William Woods Holden


William Woods Holden

William Woods Holden (November 24, 1818 – March 1, 1892) was the governor of North Carolina in 1865 and from 1868 to 1871. He was the leader of the state's Republican Party during Reconstruction. He was the second governor in American history to be impeached, but the first to be removed from office.

Early life

Holden was born and raised near what is now Eno River State Park in present-day Durham County. Around the age of 10, he began a six-year apprenticeship with Dennis Heartt at the "Hillsborough Recorder" newspaper (in Hillsborough, North Carolina). By the age of 19, Holden was working as a printer and writer at the "Raleigh Star", in Raleigh, North Carolina. He studied law, was admitted to the bar in 1841, and became a member of the Whig party. In 1843, he became owner and editor of the "North Carolina Standard" newspaper, and changed party affiliation to the Democratic party (the "Standard" was a Democratic paper, and Holden had difficulty with the aristocratic tendencies of some Whigs). When Holden took over the paper, it was struggling financially, but it became one of the most widely-read newspapers in the state under his leadership.

Political career

In December 1843, Holden officially began his Democratic Party activism as a delegate to the state party convention, and he was elected to the North Carolina Democratic Party state executive committee. [Folk, Edgar E. and Bynum Shaw. 1982. p. 37.] In 1846, Holden was elected by Wake County voters to the North Carolina House of Commons. He did not run for re-election after serving one term. [Folk, Edgar E. and Bynum Shaw. 1982. p. 45. Note that many sources say Holden was elected in 1844, but this is incorrect.] As the "eloquent propagandist" of the Democratic Party, Holden was a key contributor to his party's successes in 1850, which ended years of Whig dominance in the state. [Folk, Edgar E. and Bynum Shaw. 1982. p. 64.] In 1858, he unsuccessfully attempted to gain the Democratic gubernatorial nomination (losing to John W. Ellis), and then his party passed him over for a U.S. Senate seat.

Throughout the 1840s and 1850s, Holden advocated Southern rights to expand slavery and at times championed the right of secession, but by 1860 he had shifted his position to support the Union. [ [http://docsouth.unc.edu/bios/pn0000761_bio.html] Dead link|date=March 2008] He and his newspaper fell out of favor with the state Democratic Party, and he was removed as the state's printer, when he cautiously editorialized against secession in 1860. [Folk, Edgar E. and Bynum Shaw. 1982. p. 123.] In 1861, Holden was sent to a State Convention to vote against secession by the voters of Wake County. But after President Abraham Lincoln called on North Carolina to provide troops to militarily suppress the seceding states, Holden joined in the unanimous vote to secede from the Union.

As the Civil War progressed, Holden became an outspoken critic of the Confederate government, and also a leader of the North Carolina peace movement. In 1864, he was the unsuccessful "peace candidate" against incumbent Governor Zebulon B. Vance. [ [http://www.ourcampaigns.com/RaceDetail.html?RaceID=60139 Our Campaigns - NC CSA Governor Race - Aug 04, 1864 ] ] Vance won overwhelmingly, and Holden carried only three counties: Johnston, Randolph, and Wilkes. [Folk, Edgar E. and Bynum Shaw. 1982. p. 86.]

After the war's end in 1865, Holden was appointed Governor by President Andrew Johnson, and played a central role in stabilizing the state during the first days of Reconstruction (he placed the "Standard" in the hands of his son, Joseph W. Holden). He was defeated by Jonathan Worth in a special 1865 election for governor. [ [http://www.ourcampaigns.com/RaceDetail.html?RaceID=60133 Our Campaigns - NC Governor Race - Nov 09, 1865 ] ] Johnson then nominated Holden to be minister to El Salvador, but the Senate rejected his nomination. He returned to editing the "Standard", became president of the North Carolina Union League, and organized the Republican Party in the state in 1866-67. [Folk, Edgar E. and Bynum Shaw. 1982. p. 203.] While voters were approving the new state constitution, Holden was elected governor at the head of the Republican ticket in 1868, defeating Thomas Samuel Ashe. [ [http://www.ourcampaigns.com/RaceDetail.html?RaceID=68470 Our Campaigns - NC Governor Race - Apr 21, 1868 ] ] When he was elected governor, Holden gave up editorship and ownership of the "Standard". [Folk, Edgar E. and Bynum Shaw. 1982. p. 206.]

Governor, 1868 – 71

To combat the Ku Klux Klan, Holden hired two dozen detectives in 1869-70. The detective unit was not overly successful in limiting Klan activities, yet Holden's efforts to suppress the Klan exceeded those of other Southern governors. When he called out the militia against the Klan in 1870, imposed martial law in two counties, and suspended the writ of habeas corpus for accused leaders of the Klan, the result was a political backlash that lost the Republicans the upcoming legislative election. [Wade, 1987, p. 85.] [ [http://www.rootsweb.com/~ncccha/memoranda/kirkholdenwar.html Kirk-Holden War ] ]

After the Democratic Party regained majorities in both houses of the state legislature, he was impeached by the North Carolina House of Representatives on December 14, 1870. [Folk, Edgar E. and Bynum Shaw. 1982. p. 223.] Despite being defended by well-known attorneys such as Nathaniel Boyden and William Nathan Harrell Smith, Holden was convicted on six of the eight charges against him by the North Carolina Senate in straight party-line votes on March 22, 1871. The other two charges received majority votes, but not the required two-thirds majorities. [Folk, Edgar E. and Bynum Shaw. 1982. p. 234.] Holden was the first governor in American history to be impeached and removed from office (although Gov. Charles L. Robinson of Kansas was the first American governor to be impeached). [Folk, Edgar E. and Bynum Shaw. 1982. p. 227.]

After being removed from office, he moved to Washington, D.C. where he again worked for a newspaper. A few years later he returned to Raleigh, where President Ulysses Grant appointed him postmaster from 1873 to 1881. Raleigh Republicans persuaded President James Garfield not to re-appoint him to his post, and Holden subsequently left the party. [Folk, Edgar E. and Bynum Shaw. 1982. p. 236.] He died in 1892 and is buried at Historic Oakwood Cemetery in Raleigh.

He was recognized as "one of the foremost men in intellectual power and daring that were ever born here" by North Carolinian Walter Hines Page.

References

Primary sources

* [http://docsouth.unc.edu/fpn/holden/holden.html "Memoirs of W. W. Holden" (published 1911) complete text]
* Holden, William Woods. "The Papers of William Woods Holden. Vol. 1: 1841-1868." Horace Raper and Thornton W. Mitchell, ed. Raleigh, Division of Arch. and Hist., Dept. of Cultural Resources, 2000. 457 pp.

econdary sources

* Harris, William C. "William Woods Holden: in Search of Vindication." "North Carolina Historical Review" 1982 59(4): 354-372. ISSN 0029-2494
* Harris, William C. "William Woods Holden, Firebrand of North Carolina Politics." Louisiana State U. Press, 1987. 332 pp.
* Folk, Edgar E. "W.W. Holden, Political Journalist, Editor of N.C. Standard, 1843-1865." Ph. D. dissertation, Department of English, George Peabody College for Teachers. Nashville. 1934.
* Folk, Edgar E. and Bynum Shaw. "W.W. Holden: A Political Biography". Winston-Salem: John F. Blair, publisher, 1982. ISBN 0-89587-025-8.
* Massengill, Stephen E. "The Detectives of William W. Holden, 1869-1870." "North Carolina Historical Review" 1985 62(4): 448-487. ISSN 0029-2494
* Raper, Horace W. "William W. Holden: North Carolina's Political Enigma" U. of North Carolina Press, 1985. 376 pp.
* Reid, Richard. "William W. Holden and 'Disloyalty' in the Civil War." "Canadian Journal of History" 1985 20(1): 23-44. ISSN 0008-4107 Fulltext online in Ebsco
* Wade, Wyn Craig. "The Fiery Cross: The Ku Klux Klan in America." New York: Simon and Schuster. 1987.

External links

* [http://docsouth.unc.edu/browse/bios/pn0000761_bio.html Bio from Dictionary of NC Biography]
* [http://www.itpi.dpi.state.nc.us/governors/Holden.html Information on Holden from NC Department of Public Instruction]
* [http://ncccha.blogspot.com/2005/11/william-woods-holden-1818-1892.html William Woods Holden (1818-1892), from the Caswell County Historical Association]

Notes


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