i
down their lives for their altars and their firesides.
This passage demonstrates Vance's ability to vary
language style. In the narrative, he used ordinary conver¬
sational style which at times bordered on slang, whereas
the final paragraph was adorned in poetic language that
was highly figurative in character. While the reason for
this must, of course, remain a matter for conjecture, it
may have been an effort on the part of the speaker to adapt
his remarks to all the elements of his audience, or it may
21
Raleigh Weekly Conservative. April 20, 1864

122
have been an imitative attempt to appear as eloquent as
other speakers he had known.
The Wilkesboro speech stamped Vance with wide re¬
nown because it was the only one of the campaign that was
stenographically reported. The Richmond Enquirer had a
reporter present, and was the first paper to publish the
speech in its entirety. Using this source, many North
Carolina papers, and even the New York Times, reported the
speech. Moreover, the speech was especially important be¬
cause it set the pattern for the other speeches of the 1864
campaign, and in studying it one may become fully acquainted
with the general theme and characteristics of his other
campaign speeches.
All the North Carolina newspapers except four favored
Vance and were highly pleased with his speech. The Raleigh
Weekly Conservative of March 23 regarded the speech "as a
wise, logical, patriotic effort bounding in sound thought,
wholesome instruction and couched in terms of Jest, humor,
sublime eloquence admirably adapted to his audience, and
displaying a mind of varied and splendid attainment." The
editors declared that it was the best stump speech they had
ever read.^2 The Greensboro Patriot reported that the
speech was proof that the governor "stands the acknowledged
22Raleigh Weekly Conservative. March 23, 1864.

123
GIANT among his compeers in the Revolution of 1861l "25
Vance returned to Raleigh much pleased with the re¬
sults of his trip. He had spoken not only at Wilkesboro,
but also at Salisbury, Statesville, and Taylorsville. "I
am confident great good has been done," he wrote to E. J.
Hale. "Delegates from Burke, Alamance, Ashe, Surrey,
Yadkin, Davie, Mecklenburg and Forsyth came to me and en-
«24
treated me to visit and speak to them." He was confi¬
dent that as a result of his talks "the convention is
dead, dead, dead, if our public men will be a little
bold."25
Although Vance was confident of his success in the
campaign, many of his supporters were fearful of the out¬
come. Virgil Wilson wrote Hale: "I fear you are too con¬
fident of Vance*s election. I do not doubt that Holden,
the biggest demagogue living will beat him two to one in
this county and I fear throughout the West."2^ T. C,
Westall wrote Vance that his Buncombe friends were anxious
for him to give them a "big talk" before the election.
"There are a good many Holdenltes in this end of North
Carolina," he said, "but the most of them are tinctured
25Greensboro Patriot. January 21, 1864.
2^Vance to Hale, Raleigh, February 28, 1864, Hale
Papers.
25Ibid.
26Virgil A. Wilson to Hale, Yadkinville, April 23,
1864, Hale Papers.

124
with disloyalty."2?
The invitations from his friends continued to pour
in asking him to visit their communities during the canvass.
Typical of these invitations was a note from W. J. L.
Miller saying, "There is a strong sentiment prevailing in
the county of disloyalty or rather despondency and a want
of confidence in our ultimate success. They want light or
in other words they have been led astray." Another friend
wrote that "Holden's paper was a wonderful influence" in
the western counties; "it will now require great effort
and a severe struggle to effect a change. My advice is
you canvass the western counties. It is all important
that you do so, the people are tired of war and want peace
on any terms. . . ,w29
Vance found himself in a precarious position in try¬
ing to determine the kind of campaign he should conduct.
He felt obligated to abide by the requests from many of
his friends for a wide speaking tour. On the other hand,
the duties of his office required most of his time. He
preferred to attend to his office duties, and to conduct
the campaign in the same manner as he had his first cam-
2^T.C. Westall to Vance, Swannanoa, March 21, 1864,
Vance Papers.
2®W.J.L. Miller to Vance, Shelby, March 5, 1864,
Vance Papers.
2%.M. Gaines to Vance, Asheville, March 12, 1864,
Vance Papers.

125
palgn. He wrote Hale, "I do not know how I am to canvass
much. The duties of office are now exceedingly arduous."50
In spite of his feelings, however, it was decided that he
must carry his campaign to the people. Everywhere he went
he was warmly received, and the demands for him to speak
were so great that he had to spend much of his time on
speaking tours. "This is the trouble with it," Vance said,
"when I leave home once on a speaking tour I can with diffi¬
culty get back again. There is one thing very flattering in
it, however, and which affords me much hope of success, and
that is the immense crowds that turn out everywhere, even
on the shortest notice."51
In response to urgent invitations from five or six
brigades, Vance went to Virginia about the middle of March
to visit the army.52 Since his friends were fearful that
he would not be able to hold the soldier vote in the coming
election, he considered this an excellent opportunity to
present his views to the men in the field. During his
stay, the governor was afforded all the attention and
courtesy to which his office entitled him. A grand re¬
view of the North Carolinians of the army was held during
50yance to Hale, Raleigh, March 20, 1864, Hale Papers.
51lbid.
32Ibld.

126
the first day. He delivered his first speech before a group
of soldiers at Orange Court House, and his second at the
headquarters of the Thirtieth North Carolina Regiment in
the presence of General Lee and his veteran officers, as
well as the soldiers.^^
After being introduced for his second speech by
General Ramseur, Vance sought to place his audience in a
receptive frame of mind. This he did by resorting to the
light touch. He said he had addressed them at the previous
speech as “fellow soldiers,” but on second-thought he re¬
collected that although he once was a soldier, he was not
one now that he had “skulked out of service by being elected
to a little office down in North Carolina. He placed him¬
self on common ground with them by telling them there was
only one term that he could rightfully use and that was
fellow-Tarheels.
Throughout the speech he presented a ray of cheer
and encouragement to the soldiers. He told them that pro¬
spects were never brighter, and with recruited and strength¬
ened armies the people had become more cheerful. The fight¬
ing, he promised, would be virtually ended by the time the
leaves began to fall in autumn if their troops could just
hold their own. Continuing to proclaim the theme of his
^Raleigh Weekly Conservative. April 6, 1864.
34Ibld.

127
Wilkesboro speech, he declared there was only one way to
gain peace, and that was by fighting for it. He considered
it virtually Impossible to negotiate peace with the enemy
and he was violently opposed to any out-and-out separate
state action. To persuade the soldiers to accept his
view, he depicted the consequences of separate action and
presented the degrading terms that Lincoln would demand of
North Carolina.^5
The speech accomplished its purpose in that it ap¬
parently cheered the soldiers, who received it enthusiasti¬
cally. They were kept in broad grins throughout the address
by Vance's inexhaustible supply of jokes.General Lee de¬
clared that Vance's visit to the army was equivalent to a
reinforcement of fifty thousand men, and General Stuart re¬
marked, "if the test of eloquence is its effect, this speech
was the most eloquent ever delivered."^
After completing a series of patriotic addresses to
the army, Vance returned to Raleigh where he found invita¬
tions to speak still converging upon him, some of them even
suggesting that he and Holden appear on the same platform.
Holden, however, refused to participate in a joint debate
on the ground that he did not want to add to the excitement
^Raleigh Weekly Conservative. April 6, 1864.
36Ibid.
3?Ashe, History of North Carolina. II, 880.

128
of the time by “haranguing the people for their votes.“^8
Vance, therefore, accepted the invitations to appear alone,
and thus began an unprecedented speaking tour which covered
the entire state. On April 22, 1864, he spoke in Fayette¬
ville, where, in addition to proclaiming his own theme that
there can be no peace by separate state action, he vigor¬
ously attacked Holden. Referring to his opponent, he said,
“You all have heard of Holden. He wants my place. If he
knew as much as I do about the place, he might not be
anxious to get it." He confessed, however, that he was
anxious to serve for another term since he had been removed
from the army to serve the first term.
Vance also told the audience that he had invited Mr.
Holden to come to Fayetteville, because he intended to
speak of him personally and politically, and he preferred
doing it face to face. Proceeding to read Holden's reply
in which he had refused to come, Vance launched the follow¬
ing attack, with humor and sarcasm as the chief weapons':
He is so considerate that he don't [sic] want to take
the people from farms. Mr. Holden says in his card
he is not vain enough to hope to change any man's
vote by speaking. Innuendo, Governor Vance is thus
vain. ... He does not wish to excite the people by
haranguing them. Well, let him retire from the can¬
vass and there will be no excitement. He says, “My
principles are well known." Are they? Who knows
them? One may know what principles he professed five
38
'Raleigh Weekly Standard. May 18, 1864

129
years ago, and what opposite principles he professed
six weeks ago. But who can tell what changes they
have undergone in the last six weeks.39
While Vance carried his campaign directly to the
people, Holden vigorously defended himself and made counter
charges against Vance through the columns of his newspaper,
the Weekly Standard. He charged that Vance's administra-
40
tion was wasteful and corrupt, that he was neglecting
41
public business, and that he was working against peace.
The last of these charges was the one that particularly
infuriated Vance, and he retaliated in his Fayetteville
address by telling his audience to look anyone who says
that right in the face and say:
"Jim Jones, Zeb Vance says you are a liar and a scoun¬
drel." But when you hear him say that Zeb Vance is
fighting rather than crouching like a dog at tj|| feet
of Abraham, tell him that's so, stick to that.
In the contest, Holden claimed that he stood on the
platform of Vice-President Alexander Stephens and Gover¬
nor Joseph E. Brown of Georgia. By this claim, he was
43
trying to prove that he was a better peace man than Vance.
The Raleigh Conservative, which Vance established to serve
^Raleigh Weekly Conservative. May 4, 1864.
4°Raleigh Weekly Standard. June 26, 1864.
41Ibid., May 18, 1864.
42Raleigh Weekly Conservative. May 4, 1864.
43lbid-

130
as his organ,^ refuted Holden's claims by showing there
was no difference between the position of Governor Brown
and that of Governor Vance in regard to the great questions
of negotiation for peace, suspension of the writ of habeas
corpus, and the maintenance of civil liberty. Governor
Vance explained that he actually was the author of the
peace program advanced by Governor Brown. Instead of
following Stephens and Brown, he had, he declared, pre¬
ceded them, and that Governor Brown had acted in accord
* 45
with Vance's suggestions.
The records prove that on his plan for peace Vance
was closer to Brown than was Holden. Both Vance and Brown
proposed that the Confederate government should endeavor
to secure peace through negotiations with the Northern
government, while Holden wanted a state convention to in¬
stigate separate state action. On March 10, 1864, Gover¬
nor Brown delivered a message to a special session of the
Georgia legislature in which he expressed the opinion that
the war could not be terminated by force of arms, but that
it must be brought to an end through negotiation. He said
that it was tne duty of the Confederate government to ex¬
press the willingness of the southern people to make peace
whenever the enemy was ready to recognize the fundamental
^Yates, Journal of Southern History. Ill, 71.
^Raleigh Weekly Conservative. May 18, 1864.

131
principle of the Declaration of Independence.^ Three
months before Brown had delivered this celebrated speech,
Vance in December of 1863 had called to the attention of
President Davis the importance of negotiating immediately
for peace and begged him "in the name of humanity, re¬
ligion, and a bleeding country to propose to the enemy an
amicable adjustment of our difficulties." He wrote to
Governor Brown about the same time, urging him to make a
similar appeal to the authorities in Richmond and to unite
47
in an effort to secure peace. '
Holden's friends answered Vance's claims at a public
meeting at the courthouse in Raleigh on May 6, declaring
that if Vance was the author of Brown's peace program,
Holden was the "pioneer of the peace movement in the
South." Less than two weeks after this meeting, Vance
spoke to a large audience in Raleigh on May 18. This oc¬
casion provided him with an opportunity to substantiate
his argument that Governor Brown was more in sympathy with
his views than with those of Holden. He read a letter
from Brown showing that Brown, like himself, was opposed
to separate state action, but favored negotiating for peace
in the regular constitutional way. Brown maintained that
a state convention such as was proposed by Holden was un-
47
Raleigh Weekly Conservative. April 27, 1864

132
wise, because it would bring dissension among the southern
people and would be detrimental to the cause of southern
indep endenc e.
Apparently Vance*s speaking was more convincing than
Holden's writing. The Raleigh speech, Gorman wrote Hale,
"produced a marked change in this place and county. We
hear many persons now say that they had determined to vote
for Holden--but after hearing Vance defend and explain his
position, they were perfectly satisfied, and should go for
him with all their hearts. ... If public sentiment changes
from now until the election, as it has done in the last
week or two, I firmly believe Vance will carry even Wake
County the home of Holden by a handsome majority."2^ By
then, the people had become convinced that Vance was for
peace as much as Holden was.
Although the characteristic theme of all his speeches
was that no one surpassed him in his desire for peace,
Vance often presented new evidence to prove this basic
point. In a style that was said to be as clear as "a mathe¬
matical demonstration" he presented this idea to the people
at Snow Camp in a speech on May 17. Approximately fifteen
hundred people listened patiently for two and one-half hours
^Raleigh Weekly Conservative. April 27, 1864.
^A.M. Gorman to Edward J. Hale, May 18, 1864, Hale
Papers.

133
as he affirmed his yearning for peace. Explaining the
dangers that would result from calling a convention to seek
a separate peace for North Carolina, he advocated negotia¬
tions for peace hy the Confederate government. As new
evidence of his desire for peace, he revealed that he
had written Jefferson Davis asking him to negotiate with
the enemy.5°
He seemed to win the hearts of all the men, women,
and children present, as was shown by the great numbers
who came forward to shake his hand after the speech. Many
members of the Society of Friends, who were pacifists, went
from the address fully satisfied with their governor’s
SI
views. The reaction here was typical of that found
wherever Vance spoke. He seemed to win the hearts of all
the people. His popularity, however, cannot be attributed
to his speaking alone because, as the Raleigh Weekly Con¬
servative remarked:
He is the friend of the soldier, he clothes him; he
is the friend of the widow, he sends her cotton cards,
so desired by the thousand at the price of $5.00 in
Confederate money; and he is in advance of Brown and
Stephens for peace and the maintenance of law and or¬
der . 52
Continuing with peace as the basic issue in the
5°Raleigh Weekly Conservative. May 18, 1864.
51Ibid.
52ibid

134
campaign, Vance addressed the people of Smithfield on May
30. Here he assailed Holden for refusing to come forth
and make clear how he planned to procure the peace. Vance
was well supplied with facts to prove that Holden had fol¬
lowed a vacillating policy, and that his earlier activi¬
ties had promoted war rather than peace. Among these facts
was the declaration by Holden's paper in 1836 that Fremont's
election would be a sufficient cause for dissolution of the
Union, and that the South should secede if he were elected.
Another anti-peace move by Holden was his voting for John
C. Breckinridge, the nominee of the Southern Democrats for
president in i860, instead of Stephen A. Douglas, the re¬
gular Democratic candidate. These, along with the fact
53
that Holden voted for the state to secede, were conclu¬
sive proof, said Vance, that he himself was the better peace
man and that his opponent was merely a political opportun¬
ist. He left the platform at the conclusion of his address
with the large crowd of women and men strongly approving
his stand.^
Vance continued his strenuous speaking pace through¬
out the remainder of the campaign. From a schedule of his
speaking engagements, it appears that he visited practically
-^Raleigh Weekly Conservative. June 1, 1864.
54Ibid.

135
55
every city and hamlet in the state, speaking somewhere
every day and often at several places in a day.
In an effort to keep his speeches from becoming stale,
Vance relied upon wit and caustic remarks to give them
freshness. Although he gained much popularity from his
use of wit and humor, he received much criticism from it
also. After his Wilkesboro speech, scores of letters com¬
mending his efforts were written to him, but there were
some which pronounced opposition to what was termed the
"uttering of vain expressions." Typical of this criticism
is the following excerpt from a letter:
... it is because I esteem your wise, firm and pru¬
dent course in the administration of the affairs of
state, and a desire that you may be perfect in all
things, that prompts me to use the liberty and plain¬
ness which I am about to exercise. ... A few eve¬
nings past I was reading the address you delivered
at Wilksboro . . . and was much delighted with the
views and sentiments therein set forth, until I came
to where you was [sic] representing improvements we
had made since the commencement of the war in the
manufactory of articles necessary for our comfort and
the defense of our country. . . . You stated that at
the commencement of the war there was not a pound of
powder manufactured in the Confederacy, now we turn
out several million pounds per anum [sic], enough to
blow all the Yankees to the devil you hoped. My feel¬
ings recoiled at the thought a person for whom I was
cherishing such high esteem should indulge a desire
that not one individual only, but that a whole nation
should be plunged into hell. ... I cannot and do not
believe Sir that the sentiment contained in that sen¬
tence is the desire of your heart, but that it flowed
from a habit you have indulged in, of uttering vain
55Raleigh Weekly Confederate. June 8, 1864

136
expressions without due reflection, but if this is the
case still you are not excusable for Christ says that
every idle word that man shall speak, he can give ac¬
count in the day of judgment.56
Holden and his cohorts made political capital of
Vance's joking, which placed the newspapers that supported
Vance in a defensive position. The Wilmington Daily Journal
frankly confessed that Hwe wish this trait [proclivity for
indulging in jokes] were . . . less prominently displayed
by one holding the dignified and responsible office of
Governor in times of such gravity as these.The edi¬
torial could, however, see no justification in Holden's
attacks on the very thing he had praised when Vance was
his candidate in the previous gubernatorial campaign. The
editorial continued its defense by stating:
... we suppose it is Governor Vance's way and we must
take men as we find them. Governor Vance upon the whole
has made a good and efficient and loyal governor, and
in consideration of that really important and vital
fact, we are perfectly willing to overlook this minor
and comparatively unimportant drawback. . . .58
The most difficult part of the defense was undertaken
by the Raleigh Weekly Conservative in denying certain state¬
ments which the Raleigh Standard had attributed to Vance.
56
E. Hough to Z.B. Vance, Hamptonville, March 14,
1864, Vance Papers.
^Wilmington Dally Journal. July 22, 1864.
58Ibid.

137
These statements were said to have been made by Vance in
his speech before the soldiers in Virginia:
Boys, if you want peace you must go to the heart
of Pennsylvania and there fight till hell freezes over
as hard as a lightwood knot.
Boys, when you whip Grant I will send each of you
a bottle of whiskey with enough sugar to sweeten it.
Boys, you must fight till you fill hell so full of
Yankees that their feet will stick out of the windows.59
Although the Conservative maintained that gentlemen who
heard every speech made by the Governor in Virginia de¬
clared that the statements were a perversion of what was
actually said, the charge was not easily obliterated. Since
the statements were typical of remarks made by Vance in
other speeches, it was easy to believe that he made them.
On August 1, just three days before the election,
Vance made one of the last, if not the final, speeches of
the campaign to a large audience in the town theatre in
Wilmington. After being greeted with warm applause, he
spoke for two and one-half hours, using the arguments and
style that were generally known because of his visits to
every part of the state during the campaign. Asserting
that he made no claims to perfection or infallibility, he
was confident, he said, that he had done his best as gover¬
nor, and he believed that his administration met the ap¬
proval of the people of the state. Then, after viewing
â– ^Raleigh Weekly Conservative. May 18, 1864.

138
his own success, he showed the inconsistencies of Holden’s
position in contrast to that which he had held during the
previous gubernatorial campaign. He also showed the incon¬
sistencies of Mr. Holden’s political course during which
he had been a Henry Clay, hard-cider drinking Whig; a
Jackson, Union Democrat; a Calhoun, secession Democrat;
and a Conservative of the straitest sect. In fact he was
anything, everything, or nothing as he thought it might
be popular. u With this final characterization of his op¬
ponent, Vance was ready for the people to decide in whose
hands they wanted to commit the destiny of their state.
As the election day approached, the great issue be¬
fore the people was: Shall North Carolina seek peace “on
terms less than independence?" The people were ready to
give the answer. Vance had won the support of the Confeder¬
ates and the moderate Conservatives by his platform and
his skill in oratory. He had visited every section of the
state, as well as the North Carolina soldiers fighting in
Virginia. The soldiers balloted in July before the rest
of the citizenry, and they gave Vance 13,209 votes out of
15,033 votes. The defeat of Holden fully materialized on
August 4 when the electorate gave Vance 57,873 votes to
14,432 votes for Holden, who carried only three counties—
^°Wilmington Dally Journal. July 22, 1864.

Vance's victory clearly
Randolph, Johnston and Wilkes.^1
showed that the people opposed a separate peace and would
continue to support the Confederacy even though they
were not in full agreement with its government. Moreover,
the vote completely refuted the belief that North Carolinians
wanted peace at any cost.
61
Yates, Journal of Southern History. Ill, 72

CHAPTER V
VANCE'S GOVERNORSHIP TO THE END OF THE CONFEDERACY
The decisive defeat of Holden and the peace movement
he fostered was a personal triumph for Vance, He was elated
over his success and proudly boasted, "I have beaten him
worse than any man was ever beaten in North Carolina.”3-
Vance's high spirits, however, were short lived as he
observed the state of military affairs. Atlanta had al¬
ready fallen into the hands of Sherman, who was planning
to join Grant in Virginia. Lee's hold on Petersburg was
precarious. If it should fall, the fall of Richmond would
follow. It was in a mood of despair that Vance wrote to
Swain:
I never before have been so gloomy about the
condition of affairs. Early’s defeat in the Valley
I consider as the turning point in the campaign, and
confidentially, I fear it seals the fate of Richmond
though not immediately. It will require our utmost
exertions to retain our footing in Virginia until 1865
comes in. McClellan’s defeat is placed among the facts,
and abolitionism is rampant for four years more. The
army in Georgia is utterly demoralized, and by the time
the president, who has gone there, displays again his
obstinacy in defying public sentiment and his ignorance
of men in the change to a still worse commander, its
ruin will be complete. They are now deserting by
hundreds. In short, if the enemy pushes his luck till
■'•Yates, North Carolina Historical Review. XVIII, 315*

141
the close of the year, we shall not he offered any
terms at all. . . .2
Contributing to Vance’s discouragement was his be¬
lief that the people were not behind the war effort. He
was disturbed by the ease with which Sherman was able to
march northward without opposition from North Carolinians.
They had made no effort to destroy his lines of communica¬
tion, and appeared to care little about the outcome of the
war. Continuing his letter to Swain, Vance wrote:
The signs which discourage me more than all else
is [sicj utter demoralization of the people. With a
base line of communication 500 miles in Sherman's rear,
through our own country not a bridge has been burnt, a
car thrown from its tracks nor a man shot by a people
whose country he has desolated. What does this show
my dear sir? It shows what I have always believed,
that the great popular heart is not now and never has
been in the war! It was a revolution of the politi¬
cians not the people; was fought at first by the
natural inclination of our young men, and has been
kept going by state and sectional pride assisted by
bitterness of feeling produced by the cruelties and
butcheries of the enemy.3
The military defeats, and the demoralized spirit of
the people were not, however, the only causes for alarm.
With a large portion of the male population engaged in mili¬
tary service, an economic depression had enveloped all of
North Carolina. To ease the existing tensions, Vance
called the Council of State together early in October and
2
Vance to D.L. Swain, Raleigh, September 23# 1864.
"Ibid.

142
declared, with all the optimism at his command, that he ex¬
pected the end of the war by the close of the year. Obvious¬
ly, however, he was trying to build up courage, and was un¬
willing openly to concede defeat. He plead with the Council
to send more soldiers to Lee even if it meant placing state
officers into service.^
The Council refused Vance’s request to call a special
session of the legislature, and decided to postpone dealing
with the complex problems confronting the state until the
regular session convened in the latter part of November.
Vance delivered his message to the legislature on November
30, 1864, exactly two years after his first message. He ex¬
pressed grave concern over the conditions within the state,
and blamed the Confederacy for the state of affairs.
Relating the events which had taken place since
the adjournment of the last legislature, Vance reported
the recapture of Plymouth and the evacuation of Little
Washington. While these disasters were occurring in the
eastern part of the state, he said that the western part
of the state was being constantly raided by lawless men,
many of whom were citizens of North Carolina. The majori¬
ty of these men, who plundered, stole, and murdered, were
^J.G. De Roulhac Hamilton, Reconstruction in North
Carolina (Raleigh, 1906), p. 63.

143
deserters from the army which seriously needed them.-5 He
admitted that his proclamation promising pardon to all men
who voluntarily returned to the army within thirty days had
proved fruitless.0 Unwilling to admit defeat, he declared
that he could handle the situation if the Confederate govern-
7
ment would only release the militia to him.'
Continuing his message on the condition of the state,
Vance informed the legislators that North Carolina's supply
of essential goods had been practically cut off by the Con¬
federate government. This accusation was an outgrowth of a
policy by the Confederate government to require all private
blockade-runners to carry one-half their cargo on "Confeder¬
ate account." Since most of the blockade-runners were pri¬
vately owned, Vance's effort to supply North Carolina
o
soldiers and citizens with necessary supplies was hampered.0
The accomplishments of the ship, Advance, in transporting
essential imports for North Carolina had been a source of
^Raleigh Weekly Conservative. November 30, 1864.
^Proclamation of August 24, 1864, Vance Papers.
7Raleigh Weekly Conservative. November 30, 1864.
®Lefler and Newsome, North Carolina, p. 444.

144
great pride to Vance since he had arranged for the purchase
of the famous blockade-runner. Now that the steamer had
been captured by the federal forces, he strongly expressed
his irritation by holding the Confederate authorities respon¬
sible for the disaster. To substantiate his accusation, he
offered the following explanation:
She had been forced to put to sea with North Carolina
coal in consequence of the seizure of her foreign coal
for the use of the Tallahassee [a Confederate owned
ship]•. This made her incapable of making her usual
speed and left behind a column of black smoke by which
she was captured.9
Vance considered such conduct by the Confederacy in¬
excusable. He could not understand why the Confederate
authorities should interfere with the flow of commodities
into North Carolina to the extent of seizing the coal from
a ship owned by North Carolina. In fact, he felt that the
policy of the government was designed to prohibit North
Carolina from importing essential commodities. Consequent¬
ly, he declared that he was unable to see "why it should
be the policy of the government to compel the state to
quit importation of supplies for the common benefit, and
then pursue a course with our armed vessels so well calcu¬
lated to crush all importations."^0
^Raleigh Weekly Conservative. November 30, 1864.
10
Ibid.

145
Another problem of concern to Vance was that of suf¬
ficient money with which the state could support the indi¬
gent families of its soldiers and provide for the military
needs of its troops. In view of these needs, he urged the
legislators to increase taxes and to grant him extraordinary
power enabling him to act quickly in emergencies. Assuring
the General Assembly that he had never asked for added power
before, he explained that he wanted it only for the duration
of the war and "restricted as you may deem necessary to
guard against its improper exercise,"11 With this ethical
appeal he established himself as a capable guardian of
power.
A significant portion of the address was devoted to
the resolutions which had been passed by a group of southern
governors meeting in Augusta, Georgia on November 17» 1864.
The meeting, which had been instigated by Vance, was at¬
tended by the governors from Virginia, North Carolina, South
Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi. After several
days of free and harmonious interchange of opinions, the
group adopted a set of resolutions to guide them for the
duration of the war.12 These resolutions were of the ut-
^Raleigh Weekly Conservative. November 30, 1864.
12"The Meeting of the Governors," MS, Vance Papers.

146
most importance to Vance, and he eagerly sought to have the
General Assembly approve them.
Endeavoring to clarify the various resolutions, he
considered first one making it the patriotic duty of each
state to aid its neighbor in case of invasion or subjugation.
This, he explained, should be done only when a neighboring
state had been invaded, and if a state's best defensive
point lay within the neighboring state.^
The resolution that had aroused most interest and at¬
tention throughout the state dealt with the impressment and
conscription of slaves. The Weekly Standard, along with
other newspapers, considered it an effort to arm the slaves
for military service, and strongly expressed its aversion
to the proposal:
Such a course would not only degrade the Southern people
to a level with their Northern enemies who have been em¬
ploying slaves as soldiers, but it would soon broadcast
the seeds of insurrection and massacre in our midst. • . .
We must bestow the precious boon of freedom on our male
slaves, and then bid them fight for our freedom as well
as their own. What is this but abolition Itself?1^
Answering this attack on the resolution, Vance declared that
it was not intended to include the arming of slaves or their
emancipation. Instead, he contended, the Negro as any other
â– ^North Carolina Legislative Documents. Sess. 1864-
1865, p. 11.
l^Raleigh Weekly Standard. October 21, 1864.

147
person should be available to the government for service
in place of the able bodied white man who could carry a
musket. He disavowed completely any desire to arm or
emancipate the Negro:
Under no circumstance would I consent to see them
armed, which I would regard as not only dangerous in
the extreme, but as less degrading only than their
employment in this capacity by our enemies. . . •
This course would, it seems to me, surrender the en¬
tire question which has ever separated the North from
the South, would stultify ourselves in the eyes of the
world, and render our whole revolution nugatory--a mere
objectless waste of human life. ... Our independence,
I imagine, is chiefly desirable for the preservation of
our great political institution; the principal of which
is slavery, and it is only to be won by the blood of
white freeman.15
Much of the existing dissatisfaction and disaffection
in the state was prompted by the exemption of state agents
and officers from military service. Being anxious to eli¬
minate all hindrances to a concentrated war effort, Vance
appealed to the legislators to accept the third resolution,
which proposed to exert effort toward increasing the effec¬
tive force of the Confederate armies. He boldly opposed
the exemption of such officers and agents, and demanded
that any exemption must be based on service rendered to
the nation. The Confederate War Department, he declared,
had stripped the country of its most valuable and indis¬
pensable artisans, but there were, to his mind, quite a
l^North Carolina Legislative Documents. Sess. 1864-
1865, p. 12.

148
number of officers whose official services were not indis¬
pensable, Toward these shirkers, Vance was anything but
sympathetic. He regarded it an injustice that "they should
eat the bread of ease and comparative idleness whilst others
bear the heat and burthen of the day."1^
Having explained the necessity for a change in the
conscription policy, Vance proposed that he should be
given the power to assign all state officers to military
service if they were not already contributing to the war ef¬
fort, He also wanted the power to appoint farmers or
mechanics to fill the offices thus vacated, hoping in this
way to eliminate much dissatisfaction among the soldiers
and people of the state.
The peroration of Vance's message was designed to re¬
establish his prestige with the people. He ended by commend¬
ing North Carolinians for the good sense and conservatism
exhibited in rescuing the state from the ruin of securing
a separate peace. Stating that the unanimity at the polls
had alleviated all apprehension regarding North Carolina's
desertion of the rest of the South, Vance concluded that
"a nobler moral spectacle has seldom been exhibited."^
â– ^%orth Carolina Legislative Documents. Sess. 1864-
1865, p. 13.
17Ibid.. p. 17.

149
At the time of the delivery of this message, the law¬
makers were little concerned with Lee’s dwindling army and
dangerously thin line around Petersburg. Their chief in-
18
terest lay in the defense of North Carolina. Port Fisher,
located at the mouth of the Cape Fear River, served as the
defense of the port of Wilmington, the chief source of sup¬
plies for Lee's army. Eager to eliminate this important
supply center, the Union forces were intent upon capturing
both Fort Fisher and Wilmington by the end of the year.
Vance was cognizant of the havoc which would be
wrought by these Union successes in North Carolina, and
visited Wilmington to inspect the defenses of the area.
Although he had repeatedly urged the Confederate authori¬
ties to send reinforcements to Fort Fisher and Wilmington,
he found that the excellent fortifications lacked the
troops necessary to man them. Upon the completion of
his tour of inspection, Vance again plead with Confeder¬
ate authorities to strengthen North Carolina's defenses.
General Lee responded by sending General B. T. Beauregarde
to Wilmington to examine conditions and promising to aid
19
the city when the attack began. Beauregarde could not
^Public Laws of the State of North Carolina. Sess.
1864-1865» pp. 21-22.
^Official Records. Ser. I, XLII, Pt. II, 1235.

150
take command of the forces at Wilmington at the time, be¬
cause he was needed in Georgia to try to stop Sherman*s
march.20 Therefore, the troops at Wilmington were left
in command of General Braxton Bragg with Major General
Pl
W. H. G. Whiting as second in command.
On December 20, 1864, more than twenty steamers
were observed assemblying near the port of Wilmington,
and troops were ordered to oppose the landing wherever
it was made. This situation prompted Vance to issue a
proclamation ordering all who were able to stand behind
breastworks and fire a musket to hurry to the defense of
Wilmington and their country. He appealed to every man
who had "a spirit of a freeman in his bosom, a spark of
fire or a drop of blood of heroes*' to come to the rescue.
"Your governor," he said, "will meet you at the front and
will share with you the worst."22
Vance delayed his departure for the front a few
days, however, in order to deliver his second inaugural
address, which was on December 22, only two days after the
issuance of his proclamation. Since defeat was now in¬
evitable, he was unable to offer the people much hope of
20Official Records. Ser. I, XLII, Pt. II, 1142.
21Ibid., p. 1160.
22Ibld.. p. 1284.

151
success, but, along with other supporters of the Confederacy,
he was still unwilling openly to admit failure. Neverthe¬
less, he no longer talked of victory with the assurance
of his earlier speeches, but calmly promised that "the
thing that has been is the thing that shall be." He nei¬
ther made any new promises nor laid down any new regula¬
tions.2-^
Although peace movements had ceased, W. W. Holden
continued to urge the state through the pages of the Stan¬
dard to open negotiations for peace,Considering these
efforts detrimental to his aims and demoralizing to the
war effort, Vance announced his desire "to know no man
after the manner of partizan, except in so far as it may
become necessary to distinguish between those who would
thwart my principles and aijns."2^ The latter, he considered
the foes of his country just as he thought his friends were
the friends of his country. Having pronounced an undaunted
loyalty to the war effort, Vance expressed again and again
during the course of this second inaugural address, his
unwillingness to initiate a movement that would lead to
2^Draft of Second Inaugural Address, December 22,
1864, Vance Papers.
2 320.
25üraft of Second Inaugural Address.

152
the fall of the Confederacy.
Lacking a clearly defined thesis, his inaugural
address failed to meet the standards of a well organized
speech. It was obvious, however, that Vance's purpose in
speaking was to gain the favor of his constituency. This
he sought to do through an abundance of ethical appeals,
which were introduced by the declaration that "the dark¬
ness which obscured the statesman’s path is even blacker
than before."2^ Hoping that the people of the state would
have confidence in him during this dark period, Vance re¬
marked:
I can but sincerely hope that your charity may
increase accordingly. No living man could hope to
avoid censure in times like these, with issues of
life and death resting upon his hands from which he
may not, dare not shrink. I trust, however, in the
reflecting generosity of these who placed me under
these heavy burdens. So long as they will believe
that I am patriotic, that I am sincerely and with
singleness of heart devoted to the land of my birth
and my unchangeable love, so long shall my path be
smoother and my labours lightened by that spirit
which hopeth all things and endureth all things.2'
The conclusion of the address was a new and separate
persuasive appeal, rather than the usual summation of the
26
Draft of Second Inaugural Address
27Ibid.

153
body of the speech. He warned the people that the greatest
danger to the South lay in disunion, distraction, and divi¬
sion of sentiments; and the greatest enemy of the country
was the individual who would "foment passion toward internal
violence and self destruction."28 Following this admonish¬
ment, the speech ended with this plea:
Let all of our movement whether of peace or war be in
solid columns—our people at home as our brothers at
the front—standing in line and facing one way and to¬
gether! Then victory is not only doubly offered but
thrice glorious and defeat will be robbed of half its
calamities.29
Vance's second Inaugural address did little toward
brightening the darkened spirits of the people. With the
fall of Atlanta and the desperate straits of Lee's defenses
around Petersburg, all hope of success had now vanished.
The federal fleet continued to pound at Fort Fisher in an
effort to bring a speedy termination of the war by cutting
off this valuable source of Confederate supplies. The Con¬
federate defenses there collapsed on January 15, 1865, and
Wilmington was occupied by federal troops following the
fall of Fort Fisher.^0 With this disaster came news of
the failure of the Confederate peace commission and the up-
Draft of Second Inaugural Address.
29Ibid.
3°U.S. Grant, Personal Memoirs (2 vols.; New York,
1886), II, 399.

154
checked advance of Sherman's army northward from Savannah.31
The fears of North Carolinians were further augmented by the
knowledge that Sherman was advancing at the rate of eight
miles a day, leaving desolation in his path.
In an effort to console the people, on February 14,
Vance issued a proclamation. He pointed out that the Con¬
federacy still possessed vast resources in men and supplies.
If the people would support the army, he declared, the
South could still win the war. Appealing to fear, he
vividly presented the horrors that would accompany defeat—
four million slaves set free; lands confiscated; women, chil¬
dren, and old men reduced to beggary; the gallows groaning
under the burden of southern leaders. "Great God," Vance
exclaimed, "is there a man in all this honorable, high
í: ' .
spirited and noble commonwealth, so steeped in every con¬
ceivable meaness, so blackened with all the guilt of treason,
or so damned with all the leprosy of cowardice, as to say,
yes, we will submit to all this!"33
The Governor's proclamation apparently had little
effect upon the people, for only ten days later Lee wrote
3ÍHugh Talmage Lefler (ed.), North Carolina History.
Told bv Contemporaries (Chapel Hill, 193^), p. 310.
^2Ashe, History of North Carolina, p. 965.
33Quoted in Yates, North Carolina Historical Review.
XVIII, 322.

155
to Vance urging him to do something to encourage public con¬
fidence and to dispel the feeling of despair among his peo¬
ple.^ Acceding to Lee's request, Vance made a trip to the
front lines, where he encouraged the men who were preparing
to defend North Carolina from the powerful onslaught of the
approaching Union forces.
On his way back to Raleigh, he stopped in Goldsboro
on February 18, and made a speech in an effort to encourage
the large crowd gathered to hear him. Hoping to cheer the
people, he minimized the losses of the Confederacy and as¬
sured them of Lee's promise that Sherman must and would be
stopped. After giving a vivid description of the patriot¬
ism that existed at the beginning of the war, he inquired,
"How is it now when we begin to talk of battles not in
Virginia, or Georgia or South Carolina, but in North
Carolina?" He exhorted, "Now is the time to show if we
have any backbone—to show if we are kin to the men who
fought at Manassas or Gettysburg. "Boasting of his own
record of patriotism, he tried to Instill the same patriotic
spirit into the people by means of ethical persuasion. He
said that he was one of the last to forsake the Union, but
since his state had withdrawn from the Union forever he
•^Quoted in Yates, North Carolina Historical Review.
XVIII, 322.

156
was ready to die for the pledges that were made there. "Are
you?" he asked.
Knowing that there were in his audience those who
favored peace at any price, Vance explained the status of
the peace efforts. In deference to those who had been de¬
luded by the advocates of peace, he assured the audience
that efforts to secure peace had been made by the Confeder¬
ate authorities. President Davis, he explained, had written
him of three separate attempts at peace. The last of these
was the meeting of Confederate delegates with President
Lincoln and Secretary of State Seward at Hampton Roads.
This meeting failed, Vance explained, because nothing less
than unconditional surrender would satisfy Lincoln and
Seward. He blamed the Union for the failure of the meet¬
ing. He was confident that the South's delegates, Alex¬
ander Stephens and J. A. Campbell, who originally had been
Union men, did everything in their power to make a treaty
on a basis that would be acceptable to the Confederacy.-^
Continuing his speech, Vance relied upon pathetic
appeals to motivate his audience. In the following pas¬
sage he described the dire consequences of submission as
â– ^Raleigh Weekly Conservative. March 1, 1865.
36Ibld.

157
he appealed to the basic wants of self-preservation, pre¬
servation of ego, preservation of wealth, and altruism:
Four millions of slaves, a large number who are al¬
ready armed, cast loose in our midst; our lands con¬
fiscated and sold out to pay the cost of subjugation
and divided among negro soldiers as award for the
slaughter of their masters; our women, men and chil¬
dren reduced to beggary, and cast out from our happy
homes; our mutilated and diseased soldiers starving
in rags from door to door, spurned by pensioned negro
soldiers whilst the gallows grow weary under the bur¬
den of our wisest statesmen and bravest defenders;
universal financial ruin and intolerable oppression
and all of this because you were true to your country,-5'
Knowing that all good Southerners admired and respected
Robert E. Lee, Vance capitalized on this sentiment as another
source of appeal. In an emotionally packed sentence, he
pictured "General Lee, the greatest captain of the age"
bowing at the footstool of a low blackguard Illinois cross¬
roads lawyer, to beg his life for the sake of his wife and
children. "Are there any men in North Carolina," he asked,
"willing to see this?" With cries of "Never! Never!"
coming from the audience, he was assured that it was no
longer apathetic. This audience reaction encouraged him
to denounce those who would sanction such a degraded peace:
If there be, then there are no words in the lexicon I
use capable of depicting the base brutality of his
soul. No sirs, we mean to resist such demands. To
37
Raleigh Weekly Conservative. March 1, 1865

158
submit is not better than the extremest resistance,
and he who submits is a mean dog.3°
Despite the darkness of the times, Vance sought in
the speech to encourage the people. He told them that if
they stood by the army and the government, he saw "in
letters of living light, written upon tattered bloodstained
banners the independence of the Confederate States in less
than twelve months."39 This was apparently an effort to
cheer the people rather than a true expression of his be¬
lief for he wrote to Governor Brown of Georgia on January
18, "I regard it our chief aim at this time to hold the
demoralized and trembling fragments of society and law to¬
gether and prevent them from dropping to pieces until the
rapidly hastening end of our struggle shall be developed."^0
Nevertheless, he maintained throughout the Goldsboro speech
that prospects were not too gloomy. He had been encouraged,
he claimed, by his visit a few days earlier with the soldiers
at Wilmington. After talking to the men of General Hoke* s
lines, he was convinced that they were steadfast in their
willingness to fight to the bitter end. His description of
the attitude of these soldiers was one of the strongest ap¬
peals in the speech:
3®Raleigh Weekly Conservative. March 1, 1865.
39Ibid.
^Vance to Joseph E. Brown, Raleigh, January 18, 1865,
printed in Official Records, Ser. I, Vol. XLVI, Pt. II, 1093-
1094.

159
The common expression [of the soldiers] was 'Governor
you take care of our folks at home as best you can,
we'll fight this thing out yet. . . .' that is the
voice of the brave fellows I saw there half clad and
badly fed, standing many of them knee deep in the mud,
their musket firmly clutched and their eyes bright and
clear, firmly bent upon the foe some fifty to seventy
yards in front.^l
In the peroration of his last public speech as war
governor, he attempted to emphasize the optimistic note of
the body of the speech and to motivate the audience to co¬
operate vigorously in the war effort. "All we have to do
is to stand firm together," he said, "to trust in Divine
aid, but at the same time to do our duty by keeping an eye
on human means.Those who could do nothing better should
cheer the soldiers and cheer each other, and those who had
the means should feed the families of the soldiers. "If
you do not," declared Vance, "the land on which last year
you raised such large crops will be plowed this year by
the foe."^
At the very time of the Goldsboro speech, Sherman
was approaching the North Carolina state line, after having
almost completely devastated Georgia and South Carolina. At¬
tempting to strengthen the Confederate defenses, General Lee
41
Raleigh Weekly Conservative. March 1, 1865.
^Richmond Whig. February 25, 1865, quoted in New York
Times. February 28, 1865.
^Richmond Examiner. February 28, 1865, quoted in New
York Times. March 5.' 1865.

160
had placed General Joseph E. Johnston In charge of the forces
in both Carolinas. The Confederates were unable to determine
what course Sherman would take, because it was feasible for
him to move either on Charlotte or on Fayetteville. By
March 6 there was no further doubt. Sherman's troops had
already crossed the Pee Dee river and were marching straight
44
toward Fayetteville. They entered the city on March 11.
Although Sherman's army was advancing through the
southern counties of the state, Vance remained unwilling
for North Carolina to initiate a movement that would lead
to the surrender of the Confederacy. His friends as well
as his political opponents were now advocating separate
state action. Shortly after the failure of the Hampton
Roads Conference, Senator William A. Graham appealed to
Vance on behalf of a number of Confederate senators and re¬
presentatives who were ready to concede defeat. In great
secrecy, Graham asked Vance to issue an order for all North
Carolina troops to return home in order to force Lee to sur¬
render. Vance excitedly jumped from his seat and demanded
to know if Graham advised such action. "No," Graham ans¬
wered, "I only deliver the message I was requested to
bring." Vance then swore and angrily exclaimed:
44
Grant, Personal Memoirs. II, 417.

161
Nol I would see the last one of them in perdition
before I would do it. Were I to do that, the last of
it would not be heard for generations to come. It would
be charged that the Confederacy might have succeeded but
for the treachery of North Carolina. So far as the honor
of the state is in my keeping it shall be untarnished.
She must stand or fall with her sisters.45
Realizing that Virginia and North Carolina were practi¬
cally the only Confederate states remaining in the conflict,
Graham urged Vance to convene the General Assembly immediate¬
ly to consider ending the war. It was generally acknowledged
that if North Carolina should surrender all would be over,
since General Lee’s last source of supplies would be cut off.
Regardless of North Carolina's action, Graham told Vance that
Richmond could not last more than thirty days and that Lee’s
army would be dispersed shortly thereafter for want of food.
Collapse would be certain to come then, for General Johnston
could not raise sufficient force to stop Sherman. Before
leaving the Governor, Graham secured his promise to call a
meeting of the Council of State on March 27*
After several days of waiting with no word from Vance,
Graham visited him again. He informed Graham that the Council
of State would not agree to call a special session of the
legislature. Although he was aware that practically every¬
one was of the same opinion as Graham, Vance did not wish to
call the legislature together himself. This would place him,
he explained, in the position of acting independently of
45
'Yates, North Carolina Historical Review. XVIII, 324

162
Davis if the legislature should agree to seek a separate
peace for the state. He finally agreed, however, to call
another meeting of the Council of State. This group pre¬
sumably decided to keep the state in the war which was ap-
46
parently what Vance wanted to do anyway.
Leaving Fayetteville, Sherman marched to Goldsboro,
where he was joined by General Schofield. While Sherman
was in Goldsboro planning an advance on Raleigh, Vance
was moving the public records and state property to a
place of safety. Most of these valuables were deposited
47
at Graham, Greensboro, and Salisbury. Upon learning of
the fall of Richmond on April 2, 1865, David L. Swain
proposed that Vance try to make terms with General Sher¬
man in order to save the state from devastation and the
university and the capital city from destruction. This
he agreed to do.
Convinced that total collapse of the Confederacy was
inevitable, on April 12 Vance sent Graham and Swain to
Sherman with a flag of truce. Along with verbal instru¬
ctions to learn on what terms Vance could ramain in Raleigh
^Corneilia Phillips Spencer, The Last Ninety Days of
the War in North Carolina (New York, 188¿), p. 13Ó.
47
Vance to Mrs. Cornelia P. Spencer, Statesville,
February 17, 1866, Swain Papers, State Department of Archives
and History, Raleigh.

163
to conduct the functions of his office, they carried a
48
letter requesting an interview with Sherman.
After much difficulty in reaching Sherman* s head¬
quarters, the commissioners were finally able to deliver
Vance's letter to the general. He accepted the letter in
an amicable maimer and in the following message to Vance,
expressed his willingness to make a generous arrangement
with the state government:
I have the honor to acknowledge receipt of your
communication of this date, and enclose you a safe
guard for yourself and any members of the state govern¬
ment that choose to remain in Raleigh.4"
Although the commissioners planned to return to
Raleigh by four o'clock in the afternoon, Sherman was
determined that they should remain at his camp until the
next morning. He suggested that the engine of their train
needed repairs, and promised that the train would be at
50
their service as soon as the repairs were made. Why
Sherman wanted to delay the return of the commissioners
is not known, but whatever the reason, they were detained
at a crucial time. Sherman's men were expected to enter
Raleigh during the night, and the Governor's action de-
^Spencer, The Last Ninety Days of the War in North
Carolina, p. 138.*”
^W.T. Sherman to Vance, Gully's Station, April 12,
1865, Swain Papers.
Spencer, The Last Ninety Days of the War in North
Carolina, p. 154."

164
pended upon Sherman's reply to his letter.^1
After having made arrangements to leave Raleigh,
Vance eagerly waited until midnight for the commissioners'
return. Unwilling to trust himself to Yankee hands, he
then mounted his horse and rode out to where General Hoke
and eight thousand North Carolinians were encamped. Here
he slept the remainder of the night on a blanket in the
general's tent, and left on the morning of April 13 for
Hillsboro where he hoped to meet Graham and Swain. Al¬
though the commissioners had not arrived in Hillsboro,
Vance spent the night at Graham's home where the two com¬
missioners found him the next morning and delivered Sherman's
reply.
Along with an account of their mission, Graham related
to Vance the details of the capture of Raleigh. Having ar¬
rived in the capital city the morning after the Governor's
departure, the commissioners took charge of the State House
and arranged for the protection of the city in accordance
with Sherman's instructions. When the keys of the capítol
were delivered to Sherman, he expressed regret that Vance
had left, and invited him to return with the guarantee of a
safe conduct through the lines for him or any member of the
-^Vance to Spencer, Statesville, February 17, 1866,
Swain Papers.
^2Ibid., Charlotte, April 7, 1866, Swain Papers.

165
state and local government
Vance hoped to resume his duties as governor, but he
first responded to a request to meet President Davis in
Greensboro* Upon his arrival in Greensboro, however, he
found that the President and his cabinet had moved on to
Charlotte. Consequently, he followed them there. Arriving
in Charlotte, he met with Davis and his cabinet. Davis was
optimistic as he discussed the status of the Confederacy.
He urged Vance to assist in retreating beyond the Mississip¬
pi with the soldiers who were still faithful to the Con¬
federate cause. Upon the completion of his remarks a long
silence followed. This was finally broken by John C.
Breckinridge, a member of the cabinet, who declared that
Mr. Davis was not speaking candidly to Governor Vance, and
that he should not be advised to forsake the duties of of¬
fice to follow a retreating Confederacy. "Well,*' replied
Davis, ’’perhaps, General, you are right." Agreeing with
Breckinridge, Vance shook hands with the President and bade
farewell to the Confederacy.^
Vance’s desire to return to his official duties never
was realized, however, for the Confederate military authori-
53spencer, The Last Ninety Days of the War in North
Carolina, p. 163.""
5^Dowd, Life of Vance, p. 486.

166
ties would not allow him to pass through the lines while
negotiations between General Sherman and General Johnston
gc
were in progress.Although negotiations soon ended in a
treaty which would have meant the recognition of state gov¬
ernments and the avoidance of the humiliation and ruin of
Reconstruction, the federal government refused to approve
it.General Schofield was placed in charge of Raleigh,
57
and he refused to allow Vance to return to the Capitol.
In an effort to avert some of the distress confronting
the people, Vance issued his last proclamation on April 28.
He urged the people to abstain from all lawlessness, and
called upon the soldiers to organize into groups to arrest
or slay "any bodies of lawless and unauthorized men who may
be committing depredations upon the persons or property of
peaceable citizens. . . ."58
After issuing this proclamation, Vance remained in
Greensboro until the arrival of General Schofield. He sur¬
rendered himself to Schofield, who refused to arrest him be-
55spencer, The Last Ninety Days of the War in North
Carolina, p. 184.
56yance to Spencer, Statesville, February 17» 1866,
Vance Papers.
57jonathan Worth to Vance, Raleigh, April 28, 1865,
Vance Papers.
58
Yates, North Carolina Historical Review. XVIII, 335.

167
cause he had no orders from the federal government. In¬
stead, he was told to go to his family in Statesville.^9
Gathering together his few remaining possessions, consisting
of a saddle horse, a wagon, and a pair of mules, Vance placed
them in a freight car to travel with him to Statesville,
where he arrived on April 14. His wife and four sons had
taken refuge there before Sherman's march on Raleigh, and
there the family remained until Vance was arrested by a de¬
tachment of soldiers on May 13, his thirty-fifth birthday.
Since there were no trains running and the soldiers
had only pack horses, there was no transportation available.
However, Samuel Wittkowsky, a merchant in the town, offered
to take Vance to Salisbury in his buggy. They started on
the morning of May 14. Pour men marched on each side of
the buggy, while the remainder of the guard walked in front
and behind. At first Vance was overcome with grief and be¬
gan to cry as they drove along in silence. As they reached
the edge of town, he turned to his companion and said, "This
will not do; I must not allow my feelings to unman me. . . ."
He explained that his concern was not for himself but for his
wife and children who did not have "a cent to live on."^°
go
^Spencer, The Last Ninety Days of the War in North
Carolina, p. 185.~
^°Dowd, Life of Vance, p. 96.

168
After traveling about twelve miles, the Governor and
Wittkowsky stopped by a spring for lunch, and at Vance's
invitation some of the officers joined them. Vance, having
regained his usual cheerful mood, was soon entertaining the
group with his jokes and stories. According to one of the
officers, his wit and humor was as appealing in conversa¬
tion as in public addresses. "This rebel governor," he
said, "is quite a jolly fellow." Having gotten on friend¬
ly terms with his captors, Vance was permitted to continue
the trip to Salisbury unguarded. Wittkowsky later reported
that Vance and the federal officers appeared "as jolly as
if the Governor and they had been old friends starting
on a pleasure trip."^
Leaving Salisbury on May 15, Vance arrived in Washing¬
ton on May 20, and was immediately placed in the Old Capitol
prison, where he ramained for forty-seven days.^2 W. W.
Holden, who had been appointed governor to replace Vance,
was urged by one of Vance's friends to ask President Johnson
to release him so he could return to his wife who was
63
seriously ill. Johnson released Vance immediately upon
receipt of Holden's letter, and he arrived home on July 6.
^Dowd, Life of Vance, p. 96.
^2Yates, North Carolina Historical Review. XVIII, 337.
^Memoirs of W.W. Holden. II, 47

169
Although Mrs. Vance never fully regained her health, she
did recover sufficiently to discharge her duties as a
64
wife and mother.
64
Dowd, Life of Vance, p. 98

CHAPTER VI
POST-WAR SPEAKING, 1865-1876
After he joined his wife and sons at his home in
Statesville in August, 1865, Vance*s chief concern was
to find some way to earn a living. Friends immediately
began efforts to establish him in a law practice, and for
a time it seemed that through their efforts he might settle
in Wilmington.^ A visit to Charlotte, however, resulted in
an offer to form a partnership with Clement Dowd and R. D.
o
Johnson. The attractiveness of this offer, together with
the detrimental effects that Wilmington's coastal climate
might have on his wife's health, determined his decision to
settle in Charlotte.3 On April 3, 1866, the Charlotte
Western Democrat announced that Z. B. Vance, C. Dowd, and
R. D. Johnston "having associated themselves together, will
practice in the courts of Mecklenburg, Iredell, Catawba,
Davidson, Rowan, Cabarrus and Union (counties) and in the
Federal and Supreme Courts."4
â– ^E. Murray to Vance, Wilmington, March 26, 1866, Vance
Papers.
p
Dowd to Vance, Charlotte, February 3, 1866, Vance
Papers.
^Raleigh Sentinel. March 23, 1866.
^Charlotte, Western Democrat. April 3» 1866.
170

171
As a young lawyer Vance had allowed his hair to grow
long enough to curl at the end, as was the style with south¬
ern politicians and lawyers. During the war, however, he had
had it cut short. Now letting his hair grow long again, he
donned a low collar and string tie, and hit the circuit.
He found that he had forgotten many principles of law since
he had last practiced, and recognizing this weakness he told
Dowd, "Every law office contains one working man and one
gentleman. In this partnership, I propose to be the gentle¬
man." Thus it was arranged for Dowd to prepare the cases
and Vance to deliver the speeches to the juries.
Vance's trial speeches became gala occasions. Crowds
poured into the courtroom when he was scheduled to speak,
for they were assured of good entertainment. Even the
ladies, who usually considered it improper to attend court,
came in numbers.^
Vance was probably better able to sway juries than
any other lawyer in the state. This unusual power may be
attributed in part to his understanding of practical psycho¬
logy. He was familiar with basic motives which move audi¬
ences to attention and action. Keeping his eyes on the
jury while he spoke, he observed their reaction, and was
quick to adapt his speech to it. The jurors almost un-
5phlllips Russell, "Hooraw for Vance," American
Mercury. XXII (February, 1931), 238.

172
consciously accepted his views, which were well supported by
facts, arranged in compact arguments, and interspersed with
apt and humorous illustrations. According to Judge David
Schenck, who presided over some of the cases in which Vance
appeared, he was "an orator of unexampled power both in the
power of his imagination and the force of his language; he
handles pathos with delicate tenderness and wields the
fierceness of satire with piercing sharpness. But as a
humorist he has no equal, perhaps on the continent."?
Vance created a problem for the judges, especially
the more serious ones. It was practically impossible to pre¬
serve order in the courtroom while he was speaking. One of
his greatest triumphs came in a trial for rape in Lexington,
in which he appeared as the lawyer for the defense. The
plaintiff swore to the fact positively, and cross examina¬
tion and evidence did little to weaken her testimony.
Thomas Settle, the state's attorney, closed the argument
for the state with a fierce speech manifesting complete
confidence that the defendant would be found guilty. Then
Vance closed the argument for the defense. Having a theme
much to his liking, he kept the entire courtroom convulsed
^Dowd, Life of Vance, p. 106.
?Diary of David Schenck, November 2, 1874, Univer¬
sity of North Carolina Library.

173
with laughter during the course of his speech.
The case centered on the charge that the defendant,
a soldier, committed the crime while home on furlough dur¬
ing the Civil War. He had been the favorite suitor of the
woman, who, while he was serving in the army, had married
another man. As Vance's argument progressed, the judge be¬
came disturbed by the laughter of the spectators and threat¬
ened to clear the packed courtroom, in order to preserve the
dignity of the court. He soon softened, however, and gave
way to the crowd. Soon the court, jury, and bystanders
were awed by the spellbinding power of the speaker. Vance
appealed to the common sense and common experience of men,
adding humorous and pathetic comments on the frailties of
human passion and the common temptation of a woman to swear
falsely to protect herself and her family. Story after story
kept the audience in an uproar. Often he originated a story
for the occasion. This is probably true of the one used to
illustrate his theory in this case. Back in the mountains,
he said, a man had been indicted for committing a similar
offense while home on furlough. In order to save the woman's
family from disgrace, her angry husband had forced her to
"swarr the rape agin her." The illustration evidently con¬
vinced the jury that the same thing could have happened in
the case before them. In any event, after deliberating five

174
minutes, they returned a verdict of not guilty.®
Unorthodox in his courtroom deportment, Vance often
objected in a humorous or Jesting manner to the opposing
lawyer's tactics. In the case of the State vs Bass in which
he appeared for the state, the defendant's lawyer had pro¬
duced a witness with the evident assurance that she would
swear to facts which would acquit his client. To the cha¬
grin of the defense, however, she testified positively to
the defendant's guilt. Greatly embarrassed, the defendant's
lawyer arose and said, "May it please Your Honor, in justice
to myself I must say that I am not to blame for this re¬
sult; the woman mislead me!" Quickly jumping to his feet,
Vance objected, "May it please your Honor, this plea won't
do; it was overruled in the Garden of Eden."9
Although Vance was successful in influencing juries,
he did not enjoy the practice of law. This may, perhaps,
be attributed to his meager legal training, which prevented
his ever becoming a profound student of the law. He only
used the profession to make a living while he was outside
the political arena.'1'0 Making the best of the situation,
^Dowd, Life of Vance, p. 112.
^Diary of David Schenck, May 18, 1878.
10Ibid., November 2, 1874.

175
however, he took pains to make his courtroom speaking in¬
teresting for himself and others. There is no record that
he ever practiced before the State Supreme Court; evidently,
he preferred to remain in the county courts where decorum
was less formal.11
As a result of his courtroom speaking and the fame
he had already won as a speaker a new opportunity opened
to Vance. Since the campaign of 1860 Vance had been recog¬
nized as a speaker par excellence, and had won the acclaim
of the entire South as a result of his inspirational speeches
to Lee's army during the war. Soon after he began his law
practice in Charlotte, local communities began clamoring
for him to deliver public addresses. Fearful that what
he might say would jeopardize his chances for a pardon, he
was reluctant to speak. On July 26, 1867, he wrote Swain,
"I am beset on all sides to make speeches, or write for the
papers, etc., but for fear of doing harm I have remained
quiet.”12
A year earlier, however, he made one exception and
consented to deliver a lecture on June 7, 1866, before the
two literary societies during commencement at the Univer¬
sity of North Carolina. Since this is regarded as one of
his better lectures, it will be treated at length in this
â–  *
UDowd, Life of Vance, p. 117.
12Vance to Swain, Charlotte, July 26, 1867, Vance
Papers

176
chapter.
Vance's advice to the audience, which included the
three graduates of the university for the year, was both
wise and timely. He spoke on "The Duties of Defeat," call¬
ing for "a sincere acceptance of the decisions of the war,
loyalty to our governments, national and state, faithful
labor for the reconstruction of society, for the upbuild¬
ing of the material interests of our people and education
of our children."13
Probably no speech had ever been presented under
such unusual circumstances. Vance had not regained his
citizenship, and was extremely cautious lest he say or do
anything that might bring down on him the wrath of the
federal government. He had become extremely incensed, how¬
ever, at the conduct of W. ¥. Holden, provisional governor
of the state, who had persuaded President Johnson to send
a message on October 2, 1865, to the North Carolina
Convention assembled in Raleigh. The message demanded
that the convention not only pass resolutions to repeal
secession and emancipate the slaves, but that it must also
agree to repudiate the state's war debt. The motive be¬
hind Holden's action was not known, but it was suspected
P. 754
l^Battle, History of the University of North Carolina.

177
that he was angry at the convention for its failure to
support him for governor. The convention had nominated
for that office Jonathan Worth, the state's treasurer.
Worth had warned that repudiation would break every
bank in the state, destroy the university and common
schools, and impoverish all upon whom a stable economy
14
depended. All of these ills were on the verge of
materializing when Vance went to Chapel Hill for the ad¬
dress.
The financial condition of the university was ap-
paling. There was no money to pay faculty salaries, and
accumulated debts amounted to $110,000. To meet these
obligations there were two thousand shares of practi¬
cally worthless bank stock, and $25*000 in worthless
Confederate securities.
In spite of Vance's irritation with these condi¬
tions produced by Reconstruction, he used good judgment
and exhibited no bitterness as he spoke. His lecture demon¬
strated a workmanship that was often lacking in his speeches.
14
Archibald Henderson, North Carolina (5 vols.;
Chicago, 1941), II, 300.
^Battle, History of the University of North
Carolina, p. 754.

178
Although he claimed insufficient time as the reason for his
hesitancy in permitting the lecture to “be published, one
must conclude from the quality of the finished product that
he made good use of what time he did have available. Prais¬
ing the speaker's efforts, the Raleigh Sentinel said:
In its merely literary features, it would have reflected
credit on one enjoying greater leisure for devotion to
such persuits than the author has enjoyed. But it was
in its patriotic inspirations, its sagacious counsels
and its judicious and conservative character that it
was eminently successful and so able and well timed.16
The introduction to the lecture was designed to in¬
terest and secure the attention of the audience from the
first utterance. Using an analogy, Vance helped the audi¬
ence feel the emotions of one approaching the university for
the first time after the war. He began:
As the traveler, who during his absence, has
learned that a great fire has swept over his native
city, welcomes with the keenest rapture the first
glance of his own home, which he trembles at the
thought of finding in the ashes of the general ruin,
so should we rejoice to behold our honored university
surviving the wreck of so much that we loved and re¬
vered—Though staggering under the blows of adversity,
I am so happy to see for myself, this day, a goodly dis¬
play of her ancient life and energy.17
^Raleigh Sentinel. June 19, 1866.
17
The Duties of Defeat. An Address by Zebulon Baird
Vance (Raleigh, 1Ó6¿¡), p. 5.

179
No man was more aware than Vance of the calamities that
had imperiled the state. With these in mind, he explained
in the style of the typical commencement address that the
graduates were entering the duties of life under physical
and social conditions unique in the history of their country.
His description of these conditions is a concise and vivid
picture of the desolation left by the war.
With her homesteads burned to ashes, with fields de¬
solated, with thousands of her noblest and bravest
children sleeping in beds of slaughter; innumerable
orphans, widows, and helpless persons reduced to beg¬
gary and deprived of their natural protectors; her
corporations bankrupt and her own credit gone; her
public charities overthrown, her educational fund ut¬
terly lost, her land filled from end to end with her
maimed and mutilated soldiers; denied all representa¬
tion in the public counsels, her heart-broken and
wretched people are not only oppressed with the weight
of their own indebtedness, but are crushed into the
very dust by taxation for the mighty debt incurred as
the cost of their own subjugation!1°
This dark picture, said Vance, was not presented to
cause the young men to despair, but rather as a challenge
to inspire them to rebuild their fallen state. Expressing
a firm belief that the "bloody footprints of ruthless war"
could be erased by intelligent industry, Vance said:
Looking despairingly at the condition of things, the
country turns toward her young men and calls to them
to lead the way in preaching and practicing hope. You
are required, above all things, to teach our people to
18
The Duties of Defeat. An Address by Zebulon Baird
Vance (Raleigh, 1Ó66), p. S.

180
look up from the crumbling ashes and prostrate columns
of their present ruin, to the majestic proportions and
surpassing grandeur of that temple which may yet be
built by the hand which labors, the mind which conceives,
and the great soul which faints not.19
Then, challenging the people to accept the outcome of
the war, he declared, ”It is a noble thing to die for one’s
country; it is a higher and nobler thing to live for it."20
This was singular advice, indeed, coming from one who
had contributed so significantly to the rebellion against
the same government to which he was now asking the people
cheerfully to submit. Perhaps Vance was merely attempting
to prevent the Radical government--the government controlled
by the extremists in the Republican party who forced a puni¬
tive Reconstruction policy on the South—from becoming fur¬
ther antagonized. Admittedly, he cautiously avoided saying
anything that would hurt his chances of being pardoned. But
this is insufficient reason for concluding that he was in¬
sincere in his plea. A knowledge of his loyal devotion to
the Union and opposition to secession before the war go far
toward vindicating him from an accusation of insincerity in
uttering the following words:
The best test of the best heroism, now, is a cheerful
and loyal submission to the powers and events estab¬
lished in our defeat, and a ready obedience to the
Constitution and laws of the country.21
!9The Duties of Defeat. An Address by Zebulon Baird
Vance, p. 10.
20Ibld.. p. 11. 21Ibid.

181
The organization of the speech was good. The body
was clearly delineated from the introduction and conclu¬
sion. The introduction, presenting existing conditions
with a challenge to work for the state's recovery, was fol¬
lowed by the body which outlined specific duties to be per¬
formed. Then came the conclusion, which was an epitome of
the speech as a whole. Thus, the entire lecture adhered
closely to its subject and purpose.
Continuing the lecture, Vance explained that each
side had been grievously deceived in its estimate of the
other during the war. The North had been deceived into
believing that the South could sustain the rigors of war
only for a short time, while the South believed that the
North could not win. Of course, both had been wrong—the
South continued to fight for four years and in the end the
North won the war. Now the North was again deceived, he
contended, into believing the South would find difficulty
in arising from its stricken status. He said:
It will be our duty now ... to undeceive them
by the vigor and energy with which we shall clear
away the wreck of our fallen fortunes, adapt ourselves
to circumstances under changed institutions and new
systems of labor, and the rapidity with which we shall
travel in those wavs which lead to the rebuilding and
adorning a state.22
22The Duties of Defeat. An Address by Zebulon Baird
Vance (Raleigh, Íé6é), p. l4.

182
The second duty resting upon youthful citizens, Vance
continued, was "looking after and caring for the orphans of
those who perished in your defense and mine." He believed
the moral as well as the physical welfare of these orphans
should be the concern of all the people. Explaining that
the public school system had collapsed with the war and
the loss of the literary fund, he claimed that little re¬
mained to prevent the moral decay of young people. To il¬
lustrate this point, Vance told of a soldier's orphaned son
who was brought into court to account for crimes committed
because he lacked the bare necessities of life and any
parental supervision.2^
But the duties of defeat, Vance declared, did not
end with showing concern for the soldier's children. Honor
should also be accorded the war dead. This plea was in
furtherance of his policy as war governor, in which he
sought to provide for the soldiers. Now there was one last
thing that must be done for those who had died in battle;
this he expressed as the third duty of defeat:
We owe to the dead what it is possible to do for their
remains and their memories, and charge of faithlessness
to our own obligations, it seems to me, should stand be¬
tween us and its discharge.
2^The Duties of Defeat. An Address by Zebulon Baird
Vance (Raleigh, l&óé), p. 14.

183
'Their bonea are scattered far and wide
By mount, by stream and sea,'
and it is not for the purpose of eulogizing the cause,
for which they perished, that we would gather them up
for decent sepulture, and perpetuate their memories by
tables of stone.
The final duty Vance alluded to stemmed from an action
taken by Congress when it had convened in December, 1865.
It had blocked the presidential plan of Reconstruction by
refusing to seat Southerners who had been chosen as senators
and representatives. Looking toward the return of representa¬
tive government, Vance said, "The time is not far distant
when as citizens, I trust, you will be permitted to take a
part in the government of your country." When that time
comes, there would be one further duty for all to perform:
. . .it is our country still, and if it cannot be
governed as we wish it, it must be governed some
other way; and it is still our duty to labor for its
prosperity and glory, with ardor and sincerity. I
earnestly urge upon you the strictest conformity of
your conduct to the situation; to what the government
actually is, not what you may think it ought to be.25
This lecture proved that the "bumpkin spellbinder"
had a serious side to his nature and could deliver dignified
demonstrative speeches as well as humorous, earthy courtroom
and political speeches.
2^The Duties of Defeat. An Address by Zebulon Baird
Vance (Raleigh, 1866), p. 14.
25ibid., p. 18.

184
After President Johnson granted him a pardon on March
11, 1867, he lectured more frequently. This added to his
meager income, although many lectures were delivered gratis
or with the proceeds going for some charitable purpose. The
Charlotte Observer announced on June 24, 1873, that Vance
would deliver six lectures for the Orphan Asylum at Oxford;
the announcement added, "With such a cause as his theme to¬
gether with his popularity as an eloquent speaker, he will
attract large audiences wherever he may speak."2^ Numerous
notices of lectures and invitations to speak are available
in the Vance Papers.
Soon the Tar Heel spokesman was appearing in large
lecture halls in Baltimore, Philadelphia, and New Orleans.
He was speaking at county fairs, to historical societies,
boards of trade, and graduating classes. By the early
1870's, his national reputation as a lecturer was firmly
established.2®
In the latter part of the decade following the war,
Vance delivered some of his greatest lectures. On February
13, 1874, he spoke at the Masonic Temple in Baltimore, under
2^An Executive Order by Andrew Johnson, March 11, 1867,
Vance Papers.
2?Charlotte Observer. June 24, 1873.
28Dowd, Life of Vance, p. 220

185
the sponsorship of Bryant, Stratton, and Sadler College. He
began the lecture by saying that because he was giving it
under the auspices of a business college, he thought a fit¬
ting subject would be "the greatest commercial people in
the world.So far as available records show, this was
the first presentation of his famous lecture, the "Scattered
Nation." This lecture, which will be treated extensively in
a later chapter of this study, was delivered in almost every
30
important city in the United States.
Apparently the only lecture of the period that caused
any controversy was Vance’s address before the Southern
Historical Society at White Sulphur Springs, Virginia, in
August, 1875. He spoke on North Carolina’s role in the
Civil War, and offered a bit of secret history to show
that there was "faintness of heart and smiting together of
the knees in parts of the South other than North Carolina."
In the closing days of the war, he said, W.A. Graham, who
was then a Confederate senator, visited him on behalf of
certain gentlemen in Richmond, urging Vance "to take
steps for making terms with Mr. Lincoln and thus inaugurate
the conclusion1' of the war. Graham said he had agreed to
^Charlotte Democrat. December 24, 1872.
^°"Zebulon B. Vance," Dictionary of American Biography,
ed. Dumas Malone (20 vols.; New York, 193^) XIX, 161.

186
lay the request before Vance, but had not promised to add
his personal advice. When asked for the names of the men
making the request, Graham gave them. The majority were
Confederate senators and representatives. Of course, Vance
declined the proposition, and "asked Graham to say to these
gentlemen, with my compliments, that in the mountains of
North Carolina, where I was reared, when a man was whipped
he had to do his own hallooing, that the technical word,
enough, could not be cried by proxy."31
Some of Graham's friends objected to this story, and
doubted the accuracy of Vance's memory. I. W. Norwood
wrote to Vance asking that before the speech was published
he revise the portion of it dealing with this episode. "I
myself," he said, "am firmly persuaded that Governor Graham
could not have carried to you a proposition to make separ¬
ate terms of peace with Mr. Lincoln from North Carolina and
leave other Confederates in the lurch. . ."32 Evidently
Vance paid no attention to this criticism, because the
speech was published without revision in Our Living and Our
Dead.There was no intention on Vance's part to defame
•31
Charlotte Democrat. August 30, 1875.
32I.W. Norwood to Vance, Hillsboro, September 18, 1875»
Vance Papers.
33"Address Delivered by Gov. Vance before the Southern
Historical Society, at White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia,
August 18, 1875," Our Living; and Our Dead. Ill, 612.

187
the memory of Graham, who had been his own political friend
and adviser for many years before his recent death. He only
used this factual evidence to eradicate the impression that
North Carolina had not done as much for the cause of the
Confederacy as she might have done.
Vance's lecturing was more than a way of earning money.
It gave him an opportunity to show his intense interest in
the political affairs of the state. It was impossible for
Vance to be an idle spectator during the ominous days of
Reconstruction. Although he was unable to hold office, he
played a significant role in wresting control of the govern¬
ment from the Radicals. In practically every section of the
state, he could be heard exhorting the people to courage,
hope, and patience. Much of his speaking was done at great
personal sacrifice to his professional interests.^ He did
not think any sacrifice was too great, however, to rid the
state of its infamous government.
The state government, which had reached a low ebb,
gave every indication of becoming worse. In the congression¬
al elections of 1866, the Radical control of Congress was
strengthened. Fearful that a lenient policy toward the
South would lead to a revival of the Democratic party, which
^Wilmington Journal, February 7, 1873.

188
might, in turn, gain sufficient strength to abolish Republi¬
can policies, Congress adopted its own plan of reconstruction.
The plan was to weaken southern white leadership as much as
possible by building up a strong Republican organization
through the recruitment of Negro voters. A rejection of
the Fourteenth Amendment by the southern states stirred the
Radical Congress into passing the Reconstruction Act of
March 22, 1867, followed shortly by several supplementary
35
laws.
The act provided that a state could be readmitted
to the Union when:
. . .the people of any one of said rebel states shall
have formed a constitution of government in conformity
with the Constitution of the United States in all re¬
spects framed by a convention of delegates elected by
male citizens of said state, twenty-one years old and
upward, of whatever race, color, or previous condition,
who have been resident in said state for one year pre¬
vious to the day of such election, except such as may
be disfranchised for participation in the rebellion or
for felony at common law, and when such constitution
shall be ratified by a majority of the persons voting
on the question of ratification who are qualified for
electors as delegates, and when such constitution shall
have been submitted to Congress for examination and ap¬
proval, and Congress shall have approved the same, and
when said state, by a vote of its legislature elected
under said Constitution shall have adopted the amend¬
ment to the Constitution of the United States. . •
known as article fourteen, and when said article shall
have become a part of the Constitution of the United
Franc is Butler Simpkins, A History of the South
(New York, 1953), P. 269.

189
States said state shall be declared entitled to repre¬
sentation in Congress.36
The main feature of the act, however, made provision for
military control of all southern states that did not meet
the requirements for readmission to the Union.
The people of the South, President Johnson, and many
Northern Democrats were shocked at the Radical plan. Gover¬
nor Worth was allowed to retain his office, but had no power.
The United States army became the only real government in
North Carolina. On March 27, 1867, the Republican party in
the state was formed at a meeting called in Raleigh by anti-
Worth and anti-Johnson members of the state legislature.
Both Negroes and whites attended and participated on terms
of absolute equality. The new party was made up of three
groups. The first group consisted of native white farmers,
called "scalawags" and "squatters"—men who tilled a few
acres and were opposed to the rule of planter aristocracy.
They were strong unionists, who were happy to return to the
United States, and considered it wise to submit, in spite
of their dislike for the acts of Congress. The second
group was made up of Negroes. The third group was composed
of carpetbaggers—northerners who had come to the state aft-
36
Hugh T. Lefler, History of North Carolina (4 vols.;
New York, 1956), II, 549.

190
er the war, usually for personal or political gain. As
Lefler says, the chief characteristics of the people in the
newly organized party were ignorance, poverty, and inex-
37
perience.
A constitutional convention met in Raleigh on January
14, 1868. Only thirteen Conservatives were present. The
Republicans numbered 107—-18 carpetbaggers, 15 Negroes, and
74 native whites. This group adopted a new constitution,
with many changes that showed the influence of the northern
element in the convention. Yet, in general, it was a sound
document. Indeed, it was “so modern and democratic that
38
with some changes it has remained effective to this day.”^
While the constitutional convention controlled by the
Radicals—-the term applied to the Republicans—-was meeting
in the state capítol, the Conservatives were also in Raleigh
holding a convention of their own in Tucker Hall. Early in
the meeting of the Conservatives Vance arose and responded
to the calls for him to speak. He began his remarks in his
characteristically humorous manner. He told of an Irishman
who was looking at a donkey engine used in unloading ships.
Gazing at it for awhile, he exclaimed: “Arrah, ye may puff
•^Hugh T. Lefler, History of North Carolina (4 vols.;
New York, 1956), II, 551.

191
and smoke and smoke and rattle away, tell ye* clane out of
breath, and do the work of twenty men at that, but blast ye,
ye can't vote."39 In keeping with his habit of always re¬
lating his stories to the idea he was presenting, he added:
So Mr. Chairman, I may puff and smoke, but I can't vote
for all of that. Still sir, though, I may be deprived
of all political power in the land of my affections and
nativity. Yet I can still claim to be a white man.40
As this statement indicates, the actions of Holden
and the other white Republican leaders were obnoxious to
Vance. He was galled at the establishment of unqualified
Negro suffrage, while many patriotic and loyal citizens,
including himself, were deprived of political rights. This
resentment found further expression in scathing, sarcastic
remarks:
... and what is more, I have no prejudices against
my own color. I may add that I have none against the
black race. They have behaved well in the past and
whenever they had gone astray, it has been almost.in¬
variably at the instigation of some white rascal. 1
There was little the Conservative convention could
do other than protest against the policies of the state and
national governments and nominate candidates to be defeated
39Raleigh Sentinel. February 6, 1868.
^°Ibid.
41Ibid.

192
in the coming election. Its principal accomplishment was
the adoption of a set of resolutions setting forth the philo¬
sophy of the Conservative party. These resolutions pronounced
unalterable devotion to the federal Constitution, protested
against the Reconstruction acts, opposed the political and
social equality of Negroes, approved President Johnson's
efforts toward Reconstruction, recommended the co-operation
of the Conservatives of North Carolina with the Democrats and
Conservatives of the North and West, and called for an election
of delegates to represent the Conservatives at the next Demo¬
cratic national convention.
After an enthusiastic endorsement of these resolutions,
the crowd clamored for Vance to speak again. He responded
by saying that he had nothing to add because his theme was
fully exhausted. "If there was any man in the state," he
said, "outside of the Insane Asylum, who needed any argument
to convince him that the white man must rule this country,
life was too short for him to waste breath on him." He pre¬
ferred military despotism to the government proposed by the
Radicals, because the men who held the bayonets were white
men. Vividly portraying the despotic rule that would come
under the Radical proposal, he declared that the government
would be controlled by "seventy thousand Negroes, led by a

193
few vile outcasts of the white race."4-2
As Vance continued to speak, he reminded the audience
that only a few Conservatives had voted even when they had
the chance. When the decision for a constitutional con¬
vention rested with the people, many did not vote although
they were opposed to it. Believing that it was the duty
of all honest white citizens to exercise this prerogative,
he produced one of the most persuasive efforts of his speak¬
ing career. He said:
Our timidity, heretofore, has been lamentable.
With 30,000 majority in the state, the white people
allowed the recent election to go by default, when
ordinary spirit and exertion would have secured them
ascendancy and victory. How can you claim to be free
men, if you are willing for fear of losing a little
remnant of property, to submit to the control of 70,000
negroes, marshaled to the meanest white men whom God had
ever made? If with the power in your hands, you craven-
ly yield to such control, how can you stand the compari¬
son with the good and noble men of our illustrous North
Carolina past? How can you stand the comparison with
your own boys, who taking their lives in their hands,
bravely bared their bosoms, in the late war to the shock
of battle for the land of their nativity and affections.â– 5
Having thus appealed to pride, he turned his appeal to
the motive of self-preservation. The preservation of the
white race was his concern as he questioned:
What are you afraid of? Confiscation? Why half of us
now can't begin to pay our debts. Bayonets? Why we have
been living among them for years. Military law? Why the
42
Raleigh Sentinel. February 7, 1868.
43Ibid.

194
sacred muniment of Habeas Corpus has grown so rusty
that the best lawyers in the country have to read up
to know what it means. There is something of which
you may well be afraid. Better be afraid of what lies
before you—of leaving a heritage of servitude to your
children and children's children.44
As a result of his convention speeches, Vance re¬
established himself as the political leader of the Conserva¬
tives. The Raleigh Sentinel reported that after he had
finished speaking, "the delights of the audience knew no
bounds, on the floors and in the galleries, the people
vented themselves in unrestrained applause.
Before the adjournment of the convention, a resolu¬
tion was passed authorizing the executive committee to call
another convention for the purpose of making nominations for
Conservative candidates to run in the state election. If
time should not permit the calling of a convention, the
committee itself was instructed to make the nominations.
With the lack of funds, the approaching court sessions, and
the farming season at hand, the committee decided against a
convention. Instead, the members met in Raleigh on February
28, and nominated Vance as the Conservative candidate for
46
governor and Colonel E. D. Hill for lieutenant governor.
44Raleigh Sentinel. February 7, 1868.
45lbid.
46
Ibid.. March 2, 1868

195
On the same day, the Republicans nominated Holden for gover¬
nor and Tod R. Caldwell for lieutenant governor.^7
Conservative newspapers throughout the state were
elated at the nominations. The Wilmington Journal said, "We
are glad to announce that Governor Vance has received the
nomination as the Conservative candidate for governor and
Col. E. D. Hill for lieutenant governor. A better and
stronger ticket could not have been placed before the
people of the state." The Old North State announced,
"Vance is uppermost in the mind of every Conservative in
the state. He is a rousing live man and his clarion voice
will inspire more life into the depressed and drooping hearts
of the people than any other in the state.
Despite the esteem in which he was held by the Con¬
servatives, Vance saw the handwriting on the wall. He was
aware that a Conservative could not be elected. There were
only 117,428 white people registered, as against 79,444
Negroes. With all of the Negroes and the white Republicans
voting the Republican ticket, the Conservative-Democrats
would not have a chance. Consequently, Vance wrote the com¬
mittee on March 6, "After mature reflection, both by public
G. De Roulhac Hamilton, History of North Carolina
(4 vols; New York, 1919), III, 110.
^Raleigh Sentinel. March 3, 1868.

196
and private considerations, I reluctantly decline the nomi¬
nation."^ Thomas S. Ashe was then chosen to replace Vance
on the ticket.^0
Vance immediately made plans to speak in various
parts of the state in support of Ashe's candidacy. Only
one month remained before the election. Although he knew
he was fighting a losing battle, he exerted himself as
actively and energetically as if his name still headed
gl
the Conservative ticket. A short but bitter campaign
resulted in an overwhelming victory for the Republicans.
Holden was elected governor, and the new constitution was
g?
adopted.
As soon as the Republican-dominated General Assembly
convened, it ratified the Fourteenth Amendment by which
the Negroes were made citizens of the United States and of
the states wherein they resided, and were given unqualified
suffrage. Congress recognized the newly adopted constitu¬
tion and seated North Carolina's Republican senators and
c-z
representatives on July 20, 1868. North Carolina was back
^Raleigh Sentinel. March 10, 1868.
5°Ibid.. March 16, 1868.
51Ibid., March 13, 1868.
52ibld.. April 28, 1868.
53Lefler, History of North Carolina. II, 557.

197
in the Union with the state under the control of the radi¬
cal Republican party—a situation which was distasteful to
the native white majority.
The Democratic National Convention was held in New
York, July 3-10, 1868. Vance attended as a delegate repre¬
senting the Conservative party of North Carolina. While
there he made several speeches, but only one of them re¬
ceived any recognition. This one is usually labeled his
Union Square speech. It was probably delivered at a demon¬
stration meeting of the Metropolitan Club, held on July 9
at the St. Augustine House near Union Square to celebrate
the nominations of Horatio Seymour for president of the
United States and Frank Blair for vice-president. The
speech was used by Vance to express in a satirical manner
his strong dislike for the North's forcing Negro suffrage
on the South. Using his own brand of doggerel verse, he
characterized the attitude of the New Englander:
To every Southern River shall Negro suffrage come
But not to fair New England for that's too close to hum.
With an accusing finger pointed at the North, he de¬
clared:
They preferred Negro suffrage at long range. If they
could have the Negro vote in South Carolina, all well;
but in Michigan, New York and the other northern and

198
western states they declined him favor.^
The speech was inaccurately reported, perhaps as part
of a scheme to keep him from holding public office. The New
York Citizen quoted Vance as having said, "What the Con¬
federacy fought for would be won by Seymour and Blair,"
and that "secession is not dead. It is more alive than ever."
Vance's reply to the editor labeled the report absolutely
false:
... there is not one word of truth in this statement.
I made use of no statement in the remotest degree like
it . . . not only did I not utter such sentiments in
my New York speech. . . but I have never on any occasion
done it. I never was a secessionist and only fought
during the war at the command of my native state, and
to resist a policy of coercion and consolidation worse
and more ruinous by far than secession.55
During the next two years Vance, as well as all other
opponents of the Radicals, was anxiously awaiting a collapse
of the government. Holden's administration could hardly have
been expected to succeed in view of the pronouncements in his
inaugural address. As Hamilton says, this address "in its
declaration of ostracism of those who had opposed reconstruc¬
tion, its threat of force, and its eulogy of the carpet¬
baggers was indeed prophetic of the character of his admini-
^Ralelgh Sentinel. July 18, 1868.
cc
Charlotte Western Democrat. August 25, 1868. Copy
of a letter from Vance to the editor of the New York Citizen.

199
stration."88 Holden had filled many offices, chiefly magis¬
trates and county positions, with ignorant and criminal
Negroes, and had organized a militia to help control the
opposition. The election of Grant in 1868 interfered in
no way with the Radicals' political playhouse, and corruption
57
and fraud ran rampant in the state.
One of the administration's most infamous acts of
extravagance and corruption was the issuing of bonds for
railroad construction. In order to repair the run-down rail¬
roads, it had been considered wise to resort to the policy
of state aid through the sale of bonds. Trouble arose, how¬
ever, when agreements were made "on behalf of companies not
yet chartered, for railroads of which the public knew noth¬
ing," and corporations created merely to support appropria¬
tions.-^ Bond purchasers soon lost faith in the state's
ability to pay its mounting debt, and the price of bonds
dropped. This, in turn, reduced the amount of money re¬
ceived from their sale.
When the public became aware that neither the railroads
nor the state had benefitted from the legislation authoriz-
-^Hamilton, History of North Carolina. Ill, 114.
â– ^Ashe, History of North Carolina. II, 1092.
58Ibid.

200
59
ing the issuing of bonds, the people were amazed and shocked.
After the General Assembly adjourned in March of 1869, there
was much talk of repudiating the state's debts. According
to J. G. De Roulhac Hamilton:
The credit of the state was gone, all resources were
taxed to their utmost, and there was nothing for the
corrupt to exploit; nothing to steal. The haughty and
proscriptive spirit displayed by the majority had dis¬
appeared, and the hither despised minority began to as¬
sume importance, as the majority of a rapidly approaching
tomorrow which would bring reckoning. In consequence,
unity departed from the Republicans, and during most of
the session, the Conservative minority drove before them
the badly demoralized majority.
The power of the Conservatives had increased consider¬
ably when the General Assembly reconvened in the fall of 1869,
and when it adjourned on March 26, 1870, plans had been com¬
pleted for an election to be held in August of that year.
County officers, members of the legislature, and an attorney
general were to be elected. It would be the duty of the
General Assembly, after its new members were elected, to
select a United States senator to replace Joseph C. Abbott,
whose term would expire in March, 1871. Governor Holden,
facing certain defeat, became desperate. With the aid of
some of the most undesirable elements of the Republican par¬
ty, a plan was devised providing for troops to arrest various
59Lefler, History of North Carolina. II, 562.
^Hamilton, Reconstruction in North Carolina, p. 400.

201
persons in the state who interfered with the administration's
plans; it also called for the abolition of the writ of habeas
corpus. President Grant approved this plan and promised to
furnish equipment for the troops.61
This action by the state and national government was
so repulsive to H. H. Helper, the Republican brother of the
more famous Hinton Rowan Helper, that he wrote in 1870:
One of the greatest evils affecting society in North
Carolina may Justly be set down to the incompetent
and worthless State and Federal officials now in
power. They are for the most part pestiferous ulcers
feeding now upon the body politic. Reconstruction for
North Carolina as carried out by Congress and the vil¬
lainous and incompetent State and Federal officials -
within her borders, has proved a total failure. . . . 2
The election went overwhelmingly in favor of the Con¬
servatives, who elected five of seven representatives to
Congress and captured both houses of the General Assembly.
With the control of the legislature in the hands of the Con¬
servatives, Holden was doomed. He had angered the people
more and more by his outrageous arrests of many respectable
citizens, among whom was Josiah Turner, Jr., the editor of
the Raleigh Sentinel. Turner was taken to Yanceyville
where he was placed in a filthy cell with a Negro murderer
^Hamilton, History of North Carolina. Ill, 148.
^2Lefler, History of North Carolina. II, 575.

202
who was sentenced to die.^ The people made vociferous de¬
mands for Holden's impeachment. Vance, however, warned
against it. He advocated a compromise by which the Repub¬
licans would consent to a constitutional convention, and
64
would remove his own political disabilities.
Threatened with this possibility, Holden attempted
to secure Vance as his lawyer. The offer came at a time
when Vance was in need of money, and the large sum offered
by a friend of Holden's must have been tempting. Vance de¬
clined, however, saying "Now I know he can get better lawyers
than I am, and I am satisfied this offer is made to have my
personal influence with the members of the legislature
thrown in the scales for him. I feel that it would be pro¬
stitution of that influence and I must refuse."65
It may seem odd that Holden should ask Vance—a
Democrat and an avowed political opponent—to be his law¬
yer. Vance indicated the most obvious motive in his reply
to the request. Holden would be tried before the General
Assembly, which had acquired a Democratic majority. Before
63Lefler, History of North Carolina. II, 575.
^Address of Richard H, Battle, p. 46.
65Ibid.

203
that body he would have little chance with a Republican law¬
yer. Also, Vance's opposition to impeachment may have en-
couraged Holden to believe that Vance might help him. Again,
Holden may have thought that Vance would not forget his part
in making Vance governor during the war. Regardless of the
motive, however, Vance made a wise decision in refusing to
take part in the impeachment proceedings.
The General Assembly convened on November 21, 1870,
and the Raleigh Sentinel, a Conservative paper, reported
that "the roll call revealed that the voice of an indignant
and outraged people had ejected most of the robbers from
the legislature and replaced them with familiar names of
patriotic North Carolinians."^6 A petition calling for the
Impeachment of the governor was immediately presented, but
action was postponed for a time. In the meantime, on Novem¬
ber 29, Vance was elected to the United States Senate by
both houses of the General Assembly. In the Democratic
caucus, there had been strong opposition to his nomination
on the grounds that his disabilities had not been removed.
Also there were some who objected to him because of his
attitude toward the Confederate government during the war.
When the vote of the joint session of the two houses was
66Ralelgh Sentinel. November 22, 1870.

204
taken, however, Vance received a majority.^
After his election, a large number of friends sere¬
naded Vance at the Exchange Hotel where he was staying in
Raleigh. Responding in a speech that was well adapted to
the occasion, he advocated moderation and denounced "the
vicious and vindicative of all sorts." To what extent his
caution was prompted by fear of being refused his seat in
the Senate is not known, but it is a fairly safe conjecture
that he gave thought to the opposition party as well as to
his own supporters during the speech. Bitterness was over¬
shadowed by good Judgment in his remarks:
Now that we have the government of North Carolina in
our hands, we should not aim to avenge ourselves for
the overriding of civil liberty among us, but we should
so arrange that it cannot happen again—should see to
it that no executive or other authority can again at¬
tempt to destroy our liberties. . . . Let anger, re¬
venge and retaliation be ignored, and let the laws on
your statute books bear the impress of a free people
determined legitimately to maintain their freedom. In
my place in the Senate I shall endeavor to serve my
great state and country with honor. Every law both
state and national should be respected and obeyed by
all our people, bitterness and vituperation should
cease, and men no longer endeavoring to destroy each
other should earnestly strive to engender kindly feel¬
ings among all classes of our citizens. To bring about
these desirable ends will be the earnest aim of my life
in Congress and elsewhere.
^Hamilton, Reconstruction in North Carolina, p. 563.
^Charlotte Democrat. January 17, 1871.

205
The General Assembly brought charges against Holden,
and conducted a trial which lasted from February 2 to March
3. Holden was convicted on six of eight charges, and be¬
came the first governor of the state to be removed from
office by impeachment. Vance’s comment was: "It was the
longest hunt after the poorest hide I ever saw."69
Vance was scheduled to take his seat in the Senate
on March 5, 1871, but that body refused to admit him. The
House had passed an amnesty bill that would have allowed
Vance to take the seat to which he was unquestionably
elected, but when it reached the Senate, Joseph C. Abbott,
his predecessor, had an amendment attached to the bill
which excluded Vance.7° Abbott wanted the seat himself,
and claimed it at the next Congress "on the ground that
Vance's election was void, since he was barred, and that
therefore, since he himself had received the next largest
number of votes, he was entitled to the seat."?3-
Vance had promised to resign if he were not seated.
When he did not resign immediately, opposition to him be¬
gan to rise to the surface. Two bills requiring him to
resign were introduced in the General Assembly, but neither
^Lefler, History of North Carolina. II, 578.
Charlotte Democrat. February 20, 1872.
^Hamilton, Reconstruction in North Carolina, p. 563.

206
passed. Soon newspapers took up the cry and demanded that
he resign. On March 20 he wrote the Raleigh Telegram that
his pledge had been made only to friends. A number of Demo¬
cratic senators also urged him to resign, but he refused be¬
cause he thought his disabilities would soon be removed.
Not only did his refusal to resign create many enemies,
but he and his party suffered because the Republicans were
able to pass some measures that might have been defeated
with one Democratic vote.^2
Exactly one year after his election to the Senate,
Vance submitted his resignation. Since his disabilities
had not been removed, he wrote to the General Assembly: "I
have the honor to return, herewith, the certificate of my
election to the Senate of the United States and to resign
into your hands the position which you did me the great
honor to confer upon me one year ago."^3 Matt W. Ransom
was then elected to take his place. Ransom had been in the
Senate only a short time before he succeeded in having
Vance's disabilities removed.
At last Vance was free to participate in politics at
will. When the Democratic convention met in Greensboro on
72Hamilton, Reconstruction in North Carolina, p. 564.
^Vance to General Assembly of North Carolina, Washing¬
ton, January 21, 1872, Vance Papers.

207
May 1, 1872, it was charged with the responsibility of se¬
lecting a candidate for governor. The leaders wanted Vance,
but Vance declined to run, and could not be persuaded by
their pleas. Why he refused is not definitely known, but
it is probable that he was interested in the Senate seat
that would be vacant in the fall. Augustus Merrimon then
became the gubernatorial candidate, with the promise that
in case of defeat he would receive the nomination for the
74
Senate vacancy.1
Some Republican leaders in the North had become an¬
noyed at the actions of their party in North Carolina and
the South in general. Among these was Horace Greeley, one
of the original abolitionists. This group held a conven¬
tion in Cincinnati on May 1, and declared:
. . . that the Republican administration had usurped
powers not granted by the Constitution, and had acted
as if the laws had binding force only for those who
are governed and not for those who govern, and it had
struck a blow at the fundamental principles of consti-^,,-
tutional government and the liberties of the citizens.'5
The Cincinnati convention nominated Greeley for presi¬
dent. When the Democratic convention met in Baltimore on
July 9, it also nominated Greeley. Having accomplished the
"^Hamilton, Reconstruction in North Carolina, p. 585.
^Ashe, History of North Carolina. II, 1154.

208
abolition of slavery, Greeley held no grudge against the
South. He had manifested a kind feeling toward southern
people ever since the war. Consequently, the Democrats in
North Carolina agreed to support the Cincinnati platform
and candidates.7^ Although the Conservatives in the state
gave their support to Greeley, some of them did it reluctant¬
ly. Vance said, "It is eating crow with a vengeance." He
entered the campaign, however, and spoke in behalf of
Greeley and the other Democratic candidates. In spite of
the efforts made by the Democratic leaders, it was almost
impossible to arouse any enthusiasm for Greeley in North
77
Carolina.
Merrimon was defeated by Caldwell, the Republican
candidate for governor, and Grant defeated Greeley in the
presidential race. The Conservatives, however, still con¬
trolled the state legislature, which had the task of select¬
ing a United States senator when it convened in the fall.
Although party leaders had promised the seat to Merrimon,
they were unable to control the vote, and Vance was nomi¬
nated in caucus. Several Conservatives bolted the party,
'Hamilton, Reconstruction in North Carolina, p. 585.
77Ibid.. p. 587.

209
and the Republicans, wishing to defeat Vance, dropped their
candidate and gave their vote to Merrimon. This move de¬
feated Vance, and proved to be one of the greatest disap¬
pointments of his political career. With reluctance he re¬
turned to practicing law and lecturing, where he found re¬
lief from his disappointment and depression. Soon, however,
yO
he rebounded to his usual happy frame of mind.
While waiting for the next political opportunity,
Vance became engaged in civic affairs. The papers carried
19
accounts of his acting as master of ceremonies at concerts,
go
as chairman for a public lecture, and giving a speech to
a group of townspeople gathered at the local grandstand.
This period of political inactivity was perhaps the only
time in his professional career that he was able to take
part in the activities of the community in which he resided.
In addition to local affairs, he was called on to serve out¬
side the community. In September, 1873, he became the vice-
president of the Southern Historical Society. Admitting in
his acceptance that he lived a busy life, he wrote, ”1 ac¬
cept the appointment with great pleasure and only regret that
78Address of Richard H. Battle, p. 47.
79Charlotte Observer. August 27, 1873.
8oIbid., October 22, 1873.
Charlotte Democrat. November 9, 1874.

210
my dally business and limited means will prevent the devo¬
tion to its great and noble objects of more time and labor
than I shall be able to give.*'®2
1876 marked an important year in state politics. On
June 14, the Democrats held their convention in Raleigh.
The chief question before the convention, which had drawn
the largest crowd in history, was the selection of a strong
candidate for governor. Several prominent Democrats were
discussed, but when it was reported that Vance wanted the
nomination, all other names were dropped and he was nominated
by acclamation. The Democrats had nominated the man who
could make the best race for governor, "Zebulon B. Vance,
famous orator, superb stump speaker, popular war governor,
and champion of state rights.” The Republicans also nomi-
84
nated a strong candidate, Judge Thomas Settle. These
nominations resulted in the most dramatic political campaign
ever staged in North Carolina.
O p
Vance to J. Early, Charlotte, September 27, 1873,
Vance Papers.
^Conner, North Carolina. I, 349.
84-Lefler, History of North Carolina. II, 582

CHAPTER VII
VANCE-SETTLE CAMPAIGN
The news of Vance's nomination was received with ap¬
proval all over the state. At Charlotte, where he had lived
for the past ten years, a self-appointed committee began
making plans for a celebration upon Vance's return from
the convention. Handbills announcing a meeting to be held
in Independent Square were printed and distributed through¬
out the city. Long before the arrival of the 9:20 p.m.
train, which was bringing Vance from Raleigh, tar barrels
were set on fire and throngs of people gathered in the
streets waiting to hear what their distinguished townsman
had to say about his nomination. A large delegation was
waiting at the depot when the train pulled in, and the
popular candidate was hurried into a waiting carriage,
which was pulled by four grey horses to the Square. As
the carriage came in sight a band began playing, and shouts
of "hurrah for Vance" echoed through the air.1
Amid thunderous applause, Vance mounted the platform
which was illuminated by blazing tar barrels. He was in¬
troduced to the crowd as "North Carolina's favorite son,
1Charlotte Democrat. June 19, 1876.
211

212
the tribune of the people, Zebulon B. Vance."
Speaking for only fifteen minutes, Vance explained
that his remarks would be brief because he was exhausted from
the activities of the convention. He had had little rest
since he had left home three days earlier because of "the
continued evidences of partiality and kindnesses shown by
his fellow citizens."2 Optimistically he declared that
victory for the Democrats was presaged on every hand. The
convention had had the largest attendance of any ever held
in the state and all who attended were strong supporters of
the Democratic ticket. Even cautious men and women, Vance
said, were predicting that the Democrats would carry the
•5
state by a twenty thousand vote majority.
The most important reason for expecting success was
that the people were aroused, and wanted a change from the
type of government that had existed for the past sixteen
years. They were tired of the Republican party’s character¬
istic disregard for constitutional limitations, unequal and
oppressive taxation, extravagant and wasteful expenditures,
and official corruption. The Democrats offered a platform
designed to eliminate these evils. They promised constitu¬
tional, honest, economical government; a reduction in govern¬
mental expenditures; the establishment of an improved and en-
2Charlotte Democrat. June 19, 1876.
3Ibld.

213
larged public school system for the benefit of all citizens
A
of the state. Establishing himself as the man ethically
equipped to carry out such a platform, Vance avowed:
I can lift up these hands before you, in the presence of
my Creator, and say that in all that time of war and
public distress, and through all that period of tempta¬
tion and corruption which followed the war, not one dol¬
lar of dishonest money has ever stained their palms; and,
lastly I can say that I never thought wherein self was
preferred to prosperity and honor of my native land.5
The final reason for his optimism, Vance explained,
was the enthusiastic reception accorded him on his trip
from Raleigh to Charlotte. He told the audience that large
crowds had met the train at Durham, Greensboro, Salisbury,
and Concord. At Concord the depot was teeming with people
well supplied with fireworks and whiskey. Since the train
could not stop long enough for Vance to speak, many persons
climbed aboard and went on to Charlotte with hlm.^ Such
enthusiasm, Vance felt, was sure to bring success to the
Democrats on election day.
The enthusiasm described in Vance's speech carried
over into the planning for the most extensive political
campaign ever conducted in the state. The Executive Com¬
mittee of the Democratic party was well supplied with funds.
^Charlotte Democrat. June 19, 1876.
^Raleigh Sentinel. July 8, 1876.
^Charlotte Democrat. June 19, 1876

214
Tilden and Vance clubs were organized in practically every
township for the purpose of promoting Vance for governor,
Samuel J. Tilden for president, and to give support to the
entire Democratic ticket. On the invitation of the Tilden-
Vance Club of that city, the Executive Committee chose
Raleigh as the place to begin the campaign on July 14.^
Ready for the opening of the campaign, Vance arrived
in Raleigh on July 13. That night four hundred members of
the Tilden-Vance Club, headed by Stanley's brass band,
marched from their meeting hall to the Yarbrough House,
where Vance was staying, to serenade him. Amid much cheer¬
ing, Vance appeared on the portico and gave a brief preview
of the campaign. Declaring that the struggle would be long
and exciting, he promised that if it were not pleasant and
genteel, it would be no fault of his.®
At the time of this speech, native white Republicans
were becoming exasperated with the conduct of their own
party, and a general exodus had already begun. Even two
Grant electors of 1872 stumped the state for Tilden.^ Re¬
cognizing this dissatisfaction, Vance tried to appeal to
the Republicans in the hope of gaining their vote. He said
^Raleigh Sentinel. July 7, 1876.
8Ibid.. July 14, 1876.
^Hamilton, Reconstruction in North Carolina, p. 649.

215
that he had no quarrel with the great mass of Republicans,
black or white, but with their corrupt leaders he did have
a quarrel. He intended, therefore, "to lash them from
every stump, fearlessly."!0He promised to tell the people
of an appaling tale of corruption in the administration of
affairs during the Reconstruction years. With the stage
thus set, Vance bade his admirers good night, and promised
that they should hear more from him the next day and for
many days to come.11
A little after eleven o'clock the next morning Vance,
accompanied by W. R. Cox, chairman of the Democratic Ex¬
ecutive Committee, mounted the large flag-draped platform,
which had been built in the courthouse square facing the
Yarbrough House and the Rescue Fire Company. All of the
thousand seats facing the platform were taken, and an over¬
flow crowd filled the chairs placed in front of the Yarbrough
House, the fire house, and the courthouse. Vance’s appear¬
ance was greeted by a demonstration comparable to those
staged at a present-day presidential nominating convention.
The festive atmosphere of the occasion inspired Vance, who
was bubbling over with exuberance by the time he reached the
platform. William H. Bledsoe, president of the Raleigh
10Raleigh Sentinel. July 14, 1876.
1:LIbld

216
Tilden-Vance Club, Introduced him as the man "in whom cen¬
tered all reform, reconciliation and union” in North Carolina.
He said that Vance represented the party that was bending all
12
energies to bring about these desirable ends.
Some people in the state had been critical of Vance's
arrests of army deserters during the war, and he was certain
this would be his opponent's main line of attack. Conse¬
quently, he considered it imperative to eliminate as much
antagonism as possible at the beginning of the campaign.
In beginning his address, he tried to establish good¬
will by assuring the audience that he was thoroughly familiar
with the duties of the office he sought. He explained that
during the dark and troubled time of the war he had been
responsible for enforcing many harsh laws, but that they
were as unpleasant to him as to those against whom they
were enforced.
Having thus established himself in the audience's fa¬
vor, he promised to state his views frankly and honestly.
Although the war had ended, Vance said, there were many vital
issues still to be settled. Chief among these was the ques¬
tion of the supremacy of the white race, a policy which he
strongly affirmed. His argument that the achievements of
^2Raleigfa Sentinel. July 15, 1876.

217
the Anglo-Saxon race had earned it the right to supremacy
wherever Christianity and civilization prevailed may have
lacked logic, but it was strong in appeal to the prejudices
of the great mass of white voters. In all sincerity, Vance
said, he believed in the doctrine he preached, and declared
that "this supremacy would never pass to alien blood with
his consent."1^
Judge Thomas Settle, his opponent in the race, had
sent Vance a note fifteen minutes before he left his hotel,
requesting that he divide the alloted speaking time with him.
Since the Tilden-Vance Club had gone to much expense and work
preparing for the occasion, Vance informed Settle that the
club objected to giving the candidates equal time. Vance,
however, agreed to open with an hour speech and let Settle
speak for one and one-half hours, after which Vance would
close with a speech of the same length. This was the pro¬
cedure that the Republican party had used with the Democrats
in the campaign of 1868. Settle, however, refused to debate
Vance on these terms. Commenting on the refusal, Vance vivid¬
ly expressed his point in figurative language that was fami¬
liar to all the audience. "I fed them," he said, "out of
^Raleigh Sentinel. July 15, 1876.

218
their own spoon, but they did not seem to like the vic¬
tuals ,"14-
The preceding remark illustrates Vance's inimitable
mode of changing uninteresting material into a captivating
idea by his free and easy use of figures. How dull and
colorless would the statement have been in its literal
form: "I treated the Republicans just as they treated the
Democrats, but they didn't like it.”
Vance again used imagery in the speech as he an¬
nounced that the two candidates planned to engage in a
series of debates during the campaign. He said, "Provi¬
dence permitting and the water keeping low,” Settle and he
15
would meet in debates during the campaign. No one in the
audience needed an explanation of what was meant by the
phrase "the water keeping low.” Most North Carolinians
were familiar with swollen mountain streams, and the havoc
they could play with travel. This down-to-earth statement
was associated with the experiences of most of the audience,
and undoubtedly was much more effective than a purely lit¬
eral statement would have been. Perhaps his faculty for
figurative language accounts for a great deal of Vance's
success in the political arena. It gave him an advantage
•^Raleigh Sentinel. July 15, 1876.
15Ibid.

219
over Settle and other opponents whose speeches were more
suited to parliamentary assemblies than to the stump.
In its denunciation of the villanies and inconsis¬
tencies of the Reconstruction Acts, Vance's speech of July
14 set a pattern for his other speeches of the campaign.
He argued that throughout the ten years of Reconstruction
Congress had dissolved the Union that it professedly wanted
to preserve. By this argument he sought to expose what he
believed to be the fallacy in the conduct of the federal
government. It fought to keep the southern states from
leaving the Union, but as soon as the South was defeated,
Congress declared them out of the Union and would not let
them re-enter until they had met certain prescribed condi¬
tions. Vance contended that the North Carolina convention
which had written the new state constitution was formed in
violation of the federal constitution since many white
people had been disfranchised. In support of this point,
he reviewed Congressional procedure in obtaining a consti¬
tution that would satisfy the Radical Congress:
Congress ordained that the body should be convened,
prescribed how members should be elected, and then
proceeded to disfranchise 30,000 white men. Under
this Congressional manipulation, a constitutional
convention was called, a constitution framed, and
80,000 Negroes who had no right to vote voted upon
the question of their own franchisement; 30,000 white

220
men who had a right to vote were not allowed to vote
on the question at all.16
In order to strengthen his argument, Vance used an
analogy. He said that the action of Congress was "like fif¬
teen men going to a church of twenty, applying for membership
and insisting on voting on their own election, and then dis¬
franchising one-third of the original number, thus placing
themselves in the majority and taking control."17 Vance
often used analogies, especially figurative analogies, to
relate a less familiar point to one which was familiar. If
Vance were not able to prove his point with his analogies,
he used them to good advantage in clarifying his material.
Doubtless much of his powerful audience appeal may be at¬
tributed to his skillful handling of the homely analogy.
From the very outset of the campaign Republican news¬
papers and candidates began to attack Vance. He attempted
to refute their accusation that he had been a harsh governor
during the war by declaring that never was a charge less well-
founded. He had used every means to prevent oppression when
he had had to enforce unpleasant laws. History apparently
supported Vance in this argument, because it was generally
known that his intervention on behalf of North Carolinians
l6Raleigh Sentinel. July 15, 1876.
17Ibld.

221
gave the Confederate authorities much anxiety.
Another charge which Vance answered in the speech was
that he had been unduly severe in the enforcement of the law
regarding conscripts and deserters. This attack hit Vance
at an extremely vulnerable point, for he admittedly had en¬
forced this law strictly. He explained, however, that he
had done this only to keep the Confederate officers, who
knew nothing about the people of the state, from gaining
the power to punish North Carolinians.
Vance recalled for his listeners that on one occasion
the Confederate authorities, without bringing specific
charges, had arrested and thrown into prison about sixty
of the state's citizens. He stated that he wrote to Rich¬
mond that if the prisoners were not brought to trial or re¬
leased, he would remove all North Carolina troops from the
field. He further promised to call out the militia to pro¬
tect the citizens from tyranny and oppression. If there
were harshness in this act, it was toward the Confederate
administration and not the people of his state.
Another charge, though sadistic in character, took a
humorous twist under Vance's defense. He had been accused
of having women's thumbs squeezed under fence rails to
make them tell where their husbands were hiding. Denouncing
the charge as an "infamous lie," he threatened that any man

â– 0*1 0^
220
who would repeat this story to his face would be made to
swallow the lie. He turned the tables on his accusers by
his firm avowal that he had "never squeezed a woman by the
thumbs or in any other way except by her permission."1®
Disparaging his opponents" indictments against him
as "slanderous charges put into circulation by unscrupulous
men,"19 Vance asserted that nothing in his administration
was equal to the state of affairs in 1870. Then there had
prevailed a state of turmoil "created by designing, bad
and base men."20 Governor Holden had had citizens arrested
by both white and black soldiers, and had refused them the
right of trial. To prove this assertion, Vance mentioned
a Felix Roan and Lucien Murray as examples of men who had
been arrested and tortured without writ of habeas corpus.
They were accused of having knowledge of Ku Klux Elan acti¬
vities in which a Negro and a Radical politician had been
murdered. When Roan and Murray refused to admit knowledge
of the affair, they were strung up until they were uncon¬
scious. Many similar Instances occurred in which innocent
people were punished without being brought to trial. The
state Supreme Court issued writs of habeas corpus, but
^Raleigh Sentinel. July 15, 1876.
19Ibid.
20Ibid

o
2214
Holden would not honor them. Then explained Vance:
The courts refused to force him to do so, and stood
supinely by and saw some of our best citizens dragged
to prison by a rabble soldiery without a proper war¬
rant and some even put to torture, and refused to inter¬
pose the law.21
At this point Vance reached the climax of his speech
by asking the rhetorical question, "Who was on the Supreme
Court bench at the time?"22 The answer, of course, was
Thomas Settle. With this he completed his defense, and
the charges of his being untrue to the people were not to
be taken seriously again at any time during the campaign.
It is doubtful that the Raleigh Sentinel was accurate
0
in its appraisal of the speech as "the most powerful of
Vance’s life."23 Close observation, however, does reveal
that his arguments were well rooted in fact. The speech made
a greater use of logical proof than do the majority of Vance’s
political addresses. He also documented to a greater degree
than usual the evidence used in this speech. For example,
he gave Congressman J. J. Davis as his source of evidence
that huge swindles had taken place in the federal government
21Raleigh Sentinel. July 15, 1876.
22
¿¿Ibid.
23lbid.

222
under the Republicans. Davis had claimed that out of
$4,500,000,000 collected in revenue, $1,500,000,000 had
been lost.2^
In accepting Settle's challenge to meet him in debate
during the campaign, Vance had agreed to match wits with the
most formidable opponent of his career. Settle's learning
in the law, his abundance of general information and poli¬
tical experiencej and his skill in debate caused many of
Vance's friends to fear the result. They had, however,
underestimated the capabilities of their candidate. In
the qualities that make an orator, Vance was superior to
Settle. His unparalleled wit and humor, coupled with
cleverness in debate and intellectual alertness, helped
to make up for his lack of knowledge. He seldom missed a
weakness in his opponent's arguments. The Raleigh Sentinel
was correct in characterizing him as an orator with "versa¬
tility of talent," and "great resource and fertility of
argument."25
Although both Vance and Settle were handsome men,
there was something majestic in Vance's appearance. He
was nearly six feet tall, and weighed about 250 pounds. His
chest was full and heavy, and his neck short and thick.
^Raleigh Sentinel. July 15, I876.
25lbid.

223
Crowning his large well-shaped head was a mass of glossy-
black hair that grew well down on his forehead and temples
on the right side, and receded excessively at the part on
the left. Long locks of hair hung low on his neck. A
26
large mustache curling at the corners adorned the upper lip.
Few campaigns have had candidates of such superior abili¬
ty. From the very beginning it promised to be both exciting
and interesting. Although the Issues contributed to the in¬
terest, the abilities and personalities of the two candidates
were chiefly responsible. The campaign debates became known
as the "battle of the giants."2^
The first meeting of "the giants" took place before
four thousand people at Rutherfordton on July 25. Vance
opened the meeting with a one and one-half hours speech.
Settle followed with one of the same length, and each re¬
plied for a half hour. In these addresses the speakers set
a high standard of conduct for the campaign by being courteous
to each other. Vance with his cleverness, however, never
missed an opportunity to upset his opponent. For example,
in the first debate Settle read a letter he had procured
from Vance’s letter book, which was on file at the War De-
2^Dowd, Life of Vance, p. 125*
2?Raleigh Sentinel. July 27, 1876.

224
partment. The letter advocated making desertion of the army
a misdemeanor, and Settle chose to read only the parts that
made Vance appear disloyal to the people of North Carolina.
When Vance's turn came, he asked for the letter, held it up
to the audience, and showed that in the reading much had been
omitted. In a sarcastic voice he arraigned the federal gov¬
ernment for denying him access to his own letter book, and
attacked Settle for using "garbled copies against him."2^
Vance was too intelligent to allow Settle's continuous
attack on his war record to put him on the defensive. In¬
stead of defending himself when Settle blamed him for the
horrors of war, he questioned Settle about his own approval
of the Kirk War. This was the name given to Holden’s action
of calling out troops on July 15, 1870, to quell the Ku Klux
Klan. The troops had been placed under the command of George
W. Kirk, a notoriously impopular commander of a group of
North Carolina volunteers in the Union army during the war.
The white citizens were incensed at this whole affair, and
any question relating to it was disastrous to Vance’s op¬
ponent. In fact, Vance had a barrage of questions which
were designed to place Settle in a dilemma and to associate
him with the Kirk War and other repulsive acts of the Re-
2^Raleigh Sentinel. July 27» 1876

225
publican party. The following questions were used in practi¬
cally every debate:
1. Was Holden’s suspension of the writ of habeas corpus
legal?
2. Which of the constitutional amendments are good?
3. How did the South get out of the Union?
4. Were the reconstruction acts constitutional?
5. Can Congress confer the right of suffrage?
6. Was the Louisiana outrage constitutional?
7. Was Judge Settle not elected to the Supreme Court by
fraud?
8. Does Judge Settle approve Grant’s administration?
9. Does he approve of the civil rights act?
10.Was desertion from the army right?29
The first time these questions were used was at the
little mountain town of Bakersville. The town had gone "all
out" for the debate. The women had made campaign banners,
and the largest crowd ever assembled in Mitchell County was
present. Settle appealed to the prejudices of the people
and opened old war wounds by a review of Vance’s war record.
Then Vance arose and said he had some questions to ask Mr.
Settle. The ten questions were asked, but they were not
satisfactorily answered, either then or at any later time
during the campaign. Instead, Settle tried to sidetrack
them by treating them lightly, and stating that they made
no sense. He said the questions reminded him "of the
question if corn was fifty cents a bushel, and three pecks
to a bushel, how much would it take to shingle a house?"
29Ralelgh Sentinel. July 27, 1876.

226
Then he hid behind Vance's war record.
As the campaign progressed, Settle found that his
attack began to backfire. Under Vance's counterattack,
Settle's war record appeared worse than Vance's. Consequent¬
ly, Settle spent less time on it. At Boone on August 5, be
used only half of his time on this issue, rather than all
of it, as he usually did. This attack could not be eli¬
minated entirely, however, because it seemed to be the
only real issue Settle could find against his opponent.
In the speech at Boone, Settle attempted to answer
one of Vance's questions, but this attempt proved disastrous.
On the question of whether he approved of Grant's administra¬
tion, Settle said that the President himself confessed that
he had made some blunders. In his opinion, however, Grant’s
administration would emblazon the pages of American history
and shine by the side of George Washington's. This answer
played into Vance's hand. He said that he didn't doubt the
shine part, but suggested there was also a smell attached
to it that resembled very much "the flavor of rotten macker¬
el in the sunshine."31
By the time the debaters reached the mountain village
of Jefferson on August 7, Vance's voice began to show signs
-^Raleigh Sentinel. August 9, 1876.
31Ibid.

227
of fatigue. Suffering from hoarseness, he found speaking
difficult. Yet, according to a woman in the audience who
had never heard Vance speak before, he was effective in
spite of his handicap. She said:
Vance's speech was clothed in chaste language, full
of facts and figures, logical and convincing, aptly
illustrated with happy comparisons and interspersed
with the choicest anecdotes, which were interjected
with rarest skill. He sustained his reputation as a
great orator and speaker in spite of the hoarseness
under which he was suffering.32
One of the liveliest discussions occurred at Jones¬
boro on August 25. Here the debate changed somewhat in
character. Settle took a new approach in attacking Vance's
war record. Instead of charging him with harshness toward
conscripts and deserters, he held Vance responsible for
extending a war which resulted in a loss of two-thirds of
the property of the state. This charge referred to Vance's
refusal to join Holden in the "peace movement" of 1865. He
further attributed the loss of a $2,000,000 school fund to
the fact that Vance had invested it in Confederate bonds.
To avoid being put on the defensive, Vance did not clash
directly on these issues. He chose to ignore the school
fund issue, but he was too proud of his war record to re¬
frain from defending it against Settle's attack. Instead
^Raleigh Sentinel. August 18, 1876.

228
of completely ignoring it, he decided to minimize it by
accusing Settle of playing on the prejudices of the audience
in bringing up such an argument. It reminded him, he said,
of the boy who had gone to college, and come home ashamed
of his old daddy. One day the old man was mowing hay, and
the son took him his lunch of cheese and crackers. The son
pulled out his microscope, looked at the cheese which the
old man had begun to eat, and told him it was full of ani-
malculae. The old man asked, "Full of what?" He took the
glass and looked himself. "I believe it is full son,"
he said; and then continued to eat as he said, "If they can
stand it I can. If you people can live on your prejudices
and pay attention to my war record, I can stand it if you
can," said Vance.33
Continuing, Vance sought to relegate all charges
against his war record to the background with a blistering
invective of the Republican leaders. He said that if he
owned a full-blooded radical, he would trade him off for
a dog and kill the dog. Treating the state revenue officers
to similar insults, he characterized them as being able to
"lie down and drink out of a branch and tell if there was a
still five miles up it," or to "look at a man‘s track and
^^Ralelgh Sentinel. August 26, 1876.

229
tell whether he was toting a quart of whiskey or a two gallon
jug."34
One of the issues of the campaign centered in the in¬
consistencies Vance and Settle had shown in their political
affiliations. During the years preceding the outbreak of
the war both had been Unionists, and were earnestly opposed
to secession. In 1861, both were candidates for Congress
and campaigned in their respective districts as anti¬
secessionists. During the campaign, however, both changed
colors and became secessionists.-^ Vance charged Settle
with "changing fronts and deserting the Confederate cause
when the war got hot." On the other hand, Settle claimed
that Vance did not change to a secessionist until after he
was elected governor. At the debate in Salem, Vance had
a copy of a resolution that Settle had Introduced in the
legislature before the war showing that he was a fire¬
eating secessionist. After reading the resolution to the
audience, he said:
I will tell you the difference between Judge
Settle and myself. I was a Union man at the beginning
of the war and stuck to it until my state went out of
the Union. I could not turn my gun against my own
people, so I went with them and made the best fight I
could. My competitor, Judge Settle, on the other hand
54-Ralelprfr Sentinel. August 26, 1876.
35Anon., "Political Inconsistency," North Carolina
Historical Review. Ill (January, 1926), 155.

230
was a violent war man and was such a red hot secession¬
ist that if you had thrown him into a branch he would
have scalded to death every tadpole for a mile and a
half below him.
Adapting to his audience, Vance read some resolutions
from an old newspaper in answer to Settle’s charge that he
had become a secessionist after he was elected governor. The
resolutions, which were passed by a group of Salem citizens
twelve months after Vance had become governor, praised him
for sustaining the civil authority of the state over the
military authority of the Confederacy.^7
Vance was never happier than when he was winning a
point from his opponent. By skillfully finding the newspaper
article that would appeal to his audience, he had again out-
maneuvered Settle.
Settle's position became weaker as the debate continued.
On August 18, at the little town of Danbury he lost control
of his temper interrupting Vance with, "That is not so."
Vance had accused Settle of refusing to allow two men to
serve in his company, while he was an army officer, because
they were draftees rather than volunteers. He said that
Settle drummed them from his company as cowards. Settle re-
36sallsbury Carolina Watchman. September 7» 1876.
57ibid.

231
plied, "That is not so. No men were drummed from my company.”
Just then a man in the crowd stood up and shouted, "It is so
Captain Settle. I was there and I know the fact." Settle
thinking about it, rejoined, "Yes, but not for cowardice,
I had them drummed out for larceny." Vance marked up another
point to his credit with the retort, "Would to God, fellow
citizens, all the others, for larceny, could be drummed out
of Captain Settle’s company."-^
Both candidates were heckled during the debates, but
Vance was better able to cope with the situation than his
opponent. In replying to Settle's charges regarding his
treatment of deserters during the war, Vance declared he
could never respect men who ran away from their colors. At
that moment, a voice from the crowd interrupted, "Do you
mean the conscripts that deserted?" "No," answered Vance,
"I refer to men [who] volunteered and then deserted; of
course, I have no reference to conscripts." "Well you
ought to say," replied the voice. "My friend," said Vance,
"please let us have it understood, I shall say exactly what
I please." This quieted the heckler for the rest of the
speech.^
In contrast to Vance, Settle often lost control of
^Raleigh Sentinel. August 12, I876.
39Ibid.

232
the situation when members of the audience became antagonis¬
tic. One such incident occurred during the Jonesboro debate.
A heavy rain had fallen, and the speakers had to ascend the
stairs to a second story porch overlooking the street in
order to finish their speeches. Most of the men below were
wet on the outside, with plenty of hard cider and whiskey
on the inside. As Settle talked about the Ku Klux Klan out¬
rages in 1870, the audience began heckling him. After being
stopped several times, Settle became angry and burst out,
"I tell you those Ku Klux were men like you who bray at me,
you scoundrels, you infernal fiends of hell, you!"^°
Vance always insisted that the crowd treat Settle
with respect, and usually succeeded in securing it. He
never lost an opportunity, however, to prod him or put him
on the defensive, so that he would lose his temper. A
signal example of this occurred in one of the mountain
villages. After the speeches, some young women came up
and kissed Vance. He reciprocated with all the gallantry
of a southern politician. Then turning to Settle and point¬
ing to a group of Negro women on the Republican side, Vance
said, "See Settle, I'm kissing my supporters. Now you kiss
yours."41
Raleigh Sentinel. August 26, 1876.
^Hamilton, Reconstruction in North Parolina, p. 652.

233
Reaching the rural community of Johnson's Store on
October 5, the candidates found a crowd of four thousand
people gathered to hear them. For a mile on both sides of
the road the thickets were full of horses, mules, and ve¬
hicles. The speaker's platform had been built in the woods
to provide protection from the weather.
Perhaps the setting reminded Vance of a brush arbor
camp meeting, for he adopted the style of the circuit
preacher as he admonished his audience to pay no attention
to Republican promises of reform. He said that these pro¬
mises reminded him of the Dutchman who found it necessary
to reform the sheep killing dog by cutting off a piece of
his tail right behind his ears. At one point, he declared,
"Reformation never began in Hell." At another, "The Devil
never yet led a revival of religion." Using a Biblical
reference, Vance said, "There was a man in the Scripture
named Jeshurun who waxed fat and kicked. Whenever the
officeholders wax fat and kick, the people should wax
wrothy and kick them out."^2
Showing concern for the presidential race, Vance
charged that Hayes, the Republican nominee for President,
would be no better than Grant. In language vivid in imagery
^2Ralelgh Sentinel. October 6, 1876.

234
familiar to the country people to whom he was speaking, he
said, "It is no use when a setting of eggs had become rotten
to put another hen on the same eggs. As things are now, we
need a new nest, new eggs, and a new hen."4^
Settle, lacking the flexibility of style possessed
by his opponent, was unable to appeal to these rugged country
people. He delivered his speech with his customary ability,
but his counter charges had little effect on the audience.
The final debate was held at Swift Creek on October 21.
As usual, Vance regaled his audience with witty denunciations
of the opposition party. He emphasized the corruption of the
Republicans, and declared it was time to turn them out of of¬
fice. Using satirical humor, he said:
It was a shrewd thing in the radicals here in
North Carolina when they abolished the whipping post
before they went stealing. If they had not been sharp
enough to do that they would have been the greatest ..
set of striped back and ring-tailed rascals ever seen.44
The most significant thing about this last debate was
the cordiality of each candidate toward the other. Vance
commended the honorable conduct of his opponent, and expressed
the hope that whatever the outcome of their forensic duel,
it would serve to promote the honor, the happiness, and the
^Raleigh Sentinel. October 6, 1876.
44Ibid., October 24, 1876.

235
prosperity of North Carolina. Judge Settle reciprocated
by saying that North Carolina was to be congratulated on
the fact that their campaign of fifty-seven days had left
no wound that rankled in the heart of either candidate.
The two candidates shook hands as they parted, and Vance
humorously remarked, "I'm sorry to leave you, old fellow.
You've been pretty fair with me while we've been together,
but I don't know how it will be when you get off by your¬
self. I reckon you'll have to swear me in as governor next
January."4-5
At the conclusion of the debates, Vance was confi¬
dent he would win the election. Everywhere in the sixty-
four counties in which they debated, Vance found enthusias¬
tic supporters, even in areas that were expected to oppose
him. A farmer living outside of Winston said he had been
a Republican since the war, but after hearing the debate
between Vance and Settle he was convinced no honest Republi-
46
can could endorse that party. At another meeting of the
candidates, a revenue officer became so excited during one
of Vance's speeches that he threw his hat on the ground,
stamped on it, and rushed up on the stand and shook Vance
^Raleigh Sentinel. October 24, 1876.
46Ibid., October 22, 1876.

236
"by the hand exclaiming, "You have talked the last bit of radi¬
calism out of me."^
The debates raised political activities from a de¬
generate status to a higher plane. It was a hopeful sign
that an entire campaign could be conducted without either
candidate becoming embittered* The candidates departed as
friends. Settle declared, "My feelings were never otherwise
than kind towards you, and I but uttered the sentiments of
my heart ... when I said that my regard for you was high¬
er at the close of the joint canvass than it ever had been."^
This campaign of Joint speaking was the most extensive ever
undertaken in the state by two gubernatorial candidates.
Of the Vance-Settie debate, William P. Bynum, Jr., a
distinguished Republican jurist, said:
Their debates are historical in North Carolina.
They were conducted with splendid dignity, each candi¬
date treating the other with fine courtesy throughout
the discussions. ... In all that makes political speak¬
ing instructive, impressive, and convincing these dis¬
cussions were in no respect less masterful than the de¬
bates between Lincoln and Douglas in 1858. The senti¬
ment of a large majority of the white people was with
Vance. On this account Judge Settle was continually at
a disadvantage, but after each debate his political ad¬
versaries were forced to acknowledge his power and that
there were laurels won on either side. But practically,
the joint discussions were disastrous to the Republican
cause, just as . . . they*have usually been in the South
since the war. The white people were stirred to the
depths, as otherwise they might not have been, and they
thus became a power so irresistible that only an equal
^Raleigh Sentinel. October 29, 1876.
^Settle to Vance, Greensboro, December 30, 1876, Vance
Papers.

237
AO
number of white men can withstand them.
Following the Swift Creek debate it was decided that
Vance and Settle would separate and canvass alone during the
remainder of the campaign. During this period, each candi¬
date made twelve speeches. Vance's audiences continued to
be as large as previously, but there was a considerable de-
50
crease in attendance at the Republican meetings.
A typical Democratic rally was held at Kinston on
October 23. Vance and his party arrived at the beautiful
rural village at eight o'clock in the morning, and found a
host of people waiting to greet them at the depot. The
Greenville cornet band was on hand to play for the festive
occasion. When Vance left the train, he found the crowd
had formed two parallel lines, ten deep on each side, with
each line facing the other. Absolute silence was maintained
until the candidate had walked to the end of the line. Then
three deafening cheers rent the air. With a horseman bear¬
ing a large United States flag leading the way, Vance's
carriage was escorted through the main streets of the town
by a calvacade of mounted men, followed by a long procession
of people in vehicles and on foot. The porches and windows
^William P. Bynum, Jr., Address Presenting the Portrait
of Thomas Settle to the Supreme Court, p. 56. quoted in
Conner, North Carolina, p. 351.
5°Hamilton, Reconstruction in North Carolina, p. 649.

238
were filled with ladies waving their handkerchiefs in wel¬
come.
A speaker’s stand draped in white, festooned with
cedar, ivy, and holly, and interspersed here and there with
flowers, had been erected at the south end of the Lenoir
County courthouse. A banner at one end of the platform
bore the motto, "Vance, the people's choice." Opposite
this was a large American flag. At the rear of the plat¬
form was a beautifully decorated band wagon. In front of
the stand were three thousand people eager to hear what their
51
candidate had to say.
Vance had enjoyed the series of debates, and his
opening statement suggests that he regretted nis opponent
was not still with him. He said that in the absence of his
competitor he was like a blacksmith beating an anvil without
any iron, in his speech he used facts and figures similar
to those he had used in the debates, and advanced the basic
proposition that a change in the administrations of the
national and state government must be made.
Supporting this theme, Vance called attention to the
fallacy of supporting the Republican presidential candidate,
Rutherford B. Hayes, as a change from Grant. He said, "It
was a duck before two ducks, a duck behind two ducks, and
5^-Raleipji Sentinel. October 29, 1876

239
a duck between two ducks."52 This axiom, he argued, was
based on the belief that an opportunity for a change of
parties should be given the people.
For his second point, Vance pictured the Republican
party as being corrupt to the core. He accused it of giv¬
ing the lie to its own professions, as exemplified by the
Emancipation Proclamation which had been issued by Lincoln
after Congress declared it had no intention of interfering
with slavery. Vance also considered it evil for the Repub¬
lican party to support the congressional Reconstruction plan,
which, he said, resulted in dissolving the Union which they
had fought four years to maintain. Vance based this attack
on his belief that the Congressional plan provided by the
Reconstruction Acts of March 2 and 23, 1867, dissolved the
Union by refusing to readmit southern states to the Union
until they had met the following requirements: (1) A state
had to ratify establishing Negro suffrage; (2) The Fourteenth
Amendment to the federal Constitution must be ratified; (3)
The state government must be approved by Congress.
Speaking of the treatment received from Congress when
the South was admitted, Vance said, "They wanted us to come
back, if we came at all, as radicals. They wanted us to
5^Ralelph Sentinel. October 29, 1876.

240
play the part of the prodigal son, hut when we got home, we
were marched around the chimney of the great house right slam
Into the kitchen.”53
Vance presented his most convincing appeal toward the
end of the speech. In this appeal, he explained to the
people that corruption and extravagant expenditures had
wasted their money. Convinced that excessive spending showed
a weakness in a government, he generalized, "The best govern¬
ment in the world is that which is cheapest."^4
Declaring that the only reply of Radicals to his
charges of corruption and malfeasance was "War! War! War!"
he asked, "Is it any reason that you should support thieves
because I and my friends are war men?"55 An internal summary
of his theme was then presented in this admonition:
A change may help, but cannot hurt us. If the men the
Democrats put in power go back on you, turn them out.
Keep turning out and turning out until you get honest
men in office.56
One innovation in this speech was Vance's direct re¬
marks to the Negroes present. In previous speeches he evi¬
dently had assumed that the Negroes in the audiences were
^Raleigh Sentinel. October 29, 1876.
54Ibid.
55ibid.
56ibid

241
supporters of Settle, and had come to hear him. Toward the
close of this speech, which lasted for two and one-half
hours, he told some stories of particular interest to
Negroes. One dealt with the Negro he had met in Yadkin
County who had "taken notice that the Democratic niggers
always wore the best breeches."57
This speech, his sixty-ninth in sixty-five counties,
received the same enthusiastic response the others had.
Perhaps one of the most interesting and, by modern day
standards, unusual expressions of approval came at its
close when he was presented with many bouquets, amid pro-
58
longed applause and strains of band music.
The election was a sweeping victory for the Democrats.
Vance won by a majority of more than thirteen thousand votes,
and except for one congressman, every state and national of¬
ficer selected was a Democrat. Reconstruction had ended,
and, says Conner, the administration of the government
passed into the hands of the party which represented the
intelligence, the property, and the patriotism of North
59
Carolina.
It is impossible to determine to what extent Vance
57Ralelgh Sentinel. October 29, 1876.
-^Dowd, Life of Vance, p. lbl.
69Conner, North Carolina, pp. 351-352

242
was responsible for the end of Radical rule, but it is safe
to conclude that no political speaker in North Carolina had
greater power over an audience. J. P. Caldwell said:
As a popular orator and debater there has been in North
Carolina no man who approached him. Never has the State
had a son who could so sway the multitude. His style of
address was unique and never to be forgotten. . . .His
arguments were ponderous, distinguished for originality
of proposition and power of statement. He was a thinker,
a logician, and while no thought escaped his tongue that
had not already been subjected to the crucible of reason,
no faulty argument by an opponent and its weakness escaped
detection by him. His alertness was amazing; his readi¬
ness will ever remain a proverb in the State. He was
never taken unawares; never found without an answer, and
it a sufficient one. He was capable of the loftiest elo¬
quence, and adorned with handsomest decorations whatever
subject he chose to. But amidst references to his humor,
his quickness, his aptness and eloquence, the fact should
not be lost sight of that these were but the adornments
of what were masterful intellectual performances; for he
was a great intellect who himself set no store by the
arts of speech, except in so far as they might serve to
give emphasis to the grave argument he would enforce.60
Elaborate plans were made for Vance's inauguration. It
seemed only appropriate that North Carolina should honor her
first Democratic administration since Reconstruction with in¬
augural ceremonies befitting such a happy occasion. As the
first of the new year approached, however, a blizzard set
in, and on January 1, the day of the inauguration, it was
bitter cold with snow covering the ground. The ceremonies
had to be held in Tucker Hall, which meant curtailing the
program.
^°J.P. Caldwell, quoted in Hamilton, Reconstruction
in North Carolina, pp. 649-650.

243
In spite of the weather, a large crowd gathered from
all parts of the state to see the curtain fall ’’upon the last
zT-j
scene of the last act of the great Reconstruction drama."
After taking the oath of office, Vance delivered his third
inaugural address as governor of the state of North Carolina.
He began his speech with this timely observation: "There
is retribution in history. For all the wrongs and inequali¬
ties of individual and national life there is compensation,
provided we do but patiently await its coming."62 The first
part of the speech was a review of the argument he had ad¬
vanced throughout the campaign regarding the fallacy of Re¬
construction legislation.
Refraining from his usual humor, he spoke with a degree
of reserve and dignity appropriate to the occasion. He scath¬
ingly denounced, however, the baser elements of the Radical
party in these words:
North Carolina was placed in the hands of the designing
and ignorant of our people, organized and led by unscrupu¬
lous and disreputable adventurers from the slums of North¬
ern politics; a base and comorant tribe of reptiles which
seem to spring like fungi from the rotteness and corruption
of revolutionary times.
Although Vance’s inaugural address was merely a summary
^Raleigh Observer. January 2, 1877.
62Ibid.
6-5 Ibid

244
of his campaign speeches, it satisfied the Democrats. The
Fayetteville Observer described it as "the utterance of a
statesman who has attentively studied the affairs of his
country and the troubles which have affected the people; it
is full of eloquence—that most powerful eloquence, deep
earnest feeling.
Perhaps the most accurate appraisal was made by the
Wilmington Star, which said of the address, "It is admirably
written, clear, animated, vigorous, flowing, exact."65
These characteristics were often found in Vance's speeches.
If nothing was said in the inaugural to please the
Negroes, their apprehensions were relieved by Vance's
message to the General Assembly shortly after the inaugura¬
tion. In keeping with his efforts to restore an orderly and
progressive state government, he advocated an effective
school system for the Negroes. Thinking of separate but
equal schools, he urged the members of the legislature to
live up to their pledges and make no discrimination in the
matter of public education; but to deal justly and equit-
66
ably with all school children of the state.
^Raleigh Observer. January 6, 1877»
65lbld.
66j>rensie A. Logan, "The Legal Status of Public School
Education for Negroes in North Carolina. 1877-1894." North
Carolina Historical Review. XXXII (July, 1955), 346.

245
With Vance formally seated as governor, there was re¬
joicing from "Murphy to Manteo." By his election, "the state
had been redeemed, home rule had been restored, and white
supremacy had been achieved."^7
67Lefler and Newsome, North Carolina, p. 472

CHAPTER VIII
THIRD TERM GUBERNATORIAL SPEAKING
Vance’s previous terms as governor had been dated
from the war years when his chief responsibilities were
feeding and clothing the soldiers and keeping able-bodied
men in the service of the Confederacy. Although he had
successfully fulfilled his duties as a war governor, the
people wondered whether he could meet the crises of peace
as well. The work before him consisted of restoring the
state’s depleted economy, and cleansing its corrupt gov¬
ernment.
In line with his political philosophy "that all
governments derive their just powers from the consent of
the governed," and that government should be "of the
people, by the people, and for the people," Vance advo¬
cated an educated citizenry.1 Reconstruction had impressed
upon him the dangers of government by the ignorant masses.
Consequently, he was genuinely concerned with education
during his third term.
According to C. H. Mebane, Superintendent of Public
Instruction in North Carolina in 1900, "... the greatest
service that Vance ever rendered the educational interest
of North Carolina was when he took a bold stand in 1877 to
1Dowd, Life of Vance, p. 205.
246

247
provide training for teachers. Mebane referred to the
governor* s message to the General Assembly in which Vance
said: "It is impossible for the blind to lead the blind."
In the same speech, he also strongly advocated training
for Negroes. "A school of similar character as that pro¬
posed for training white teachers ," he said, "should be
established for the education of colored teachers, the
want of which is more deeply felt by the black race even
than the white."^
The legislature accepted his recommendations, and
authorized normal schools for both races. A normal school
for colored people was established in Fayetteville—the
first teacher’s training institution for Negroes in the
country. The first summer school in the United States to
be operated under the auspices of a college or university
was established at the University of North Carolina to pro-
3
vide training for white teachers. Vance believed that
from these schools would come teachers capable of training
students to take responsible places in society.
Vance spoke on the subject of education whenever the
opportunity offered. His letter book contains many invita¬
tions to speak at fairs, grange meetings, and various sorts
2Raleigh News and Observer. August 22, 1900.
^Lefler, North Carolina, p. 502.

248
of celebrations. He felt obligated to accept as many of
these invitations as his busy schedule would permit. Often
these speeches called for great personal sacrifice. He some¬
times had to be away from home several days at a time, and
this necessitated his being separated from his wife, who
was ill and needed his care. Travel also was difficult
for Vance. The long train rides and visits to numerous
localities along the way usually left him exhausted.
His first speaking appearance after his inauguration
was before the colored Emancipation Society, which met in
Metropolitan Hall in Raleigh on January 2, 1877. Perhaps
the colored people invited Vance to speak in order to
ascertain his policy toward them. The Negroes, commemora¬
ting their own emancipation, could hardly be expected to be
favorable toward this man who had opposed their emancipa¬
tion. Vance was well aware of the antagonism that existed
in the audience, and his speech demonstrates effective plan¬
ning to gain a favorable response. He knew that if he were
fair and tactful, he would gain a hearing, if not an ac¬
ceptance of his ideas. Consequently, he began his speech
by assuring the audience that his oath of office bound him
to respect their rights as well as the rights of the white
^Raleigh Observer. January 3, 1877.

249
people. The right that seemed most important to him was that
of education. In fairness to all, he had committed himself
to equal efforts for the education of both races.5
Demonstrating tact, Vance told his audience that he
sympathized fully with their efforts to commemorate the
event which made them free men. He declared they would
be as ungrateful to forget it as he would be wicked to
grudge them the joyous celebration of it.
Having thus established himself as a friend of the
Negroes, Vance sought to give them what he considered wise
advice. The Negroes were voting in a solid block for the
Republicans. Vance believed that they were voting as they
were told, rather than acting upon their own initiative.
With this in mind, he warned that they would never be free
until they voted from individual judgment as free men.
The speech was extemporaneous, if not impromptu, and
lasted for only an hour. Vance was interrupted frequently
by hearty applause. Perhaps the speech was best character¬
ized by the Raleigh Observer, which said his "utterances
were clear and bold and white, but kind and conciliatory.
On January 2, 1878, Vance addressed another Negro
audience. The occasion was the fiftieth anniversary of the
5Raleigh Observer. January 3, 1877.
6lbid.

250
Emancipation proclamation. The colored chairman of the meet¬
ing, John Leary, in introducing Vance, praised him for the
conscientious manner in which he administered the affairs
of the state, and for the interest he had shown in Negro
education. Vance responded with a briefer and less concili¬
atory speech than he had delivered at Raleigh a year earlier.
Frankly stating that he was not there to celebrate their
emancipation, he said:
My friends, I appear in your meeting today simply
to acknowledge the respect you have shown me by inviting
me as Governor of the state to visit your assemblage.
You can not, of course, expect me to join with you in
celebrating this day, the anniversary of that emancipa¬
tion which I struggled so long to prevent and which I,
in common with almost all the people of my race in the
South, consider as an act of unconstitutional violence
to one party and as an injury to the other.7
This speech was lacking in support since Vance made no
attempt to prove his assertions or validate his conclusions.
Any explanation for this weakness is purely conjecture, but
it was probably because of the natural prejudices of a white
supremist. Whatever the cause, the speech was terse and
blunt—without examples, illustrations, anecdotes, or
factual material commonly found in Vance's public addresses.
In one abrupt assertion, Vance concluded the speech by
stating it was his duty to recognize the Negroes as citizens,
7Raleigh Observer. January 2, 1878.

251
and lie would respect all the rights the laws had invested
in them. "This," he said, "I cheerfully do, always have
done, and always shall do."®
The decade of the 1870's was the beginning of an in¬
dustrial revolution in North Carolina. Cotton mills and
tobacco manufacturing made great advances. But while ex¬
pansion and prosperity were evident in manufacturing and
transportation, agriculture suffered from an economic de¬
pression which left the farmers impoverished. The problem
of the farmers was national in scope. Agricultural leaders
had urged the farmers to unite for the general improvement
of rural life. The first farmers' organization, the
Patrons of Husbandry—commonly called the Grange—was
formed in 1869. It was not until March 3» 1875, however,
that this movement spread to North Carolina, when the first
Grange was organized at McLeansville in Guilford County.
On May 18, 1878, Vance was invited to speak at a
Grange picnic at Company Shops, North Carolina. This gave
him an audience and an occasion that were to his liking.
Vance had always been interested in the farmer, because
North Carolina was primarily an agricultural state. Believ¬
ing that progress in agriculture could come only as a result
®Raleigh Observer. January 2, 1878.

252
of education, Vance was glad of an opportunity to advocate
training that would enable rural people to farm more pro¬
ductively, The Grange picnic afforded such an opportunity.
Ordinarily such picnics required interesting and en¬
tertaining speeches. In addition to these requirements, a
Grange picnic made it obligatory that a speaker present a
serious theme. Blending these characteristics, Vance pre¬
sented a serious speech sugar-coated with humor.
In this address Vance was flexible in his delivery
and frequently used dialect or imitated a faulty speech
pattern for the sake of humor. Using a juvenile speech
manner, he began the address with a story. He said that
he had reached the point in politics that the boy had
reached in the sugar barrel story. Continuing the narra¬
tion, he explained:
After stealing sugar for a long time, the old man
having exhausted every means but one to break him
concluded to put him in a sugar barrel and bead [sic]
it up, which he accordingly did. After the boy had
remained in the barrel for some time the old man asked
him if he had enough sugar, the boy replied, 'No I
ain't dot nuff, but I dot down where it don't taste
dood,’10
So it was with Vance, he had reached that point in politics
where it "don't taste dood,"
This story represents one of the few times Vance told
a story that was unrelated to the main idea of his speech.
^°Raleigh Observer. May 21, 1878.

253
Indeed, Vance so consistently adhered to the principle of
relevance that one wonders if this story was actually pre¬
sent in the speech. Perhaps the newspaper reports, which
were often inaccurate, omitted a transition that related
the introduction to the body of the address.
Vance did a superb job of placing himself on common
ground with his audience. Explaining that although it was
not possible for a lawyer and politician to tell farmers
a great deal about farming, he did know something about
agriculture. It was learned, however, outside the fence
and not in the field. He then used a clever turn of phrase
a form of humor he seldom employed. He said he was not
afraid of work; he could "lie down and sleep by it under
the shade of a persimmon tree."11
After describing the agricultural advantages of
North Carolina, he introduced the theme of the speech with
two rhetorical questions. "Why is it," he asked, "we are
so far behind?" "Why is it we continue to farm scooter
style?" Briefly stating the answer, he said, "The farmers
need fertilizing as well as the lands."12
In this speech Vance showed his usual care in the
arrangement of ideas. He said that there were four duties
11Raleigh Observer. May 21, 1878.
12Ibid.

254
for the farmer to perform. These were
1st, Improve your farms; it is a duty you owe to your¬
self, to posterity, to leave your land better than you
found it.
2nd, It is your duty to grow your provisions at home.
3rd, Preserve your forests, for our timber has been used
too lavishly.
4th, The promotion of education was a matter of greatest
importance to both races.13
Evidently presuming that the first three duties were
self-explanatory, Vance spent most of his time in amplifying
the fourth point. He accused both races of being deficient
in education, and charged that some members of each seemed
to think they could get along with amazingly little school¬
ing. "In fact," he said, "they haven't got enough to know
that they don't know anything."1^
In developing the farmers" need for education, Vance
did not use enough logical and emotional appeals to be per¬
suasive. He asserted that the farmers needed education, but
gave only one reason to support the assertion. Even this
lacked vividness, as an examination of the argument will
reveal:
The farmer is the one who needs [education] most of
any. The farmer is at the mercy of all the other pro¬
fessions because he has been kept in ignorance and was
taught to look upon the educated as knowing the most be¬
cause they could read the papers and fix prices.
^Raleigh Observer, May 21 ¿,1878.
14Ibid.
15Ibid.

255
Vance’s weakness in the use of support was, however,
compensated for by his use of humor which exemplified a
freshness often lacking in the humorous attempts of other
speakers. Very little of it came from sources other than
himself, but at the appropriate time it spontaneously burst
forth out of his own imagination. Although Vance used many
forms of humor, he found exaggeration especially effective.
Using it to describe the quantity and quality of dogs, he
said, "In North Carolina there are two dogs to one sheep,
and many of these are so poor they have to lean against the
house to bark."
Although Vance in the introduction gave a preview of
the points of his speech, he never developed them. He
adapted, however, to the occasion by choosing materials
designed to entertain rather than to inform or persuade.
Consequently, the theme was neither supported by the con¬
tents of the speech, nor consistent with the general pur¬
pose. The conclusion did little to offset the ineffective¬
ness of the speech. It brought the speech to an abrupt end
without attempting to round out the thought.
Another opportunity for Vance to expound his philoso¬
phy of education came on July 22 of the 3ame year. He ad¬
dressed the teachers enrolled in the summer session at the
l^Raleigh Observer. May 21, 1878.

256
newly established normal school of the university. Explain¬
ing why he had asked the legislature for an appropriation
for training teachers, he said that teachers were "tools,"
and with dull tools a good day’s work could not be done.
There were plenty of dull tools in North Carolina. In fact,
it was next to impossible to find competent teachers. The
records of county examiners showed that most applicants
for teaching were deficient in the basic skills of reading,
spelling, writing, and arithmetic. Vance knew of these
deficiencies, and out of this knowledge grew the topical
outline of the address.
Discussing three measures designed to improve educa¬
tion in North Carolina, he considered first the establish¬
ment of normal schools. Along with a discussion of the
normal school and its advantages, he reviewed the progress
normal schools had made during his administration. Then in
a lighter vein, he admitted that he had only an indistinct
idea of what normal schools were when he had first requested
an appropriation for them. He was "like the man," he said,
"who thought habeas corpus was a paper mighty good for
liberty. I thought a normal school was mighty good for
education."1?
•^Raleigh Observer. July 28, 1878.

257
Second, Vance spoke of the advantages which teachers
might gain from Joining professional associations. Specifi¬
cally, he was suggesting that teachers should Join the new¬
ly organized state teachers* association when he said: "I
hope every teacher in North Carolina will Join and consider
himself an enrolled member of a vast army for the advance¬
ment of and for the promotion of good citizenship in North
Carolina.”
Third, Vance advocated a new type of education for
the state. He had, he said, seen people who were highly
educated but had lost all their wealth during the war, and
were now "unable to make a biscuit or tie a hame string.”
The fault, he declared, lay not in the ambition of the in¬
dividual, but in his education. He then concluded that
higher education seemed to ”unfit" a man for any kind of
work, and that it should be supplanted by vocational train¬
ing that would enable the impoverished people of the state
to earn a livelihood.19
Although this speech was well organized around specific
points, one cannot readily discern the response the speaker
sought. There were different responses possible for each of
the points. The first point appeared more informative than
^Raleigh Observer. July 28, 1878.
19Ibid.

258
persuasive. Indirectly, Vance may have Intended to per¬
suade the teachers to take advantage of normal school train¬
ing. In reality, however, it was little more than an exposi¬
tion of the organization and growth of the normal school.
The second point was intended to he persuasive.
Vance tried to convince every teacher to Join the 3tate
teachers" association, but he offered little in the way of
motivation. He merely stated that the teachers would de¬
rive benefits from the association, and that it would help
advance education. Such generalizations were insufficient
for effective persuasion.
The third point was weak in that Vance lost sight of
the composition of his audience. He apparently aimed at
convincing them that higher education had fallen short of
what he considered its objective—preparing people to make
a living. Since the normal school students comprising hiB
audience had no control over the curriculum of higher educa¬
tion, there was little reason to convince them of its weak¬
ness.
In spite of the lack of precision in purpose and the
poor audience adaptation, there was a coherent theme running
through the speech. The topical arrangement suggests that
Vance was advocating three things that should be done for
the improvement of education in North Carolina. This is

259
not a sufficient basis, however, to characterize it as an
effective speech. As has been inferred, the points were
lacking in support and development. Consequently, the
speech exemplifies a weak effort on an important theme.
A few days later, on July 27» 1878, Vance more clear¬
ly developed his new educational program in an address to
fifteen hundred pupils and patrons of the Wilson Collegiate
Institute. Boldly stating his theme in the introduction, he
asserted that there was a weakness in contemporary education.
This weakness he attributed to the fact that too much effort
was devoted to an "ornamental education which is eminently
useful and proper to a wealthy people to the neglect of the
practical kind which is best suited to a poor community.”20
Vance was probably the first governor of North Caro¬
lina to advocate technical or vocational training in pre¬
ference to the traditional liberal arts education. He was
not, however, the first person in the state to express such
a viewpoint. Daniel Harvey Hill, the head of a military
school before the war and a lieutenant general in the Con¬
federacy, said as early as 1866:
The old plan of education in the palmy days of the
South gave us orators and statesmen, but did nothing
to enrich us, nothing to promote material greatness.
... The South must abandon the aesthetic and orna-
20Raleigh Observer. July 28, 1878.

260
mental for the practical and useful. Is not a practi¬
cal acquaintance with the ax, the plane, the saw, the
anvil, the plow, and the mattock vastly more useful to
an impoverished people than to have familiarity with the
laws of nations and the science of government?22
It is not known that Vance was influenced by Hill’s
thinking, but it is certain that the views expressed by
both men were new to the state. Only a small percentage
of the people concerned themselves with higher education.
Those who went to college attended the University of North
Carolina, or one of the three denominational schools in the
state, Davidson, Wake Forest, or Trinity, now Duke Univer¬
sity. All of these schools offered a thorough classical
education, but showed little or no interest in any other
kind of training. The University in particular had de¬
faulted in its opportunity to offer industrial and agri¬
cultural education. Soon after North Carolina was readmit¬
ted to the Union in 1868, it received as a result of the
Morrill Act, better known as the land Grant Colleges Act,
the land script for 270,000 acres of public land, which
it sold for $125,000. For several years the university
received $7*500 in interest on the original $125,000. This
money was designed to provide agricultural and mechanical
education. Although the university offered a few courses
22Lefler and Newsome, North Carolina, p. 501.

261
in these subjects, their offerings were too limited to at¬
tract many students.2^
Vance thought this situation deplorable. The state,
he said, was badly in need of skilled workers, but nothing
was being done to train them. He declared:
Youths receiving a liberal education in our college
curriculums are in excess of those who are receiving
a practical education. The market for Latin and Greek
scholars is already glutted, whilst the demand for
skillfully educated practical men is very great.24
During the course of the speech, Vance used illustra¬
tions to make his ideas vivid and clear to the heterogeneous
group of students and patrons who were in attendance. To
clarify his theme, he told the story of the philosopher,
who in crossing a stream asked the boatman many questions
about the water. When he learned that the boatman knew
nothing whatever about it, he held up his hands in horror,
exclaiming, "My conscience, what ignorance!" In a little
while the water began to pour through a seam in the boat.
After attempting to stop it, the boatman asked the philoso¬
pher if he could swim. The answer was "No." Then exclaimed
the boatman, "My God, what ignorance! I am going to swim
ashore and you are going to the bottom."2^ This simple il-
2^Lefler and Newsome, North Carolina, p. 501.
2^Raleigh Observer. July 28, 1878.
25lbid.

262
lustration vividly reflected the main idea of the speech—
that providing an ornamental education to the exclusion of
a practical one might prove disastrous to the state.
According to a local newspaper, the speech, which
lasted over an hour, gained favorable response from the
audience. An unlettered farmer, who listened to every
word may best have described its effectiveness by saying,
"It did a sight of good because it was practical common
sense that the people could carry away with them."2^
The fact that many of Vance1s third-term guberna¬
torial speeches were of inferior quality may be attributed
to the adverse conditions under which he labored. In addi¬
tion to being heavily burdened with the duties of his of¬
fice, he also worked under the strain of grief. After the
family had moved to Raleigh his wife’s health steadily de¬
clined. She had been quite ill when he was making his
speeches on education at Chapel Hill and Wilson.2^ With¬
in less than a month apart, his elderly mother and wife
died. This double loss was deeply felt by Vance who at¬
tributed much of his success to the influence of these wo¬
men. Of his mother, who died on October 4, 1878, he wrote
Mrs. Cornelia Spencer:
2^Raleigh Observer. July 28, 1878.
27Ibid.. July 24, 1878.

263
I thank you most earnestly for your letter of
sympathy* You do my mother* s memory no more than
justice* For the chance that was given her she was
indeed an extraordinary woman* • • • With hut little
education, she was full of strong sense and practical
ideas of her surroundings. Left a widow in 1844, with
a family of seven young children, she had nothing hut
dower on an embarrassed estate. ... Finding herself
unable to educate all her children away from home,
she bought property in Asheville ... and removed
from her home in Madison County. She taught us all
business as well, and such was the confidence felt
in her excellent judgment that after we were all grown
and set up for ourselves, she was habitually consulted
in regard to every important business matter in the
family. This capacity to take care of oneself and
family is a trust not to be overlooked. Her moral
teaching was quiet, kind and unceasing. Not with¬
standing her own imperfect education, she was ex¬
tremely literary in her tastes and fostered this in¬
clination in her children.28
On November 3, 1878, Vance*s wife, Harriet, died.
She had endured a long illness with much patience, and
had performed her home duties as a mother and wife in
spite of her infirmities. Her patient suffering during
her last days made an indelible impression on Vance. Ex¬
cerpts from his letters express his love for his faithful
and loyal wife. He wrote:
... At 5 p.m. she was dead! Just one week ago today.
And now I can do nothing but sit in the lonely room I
had fitted up for her and try to extenuate my loss, to
dwell upon her goodness and virtues, her stern integri¬
ty, her lofty courage for the right, her charities, un¬
selfishness, devotion to duty and the unbounded love
she manifested in a thousand ways for me and my children.
And though I rejoice in the fact that a few hours before
^Vance to Spencer, Raleigh, October 21, 1878, Vance
Papers.

264
her death she put her poor emaciated arms around my
neck and blessed and thanked me for my kindness and
care. Yet conscience tells me I could have done more
for her happiness while living if I had been as un¬
selfish as she was—if I had striven more for her and
less for the honours of this world. Few people but
those who were very intimate with her know what a really
noble woman she was, and what a sentinel and guide she
was to me. Beset as my political life has been with in¬
numerable and sore temptations, only God can tell from
what she has preserved me. . . . Her spirit was wholly
Christlike in all patience and humility. I can not
describe it to you. I can only say I trust in God—
her God. That its influence will not be lost on my¬
self and her children. ... I fear to face the future
without her help. How can I do my duty to my boys now
at so dangerous an age, without her firm moral hand to
aid me, without that courageous and upright heart to
sustain me! If such a mother as mine was and such a
wife could barely prevent my becoming a castaway, what
am I to do now that I have lost both.29
Abiding by the sentiments of the letter, Vance became
a member of the Presbyterian church within a few days after
his wife’s death. Although he had attended church regular¬
ly with his wife and sons, his failure to join the church
had always been a disappointment to her. In spite of his
knowledge of the Bible and an unusual ability to quote
Scripture in his speeches, his apparent lack of interest
in the church had been the concern of many people. W. S.
Moore expressed the reaction of many people to Vance’s
joining a church when he wrote in a letter to him: "With
great gratitude to God, many Christian hearts amongst us
29vance to Spencer, Raleigh, November 10, 1878,
Spencer Papers, North Carolina Department of Archives and
History, Raleigh.

265
have heard of your conversion and connecting yourself with
the good old Presbyterian faith in Raleigh.’’^0
Following his first visit to his home in Charlotte
after his wife’s death, Vance wrote another letter to Mrs,
Spencer, He described the loneliness he felt on seeing
the familiar objects which reminded him of Harriet. The
letter continued with desperation and pathos:
• • • but though my feelings are calm, I can truthfully
say that I realize more and more every day the great
irreparable loss I have sustained in the departure of
the wife of my youth—My inseparable companion, counsel¬
lor, helper and friend for more than a quarter of a
century—who loved and trusted me with faith and loyal¬
ty since in every struggle, every sorrow, every defeat,
every triumph until the end, with affection unfalter¬
ing always, with generous praise when deserved, with
reproof when merited most inflexible but tempered with
the spirit of Christ. Such and more than I can express
was she to me. God have mercy upon me, how am I to face
the world and make good in my new and solemn professions
without herl51
Although Vance’s grief was strong, it gradually les¬
sened with the passage of time. He lost himself in his
work, and his ambition to return to the Senate took a pro¬
minent place in his life. As early as June 1878, it was
common knowledge that he wanted to replace Senator A. S.
Merrimon, whose term would expire at the end of the next
5°w. S. Moore to Vance, Greensboro, December 16, 1878,
Vance Papers.
51vance to Spencer, Raleigh, December 10, 1878,
Spencer Papers.

266
session of Congress. Merrimon*s friends and supporters
became critical of Vance's efforts. One Democrat, strong¬
ly expressing himself, said, "Whenever North Carolina com¬
mits this political crime, let her hide her face in shame
forever."52 According to the Raleigh Observer. "No fault
could be found with the able, useful, and honorable career
of Merrimon. If it were to replace him, the Democratic
party would be humiliating one member of the family to
gratify a petted and spoiled son."33 Vance made no response
to this criticism, and if he carried on a campaign it was
behind closed doors. To all outward appearances, he kept
his attention centered on his official duties as governor.
By 1878, there were signs of an economic recovery,
but the problem of the state debt still loomed large. The
debt question was one which the legislators had been plagued
with session after session, without reaching an agreement as
to what should be done. At the outbreak of the war, the
state had incurred a debt of ten million dollars to aid in
the building of a state system of railroads. After the war
additional bonds were issued for the benefit of the rail¬
roads, and to pay the damages caused by the excesses of
32Raleigh Observer. August 28, 1878.
53ibid.

267
fraud and corruption. By 1879 the state debt had increased
to more than #43,000,000.
Vance took a more positive and definite stand on the
debt than had the three preceding governors. He maintained
the position that he had taken in his inaugural address on
January 1, 1877, that North Carolina did not have the slight¬
est moral obligation to pay most of the claims.3^
Vance believed, as did the majority of the citizens,
that the special tax bonds should be repudiated outright,
and that the remainder of the debt should be drastically
scaled down. In his message to the legislature in 1879,
he expressed this belief. Using logical rather than
emotional appeals, he showed the absurdity of trying to
pay the debt in full. He said:
It is out of the question for us to attempt to pay it
at its face value. Indeed, I do not conceive that
there is any moral obligation upon us to do so; . . •
quite one-half of our property upon which our bonds
were based was wantonly destroyed by consent of a
large majority of those who held them, and no court
of conscience upon the earth would permit a creditor
to destroy one-half of his security and claim full
payment out of the remainder. But we can and should
pay something. ... So far as the special tax bonds
are concerned ... they are not binding in law or
good morals, unless it be as to a very small fraction
honestly appropriated to the state’s use and accepted
by her.35
34b. u. Ratchford, "The North Carolina Public Debt,
1870-1878,*' North Carolina Historical Review. X (January,
1933), 13.
35Ibid., p. 22.

268
The legislature supported Vance*s policy, and enacted
the Debt Settlement law of 1879. The railroad bonds were
repudiated completely, and the state decided to pay only
$6,500,000 of the total debt.56
The next problem before the legislature was the
selection of a United States Senator to replace Merrimon.
After meeting in caucus, the Democrats named Vance as their
choice. The General Assembly elected him by acclamation
on January 8, 1879. A committee of five legislators was
appointed to inform Governor Vance of his election. They
escorted him to the General Assembly, where he was intro¬
duced to the Joint session by the speaker of the House.57
Using ethical appeal, Vance expressed his appreciation
for the honor that had been conferred upon him. He said
that his gratification was all the greater because the
honor was obtained without the bitterness and anxiety of
a contest. He assured the legislators that he had refrained
from public or private utterances that might result in bit¬
terness, and he complimented his opponent for his "patriot¬
ism in preferring the peace and harmony of the party to his
personal aggrandizement."38
^^Lefler and Newsome, North Carolina, p. 508.
-^Raleigh Observer. January 16, 1879.
38ibld.

269
On January 28, 1879, Vance sent his resignation to the
General Assembly, asking to be released as governor in order
that he might take his seat in the Senate. On March 4 he
entered the Senate, where for the remainder of his life he
was destined to labor and speak on behalf of his state and
nation.39
39ibid.. January 29, 1879.

CHAPTER IX
SENATORIAL SPEAKING
During a period of dullness and apathy in national
politics Vance was seated in the Senate of the Forty-sixth
Congress on March 18, 1879. Instead of dealing with great
issues, congressmen were engaged in petty bickering on
partisan and sectional matters* Practically nothing was
accomplished by the Forty-sixth Congress except the passage
of routine bills, a situation which often occurs when the
executive and legislative branches represent opposite
parties. The Republican President, Rutherford B. Hayes,
did not initiate legislation because he was certain that
it would be defeated by the predominantly Democratic Con¬
gress; and the Congress, certain of a presidential veto,
initiated very little. At the time Vance became a member,
the Congress was meeting in an extra session which was
usually tame, thus coinciding with the apathetic mood
of the country at large.^
Vance immediately showed an interest in all discus¬
sions, and soon engaged in making incidental remarks, many
of which were humorous in nature and added a touch of
â– ^Ernest Southerland Bates, The Story of Congress (New
York, 1935), p. 283.
270

271
variety to the monotonous congressional sessions. An in¬
teresting commentary on his humor appeared in the Phila¬
delphia Times shortly after he took office:
Our legislative bodies are humdrum enough to suit a
conclave of rueful visaged owls. In our courts there
are occasional flashes of the jocular. ... We have
had tragedy enough of late years. We need a revival
of the comic. Who is the coming man to answer this
great national want by inaugurating a regime of whole¬
some hearty fun in high places? The era of good feel¬
ing can never be brought about by sober companions and
concessions.
Zebulon B. Vance is a wag of the first water. His
brain secretes jokes as other men*s brains do ideas of
a merely rationalistic nature. ... His wit never smacks
of the cloister. It is not studied, and elaborate, and
odorous of the lamp. The fascination of his fun is in
its spontaniety, its originality and the inexhaustible
fecundity of the imagination which generates it. His
mind is a vast reservoir of humor, fed by perennial
springs, ever full and always running over. The readi¬
ness of his inventive faculty in this direction is as
marvelous as its fertility.
Vance has a great deal of bonhommie, that fine ele¬
ment of popular leadership which attracts men more than
what is called personal magnetism does. There is no bit¬
terness about him. His humor is always tempered by good
nature. When he arraigns Republicanism, it is as some¬
thing way off and the present company is courteously
excepted. . . .2
To appreciate fully the new senator’s participation in
his first session in the Senate, one needs to know what was
happening in Congress at the time. The extra session had
been called to consider appropriation bills that were left
unpassed by the preceding Congress. A short time after Con¬
gress convened, a bill sponsored by the Democrats to prohi-
2Quoted in the Raleigh Observer. April 9, 1879

272
bit military interference at elections was passed.^ Fearful
of a presidential veto, the Democrats threatened to vote
against any appropriation for the army, if the bill were
4 „
vetoed. As expected, President Hayes vetoed the bill, thus
incensing the Democrats. Their feelings were adequately ex¬
pressed by Senator George G. Vest of Missouri, who said that
he would prefer that Congress stay in session all summer
rather than vote a dollar for the support of the army as
long as the President had power to use it at the polls.^
Vance*s good natured wit and humor were the only re¬
lief from the tensions raised by the uncompromising attitude
of such members of the Senate. While he was in agreement
with his own party, he was able to disagree with the op¬
position without bitterness. The ensuing debates which
were supposed to be on the legislative, executive, and
judicial expenses of the government did not touch upon the
issue in question, but resolved into a debate of personali¬
ties. The speakers were Senator James G. Blaine of Maine
for the Republicans and Senators William W. Eaton of Connecti¬
cut and Benjamin H. Hill of Georgia for the Democrats. The
^New York Times. May 10, 1879.
4Ibid., May 12, 1879.
5Ibid., May 13, 1879.

273
sarcastic invective hurled by Blaine against the South
brought Vance to his feet for his maiden speech on May 19,
1879. The speech strongly counteracted all that Blaine had
said, though Vance presented his arguments in a pleasing
manner. Reducing the arguments of the Republicans to logi¬
cal propositions, Vance demonstrated the weak and absurd
character of all that had been said against the proposed re¬
peal of the election laws. As a humorist, he made a speech
that convulsed the Senate; and as a skillful politician,
he created diversion from the platitudes and personal at¬
tacks that had made up the long debate.^
In spite of his humorous treatment of the arguments,
Vance, like most senators, exhibited his prejudices in de¬
bate. He believed that Congress had been unfair to the
South, and frankly declared that no question pertaining to
the South had received a fair hearing. Explaining that con¬
gressional discussions had failed in their purpose, he said:
I had been taught to believe that the object of
all discussion was to elicit truth, and not only was
it useless, but such discussion was mischievous if
that was not the object to be attained. If this in¬
deed be so, I might appeal with confidence to every
fair-minded person in the United States who hears or
reads our debates here and ask if discussion of the
question now before the Senate has been fairly or logi¬
cally handled with the view to ascertain the truth.<
^Raleigh Observer. May 21, 1879.
7Cong. Record. 46th Cong., 1 session, p. 1459.

274
During the course of the speech Vance did not once
touch upon the merits of the proposed appropriations. In¬
stead, he expressed concern over the President’s veto of a
bill which provided for the repeal of laws that were con¬
sidered dangerous by Southern Democrats. These laws per¬
mitted elections to be controlled by military officers and
required jurors in the federal courts to take test oaths.
Argument over these laws had claimed the attention of
Congress for six months prior to Vance*s speech. As Vance
considered the issues, he maintained they should be treated
calmly and dispassionately. "The staple of the arguments in
opposition has been as wide of this object," he said, "as it
O
is possible for human imagination to conceive."0 In support
of this point, he cited the following arguments which the
Republicans had advanced:
One Senator, as his argument, cries out rebellion;
another cries out secession; another exclaims with alarm
that rebel soldiers are here in these Halls; another
claims that the North pays a larger part of the direct
taxes and nearly all the taxes collected on imports;
another sees a goblin in the shape of a Democratic cau¬
cus; another holds up his hands in holy horror in con¬
templating the fact that there is absolutely a Democratic
majority in both branches of Congress; and yet another
sees ruin in a solid South and last but not least, one
Senator exclaims in the famine of argument, ’Jefferson
Davis;* and that is the contribution that he furnishes
to the literature of his country.9
8
Cong. Record. 46th Cong.,
1 session, p. 1459.
9Ibid

275
The preceding arguments, which were irrelevant to
the basic issues before the Senate, were typical of the de¬
bates then going on in Congress. Vance did not attempt to
answer all of the charges, but was selective in choosing
those he would consider. Responding to the Republican^
attack on the Solid South, he asked, "Who made the South
solid?" He followed this rhetorical question with the ans¬
wer—the Republican party was responsible. Reasoning that
the acts of the Republican party during Reconstruction were
the direct cause, he explained:
At the beginning of the late war almost the en¬
tire Whig party of the South, with a large and in¬
fluential portion of the Democratic, were in favor of
the Union and deprecated with their whole souls the at¬
tempts at its destruction, but through love of their
native states and sympathy with their kindred and neigh¬
bors they were drawn into the support of the war. What
became of them after the war? Their wisdom in opposing
it was justified by the ruinous results; their patriot¬
ism and courage were highly appreciated, and when peace
came this class was in high favor at the South, while
the secessionists as the original advocates of a dis¬
astrous policy were down in public estimation.
If the gentlemen of the North had then come forward
with liberal terms and taken these men by the hand, you
would have perpetuated your power in this Government for
a generation, provided you had listened to the views of
those men and respected their policy on questions touch¬
ing their section. But you pursued the very opposite
course. A course which compelled almost every decent,
intelligent man of Anglo-Saxon prejudices and traditions
to take a firm and determined stand against you. . . .10
-*-°Cong. Record. 46th Cong., 1 session, p. 1459

276
Vance replied to the senators who had expressed fear
of a Congress controlled by the Democrats by asking if this
constituted a real danger to the best interests of the
country. In his opinion it did not, because the country
owed its chief glory and development to the Democratic
party. Without the Democratic party, he believed, the
United States would be a feeble and second-class nation.
Specifically, Vance credited the Democratic party
with extending the boundaries of the Republic from the
Mississippi River to the Pacific Ocean, "As I now remem¬
ber," he said, "not a single foot of land has been added
to the empire by the Republican party, except Alaska,"
Vance, agreeing with those who thought of the purchase
of Alaska as "Seward's folly," considered the vast terri¬
tory acquired from the Russians as "a broad stretch of icy
waste, a land where frozen earth contends with frozen water,
inhabited by seals and savages, in a climate which I have
heard described as nine months of winter and three months of
damnation cold weather"11
The novel arrangement of the speech heightened its
effect. To illustrate absurdity of his opponents* arguments
Vance framed them into the form of mathematical propositions.
•^Cong. Record. 46th Cong., 1 session, p. 1459.

277
A single example of this will show the style of his attack:
Proposition first: Theorem—The troops of the United
States are two thousand miles away on the frontier and
could not he used to control elections if they wanted*
—Senator from Maine. The troops could not he so used
if they were here, as the law forbids it* I promise not
to use them.—The president. Corrollary first.—The
necessity for troops at the polls to secure fair elec¬
tions is in proportion to the squares of the distance
of their present location, i.e. the greater the distance,
the greater the necessity.
Corrollary second.—The necessity for the presence of
troops at the polls is also in proportion to the legal
inability to use them if they were present, and if the
President is determined not to use them at all to con¬
trol elections, then the necessity becomes absolute.
Corrollary third.—The revolutionary and dangerous char¬
acter of a law consists in the fact that it is useless,
there being already in existence laws sufficient to ef¬
fect the purpose.
Scholium.—In the above it is assumed axiomatically
that the terms ’liberty* and 'purity of elections' are
synonymous with the term 'Republican party.'12
In this speech Vance was answering not only Senator
Blaine, but also the arguments which many Republican sena¬
tors had presented. One senator had gravely declared that
the election laws should not be repealed because the bulk of
the army was in the West while only about 30,000 soldiers
were in North Carolina, which was too small a number to cause
any fear. Answering this argument, Vance used a series of
parallelisms, which were clearly and vividly stated in figura¬
tive language, making the fears of the South analogous to
fears which the audience had experienced or read about. He
12
Cong. Record. 46th Cong., 1 session, p. 1460.

278
said:
. . . We fear them as the Hollander fears the first
small leak in the dikes which hear back the waves of
the ocean from deluging the meadows of his homestead;
we fear them as the physician fears the first speck of
gangrene in the system of his patient; we fear them as
the sailor fears the piling up of the storm clouds upon
the horizon, knowing that their deceptive beauty covers
the fierce desolation of the tempest; we fear them as
the shepherd of the mountain fears for his lambs at even
with the flitting of a shadow athwart his path, for he
knows it to be the shadow of the eagle, the remorseless
tyrant of the air; we fear them as Charlemagne feared
the rude wooden ships of the Norse Vikings on their
first appearance in the seas of his empire; we fear
them as all patriotic Romans feared the crossing of the
Rubicon by Caesar, the passage of which with arms in
his hands marked him as the enemy of Roman liberty.*3
The speech was significant mainly because it was
Vance*s first speech in the Senate, and it provided a pre¬
view of the style his senatorial speaking was to assume.
He read the speech from manuscript—a revolutionary change
from his earlier extemporaneous style—but he maintained his
usual forceful delivery. During its course, the audienee
laughed heartily at his occasional anecdotes and humorous
remarks.
14
The Democrats, of course, were elated over the speech.
Dr. Mary Walker, a physician and strong advocate of woman’s
rights, testified her approval by thumping vigorously on the
^Cong. Record. 46th Cong., 1 session, p. 1461.
•^Raleigh Observer. May 21, 1879, copied from the
Washington Post.""

279
floor with a large umbrella she was carrying. The Chair de¬
manded that the violator of the decorum and dignity of the
Senate be removed. When the four doorkeepers rushed to
where the doctor sat, dressed in men*s clothes with her
hair parted on the side in boyish style, they shrank back
in fear as she grasped her umbrella and gave them a defiant
look. At the conclusion of the speech, she again showed
her extreme delight by more intense and prolonged rapping
of the umbrella. The sergeant-at-arms then came to remove
Ia)
her, but again she forced a retreat.
While Dr. Walker was enjoying Vance*s speech, his
opponents, Senators Blaine, Roscoe Conkling of New York,
Henry B. Anthony of Rhode Island, George P. Edmunds of
Vermont, and John A. Logan of Illinois, squirmed and twisted,
16
and finally huddled together for mutual support.
As Vance continued his senatorial speaking during
the remainder of his life, he was chiefly concerned with
three subjects—silver, civil service, and tariff. His in¬
terest in these subjects inspired his major speeches, which
led to his becoming a popular speaker.1^ Yet he did not
•^Raleigh Observer. May 21, 1879, copied from the
Washington Post.""
l6Ibid.
â– ^Charlotte Observer. February 22, 1881.

280
spend all of his time on the floor of the Senate. Many
hours and days were given over to committee meetings, and
to making political addresses in behalf of various Democratic
18
candidates•
Vance also participated to a limited extent in the
social life of Washington. Soon after entering the Senate
he attended a party at the Riggs House in Washington, where
he was introduced to a charming and gracious lady who was
dressed in mourning. She was a wealthy widow and the Sena¬
tor was susceptible to good-looking widows. He was almost
fifty; his four sons were grown, and he had been a widower
for more than a year. In less than five months he was mar¬
ried to the attractive widow, Mrs. Florence Steele Martin,
the wedding ceremony being performed by a Catholic priest
19
at her home in Louisville, Kentucky.
As the Congressional Record shows, Vance was active
in debate during the second and third sessions of the
Forty-sixth Congress, but apparently there were no issues
significant enough to stimulate him to make a major speech.
On July 2, 1881, President Garfield was shot by a
disappointed office seeker, and Vice-President Arthur was
â– ^Raleigh Observer. September 4, 1879.
â– ^Frontis w. Johnston, "The Courtship of Zeb Vance,"
North Carolina Historical Review. XXXI (April, 1954), 222.

281
elevated to the presidency. Arthur was a New York machine
politician who had been controlled by the lordly Conkling.
There was little in Arthur*s record to presage a good admini¬
stration. Unexpectedly, however, he demonstrated genuine in-
20
dependence, and in his message to the first session of the
Forty-seventh Congress on December 5* 1881, came out strong¬
ly in favor of civil service and tariff reform.21
These tariff reform bills soon claimed Vance*s atten¬
tion. In the closing days of the first session of the
Forty-seventh Congress, on July 26, 1882, he was prompted
to speak on the Internal Revenue bill, which had already
been passed by the House of Representatives. Vance favored
tariff relief, but not the spurious type proposed by the
Republican bill. He wanted the relief to benefit the
masses rather than the monied interests. Consequently, he
made a witty, interesting speech asking for a tariff re¬
vision that would reduce taxes on essential commodities.
The speech was embellished with his usual supply of well-
told stories, along with an abundance of ridicule concern¬
ing the abolition of taxes on banks, perfumery, matches, and
patent medicine.22
20s.B. Morison and H.S. Commager, The growth of the
American Republic (2 vols.; New York, 1950), II, 222.
21Bates, The Story of Congress, p. 286.
22cong. Record. 47th Cong., 1 sess., pp. 6460-6461.

282
Continuing to ridicule the bill which the Republicans
had proposed to bring relief from taxation which was pro¬
ducing $150,000,000 surplus revenue, he told the story of
the North Carolina wagoner whose team stalled at the foot
of a hill. The wagoner climbed the hill to the nearest
house, which was occupied by an old man. He asked the
man to lend him a pair of mules and a fifth chain to pull
the wagon up the hill. The old man replied "My friend, I
have not got a pair of mules or a fifth chain to save your
life, but I am always anxious to help a man in distress;
I can lend you the best fiddle you ever drew a bow across."
Vance declared that the relief tax bill would be about as
beneficial in relieving burdensome taxes as the fiddle was
23
in helping the wagon reach the top of the hill.
Expressing his basic philosophy on taxation, Vance
said he was opposed to placing a tax on any item which was
generally used by all people.24 He continued to advocate
this philosophy in future tariff debates and wherever the
opportunity arose.25
The placid administration of Arthur ended in the
most exciting presidential campaign since the Civil War.
2^0ong. Record. 47th Cong., 1 sess., pp. 6460-6461.
24Ibld.
25lbld.. 47th Cong., 2 sess., p. 2349.

283
The Republicans nominated Blaine; the Democrats, Grover
Cleveland. Blaine was unacceptable to many honest Republi¬
cans, and they switched to the support of Cleveland. After
a bitter campaign, Cleveland won the election.
Cleveland was a man of integrity and devotion to
duty, but he was never at home in the rough and tumble of
party politics. Although he had been brought up in rural
communities, he never understood the problems of the farmers
of the South and West.2^ This characteristic was partly re¬
sponsible for alienating him from many of his own party’s
leaders, foremost of whom was Vance.
The first great issue on which Vance and Cleveland
differed was the silver question. Vance believed in bimetal¬
lism, while Cleveland recommended in his message to Congress,
December 8, 1885, that the Silver Coinage Act be suspended.2^
This issue placed the farmers of the West and South in con¬
flict with the industrialists of the East. The farmers had
long favored inflation of the currency as a method of at¬
taining prosperity. "Inflate the currency,” said one sena¬
tor, "and you raise the price of my steers."2® While sup-
2^Morison and Commager, Growth of the American Republic.
II, 226.
2?"Monthly Record of Current Events," Harper* s New
Monthly Magazine. LXXII (December, 1885-May, 1886), 487.
28Matthew Josephson, The Politicos. 1865-1896 (New
York, 1938), p. 264.

284
porting a bill offered by Senator James B. Beck of Kentucky,
Vance made a speech on behalf of the doctrine of bimetallism.
The bill proposed that the Secretary of the Treasury should
29
meet all payments of interest with gold and silver coin.
Vance clearly set forth the theme of his speech in the
opening statement, defiantly charging that effort made in
different parts of the world to demonetize and degrade sil¬
ver coin, "is one of the grandest conspiracies against the
rights of the people ever inaugurated by human greed.”50
Advocating the philosophy that the Greenback party had ad¬
vanced from 1878 to 1884, Vance prescribed inflation of the
currency as the cure for the country's economic ills. He
belonged, however, to a group of inflationists who in the
1880's transferred from greenbacks to silver and for the
next twenty years made "free silver" the most exciting issue
before the American people. This doctrine Vance succinctly
stated in the speech:
There is now no fact of political economy more
patent and undisputed than this: that when money is
plenty prices are low. It must be remembered, too,
that no artificial substitutes for money can vary this
proposition, since all promissory or paper contrivances
depend at last upon the amount of the precious metals
there is on hand to redeem them.’1
2%ew York Times. January 13, 1886.
5°Cong. Record. 49th Cong., 1 sess., p. 605.
51lbid.

285
Vance's speech was directed more specifically toward
opposing Cleveland's recommendation to suspend silver coin¬
age than it was to the support of Senator Beck's bill. Since
the proponents and opponents of the bill were not divided
along party lines, Vance refrained from his usual attack on
the Republican party. Instead, he referred to advocates of
silver suspension as being prompted by blindness or greed.
A considerable portion of the speech was devoted to
answering the arguments of the opposition. Refuting the
argument that silver had been depreciated until it no longer
had a stabilized monetary value, and had long ceased to be
the money of a large part of the business world, Vance said:
I maintain that the silver dollar has not gone down
with reference to its purchasing power of everything ex¬
cepting gold alone; and that with reference to gold, sil¬
ver has not gone down so much as gold has gone up.
Measured by the price of the commodities, the silver
dollar is by every cent worth as much as it was when
the first effort was made in this country to degrade it,
at which time it was worth 103 in gold. It is now ac¬
cepted everywhere in the purchase of everything on a par
with gold. No difference is made in trade whatever.
Everybody receives it freely; and even all public cre¬
ditors take it gladly. . .32
The second argument Vance answered was "that our pub¬
lic debt should be paid in gold in order to keep our credit
up to its present high figure, and that it is not honest to
32
Cong. Record. 49th Cong., 1 sess., p. 606

286
pay our creditors in dollars which are worth only 80 cents."
Attacking this argument with ridicule, Vance declared:
In the course of my career I have heard many bad cases
argued with varying degrees of ingenuity; but whether
in the school-boys' club, or in the cross-roads' debat¬
ing society, or in the court of pleas and quarter ses¬
sions, or from the tail-end of a ginger-bread cart at a
battalion muster or even in my nine years of listening
to the national platitudes which fill the pages of the
Congressional Record. I have never seen or heard a worse
abuse of logic, a feebler attempt to outrage common
sense than this charge that the man who offers to pay
the precise amount at the exact time, in the identical
money of his promise was a dishonest man. The stories
of the martyrdom of man for opinion's sake, and in the
higher matter of faith for conscience sake are favorite
incidents of historical reading. My boyish blood has
been alternately warmed and chilled by the contemplation
of the pictures of anguish and suffering presented in the
Book of Martyrs and all the popular stories of persecu¬
tion in the dark and unhappy ages when fanaticism wor¬
shiped God, or thought it did, by the infliction of tor¬
ture; but I have never seen or heard of a case that made
so small an appeal to human sympathy, or so large a one
to human contempt, as the wail of the United States bond¬
holder because he is not permitted, freely and with ap¬
plause, to collect five dollars from the Treasury when
he had been promised four.33
During the course of his argument, Vance refuted a
statement by Senator John R. McPherson, a Democrat, who had
said in an earlier speech that when silver was demonetized
the country had no silver dollars. Using statistics he had
gathered from the records of the Mint, Vance said:
If the Senator had examined the records of the Mint he
would not have ventured that assertion, for in addition
33cong. Record. 49th Cong., 1 seas., p. 607.

287
to the six millions of our own coinage and the Mexican
dollars still in the country, he would have seen that
in that very year 1873 we coined $977,150, and in the
year preceding, $1,112,961—a total of $2,090,111.54
The next argument of the proponents of gold to be at¬
tacked by Vance was that the principal foreign countries
with whom the United States traded used only gold, and that
an adoption of the gold standard was necessary for continued
trade. He admitted that where money passed in foreign trade
gold was required, but he argued that it was only the bal¬
ances that remained at the end of a year of trading that
had to be paid in specie. Speaking confidently, he de¬
clared that these balances had been in the United States'
favor to the extent of $100,000,000 per annum for the past
six years. He could see no calamity if these balances were
exhausted. "Nobody," he said, "proposes to demonetize gold
or discourage its use in any way. On the contrary, by keep¬
ing a full supply of silver in circulation more gold could
be spared for the use of foreign commerce."35
The final argument used by the gold standard advo¬
cates was that so much silver would eventually drive gold
out of the country. Vance explained that this law of
finance, which claimed that the cheaper metal would drive
^4Cong. Record. 49th Cong., 1 sess., p. 607.
35ibid.. p. 608

288
out the dearer, was known as Gresham's law. He claimed, by
the use of statistics obtained from the comptroller's report,
that this law had not shown any indications of exerting force
in the United States:
It has been more than seven years since we resumed
the coinage of the silver dollar and made it a full le¬
gal tender. During this period the volume of silver
coin has swollen from $106,573»803 to $307»658,827 on the
1st of November, 1835. According to the argument of the
gold people, that ought to have displaced and driven out
of the country at least an equal amount of gold. Strange
to say, the very reverse has taken place. On the 1st of
January, 1879, but a few months after the passage of the
Bland act, the amount of gold and bullion in the country
was $278,310,126; on the 1st day of November, 1885, the
amount of gold coin and bullion in the country was
$586,727,787. It had more than doubled in six years.
During the year just past it was silver that went
abroad to the extent of $13,835,220 in excess of imports;
and it was gold that came in to the extent of $8,397,887
in excess of exports.3o
Vance's first speech on the silver-gold issue demon¬
strated thorough preparation. That he had done considerable
research was evident from the abundance of statistical and
historical data which he used to support his arguments.
The speech also exemplified a high degree of competence on
the part of the speaker in the assimilation and organization
of evidence. The following passage exhibits the effective¬
ness of his use of history to prove that an abundance of
precious metals was necessary for the prosperity of a people
36
Gong. Record. 49th Cong., 1 sess., p. 608.

289
individually and collectively:
Money has in all ages been the chief minister of
civilization, the main support of the comfort and happi¬
ness of man in the things of time. From the day when
Abraham paid for the field of Machpelah with shekels of
silver, current money with the merchant, and the Prince
of Uz spoke of its veins in the rocks; when the Chaldean
worshiped the glittering hosts of heaven and the Iranian
prophets kindled their sacred fires on the hill-tops of
our Motherland to this hour, silver and gold have sus¬
tained, fostered and enriched men and nations, • • • The
most philosophic of modern historians ascribes the de¬
cline and fall of the Roman Empire chiefly to the failure
of its supply of gold and silver by the exhaustion of the
mines of Greece and Spain rather than to the commonly ac¬
cepted causes; and the hard and cruel centuries which
followed called the Dark Ages, owed their hardness and
their darkness to the want of precious metals in quanti¬
ties sufficient to stimulate the arts and industries of
civilization.
In the Augustan Age the amount of gold and silver
in use was estimated at $1,800,000,000, By the fifteenth
century this had shrunk to $200,000,000, The opening of
the new world, says the same historian (Allison), changed
the face of the world.
In England at the close of the Napoleonic wars sil¬
ver was demonetized by a Parliament elected by the pocket
and rotten-borough system, in which the great bulk and
heart of the English people were utterly ignored. The
ruin, suffering, and despair which ensued for many years
are well known to all readers of English history and
loudly warn us against a similar crime. In Germany, too,
the money lords took advantage of the receipt of the
enormous indemnity paid by France to secure the demoneti¬
zation of silver, and from that day to this Germany has
been suffering all the horrors of contracted currency.37
In a prophetic manner, the peroration of the speech
served notice that silver would not be destroyed in the Uni¬
ted States while the people ruled, "They see the scheme,”
37
Cong, Record. 49th Cong., 1 sess., p, 609.

290
Vance said, and "those who stand in their way would do well
to get out of it."38
The validity of Vance's arguments is difficult to
determine, because of the controversial nature of the money
problem. Even today historians and economists are unable
to reach agreement on metal standards. At any rate, Vance
showed an acquaintance with economics and finance that
could not have been gained from experience alone. It re¬
flected his habit of reading widely in order to obtain in¬
formation that he could use in his speeches.
Because of his apparent knowledge of the subject,
Vance was heard with rapt attention during the delivery of
his senatorial speeches. Not only did his Democratic col¬
leagues habitually gather around him, but many Republicans
went over to the Democratic side of the Senate chamber in
order to miss nothing of what he said. ^
Of all the speeches that were delivered in the Senate
on silver, Vance's was considered the finest. It was ac¬
claimed as filled with thoughts that would linger long in
the minds of the people, and the choice of words and vigor
of expression were considered admirable. The News and Ob¬
server described the speech "as an excellent example of
38
J Cong. Record. 49th Gong., 1 sess., p. 609.
39Raleigh News and Observer. January 15, 1886.

291
Vance's style at its best."4°
Another question that arose early in Cleveland's
administration was that of patronage. Democrats, deprived
of the spoils of office for twenty-five years, demanded
a clean sweep of office-holders. The Mugwumps, the label
attached to the Republicans who had supported Cleveland,
insisted that there be no sweep at all. But a cry of pro¬
test arose when the President failed to award spoils to
the regular workers of the Democratic party. Vance, dif¬
fering with the President on this issue, introduced a bill
to repeal the Civil Service law in order to make public
41
offices spoils of partisan victory.
Vance showed considerable temerity in presenting this
bill, because he knew that it had little chance of passing.
He said that he was in earnest and would speak in support
of the bill, but he did not expect many votes, because
those in favor of the bill did not have the courage of
their convictions.2*'2 Commenting on Vance's anticipated
speech, the Hew York Times made political capital of his
tendency to use humor which was at times risque. The paper
^Raleigh Hews and Observer. January 24, 1886.
4l
Morison and Commager, The Growth of the American
Republic. 1865-1960. II, 227.
^"Summary of the Week's Hews," Harper's Magazine.
XLII (January 14, 1886), 24.

292
said,
Vance will doubtless have a day when he will address
the senate. When that happens, the next number of the
Record will be interesting reading. It will contain much
vulgarity and much that a Senator of this generation ought
to be ashamed of, but it will not be dull.
The prediction by the Times that Vance would address
the Senate on the proposed bill came true, but the expected
vulgarity did not materialize. On January 12, 1886, Vance
delivered the longest speech he had given since becoming a
senator. It was replete with arguments, but contained lit¬
tle that was humorous. Although the Times was inaccurate
in part of its prediction, it may have had grounds for ex¬
pecting Vance to use poor taste in the selection of anec¬
dotes for the speech. He was evidently in the habit of
telling such stories, but they were deleted before the
speeches were published. There are, however, numerous re¬
ferences to indecencies in his speeches. Prom the Eliza¬
beth City Falcon comes this comment:
Mr. Vance is a man of great force and most astonishing
popularity. We know of no man in recent years in the
state or out so universally popular and he able as well
... Pew men will deny that his phenomenal success and
his greatness in a measure are the products of his un¬
clean wit. He does not hesitate to employ the most
shocking vulgarities in his public speeches. We be¬
lieve there is no other distinguished public man in
these times who would dare to use expressions that
Senator Vance delights to use. Indecencies of speech
^New York Times. January 6, 1886.

293
that would not be tolerated in others seem to be eagerly-
sought for in Senator Vance's audience.44
Another reference to Vance's indecent language was
made in an editorial in the Chicago Daily News. He had been
suggested as a possible appointee to Cleveland’s cabinet.
Referring to this possibility, the News declared, "His
chief fame in Washington rests upon his success as a relator
of tales which would hardly bear repetition in polite socie-
ty."45
Although there was possibly some truth in the indict¬
ment by the News, it was not completely true, Vance was
often serious in his speeches before the Senate, Typical
of his more serious efforts was the speech on Civil Service
which he delivered on March 31, 1886, Deviating from his
usual practice, he read the speech from manuscript. As a
result, he lost the spontaneity and individuality that made
him an effective speaker, and became simply one of the
seventy-six senators, each of whom could read from manu¬
script as well as Vance. Observers considered him at his
best in his senatorial speaking "when Vance was Vance."46
^Raleigh Register. January 28, 1885,
45Chicago Dally News. December 11, 1884.
^Raleigh Register. January 28, 1885*

294
At the beginning of his speech Vance presented the
history of the Tenure of Office law, which he charged had
been initiated to divest President Andrew Johnson of his
prerogative in order that the Republican party could ac¬
complish its unconstitutional objects. Although his as¬
sertion that the Tenure of Office law was a partisan
maneuver probably was accurate, the assertion that the
merit system was a plan of the Republicans to perpetuate
the members of their party in office after the election of
Cleveland, a Democrat, in 1884 should be seriously ques¬
tioned. The truth was that President Garfield's assassina¬
tion made possible the passage of a Civil Service law,
which reformers and Civil Service leagues had been advo¬
cating for years. The bill, which was known as the Pendle¬
ton Act and passed on January 16, 1883, created a Civil
Service commission to administer the new rules, which re¬
quired that appointments to office be made on the basis of
open competitive examinations.^
Vance's chief objection to the Civil Service law,
which his proposed bill sought to repeal, was that it de¬
feated the will of the people as expressed at popular elec¬
tions, and impaired the vigor and efficiency of political
47Morison and Commager, The Growth of the American
Republic 1865-1950. II, 222-223.

295
parties in the country, "I believe," he said, "most earnest¬
ly that parties are indispensable to the existence of liber¬
ty, and that a government by the party is the only way in
which there can be government by the people," To support
this belief he quoted from the following men of letters and
political science:
Party, says Edmund Burke, is a body of men united
for promoting by their joint endeavors the national in¬
terest upon some particular principle in which they are
all agreed. Men thinking freely will in particular in¬
stances think differently. But still as the greater part
of the measures which arise in the course of public busi¬
ness are related to, or dependent on, some great leading,
general principles in government, a man must be peculiar¬
ly unfortunate in the choice of his political company if
he does not agree with them at least nine times in ten,
and this is all that ever was required for a character
of the greatest uniformity and steadiness in connection.
How men can proceed without connection at all is to me
incomprehensible.
Lord John Russell, in his essay on the English
Government and Constitution, says:
Now of the two ways of procuring adherents—the at¬
tachment of interest and that of party—party is by far
the best. Many a man I fear would abandon his opinions
and fall off from his principles for the sake of office
who will yet not desert a party to which he is engaged
by passion and affection as well as by reason. . . •
Says Mr. Madison:
No free country has ever been without parties, which are
a natural offspring of freedom.
Says Francis Lieber in his Political Ethics:
I believe there never existed a free country actively
developing within its bosom constitutional law and
feeling deeply interested in the great problems of right
and public justice in which there were not also parties.
• • •
Says Horace Walpole:

296
I have a maxim—that the extinction of party is the
origin of faction.
Vance’s use of testimony to prove the value of politi¬
cal parties was adequate. The authorities were reliable,
and were recognized as able and competent men. The weakness
in his argument lay in the lack of a cause and effect rela¬
tionship between the merit system and the destruction of
political parties. He offered no evidence to prove this
point, while he spent much time on the irrelevant point that
political parties are advantageous.
Vance organized the speech against the Civil Service
law under two main points. First, he said the law was an
attack upon the rightful prerogative of the President;
second, it defeated the will of the people as expressed at
popular elections, and consequently impaired the effective¬
ness of political parties.
Although the speech showed less sarcastic invective
than he customarily used, his tirade against those who pro¬
fessed to be political Independents contained a noticeable
degree of it. He said that he could find among the Inde¬
pendents "only mock philosophers, sentimental women, and
effeminate men, whose principles were sickly sentimental,
Sunday School, goody, two shoes kind.*'^
^Cong. Record. 49th Cong., 1 sess., pp. 2945-2946.
^9Ibid.. p# 2946.

297
Nowhere in the speech was there evidence of concilia¬
tion or compromise. In the conclusion, which reflected the
same defiant spirit found in the introduction and body, he
declared:
Between those who call me a spoilsman and myself
there is perhaps only a difference of definition. They
believe that reform consists in a Democratic admini¬
stration operated by Republican agents; I do not. They
believe in keeping Republicans in office by law after
the people have declared they shall go out; I do not.
They believe in ignoring the people of officials; I do
not. They believe there can be no sincere reforms un¬
less Republicans are the chief beneficiaries thereof;
I do not. And lastly, I believe that as good material
for all civil officials is to be found in the Democratic
party as in any other, and that it is the right and duty
of a Democratic administration to select the material and
none other as elements of reform; they do not.
Let me warn men against those who assume to be above
the homely virtues and common frailties of our raee, and
who affect to inhabit the untrodden altitudes of a world
different from the one where our creator has placed us,
and deny being of the earth, earthy. A man too good in
politics or religion is quite reprehensible as one too
bad, and I am quite sure he is a greater nuisance. For
the most part they are men who have failed in securing
the objects of their own ambition, and may be described
either as political old maids whose blood has turned to
vinegar by a failure to secure lovers before their un¬
appreciated charms had fled, or as grass widows of poli¬
tics without the aid of politicians who believe that the
most successful way to operate mechanics is to work with¬
out implements.50
This was the only speech Vance made in the Senate on
Civil Service reform; however, as the principal speaker for
the Fourth of July celebration in 1886 at Tammany Hall he
5°Cong. Record. 49th Cong., 1 sess., p. 2952

298
again attacked the Civil Service reform law. This speech
aroused the ire of the New York Times, which retaliated
with the charge that Vance had sixteen relatives in govern¬
ment service receiving aggregate salaries of $26,000. The
Times gave their names, the offices they held, and their
individual salaries, with the inference that they had been
51
appointed by Vance. In answer, Vance stated that only
two of the persons named were related to him, and the only
thing he knew about these two was that they were both Re¬
publicans and appointed by Republican administrations.^2
While the New York Times was condemning the position
Vance had taken on the Civil Service issue, many Democrats
favored his view. Clement Dowd wrote Vance that "no speech
has ever been looked for more eagerly by our people than
yours soon to be delivered on this subject [Civil Service].
You can not make licks too fast or too hard to please the
popular mind just at this time."53 Another correspondent
wrote:
I am glad to see that you having the courage of your
convictions introduced a bill yesterday to repeal the
Civil Service law. The object the Republicans had in
supporting the law was to retain their friends in of¬
fice. Put the rascals out is in my opinion the best
5^-New York Times. July 6, 1886.
^Watertown Times. July 15, 1886.
5^Dowd to Vance, Newton, North Carolina, March 12,
1886, Vance Papers.

299
method to reform the Civil Service, Press your hill,
it is right. • • • The people at home and Democrats
everywhere will sustain you.
In spite of these words of encouragement and of Vance*s
popularity as a speaker, there were not sufficient votes for
passage of the hill. It was tabled on June 18, 1886.^
The differences between Vance and the President on the
two major issues of silver and civil service produced a
breach which caused Vance openly to avow his opposition to
Cleveland. In 1887 Vance stated emphatically that he was
not a Cleveland man. "The President," he said, "is not of
my school of Democracy. We differ as widely on several na¬
tional issues as is possible for two persons belonging to
the same political party.Vance then inferred that
Cleveland had not tried to make friends of members of his
own party. "I believe," he said, "in holding a party to¬
gether and building it up, and to do this you must make
all the friends possible within the ranks of the party."5?
Although the President and Vance differed on the sil¬
ver and the civil service issues, they were in agreement
on the tariff question. In his message to the Fiftieth
54r.h. Roundtree to Vance, New York, January 6, 1886,
Vance Papers.
55Qong. Record. 49th Cong., 1 sess., p. 5851.
^Asheville Citizen. April 3, 1887» copied from the
St. Louis Globe Democrat.
57ibid.

300
Congress in 1887, Cleveland devoted his entire speech to
tariff. He argued that the protective tariff should be
lowered because of the continuing surplus in the governments
treasury, and declared that the existing tariff was a "vi¬
cious, inequitable, and illogical source of unnecessary
taxation."^®
On October 8, 1888, the tariff debate opened formal¬
ly over a bill to reduce taxation and simplify the laws in
relation to the collection of revenue. A battle for supre¬
macy was staged between the Republican advocates of high
tariff and the Democratic champions of tariff reduction.
Senator William B. Allison, a high tariff advocate, sup¬
ported a substitute tariff bill. This bill had been pre¬
pared by the Finance Committee of the Senate after the Re¬
publican majority had objected to a bill passed by the
Democratic controlled House. It placed too many American
manufactured items on the duty free list. Speaking for the
substitute bill, Allison said it was designed to protect
American labor and industry, which would be destroyed by
the House bill."®
As soon as Allison had finished, Vance opened the
debate for the proponents of low tariff. Expressing a
^Harold Underwood Faulkner, American Economic
History (New York, 1949), p. 538.
59New York Times. October 9, 1888.

301
purely partisan point of view, which had the support of the
Democrats in Congress, he said:
Common sense and common honesty suggested that it
Ctariff reduction] should be made upon those things
where the inequalities were greatest and where the re¬
lief to the people would be greatest, to wit, upon the
necessaries in greatest use by the most people*®0
Vance* s basic beliefs on the tariff were derived from
his associations with an agricultural people* He believed
that the increased costs of the bare necessities of life
resulting from high tariff worked an undue hardship on the
farmers* Observation of the people of his state provided
him with insight sufficient for a strong attack upon the
Finance Committee’s claim that the substitute bill would
benefit the people and carry confidence and comfort into
American homes* He said:
Into some of them it will carry this confidence and
comfort, no doubt* The committee did not venture to
say all American homes* Into the home of Mr. Carnegie,
Mr. Havemeyer, Mr. Ammidown, and every great manu¬
facturer and every member of a trust it will no doubt
be warmly received* These homes are found in the
palaces*
But in the homes of the cabin and the cottage,
in the farmsteads amid the blooming orchards, in the
humble habitation of the widow and the orphan the con¬
tinued tax on their salt, their children’s books and
slate pencils, their tin-cups and water-pails, the
increased tax upon their woolen and cotton clothing,
their table cutlery, plates, cups Mid saucer, their
blankets and wool hats will carry neither confidence
60
Cong* Record. 50th Cong*, 1 sess., p. 9293

302
nor comfort* It will rather make the thoughtful among
them wonder why in the name of a merciful Creator a
free Christian government will thus lade them with this
weight of taxation and scrimp their narrow means still
more for the benefit of those who are already rich.61
The points Vance made were supported by the use of
statistics. Relying upon data gathered from the census
reports, he showed that since the war the agricultural
classes had not enjoyed as much prosperity as the rest of
the nation:
Nowhere has the decay of agriculture been more
marked and lamentable than in several of the New
England states where manufactures most abound. The
statistics of these states completely refute the idea
that manufactures furnish a home market which enriches
the farmer. • .whilst cities and towns of New England
have grown and become wealthy by the protective policy;
it has been at the expense and decay of the country at
large.
The tendency of the population in all our Northern
country to rush to the cities is one of the social evils
of the times, which legislation should do nothing to
encourage if it can do nothing to check. This tendency
in New England is particularly noticeable. Massachusetts,
the richest and most populous of those states, is under¬
going this process of popular congestion—this rushing
of the social blood to the head—at a galloping rate.
The population of that state 1870 was 1,457,351 and in
1880 it had risen to 1,783,085. The increase was,
therefore, 326,734. A table of the census report of
1880 shows the population of cities, and from this table
it appears that in 1870 the towns and cities of Massa¬
chusetts. • . contained 1,004,000 or far from three-
fourths of the population of the state, and that in
29,000 more than the state at large. In other words,
the population of the country had diminished to that
61
Gong. Record. 50th Cong., 1 sess., p. 9293.

303
extent, besides having been stripped of its natural
increase,62
Continuing to provide statistical proof that income
from agriculture had declined, Vance showed that population
trends in Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Maine were the
same as in Massachusetts. There were few people left on
the farms in these states; the majority had forsaken farm¬
ing for work in industry. He agreed that the protective
tariff protected the capitalist engaged in manufacturing,
but argued that it did so at the expense of destroying
agriculture. This he opposed. "Of all the people in
America who support the protective policy," he said, "the
last to give it aid, should be the masses. • • especially
the agricultural population."
The dullness of the census report was brightened by
Vance’s use of vivid illustrations which explained the in¬
ference to be drawn from the statistics. The following
pictorial view of New England farm land is typical:
Connecticut and Massachusetts, formerly covered
with fruitful meadows and grain fields, are not un-
profitably gay with sumac and odorous fern. The once
cultivated land is occupied by brush and brake and
the woodman plies his ax where seventy-five years ago
were heard the ring of the scythe and rustle of the
sickle.64
^2Cong. Record. 50th Cong., 1 sess., p. 9294.
63Ibid.
64
Ibid., p. 9295.

304
This speech also demonstrated Vance's shill in refuta¬
tion. He recognized the major contentions of the advocates
of the substitute bill, and adapted his arguments to them.
Another issue upon which he and his opponents clashed was
the extent of the benefits to be derived from the substitute
bill. He accused the Finance Committee of having made the
changes in the classification of duty free items to satisfy
the manufacturing interests, rather than to relieve the
people of a tax burden. Reducing to an absurdity the Re¬
publicans* arguments that the substitute bill would benefit
all the people, he spoke sarcastically:
Their free-list is a fair indication of their
regard for those neglected sixty millions. Acorns,
baryta, beeswax, braids, bristles, chickory, culm,
coal-tar, curling-stone handles, Zanta for smoking,
rags, rape-seed, sponges and sand show their respect
for the comfort of the millions. Books printed in
foreign tongues, which little children can not read,
are also free. This, with free opium, is intended
doubtless as a bonus to that peculiar American labor
for which protection is invoked. With the exception
of jute and jute-butts and textile grasses and cheap
adulterated molasses there is little upon it worth
anything to anybody except the manufacturers. Com¬
pare it with the blessings conferred on the poor by
the free-list of the House bill-free wool, lumber,
salt, cotton ties and tin plate.65
Vance kept a good balance between logical proofs and
emotional appeals throughout this speech. His emotional
65
c'ongy Record.
50th Cong., 1 sess., p. 9295.

305
appeals were short, and were used as adjuncts to reason
rather than as substitutes. He appealed to fair play and
pity as he answered the senators who said they Intended to
reserve the home market for their own people if it meant
building a Chinese wall around the United States to ex¬
clude all foreign products:
Meantime the consumer, finding prices at home
put up on him, is not permitted to buy abroad by the
tariff, must pay whatever prices are demanded of him
for his supplies, and must sell his own products in
glutted markets at home. Thus is the American farmer
situated by the beauties of this home-market theory
which he is invited to support. Before him stands
that high Chinese wall which excludes him from the
outer world; behind him stand the trusts armed with
corporate powers to inflict penalties upon any treach¬
erous member who shall offer to sell him anything be¬
low the regulation price! The fact that any of them
still hold the title deeds to their farms, still have
decent clothing for their families and sufficient im¬
plements for their business, designate them as being
special favorites of the gods, who have stamped them
with unmistakable marks of immortality.
Basically the speech was partisan rather than
sectional. The Democrats of the entire country favored a
reduction in the tariff, and Vance came to the defense of
Cleveland against the attacks of the Republicans. The Re¬
publicans blamed the President for the accumulation of a
surplus which made a tariff reduction feasible.
The tariff was one of the few issues on which Vance
^Cong. Record. 50th Cong., 1 sess., p. 9295

306
and Cleveland agreed, and Vance answered the Republicans’
charge by saying: "It is true he could [have spent the sur¬
plus] , and so he could have squandered it as countless mil¬
lions have been squandered under the administrations of his
predecessors, but he did not."67
A month after Vance's participation in the tariff de¬
bate, the election of 1888 was held. Benjamin Harrison was
the Republican opponent of President Cleveland. Although
differing with Cleveland on many issues, Vance made many
speeches in various parts of the country on behalf of his
candidacy.On November 7» 1888, Cleveland, who won the
most popular votes, lost to Harrison who received the most
electoral votes. In this election the Republicans also
gained control of both houses of Congress.
During the second session of the Fiftieth Congress,
no significant legislation was passed. The lame-duck senate
killed time until the Republicans would take over the reins
69
of government. Vance made no significant speeches in
this session, although he continued to participate in all
tariff debates.
6?Cong. Record. 50th Cong., 1 sess., p. 9295.
68Calvin s. Brice to Vance, New York, September 26,
1888, Vance Papers.
^9Cong. Record. 50th Cong., 2 sess., p. 278.
7°New York Times. January 15, 1889.

307
When the Fifty-first Congress convened on March 4,
1889, the Republicans had complete control for the first
time since 1875* Belonging to the minority party did not
deter Vance from entering the debate on important issues.
On January 12, 1890» he spoke on a bill authorizing that
Treasury notes be issued on deposits of silver.
Favoring the bill, Vance made his most significant
speech of the first session of the Congress, He argued that
it was an elementary maxim of the science of finance that
an abundance of money meant high prices for products, and
that a scarcity of money resulted in low prices. In order
that the farmers might receive higher prices for their pro¬
ducts, he urged the approval of the Senate bill which would
provide an abundance of money. He argued that the depressed
prices then existing were a result of business and popula¬
tion having outgrown the monetary medium of the United
States.With strong and cogent support, he argued that
it was not profitable that the legal relation of gold and
silver would need to be altered in the future in order to
retain both metals in abundance.^2 Supporting this reason¬
ing, he used statistics given by the Secretary of the Treas¬
ury and quotations from the London Economist. The latter
^1Cong. Record and Appendix. 51st. Cong., 1 sess.,
P. 382.
^2Cong. Record. 51st Cong., 1 sess., p. 5977*

308
was the organ of the gold standard economists and financiers
of England. He also used this evidence to prove that despite
the claims of the anti-silver advocates, the gold standard
countries would not flood the United States with silver,
since they were using all of their own silver.^
Vance’s political career reached its climax in 1890.
Both in and out of the senate he spoke more than he had ever
74
spoken before. He was Interested in most of the issues
surrounding the passage of the Sherman Anti-trust Act, the
75
Sherman Silver Purchase Bill, and the McKinley Tariff Bill.
In addition to speaking on these bills in the senate, he
found it necessary to speak in his home state in an effort
to retain a favorable majority in the legislature. Edward
Smith wrote him on October 25, 1890:
I will make an announcement for you to speak at
Rutherfordton on Friday, October 31. Am extremely
glad that you are enabled to make that appointment. . •
Reports from all over the state indicate full registra¬
tion or nearly full for the Democrats,,.. . I believe
that the Legislature will be composed of enough Vance
Democrats to elect you even in spite of,any combination
that may be made with the Republicans.
T^Cong. Record and Appendix. 51st. Cong., 1 sess., pp.
383-384.
f^Dowd, Life of Vance, p. 313.
75Morison and Commager, The Growth of the American
Republic. II, 233.
76e. Chambers Smith to Vance, Raleigh, October 25,
1890, Vance Papers.

309
During 1890 he had worked so hard in the committee room
and had made so many speeches that toward the end of the year
Vance suffered a breakdown. One side of his face became para
lyzed. His sight was affected, and one of his eyes had to
be removed in order to save the other one and prevent total
blindness. After the operation, in the hope of recovering
his health, he visited England, France, Scotland, Ireland,
77
and Italy. This trip abroad evidently did him little good,
for his health continued to decline after his return home.
Also contributing to the impairment of Vance's health
was the conflict which arose between him and the Farmer* s
Alliance. Of the legislators elected in North Carolina in
1890, all the Democrats, and more than half the Republicans,
were pledged to the program of the Farmer's Alliance. The
legislature had secured promises from some of the Congres¬
sional candidates to support the abolition of national banks,
the free coinage of silver, the Sub-treasury plan, and in
general to espouse other reforms in the Alliance program.
The chief stumbling block, however, was Senator Vance's at¬
titude. He could not be forced by the legislature to give
unequivocal support to the Sub-treasury plan, which provided
that the government should establish warehouses where far-
77Dowd, Life of Vance, p. 279*

310
mera might deposit non-perishable farm produce, receiving in
exchange a loan of legal tender money up to eighty per cent
of the market value of the produce. A compromiae was
reached under the terms of which Vance agreed to introduce
the Sub-treasury bill, but would not support it because he
considered it unconstitutional. This compromise removed the
main obstacle in the way of his re-election, since he was
in agreement with the Alliance on such financial reforms
as tariff reduction and free silver.7®
As a result of this compromise many harsh things were
said about Vance. He was charged with "knuckling to the
Alliance" in order to retain his seat in the Senate. The
criticism was unwarranted, for Vance had always espoused
the cause of the farmer, and had encouraged the formation
of the Alliance. What he disapproved of was the organiza¬
tion's becoming a political party, which it was about to
do. In order to keep unity in the Democratic party in
North Carolina, and to prevent a split which would give
control of the state to the Republicans, Vance had to make
some concessions.79 Since the platform adopted by the con¬
vention of the National Farmer's Alliance at Ocala, Flori-
7®Dowd, Life of Vance, p. 280.
79Ibid., p. 281.

311
da, in December, 1890, was generally in line with Vance’s
views about reform, he felt there was no harm in agreeing
to the compromise resolution.®0
By 1890, the country had grown tired of Harrison’s
administration. By trying to please everybody, he had
pleased nobody. Dissatisfaction with the McKinley Tariff
bill and the financial status of the country in general
caused a political upheaval in the congressional elections
of 1890. Only 88 Republicans were returned to the new
House as against 235 Democrats and 9 Populists. The Re¬
publican majority in the Senate was reduced to eight un-
81
stable votes from the far West. Vance was re-elected to
the Senate by the General Assembly on January 14, 1891*
Even if Vance's health had permitted his active parti¬
cipation in the Fifty-second Congress, he probably could
have accomplished little. The House was Democratic; the
Senate was Republican. The political revolution continued
in the presidential election of 1892 when Cleveland defeated
Harrison, the Republican incumbent.®2 During this campaign,
Vance was advised by friends to conserve his health;®3 con-
®°Address of Richard H. Battle, p. 66.
®1Morison and Commager, The Growth of the American
Republic. 1865-1950, II, 234-235.
®2Bates, The Story of Congress, p. 305.
®3a.C. Avery to Vance, Morganton, August 12, 1892,
Vance Papers.

312
sequently, his only publio utterance was a speech in support
of Cleveland which was published in North Carolina newspapers.*
As soon as Cleveland took office, Vance sought a solu¬
tion to the Wall Street panic which had deepened into a de¬
pression, with its consequent suffering on the part of far¬
mers and laborers. Cleveland insisted that the remedy for
the economic ills of the country was the restoration of the
gold standard. In August of 1893» the President called the
Fifty-third Congress into special session for the purpose
of considering the financial policy of the country. "Our
government," he wrote in his message to Congress, "can not
make its fiat equivalent to intrinsic value, nor keep in¬
ferior money on a parity with superior money. ... The
people are entitled to a sound and stable currency, and to
money recognized as such on every exchange and every mar¬
ket in the world." With this message, Cleveland openly de¬
fied the free-silver Republicans.®^
After spending some time recuperating at Wilmington
and at Gombroon, his summer home in the mountains, Vance
®^F. M. Simmons to Vance, Raleigh, September 20, 1892,
Vance Papers.
®^Bates, The Story of Congress, p. 305.
®®Thomas W. Strange to Vance, Wilmington, September 24,
1892, Vance Papers.

313
was able to return to Washington In June of 1893*®^ At the
opening of the special session, he found himself again op¬
posing Cleveland on the silver issue—specifically, the
repeal of the Sherman Silver Purchase Act of 1890, The act
had been the result of an agreement in which western Republi¬
cans voted for a tariff bill which they disliked, and eastern
Republicans voted for a Silver Bill which they feared. The
Silver Bill stipulated that the Treasury Department pur¬
chase four and one-half million ounces of silver each
month, at the market price, and that this be paid for in
United States Treasury notes. It further provided that "up¬
on demand of any of the Treasury notes, • • the Secretary of
the Treasury shall, under such regulations as he may pre¬
scribe, redeem such notes in gold and silver coin, at his
discretion, it being the established policy of the United
States to maintain the two metals on a parity with each
other upon the present ratio,"®®
On September 2, 1893» Vance made his last speech in
the senate. The House bill to repeal part of the Sherman
Silver Purchase Act was to come before the senate at two
o’clock, but Senator Daniel W, Voorhees of Indiana moved
®?E. J. Hale to Vance, Fayetteville, June 17, 1893,
Vance Papers,
®®Morison and Commager, The Growth of the American
Republic. 1865-1950. II, 247.

314
to consider the bill in the morning since Vance was then pre¬
sent to speak. Taking as his theme the economic principle
that prices were high when money was plentiful and low when
money was scarce, Vance spoke for an hour and forty minutes.
Weakened by illness, Vance had lost much of his old-
time fire, and was difficult to hear. He still pleased his
audience, however, with his usual flow of Scriptural and
classical quotations. The New York Times was perhaps cor¬
rect in judging the speech as unimportant, because Vance ad¬
vanced nothing new.
Using inductive argument, he attempted to prove that
the financial crisis was not the result of an oversupply of
silver, as Cleveland contended, but rather the result of the
destruction of silver. He gave the names of specific coun¬
tries, starting with England, that had demonetized their
silver, and said that demonetization had in each case re¬
sulted in lower prices for products.
Vance pointed out inconsistencies in the argument of
a House member who said that the repeal of the Sherman Act
would save silver rather than destroy it. He stated:
They declare they love silver money, bimetallism;
therefore they slay it. They want both metals; there¬
fore they abolish one. They want gold and silver coined
on terms of equality, according to their platform, and
so they stop coining silver in order to better restore
it.
They want to maintain the parity between the two
metals, therefore they cut the only cord that holds

315
silver up and permit it to drop out of sight, display¬
ing thereby the same wisdom which was displayed by the
Irishman who was going down the shaft of a mine in a
bucket and got scared. He shouted: ‘Haul me up, boys,
haul me up! If you don* t haul me up, may the devil
fly away with me if I don’t cut the rope!*
Truly they must love silver much, since they
chastise it much. We will suppose a man is ill and on
his bed—the kind physician doctoring him in vain—he
slowly sinks, his pulse is low and feeble. Finally a
bolder physician comes in who practices on the heroic
theory, and he says to others, "You are all wrong and
wasting time in trying to restore this man by nursing
and stimulating him; he will never get up that way in
the world. Let us try a new play; let us cut his throat
and take a new start; we can adopt other remedies for
his restoration to life after that.89
With prophetic wisdom Vance predicted that there
would be no legislation favorable to silver if it were not
passed at the time of the repeal of the Sherman Act. He
felt strongly that President Cleveland and the Democratic
supporters of the bill were failing to abide by the Demo¬
cratic platform adopted at the Chicago convention, and,
therefore, were unfaithful to the trust of the people:
Mr. President, we know that it would not become a
law; and it strikes me, sir, that to permit the passage
of this bill without attaching some other legislation
could not be secured independently and by itself—that
we consciously surrender and turn our backs upon all the
pledges we have made to the people. It strikes me, sir,
that if we do this we must do it with our eyes open to
the consequences; we must do it knowing that we are sub¬
jecting ourselves to the serious accusations of our con¬
stituents.90
89pong. Record. 53rd Cong., 1 sess., pp. 1125-1131.
90Ibld.

316
Seemingly aware that this would be his last speech, he
expressed his deep sincerity in this plea:
• • • I say that if we pass this bill now unconditional¬
ly, that this great party will then cease to be the
peoples' and become the subservient tool of combined
capital. ...
I speak plainly upon this subject Mr. President,
because I feel deeply, I am too old—I have been too
long in public life. I have been too greatly trusted
and honored by the people of my state—to make myself
a party now to anything which appears to me may be con¬
strued as a want of faith to public professions.91
Vance concluded the speech with a strong emotional ap¬
peal. The peroration of his last public utterance was in
these words:
Surely the fountains of the great deep of humanity are
broken up and the hearts of men are stirred within them
as they have never been stirred before since the Civil
War. The great fight is on; the power of money and its
allies throughout the world have entered into this con¬
spiracy to perpetrate "the greatest crime of this or any
other age," to overthrow one half of the world's money,
and thereby double their own wealth by enhancing in value
of the other half, which is in their hands. The money
changers are polluting the temple of our liberties. "To
your tents, 0 Israel!"92
With this exhortation the Tarheel spokesman ended his
speaking career. His stalwart frame had become weak and
feeble, and his voice had lost its peculiar charm and power.
Sad was the contrast of the Vance speaking on the Sherman Act
repeal, and Vance making his first speech on the silver issue
in 1886. At the time of the earlier speech he was a handsome
91Cong. Record. 53rd Cong., 1 sess., pp. 1125-1131.
92Ibid

317
man weighing 250 pounds and standing six feet tall. He was
such an excellent specimen of manhood that his picture was
placed in Maury's Elementary Geography as an example of a
Caucasian. An agent of the publisher said that Vance's
picture was used because each member of a committee of six
selected his photograph, out of 250 photographs of people
from Europe and the United States, as best portraying the
features of a Caucasian. He was the embodiment of the best
and strongest in the Anglo-Saxon race.^^ How changed in ap¬
pearance as he delivered his last speech. Blind in one eye,
his body stooped, he looked like a feeble old man.
But in spite of his physical feebleness, Vance put
forth a strong effort in his final plea for the common man.
He had not proceeded far into the speech before he appeared
to be physically renewed as he mustered all his strength to
appeal for the legislation that he believed vital to the best
interest of his people. After he had finished speaking, his
weariness was again evident. When Congressman William T.
Crawford of North Carolina congratulated him saying, "Gover¬
nor, you seem to be yourself again," he replied, "By no means;
I am thoroughly exhausted." The Tarheel Spokesman then walked
from the Senate chamber through doors that closed behind him
94
forever.
93Undated clipping from the Asheville Citizen.
94-Memorial Addresses on the Life and Character of Zebulon
Baird Vance, p. 181.

CHAPTER X
OCCASIONAL SPEAKING
The occasional speech is as old as public address
itself; however, the ancient rhetoricians called it by
other names and limited its scope. To Aristotle such
speeches were epideictic, and had as their object praise
or blame.1 Among the ancients these speeches were limited
chiefly to commemorative addresses upon the gods, men,
cities, places, or public works. Today, the scope of
occasional speeches has expanded until it includes speeches
of courtesy, after-dinner speeches, and the popular lecture.
Men of oratorical prominence often find themselves engaged
in such speaking, and Vance did a great amount of it during
his lifetime. After the war, when necessity required him
to make a living by public speaking, he became popular as
an occasional speaker and continued in demand for the re¬
mainder of his life.
Due to the large number of occasional speeches
delivered by Vance, only the more significant ones can be
•^Aristotle Rhetoric, trans. Lane Cooper (.New York,
1932;, 1366a.
2William Norwood Brigance, The Forms of Address
(New York, 1953;, p. 299.
318

319
considered in this study. Attention will first be directed
toward his commencement addresses, which comprised a con¬
siderable part of his speaking.
A typical commencement address was the speech delivered
before the graduating class and the literary societies of
Wake Forest College on June 26, 1872. Although this address
is one of Vance's lesser known speeches, it is represent¬
ative of his commencement speaking. For this reason, along
with the high quality of the speech, it deserves recognition
and study.
Ideal commencement subjects are difficult to find,
and consequently, such addresses are usually stereotyped.
Whether Vance’s choice for the Wake Forest address was ideal
or not, the address itself was not stereotyped. He showed
ingenuity in choosing a theme that was appropriate to au¬
dience, occasion, and speaker. His theme was politics,
"not politics in its ordinary partisan sense but politics
embracing [the] vital and elemental principles of govern¬
ment."^ He thought this subject was appropriate for the
audience, because it was practical and important for college
graduates to know something about politics as they began
their careers as citizens in a free country. The subject
^Address of Ex-Gov. Z. B. Vance Delivered Before the
Graduating Class and Literary Societies of~~Wake Forest Col¬
lege (.Raleigh, 1872;, p. 5.

320
was appropriate for the occasion because it offered guidance
to the graduates—a recognized requirement of a commence¬
ment address.
In the exordium, Vance established himself as an
authority in the field of politics and assured the audience
of the appropriateness of the subject:
In accordance with what is appropriate, I will
speak to you today about things with which I am most
familiar; and which are at the same time most practi¬
cal and important. I shall speak to you of politics:
not of partisan war-cries and stump appeals, but of
those vital and elemental principles of Government
of which it behooves us to think and talk much, and
by which we live and move and have our social being.4
The content of the address was a work of art as a
commencement address should be. It was generally designed
to please the audience and to appeal to their esthetic
tastes. In the speech Vance was careful to avoid making
antagonizing statements, but through the subtle use of
suggestion he sought to inspire the audience toward ethi¬
cal conduct in political affairs. In a plain style, which
would please most audiences, he vividly described the
cycle from birth to death of a free born civilization:
There is the birth,--the child-nation brought
forth in the manger of poverty, and feebly existing
amid the blows and neglects of the world. It is nour¬
ished by the self-denial, the bravery, the suffering,
the virtue and simplicity of a primitive era. The
4Address of Ex-Gov. Z. B. Vance Delivered Before the
Graduating Class and Literary Societies of Wake Forest
College (Raleigh, 1872;, p. 5.

321
individual freedom of its members is the basis of that
national liberty which pervades all its institutions.
. . . Then comes pride and the accumulation of the
means to gratify that insatiate passion—Wealth.
By this time the child has become a giant; sim¬
plicity is forgotten; poverty is despised; and the free¬
dom which was so inestimable in the beginning has become
a thing of small consideration.
Then comes luxury, effeminancy, corruption, cruel¬
ty, slavery, decay, bloody death and night.5
The speech was pleasing to the audience in that it
sought to stimulate thought rather than to force belief
upon them. Vance clearly stated that the speech was not a
politician’s bombast to lead the audience into forming
political opinions:
In the hope, not of giving you any new information
of great value, but of directing your serious attention
to these known matters of most vital import to us and
our children, I propose to go over the ground briefly
with you today; point out our dangers and suggest the
remedies.
I desire, earnestly, to do this in a philosophical
spirit, and to warn you from, instead of lead you into,
the great error of forming your political opinions and
principles from the rant of the hustings and flaunting
lies of party trickery.6
The artistic nature of the speech was again demon¬
strated in Vance’s choice of language and ideas. To support
the generalization that liberty is of poor and lowly birth,
and languishes by too much contact with the rich, he used
5Address of Ex-Gov. Z. B. Vance Delivered Before the
Graduating Class and Literary Societies of Wake Forest-
College (.Raleigh, 1872;, p. 6.
6Ibid.

a historical fact couched in pleasing poetic language.
He said that Roman liberty was born "among the shepherds
of the Latian hills, ... dwelling in the open fields
and within mud hovels of its devotees. It perished mis-
n
erably in the palaces of the Caesars."
Vance used language that was sufficiently exalted
for the ideas presented, but it was not ostentatious.
He chose concrete, vivid words, rather than abstract,
stilted, or high sounding ones. The exalted concrete
style of his elaboration on the belief that learning and
intelligence are not guarantees of liberty may be observed
in the following passage:
Nor can we rely upon the spread of learning and
intelligence, to preserve the free institutions of our
fathers in all their vigor and purity. History is a
wonderful destroyer of theories, and this fond one of
ours is likely to be overthrown by facts. If intel¬
ligence and virtue were synonymous, our confidence in
it would be justified. But educated men are no more
always virtuous than ignorance is always wicked. And
I believe that educated bad men, in all ages, have
done more hurt to the world than all the ignorance that
has ever existed. How many nations have lost their
liberties through the wickedness of the learned? The
brightest age of Athenian eloquence, philosophy and
art, made the least resistance to corruption. The
noblest orator, and the greatest poet of the Augustan
age of Roman letters vied in the glorification of
despotism and venality. The polite reign of Charles II
rotted England to the core, and laid her liberties so
low that only revolution and a change of dynasty could
revive them. When the "Goddess of Reason" was en¬
throned in France, the Goddess of Liberty fled in-
^Address of Ex-Gov. Z. B. Vance Delivered Before the
Graduating Class and Literary Societies of Wake Forest
College (.Raleigh, 1872;, pp. 13-14.

323
stinctively as from the face of a favored rival;
and a despotism--the worst that ever cursed any land--
a despotism—of the mob--gaunt and bloody—loomed up
at the side of his throne of "Intelligence,"--its dark
and overshadowing, and most proper Aegis.
Another artistic device which Vance used in the
address, was the elevation of language by the skillful
use of figures of speech. He spoke of the "noblest val¬
ley that ever spread its bosom to the sun," "the strong
arm of the government," "digging ores from the bosom of
the country," and "building railroads upon its face."^
The speech took on added beauty through Vance’s
rhythmical prose style. Through an easy flow of accented
and non-accented syllables, stress came at convenient and
measured intervals. This rhythmical effect may be found
in the following passage:
The hardy Greeks on the barren shores of Athens
and the Spartans on their sterile plains, build round
their freedom and their cities walls of naked human
bodies which all the countless hosts of Xerxes could
not pass. Phillip’s mule, with its golden load,
entered the gates in triumph.10
Finally, the address was a work of art in its skill¬
ful adaptation to the audience. Comprising the audience
were students of Wake Forest College, a Baptist school,
8Address of Ex-Gov. Z, B. Vance Delivered Before the
Graduating Class and Literary Societies of Wake Forest
College (.Raleigh, 1872;, pp. 15-16.
0Ibid., pp. 18-19.
iOlbid.

324
and their parents. Many of the students were studying
for the ministry, and the majority of the parents were
interested in religion. Demonstrating his imaginative
powers, Vance designed the following portion of the speech
to appeal to these Baptists:
There is doubtless some infidelity among you,
as in all other colleges. I know well how it is.
When young minds are thoroughly imbued with the Pagan
Classics, and come first to exercise their powers of
reason, the desire is to test them upon every subject,
and especially upon the received creeds of religion,
attacking them with almost savage delight. A spell
of skepticism comes upon the young senior and the
young graduate as naturally as the spell of love ere
long--or as measles in childhood. ... He wants the
world to know that he, at least, is not to be deluded
with cunningly devised fables by the Hebrews—Jews!—
and old wives tales. It sounds so large to differ
with everybody else. It smacks of genius. He is
strongly tempted by the glittering fallacies of mate¬
rialism to forsake the simple faith of his fathers—
aye, of his own kind father and anxious mother.
Be not deceived. We all know that ’Reason is
but a |(j>rry guide even in the affairs of this world.
0 • •
A few years later, on June 20, 1888, Vance delivered
a second commencement address at Wake Forest College.
This speech marked a definite change in style of pres¬
entation. Everyone in the audience waited with expectancy
for Vance’s wit and humor. They were, however, disap¬
pointed. He used no humor, but instead read a scholarly
address, word for word, from manuscript. On this occasion
^Address of Ex-Gov. 2. B. Vance Delivered Before the
Graduating Class and Literary Societies of Wake Forest
College (Raleigh, 1872;, p. 3U.

325
Vance used as his subject, Modern Education and Its
Tendencies.
Evidently, he felt a certain degree of freedom in
preparing this speech, for someone connected with the
college had written him a letter saying, "Zeb spread
yourself. ... This is a Baptist community, but we are
not straight jacketed.
Taking as his theme, ’’The aim of all education is
the exaltation of man and bringing him nearer his creator,"
Vance presented a speech which had many of the artistic
attributes of his earlier Wake Forest address. The entire
speech showed thoroughness of preparation, beauty of dic¬
tion, and grace of style. The editor of the Biblical
Recorder thought it the ablest address he had ever heard
from Senator Vance, but declared it was less popular than
the majority of his speeches. This lack of audience ap¬
peal may be attributed to Vance’s mode of delivery. His
reading from manuscript made the speech dull and mono-
1 -i
tonous.
Perhaps the best of Vance’s commemorative speeches
was his eulogy on his friend and political guardian, David
^Biblical Recorder, June 20, 1888.
13Ibid.

326
L. Swain. During the period of Reconstruction the
trustees, who had Swain removed as president of the
University of North Carolina, were not interested in
having a eulogy delivered in his behalf. But in 1876,
the new trustees invited Vance to deliver one. Because
of his close association with ¿'resident Swain while a
student at the university and during his political life
afterwards, Vance was considered the person best quali¬
fied to perform this important assignment. After Vance
had accepted the invitation to deliver the address, his
son David was dismissed from the university for miscon¬
duct. This so disturbed Vance that he refused to deliver
the eulogy. A letter from Mrs. Cornelia P. Spencer to
Swain’s widow in the summer of 1876 tells of her disap¬
pointment in Vance:
. . . Governor Vance who was to have delivered an
eulogy on Governor Swain threw it up, because his
son David was dismissed from the university this
spring in company with four other boys, for insub¬
ordination. Vance could not get over it. I was
disappointed in him that he showed so little self
control. Of course it was mortifying, but he ought
to be used by now to having David dismissed from
school. It was the fourth time he had been sent
home in disgrace, and to throw up such an engage¬
ment and disappoint everybody who was hoping to hear
justice done to Governor Swain by one who knew well
and owed much to him! Well! I wouldn’t have thought
it of Vance. The worst of it \vas that he never sent
any word to the trustees till just a week before
commencement.x
•^Hope Summer ell Chamberlain, Old Days in Chapel
Hill (Chapel Hill, N. C., 1926j, p. 227, quoting a letter
from Mrs. Spencer to Mrs. Swain.

327
Making amends for the disappointment of the previous
year, Vance consented to deliver a eulogy on Swain at the
commencement of June 7, 1877. That he considered this an
important assignment is evidenced by his thorough prepara¬
tion. He wrote to many of Swain’s friends, asking for in¬
formation regarding those periods of the man’s life with
which he was least familiar. One letter provided Vance
with information on Swain’s career as a lawyer and judge.^
On April 11, 1876, B. F. Moore wrote to Vance:
I herewith send you my reply to your letter of
15th February last. I do not pretend to indicate the
language in which you may recite the events in the
life of Gov. Swain.16
Assisted by the replies to his letters of inquiry,
Vance was able to speak with authority on the whole span
of Swain’s life, ^reparation of the speech covered a
period of more than a year.
At eleven o’clock on June 7, 1877, a procession was
formed and Vance was escorted into the Chapel which was
crowded with alumni, graduates, and friends, eager to hear
the Tarheel spokesman. The building resounded with ap-
17
plause as Vance mounted the platform.
15unidentified writer to Vance, Raleigh, April 10,
1876, Vance Papers.
1^B. F. Moore to Vance, Raleigh, April 11, 1876,
Vance tapers.
17Unidentified newspaper clipping, June 17, 1877,
in Kemp Battle’s ’’Scrapbook of the University of North
Carolina,” University of North Carolina Library.

328
Vance followed a biographical method, organizing
the eulogy under the following heads: Cl; Swain’s an¬
cestry, C2; early life, (3; education, (4; political life,
C5) career as university president, (.6; ethical and re¬
ligious traits, v.7; death. In simple language he traced
the life of his friend from infancy to death, setting
forth his virtues and leading traits of character.
Making the eulogy appealing to his audience, Vance
used a simple rather than the literary or oratorical
style. The sentence structure was less formal than that
of most eulogies, and was devoid of ornamentation or em¬
bellishment. His sparing use of polysyllabic words also
contributed to the effectiveness of the speech. The
style was further enhanced by the use of vivid language
and a variety of sentence structure. The characteristics
of a spoken style may be observed in the introduction to
the eulogy:
In this range, about seven miles from where these
waters meet, there is a little gorge-like valley
scooped out of its western slope, which spreads its
narrow bosom precisely in the face of the setting sun.
The tall dome of Mt. Mitchell literally casts its
shadow over this mountain cradeled vale, as the sun
first comes up from the Eastern sea.
Great ridges hem it in on either side, gradually
melting on the south into the sloping hills on which
stands the town of Asheville. A bold fresh brook
from springs high up in the mountain, ripples through
the bottom of this vale reinforced by a hundred small¬
er streams pouring from the ravines on the right and
left, and empties its bright fresh floods into the

329
French Broad, five miles below the country seat.
Near the head of this valley is a charming little
homestead, consisting of fertile bits of meadows on
the brook-side, above which are open fields swelling
upward to the skirts of the mountain forests.18
Throughout the address Vance showed excellent judg¬
ment in his choice of materials. He gave praise where
praise was due, and treated Swain’s shortcomings tact¬
fully. His contributions to the progress of the univer¬
sity were enumerated, while his weakness in indulging the
students was minimized. Vance explained:
He was utterly incapable of resisting an appeal
for mercy, or a tale of distress. This was, I believe,
the only objection urged against his conduct on the
bench--his leniency to criminals. It was an objection
to his honor, if his mercy was at all tempered with
discretion, as I doubt not it was. So too arose the
only serious trouble he ever had with the trustees of
the university.
Stringent measures had been resolved upon by the
Boards towards dissipation and insubordination among
the students, which regulations were not rigidly en¬
forced by Gov. Swain. So great was his forbearance
with the hot blood of youth, and so strong his faith
that time would cure these early follies, and enable
the better natures of the young men to assert them¬
selves, that he suffered the Draconian code of the
Trustees to lie dormant, whilst he lectured, reproved,
and exhorted. He shrank from branding the opening
years of a young life with sentence of dismission or
expulsion, and would condescend to an erring boy while
there remained the last hope of reform. In such cases
â– ^Life and Character of Hon. David L. Swain, Late
^resident of the University of North Carolina--a memorial
Oration by Gov. Zebulon B. Vance, Delivered m Gerard Hall
on Commencement Day. June 7« 1877 (.Durham, 1878j, pp. 1-2.
Cited hereafter as Lire and Character of David L. Swain.

330
his judgment not unfrequently [sic] came into conflict
with the opinions of other members of the Faculty,
and finally so irritated the Trustees that they passed
a resolution of censure upon him. y
The preceding paragraphs demonstrate Vance’s sin¬
cerity in presenting a eulogy that was forthright and
honest. Although he described Swain’s principal fault
frankly, he treated it so tactfully that it appeared to
be more of a virtue. His sincerity produced a eulogy that
did justice to his subject, without being overly senti¬
mental or Pharisaical. Mrs. Spencer wrote following the
speech a letter commending Vance for his sincere tribute
to their mutual friend. She attributed his sincerity to
’’the love that inspired the task.”20
The yardstick Vance used to measure Swain’s great¬
ness was comparison and contrast with great men of other
ages. Although Swain’s greatness had not been fully rec¬
ognized, Vance assured the audience that it would be in
due time, as had been the case with many great men of the
past. He said:
Modest, and pure and upright, he had the mis¬
fortune to live two hundred years before his age, and
to put forth fruits of genius which his fellows could
not comprehend. . . . Two centuries of progress have
brought the world up to where Spinoza died, and it
builds him a monument. At last, his work is seen.
The Earl of Murray, Lord Regent of Scotland, was
^Life and Character of David L. Swain, p. 15.
2uSpencer to Vance, Chapel Hill, July 9, 1877.

331
not esteemed a great man in his day. His behavior
was modest, his abilities were apparently but moder¬
ate, and for more than two hundred years he has fig¬
ured in History as an ordinary man, overlaid by the
more violent and intriguing spirits of his time, and
his character obscured and distorted by the glamour
which surrounds the name of his beauteous but aban¬
doned sister and murderous Queen Mary. And yet when
two centuries afterwards the spirit of Philosophic
History comes ... to show the result of his life’s
work upon Protestant Christianity ... we agree v: . .
that he was in truth one of the best and greatest
men. . . .
And so it may be said of Bunyan, of Wesley and
of many more whose beginnings were esteemed but of
small account, but whose fame has continued to grow
continually brighter and brighter, as the world has
been forced to see how wisely they builded.
Although praise for Swain was abundant, Vance
deserves commendation for avoiding exaggeration. He was
not blind to Swain’s faults. With tact and good judgment
he showed his weaknesses. Speaking of Swain’s shortcom¬
ing, Vance said:
In many senses of the term Gov. Swain was not a
great man. As an author, though a man of letters,
he neither achieved nor attempted anything lasting.
As a politician, although he rose to the highest
honors of his native state, he did not strikingly
impress himself upon his times by any great speech,
nor by any grand stroke of policy. In this respect
he was inferior to many of his contemporaries who con-
stituted, perhaps, the brightest cluster of names in
our annals. As a lawyer and a judge, he occupied
comparatively about the same position; and as a scholar
he was not distinguished, being inferior to several
of his co-laborers in the University.
2lLi fe and Character of David L. Swain, p. 19.
22Ibid.

332
Because of the chronological method of organization,
the speech became dull and monotonous at times. Instead
of selecting only the significant portions of Swain's
life, Vance included too many uninteresting details. An
obvious example of this weakness was the following de¬
scription of his marital status:
On the 12th of January, 1826, he was married to
Miss Eleanor H. White, daughter of Wm. White, Secre¬
tary of State, and granddaughter of Gov. Caswell, a
union productive of great domestic happiness to a man
so fitted as he by nature, and by a life of unsullied
purity to appreciate the ties of home, and the love
of wife and children. By this lady there were born
to him several children, of whom but three, two daugh¬
ters and a son, ever reached maturity. His oldest
son David, who died in childhood, was a boy of great
promise. His eldest child and daughter, Ann, died
unmarried in 1867. The second daughter, and now only
surviving child, Eleanor Hope, married Gen. S. D.
Atkins of Freeport, Illinois, where she now resides.23
Despite one or two weak spots in the speech, however,
it was sufficiently effective to please the audience.
Vance managed to hold interest during most of it, as was
P4-
shown by the frequent interruptions by applause.
One of the most effective elements of the speech
was Vance's delivery. He adapted his voice to the mood
of the occasion, as W. J. Peele attests:
I heard Vance deliver his address on Swain ...
at the Chapel Hill Commencement of 1877. I well
23Life and Character of David L. Swain, p. 19.
24K. P. Battle's "Scrapbook of the University of
North Carolina," p. 28.

333
remember the low melancholy and the effortless pathos
of his voice.25
In addition to eulogies, Vance’s occasional speeches
included addresses of welcome. Having gained fame as a
Southern orator, he was invited to deliver the welcoming
address at the International Cotton Exposition in Atlanta,
on October 6, 1881. According to Woodward, he extended a
"soulful southern welcome" as he invited visitors "to see
that we have renewed our youth at the fountains of in¬
dustry."26
The occasion for the speech was the ushering in of
a manufacturing era with an International Cotton Exposi¬
tion which lasted from October 5 to December 31. Elab¬
orate preparations had been made for the event, and people
came not only from the South but from all over the United
States and several foreign countries. The building in
which the Exposition was held was constructed in the shape
of a cross, and it was so large that it contained eleven
miles of aisles. There were great displays of machinery
of all types, from a steam engine to a potato peeler.
There were huge collections of minerals, woods, textile
25W. J. Feele, Lives of Distinguished North Caro¬
linians (Raleigh, 1898;, p. 278.
26C. Vann Woodward, "Bourbonism in Georgia," North
Carolina Historical Review, XVI, 1939, 29.

334
manufactures, agricultural products, livestock, and even
27
an art gallery.
After a prayer by Bishop Robert W. B. Elliott at the
opening ceremony, Vance delivered the welcome. He began
his address by concerning himself with the occasion. In
clear and simple language, he drew attention to cotton,
"the wondrous plant in whose honor'* the audience had assem¬
bled. He declared it "better than the fountain of De Leon,
it renews the youth of nations--richer than the golden
hills of DeSoto, its wealth annually repeated is inex¬
haustible.'*28
Usually speeches of welcome have a single purpose of
r
making the visitors feel at home. Vance*s speech, however,
had a twofold purpose. He not only tried to make people
feel at home, but he also sought to stimulate interest in
the progress of the South. The greater emphasis, however,
was placed on the second purpose. While extending a cor¬
dial welcome to the people of various interests, he aimed
at inspiring respect for the South:
To me has been assigned the pleasing duty of wel¬
coming those who come from distant regions to partici¬
pate in this grand parliament of industry.
27E. Merton Coulter, A Short History of Georgia
Chapel Hill, 1933J, pp. 385-386.
28Atlanta Constitution, October 6, 1881.

335
We who live by reducing from mother earth the
fabric which clothes her children welcome you, men
of the West, who following kindred pursuits, live by
evolving bread from the fertile-bosom of nature.
You, merchants and shippers of the East and
North, we welcome you to this exposition of the pro¬
ductions of a people which assures that they can live
and thrive with no other governmental aid than that
which is given by peace and respect for the rights of
property. ... We invite you with pride to witness
these conclusive tests of the genial nature of our
climate, the fertility of our soil, the energy of our
people, the conservative vitality of our political
institutions: in short, we invite you to see that we
have renewed our youth at the fountains of industry
and found the hills of gold in the energies of an im¬
perishable race.
Appropriate to the occasion, the address was serious,
dignified, and relied heavily upon illustrations, allusions,
and metaphors for vividness. Vance’s skill in imagery was
evident in the speech, and it was especially strong in his
illustration of the interest of the whole world in cotton.
He said:
The merchant in the distant city listens for tid¬
ings of its coming up; the manufacturer and his brick
walls and tall chimneys anxiously observes its blooms;
the restless speculator gazes upon its opening bolls;
the mariner, with his broad sails flapping idly against
his masts, waits for its maturing--and the poor every¬
where pray for the gentle shower and soft sunlight on
which it feeds, and rejoice at its safe ingathering. u
Vividness and clarity were further enhanced by al¬
lusions. Alluding to the scriptures, Vance asked the
people of the industrial areas to ’’teach us ... in all
Atlanta Constitution, October 6, 1881.
3uibid.

336
these things a more perfect way." He continued, "... We
would gladly learn a lesson in industry from the men of the
great Northwest, in thrift and art from men of the East; in
business and sagacity from the men of the great cities."
This allusion was followed by another. In presenting a
picture of the South’s progress in commerce through the aid
of cotton, Vance referred to ancient history. "Through its
means," he said, "the splendors of modern commerce are made
to surpass the glories of Carthage, of Tyre and of Venice. "3-*-
Obviously this allusion was vivid only to those in the audi¬
ence who were familiar with the glories of Carthage, Tyre
and Venice. Vance, however, assumed that it was in the
realm of knowledge of the entire audience, and left his
hearers to supply the details.
Vance used figurative language in the address, ap¬
parently for clarity and vividness rather than mere adorn¬
ment. Speaking metaphorically, he said the growth of cot¬
ton "is the idyllic poem; it is the melody," and "the king
of our commerce.1,32
Fulfilling the requirement of a good conclusion for
a welcoming address, Vance placed the speaker and the audi¬
ence on common ground. This was accomplished through a
•^Atlanta Constitution, October 6, 1881.
32Ibid.

337
reference to the death of President Garfield, who had been
assassinated less than a month before. He said:
I need not remind you, my countrymen that we
stand in the shadow of a great calamity. . . . The
sufferings and death of the President of the United
States has touched all hearts in this great land.
... A common sorrow has made every American remember
that they have a common country and the cold page of
history will say that this reunion of estranged hearts
is the noblest monument. ...
May we not permit the feeling of brotherhood
inspired by his death, ever to perish, and may the
intermingling here bear fruit in the time to come,
with us and with our children, worthy the citizen¬
ship of a free Christian Republic.33
No study of Vance's occasional speaking would be
complete without some consideration of his expository
lectures. He delivered so many that all of them cannot
be treated in this study, but a sufficient number to ac¬
quaint the reader with this phase of his speaking are in¬
cluded.
One of the most significant of Vance's lectures was
delivered before the John Andrew Post, No. 15, of the
Grand Army of the Republic in Boston on December 8, 1886.
The speech, which was one in a series of historical lec¬
tures, was titled "The Political and Social Peeling of the
South During the War."^4
The audience was composed of members of the Grand
^Atlanta Constitution, October 6, 1881.
34Clarence H. Bell to Vance, Boston, July 22, 1886,
Vance Papers.

338
Army of the Republic, who would have normally been antag¬
onistic to a speaker from the South, and the lecture was
delivered in an area where people had most strongly op¬
posed the Confederacy. In spite of differences in politi¬
cal views, however, the audience had invited Vance to
speak in a series of war lectures in which New Englanders
were studying both the Confederate and Union sides of the
war. Consequently the audience was drawn together by a
common bond of interest, and was willing to listen to the
Tarheel spokeman’s views.
After being introduced by the mayor of Boston, Vance
spoke for two hours, and was frequently interrupted by ap¬
plause. As the Senator stood before the audience in Tre-
mont Temple, his imposing, portly figure and genial coun¬
tenance soon won favor. With his rich, mellow voice he
exhibited a powerful and expressive delivery that helped
him to gain and hold attention. All the Boston papers re-
3 <5
ported that the speech had pleased the audience.
The lecture was a plea that the North understand
the South. Vance argued that the stigma of treason placed
by the North upon all southerners who took part in the war
was wrong. "All crime," he said, "is to be found in crim¬
inal intent, and no southern man believed he was engaged
^Boston Globe, December 8, 1886.

339
O zl
in rebellion or treason."
Vance’s speech in Boston preceded by only a few
days that of another southern orator in New York; Henry
W. Grady, editor of the Atlanta Constitution, presented
his "New South" speech on December 22, 1886.^ Unlike
Grady, however, Vance was not conciliatory, appearing
almost pugnacious until the conclusion of the speech.
He made little effort to adapt to the audience in this
respect. The following passage exemplififes the speaker's
lack of conciliation:
I believe when you view this thing dispassion¬
ately and calmly you will feel bound to give proper
credit to both Confederate and State authorities,
for their efforts during all the confusion of those
unhappy times to preserve both the essence and the
forms of personal liberty, under the strongest temp¬
tations to disregard them. I feel that it would not
be too much in me to say here that we far exceeded
your state and certainly your federal government,
in these important respects though the strain upon
you was not half so hard as on us.^8
Vance's blunt remarks were softened somewhat by the
conclusion of the address. In it he emphasized the fact
that the war was not actually fought over slavery, but
over constitutional state rights. Appealing to his audi¬
ence, he expressed a distaste for slavery and a desire
36Boston Globe, December 8, 1886.
37william Norwood Brigance, Classified Speech Models
(New York, 1930;, p. 287.
^Boston Globe, December 8, 1886.

340
that it should never return to the country. With a patri¬
otic flair, he spoke these pleasing sentiments:
My faith is that of those who believe that all
human events of nations as of individuals are wisely
as well as kindly ordered by the great Ruler of All
for the best interest of his creatures, and so that
the very wrath of man is made to praise Him. Bitter
to my taste as the results of the Civil War were, day
after day has reconciled me to them and convinced me
of the wisdom of cheerful submission to the will of
Him who brought them about. The union of these states
has been preserved and declared indissoluble; a great
and disturbing constitutional question has been finally
settled; and slavery has been forever abolished, no
longer to tarnish the fair fame of the great free Re¬
public. Because it was involved in constitutional
right, I fought four years in its defence; on the
honor of my manhood, I assure, you, though my hairs
have since become white, that I would fight eight
years against the attempt to reinstate it in my
country.39
Vance’s uncompromising attitude on sectional sub¬
jects sometimes resulted in criticism. In his lecture on
’’The Last Days of the War,” which was delivered before the
Maryland Line at Baltimore on February 23, 1885, he spoke
from the southern point of view, as he had in his Boston
lecture. Commenting upon the lecture, the reporter of the
German newspaper, Per Deutsch Correspondent, published in
Baltimore, said:
The speech of Senator Vance in regard to Sherman’s
march through Georgia at a Baltimore banquet yesterday
was in bad taste; such trends of thoughts are not
proper to bring about a lasting and happy reconcilia¬
tion between the North and the South. ^
S^Dowd, Life of Vance, p. 462.
4^Per Deutsch Correspondent, February 24, 1885.

341
As stated earlier, Vance’s greatest lecture, "The
Scattered Nation,” was delivered for the first time on
February 13, 1874. The number of times the lecture was
delivered during the course of his career is only con¬
jecture, but evidence establishes the fact that it was
frequently given. Letters in the Vance Papers verify
numerous presentations before both Jewish and Gentile
organizations. For example, Companies B and C of the
North Carolina State Guard sent Vance a resolution on
May 28, 1878, thanking him "for the intellectual treat”
afforded them in his address on the ’’Scattered Nation,”
and for the substantial increase in their treasury.41 On
September 10, 1878, the Jewish people of Goldsboro sent
him an invitation to give his "celebrated lecture” for the
purpose of collecting money for the relief of yellow fever
sufferers.42 a similar letter was received from the mem¬
bers of the Episcopal Parish in Silver Springs, Maryland,
requesting Vance to speak in Washington for the benefit of
the parish.43 it seems certain that over a period of
41r. D. Hancock to Vance, New Bern, May 28, 1878,
Vance Papers.
42a Committee of Israelites to Vance, Goldsboro,
September 10, 1878, Vance Papers.
43Montgomery Blair and others to Vance, Washington,
January 29, 1880, Vance Papers.

342
fifteen years MThe Scattered Nation" was delivered hun¬
dreds of times and in almost every important city in the
United States.44
.Perhaps the curious may wonder why Vance, who lived
in a state having only about five hundred Jewish people
within its borders, became interested in the Hebrew race.
A study of his life reveals some of the reasons. Although
Vance was a member of no church until late in life, he had
always shown a keen interest in the Bible. Encouraged by
his wife and mother, he often read the Bible for hours at
a time. His knowledge of Bible stories lead to an interest
in the ancient Hebrew people, a fact which he verified in
his letters and speeches.4*’ During the Civil War he wrote
to the Confederate Secretary of War in protest of the con¬
duct of the cavalry in North Carolina. He said "that had
a regiment of undisciplined Confederate cavalry been
turned loose on Pharoah as in North Carolina, he never
would have followed the children of Israel to the Red
Sea. . . ."46 jn a speech at Tammany Hall after the war,
44"Zebulon B. Vance," Dictionary of American Biog-
raphy, ed. Dumas Malone (.20 vols.; New York, 1936;, XIX,
161.
4^Selig Adler, "Zebulon B. Vance and the Scattered
Nation," Journal of Southern History, VII, 1941, 367.
46Vance to James A. Seddon, Secretary of War,
Raleigh, December 21, 1863.

343
he spoke figuratively of northern Democrats wandering
after ’’Moabitish women."47 These examples are typical
of many that Vance borrowed from Biblical history.
Another factor contributing to Vance’s interest in
the Jews was his close contact with them. In Statesville
prior to his imprisonment, and later in Charlotte after
his release, Vance became acquainted with a number of
Jewish merchants whose friendship served to inspire the
’’Scattered Nation.” The leading store in Statesville
was Wallace Brothers and Stepheson. Isaac and David
Wallace, the proprietors of the store, were typical Ger¬
man- Jewish immigrants of the mid-century. After working
as peddlers and later as operators of a store at Bamberg,
South Carolina, they moved to Statesville in 1859. From
the first they were leaders in the affairs of this thriv¬
ing agricultural town of six hundred people. Their store
served as the gathering place for the people of the town
and the surrounding community.
Vance was much impressed by the brothers on his
visits to their store. They ran a banking business as an
accomodation to the farmers, and sold supplies of all
kinds, including drugs. They were liberal in their terms
367.
^Adler, Journal of Southern History, VII, 1941,

344
to the farmers, and were generous donors to worthwhile
civic causes. The pastor of the Presbyterian Church was
a friend of the Wallaces.48
Another of Vance’s Jewish friends was Samuel Witt-
kowsky, who drove Vance to the depot in Salisbury after
his arrest by General Hugh Kirkpatrick's cavalry. Witt-
kowsky became one of the most successful business men in
the state, and was probably the most intimate of Vance’s
Jewish friends. He was born in Prussian Poland in 1835,
and arrived in New York at the age of eighteen with only
$3.00 in his pocket. He worked his way upward in various
cities of the South,49 and during the war was engaged in
manufacturing hats in the firm of Wittkowsky and Sattz-
berg in Salisbury. The following excerpt from a letter
expresses the admiration the members of the firm of Witt¬
kowsky and Sattzberg had for Vance:
We send you by our mutual friend, R. F. Simon-
ton, a hat of our manufacture which you will please
accept as a small token of our very high regard of
you.50
Wittkowsky later became a leading resident of Char¬
lotte, where he and Vance were able to renew their old
48Adler, Journal of Southern History, VII, 1941,
367.
4yIbid., p. 360.
^uWittkowsky and Sattzberg to Vance, Statesville,
April 16, 1864, Vance Papers.

345
friendship after Vance moved there. Vance spent ten years
in Charlotte and came into contact with many Jews. Close
association with the Jews was augmented by the proximity
of Jewish stores to Vance’s law office. Among the opera¬
tors of dry goods stores were such names as Elias and Cohen,
Kahnweiler Brothers, B. Koopman, H. and B. Emanuel, D. Blum,
N. Reichenberg, S. Frankenthal. There were also other
businesses owned by Jews. The local photographer was a
German Jew named Baumgardener. J. Hirshinger manufactured
clothing, and Joseph Schiff operated a tannery. A branch
of the famous Baruch family was also contributing to the
business life of Charlotte.^
Vance could not be other than pleased with the con¬
tribution his Jewish friends made toward stabilizing the
South’s economy, practically all of them came South with
capital, which they placed in circulation by furnishing
employment and opening new fields of endeavor. Inspired
by his admiration for these Jewish business men, his study
of Hebrew history, and his natural humanitarian spirit,
Vance produced one of the most significant lectures of his
lifetime.
Vance opened his lecture by comparing the Jewish
race with the Gulf Stream. Borrowing a description from
Adler, Journal of Southern History, VII, pp. 362-
363.

346
Matthew Maury, the famous oceanographer, Vance began as
follows:
Says Professor Maury: ’There is a river in the
ocean. In the severest droughts it never fails, and
in the mightiest floods it never overflows. The Gulf
of Mexico is its fountain, and its mouth is in the
Artie seas. It is the Gulf stream. There is in the
world no other such majestic flow of waters. Its
current is more rapid than the Mississippi or the
Amazon, as far out from the Gulf as the Carolina
coasts, are of an indigo blue; they are so distinctly
marked that their line of junction with the common
sea-water may be traced by the eye. Often one-half
of a vessel may be perceived floating in gulf stream
water, while the other half is in common water of the
sea, so sharp is the line and such want of affinity
between those waters, and such too the reluctance,
so to speak, on the part of the Gulf Stream to mingle
with the common water of the sea.’
This curious phenomenon in the physical world
has its counterpart in the moral. There is a lonely
river in the midst of the ocean of mankind. The
mightiest floods of human temptation have never caused
it to overflow and the fierciest fires of human cru¬
elty, though seven times heated in the furnace of
religious bigotry, have never caused it to dry up,
although its waves for two thousand years have rolled
crimson with the blood of its martyrs. Its fountain
is in the gray dawn of the world’s history, and its
mouth is somewhere in the shadows of eternity. It
too refuses to mingle with the surrounding waves, and
the line which divides its restless billows from the
common waters of humanity is also plainly visible to
the eye. It is the Jewish race.52
Vance’s critics accused him of plagiarism because
other speakers also had used the Gulf Stream as the basis
for a figure. Among others, they pointed to Major John
Hughes who had delivered a speech in New Bern on November 3,
52The Scattered Nation by Zebulon B. Vance (.New York,
1904;, pp. 9-lu.

347
1870, in which he used the following simile:
Thine is a glory that will not die--thine a name
that cannot perish—thine a fame that even the all
destroyihg hand of time cannot obliterate. But like
that grand and mysterious stream that flows along our
coast, which though surrounded by the cold and chill¬
ing waves of ocean, yet still flows on, warm and genial,
and distinct in its course, bearing wealth and health
and life and happiness in its bosom, a perpetual
source of wonder and admiration to all mankind--so
shall thy fame be the Gulf Stream to the human ocean,
ever to survive so long as man exists and only ceas¬
ing when time shall be no more.55
The figurative use of the Gulf Stream by both speak¬
ers seems an insufficient reason for charging Vance with
plagiarism. The figure was an apt one, and both speakers
were original in the use of it. According to the Raleigh
News, a widely read scholar came to Vance’s defense, argu¬
ing that the idea was original in the sense in which it
was used, even though it could be traced beyond Governor
Vance. This same man, who was unidentified in the news¬
paper report, considered Vance’s use of the figure accept¬
able, in spite of his having read the same illustration
in a work on "prophesies of the Jews" twenty years ear¬
lier.54
Other supporters of Vance believed that to accuse
a speaker of plagiarism because he presented an idea that
55Raleigh News, May 21, 1876.
54Ibid., May 17, 1876.

348
had been presented by another was unjust. They argued
that all speakers gather ideas from reading and observa¬
tion, making it impossible to be absolutely original.
Dr. J. C. Hilden, a minister, found in reading the "Scat¬
tered Nation" that Vance’s views on the Jews were the
same as those he had expressed in two sermons. He declared,
however, that there had been no plagiarism by either speak¬
er, for Vance had never heard his sermons and he had never
heard Vance’s lecture.^5
Since the lecture grew out of Vance’s familiarity
with the Old Testament and his reading of Jewish history,
many of the ideas were, of course, unoriginal. Even the
title was lacking in originality, for there had been a
missionary periodical called The Scattered Nation; Past,
present and Future, published in London in the 1860's.
The Israelite of March 3, 1871, a Cincinnati Jewish organ,
carried an article with the same title.
Vance found the problem of audience adaptation in
the "Scattered Nation" different from that of most of his
speaking. This may be attributed to the fact that it be¬
longed in the category of the popular lecture. The audi¬
ences attending such lectures were ixsually heterogeneous
^Charlotte Observer, January 4, 1931.
56Adler, Journal of Southern History, VII, 371.

349
rather than select. Although specific organizations
sponsored the lecture, the general public was encouraged
to attend in order to increase the proceeds from admis¬
sions. Consequently, the popular lecturer had to choose
a subject of wide appeal. While the Jewish problem in
itself may have lacked universal appeal, the title of
Vance’s lecture and the speaker himself were both intrigu¬
ing. Vance’s treatment of the subject made it even more
interesting. Attributing the world’s progress and civi¬
lization to the Jew, Vance expressed his admiration for
this remarkable race in these words:
The Jew is beyond doubt the most remarkable man
of this world-past or present. Of all the stories of
the sons of men, there is none so wild, so ^vonderful,
so full of extreme mutation, so replete with suffer¬
ing and sorrow, so abounding in extraordinary provi¬
dences, so overflowing with scenic romance. There is
no man who approaches him in the extent and character
of the influence which he has exercised over the human
family. His history is the history of our civiliza¬
tion and progress in this ivorld, and our faith and
hope in that which is to come. From him have we de¬
rived the form and pattern of all that is excellent
on earth or in heaven. . . . Palestine, his home,
was the central chamber of God’s administration. He
was at once the grand usher to these gloriotis courts,
the repository of the councils of the Almighty and
the envoy of the divine mandates to the consciences
of men. He was the priest and faith giver to mankind,
and as such, in spite of the jibe and jeer, he must
ever be considered as occupying a peculiar and sacred
relation to all other peoples of this world.
Vance developed the body of the lecture in topical
57
The Scattered Nation by Zebulon B. Vance, p. 10.

350
order. He enumerated the main headings before elaborating
upon them, thereby enhancing clarity. Proposing to glance
briefly at the history of the Jews, he divided the body of
the address into kIj origin and civilization, k2j present
conditions, <3y peculiarities, and kAj probable destiny.
The part of the lecture dealing with the origin and
civilization of the Jews consisted of a lengthy quotation
from the American Cyclopedia.^ Vance declared that "no
people could establish such antiquity of origin, such
broken generations of descent as the Jews.1' On this point
he took issue with Macaulay’s essay on "Rank’s History of
the Popes." In this essay, Macaulay had said that the
line of the Papacy could be traced back farther than any
other institution. To this Vance answered that no people
could claim such antiquity of origin as the Jewish race—
not even Macaulay’s popes. Demonstrating an acquaintance
with the essay, Vance quoted the following passage:
No other institution is left standing which
carries the mind back to the times when smoke of sac¬
rifice rose from the Pantheon, and when camels, leo¬
pards, and tigers bounded in the Iberian Amphitheatre.°u
58The Scattered Nation by Zebulon B. Vance, p. 11.
5yAdler, Journal of Southern History, VII, 372.
6 Vance deviated slightly from the original text. In place
of Macaulay’s phrase, "when camelopards and tigers bounded
in the Flavian amphitheatre," Vance said, "when camels,
leopards, and tigers bounded in the Iberian amphitheatre."
See Rhys, Critical and Historical Essays by Thomas Babing-
ton Macaulay k.2 vols; London, 1927;, II, 38.

351
In developing this first part of the lecture, Vance
also emphasized the contributions of the Jews to the rest
of the civilized world. First, he said, the Jews gave to
the world its monotheistic doctrine. Showing a knowledge
of Egyptian, Phoenician, and Carthaginian history, Vance
spoke familiarly of the Egyptians bowing down before Iris
and Isiris, of the Carthaginians making human sacrifice
for the propitiation of Baal and Astarte, and of the Greeks
deifying the laws of nature. In contrast to this practice
of polytheism, he explained, "the bearded prophets of Is¬
rael were ever thundering forth, ’Know, 0 Israel, that the
Lord thy God is one God, and Him only shalt thou serve.'"
Praising the Jew for contributing to the world the idea
of a single God, he declared that this idea, which was the
center of the "faith and creeds of the dominant peoples
of the earth," had placed the Jew before all mankind.^
The second contribution of the Jews to civilization,
said Vance, was their commerce. He explained that the Jews
were originally engaged in agriculture, but the natural
poverty of their country forced them into commerce. Jeru¬
salem, accordingly, became the center of the great caravan
routes from the rich countries of the East to the areas
around the Mediterranean.
fr^-The Scattered Nation by Zebulon B. Vance, pp. 15-16.
62lbid., p. 17.

352
The next most important contribution of the Jews,
after religion, thought Vance, was their institutions.
Their laws “for the protection of property, the enforce¬
ment of industry, and the upholding of the State” contri¬
buted to a personal freedom and a national vigor. Having
a thorough knowledge of Jewish history, Vance gave a de¬
tailed explanation of Jewish laws, which he claimed pro¬
duced a democracy unknown to the rest of the contemporary
world.^3
The second section of the lecture dwelt with the
status of the Jews. Vance explained that many Jews had
become merchants, because this seemed the best means of
livelihood for an exiled race. They were often denied
citizenship in the land of their refuge, and were subject
to expulsion at any moment. Consequently, they had to find
a means of making a living in the nomadic life forced on
them. By following the great channels of commerce in the
world, they found that trading was most adaptable to their
needs.
Vance next divided the Jews into three great classes.
One class was composed of those who lived in the interior
of Africa, Arabia, India, China, Turkestan, and Bokhara.
A second, and the most numerous, class inhabited Northern
fr^The Scattered Nation by Zebulon B. Vance, pp. 17-18.

353
Africa, Egypt, Palestine, Syria, Mesopotamia, Persia, Asia
Minor, European Turkey, Poland, Russia, and parts of Austria.
This group Vance recognized as ignorant of all but Jewish
learning, and consequently adhered strictly to Talmudical
Judaism. The third class consisted of those Jews who
lived in central and western Europe and the United States.
It was with these that the lecture was principally concerned.
They were the most intelligent and civilized of their race.^4
The third division of the lecture was devoted to the
Jew’s peculiarities. Among other curious facts concerning
them, he pointed to their ability to avoid pestilential
diseases contracted by their Gentile neighbors, even though
they often lived huddled together in crowded and filthy
quarters. They were exempt from consumption and other
respiratory diseases, and physicians claimed they were
adaptable to all temperatures and climates.
Vance considered the Jews’ social life the most re¬
markable of their peculiar features. "There is,” he said,
"neither prostitution nor pauperism, and but little abject
poverty among them." Crime was also rare; and to prove
this, he said, "I have never known but one Jew convicted
of any offence beyond the grade of a misdemeanor." With
^4The Scattered Nation by Zebulon B. Vance, p. 27

354
a bit of humor, he added, ”1 have known many a one who
would have been improved with a little hanging.'*65
Many of the peculiarities of the Jews were actually
commendable traits of character. Among these were a high
regard for education and family life. He also pointed to
some traits that were neither commendable nor degrading.
Jews did very little manufacturing of the products which
they sold, and they always lived in towns, villages, or
cities.66-
The final division of the lecture was concerned
with the probable destiny of the Jewish race. Expressing
the belief that much progress had been made in dispelling
prejudices toward the Jews, Vance said:
There is a morning to open yet for the Jews in
Heaven’s good time, and if that opening shall be in
any way commensurate with the darkness of the night
through which they have passed, it will be the bright¬
est ever dawned on a faithful people.67
The peroration of the lecture was a continuation of
this last division of the body. Using vivid imagery,
Vance concluded with an illustration that summarized the
high attributes of the Jews and illuminated the prospects
of their future. He said:
6^The Scattered Nation by Zebulon B. Vance, p. 28.
66Ibid., p. 30.
67Ibid., p. 40.

355
I have stood on the summit of the very monarch
of our Southern Alleghanies and have seen night flee
away before the chariot wheels of the God of day.
The stars receded before the pillars of fire that
pierced the zenith, a thousand ragged mountain peaks
began to peer up from the abysmal darkness, each
looking through the vapory seas that filled the gorges
like an island whose '• jut ting and confounded base was
swilled by the wild and wasteful ocean." As the cur¬
tain was lifted more and more and the eastern bright¬
ness grew in radiance and in glory, animate nature
prepared to receive her Lord; the tiny snow bird from
its nest in the turf began chirping to its young;
the silver phesant sounded its morning drum-beat for
its mate in the boughs of the fragrant fir, the dun
deer rising slowly from his mossy couch and stretch¬
ing himself in graceful curves, began to crop the
tender herbage; whilst the lordly eagle rising
straight upward from his home on the crag, with pin¬
ions wide spread, bared his golden breast to the yel¬
low beams and screamed his welcome to the sun in his
coming! Soon the vapors of the night were lifted
upon shafts of fire, rolling and seething in billows
of refulgent flame, until, far overhead, they were
caught upon the wings of the morning breeze and swept
away; perfect day was established and there was peace.
So may it be with this long suffering and immortal
people. So may the real spirit of Christ yet be tri¬
umphantly infused amongst those who profess to obey
his teachings, that with one voice and one hand they
will stay the persecutions and hush the sorrows of
these their wonderous kinsmen, put them forward into
the places of honor and the homes of love where all
the lands in which they dwell, shall be to them as
was Jerusalem to their fathers. 8
Vance was careful not to overstate his case for the
Jews. He had pointed out in the course of the lecture
various criticisms of the Jews, and had admitted that some
of them were warranted. Included among the criticisms
were these: the Jew produces nothing, adds nothing to the
68
The Scattered Nation by Zebulon B. Vance, p. 40.

356
public wealth, owns no real estate, and takes upon him¬
self no permanent ties. ’’These are true objections in
the main,” he said, but ’’these habits he learned from
persecution. ”^9
The ’’Scattered Nation” was one of Vance’s most care¬
fully prepared speeches. In addition to personal obser¬
vations, Vance did considerable library research. He not
only used the American Cyclopedia as a reference on Jewish
history, but he also expressed his indebtedness to The
History of the Jews by Henry Hart Milman. Vance quoted
Milman, who was a nineteenth-century English clergyman,
on the principle of the Jew'ish real estate lav/s.70 Another
source which Vance consulted was John Draper’s History of
Intellectual Development of Europe. Draper was a professor
of chemistry, xvhose historical writings were then popular.
He used a quotation from Draper to show that the Jewish
people were foremost intellectuallyAlthough specific
research for the speech contributed to its content, the
overall preparation was chiefly dependent on Vance’s
general reading and observation.
In spite of his thorough preparation of the address,
6^The Scattered Nation by Zebulon B. Vance, P. 36.
7®Adler, Journal of Southern History, VII, p. 372.
7-^The Scattered Nation by Zebulon B. Vance, p. 33.

357
Vance showed poor taste in injecting southern prejudices
that contributed nothing to the support of his theme.
The great compassion he expressed for the Jews appears
somewhat hypocritical in view of the aspersions cast
toward those interested in Negro rights. He objected
to attempts to establish equality of the Negro while
the Jews
. . . from whom we derive our civilization, kinsman,
after the flesh, of Him whom we esteem as the Son
of God and Savious of men [are] ignominiously ejected
from hotels and watering places as unworthy the asso¬
ciation of men who had grown rich by the sale of a
brand of soap or an improved patent rat trap!72
Prejudice was again exhibited in the following passage:
. . . undoubtedly there are Jewish scoundrels in
great abundance; but the fact that there were Gentile
scoundrels in greater abundance was proven by Southern
Reconstruction.73
Still unable to resist an opportunity to express his sec¬
tional feelings, Vance affirmed that his confidence in the
Jew exceeded that he had in the Yankee:
Is there any man who hears me tonight, who if a
Yankee and a Jew were to ’’lock horns” in a regular
encounter of commercial wits, would not give large
odds on the Yankee? My opinion is that genuine
’’guessing” Yankee, with a jack-knife and a pine shin¬
gle could in two hours time whittle the smartest Jew
in New York out of his homestead in the Abrahamic
covenant.74
The "Scattered Nation” is considered by many as
72xhe Scattered Nation by Zebulon B. Vance, p. 34.
73ibid., p. 37.
74ibid., pp. 38-39.

358
Vance’s best effort. There are several factors responsi¬
ble for this; but its style is undoubtedly one of the most
important reasons for the success of the lecture. Vivid
and clear language made it easy to understand. His use
of imagery enhanced by apt and unusual quotations from
literature aided in holding the audience’s interest.
Throughout the lecture was demonstrated a highly sensi¬
tive imagination in depicting scenes he had never seen.
The following passage demonstrates a remarkable imagina¬
tion stimulated by wide reading:
In the days of Jewish prosperity, it was in all
things a fair type of this strange country and people.
Enthroned upon the hills of Judah, overflowing with
riches, the freewill offerings of a devoted people¬
decked with the barbaric splendor of eastern taste.
Tt was the rival in power and wonderous beauty of the
most magnificent cities of antiquity. Nearly every¬
one of her great competitors have mouldered into dust.
The bat and the owl inhabit their towers, and the fox
litters her young in the corridors of their palaces,
but Jerusalem still sits in solitary grandeur upon
the lonely hills, and though faded, feeble, and ruin¬
ous still towers in moral splendor above all the
spires and domes and pinnacles ever erected by human
hands. ... I must be content with asking you to
imagine what a divine prospect would burst upon the
summit of that stately tower; and picture the burning
sands of the desert far beyond the mysterious waters
of the Dead Sea on the one hand, and the shining
waves of the great sea on the other, flecked with
white of the Tyrian ships, whilst hoary Lebanon,
crowned with its diadem of perpetual snow glittered
in the morning light like a dome of fire tempered
with the emerald of its cedars—a fillet of glory
around its brow.7^
^The Scattered Nation by Zebulon B. Vance, p. 24.

359
Another reason why the ’’Scattered Nation” appealed
to people was the freshness of content. The lecture dif¬
fered from those usually delivered by Vance in that it
was a serious effort in its entirety. There was little
evidence that it was composed by a man who enjoyed a
reputation for drollery. The theme was also unique for
a southern spokesman, for the South had little reason to
be aware of the Jewish problem.
The ’’Scattered Nation” gained esteem during the
years it was being delivered, and has retained this esteem
throughout the years. It has become a part of southern
literature being reprinted in Oratory of the South, Mod¬
ern Eloquence, Library of Southern Literature, and in
three separately bound editions.^
Vance was unwilling to rest on the laurels of his
’’Scattered Nation” lecture, so he continued to speak
whenever a special occasion arose. The loss of an eye
and serious illness, however, brought a halt to his lec¬
turing in 1889. These physical handicaps were a great
emotional shock to him, and he never was quite his former
77
self during the remaining five years of his life.
^Adler, Journal of Southern History, VII, 374.
77Ibid.

CHAPTER XI
ZEBULON B. VANCE, THE SPEAKER—AN EVALUATION
Following Vance’s death, the people of North Caro¬
lina paid a final tribute, manifesting their love and
devotion to him. His body was returned from Washington
to Raleigh, and was placed in the rotunda of the capitol
where hundreds of people came sorrowfully to take their
last look at their beloved spokesman. All of North Caro¬
lina mourned, and the stations between Raleigh and Ashe¬
ville were thronged with people as the train carried his
body to its final resting place.*
The secret of Vance's personal appeal to the people
of his native state may be attributed to many factors.
His unimpeachable honesty encouraged the people’s love.
They had learned to rely on his promises and to appreciate
his generous nature. During the war he had made a great
effort to provide the necessities of life to the soldiers
and the people of the state. They were also indebted to
him for the maintenance of civil authority and the pre¬
vention of illegal arrests. Senator Matt Ransom, his
North Carolina colleague in the United States Senate,
said of him:
1Josephus Daniels, Editor in politics (Chapel Hill,
1941), p. 56.
360

361
For more than the third of a century, for upward of
thirty years, in peace and in war, in prosperity and
in adversity, in joy and in sorrow, he had stood by
them like a brother—a defender, a preserver, a de¬
liverer
The chief, and probably most significant, factor in his
personal hold on the people was, however, his ability to
speak.
For almost a half a century Vance won the adulation
of audiences in all types of speaking situations. Among
the several sources of his effectiveness as a speaker was
the fact that Vance always had something worth saying.
He obtained the material for his speeches through re¬
search and study or from his own general knowledge and
experience. His mind was never idle and he was continu¬
ally in pursuit of some general information which he
could use in his speeches.
Much of his speech material came from his reading,
and the influence of Scott, Dickens, and the Bible is
often evident. He was a systematic reader; he read by
subjects and by periods. This method gave him a reser¬
voir of literary references upon which he could draw.
The fact that Vance always had something to say
does not necessarily imply that he prepared every speech
thoroughly. Although his speeches in the Senate and his
2Memorial Addresses on the Life and Character of
Zebulon Baird Vance (.Washington, 1895;, p. 31.

362
lectures were elaborately prepared, his speeches on the
hustings were almost entirely impromptu. He claimed
that he did his best thinking on his feet, and that his
most apt illustrations and arguments were the inspiration
of the moment. This feeling was probably based on a fa¬
vorable audience response rather than a critical judg¬
ment of his speaking. According to Thomas L. Clingman,
his campaign speeches in the congressional campaign of
1858 carried the crowd because they were so filled with
jokes and nonsense. He said, "Vance told so many anec¬
dotes and made so much fun about Know-Nothingism that one-
half the crowd thought Avery was the Know-Nothing" even
though Vance belonged to the party which bore the name of
Know-Nothing.^
The process Vance used in the preparation of his
more serious speeches consisted of making notes on the
subject and writing the speeches in longhand. He would
then study the written manuscript and make corrections
by inserting new phrases. Some of his notes were used
to refute the arguments of his opponents. Several of
these notes labeled "Silver Notes"—they may be seen in
the Vance Papers—he used for his speeches on the silver
^Dowd, Life of Vance, p. 120.

363
question. One of the notes was filled with statistics,
which he had gathered from the Journal of the Royal
United Service, on the number of ships and officers in
the British Navy.^
Vance often called upon authorities to provide
information that he might use. In preparing his eulogy
on Swain, he requested help from a number of people.
An assuring letter in reply came from C. N. Hillins:
... of course you shall have from me, from my
sister and from every other source all the help
that you require in order that your most laudable
undertaking may be successful. Anything I have
in print I will send to you.
Vance’s own experiences were another source of ideas
for his speeches. The beauty of the mountain country in
which he lived as a child made a permanent impression
upon him. The majestic mountains which surrounded his
early home were probably referred to in the ’’Scattered
Nation” as those upon which he often stood and watched
’’the night flee away before the chariot wheels of the
God of day.
Another instance in which Vance drew upon his aware¬
ness of natural surroundings was in an address before the
^’’Silver Notes” MSS, Vance Papers.
5C. N. Hillins to Vance, Chapel Hill, February 14,
1871, Vance Papers.
6Mrs. J. A. Yarbrough, ’’Seeing Birthplace of Vance
to be Preserved as a Shrine,” The Uplift, XXX (August,
1942;, 18.

364
graduating class of Salem College in Winston-Salem on
June 23, 1886. He illustrated the theme that great things
have small beginnings from his observation of a small
spring at the end of Swannanoa tunnel. He explained that
the waters from the spring divided as they fell, "part
going to the east and emptying into the Atlantic Ocean;
the other running west finally reaching the Gulf of
Mexico."^
Vance secured many of his ideas for his deliberative
and demonstrative speeches from secular and Biblical
history. Shortly before his death he prepared a speech
to be delivered at a celebration of the Battle of Guil¬
ford Court House. In this address he drew upon his know¬
ledge of sacred and secular history for supporting mate¬
rials.
Explaining that commemorative events of history
were as old as recorded time, Vance said:
From time immemorial that portion of the human
race which has left any record of its actions, has
indulged the practice of commemorating the notable
events of history. The method by which this was done
was a good test of their civilization. In Genesis
it is recorded that Jacob took a stone upon which his
head had rested whilst the wonderous vision was dis¬
played to him of the angels ascending and descending
and erected it as a memorial pillar. . . . The sacred
record is full of this method of perpetuating the
memory of noted events by the priests, prophets and
people of the Jews.^
"^Raleigh News and Observer, June 23, 1886.
^"Guilford Courthouse Speech," MS, Vance Papers.

365
Using secular history to support the previous point
that memorials were as ancient as recorded history, Vance
continued:
So enduring as monuments are the great pyramids that
mankind has almost forgotten the purpose for which
they were erected. The Greeks excelled all others
in the number and artistic excellence of their com¬
memorating stones.
Whenever Vance was unable to find appropriate sup¬
porting materials for his speeches, he would call upon
his fertile imagination or retentive memory to supply
him with an apt illustration with which to reinforce his
ideas.This creativeness gave his speeches a fresh¬
ness and originality.
In developing his argumentative and persuasive
discourses Vance depended chiefly upon testimony and
statistics. These were usually gathered from reliable
sources, as is revealed by his speech before the Senate
on January 30, 1890. During the course of this speech
he attacked Northerners for continual interference with
the southern Negro. To prove that" the North's coddling
of the Negro had done irreparable harm, Vance quoted Sir
Arthur Helps. Helps was the author of several histories
dealing with the discovery of America. Portions of his
^"Guilford Courthouse Speech," MS, Vance Papers.
l°Dowd, Life of Vance, p. 221.

366
Spanish American histories were reissued as separate
biographies. One of these biographies, The Life of Las
Casas, the Apostle of the Indians, provided an excellent
example of the effect of coddling.^ Helps stated that
the considerate and gentle regulations provided by the
benevolent Las Casas to the Indians of the Pearl Coast
’•proved a sad restraint upon the energies of the race
as no man leans -Long on any person or thing without los¬
ing some of his original power and energy.'*1-2 From this
testimony Vance inferred that the same thing would happen
to the Negroes.
Making his last speech in the Senate on September 1,
1893, against the unconditional repeal of the Sherman
Silver Purchase Act, Vance used both testimony and sta¬
tistics as evidence:
An ingenuous writer in the Journal of American
Politics for September, 1893, Mr. George Canning Hill,
estimates upon a very reasonable basis that the loss
of southern planters on cotton alone, from 1873 to
1890, has been at least $83,000,000 per year, or
$1,410,000,000 in seventeen years. For the same
period he estimates the loss of the wheat-growers
of the United States at $100,000,000 per annum, or
$1,700,000,000 for the seventeen years. These are
samples of what has been inflicted on the people by
the wicked war on silver money; and the estimate may
be continued by a consideration of all other leading
articles of production of field and forest and mine.^2
H-Dowd, Life of Vance, p. 254.
12Ibid.
12Cong. Record, 53d Cong., 1 sess., p. 1130.

367
Another example of Vance’s use of statistics to
support his argument may be found in a speech delivered
before the Senate on June 25, 1884, on an appropriation
bill. The bill provided appropriations for the legis¬
lative, executive, and judicial expenses of the govern¬
ment. Arguing that there was extortion and fraud in the
collection of taxes for the operation of small distill¬
eries in North Carolina, Vance submitted the following:
In 1878 there were paid to the characters of
officers called gaugers only $3,937.31; for the year
ending June 30, 1879, $2,228.20; for the year ending
June 30, 1880, $3,519.09; for the year ending June 30,
1881, $8,306.48 and for June 30, 1882, $10,897.50.14
Vance’s use of statistics generally met the standard
tests of validity such as providing an index of the know¬
ledge needed, covering a sufficient period of time, and
being selected from reliable sources. His statistics in
the speech calling for the repeal of the Sherman law pro¬
vided an index to the losses produced by the prohibition
of unlimited coinage of silver, and those used in the
speech on appropriations showed that much money was being
spent on collecting taxes on distilleries. The second
test of having statistics cover a sufficient period of
time was also met in both of these examples. The first
set of statistics covered a seventeen-year period, and
14
Cong. Record, 48th Cong., 1 sess.,
p. 5581.

368
the second dealt with each year over a period of five
years. The last test is exemplified in another series
of statistics used in his speech before the Senate, June 25,
1884, on appropriations. Showing a reliable source, he
said:
In 1882 the Commissioner of Internal Revenue
reports that there were 976 deputy collectors. . . .
There were 867 gaugers, there were 1,000 store¬
keepers.^
Invention as practiced by Vance also included se¬
lecting illustrations and figurative expressions that
made arguments clear and vivid. One of the best examples
of his use of an illustration designed to clarify an argu¬
ment was made before the Senate on May 6, 1886, in a
speech on a bill to regulate commerce. The subject of
debate was an amendment prohibiting common carriers from
charging a higher rate for carrying freight a hundred
miles than for carrying it a thousand miles, as was the
case in some sections of the country. The defenders of
this inequity argued that charging lower rates to long-
haul customers would create more customers far removed
from the markets, and thereby enable the long-haul rail¬
roads to make more money. Vance sought to weaken his
opponents’ argument by using the following illustration:
3-^Cong. Record. 48th Cong., 1 sess., p. 5582.

¿69
I was down in the lunch-room but a short time
time ago. I took a sanditfich and a glass of milk
which was a very short haul. A senator not far from
me took a porter house steak and accompaniments.
That was a long haul. Now, do you not know that if
the keeper of the restaurant had charged me more for
the short haul than he did my neighbor for the long
haul there would have been a disturbance of the
peace in this capitol before many minutes. °
Analogies, similies, and metaphors were also used
frequently by Vance. A typical example of his use of
analogy occurred in his speech before the Senate on
March 24, 1886, in which he favored federal aid to educa¬
tion. In opposing the bill for federal aid Senator Hoar
of Massachusetts had referred to North Carolina as the
"tail state" in education. This remark infuriated Vance
who retaliated with an analogy showing the extent of his
mortification at Hoar’s remarks:
I am much in the condition of a young man of
whom I once heard who had the misfortune of being
knocked down in a fight with a circus company.
Though not much injured, he took to his bed as though
he would break his heart, and in reply to those who
endeavored to console him by telling him that any
man was liable to be knocked down, that there was
nothing in that, ‘Oh yes,’ said he, ’I know that;
but, Lord! Lord! they knocked me down with the same
stick they stirred the monkeys with.*
It is a source of mortification to me for any
Senator to get up and appeal to the figures and say
that my state is at the bottom in regard to illiter¬
acy, but it adds a pang to the sharpness of that
mortification, it adds another understory to the
depth of that humiliation, to be told so by the
Senator from the Tewksbury state; a Senator from a
^Cong. Record, 48th Cong., 1 sess., p. 4236.

370
state that has fattened on the public taxation of
the country; a state that from the very beginning
of the foundation of our Government, rather of our
struggle for independence, has sacrificed every
principle and every profession that was inconvenient
for the purpose of gain, to taunt those with poverty
who have been kept poor by the process of plunder!1'
The simile is another form of comparison used by
Vance. In the same speech on education from which the
preceding analogy was cited, Vance vividly used similes
to express the belief that the Federal government should
aid education as well as provide for the control of a
cattle disease in Texas. He said: "The diagnosis of an
ailing calf . . . towers over the educational question
like jumbo over a narrow-gauge mule or a cedar of Lebanon
over a chincapin bush."18
Along with the simile, Vance aided the economy of
word usage through the use of the metaphor. The best
examples of metaphorical phrasing are to be found in his
lecture on the "Scattered Nation." He succinctly and
vividly introduced the theme of his speech with the
following metaphors:
There is a lonely river in the midst of the
ocean of mankind. The mightiest floods of human
temptation have never caused it to overflow and the
fiercest fires of human cruelty though seven times
heated by the furnace of religious bigotry, have never
i^Cong. Record, 48th Cong., 1 sess., p. 2284.
18Ibid., p. 2209.

371
caused it to dry up, although its waves for two thou¬
sand years have rolled crimson with the blood of its
martyrs. Its fountain is in the grey dawn of the
world's history, and its mouth is somewhere in the
shadows of eternity.^
As evidence Vance also used specific instances.
In his speech on the "Last Days of the War in North Caro¬
lina" given before the Maryland Line in Baltimore on
February 25, 1885, specific instances served to substan¬
tiate his contention that Sherman’s army behaved atro¬
ciously as it marched from Georgia through North Caro¬
lina. He related one instance in which the marauders*
shot down a dozen cattle belonging to an old man and
left their carcasses lying in the yard.2u
The Federáis appeared even more barbaric under
Vance’s picturing of an instance in which four men were
hung by the neck until they were nearly dead in order to
force them to disclose the hiding place of their valu¬
ables. Upon continuing to refuse to disclose it, one of
them was shot to death.
The purely destructive nature of the march was
shown by Vance’s enumeration of the specific items de¬
stroyed at Fayetteville, North Carolina:
l^The Scattered Nation, pp. 9-10.
2upowd, Life of Vance, p. 470.
21Ibid., p. 471.

372
He [Sherman] not only burned the arsenal, one of the
finest of the United States, . . . but he burned
five private dwellings nearby, he burned the principal
printing office, that of the old Fayetteville Ob¬
server, he burned the Old Bank of North Carolina,
eleven warehouses, five cotton mills and quite a
number of private dwellings in other parts of town,
whilst in the suburbs almost a clean sweep was made;
in one locality nine houses were burned.22
These specific instances represent evidence gained
from Vance’s own observations or from close association
with primary sources. From this evidence he was able to
argue from sign and support his original proposition that
the acts of Sherman’s army were cruel and barbaric.
Vance did not depend solely upon logical materials
as support. He carefully considered the audience appeals
that he might use to obtain a favorable response. The
following passage from the ’’Scattered Nation” demonstrates
an appeal to the altruistic motive:
So may the real spirit of Christ yet be triumphantly
infused amongst those who profess to obey his teach¬
ings, that with one voice and one hand they will
stay the persecutions and hush the sorrows of these
their wonderous kinsmen, put them forward into the
places of honor and homes of love where all the lands
in which they dwell, shall be to them as was Jerusa¬
lem to their fathers.23
Balance between the logical and emotional did not
exist in all of Vance's speeches. In some he became
highly emotional and resorted to name calling, or appealed
to tradition, humor, or fear. This type of speaking
22powd, Life of Vance, p. 470.
^The Scattered Nation, p. 41.

373
usually occurred before an unlettered mountain audience
who came to hear him proclaim his political views in ver¬
bose, colorful language. Typical of his emotional speak¬
ing was the '’Ruffin Barbecue Speech.” In discussing the
Republican party, he declared, "The Fountain and author
of it was Thaddeus Stevens--who has lately gone to his
long home—or to Red Sulphur Springs for the summer.”
Moving quickly from one prejudiced statement to another,
he told of the man whom he had met a few days earlier in
Lincoln County:
He got up and made a speech--said he abhorred
radicalism and was opposed to its tenets—but he
meant to vote for Grant and Colfax. He was one of
your radical Democrats—a heavenly hell of a fellow,
who was entirely opposed to all the doings of hell,
but mighty in favor of the devil himself.24
Another example of motive appeal is to be found in
the lecture Vance presented in Boston on the "Political
and Social Feeling of the South During the War.” Appeal¬
ing to the native Bostonians’ sense of pride, Vance ex¬
plained that the Twenty-ninth North Carolina regiment
was’led by the gallant Henry Burgwyn, the son of a noble
Boston woman.
The impelling motives of both pride and patriotism
were present in his speech in Fayetteville on May 4,
1864. Speaking in opposition to Holden’s peace movement,
24Milton Chronicle, September 17, 1868.
25Boston Globe, December 8, 1886.

374
Vance declared:
But if the state were to join Lincoln—an un¬
support able case--that would not be peace. Her sons
would be forced into the Yankee armies, her treasures
required by taxation to support them. Is there a
man who would not prefer that his son should fall
gloriously in battling for our rights and liberty,
rather than to meet such a dishonorable fate?^6
By his own admission, Vance appealed to the sense
of humor of his mountain audiences. He recalled in his
lecture, ’’The Humorous Side of Politics":
I found very soon that one of the most successful
ways of approaching the common people of the mountains
was by an appeal to that sense of humor and by an
exhibition of entire candor in the expression of
opinion and courage in the maintenance thereof.^7
Vance often used narratives to support his ideas.
If he could not recall a suitable story from memory, he
would invent one for the occasion. Being well supplied
with brief anecdotes, he used them freely. He drew heav¬
ily on emotionally-charged narratives, such as the one he
used to demonstrate the high degree of enthusiasm that
prevailed in his campaign against Settle in 1876. Claim¬
ing to have entered Mitchell County believing that the
people were three to one against him, he explained that
this belief was soon changed by an occurrence along the
way. About three miles over the county line Vance and
2ÓRaleigh Conservative, May 4, 1864.
^Frontis W. Johnston, "Zebulon B. Vance: a Per¬
sonality Sketch," North Carolina Historical Review,
XXX (April, 1953./, p. 187.

375
his party stopped at a spring for water. A woman was
sitting nearby under an apple tree. She brought them a
cup, and seeing him she screamed out, "Great goodness!
Ain’t that Zeb Vance?" "And then it was," said Vance,
"she reversed the order of things as they had it on me
in Randolph, and instead of my squeezing a Woman’s thumbs
under the fence, she hugged me."2^
Closely related to the process of invention is the
second division of rhetoric known as disposition, which
is concerned with arrangement of the materials gathered
in invention and the planning of the speech as a whole.
Vance’s speeches usually demonstrated a high degree of
skill and workmanship in this respect. A clearly stated
theme emerged early in most of them. This characteristic
may be observed in his speech before the Southern Histori¬
cal Society at White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, on
August 18, 1875. In his introduction he said he could
do no better than give information on the part North
Carolina played in the Civil War. The theme was more
specifically stated in the following statement in which
Vance said:
2®Dowd, Life of Vance, p. 154.

376
I desire to show what is true, that in the number of
soldiers furnished, in the discipline, courage and
loyalty, and difficult service of those soldiers, in
amount of materials and supplies contributed, in the
good faith and moral support of her people at large,
and in all qualities which mark self-sacrifice, patri¬
otism and devotion to duty, North Carolina is entitled
to stand where her troops stood, behind no state, but
in front rank of the Confederation, aligned and abreast
with the best, the foremost and the bravest.^9
Vance's speeches were developed with special at¬
tention to the major divisions. His introductions were
usually designed to gain attention and to obtain audience
rapport. In his ’’Guilford Courthouse Speech” he began
by congratulating the audience on the pleasant surround¬
ings. By stating that he had never failed to respond
when called upon by the people of North Carolina and that
he was here to do all he could to help celebrate the Battle
of Guilford Courthouse, Vance won the audience’s favor.3d
On the other hand, Vance sometimes weakened his
introductions by making apologies. In the ’’Guilford
Courthouse Speech” he used negative suggestion, telling
the audience that he regretted that his health had not
permitted him to prepare a more elaborate speech.31 The
audience at Trinity College heard a similar apology in
29”Address Delivered by Gov. Vance, Before the
Southern Historical Society, at White Sulphur Springs,
West Virginia, August 18, 1875,” Our Living and Our Dead,
II (November, 1875;, p. 612.
30"Guilford Courthouse Speech” MS, Vance Papers.
31ibid*

377
his Commencement address on June 9, 1881. He expressed
regret that the shortness of the notice had prevented him
from preparing the kind of address he would like to de¬
liver to such an audience.32
We may wonder why Vance continued to make apologies
when he was aware that they contributed nothing to his
speeches. In a commencement address at Salem College
on June 23, 1886, he stated that an apology showed poor
taste, but following the statement he apologized for hav¬
ing had insufficient time to prepare:
In justice to myself I will state that the distin¬
guished gentleman from Kentucky did not inform me
until the last moment yesterday of his inability
to be present here today [which] only allowed me a
few hours to prepare mv address, pack my valise and
get here in time.. . .33
Vance’s introductions were usually brief. He spoke
for fully two hours in Boston on ’’The Political and Social
South During the War,” but his introduction lasted no more
than two minutes. Using a brief introduction to gain at¬
tention and state his theme, he said:
My presence here tonight, ladies and gentlemen,
occasions me a degree of embarrassment. I was prom¬
inently involved in the affairs about which I propose
to speak, having taken an active part in both the
military and civil transactions of my state during
the period of the war. On the one hand I am under
the duress of your hospitality, which tempts me on
the other hand, I somewhat fear that, if I should be
32charlotte Observer, June 11, 1881.
•^Raleigh News and Observer, June 23, 1886.

378
too plain spoken, I might become liable to the charge
of abusing the privileges of a guest. Should I fail
in properly avoiding either extremes, I beg you to
give me credit for good intentions at least. I
honestly desire to speak the simple truth as it ap¬
pears to me. This I believe is what you wish to
hear! Necessarily my remarks will be discursive and
with no pretentions to the preciseness and continuity
of narration which should characterize a historical
essay. I shall endeavor to entertain you for a brief
space with the ideas and observations of occurrences
as they appeared to a Southern man concerning the
great Civil War.34
The content of Vance’s speeches often was weak in
audience adaptation, but his use of humor usually over¬
came this difficulty. His humor also removed the sting
from the sharp invective and sarcasm which he was prone
to use.According to William M. Robbins, Vance’s humor
could hold an audience spellbound while he informed and
persuaded them. Referring to a speech he heard Vance
make at Newton, North Carolina in lo88, Robbins said,
”His speech was a wonderful specimen of pure didactics
made as entertaining as a comedy.”36
Somehow, Vance possessed the ability to combine
the humorous and serious material into a unified pattern.
A review of Vance’s speeches reveals that his prepared
speeches usually followed the chronological or topical
order of arrangement. His propositions were promoted by
34Boston Globe, December 8, 1886.
35Raleigh News and Observer, August 22, 1900.
36powd, Life of Vance, pp. 198-199.

379
main points supported by numerous subordinate points.
In his address on the "Last Days of the War in North
Carolina" given in Baltimore on February 23, 1885, he
used three main heads arranged in chronological order with
no less than three subordinate points in each.37 As
shown in the preceding chapter, his most famous lecture,
"The Scattered Nation," has four main points arranged in
topical order.
The conclusions of Vance’s speeches did not conform
to any particular pattern. Some were good and others
were exceedingly poor. One of the shortest and poorest
conclusions was the one used in the lecture, "Last Days
of the War in North Carolina." After relating the history
of the last days of the war, he abruptly ended with these
words: "But I must close. I thank you and bid you all
good-bye."38
Some of Vance’s conclusions appeared to do nothing
more than reinforce the good-will of the audience. Such
conclusions were of little value in advancing the purpose
of the speech. The peroration to the lecture on "The
Political and Social South During the War" was a conclusion
of this type:
I thank you ladies and gentlemen of my audience
most earnestly for their presence and attention; I
thank you Union soldiers of Massachusetts, for this
3?Dowd, Life of Vance, pp. 463-493.
38Ibid., p. 493.

380
opportunity of saying in your midst a word in behalf
of those who fought and suffered and lost. 9
Vance made little use of summary conclusions al¬
though they would have been beneficial. ~His longer speech¬
es needed this type of summary to give understanding and
a composite view of the speech as a whole. Sometimes his
general purpose changed during the course of the speech,
and his conclusions did nothing to clarify this situation.
Such a conclusion was that of his commencement address at
Wake Forest College on June 26, 1872, in which he deviated
from his original purpose to inform and sought to motivate
his listeners with this plea:
Resolve as you must become partisans--for govern¬
ments are necessarily controlled by parties—that you
will remain patriots. Labor incessantly to preserve
bright and pure the sacred flame of liberty amid all
the temptations and wayward tendencies of the age.
Pray for the prosperity of our political zion, that
her strength may be as her days require; that as her
foes assault, her towers may rise higher, her battle¬
ments become stronger and her bulwarks increased,
until she stands victorious over kings and princi¬
palities and powers, and all the weary of the earth
are gathered securely beneath the peaceful shadow of
her walls. u
Any weakness in Vance’s disposition of materials
was overshadowed by his excellence in style. Although
Vance was painstaking in his choice of words, his language
39Boston Globe, December 8, 1886.
4bAddress by Z. B. Vance Delivered Before the Grad¬
uating Class and Literary Societies of Wake Forest College,
June 26, 1872 ^Raleigh, 1872;, p. 22.

381
never appeared studied or labored. His style was marked
chiefly by its simplicity, directness, and clarity. He
usually chose words that were familiar and vivid enough
to hold attention of his audience. Illustrating such a
choice of words is this brief passage from a speech de¬
livered in Fayetteville, May 4, 1864:
This is the crisis of our fate. Before the now
budding leaves shall have withered and fallen our
fate will be decided. This is the time of trial.
It is easy to serve one’s country in time of peace,
and even when this war began and every young man was
ready to march, and grey haired men and ladies and
boys cheered, it was easy and glorious. . . . The
privations of the succeeding three years have brought
a need of a different spirit — a brave, pure, unself¬
ish patriotism, willing to act, to suffer and even
to die for the country.
For his formal lectures Vance chose less simple
words, and used sentences that were more complex. He,
however, appeared less florid than many of his contem¬
poraries, and seldom reached the point of ostentation.
Audiences attending paid lectures were usually the more
enlightened members of a community, who would understand
such passages as the following from ’’The Duties of Defeats
Perhaps in modern annals there will scarcely
be found a parallel to the complete ruin and impover¬
ishment of the people of the Southern States. Abso¬
lute annihilation of a great community by armed
violence is deemed scarcely possible in modern times,
though instances are not wanting among the ancients,
41
Raleigh Conservative, May 4, 1864.

382
before a humane code of international law had inter¬
posed to protect the weak against the strong, and
mitigate the horrors of war. The most wonderful
example was that of Carthage.--Though her walls were
twenty-seven miles in circumference, and she should
keep five hundred elephants for the public amusements;
though she could send three hundred thousand soldiers
to the invasion of Greece, . . . yet the iron hand
of her rival smote her so utterly in the dust that
there is not a vestige left.44
At another point in the lecture, his language was designed
for an educated audience: "The whole scene reminds one of
the portraiture of Rome drawn by one of the panegyrists
when addressing the Emperor Theodosius."43
Vance’s use of vivid language had its drawbacks
at times. He frequently chose words that would have been
disapproved by rhetoricians who advocated the use of rep¬
utable words. He used many words and idioms that might
be classed as vulgarisms. In his "Ruffin Barbecue Speech,"
he spoke of a "heavenly hell of a fellow," asked "How in
the devil is that?" and referred to "shutting his fly¬
trap down on him."44
Such vulgarisms were common in Vance's political
speeches. In his campaign against Settle he called the
Radicals "the greatest set of striped back and ring-
42The Duties of Defeat, p. 6.
43Ibid., p. 7.
44Milton Chronicle, September 17, 1868.

383
tailed-rascals ever seen."^^ Again in the same campaign,
he said, "If we only keep up the good work we’ll beat the
buggers so bad their mammies won’t know them."^
Many stories that do not bear repeating in polite
society were attributed to Vance. Because of his vul¬
garity William E. Dodd, the southern historian, refused
to rate him as a representative of North Carolina civili¬
zation. He said of him:
No man in our history has ever been guilty of
telling so many filthy stories as he. The larger
number of such stories I heard in my youth and
which can not be erased from the memory, came from
Vance. He tried to teach our people that it was
humorous, that it was not harmful to paint every
moral with a dirty joke. Even the virtue of his
wife made the subject of these stories. 7
Robert E. Ransom recalled that as a child his mother
was disturbed over his hearing Vance tell a story that
she did not want her son to repeat. He remembered that
Vance could get by with stories that other speakers could
not tell.4*5
The secret of Vance’s success with vulgarity and
common language lay in the fact that he knew which audi¬
ences would appreciate his stories. Many of his political
^Raleigh Sentinel, October 24, 1876.
46Ibid.
47Raleigh News and Observer, December 17, 1905.
48Beasley's Weekly, June 25, 1942.

384
speeches were attended by crude mountain men who liked
his rough and tumble style. Vance needed their votes,
so his use of the language of the street became a means
to an end. In the opinion of Robert Winston, who re¬
membered Vance’s speaking, he could not have won the
election over Settle in 1876 except for his earthy remarks
and jokes.
The soldiers to whom Vance spoke also enjoyed his
earthy style. He used language that placed him on their
level as he urged them to stay in the fight. Speaking
to the soldiers in Virginia, he said:
Boys, if you want peace you must go to the heart
of Pennsylvania, and there fight till hell freezes
over as hard as a lightwood tree. Boys, you must
fight till you fill hell so full of Yankees that
their feet will stick out the windows.5 A further analysis of Vance’s style reveals a fair¬
ly orderly composition. He had sufficient variety in
sentence patterns to bréale monotony. The majority of his
sentences were consistent with speech style in that they
were short. Robert Winston said that his sentences were
"usually short and pungent."51 The following sentences
from his speech to the graduating class at Wake Forest
College snow a variety of sentence structure with a pre-
^Raleigh News and Observer, December 17, 1905.
SORaleigh Conservative, May 18, 1864.
SlRaleigh News and Observer, December 17, 1905.

385
dominance of short sentences:
It has long been the opinion of many good and
wise men that the tendencies of the northern portion
of our people were towards a too absorbed devotion
to material development, and that they were fast
drifting away from the simple tenets which are the
basis of our freedom. But it can no longer be charged
upon the North alone. We of the South are fast be¬
coming slaves to the same ideas and pursuits. The
great despair which seized us after defeat, the stings
of poverty and bitter, bitter humiliation, have
brought about this consequence. We hear much said,
now, and by those who should know better, about the
injudicious agitations of the politicians. People
are advised to let politics alone, to seek wealth
and develop their country; dig ores from its bosom
and build railroads upon its face, and encourage
immigration.
Although Vance's critics often credited his de¬
livery with being the sole source of his success, an
analysis of his speeches does not substantiate this
view.
Even though his delivery was usually extemporaneous,
he sometimes read from manuscript. This was especially
true of his later more serious speeches. His effective¬
ness was somevihat handicapped by this method, because
it stifled his spontaneous wit. A busy schedule often
forced him to speak impromptu which he did with apparent
ease. Of course, his impromptu efforts were often poor
in content. This he admitted in a letter to Swain:
^Address by Z. B. Vance Delivered Before the Grad¬
uating Class and' Literary Societies of Wake forest Col¬
lege, June 26, 1872, p. 19.

386
I shall have to depend on a compilation of most
threadbare platitudes, touching only here and there
upon the situation with such boldness as a Roman
Senator might display in delivering an oration before
Tiberius.53
But Vance was at his best when speaking extemporaneously.
According to Senator Ransom, he studied and meditated upon
the points of his speech until he had mastered them fully.54
This enabled him to speak fluently and to include or ex¬
clude material at will.
There is very little information available on
Vance’s bodily movements and gestures while speaking.
Evidently he used them sparingly. Those who heard him
speak said that he never ranted or engaged in stage
tricks.According to his own statement, he said that
he was speaking, and his hand was "raised in gesture"
when the news of the bombardment of Fort Sumter reached
him.55 on accepting the gubernatorial nomination for the
third time, he held up both hands in a descriptive gesture
as he proclaimed that they had not been stained by dis¬
honest money. Apparently his speeches were enhanced by
his facial expression. A reporter for the Fayetteville
53vance to Swain, May 24, 1886, Vance Papers.
54Memorial Addresses on the Life and Character of
Zebulon Baird Vance, p. 28.
55charlotte Observer, October 12, 1941.
56Boston Globe, December 9, 1886

387
Observer said that while speaking his eyes and manners
bespoke the calmness and courage of the trying times in
which he lived.^
Perhaps the greatest asset of Vance's delivery was
his voice, the power of which enabled him to be heard in
audiences of any size, and in any type of speaking situa¬
tion. Although much of his speaking was done in the open
air, he was always heard with ease. One critic said that
Vance "was a man of force and with all his joyous genial¬
ity something of the lion in his makeup."^8 The quality
of his voice was extremely pleasant and his tones rich
and resonant. These tones, combined with forceful pro¬
jection, gave it excellent carrying power.
In order to keep pace with his rapid flow of thoughts,
Vance spoke with lightning-like speed. His speed, however,
did not interfere with comprehension, because his articu¬
lation was clear and precise.Vance was expressive
when he spoke and was free from any stereotyped patterns.
He could easily adapt to the mood of the occasion. W. J.
Feele stated he could "well remember the low melancholy
^Fayetteville Observer, December 17, 1886.
58charlotte Observer, October 12, 1941.
59Ibid.

388
and the effortless pathos of his voice as he delivered
his eulogy on Governor Swain.But despite the skill
with which he manipulated his voice, there was no af¬
fectation. He was interested in delivery only as it might
serve to give emphasis to the arguments and ideas which
he wished to communicate.
Vance’s appearance and personality contributed much
to the effectiveness of his delivery. He was an extremely
handsome man, with a robust, broad-shouldered physique.
His tall two hundred and thirty pound frame towered above
the platform from which he spoke. The only distracting
feature was his right leg which had been shortened by a
fall from an apple tree when he was a boy. He wore a
high heel on his right shoe, and this gave him an ambling
gait as he approached the platform.Before it turned
grey, his long raven hair was combed back from his low,
broad forehead, and a mustache almost hid his ever present
smile.63
Vance was usually jovial while speaking. In de¬
scribing him as he appeared at White Sulphur Springs,
6°Peele, Lives of Distinguished North Carolinians,
p. 278.
^Hamilton, Reconstruction in North Carolina, p. 649.
62powd, Life of Vance, p. 125.
63Fayetteville Observer, September 12, 1895, quoting
Nell W. Ray, a frequent visitor in Vance’s home.

38v
West Virginia, C. S. Wooten said: MAs he came out to
speak on ’The Demagogue,' there was a comical, mirthful
smile on his face."64 He possessed a personal magnetism
which seemed to draw all men to him. When he took the
platform every eye in the audience turned upon him. The
man was greater than his own words, and his presence was
always inspiring.
In spite of the honor and praise heaped on Vance by
his native state, imperfections frequently occurred in
his speaking. North Carolinians, however, usually viewed
these imperfections as assets. When he was poorly pre¬
pared for a speech, he could joke his way through it to
the satisfaction of his audience. Vance was not a bril¬
liant scholar, but common sense and intuitive judgment
prevented this from being an obstacle to his communicating
with his audiences, which were composed mostly of rural
North Carolinians. His lack of dignity was compensated
for by his friendliness. Every man in the audience,
whether rich or poor, felt that Vance was his friend. So
abundant was his humor that he was thought by some to be
a mere jester with a lively mind and a supply of anecdotes,
and nothing more. Indeed, he was well supplied with jokes,
both clean and dirty, but he said himself that he never
64
Raleigh News and Observer, August 6, 1916.

told a story in a speech except for a purpose. Often the
purpose was to please a group of rugged mountaineers.
The expression "not without honor save in his own
country” did not apply to Vance. North Carolina honored
and revered him as they had no other person in the history
of the state.
Vance's strong devotion to North Carolina prevented
his achieving his full potential as a national figure.
Selfish for the rights of his state, he gave a sectional
slant to most of his speeches. This characteristic en¬
deared him more strongly to the people of his state. In
his eulogy on Vance, Senator Ransom said:
He was of them. He was one of them. He was with
them. His thoughts, his feelings, his words were
theirs. He was their shepherd, their champion, their
guide, blood of their blood, great, good, noble, true,
human like they were in all respects, no better, but
wiser, abler, with higher knowledge and profounder
learning.
In spite of the shortcomings in Vance's speeches,
he possessed the capabilities for achieving greatness as
a speaker. These capabilities were most adequately sum¬
marized by Senator Hoke Smith of Georgia:
He was a wonderful orator. With powerful logic,
he could array facts in simple language, clear and con¬
vincing. With a humor and wit never equalled, he could
65
Dowd, Life of Vance, p. 336.

391
delight audiences, while he charmed them with his
pathos and won them with his logic.66
Strength, force, clarity, sincerity, simplicity, humor,
power of argument, and emotional appeal are the qualities
that overshadowed Vance’s shortcomings. He richly de¬
served the title of Tarheel Spokesman.
^^Raleigh News and Observer , June 23, 1916.

BIBLIOGRAPHY
Manuscripts
Graham, William Alexander. Papers. 15 MS boxes. North
Carolina State Department of Archives and History,
Raleigh, North Carolina.
Gudger-Love. Papers. Southern Historical Collection,
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North
Carolina.
Hale, Edward Jones. Papers. 3 vols. North Carolina
State Department of Archives and History, Raleigh,
North Carolina.
Spencer, Mrs. Cornelia Phillips. Papers, 1859-19u5.
2 vols. of mounted papers and 1 MS box. North
Carolina State Department of Archives and History,
Raleigh, North Carolina.
Swain, David Lowry. Papers. 11 MS boxes. North Caro¬
lina State Department of Archives and History,
Raleigh, North Carolina.
Vance, Zebulon Baird, tapers. 18 vols. of mounted papers
and 6 MS boxes. North Carolina State Department
of Archives and History, Raleigh, North Carolina.
Newspapers
Asheville Citizen, 1881.
Asheville News, 1862.
Asheville Weekly Citizen, 1858.
Asheville Weekly News, 1858.
Atlanta Constitution, 1881.
Beasley^ Weekly, ly42.
392

Biblical Recorder, 1862-1888.
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394
Salem People’s Free Press, 1862.
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39v
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40U
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BIOGRAPHICAL DATA
Franklin R. Shirley was born on June 17, 1917, at
Glencoe, Kentucky. He received his A. B. degree with
majors in English and education and minors in speech and
history from Georgetown College in 1938. He taught in
the public schools of Kentucky from 1934 to 1941 and in
the Ohio .Public Schools from 1941-1943. During these
years he completed the course requirements for a Master's
degree in school administration and supervision at the
University of Cincinnati. In 1943 he became an instructor
in English and speech at Baylor School for Boys in Chat¬
tanooga, Tennessee, and served in this capacity until
1946. He resigned from Baylor in the spring of 1946 to
become an associate professor of speech at Carson-Newman
College, Jefferson City, Tennessee. In 1948 Columbia
University conferred the M. A. degree in speech upon him,
and in the fall of that year he became an instructor in
speech at Wake Forest College where he now is an assist¬
ant professor in speech and the chairman of the Division
of Speech and Drama. He is a member of Pi Kappa Delta,
Alpha Psi Omega, and Omicron Delta Kappa honor fraterni¬
ties.
401

This dissertation was prepared under the direction
of the chairman of the candidate’s supervisory committee
and has been approved by all members of that committee.
It was submitted to the Dean of the College of Arts and
Sciences and to the Graduate Council, and was approved
as partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree
of Doctor of philosophy.
August 8, 1959
Sciences
Dean, Graduate School
SUPERVISORY COMMITTEE: