Monday, April 19, 2010

Zebulon Baird Vance (1830-1894)

Zeb Vance: North Carolina's Civil War Governor and Gilded Age Political Leader, Gordon B. McKinney (2004).

In this comprehensive biography of the man who led North Carolina through the Civil War and, as a U.S. senator from 1878 to 1894, served as the state's leading spokesman, Gordon McKinney presents Zebulon Baird Vance (1830-94) as a far more complex figure than has been previously recognized.

Vance campaigned to keep North Carolina in the Union, but after Southern troops fired on Fort Sumter, he joined the army and rose to the rank of colonel. He was viewed as a champion of individual rights and enjoyed great popularity among voters. But McKinney demonstrates that Vance was not as progressive as earlier biographers suggest. Vance was a tireless advocate for white North Carolinians in the Reconstruction Period, and his policies and positions often favored the rich and powerful.

McKinney provides significant new information about Vance's third governorship, his senatorial career, and his role in the origins of the modern Democratic Party in North Carolina. This new biography offers the fullest, most complete understanding yet of a legendary North Carolina leader.

About the Author

Gordon B. McKinney is director of the Appalachian Center and professor of history at Berea College. He is coauthor of The Heart of Confederate Appalachia: Western North Carolina in the Civil War and coeditor of the microfilm edition of The Papers of Zebulon Vance.

Source: The University of North Carolina Press

Zebulon Baird Vance was North Carolina's Civil War governor. Born on Reems Creek May 13, 1830, Vance attended Newton Academy and the University of North Carolina. He began law practice in Asheville in May 1852. Two years later, he was named Buncombe County's representative to the N. C. House of Commons and during 1856-1860 served in the U. S. House of Representatives. A captain and colonel in the Confederate Army in 1861, Vance was governor of North Carolina from 1862-1865 and again in 1876. He was elected U. S. Senator from North Carolina on March 4, 1879 and served until April 14, 1894, when he died in Washington, D. C. He is buried in Asheville's Riverside Cemetery.

Vance is A Prominent Figure in WNC History by Dorothy Gillam Bryant

At the time the Vance Monument was erected on Pack Square in 1898, it was said that Zebulon Baird Vance was the most admired and beloved statesman in North Carolina’s history. He was born May 13, 1830, in the house built by his grandfather, David Vance I, on Reems Creek north of Asheville. His family was among the first settlers in Beaverdam Valley. Zebulon was one of the eight children of David II and Mira Baird Vance, daughter of Zebulon Baird. Both grandfathers were prominent in Buncombe County. Zeb’s older brother, Robert, wrote about the Vance name, stating their ancestry was from Normandy: Devaux in France, Vaux in Scotland and England and Vance in Ireland.

Zebulon’s native wit was owed to the Baird family. He was said to be witty and humorous, had abundant vitality and love of fun. He had great respect for sacred things. He was at ease anywhere and in any company. His personality was not only strong and attractive but also overwhelming. He was exceedingly handsome of form and feature — nearly 6 feet tall. In 1853, Vance married Harriette Newell Espy. They had four sons: Charles Noel, David Mitchell, Zebulon, Jr., and Thomas M. The young lawyer was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1859, where he served three terms. When the Civil War broke out, Vance became captain of the Rough and Ready Guards. Eventually he was elected colonel of the NC 26th Regiment. In 1862, Vance became the wartime governor of North Carolina. He was re-elected in 1876 by a large majority. His wife and his mother both died in 1878. In 1880, he was again elected to the United States Senate, and he also remarried that year to Florence Stede Martin of Kentucky.

Vance remained in the Senate until his death April 14, 1894, after a period of declining health. The funeral was held in Asheville, and he was buried in Riverside Cemetery. The homeplace of Zebulon Baird Vance is still preserved and maintained by the N.C. Department of Archives and History. Vance also had a home call Gombroon in the mountains of North Carolina, “eight miles north of Black Mountain Station, on the Western North Carolina Railroad.” Most of the information here is taken from “Life of Zebulon B. Vance” by Clement Dowd, 1897. The book has been out of print, but because of its importance, it has been reproduced. This biography details his life in the Senate and as NC Governor as well as a personal glimpse of the man since the author was his contemporary. Many of his speeches are printed in the book.

Source: (Asheville, North Carolina), 8 December 2007.


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